Posts Tagged With: climbing gym

Your Secret Superpower

Have you ever hung around someone from a different region of the country?

I had a friend in the military, his name was Brandon, and he was from New Hampshire. We would hang out when we weren’t on duty and being that he was a New Englander he had certainly phrases and ways of saying things (colloquialism) that were very different from my Ohio upbringing. Eventually I found myself saying things the way he did. Listening to the same music, and even smoking the same cigarettes that he did. My friend had a secret superpower that I had never even knew existed.


He never set out to influence me, it happened by chance. If you spend enough time with someone they tend to rub off on you. You pick up phrases, habits, even world views. Think about it. Do you see the world the same now as when you were in high school? A lot of people’s view of life changes when they get to college or have a life changing experience. I see the world differently now then from when I wasn’t disabled. People, books, movies, experiences, all of these and more have an influence over us, but have you ever stopped to wonder what you influence everyday?

My son loves video games and movies. If he could he’d sit on the couch all day long and rot his brain until it’s seeping out of his ears. I’m not talking about National Geographic documentaries that we used to watch, no I’m talking about cartoons that offer up nothing but 22 minutes of mindless entertainment. He’d do it all day and all night without question.

Back in 2009 we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It reawakened my desire to explore the outdoors again; it had been put on the back burner for awhile, but now it was burning hot again. Eventually this led to a desire to try rock climbing. After researching and reading, watching videos and day dreaming my family and I spent a Saturday afternoon  at a local outfitter and their bouldering cave in the basement. Needless to say we were exhausted after about fifteen minutes. I was sweating, I was tired, my forearms wanted to slap me in the face then go run into a corner and cry they hurt so bad.

I was hooked. SN852092

It was exercise that wasn’t exercise. It was fun and new. Our son was four years old about to turn five and he was hooked too. Now he’s on a climb team and we’re in the second year of climbing and members at a climbing gym. We volunteered at a recent comp and anytime my son hears the words Vertical Endeavors he pipes up, smiles, and wonders when we’re going to go. He hates leaving the gym. He can’t stand to take his shoes off. Chalked up hands, sweaty, tired and wanting more and more. He climbs until his little hands hurt and the skin is peeling off where callouses form. He transforms from a couch potato to a little crushing climber.


My little guy would have never gotten the climbing bug had I not influenced him and given him the experience and shared with him what has become a mutually attraction to this terrific outdoor adventure. He has yet to catch on to my love of hiking (too much walking he says) but when he gets out there he loves it. I’ve taken him snowshoeing and I find that who I am and what I endorse influences him more then what I realize. My values and favorites all-of-a-sudden become his during our conversations.

Me: “Mmmm…. I love asparagus it’s one of my favorite vegetables!”

Son: “It’s one of my favorite vegetables too!” (This after him never having eaten them before…..ever)

We can influence the next generation, we can influence our friends and family, our influence can stretch beyond our zip codes, our race, our gender, and our language. It’s a superpower that has no bounds, but it’s a superpower that should have boundaries. It should be harnessed and focused for good; for the betterment of those who look to us and glean from us. They incorporate it into their lives. So what are people incorporating into their lives being around you? Is it a love for the outdoors that is positive and ethical? Is your influence one that inspires greatness in others?

If you’re not a comic book/movie nerd who has read/seen Spider-Man let me borrow a quote from Uncle Ben.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

What are you going to do with your superpower?

How do you use your superpower?

How do you use your superpower?

For good or evil?

For good or evil?

Until next time………..Adventure On!

Categories: Climbing, Family Vacation, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Adventure, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rhythm of Success

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a rare opportunity to climb without our son tagging along to the gym.  Now that I’ve overcome my fear of belaying my husband (2 twists in the rope helps boost my confidence!), we were looking forward to some focused climbing time.

Only I bombed.  For some unknown reason, my brain was not in the game that day.  I was getting short of breath, failing to execute simple moves, and that compounded my exasperation.  I wondered if it had anything to do with my time off from injuring my shoulder.

