By Chris Healy
Three years ago, I climbed my first V9. I had been climbing for about 2 years at the time. I had done 3 V7’s, and 5 V6’s. Despite a lack of a good base, I was psyched to try some harder stuff just to see what would happen, just to see if I could do some of the moves. So one day I made the hike up the steep hill to a climb called Gription. This thing was pretty legend around St. George. I was stoked just to see it in person. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. The rock was bullet hard. Its shapes and visual aesthetics were profound. I fell in love with it, and I fell hard.
I spent the next month pretty much only climbing on this one boulder problem. I would hike up there 4 or 5 times during said month and would put in three or so hours of work each time I went. Some days were hard to trudge myself up to it, but most of the time, I was excited to climb on the magnificence it offered. Within the first two sessions I had done all the moves, but linking them all together was a different story. I spent the next 3 sessions just going up there to practice the moves. I would try the bottom section several times, and then I would try the top section several times. Then I would try to link them together, identifying weak spots in my climbing with each attempt. I continued to just practice the moves over and over again until I sent.
This is probably my most memorable and meaningful ascent. It’s lived as a perfect memory in my brain ever since that experience, to be topped my nothing else, and matched by few. One thing I had always wondered about was the difficulty in terms of a grade. Did I really skip V8? Was what I did as hard as I thought it was? The only thing I knew for sure was the quality of the experience. I had thought about repeating it, but worried that that might jade my previous experience.
Recently, I found myself in Moe’s Valley on my birthday, kind of just circuiting around, not really trying anything hard. I decided I would go pay a visit to my old friend. When I first got to it, there were some people there, but they soon left. It was just me and Gription, just like old times. I laid my pads out and started at the bottom, wanting to see how far I would get. To my surprise the first two moves felt really easy. A stark contrast to how they felt three years ago. I fell about halfway though. The move where I get a left toe hook on the rail feet really hard! Ironically I remember this move feeling not too bad. Haha. Overall certain moves felt easier than they did previously, while other moves felt harder than they used to. For the next hour I persisted in trying the problem, until I sent. I was surprised it took me that long. It felt really hard still, which I was happy about. It gave some validity to what I had done three years ago, and it was fun to have a sort of miniature repetition of my original process.
I must say, this was a fantastic experience. In no way did it jade my original ascent. In fact, it amplified it. It renewed the memory and made it that much more special to me. It also gave me a good idea with where I’m at in my climbing. Something that took me a month three years ago, this time only took me an hour. I’d say that’s a pretty dang good improvement! I’ve also been thinking, if I was capable of pushing myself that far back then, what could I do now? Many times, I’ve thought (and been told) that I’m regularly trying stuff below my limit, that it was time to try harder things. And to some degree I have, but not nearly to the degree that I did with Gription. I think climbing it again has given me a new faith and a new motivation. I’m really psyched to get out there and rage!
*Originally Posted March 4, 2017