On High Gravity Days3 min read

Tuolumne Meadows HikingSome days don’t go according to plan. The 3AM wake up comes too soon. You forgot to buy breakfast bagels the night before so you go without and you still end up leaving 15 mins behind schedule. There is no coffee.

You hit unexpected traffic outside of a mid-major city at 6AM. Road work.

When you finally get to the wall, you breathe a sigh of relief. It felt like you’d never make it. Still, somethings keeping you from feeling excellent but you gear up anyway and head to the wall.

Your partner finishes his pitch and calls “on belay.” You reach behind your back and catch only air. You forgot your chalk bag in the car.

Eventually you make it up to your target climb. It’s already 10am – way behind schedule – but it doesn’t look like there’s anyone on the route despite the time. Normally this would be extremely fortunate! But now it feels ominous. The breeze blowing through the valley is more chilling than refreshing.

Your stoke is high, but is that just because you’ve been talking up this route for the last week?

The first pitch feels junkier than expected. “Mega classic my ass,” you mumble to yourself.

The hold are too small for the grade, the beta is impossible to follow. The cold hasn’t entirely left your fingertips when you reach the crux. All of sudden, you’re simultaneously not warmed up and totally pumped out. You ask your partner to take so you can clean some junk rock.

He’ll be confused the rest of the day because no calls of “rock” followed your explanation. No junk rock made its way off that wall.

You pull your head out of your ass and then use the same sequence to pull the crux. You feel lucky to be alive, even though your last piece is literally still at your waist.

This continues up the route until you arrive at the crux pitch, awkwardly start inspecting the starting holds, and begin conjuring external factors previously unaccounted for.

And so begins the process of coming to the inevitable decision to bail. The conversation between you and your belay partner starts to sound like:

“Yeah, just not feeling this pitch right now.”

“It may only be (grade) but it looks way sustained for (grade)”

“This is totally sandbagged, not trying to lose any gear halfway up something not accurately graded.”

“I’d rather do something that’s fun than kill myself to tag something at (grade)”

Inevitably the rest of your day goes the same way. The sending juices just aren’t there. You try to do some other easier routes but they’re always “way too sun exposed” and you’re not trying to get fried. Or there’s a storm threatening to call on the 10% chance of rain, even though there’s not a cloud in the sky.

Shitty days are always shitty. And it’s always nearly impossible to identify a shitty day and move past it when you’re in the shit. So not only does everything feel like shit, but it also feels like it’s always going to feel like shit.

On this trip me and Miles had a shitty day that started at 3:30AM and culminated in bailing just after the first pitch of Hospital Corner (.10a) in Lover’s Leap.

There’s a huge amount of humble pie that gets served while you rap past other parties climbing up the route you just bailed on. It doesn’t get better when you’re on the ground and you start to hear the ambient chatter about how dope the route you just wussed out on is.

We got out of there before we could infect any of them with our harsh. Gravity is contagious.

Not all days on the wall end in an instagram-worthy picture or topout posts on facebook. Some days are just hard, and all there is to do is ride it out.

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