As I considered why I was so off, the closest comparison and explanation I could come up with was that my rhythm was off.  When I play piano, I have a certain ritual of arranging the bench, the music, even my hair.  I do it without thinking.  I didn’t even know it existed until my biggest fan (my mom) pointed it out to me.  These simple arrangements allowed my mind to focus, distractions to fade, and I could execute my performance with excellence.

This was not the case for climbing that day.  It went something like this:

Bouldering at the Climbing Gym

“On belay?”

“Belay is on.”


“Climb on.”  I climb up two holds.

My wedding ring is still on!  How did I forget to take it off?  I reach with my right hand, move my left foot into position.

It sure is grinding into my finger. Climb a few more feet.

Which of these holds is actually on this route?  There are 5 different colors here!  Move another move up.

I hope I don’t hurt my shoulder.

Not the most helpful, focused internal dialogue.

While I’ve been taught to tie in and go through the climbing commands and checks to ensure safety, I don’t think I’ve yet embraced the process as my mental preparation.

The more I climb the more I believe climbing is 50% mental and 50% physical.  If I don’t have it together in my head, its better to not even get on the wall.

For much of my life, playing piano meant that distractions would fade, music would surround me and for a time I’d be transported elsewhere.  It wasn’t my experience when I first started however.

I hope that as I progress in climbing, that when I hear “climb on”, distractions disappear, my thoughts fade away and I send with confidence.

Until next time, send on.

[Also: I have to apologize publicly to my husband for my last post.  It was never my intention to paint him as someone who is inept.  In fact he is quite the opposite.  He is truly inspiring for all the trials and challenges he perseveres through.  I thought I was being funny in my last post, but I realized later that it could be interpreted as mean spirited or demeaning, and that is certainly not my intent.  My first post on this blog more accurately describes how I view him.]

Categories: Climbing, Insight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Importance of Passion

Hi, my name is Jayson and I used to regularly write for this blog! I’m the one who puts Bionic in The Bionic Chronicles. I’ve had to re-focus my time and attention elsewhere which prohibits me from contributing to this blog as often as I desired. Thankfully my wife has taken over and done a fantastic job, I enjoy her writing better than my own and I think you would all agree.

I went to the climbing gym the other today to relieve some stress and get a good workout in, however I failed to acquire both of those goals. I left wondering why my time at the gym lacked any satisfaction what made the experience such a horrible one. I thought that maybe it was because of my shoulder not being able to make some of the reaches, maybe it was my feet not being able to stay on the holds because of my disability, maybe both. Then I remembered that I have experienced both of those before but continued to climb on, so why was today any different? Then it came to me, I was climbing alone and I didn’t get into this activity as a loner.

This is where my passion lies.

This led me down a path of discovery about myself and about passion and the importance of having that in one’s life. I work in a field which is driven by performance, results, and numbers. I have taken this approach at times to many of my outdoor endeavors. Trek the miles, climb the routes, tick off the problems, go farther, faster, climb higher and harder and it has become all about the results. So what happens when you don’t achieve those results? Why does falling at the crux of a problem devastate you and destroy your whole day of climbing? I’d venture to say it’s because you lost your passion for it, and replace it with a duty/job mentality……. I’ve done the same thing.

I’ve found that some of the most amazing times I’ve experienced has been with my family when we don’t have an agenda. When we’re not necessarily trying to accomplish some great feat of outdoor prowess. When we can stop and throw rocks into a lake or river. When we can take our shoes off and wade through a waterfall and stream, when we’re having fun at the climbing gym going after fun routes and not necessarily trying to test our mettle. When we’re playing my wife’s favorite game “Can I climb that?”.

Benjamin winning this round of “Can I Climb It?”

[Sidebar] For those of you who have never played let me tell you the rules, one person scouts around, whether on a walk, hike, or even in the car and finds something that looks like you can throw a rope on it, or a crash pad under it and then you debate about whether you can climb it. There’s even an urban edition. [End Sidebar]

When we’ve come into a situation and a time together without a specific goal and without a specific reason it is far greater experience. When we are able to let our passion run free we glean the most out of every moment. No goals, no time limits, no worries or concerns. Pure passion, pure joy, pure fun and excitement.

