Critical Thinking

 Climbs with a hard start are the best. Any commitment issues get resolved right away. Nantucket Sleighride is like that. Once you make those first few moves, your teeth are locked and the rest be damned. Fortunately, the fall protection is good in the first half of the route, where you face difficult climbing. That’s because you rely on a crack to place the protection yourself, so all the decisions are yours and you can let them evolve. After you leave the crack at the mid-point, you rely on bolts. Then you have to guess about the climbing between the bolts. Is it within your capabilities, and if so, how far within? You have to guess at the consequences of a fall. How far would it be? Might you bounce on the way down? You have to guess about the bolts. Do they look like they were placed by a Prussian officer or the guy down the road with the junked cars in his yard? Most of all, are you running on fear, ambition or reason? On Nantucket Sleighride, it all comes to a head at the last bolt. From there, you have 30 feet of climbing to finish, so a 60 foot fall if you blow it right at the end. The fall would be ugly, too. Twelve feet above the bolt, two harder moves guard the way, then the climbing eases. A right hand where the left hand should be could end badly right there. But the fall would be unpleasant rather than a catastrophe. After those two moves you get no reprieve psychologically, it is all physical, technical relief. The trick is to see the truth: the first twelve feet and the remaining eighteen feet are two separate things rather than one, as your inner child insists. Launching from that bolt is a real exercise in critical thinking.

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