If you had asked me in Sept 2021, “Will I be able to lead 5.10d sport this year?” I would have surely said, “No F***ing way”. But truth revealed itself today when I led my first 5.10d, “Headless Horseman”. Did I progress so well in 2 months? Nope, I was capable of leading Headless Horseman even in Sept, but two things were blocking my way:
Lack of consistent climbing on real rock.
In spring 2021 when I first led a couple 5.10a climbs, Irreverence, Orion and a 5.10b Leper Messiah, I learned that I need consistency to push grades. Some brave souls can onsight 5.13s just by being weekend warriors but I needed to consistently see improvements in technique, trusting feet, overcome fear and squashing self-doubt. So, I decided to buy my second house near Smith Rock. This was not an easy decision esp. because to me it seemed unwise to take on another financial burden as I start my PhD journey. But after days of critical thinking and data analysis it seemed plausible. Also, it proved to be a huge time-saver while working hard at work, academia, and rock climbing.
I closed in June, but we did not move until after our last endurance goal i.e., Wonderland trail run in 3 days. From Sept, I was prepared to give a break to my running shoes and focus solely on climbing. We climbed everyday after work and a few hours over the weekend. I made a training plan to lead Moons of Pluto as my first 5.10d but after I TRed Headless Horseman yesterday, my brain was full of hopes and self-doubts simultaneously. It certainly felt on the edge, but it seemed possible for me. Although, I think falls on Moons of Pluto are safer than the arete part of Headless Horseman.