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12.12.2016

A few thoughts on: the last bits to 100%

Someone who wants to make
a dream come reality can’t be
preoccupied with efficiency.
For me as well, these occasions
call for 100 % effort.

I often climb mountains at home without giving one hundred percent, and still it is a great experience. If you want to be efficient, you’ll rarely give everything. The Pareto-Principle, named after a Swiss sociologist, states that often enough, eighty percent of the results are reached with twenty percent of the effort.

Yet, for projects at the very limit of my abilities, this approach does not even come close to being good enough. In order to make big dreams come true, one can’t be too worried about efficiency. For my most important goals, I allow myself the luxury of ignoring the effort they take.

Since I have finished my competition career, I have been satisfied with realizing about eighty percent of my potential at the crag. In contrast to my attitude towards alpinism, I am not that interested in exploring my limit in sport climbing. I found my true passion on big faces, not on short routes.

In Lebanon, I came across a project that sucked me in completely, changing my perspective in the process: The Baatara gorge is a spectacular and magical sinkhole in which a waterfall drops for more than one hundred meters. There, I wanted to do the first ascent of a line that follows an improbable sequence of tiny crimps and slopers through the entire, almost horizontal, roof.

After a few tries, I was able to do all the moves, but I continued to work the sequences until everything seemed perfect. On my first redpoint attempts, I still was not successful. I felt close, but I kept falling off at different spots. It annoyed me to not be able to harvest the fruit of my labor and I feared to fail close to the goal. I realized that it was necessary to optimize everything as to overcome the last bits to reach one hundred percent.

I thus went back to the starting point: I looked for holds and feet that I had missed the first time around, reconsidered all my beta, and consciously focused on the easier sections that I had neglected so far. I planned the redpoint as meticulously as possible and considered every detail.

My project, this delicate puzzle of countless tiny details, it began to come together. I regained self-confidence and felt ready to give it some promising tries. I climbed the lower, easier part faster and more efficiently than before and got into a flow that carried me through the roof to the final jug. The skin on my fingertips was through, but I was ecstatic to have climbed the line at last.

The approach to search for the last fraction of optimization when success seemed near was the key to success on this project. Yet in the end, it won’t be the success, but the unconditional commitment to the goal that I will remember.

For my most important goals,
I allow myself the luxury of
ignoring the effort they take.

Published in Magazin Bergwelten

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