I never expected to travel to South Africa for 5 weeks when I came to Switzerland for exchange. But how could I – and why would I – say no to an invitation like that?
My big goal for my trip to Rocklands was to send a 7c+/V10. I wanted to have fun, of course, and to climb as many cool boulders as I could, but my “ultimate” goal was to achieve that double digit grade. If you want to know what I sent, refer to my Sendage page: http://sendage.com/user/alannah-yip.
When we arrived in Rocklands I was blown away. I am sure that you have heard this at least a million times before if you are a climber, but it is such an amazing place. All you can see around you is endless amounts of rock, and to me it looks like endless possibility. Arriving in a place like that you really cannot help being extremely psyched on climbing. So it is really no surprise that I quickly found two 7c+ projects that I was really motivated for – Caroline in the Roadside sector and No Late Tenders in Fields of Joy.
About a week and a half into the trip I sent Caroline, and a few days later I was also able to send No Late Tenders. I was, and still am, really happy about both. I have never before sent a boulder problem that took me more than one session. Caroline went in my second session and No Late Tenders in the third (video here). I know neither amount of time is that long, but it was still a very rewarding feeling to go back to something and send it.
After these sends I started to feel a little lost, empty. All of the sudden I lost my motivation. I still went out climbing with everyone, but had no boulders in mind to try and could not really get psyched on any problems we went to. I no longer felt very strong on anything. And I was definitely not my usual happy self (sorry about that everyone).
Regaining my motivation was, in the end, quite simple. I needed to remember the thing(s) I love most about climbing. For me trying hard is fun, and the most rewarding problems (and moves) to climb are those that you have to work hard for. The ones you fell off of the first, second, and maybe even more times. The ones that never feel easy, but somehow you can do.
I jumped at the chance to spend a day climbing with another Swiss friend Petra, because I knew it meant a whole day of speaking English and I needed a break from all of the German. But more importantly I knew that we would be try hard problems, and that I would be pushed to my limit. So, we only tried two problems that day, and both were 8A/V11. I spent the entire day falling off of the same two moves. At the end of the day all of my muscles ached, I was bleeding from the middle of several fingertips, and I was happy. So thank you so much Petra and Natalie – your support, wise words, and positivity really helped me out.
Another important thing that happened that day with Petra was that I started to believe that I could climb 8A. It did not happen this trip, but I am gaining confidence in my own strength now that I have started to see some of the payoff from all of the effort I have been putting into training.
After all of that serious talk, I would like to take a moment to mention the things I will never forget about this trip – things other than the climbing.
- The landscapes. I think the combination of a seemingly endless amount of rock, nightly breathtaking sunsets, and being able to see the Milky Way so clearly made it feel special.
- All of the board games and card games. Especially learning to play the (very Swiss) card game Jass. It was a real struggle to learn, not least of all due to first having to learn the German cards and new German words in order to play.
- Baking Zopf – a delicious and extremely Swiss bread. A pretty decent rest day activity!
- Improving my (Swiss) German. Spending 5 weeks almost exclusively with Swiss people really rubs off on you. I can understand a lot more than before but more importantly I will try to speak. By no means is it good but I now feel confident enough to just try and say things. And I learned some really important vocabulary too – I can tell you to “hold the sled” 😉
- All of the people. From everyone I went down with to everyone I met down there, you guys made the trip amazing.