I was bouldering with some friends at Planet Granite in Sunnyvale, CA. It was a holiday so it was pretty busy, but we found a little bit of wall for ourselves and got to working on a problem together. While grappling with this wall, a man that I would guess to be in his fifties came over to do the same.
He had a smooth air about him, greying hair in a ponytail, black framed glasses, and from the looks of his arms not an ounce of fat on him. Along with his calm demeanor came a polite confidence that screamed he was all about the climb and well beyond trying to prove anything to anyone. My friends and I were immediately taken with him and keen to see what he’d do first.
We weren’t disappointed.
When it was his turn, he jumped on the wall and tackled a problem that I would only dream of attempting. It was pretty incredible to watch. We learned a lot simply by observing how he worked those high-end problems.
He was calm, precise, smooth, controlled, and fell from every climb he attempted. Yep, he fell, every single time.
I think that was what impressed us the most. Not the fact that he was attempting those high-end problems, but the way he was doing it. He approached the wall calmly and completely immersed himself in the climb. You could see that he was challenging himself just out of reach (sometimes literally) of what he could do yet he was in control of his body and flowing with the route the entire time except for the last second when he needed to bail. He would attempt a problem, fall, step away from the wall and ponder what he just did. While he was contemplating his moves, we were grunting and struggling up the wall 3 times each to his 1 attempt.
In between climbs we chatted a bit and he asked if it would be okay to give us some beta on the problem my friend and I were trying to solve. The fact that he asked, rather than simply blurting it out, immediately made me respect him more. He helped us, and even showed us what we needed to do in order to get to the next hold. Then he finished with the exact piece of advice a couple of newbie climbers, and anyone in general, needed to be reminded of…
“It’s not about getting to the top. It’s about flowing from one hold to the next hold. Enjoy the journey fellas.”
My buddy and I agreed and just smiled at each other. 🙂
Hi Ryan, I am a long time fan of your work and I have a question regarding your recovery from the labrum surgery I read on the GMB website you had. I am a 24 year old male and I tore my labrum during a jiujitsu tournament and got the labrum surgery (bankart repair) and I was wondering how your recovery was like and how your shoulder feels now. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Ah, man. Really sorry to hear about this. I was very strict with myself, making sure to do all my rehabilitation, and continued with that for up to a year afterwards. In Japan you go through 3 months of working with a physical therapist after surgery so that was great. I have no issues with my surgery at all now. I suggest doing only what your doctor and physical therapist tells you to while doing rehab and don’t do anything silly. You might think you’re good to go again but always ease back into activities, especially BJJ. And when you start back again, only roll with people you trust and that know about your shoulder. Again, do your rehab, continue even afterwards, ease back into things, and don’t do something stupid while you’re healing. Good luck!
How long have you been in rock climbing?
First time was Boy Scouts back in elementary school. Then off and on since then.