Thursday, March 13, 2014

Focus While Climbing

When climbing, both rock or snow and ice, my mind breaks the objective into little pieces. At least 50% of my time is spent thinking about the very next move or step. Yes, half, even most, of my time is spent thinking about the very next step, what lies a mere two feet from where I am. At climbing's most basic level it is all about the next move. Similarly, exploration is all about the one step ahead of you not taken. 

About 35% of my time is then spent thinking about about the next ten moves or steps. So roughly a third of my time is spent thinking about walking across the room. What small issues might I encounter on the way? Can I maintain the style of climbing I have on this last step, or is a change over needed? Am I changing directions? Do I have a belay coming up?

The final 15%, or less, of my time is spent thinking about the bigger picture like the next belay anchor, the climbers on the rope beyond mine, the weather, my need to drink and eat. This is still a good chuck of time, but it pales in comparison to the mental effort extended on each step, with each body movement, focusing on just making it another 10 meters. 

The time for enjoying the view, thinking extistential thoughts, communicating, and doing most eating and drinking comes at the camps, before and after the day of climbing. For example, the danger of dehydration, acute mountain sickness and HACE pale in comparison to the danger of slipping and falling in my next step. 

Many a goals have been accomplished with the unwitting determination of putting one foot in front of another, until suddenly, there are not more steps to take to reach the goal.

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