September 8, 2012 posted by

Are you Tough?

Last weekend I humped a load of bolting and climbing gear up to one of the cliffs I’m prepping for my birthday challenge. It was hell, reminding me of how soft I’ve become as a working stiff. I need to get my toughness back and, since it’s mainly mental, I’m searching for Pscyhe.

Mind you, I’m reasonably fit. I just managed to finish “the hardest” 100-mile mountain biking races (2nd in class, apparently–shocked by a medal that showed up this week) and am less than a year out from competing at a world championships. But fit and tough aren’t the same thing and climbing, particularly first ascenting, requires a lot of toughness.

Traipsing around in the mountains with a massive pack and spending hours mimicking a construction worker hanging upside down was once a daily activity for me. I’d taken for it granted because I was used to it. But it is hard; both physically and mentally. You’ve got to want to do it. Otherwise it’s too easy to leave it to others.

And nothing—nothing!—I’ve ever done encapsulates the last two lines like offwidth climbing. It’s such an amazingly-miserable endeavor that one pitch of it on a 3,000’ wall will often have climbers searching for a different line. The number of climbers who seek out offwidths is so small that they’re pretty much all close-knit friends. It defines the word tough. For this week’s Psyche I present offwidth climber Pamela Shanti Pack. You’re about to see what I mean. Get inspired. You too can do hard things.


  • I'm kind of dumbfounded by this. Training for offwidth climbing? Rad.J

  • 52 offwidths of 5.10 or harder in your 52nd year. That's just one a week. I think if you hold your breath you can manage it.

  • Ha ha! Hey that's an awesome blog you have Steve! Congrats on that 100-mile mountain bike race — now THAT is tough!!!

  • 52 off-widths sounds just awful. Actually it sounds fun but I'm not sure I've climbed 52 unique routes this year, if you don't count my garage. I don't I'd have time to find 52 off-widths.

  • Ha! Not a chance. I'd do laps on the Butte course before I'd stuff myself into that disgusting inverted slot you're climbing. Almost puked just watching. Congrats on your latest bit o' nastiness. Wanted to post that vid but still on The Stash. Think I'll go do some sport climbing now.

  • Link to the stash:

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