A Positively Great Summer
At the recommendation of a friend, I have been reading the new Jerry Moffett book, Revelations. In it, Moffett talks about how reading Lanny Bassham’s With Winning in Mind helped him to change his self-image and think more positively about himself in order to succeed in competition climbing. One of the selections Moffett quotes states that
The mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If you are picturing something positive in your mind, it is impossible, at the same time, to picture something negative. And, if you have a negative thought, you cannot, at the same time, think positively.
In addition to Moffett’s story, I have seen the effects of a positivity in three different scenarios this summer at the crag.
Last month, my family and I took out friends who were beginner climbers. When it was my son’s turn to climb, he moved much more confidently than he had at the beginning of the summer. When I spoke to him about it, he could not really identify what had changed; he simply felt good on the rock. A couple of days later, he led his first sport route. Both he and I were much calmer than I had anticipated, for we both knew that the climb was within his ability and that he was capable of leading.
He placed his feet well, focused on the moves, clipped efficiently, and cruised to the top.
This past weekend, Matt, a fellow guide, and I met several Central Rock Gym members to Rumney for a day of climbing. Working with groups presents a challenge as climbers have different abilities, comfort levels, and goals. This group, however, maintained a positive vibe throughout the day. When a climber performed well on a specific route, the climber carried the success to the next climb. A few times, a climber struggled but did not dwell on the negatives. Instead, they focused on the upcoming route and climbed better.
People volunteered to belay each other and supported the person who was climbing at the time. When it began raining midway through the day, we stopped for lunch and waited for the rain to pass. Rather than grumbling about the delay or of getting wet, we spoke about the previous climbs and the possibilities of the next few routes.
By the end of the day, I was amazed at how many climbs each person had completed. The positive energy remained present throughout the day.
A few days ago, I made it over to Cathedral Ledge with my friends Matt and Brendan. Between a nagging shoulder injury and other time commitments, I have had less time to pursue some of my own personal climbing goals. We started the day on Funhouse, a classic 5.7 crack that takes you to the midpoint of the cliff.
As I followed Matt and Brendan, I felt like I was moving well and starting to get into a rhythm. At the base of Upper Refuse, I opted for Black Lung, a slightly harder variation to the first pitch of the route. The moves felt good and the gear went in easily; before I knew it, I was at the anchor. After we topped out, we headed to the North End to avoid the sun, and I saw that one of the climbs I had been thinking about was in the shade. The previous day, I had thought about it and wondered if I would be able to do. It had been some time since I climbed it and even longer since I led it. As I stood at the base, I visualized the moves and saw myself pulling the crux. After a few minutes of contemplation, I racked up.
The finger locks felt secure and the footholds felt good.
Right before the crux, I felt my right foot start to slip, and I plugged in a cam, which I instinctively reached for. Then I stopped. I returned my hand to the crack. The mind can focus on only one thing at a time. I consciously chose to shift my attention from grabbing a piece of gear to resetting my feet and slowing my breathing down. Something positive in mind leaves no room for something negative.
Looking up, I saw myself doing the moves. I brought my feet up, reached for the next hold, and fired the crux. Matt told me later that he saw me start to reach for the draw and almost said something. He didn’t need to. My trust in his belay helped me focus on the moves rather than thinking about the fall.
In each of the three situations I discuss in this blog, the positive outlook by both the climber and the belayer helped the climber succeed. Newer climbers can create an atmosphere where experienced climbers can succeed and vice-versa. I have seen it numerous times this summer and over the years, and I hope to help foster those positive experiences in the future.
The crew at MMG has been making a solid transition into Rock Climbing over the past month so that our guiding game is tip top, and our arm strength is where we want it for personal climbing. We’ve had many morning and evening sessions at Rumney where pitches are done quickly to build miles, and harder routes are worked on to build strength. Many of us have been seeing some personal climbing gains there already this spring and are looking forward to carrying that into pushing ourselves later on in the year.
Alex Scoping out The Book of Solemnity
Just as we train our bodies for the transition to rock climbing in the spring, we train our minds for the transition to the unique challenges of guiding on rock that we haven’t faced since last fall. Here’s a snap shot of what we’ve been up to lately.
Evening view from Cathedral
Erik and Alex have had multiple outings to Cathedral this spring to lap the classic hard routes we might get on with talented guests, as well as scope out some new out of the way ones for that busy weekend day.
Alex on Raising the Roof
Alex leading up Raising the Roof
Sinker jams on the Liger
The Two of them also took a trip out to Albany Slabs, a premiere backcountry climbing site. This cliff, situated off the Kancamangus Highway has a real remote feel, and solid granite. It has a collection of moderate 1 and 2 pitch slab routes that make for a relaxing but new day, hiking in, climbing in a wild place and hiking out. They’re looking forward to taking some adventurous guests to this out of the way gem of a crag sometime this summer.
Alex heading up Rainbow Slabs
view from Rainbow Slabs
A good collection of the MMG crew met last weekend to sharpen up our technical skills. Luckily the day was rainy making us much more eager to work out the rope work kinks than grab a couple of pitches while at Rumney. We found a perfect site for the work under the overhanging cliff at Orange Crush. Its always great to have a gathering of the minds, to exchange different ways of doing things and bounce ideas of eahcother, let alone catch up with co workers and friends!
This summer will be filled with a lot of professional development or MMG guides. It’s starting with Erik taking a Rock Guide course in North Conway that is co taught by company founder and mentor-extrodianaire, Art Mooney. We’re a quarter of the way through this course and looking forward to a handful more courses and exams for the MMG guides who are hoping to up their professional game this summer!
Art instructing on the 10 day AMGA Rock Guide Course
Alain Comeau instructing on Erik’s Rock Instructor Course
Alain and some Atlantic Climbing School Guides on the Rock Guide Course along with Erik
The crew at MMG is stoked to keep refining skills and put them to practice this summer when you come to visit! thanks for checking in.