Mason Earle redpointed Cobra Crack in Squamish (video link) in July, becoming the 11th person to do it, after Sonnie Trotter succeeded in 2006. That’s only one person per year succeeding on one of the most difficult and beautiful trad lines in the world. 

Mason wanted to be on the list of climbers who’ve succeeded on Cobra, walking into camp, being the hero who had killed the monster. Such motivation points us toward wanting to have done the route. We’ve all experienced such motivation. We’re motivated toward comfort and validating our egos for the achievement. We’ve forgotten why we came to the challenge in the first place: to be challenged, learn, and grow.

How intimate do we become with the monster? What are its intricacies, its subtleties? Why is it beating us time and time again, year after year? Such questions can’t be answered unless we pay attention. We pay attention by shifting our motivation to the learning process. Are we more psyched to be in the stress of the experience, or to be done with the climb? Being motivated by the learning process means we want to be in the stress of the experience, where we’re asked to rise to the level of the challenge, where we’re engaged in what life demands from us. 

This was the shift Mason made toward the end of his experience with Cobra. He realized his ego’s desire to be the hero, to tell others of his achievement. That motivation shifted toward being uninterested in telling anyone. He wanted to do it for himself. That’s what we all need to do to walk a life-journey that challenges us and through those challenges creates a meaningful life. How meaningful is your climbing? How meaningful is your life?

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