This summer I'll be bouldering in Rocklands, South Africa. I've been to Hueco Tanks and Fontainebleau in the past and Rocklands is measured at this same standard. In 2011, before I travelled to Fontainebleau I had some thoughts to share about my dreams of that magical forest and what I expected from my time there. Looking back, time having eroded things, I feel that my experience there was not what I had hoped it to be.
In 7 weeks I'll be departing for South Africa. How many and what expectations do I have? What do I want this trip to be like? The answer: I don't know.
Before my trip to Fontainebleau I was fully prepared and ready. I would look through the guidebook at night and imagine my body moving across the rocks. I would imagine the French villages and the beach sand stuck to my climbing shoes. I arrived and absorbed everything, comparing things to my expectations and constantly awakening.
Before my trip to Rocklands I am also fully prepared - prepared physically and logistically. I have a copy of the guidebook, I have my clothes ready, reservations made, and time booked. Physically I'm prepared as much as I'm going to be. I competed all season, trained with the team all season, and challenged myself as much as I could.
However, I am not prepared mentally and I don't know why.
I'll keep comparing this Rocklands trip to my Fontainebleau trip. It wasn't until about 2010 when I wanted to go to Fontainebleau. For six years before that I had no desire. The climbing style was as foreign as the location and I wasn't attracted. Maybe in the end I just needed to grow more, or at least grow into it (Fontainebleau). It eventually happened and I was so happy for that. The memories of that trip are wonderful.
Have I grown into desiring the Rocklands? I think so, but not at the same level. Is it simply because it's no longer my first trip over the atlantic to a major desination, or have I just not watched enough Rocklands videos online? Is it simply because there's no magic in Rocklands? There's no footage of Ben Moon sending Karma, or Ty Landman crushing Khéops. You can't ignore the fact that there's just fewer magical moments to expect from Rocklands.
Or is there? Let's be honest, I didn't climb well in Fontainebleau. I don't know how much of it was due to the weather but in five weeks I climbed only one V11 and two V10. The week before in Albarracin I did three V11 and one V10 in one week.
However, with a doubt, the magical things I can expect from Rocklands are great climbing moments. I will climb better in Rocklands. I will climb harder, I'm sure. I'm good at the style of climbing in Rocklands and I will enjoy it.
I just have to get mentally prepared for it. That's the missing piece. I need to know the climbs more, read about the place more, dream about it more. I need to have expectations. Magical or not, achieveable or not, inflated or not. Perhaps once I have those expectations I can then begin to let them go, replacing them with hopes and then I can succeed.