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The Climbing Club • View topic - failure

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 1:05 pm 
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Interesting topic Eric, it reminds me of that guy who recently did the 7 tallest and got in the paper (Ed Viesturs?). In his interview he mentioned he was totally willing to turn around a hundred feet from the top. It seems to me that sitting at home, bored with my circumstances or annoyed with my job, or whatever people stress about these days, it's easy to look back and say, "Man I was a pussy for not at least trying to climb that snow covered ridge, it probably would have gone:"

As far as I got
Image

Or, jeeze I was 50 feet from the top of the N face of shuksan and I bailed I was thinking about my partner standing down at the base below the burgschrund waiting because he was out of shape, I should have atleast gone to the top of the face:

DownClimbing
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But what I've come to appreciate about this sport makes it all worth it. I've been humbled, I've been taught a lot about myself from selfishness to mental toughness, I've saught to answer what I want out of life, I've had times when I just didnt want to take risks anymore, and I've learned from my partners valueable things like more patience, a good attitude, and trust.

Starting climbing, I knew I'd never be the most badass, I thought being the best at climbing meant taking the most risk, and in some ways it does (there are many yardsticks to measure climbers). But its still possible to have goals, have fun, learn about yourself, share adventure with friends, and take your life back from office chairs, cubicles, and deadlines, summit or not. Thats why I keep going out there, after all, it would be somewhat boring if I knew I was going to summit everytime and would certianly make the summit less of an experience.

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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 1:14 pm 
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Nice pics of Wicked Wanda! Thanks for posting.
8)


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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 2:59 pm 
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Failure is definitely an interesting topic. I like the way you break it down into categories. The fact that "inability to do the moves" was never a reason for failure proves that climbing is 90% mental.

Here are a couple more examples:

1. Turned around hiking to Camp Muir in a whiteout, while wearing new boots (not broken in and killing my heels) and carrying the group stove. Visions of wandering aimlessly on the Nisqually in gathering darkness turned me around, though it meant that my two partners wouldn't get higher than 10k the next day, since they couldn't melt water without my stove. Weird planning on our part, so this failure could have been avoided. This was a lesson for me on how much you depend on your partners, though. I feel good about turning around now. Replaying in my head all the things that were going wrong, it sounds just like an ANAM report ("late start, inadequate equipment, etc.").

2. Climbing the NW buttress on Colchuck Balanced Rock with Eric was somewhat dissatisfying. I still think about it sometimes, since we (well, it was my lead) avoided what was in hindsight probably better rock climbing for the easy ledge traverse and scramble to the top. My excuse was that there was loose rock everywhere for a hundred feet or so off the belay and I didn't want to kill my belayer. We reached the top, but it wasn't satisfying. Partial failure.

3. Getting freaked out after accidentally untying myself while on the first pitch to Outer Space (long story). This was a failure of mental strength on my part, one I still shake my head thinking about. To compound the failure, I passed on leading the crux pitch.

The times when I have been unable to do the technical moves have never really been unsatisfying or felt like failure. It became a challenge to come back and try again. Of course, this has only been on cragging routes, so it's easy to come back and give 'er another go.


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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 2:33 pm 
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funny you mention sahale and shuksan, mike... I was just thinking back to the winter and realized that I summited on exactly zero trips! I didn't really think any of my trips were failures at all, since the reward in the winter was usually some nice turns, although everyone likes a good summit shot. I feel especially good about "failing" on Mt. James Turner in B.C. with Nick and Sam. If you want to know why, look at and realize that the point where they mark the slope releasing was our exact turn-around point... I think we definitely 'pushed the boundaries of good judgement', but thankfully we made the right decision eventually and turned around, and hopefully we'll never feel compelled to run up a sloshy south-facing slope around noon ever again.


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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 6:55 pm 
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This is a really interesting and necessary thread. Even though I think that Eric covered all the bases (and everyone else covered all the bases that Eric didn't cover in his complete coverage), a problem that I have is one of motivation. Usually it's not my motivation, since I get serious bouts of summit fever, but my partners'. Oftentimes this means wierd psychological manipulation on my part, loads of bitching on my partners' parts, and extra relief when the goal is accomplished. Other times, lack of motivation/drive/stamina leads to failure in an objective sense - i.e. no summit.

In my world, differences in motivation result in two things:
1) Fights - both confrontational and/or passively aggressive
2) Realization - more specifically, an awareness I messed up somehow (see Eric's thoughts about partners, planning, etc.)

Result #2 is, I think, what people refer to when they say that they learn something from failures. I understand that climbing failures, like those in science, can be more valuable than successes, but I don't think my realizations are all that enlightening or surprising. Maybe I'm just too bummed about missing out that I don't quite grasp the importance of my failure. Or maybe insights like "patience is a good thing;" "I'm really selfish about climbing;" or "there's more to climbing than the summit" are just too cliched to take seriously. They don't compare to the stuff I've recognized during descents of successful outings.

8)

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 8:05 pm 
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 Post subject: Ben's pic
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 Post subject: (I am a ) failure
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