In my past life as the Petzl North America Athlete Coordinator I used to tease Daniel Woods by telling him that he had “practiced” long enough on the boulders and was ready to start climbing again. I say “again” because when I first met Daniel, he was only 14 years old and working Super Tweak (14b/8c) in China Cave (Logan Canyon, UT). He had the worst beta I’d ever witnessed for the opening V9 boulder problem, but pulled it off easily and redpointed the entire route in a relatively short amount of time. It was definitely the youngest ascent of the route. It was obvious to me that he was an incredibly strong, naturally gifted climbing athlete.
Soon after our encounter at China Cave I began working with Daniel routinely via my employment with Petzl and had ample opportunity to watch him first hand push the limits of pure power movement on stone through his bouldering exploits. As with Daniel, I had the extreme honor and privilege of working with additional gifted athletes like Dave Graham, Lisa Rands, Joe Kinder, Sean McColl, Chris Sharma, Ashima Shirashi, Nick Duttle, Jon Cardwell, Alli Rainey, THE Raboutous’ (whole damn family), etc., etc., which helped confirm my personal long time philosophy that strong boulderers make strong climbers.
I am constantly amazed at how all of the above athletes can boulder and train for a few months then tie into a rope and send hard routes quickly…so…here we are once again, Maggie and me, in southern Utah “practicing” on large pebbles and testing ourselves daily. We take repeated ground falls, feel muscle pain in places that we didn’t even know we had muscles and bruise our delicate egos ten times more than our fragile aging bodies. We wake up sore, even on consecutive rest days and yet, somehow, we take solace in the knowledge of a simple truth…that which doesn’t assassinate us serves to make us stronger. For us, bouldering may ultimately be an end to a slightly different mean, but it is also very a fun way to practice for the REAL climbing to come.
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