Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Going on the recent trend, I will talk about motivation today. This next line isn't an exact quote, but it's appropriate nonetheless.

"Motivation; what is dat all about?" - Ali G

While having proper equipment, training your muscles, and eating the right food is important, none of those come close to the mental aspect of climbing. Plain and simple, mental game gets it done. Motivation can make a climb feel effortless and impossible without it. Of all the things to train, this should be at the top of everyone's list. Prime examples of world class climbing minds would be people pushing the limits... Fred Nicole, Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra, and Kevin Jorgeson.

Several years ago I was studying architecture in Rome, Italy, and I was in the middle of climbing withdrawals. I had just taken my first trip to Horsepens 40 as opposed to going ice climbing In Ouray, CO. Dying to climb and having nothing but my shoes and a small bag of chalk drove me crazy. I was always thinking about it; grabbing everything as if I were in the middle of a climb. The first visit to a gym there took 2 hours by train and foot. I was utterly lost, but have never been more found once I arrived. Ecole Verticale was a glorious place; however, I only visited twice more. The next gym turned out to be my svaing grace and ultimately one of the major reasons my climbing turned from a hobby to a career.

Jollypower as it was called, was dirty and lacked class even though it was at a sport club. What it lacked in class and technology, it made up for it with motivated people. I climbed once a week with at least 12 men and several girls who could all comfortably complete v8s. Some of these men were nearly 60. I have never before or since met so many people that were so motivated. The ring leader of this place was a man by the name of Alesandro Lamberti, affectionately called Jollypower. At 24 he climbed his first 13.d. At 30 his first 14.b. At 37 his first 14.d. He was 44 when I met him and he is still the stongest and most graceful climber I have ever seen. This is not a man who was blessed for climbing, though he had been climbing for almost 35 years when I met him. Here was a man who trained 'til he was blue in the face, until his muscle failure was so evident that he could not move another inch. I bought his book, thanked him, and still hope I will see him again.

His book is my Bible for training, but it is unfortunately in Italian. Among other things, over 40 pages of the book is dedicated to the metal aspect of the sport of climbing. There are lots of quotes from Bruce Lee, Confuscious, and Shakespeare. One of the Bruce Lee quotes goes as follows, "the mind is the primary obstacle in any physical action." Basically, if you believe you can do it, wether you actually can, it will place the verdict solely in the physical realm. Your mind will either allow you to do the climb or you will not. If you consider all the climbers in the world past and present, you would easily see the strongest minds a top the list and a gradual drop of in acuity as the level of the climber decreased. A great example is Fred Nicole. He has always been about 10 years ahead of his time. He put up the world's first v13 and v14 when people believed Midnight Lightning to be a serious standard and v10 was an extremely high level professional. The fact that he believed and believes that almost no stretch of rock can stop him is dumbfounding. His mind is by far his most impressive asset, and let us not forget his fingers and overall physcial fitness are "special abilities," as he has been seen doing one-arm pullups on a single pinky finger. So next time you think about climbing something remember what Bruce says and keep your mind as open, as smart, and as strong as Fred Nicole's.

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