In Search of Perpetual Psych
I stood on a small slanted ledge about two hundred feet above Eldorado Canyon, craning my neck, staring upwards, trying to catch a glimpse of my climbing partner, who had ventured into the third pitch of the classic Bastille Crack. As I stood there anchored into the wall, a number 12 stopper slipped from its carabineer somewhere above and fell, clipping the corner of my helmet as it bounced to the base of the climb. About 30 seconds later I heard my partner’s voice echo against the canyon walls, it was a voice diffused by thousands of pounds of granite, but still saturated with frustration. I watched as the rest of the stoppers, eight in total, fell to the canyon floor.
“Guess I’ll have to run it out a bit!” I stared up, only to see my friend, his right hand jammed into a crack, feet smearing on crisp granite, and a smile on his face. With half of his original gear, he continued upwards, completely in his element, perpetually psyched. We reconvened at the base of the fourth pitch, a tight chimney squeeze, that would eventually take us to the top of the Bastille, summit hugs, and an amazing view.
Climbing is a mental game. You can train away weaknesses, you can spend hours on end hanging on small edges, crimping until your skin rips and your forearms feel ready to burst, but without the right mind-set, those hours mean nothing. Whether you are floundering up a crack climb in Eldo or trying to throw a heel over a top out in Rocky Mountain National Park, it is crucial that “the psych is high.”
Climbing may be an extreme example, it is a sport that requires the belief that, with enough time and dedication, the impossible is possible. You fall 98 percent of the time, you rip holes in your clothes and skin, and yet, the urge to continue upwards persists. That feeling, the need to climb, comes from within; it is born from the love of rocks and nature, from the love of pushing yourself beyond your physical and mental boundary. It is that feeling that puts a smile on your face 300 feet above the ground, that makes you hike for hours, week after week, to attempt a 12 foot tall boulder somewhere half way up a deer trail, that no one except you, will ever really care about.
As climbers, we are in search of amazing rock and inspiring climbs, but really, as humans, we are in search of perpetual psych. We are in search of that thing in life that wakes you up, far too early, with childlike giddiness for the adventures to come. Whatever your call is, whether it is climbing, hiking, playing basketball, or creating music, run towards the fear of falling, of failing, because, as long as the psych is there, it is a worthy cause, perhaps the only thing that truly matters.