Beautiful Soup

Beautiful Soup

If there is one recurring theme about my climbing you probably picked up from reading this site over the years is that I get injured.  A lot.  In fact, injury was the main impetus for my starting this site some 4 years ago.

While most people spend their winters training and getting strong for the upcoming year of climbing, my recent winters have mostly been spent bemoaning my luck and resting various injuries.  This past winter was looking to be a repeat thanks to a lingering finger issue, but I decided to take a stand against my fragile body.  I decided to just keep climbing.

Now, by “just keep climbing” I don’t mean that I go into the gym every session and climb a muerte with total disregard for how things are feeling.  Instead, I am doing something totally radical and actually listening to my body and adjusting what I’m doing based on how things feel.  This has allowed me to engage in somewhat of an active recovery that has improved my finger issue maybe 50% and given me some modicum of fitness going into the spring season for the first time in several years.

I spent the month of February bouldering in anticipation of a trip to LRC in Tennessee which was successful on the climbing front, but not so much on the injury front.  Messing around at the end of the trip I managed to strain or tear a ligament in my knee!  Oops…

Bouldering at LRC prior to exploding my knee

In 2009 I had the same thing happen to my other knee for which I took at least 6 weeks off from climbing of any kind.  This time I just switched my focus to routes, wore a knee brace and was content with the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to drop knee anytime soon.  This effort culminated in a couple of successful trips to the Red River Gorge that saw me redpoint more or less my hardest route ever.  Thanks to the 37 of you in the latest poll who thought this gave me a better month of March than Adam Ondra 🙂

As April rolls in and my desire to drive 500 miles to project things wanes I’m back in bouldering mode at the local spot:  Devil’s Lake.  Usually you are lucky to see even 1 other person out bouldering at the Lake, but this past weekend I lost count there were so many psyched people roaming around.  Some were even using the little West Bluff guidebook I put together a couple of years ago.  It may be time to update that thing…

The day was highlighted by sampling some of the finer problems along the West Bluff.  First up was Double Elephant, a tall-ish V4 over a landing that gets worse the higher you get on the problem:

Tony executing the crux of Double Elephant.  Try this problem but do not botch this move!

Double Elephant

Double Elephant

Topping out Double Elephant

Double Elephant

Photos: Sarah

After that, we made our way to the main event for the day which is a problem called Beautiful Soup (V8).  This problem revolves around using a hatefully sharp crimp to make a long move to a worse than it looks ledge.  Each attempt peeled back another layer of skin until both Tony and I were bleeding.  I basically gave up at that point, but I taped up my finger to play around a bit more in anticipation of a return trip.

The key to holding the crimp on Beautiful Soup??

Prepping for Beautiful Soup

Photo: Sarah

With any expectations for the day lifted I pulled back on at one point and somehow found myself having stuck the crux move.  A few tenuous moves out right to finish up and I had done the problem.  Saying that I was psyched would be an understatement.

The crux move of Beautiful Soup

The crux move of Beautiful Soup

Photo: Sarah

The moral of the story (for me at least) is that while injuries suck and resting is generally the only sure way to get 100% healthy, time in life is limited and sometimes you have to be satisfied feeling 80-90%.  Besides, you’d be surprised what you can still get done when you’re not feeling your best.  Now if I could just get this shoulder tendonitis to stop flaring up…

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19 Responses to Beautiful Soup

  1. Remo April 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Great post Narc! I highly enjoy reading news about your personal triumphs. Keep them coming.

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  2. josh April 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Congratulations on the send! Also, I love the CN crashpad design.

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  3. Rachel April 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    NIce work Narc! Did tony send also?

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    • Narc April 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

      Negative but his redemption will come soon enough

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  4. WE April 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I am happy to hear that you are dominating injured. I too am injured, my first due to hangovers and neuroses contributing to sub-par climbing in general (though I guess this means that poor is par for me, so not sub-par, but par, bad par). Anyhoo, I am doing active rehab on a partially torn A2 in preparation for the New River Gorge. It’s gonna be pretty awesome, no matter my par.

