The Climb That Got Away

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the most iconic love story that ends in tragedy. The two lovers from families with deep hatred for one another are destined to never be together. This is similar to the climb that eludes us and is taken down too early in the gym before we finish it. You build this massive relationship with the climb: learning the moves, building strength, developing confidence. Is it all a waste of time? I think not.

“'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Shakespeare was truly the best climbing coach. Climbs that you never finished but invested time into are the best way to train and the experience should be seen in a positive light — not as a failure. In training we would call these climbs “projects”, or if they are really hard for you, “limit boulders.” The reason that they are such a good training tool is because they push you to your max potential, and help you to pass the threshold of what was once viewed as impossible.

Now in times of heartache, it is easy to only see the dread in what is happening. In this situation it is losing something you love. Just remember that failure to send a climb happens to all of us, and you can’t let it stop you from climbing more. You need to keep up the motivation and train, so when the next project comes your way you are able to finish it.

Speaking personally, I remember a climb called “Bowser’s Castle.” (The gym I learned to climb in had a habit of naming their problems, much like you find outside.) Not only did I fail to finish it before it came down in the gym, I also sustained a pulley injury on it. It has been 10 years since I projected that climb, and I still remember it as a learning experience. Just keep pushing your limits and eventually you will break through. Also, remember to always warm up properly or you will lose the opportunity to get the climb. (My pulley injury was a result of me hopping on my project without adequately warming up, because I was so eager to work it right away!)

Here are some suggestions to ease the suffering of projecting heartbreak:

  • Leave no regrets. Try the climb as hard as you can every time your feet leave the mats. This is so that you know in your heart you did everything you could do.

  • Give yourself the opportunity to try the climb as often as possible, even if it means skipping work. (Disclaimer: your boss probably won’t accept this blog post as an acceptable excuse…)

  • If you don’t send it, then you can take pictures and videos of the climb so that you are able to reminisce about it in the future while having a beer.

  • Also, at Toprock Climbing, you can request to have an old climb recreated on the wall, as long as you supply some good pictures of it. Just because the climb came down, doesn’t mean it can’t go back up! I am sure setters at other gyms would be happy to make a similar climb if you suggest it as well.

Thank you to @davidarh99 for the instagram post that inspired me to write this blog article. It is great to see such passion from a new climber. Awesome send!

Kevin Allen