Jack Roberts - Life Training

Thursday, May 12, 2011







By Jack Roberts

Here I am again running up the Mesa Trail in the early morning light with my dog Pisco, training for another South American climbing trip. I’ve been watching my pulse, feeling my breath, counting the calories, the carbs and especially the fat content of all that I eat.  I’m lifting weights on odd numbered days and climbing on all the others.  That’s when I’m not guiding for a living as well.  I’m trying to do the right things that make me stronger and more successful in the mountains - whatever that means.  The training always changes.  Sometimes I need to run more for endurance so I can fly like the wind on long, alpine routes.  For other climbing trips I need to climb indoors and lift weights so I develop explosive strength for those steep, long free climbs that are always on my hit list.  But one thing I do notice is that I am always training for something.  What?  And more importantly, why?

Mainly I’ve found that training for climbing helps keep my life simple.   And in this day and age with instant meals, instant travel, instant information and instant gratification, life gets complicated.  It’s not easy living a simple, uncluttered life.  It takes work.  Effort.  Just like running, or climbing, or lifting weights.   For me it’s important to not own a TV and to read a lot of books and to write.  It’s important to cook my own meals and have friends to share those meals and wine with.  It’s important to go outdoors often and return after a day out hungry, dirty, tired and sore.  That always puts a smile of my face and makes me feel alive.  It’s the simple pleasures that give meaning to my life.

Climbing for over 40 years has instilled values in me that go deep.  The lifestyle that has evolved around climbing has now become more important than the actual physical sensation of moving on stone or ice.  More important than reaching summits is living an examined life, making every action count.

Climbing has trained me well for life separate from the cliffs and mountains I play on. Climbing has taught me how to overcome fear, hesitation, self-doubt, sickness, hunger, fatigue and more.  It has shown me the necessity of being alone occasionally, that being afraid is normal and that being in wild places where no one has gone before is a good thing.  Climbing has taught me how to leave security behind in order to lead a more fulfilling life. It has taught me to conserve energy, and save money, time and resources.  This lifestyle has given me everything.  Whatever I can’t carry on my back has to be left behind, not only in alpine climbing but also in life.

This is what I m really training for as I run the trails or solo the Third Flatiron.  A better life.   It isn’t the physicality of the body that I am training for so much as it is to sharpen and hone the mind’s ability to let go of all the stuff in life that doesn’t matter.  It is a constant reminder to keep my life uncluttered, simple and pure.

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