It was an eye opening experience for me, something that I never want to forget. Keep the passion in our adventures by keeping the work mindset out of it. Yes, goals are important and they are a good thing. We have several this year, the big one being that as a family we hike 100 trail miles in 2012. We’re almost half-way through the year, but only one-quarter of the way to our goal, but the fun we’ve had (some hikes more then others) and the memories we’ve made are worth far more then the achievement of getting to the century mark.

Keep the passion, enjoy the journey, and until next time….. Adventure On!

This is what getting outside is all about.

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Climbing, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The 3 Questions That Hold Me Back

I first tried rock climbing in September 2011 after I had been insisting to my husband I was NOT interested in trying.  What changed my mind?  On a camping trip up north we saw climbers on Palisade Head.  We also did some rock scrambling by a waterfall and the experience intrigued me.  My husband has talked at length about his progress from the perspective of being a climber who is disabled, I haven’t shared much from my nonathletic-kinda-afraid-of-heights-I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this perspective.

We started climbing more regularly in November, just 3 months ago.  In the gym, I’ve been climbing 5.7s and trying 5.8s here and there.  (non-climber?  see this explanation of climbing grades)  As for bouldering (short, un-roped routes), I can usually get most V0 problems after a try or two (or 5, but who’s counting) and I’ve started working on a V1.

While I’m not the most physically fit person, it doesn’t seem to be my fitness that’s holding me back.  It’s my mental game. I’m plagued by 3 internal questions.

What if I can’t?

Bouldering at the Climbing Gym

When I reach a section of a route or problem that I haven’t gotten past before, I feel the anticipation building and I doubt I can do it.  When the doubt sets in, I hesitate, miss the hold and fall.  It’s a huge barrier to giving 100% and committing to my moves.  When I focus on what I think I can’t do, it cheats me from the possibility of what I could do if I gave it my all.

During some climbing sessions I get discouraged by the lack of progress from my holding back, and I proceed to sit back and watch my husband and son climb.  Watching my son requires effort to make sure he doesn’t get in the way of other climbers, and it makes the perfect excuse.

What do people think?

Unfortunately this is a question I’ve had to deal with in other areas of life, and for the most part I’ve squashed it.  Except when it comes to climbing.  I find myself self-conscious and hoping others aren’t watching.  When the gym is busy I find I’m less likely to jump in and climb since there are more people to see my lack of skills.  I try to remind myself: You’re new at this.  You are still learning. However, as a recovering perfectionist my little pep talk doesn’t usually work.  I was naturally inclined to do well in school as a child, going on to become the valedictorian in high school.  Life doesn’t hand out “A’s” as often as I got used to receiving them, and I don’t like appearing as the “D” student of the gym.

What if I fall?

This is a question I deal with more in bouldering.  I’ve only had one bad fall in the gym when my foot got stuck on a hold, but it successfully embarrassed me, startled me and ended my climbing for the evening.  Even on roped routes when I look over my shoulder and see how high I am, I can feel my heart rate increase.  Confession: sometimes at the top of the wall, I have to tell myself to let go.  Even then sometimes one hand still has a white-knuckled grip on the last hold for a few more seconds.

Answering the Questions

So what am I doing about these questions?  I’m trying to think less when I’m on a problem to combat #1.  I slow down when I over think and then I do poorly.  I’m also trying to draw on my musical background and think of the rhythm I create in moving to make it more consistent and less hesitant.  Possibly next week I will climb with @eliz_rocks (check out her blog!) so someone will see me climb and I’ll have to get over myself. 🙂  As for the fear of falling . . . don’t all climbers continue to deal with that to some degree?

It never ceases to amaze me how climbing can have such a direct correlation to other areas of life, possibly even exposing thoughts and attitudes we believe we’ve successfully overcome.  Have you had to deal with any of these questions, in climbing or other areas of life?  Please share your insights in the comments.

