|Toshi climbing up the crux of the west wall of Mt.Kidd Photo:Bob Kikuchi|
This story was written by Toshi. Translated by Yumiko Mori
Like the title of this post says, I felt a little improvement in my alpine climbing during this season.
Of course, I am still far from where I exactly dreamed of and there are many more routes that I wanted to try and feel I could have pushed harder. But aside from those thoughts, I still feel I have made a step forward.
Unlike sports climbing that have standardized grading system and less variable factors, it's quite hard to feel improvement in alpine climbing. Although alpine climbing still has its grade, there are too many contributing factors that can completely change the difficulty. The condition of the wall, season, weather and partner to name a few.
Meanwhile, I assume the biggest reason why I felt the progreses comes from reflecting on and changing my approach to alpine climbing.
So below are the 5 reasons that helped me grow as an Alpine Climber and I hope this post will help other climbers to prepare for the next season.
１．Actually doing alpine climbing
I reasoned last year's defeat at Mt.Ball to be obvious lack of alpine climbing expericne in the Rockies.
So in order to have good results for this season I have made a plan that gradually progresses towards a bigger goal.
This season's record :
→North West wall of Mt.Sir Douglas
First Ascend at the Full Moon Corner
West face of Mt. Kidd
Lead to second winter time ascend of Sphinx Face at Mt. Temple
２．Re examining the use of protection
In hindsight, the most common reason for bailing in the Rockies is "not being able to take protections" I reflected on my climbing style and realized that I realey put on pitons during the ascend. Of course, I always carry them with me but only occasions that I used them were descending. Also I noticed that I don't carry a hammer with me. Although my beloved Nomic does have hammer, it's not something useful when you do challenging climbing.
→Below are the texts that I sent to Bob before heading to the Full Moon Corner
I think we should use pitons when we climb in the Rockies. So climbing like this wall(not too big ones I mean something like Full Moon Corner) and gradually practice putting on pitons would be benefitial in the long run. What do you think?
Lately we focus too much on climbing fast and relying too much on cams and nuts.
The chance of cams to come off in the Rockies is ridiculously high. So we should come up with other ways. I always thought the difficult mountains are just purely difficult and very risky. But pitons can be an option for those cases to make it more attainable.And by doing so we can try thin ice as well. I don't think we need to change the number of cams that we use, but what I want to say is from next time make a habit of bringing a hammer and have that as an option.
|From left: Hammer purchased right after the discussion, Pitons , Nomic|
It was an absolutely right decision.Threre was nothing useful as pitons in the Rockies. When we couldn't find anywhere to take protection at base of the crux pitch of the west wall of Mt.Kidd, we succeeded to put pitons after struggling an hour to find the best spot. This lead to the success of ascend. Likewise, at the cruxes of Full Moon Corner and Mt. Temple we used pitons. The story can be different for Granite mountains since you can find good protections but in the Rockies I relearned about the use of pitons.
( We retrieve all pitons after its use)
3．Importance of self care and conditioning
This may sound like a common sense. But the truth is that it is actually hard to do proper self care in everyday life and be getting physically and mentally ready for the big alpine climbing trip. If you are working the work caught up in you so it's a big challenge to prepare for the big climbing unless we make councious effort.
For my case, I worked 12 hours five days a week but every other week I took 3 or 4 consecutive days off. The first day of my days off are mostly used for getting to the area and easy climbing as a warm up and actual attempt started from Day 2.
Since my job is route setting at the climbing gym, I was climbing everyday for my work. But on top of that I started to work on my weakness. So I asked my girlfriend (Personal Trainer) to write me some good customised stretch and exercise plans and followed them at home.
| The second pitch of Man Yoga|
|At the peak of Little Snow Dorm at the Columbia Ice Filed Training for Mt. Tmeple|
All strong alpine climbers leave results. Even though that is not something that they initially planned, they do thier best under the adverse condition pushed against them. In other words they define success as whether they are satisfied with what thety did.
For me, I was obsessed with Mt.Ball as a goal last year and as soon as I realized that I could't climb I lost all of my motivation. This winter I took 10 days off for the winter alpine climbing in the Rockies. My initial goal wasn't Temple but bacause I couldn't obtain permit we had to choose Mt.Temple which was plan C for us. The condition of the wall, weather and the fact that there were only one party that previously succeded the ascend were already tempting enough to set as a goal. And we truly switched mind to think that was the best goal for us at the time.
|North face of Mt.Temple |
Yellow：The line that I climbed with Takeshi before
５．Do not give up just because of the small adversity
During our attemp at the Sphinx Face this time, there was a mishap happened to us. Bob's crampon got broken while climbing.
Under that situation it was impossible to fix the crampon at the spot, we both got silent for a bit but we deceided to do a temporary fix on it by using the rope we had. At this time, neither of us used the word "bail" and we both knew we wanted to continue. This forced us to think about what we can do with what we have. If one of us said the word we would have decided to bail. The important thing is to develop skills to accurately know where we are, if it's past our limit or there is still space for us to push for the growth as an Alpine climber.
|Sphinx Face |
Bob looking up at the overwhelming wall
|Getting closer to the Sphinx Face Head Wall|
|After enduring through the crampon mishap and cold bivi, finally passing the crux|
The most popular pic for this season at my fb
At the starting point of the Full Moon Corner
Photo by Bob Kikuchi
|Topped out as the gloomy weather was starting to appear|
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the support from Millet, my amazing climbig partner, friends and supportive family.