12 in 12: New Beginning

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Julie Ellison on Unusual Weather (5.11b/c) at Shelf Road, Colorado. Photo by Alton Richardson

Julie Ellison on Unusual Weather (5.11b/c) at Shelf Road, Colorado. Photo by Alton Richardson

I'm the epitome of weekend warrior. I work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, sometimes Saturday and Sunday when my job requires it, and I climb outside on the weekends and in the gym during the week. I've never had goals in climbing. I've just done it for fun, but lately I've been finding myself a bit frustrated and unhappy with my climbing progress—or lack thereof. Yeah, it's fun to go fart around on some 5.10s and 5.11s at Shelf Road every other weekend, but I want to be stronger. I want to be better. And, YES, this is me whining.

They say the difference between 5.11 and 5.12 is much bigger than the difference between 5.10 and 5.11. Kind of a bummer, but no surprise there, really. When I started sport climbing a few years ago, I never really made that 10 to 11 jump or step or whatever; I just kind of went out and starting trying to climb 5.11. Within one or two outings I was redpointing and onsighting 5.11. That's all well and good, but there's gotta be something more. I need direction in my climbing life, and I think climbing 5.12 will open up a whole new world. (Cue the Aladdin soundtrack. Can you tell I'm a child of the nineties?) Plus, of course, it just sounds cool to say you climb 5.12. I'm not gonna deny my narcissistic inclinations.

Part of my problem is my easily distracted and focusless mindset—hey, look! Something shiny! I've wanted to do-and be good at-every type of climbing since I started getting serious about it some four or five years ago. I hiked and backpacked growing up, which turned into bouldering in high school, mountaineering in college, sport climbing post college, and now dabbling in trad. I'm always surrounded by people who are better climbers than I am. Always being the weak link really lit a fire under my ass. Surrounding yourself with greatness is excellent for improving, but sometimes it's just annoying as shit.

12 in 12: New Beginning

So I've made the decision to make it my personal goal to climb 5.12 in the 2012, hence the name of this blog, 12 in 12. Alright, decision made, now what? I'm going to climb—A LOT, outdoor when I can and indoors the rest of the time. I'm going to train: hangboards, campusing, weights, cross-training. I'm going to eat better (luckily not too big of a deal for me since I get ridiculed for bringing “rabbit food” to the office everyday), beer being the obvious exception. I'm going to read How to Climb 5.12 by Eric Hörst and every other book I can get on the subject. I'm going to ask my fellow climbers what they did to make that step, including you lucky readers, which brings me to my next and final point. What did YOU do? How did you make that leap from climbing 5.11 to climbing 5.12? What are your secrets, hints, and tips? Share with me and I'll give you a dollar. Or that cookie I can't eat anyway.

Feel free to comment below or send your nuggets of wisdom directly to me at jellison@climbing.com.

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