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Paige Claassen - The Rhythm of Algorithm

Paige Claassen working the sheer limestone face of Algorithm, at the Fins in Idaho

With sights set on working "Algorithm" for a month in the Fins, Paige Claassen quickly sends her proj..

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Back in May, I came to The Fins for two days with one goal in mind: to do all the moves on "Algorithm." Before I blocked out six weeks on my fall calendar, I wanted to make sure the goal I had in mind was possible. "Algorithm" features hard boulder-problems on small holds and barely-there feet, broken up by positive rests. In between the rests, it’s fairly runout. This means if you can’t do the moves, you aren’t getting to the next bolt.

It took me five days of effort before I even made it to the anchor.

Three sessions later I would be clipping the chains.

This is not my typical projecting schedule. Normally, I settle in for the long haul and spend weeks making small links, slowly progressing toward my goal. I’d never understood the climbers who could 10 hang their project and then send it the next go.

But now I know. The answer, is belief. Belief that you might not actually need six weeks to send at your limit. Maybe two weeks is all it takes.

When I returned to the Fins in September, I was relieved to find I could still do all the moves on Algorithm. The beta came quickly, so I focused on making the easier sections more efficient and the hard sections more consistent. I drew a beta map. I imagined the barely there smears I’d ticked were actually glorious footholds. I imagined that if I just stood on that glorious foothold with the confidence of a hare and the courage of a tortoise that my foot would stay.

 Paige Claassen opting for the stiffer Miura VS for techy smears on "Algorithm"

I told myself the holds were bigger than they were. I told myself I knew all the beta. I told myself I was capable. I told myself that this could actually come together now, rather than 4 weeks down the road.

Believing worked. My feet stuck. I pulled on holds that felt impossible during my first attempts. I remembered my beta (mostly). And it came together.

I didn’t make sacrifices to send "Algorithm." I didn’t give up dessert. I still enjoyed a glass of wine at night with dinner. I ate $4 spicy pork super burritos from the food truck in Pocatello, because holy moly, they are delicious.

What I did sacrifice were my negative thoughts. On my third day working the route this trip, Margo texted me and asked if I’d sent yet. My immediate reaction was, “No, I’ve only been working it for 3 days, that’s ridiculous, I have 5 weeks left!” But I realized Margo was right, this was possible, and I didn’t need 6 weeks to get it done. I just needed to believe in myself and apply a little confidence. I threw my doubts out the window. I ignored the "what if my foot pops" thoughts and replaced them with "what if I send tomorrow?"

It worked. I found myself at the top of the route, shocked. Perhaps even more surprising was that I hadn’t climbed it perfectly. I fumbled my feet in a few parts. I got a little lost in the top out section that I hadn’t rehearsed enough. But I stayed calm, I believed I could do it, and I did it. 

Now I have a few more weeks to play. There’s always another project waiting.     

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Preview Photo: ©Arjan de Kock

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Paige ClaassenPAIGE CLAASSEN has been a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team for 9 years.

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9/13/2018 10:31 AM
Posted in Climbing By Paige Claassen

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