Jonathan Siegrist Get Out and Get er Done
An essay by Jonathan Siegrist
Rock Climbing is a powerful and exciting vehicle for travel. Sooner or later practically every climber will be drawn away from their home, to a far away land in search of adventure and fresh stone to play on. Great rock lures us climbers all across the globe and into unique landscapes and remote areas that we would likely never have the chance to experience otherwise. Indeed, this very aspect of climbing is much of why I love the pursuit so much.. however, traveling also requires the release of some (and often many) everyday comforts. Climates vary significantly, sleeping arrangements are never perfect, your favorite foods are rarely available and time is always of the essence. Now that I'm traveling more and more, I've taken notice to a few simple things that seem to help me find success when I'm away from home:
SLEEP. I'm typically a morning person, but when I'm on the road or overseas and I'm focused on climbing well, I sleep as much as possible. Changing time zones, eating new foods and being exposed to new [everything] is hard on your immune system- sleeping helps give it a break. Plus your typical 8 hours at home might only provide similar rest to 11 hours freezing cold in a leaking tent somewhere. During a two week stay in the incredible Yangshou, China when I managed to dispatch 'French Gangster' 14b/c and 'China Climb' 14b both in three tries, I was sleeping 10-12 hours a night, and thankfully never got [very] sick.
FOOD. It's easy to eat crap when you're traveling, but proper fuel is crucial to athletic performance. During a 7-week road trip in late spring 2010, I did my fair share of gas station grocery shopping, and I always regretted it (except beer). I opted to buy big when I found a good grocery store and in turn cook for myself. I saved tons of money, and always knew what I was eating. I credit my delicious breakfasts for killer days like when I finished 'Problem Child' 14c and fired 'Motley Crux' 14a second try.. I ate Huevos Rancheros that morning!
CLOTHING. A few extra layers don't weigh much of anything, and can easily change an otherwise miserably day into perfect sending temps. During a two week stay at Smith Rock the weather sometimes changed from balmy to frigid within an hour. My Atom LT Hoodie and Delta LT Zip never left my pack- they make a perfect belay / climbing combo if the temps decline. When I had one remaining effort and dwindling daylight on the classic 'To Bolt or Not to Be' 14a, the temps miraculously dropped- thankfully I was prepared with proper clothing, and managed to send.
COMMUNITY. Nothing comforts like good friends, and the more people you meet the more comfortable you'll become. Rock climbing is practiced world wide, and common ground is easily found between those passionate about rocks, even when a language barrier exists. When I traveled alone through Asia this past winter, I literally needed to meet people in order to get out climbing. This produced some lasting friendships, and quickly exposed me to a number of awesome local climbing communities.
FOCUS. Time is always ticking when you're on the road or overseas. Putting down hard routes quickly takes determination, and sometimes it might require focused effort for the length of your stay. Take a day or two to get used to the style, but if ticking a burly pitch is your goal, get after it as soon as possible. Rehearse the movement in your head, or make a personal beta map if necessary so that visually you're climbing the route dozens of times a day. Save the prolonged celebration (read: lazy post-send days) for back at home- any success will create momentum, which is a powerful ally when trying to crank through numerous projects in a short time frame. This is precisely what helped me succeed at the Red River Gorge last fall.
PSYCH. Most importantly: Amongst all of these pressing issues, don't forget to be psyched! If you're not having fun then it's all bullshit anyways. In the same way that traveling offers exceptional learning (and climbing) experiences, it also requires a certain degree of discomfort- deal with it, stay psyched and get some climbing done.
See you at the crag.
-Arcteryx Athlete Jonathan Siegrist