I recently discovered that the trick to breakthrough rock climbing is being really hungover. I kind of learned this by accident. Oops. Anyway, this past Saturday was the Santa Claus Pub Crawl in Denver and of course I went all out and dressed up as a Christmas tree.
The pub crawl started at 1:30 p.m. and I made it home around 11:00 p.m. You do the math. It was a long day. Needless to say, the next morning I was not feeling like a winner. I already had plans to go rock climbing with my cousin in Boulder though and I’m not one to stay down for very long. I decided that my hangover was just a mind over matter thing and I headed out to meet my cousin. Part of the reason I was not willing to let my hangover beat me was because my cousin and I were going to be climbing at Movement, an amazing climbing gym in Boulder. I like to refer to it as the Vail of climbing gyms.
I have been in a bit of a rut with climbing lately and stuck on some 5.9s in my Denver climbing gym. Given my rut and hangover I had zero expectations for having a good day at Movement. After warming up on a few routes, my cousin Jen encouraged me to try a 5.10b. I had never climbed anything with a higher grade than a 5.10a, so I was a little intimidated.
To my surprise, the route did not feel that hard and I “flashed” it! Flashing is climber lingo for making it to the top of a new route on the first try. After climbing another 5.10b and still feeling good, I wanted to try a 5.10c just for fun.
I successfully made it to the top of the 5.10c in one try with just a few minor breaks. It was super exciting. Since I was on a roll, I decided to try one more 5.10c for my final climb, and I ascended that one as well. Two 5.10c’s in one day, who would have thought?! So basically I owe all my success to being hungover.
I think I also owe my success on the 5.10c to my regular climbing gym in Denver, Thrillseekers. If Movement is the Vail of climbing gyms, Thrillseekers is the Arapahoe Basin. It’s located in an old movie theater on South Broadway in Denver, and the routes are about 1/3 the length of the routes at Movement. You may remember me mentioning how I’ve been struggling on the 5.9s at my gym and that was not a typo. I don’t think there is major route rating inflation at Movement, I just think the routes at Thrillseekers are incredibly challenging. In fact they are so legit that I’ve never even successfully climbed a 5.10 there.
Love my ghetto fabulous home climbing gym. (Check out another blogger’s take on Thrillseekers!)
Sure there’s this weird island in the middle of the gym with workout equipment from 1982 and the floor is filled with questionable recycled Teva soles but once you get past the superficial things Thrillseekers is a rad place to climb. I’m pretty much a regular there (okay I give, I climb 2x a week there – I’m a regular), and so I know the guy who sets most of the routes in the gym. Sometimes I like to whine to him about how a certain route would be much better if there was just one more hold in this one location and he has zero sympathy for me. Really though you can’t whine about something being hard. I know it’s just making me a better climber. And hey the proof is in the pudding! Those 5.10c’s at Movement did not climb themselves.
So how do you climb a 5.10c? First you need to be hungover. And second you need a ghetto fabulous home climbing gym that pushes you to be better. Although someday soon I hope to climb a 5.10 at Thrillseekers. This is just getting ridiculous.