Title: Focusing Power


OK, let’s finalize this series of lessons on Power.

  • We started with resistance. Resistance is important for applying our power. Without resistance there is no need to apply power.
  • We also shifted our understanding of stress, seeing it as an opportunity for learning.
  • We determined the importance of having an internal locus of control so attention is focused on what we can control.
  • We released our power by being decisive, cutting off all options except climbing.
  • We addressed how power can diminish by over-valuing the end result.
  • We learned to cycle our power efficiently by shifting it between regaining power (resting/thinking) and applying power (climbing/doing).
  • And, we maintained our power through practice, integrating foundational skills into our warm-ups.
  • Finally, we need to see how to keep attention in the moment during redpoint and on-sight effort, those that challenge us the most.


We all struggle to keep attention in the moment when we are close to sending a route. The desire to send interferes with enjoying the climbing for its own sake. How do we keep attention in the moment when we are torn between these competing desires?

First, it’s important to keep goals in the proper hierarchy, with end goals (sending) secondary and process goals (enjoying climbing) primary. What do we enjoy about the extreme effort of applying our power during such efforts? We must want to be there, in the stress. That is where learning occurs. We feel most alive when engaged, not when the stressful climbing is finished. We can ask ourselves, “What do I like about being in that stress?” Then, when we engage, be there, present for it.

Second, we need to use our eyes to keep attention in the moment. On the final send of Gilgamesh, I used my eyes to keep attention on task, to slow down my anxious mind. I looked intently at each hold as I made the moves. After climbing through the second crux my mind had thoughts of “this could be it.” I had to shout “shut up” to my mind to stop the distraction of sending and redirect my attention to the task with my eyes. It worked; I sent Gilgamesh on May 28, 2013. It was a challenging project for me, rated somewhere between 5.12c – 5.13b, probably around 13a.

Life and climbing can seem very paradoxical. We want the end result but cannot achieve it unless we focus attention on the process. Repoints and sending are important. These give us vision and test our learning. But, we must enjoy the stress of the learning process to achieve these end goals. Once we have a vision, we need to relax into the chaos of the process…and enjoy.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. “I sent Gilgamesh on May 28, 2013.”

    Sounds like you are continuing to value the end goal a bit more than you realize. Excellent visualization though.

    1. Hi Rob, How have you been? Is it wrong to acknowledge the achievement of an end goal, just like it is helpful to acknowledge the achievement of a process goal? Aren’t both important? That one phrase doesn’t stand alone, it goes in context with all the emphasis I put on valuing the process. Didn’t I mention many times over the last 8 or so lessons that the process is important? Please explain a little more so I can understand better.
      How was Southeast Asia? a

  2. Arno,
    The SHUT UP story made me laugh. So true! It’s weird how the almost-in-the-bag thought makes me feel like I’m waking up from a dream. Climbing seems so far away at that moment, even though I had best stay on task. Much like I plan & practice technique and falls, maybe I can practice responding to the thoughts? What would happen if I spent a few climbs deliberately anticipating certain thoughts, to, uh, gather data and conduct experiments? Cheers, Sandy

  3. “I sent Gilgamesh on May 28, 2013.”

    I think Rob was joking about the fact that 2013 is next year.

    1. Wow. 2013? What kind of a Freudian slip is that? What was I thinking? a

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