I am no longer a 5.11 climber


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 41 - 60 of total 101 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 16, 2018 - 10:49pm PT
I think I might once have been a 5.11 climber, but as I get older, the grades float away like dandelion seeds on the wind. They flit about in the fields of memory, close enough to touch, and yet far away.

If you keep at it, a climbing career is like a bell curve, and I'm pretty far out on one of the tails. Many are doing better, even more have left the field of battle or indeed this earthly realm.

The day Jesse Owens died, a commercial he made mistakenly aired. He said, in hindsight rather prophetically, "Hi, I'm Jesse Owens. I used to be the world's fastest human, but now I'm moving at a slower pace."

My slower pace is not yet the final one Jesse inadvertently announced, and while it lasts, it is full of the same delights and challenges that motivated the sprints my youth. I've come to realize that as a climber, I was a romantic and a sensualist far more than an achiever, and now that achievement is no longer much of an issue, the smell of the rock, its feel under my fingers, the way the rubber-shod foot, guided by a half-century of experience, settles into scoops and divots, these things make me happy and at peace.

I wouldn't complain if I could climb harder, but all things considered, it is a privilege and a blessing to be still doddering about at all. So good bye and fare thee well to those now-hazy days of 5.11 and beyond, I'm off to grovel up something much easier---but no less joyful, no less satisfying; being granted another day on the hill is all I could possibly ask for.

Apr 16, 2018 - 11:01pm PT
Fortunately there are a lot of good 5.10s out there!

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
Apr 16, 2018 - 11:02pm PT
Don’t worry, Grug, the moose will lead those hard climbs for you.



Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Apr 17, 2018 - 02:11am PT
In good years I manage it for a couple of weeks before it starts raining again.

from out where the anecdotes roam
Apr 17, 2018 - 03:19am PT
on occasion it feels like i've cobbled together a functional stride.
that's when my mind races ahead to dreams of jumping sharks

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Apr 17, 2018 - 05:57am PT
I was talking to an extremely well known climber the other day, who is 81. In his day he did 1st ascents all over the US; including the Diamond etc. He was complaining that he couldn't do a 5.6 that he had led many times. Such for the slow decline. I take satisfaction that many climbs I did years ago have been upgraded a notch. I didn't realize that I climbed that hard in my youth!
I turn 72 in July, and last October I did the NEB on HCR in Yosemite, for the last time. It's hard to except aging!
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Apr 17, 2018 - 06:04am PT
Don’t cry when it’s over, smile because it happened
- Dr. Suess

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 17, 2018 - 06:50am PT
I am on the cusp of 75 and I still climb actively. The piece of rock architecture that I choose to puzzle out has no idea of the arbitrary number attached to it. Enjoy the movement and the beauty of where you are...leave the arithmetic at home.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Apr 17, 2018 - 07:27am PT
Yes to Mr. D. Never have been Joe 5.11. I don't have the world's greatest connective tissue, and whenever I'd start to break into 11's, I'd pull something that would set me back. I'd say that 5.10 is pretty dang hard, too, and I think there are very few TRUE 5.10 climbers, that is folks who can send all styles at that grade--slab, face, fingers, hands, OW, chimney, the whole bucket load of styles. I had a good day in the Gorge a couple of weeks ago and sent a 10d proud and clean. I'd TR'd it once over a year ago, so can't claim an on-sight, but I'm hoping to on-sight some sport climbs in that range this year. Since I'm privileged to live in Bishop, for the first time in my life, I've got regular access to good climbing, which is helping a lot. Mostly, I'm just really, really happy to get out, tie in, and move up some steep, beautiful rock.

"Safety Meeting" in the Gorge--10a cruiser and fun!
"Safety Meeting" in the Gorge--10a cruiser and fun!
Credit: Bad Climber


right here, right now
Apr 17, 2018 - 07:31am PT
I mean this in the nicest possible way,
But, Greg, you're naivety is at times, astounding.

At 61, that you are even entertaining this quandary is a testament to the fact that you're doing pretty goddamn well in the genetic lottery.

