February 6, 2009 posted by

Making Progress

My back seems to be making progress but that’s not what this post is about. I’m definitely moving better since the cortisone shot but the fact that sitting still bothers me is worrisome. But I’m doing everything I can so I try not to think about it. I do about an hour of PT daily, walk the dogs, hangboard, and can now climb a little.

I can’t ride, run, ski, or sit comfortably through a meal—meaning I’m pretty boring socially. But climbing is a form of traction. As long as I don’t fall (well, land) wrong or use my leg too much, climbing seems to help.

On my walks I’ve been looking for obscure traversing projects. Traverses are good because they can be long and stay low to the ground. This way I can train for climbing routes, alone, at my own pace. The best of these, by far, is one up in Big Cottonwood we call the G-Spot. It sits high above a crag in a secluded alcove overlooking the canyon with great views of the high country. It has a classic 30 move V4 traverse, and a low V10 traverse, that can be linked together in various ways. The result is a perfect training wall with a jillion dollar view.

My project is to link, eventually, the low traverse into the higher ones. Right now, I can’t do most of the moves on the low traverse, so I’m trying to link short section into the upper traverse for training.

Yesterday, things started poorly. I didn’t feel good and the hard sections I wanted to try felt like they’d put too much strain on my back. I was feeling a bit dejected and almost gave up, but it was a beautiful afternoon, so I sat down, enjoyed the surroundings, and thought about how to turn the day into a positive.

There’s an old climbing adage that says “make progress”, meaning each day you’re out try and find a way to further advance your ultimate goal. The aim is to make it further on a route than you have prior—that or doing a new route. But you can’t always do that, so it can also mean finding a new sequence, a trick, or maybe even ways to save energy on the approach or descent.

There’s a section of the traverse that’s quite unpleasant. It’s pretty easy, so there’s never been a good reason to try and make it nicer. But if I was going to spend some time it sure would be better if this section were more fun to climb. It’s like Patrick Edlinger once said, “To just try and get to the top is a waste of time. The goal is to climb in a way that’s pleasing.”


  • That’s an inspiring post. Finding something positive in an otherwise unproductive session is important, I’m beginning to realize. And I’m pretty sure you can see Edlinger’s balls through those shorts at the start of the climb.

  • Maybe I learnt it at the Tor, where making actual progress every time you go is impossible.Oui, tres bien, no? or no, perhaps. Ask Phil about those vids. During the early shop years there were, like, three climbing videos and this was one, so we watched it all the time. I’m sure we would have been better climbers if we’d listened to more drum solos. Then there’s Herman Wing on the Wheat Thin. If you ever want to irritate Phil, find a copy of Yosemite Climber at que it up at The Shed.

  • Good for you, working with your limitation and getting better. I dunno – climbing in BCC this time of year you must run into a lot of ice and snow? Was just out there after the 4 foot dump and it was great – Honeycomb canyon was the closest I got to any of that. But I was sliding around on it not trying to hold onto the rocks (actually trying to avoid em ;).

  • Where is the “G-spot”?

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