Every time I drove south on freeway 215 in Salt Lake City this summer, I looked up at the massive north rock face of Mt. Olympus (see the right couloir up to the longest bare rock face).
It intrigued and scared me at the same time, but I contemplated free soloing it all summer. My final weekend in Utah came around and I knew it was my last chance, so I endlessly searched for a partner who was willing to climb with me. I did some serious convincing to multiple people and though my many attempts were futile, I proposed the idea to Steve (Nyman) on the day before the adventure. As it turns out, convincing him really didn’t take much and we were set to go at 5:30 the next morning.
So we met at the bottom of the climb… little did we know that we were up for not onlysome serious slab climbing, but a lot of intense bush whacking. Talk about extreme karate tree chopping and sketchy ninja cliff down-climbing to get to (and from) the rock face. We gained 4200 Feet of elevation and the rock climb alone was (approximately) an 11-pitch, 1000 foot 5.5 rated climb. The climb in itself was by far the coolest part of the adventure. It was a fairly easy, foot oriented slab that took more mental strength than climbing skill. As long as you didn’t look down, there wasn’t much to be afraid of….
It kind of reminded me of other opportunities I forget (or have yet) to take advantage of. Sometimes when I am racing and overcome a major mistake, I continue on the course with the thought of that mistake in my head. How can you perform to your potential when you are stuck thinking about the past? The same goes for life in general…I am so often distracted by past occurrences and emotions that do nothing but get in the way of enjoying the present (Check out the attachment for a paper I just wrote on a similar topic during my literature class this summer).
Free-soloing (even up a climb that you would not think twice about while roped in) demands an infinite amount of focus on the present, and it was definitely a wonderful
learning experience. There is no looking back: doubt and fear are forced out of your mind,
and turning around is certainly not an option. It’s really comforting and pretty cool to know that I (or anyone willing enough) can obtain the mindset of truly “living in the moment.” Hopefully I can discover this mindset within different aspects of my life (especially skiing), or else I may become addicted to free-soloing. Wait, no…that would be stupid.
Or, would it?
Here is my paper, and some more pictures from the climb below. Peace and love 🙂