While some of us are riddled with tendinitis and arthritis and can't write with a pen or pencil without paying serious fines, who enjoy the ability just to walk for half an hour at a crack every few days, for whom 5.6 is a once a year, or once every three years, highly sentimental kind of error, and for whom rock shoes are a serious no-no ... WTF, over!

... Engage in a little caloric restriction, peel back on the beer intake, clue into an aerobic fitness program, say bye-bye to some of those extra pounds, like dandelion seeds in the wind, and start floating back up that 5.11 sh#t to your heart’s content! You got this!!!
Craig Fry

Trad climber
So Cal.
Apr 17, 2018 - 07:44am PT
You can still be 5.11!!!! for almost the rest of your life

All you have to do is do something you love at the same level, grade 5.11

I do 5.11d cactus and succulents, and 5.11b mineral collecting
You got to keep the passion of adventure and expertise alive just like when you climbed during your best days
why not?

It's all in your head, it's just a mental state that extreme physical feats were able to provide
you can have those same mental states with out flexing a muscle

Apr 17, 2018 - 07:57am PT
^^^^ Just see the crazy cult of climbers grading their own mental speculations ..... ^^^^

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Apr 17, 2018 - 08:01am PT
This thread could link up with PTPP’s recent lament about the state of ST (“no longer about hard climbing” or hard climbers).

eeyonkee: For my entire adult life, I have identified with being a 5.11 climber. 

I would say that you’re undoubtably much much more than that. The sins of your confession lie in thinking that you are this or that. I should assume you are multitudes.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Apr 17, 2018 - 08:56am PT
I was barely leading 5.11s back in the early 1980s, when I was at my peak athletically, and before I got hurt. 5.11 was really f-ing hard.

I never understood how other people could just leisurely fly up 5.11s without even breathing hard, when I had to struggle so much. And I was climbing every day.

To this day, it still makes me feel inferior. I never got over it.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Apr 17, 2018 - 10:10am PT
Some 5.10a out at Josh.
Some 5.10a out at Josh.
Credit: Largo

Was out at Josh recently and climbed an easy .10 - on a top rope - and it felt like 5.11. Took me 40 years to realize the biggest thrill was just to be out there at all, where "the lone and level sands stretch far away."

Social climber
The home.
Apr 17, 2018 - 10:17am PT
Kevin looks very peaceful
Kevin looks very peaceful
Credit: Not sure

The big question is are you having fun?

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Apr 17, 2018 - 10:23am PT
I am 57 years old today. The way I see it, any day out in a beautiful place, (that excludes gyms) with a fun partner is a gift.

I recently enjoyed a day out with an old pal who is undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of cancer. Just to be out in the sun and off the deck a few hundred feet looking over Eldo was an especially fine gift that will be one of the best climbing days for me ever.

Thirty years ago, I had no idea that I would ever say that about a 5.8 route.

Blue Ridge Mts, Shenandoah River
Apr 17, 2018 - 10:40am PT
The piece of rock architecture that I choose to puzzle out has no idea of the arbitrary number attached to it. Enjoy the movement and the beauty of where you are...leave the arithmetic at home.

Best advice yet in this thread!

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Apr 17, 2018 - 10:58am PT
I don't mind not getting up other people's routes; kind of hate not getting up my own.

Have kept my weight down this winter, but am not very strong and so on getting out for the second time this spring I whipped twice on a 10b of mine which I have blindfold-wired down to the millimeter and never fallen on. That was certainly sobering enough. Both times I'd done the dyno to a saddlehorn-like feature and then couldn't do a damn thing with it either time, not another frigging inch. Went out the following week and it was casual again, must have been first time out nerves or something. Kind of a wake-up call either way for sure and just happy to be getting out whenever I can, which isn't very often due to work.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 17, 2018 - 11:11am PT
Don't get me wrong. I'm not crying about this. Fact is, I never really wanted to climb harder than 5.11 either, so I was not a numbers chaser. I just always figured that 5.11 (including some 5.11+) was the grade you needed to be at to do many of the great all-day routes in the Valley and particularly in the Black Canyon. I'll still be doing 5.11s in the Black Canyon. I just may not be doing them in the style I'd like to.

I gotta say, 5.11 in Eldorado Canyon has been my nemesis of late.
Messages 41 - 60 of total 101 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta