Jeff Mercier, climbing in “The Hall of Justice”, Ouray, Co.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Curled under the blankets in my bed at the hotel room, comfortable, relaxed, and ready.  Today, myself amongst a pile of other competitors had 30 minutes to practice on the upcoming Ouray Ice Festival competition route.  Every movement, through every sequence felt good.  Really good.  Various techniques in training would come to mind on the fly, mistakes made in past were exchanged with confidence in my ability, allowing my movement to be flawless.  I’m as prepared as i’m going to be.  And now i find peace, relaxation, contentment – resting in my hotel room.

The competition world is a funny thing; in that there are so many aspects to consider, so much preparation involved, so little time to actually climb, sacrifice, time away from home, friends, and the $ expense of it all.  It’s an entirely different world than climbing in general.  It can be very overwhelming to say the least.  And it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.  But if you have a heart for competition, you know why i do it.  When your heart races watching the gold medal race at the olympics, that feeling, that excitement–You know why i’m willing to push myself harder than ever before, digging deeper than ever before.  That moment you leave the ground, when you start up that competition route, there’s an opportunity to come alive, to be you, to lay it all out and give it everything you’ve got.  It’s a feeling that words can’t describe, only a rush of excitement that give’s you the ability to fly.

It’s a sacrifice indeed.  This year in the rockies, conditions have been off the hook. New routes are going up everywhere, people are getting after it left and right, and the psyche seems to be through the roof.  Wicked.  And so wicked to see friends crushing it all.  And this is where mental toughness comes into it all.  So many routes i want to climb, send, crush, etc.  but as it stands…there’s not a lot of time for that.  And i have to be ok with that…because that’s the choice i made…to be focused on comps…to poor everything into that realm of climbing.  And am i pscyhed? You bet your ass I am.  Do i miss climbing lots for fun (in the winter), yeah…i do…but likely…there’s lots of time for that.  So, i’m good with where i’m at…currently…still in my hotel bed…resting before the comp.

The electricity – finding the power.  Power doesn’t always come from the physicality of your limbs.  Sometimes, power comes from the energy in those around you.  No energy…no power.  Lots of energy…limitless power.  The cool thing about traveling from comp to comp is that you get to know people…more so.  Friendships are formed, bonds are created, and relationships are solidified.  The energy that comes from such; it becomes a part of you.  When your bro is screaming encouragement to keep moving, to keep going.  When you get a facebook message from a buddy, wishing you good luck, speaking words of strength, you feel the electricity rush up your spine.  Hearing from your wife and kids, telling you that you’re strong, that “you can do it”, and that she believes in you…well…now that’s power.  You need to find such power.  SOme times being the strongest isn’t enough.  And that has been proven time and time again.  Being the strongest in the moment, mentally is what counts.  If you don’t have the “energy”, you can be the strongest…but…THAT AIN’T ENOUGH SON!  Find the energy, create the bonds, listen to your wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend, and once said power has been gained…you hold onto that until you clip the chains.

I’ve been competing for several years now; with some success and some failure.  It’s a tough road let me tell ya, but that’s the game.  Recently i went into a comp the strongest and fastest i’ve ever been.  En route to the chains, flying through the movement, i fell at the crux because i didn’t process the move.  Boom.  Over.  All that training…and then hanging by the rope in disappointment.  What then, why me? Why  now? Why not clip the chains? Because that’s competition…and sometimes…it doesn’t go how you want.  But, from that, what you take from that…that’s the defining moment.  In my dispair, some one whom i respect a lot flat out told me, “you were meant to compete”.  Those words have rung in my head from that moment on.  How do you bounce back from such defeat? You figure out what happened, sort through it, practice it, be sure of it, and then crush it.  And so that’s where i find myself now.  After the bozeman fest i needed to make a decision: Could i keep doing this? Well, here i am, at the next competition.  But stepping back a sec, after the bozeman fest, i needed to dig deep and figure out what was going on, why i fell, what happened.  And in the last several weeks, i’ve begun to understand.  No need to get into the details, but…let’s just say…i’m no longer going to fear such a distraction.

Remove the fear, remove the pressure, and just climb.  Climb because it’s fun – not because you’re sponsored, or want to be sponsored, not because you’re trying to impress anyone, and certainly not for any other reason that you think will define you more.  Climbing doesn’t define you.  You, your personality, and what you do with that…that’s what defines you.  Not what you can climb, or can’t climb.  Remember that, for competition or in general climbing.  Climbing is a sport, a fun sport, and yes…some poor their hearts into it, maybe as a living or whatever, and that’s rad, as i can attest to that, and even when you climb a certain grade (for yourself), you can rejoice in that..because you tried hard for it.  But, it still doesnt’ define who you are.  Just climb, go up, have fun, and clip the chains.  And if you don’t clip the chains…try again…because you’ll get it.

It’s a funny sport, this climbing.  Dangling around, rock, ice, mountains.  Never ending, always going up.  So rad.  Comp day in just under two days.  Ready, sorted, prepared, fearless, strong, and full of heart.  The rest is noise.  Oh, by the way, that quote at the top, was spoken by my hero – Superman, (Christopher Reeves).  Yes, indeed…soon…what was thought to be impossible…will become inevitable.