In Between The Trees Ty said he had hopes but not expectations. The guy is wise beyond his years. I came to Grampians with a truck load of both, although the truck of expectation was much larger. Expectation in this case was the pressure I put on myself to perform at a certain level. I can’t really remember feeling this too much back when I was climbing regularly. I remember the feeling of knowing I could do something and putting pressure on myself to actually do it, but I don’t remember the unbelievable burden of expectation to perform at a certain level.

Perhaps I had nothing to live up to then, I simply went climbing and tried as hard as I could. But now I feel like I have to live up to my own legacy. It’s a truly terrible curse and one which shouldn’t even exist. At the back of my mind my ego is trying to break through and it’s telling me that I shouldn’t fail on a v9, that a v9 should be easy, that I should simply go to it and do it. What that does is remove all sense of joy from climbing and that’s awful. The weight of the expectation I had on myself acted as a burden and it took the joy out of some otherwise great climbing.

Expectation is the root of all heartache - Shakespeare

I wasn’t climbing for the sake of climbing, I was climbing to prove to myself that I could. On easy problems it didn’t seem to matter too much. If I fell off a v4 or 5 a few times I didn’t really care, but if I fell off a V9 or 10 then I would feel like a failure. I needed to meet my expectations otherwise it felt like a failure. The hilarious thing in all of this is that even back when I was climbing lots I would go and fail on a v9 and not be upset. I’d have a great session failing on a v9. But now, my ego is telling me that I’ve climbed 8B, and because of that v9 should be E-A-S-Y. This is such a bad attitude to have, one which is mentally debilitating and physically draining. It’s hugely unhealthy, yet I was able to see it happen and remain a victim of it.

Several times I persisted on boulder problems not because I enjoyed climbing them, but because I had to do them to try and prove that I could. I would top out without a smile, without a whoop, and with no sense of joy. A mild sense of relief would sometimes furnish me with it’s presence, but most of the time there was only a sense of failure that I hadn’t done it more easily. The true insanity and sadness of this situation should be readily apparent.

But it’s not all despondency, there was some hope. The ray of hope punching through the very dark clouds of expectation was my dream of doing Ammagamma. It was a ridiculous dream. It was V13, as hard as I’d ever climbed, but I told myself it was possible. I forced myself to believe it was possible even through rationally I maybe knew it wasn’t. Ammagamma. The incredible problem first climbed by Klem Loskot and now resident on every boulderers dream tick list. It’s beautiful. It’s hard. It’s powerful. It doesn’t have any small holds. I never let go of the hope that I could do this problem. Maybe it was my life jacket.