100 Miles in 2012 and Other Updates

Warming up with hot chocolate

During our period of mild weather in Minnesota, I had suggested we take a longer hike to test our junior hiker and train for our upcoming vacation.  We ended up suffering through experiencing refreshing 15 degree weather for 2.5 hours to cover 3.7 miles, bringing our total to 6.2 miles for the year.  It was the quickest pace we’ve ever had on a hike!  The wind picked up about half way through, which encouraged a fast pace back to the truck.

Are you on Facebook? If you haven’t already, you can check out our Facebook page.  And until next time, climb on!

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Climbing, Insight | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

A Knife’s Edge Dance

” I can’t”

“I’m scared”

“I want down!”

“I’m too high up”

This is the usual one-sided conversation my son has with me when we are at the climbing wall of our fitness center. It also happens at the climbing cave at our favorite outdoor retailer, Midwest Mountaineering. He’s gotten himself up about six feet off the ground, he’s roped in, and he’s reached his limit.

After lowering him to the ground and calculating in my head that it took my wife more time to tie him in then it did for him to actually climb I wonder what am I doing wrong.

The funny thing is he climbed up in a tree, no harness and no rope, to about thirteen feet and only stopped when we told him to because the tree couldn’t bear his 40 lbs of beefiness. So what is it about the climbing wall that terrifies him? He’ll come off the wall and promise us he’ll go higher and try harder, but the end result is no different.

I’m former military, so is my father, my grandfather, aunt, uncles, all branches of service. Being pushed, pushing yourself, not quitting, not giving up, testing your limits and going beyond them to the point of failure and the chastisement with failing is familiar territory for me. It isn’t familiar for my little guy.

You WILL climb that wall, now move!

So where does this lack of confidence in his ability come from? It’s not germane only to climbing: it comes out in hiking, reading, writing, even putting away his clothes. It’s a total 180 from a few years ago when the boy could do EVERYTHING (or so he thought) on his own without parental interference.

This led me to thinking that there is a fine line in parenting and in life between understanding limitations and allowing failure and fear to stop you prematurely. Do I push him or do I allow him to go as high as he wants and allow time to hopefully take him higher? As a parent this is really dancing on a knife’s edge. You don’t want to encourage a child to quit and give up so easily, but at the same time you shouldn’t force them to do something that may end up breeding resentment and a sense of insecurity with someone who is supposed to help them feel secure (that was a TERRIFIC run-on sentence, my English teachers would be proud!)

I’ve run into a similar situation with myself. I went climbing at a climbing gym here in town for the first time. My wife and I wanted to compare it so we could determine whether or not we wanted to switch from the fitness center to a climbing gym. We climbed for over 2 hours. I kept trying my best to get in as much climbing as I could. I climbed so much I hurt my hands, tore them apart but at least I got a story out of it.

Here I am five days later and still sore, plus both shoulders ache now. I obviously climbed way too much and my rotator cuff muscles are far too weak. Since I  use this blog to spew my mental neurosis upon all of you I feel comfortable in making this confession. I haven’t been doing my at-home therapy exercises. I know….what a shocker huh!?!

So when I decided to look up exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles I found the exact same ones as they gave me in therapy. The muscles (there are four) are important because of the way they position the shoulder. When they are weak it puts pressure on the tendons and bursa sack. Having strong shoulders doesn’t mean you have strong rotator cuffs, because they are so small when lifting weights the lats and delts get used more then they do. (Quick health lesson)

So now I find myself wondering what to do. Where is the fine line between being a pushy overbearing drill sergeant parent and a loving encouraging parent who doesn’t allow a child to quit easily but understands how to let maturity and growth happen?

I also have to discover for myself when to stop pushing myself too hard to the point of injury and where I am immobile for two days later and when I can keep going to push through physical limitation and mental barriers.  As an athlete, or anyone who does physical activity and wants to improve this can be a quandary you have as well.

So to all my readers out there I ask this: Do you struggle or have you discovered the delicate balance between pushing yourself too hard, and just enough to overcome? If so I would love to hear about it.

Until next time……Climb On!

Categories: Climbing, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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