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    • Narc April 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

      I had/have a partial rupture of the A2 pulley my middle finger as well. It
      has been a recurring problem ever since I decimated my finger pulling
      pockets too much almost 10 years ago. Even though it apparently doesn’t
      really help I’ve just kept it nicely taped and avoided crimping or pulling
      on pockets unless absolutely necessary (read: when I’m extremely pumped).
      This has worked pretty well and while it still is a bit weird feeling at
      times I’m able to be pain free almost 100% of the time.

      I’ve found that the one benefit of being injured is that when I do go
      climbing I try much harder than I ever used to and if things don’t go my way
      I know I gave it my best and I enjoy the time outside.

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      • WE April 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

        I found the best climbing I ever did was after religiously reading John Sherman articles about how grades really don’t matter, but the fun and boldness of the climb (which can be fun). The less I worried about sending, the more fun I had, and the harder I sent.

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  5. WE April 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I am happy to hear that you are dominating injured. I too am injured, my first due to hangovers and neuroses contributing to sub-par climbing in general (though I guess this means that poor is par for me, so not sub-par, but par, bad par). Anyhoo, I am doing active rehab on a partially torn A2 in preparation for the New River Gorge. It’s gonna be pretty awesome, no matter my par.

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  6. Donny April 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Congrats on pushing yourself despite less than ideal conditions, Narc. That seems to be a necessary quality for any decent Midwestern climber to possess. We never met before, but I was one of the guys in that group of four people that were using your guide this weekend. Despite its age, it was actually quite helpful, and after bumping into you for the second time on Saturday we did eventually find Jenga, Moj, and the Dumpster Boulder. Moj is definitely the best problem I have been on at DL so far. How many ascents has that thing seen? I didn’t send but already have plans to come back for it with a friend some time soon before the weather turns on us. Thanks again for creating that guide all those years ago.

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    • Narc April 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

      Cool man, it was great to run into you guys and see people out exploring!

      Steve or Remo might know the exact number of Moj ascents but I think it’s at
      least 5 and likely approaching 10. I know I still need to do that thing so
      I’ll be spending some time up there at some point this year. I may focus
      more time on the Keymaker first since it requires less hiking 🙂

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  7. Steve S. April 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    It really makes me happy to see that people are getting out to the lake! Seriously happy reading that last bit Donny. Moj has been done by 5 people now I think. Nic, Remo, RV, Chris and myself. As always there’s a good chance more have done it without me knowing too!

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  8. Drumsforfingers April 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Listen to the body is probably the best advice there is. That and when the old guys say stop when something hurts. I still think the hardest things about climbing is not climbing. When you take breaks you come back stronger than ever. Find things that get you stronger without putting the same strain on the body (construction, playing music for finger, martial arts/yoga, and it sure seems break dancing works for old jimmy)

    always good to hear success stories!! Hope all stay healthy and strong

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  9. Doug Lipinski April 7, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Nice!!!!! Great send.

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  10. Ian P April 7, 2011 at 3:00 am #

    Mate I get you. At 43 tend to be the oldest in my bouldering crew, and have refined climbing with an injury down to a fine art. The biggest problem for me is remembering how old my body is when my child-like psyche kicks in and I just want to crush until forced to crawl away and hide for a while (which could be why the injuries continue to occur). Remember (I tell myself again and again) you must warm up (unlike these young whippersnappers), stretch, tape, consider your actions carefully… before jumping on that V8 you just know you can smash. Ahh…the wisdom only age can bring…

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  11. BLOCHEAD April 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Wonderful post. This site does such a good job of stitching together both professional and personal aspects of climbing. Whether it’s the next big name and number or reflections on climbing alone or injured I always enjoy reading.

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  12. Rhoads April 8, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Narc, you should seriously take up trad climbing. One day this bouldering crap is going to kill you!

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    • Narc April 8, 2011 at 1:41 am #

      You might be on to something there

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  13. Matt de Camara April 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Great post Brian! I have also had a slew of injuries over the past few years. I’m at the point now where I’m listening to my body and climbing through it. You’re right, life is short. Beautiful send on Beautiful Soup!

    PS. SWEET crashpad, CN style.

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  14. David Reifert July 16, 2011 at 12:00 am #
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