Tony Yao - Redpointing

Saturday, January 1, 2011

By Tony Yao

Earlier this summer, I was trying to red point a route in Rifle, CO. The route had a boulder problem at the beginning, followed by some moderate climbing in the middle, with a final red point crux at the top. I thought if I could get past the beginning boulder problem then the top "redpoint crux" would be no problem. I had worked the route the previous year and had redpointed the route from the crux to the top several times. This year, I was feeling stronger, but I did not remember the redpoint crux that well. Sure enough, I sent the bottom boulder problem, only to fall up high at the redpoint crux. It took me several more tries to finally finish the route. If I had only remembered the top crux better, I would not have had such a frustrating experience!

The previous year, my plan was to send my project from top down. My plan was to break the route up in to quarters. I wanted to be able to do the top section first, the second half next, and finally the bottom crux to the top. Unfortunately, the weather and time got the better of my project, and I was forced to wait for the following year…

After falling from the redpoint crux, I was really disheartened. I felt like I had sent the route, but I really had not. Consequently, I started falling lower than ever before. My head was just no longer in it.

I sat down with my good friend Robyn Erbesfield to help coach me through my mental block. I had spent much of the summer climbing with Robyn and her family in her home in France, and I really respected her opinion. First of all, Robyn asked me how well I knew the top crux. "Well… since last year, not that well…" Robyn is one not to let your redpoint burn fall to chance. "Well Tony, you need to really get up there, and simply do the top crux over and over again until you REALLY know it." I remembered climbing with Robyn in France, and she had me climb the top crux five times in a row, to really get the movement down regardless of your energy level. Robyn's idea is when you are redpointing a route; you cannot leave sending to chance.

Sure enough, I spent my next burn really, really figuring out the top crux, and I sent the route next try. By climbing a route from the top down can provide that extra mental confidence to send. When you are trying at your limit, the last thing you need to be worrying about is your beta. You need to execute, without hesitation or doubt.

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