I needed a project. Something close to home, something that would take my mind off the multitude of things keeping me up at night. Something I could pour my heart and soul into. Something that could help me release some of the pent up aggression I had been harboring. Enter, As Hard As They Come.
I first tried As Hard As They Come in the fall of 2014. Located at the Gandalf Area in the Poudre Canyon this sector is host to some of the best boulder problems in the canyon. Back in ’14 the main objective was to climb the stand start but the move out right to the sloper felt impossible to me. A winter spent doing mind numbing hangboard session after hangboard session, campusing and weight training and I returned in the fall of 2015 with a little more strength and power. The move still felt strenuous but I discovered a small left foot which got me just a little closer to the sloper and I stuck the move the first time I used the new left foot, which was a monumental breakthrough for me and I took a quick rest and sent the stand start that day.
I went to work on the sit start that same fall season but then the entry moves, which feel like you are doing 400lb bicep curls, had me wondering again if it was possible. I stuck the first moves a handful of times that fall and went back to the drawing board in the winter. More hangboarding, more campusing and a lot more weight lifting and I returned in February confident I could take it down. It didn’t go as planned. The first move I had dialed but now the bump to the second crimp was giving me fits.
After a quick trip to Bishop, CA in March I was back home feeling stronger than ever and with bullet hard skin from a week in the Buttermilks the first two crimps felt as soft as sandstone. And then it snowed, and then it snowed again. Now with the end of April approaching I was starting to wonder if I would be able to finish the job before the river got to high.
More determined than ever I was willing to spend every climbing day I had on the boulder problem. I started waking up at 4:30 AM so I could get to work early enabling me to drive up the canyon in the afternoon to try it. I filled my truck with almost every pad I had willing to make multiple trips across the river if I couldn’t find anyone to go up there with me. Out of nowhere my good friend Gustavo Moser returned to Fort Collins and I talked him into heading up there with me on the afternoon of April 13th. I thought this was going to be the day. Coming off two rest days and with Gustavo’s infectious psych I was convinced I would be driving home that evening having sent. Again, it didn’t go as planned.
I sat at home watching it rain and snow on April 17th patiently awaiting a snow report from my buddy Damon Vaughn who had gone up the canyon to ski at Cameron Pass. Finally at 3:56 that afternoon I got the text message from Damon, “Could be worse, it’ll be a few days though. There’s about a foot there now. The pass had about 30 new inches though.”
I rallied another good friend and on April 20th Cooper, Mark, and I left town at 4 PM armed with shovels, brooms, brushes, and an ice axe. After prepping the boulder that evening I took two more rest days and drove up the canyon by myself on the afternoon of April 22nd.
Slowly warming up at the Hatchery boulder and waiting for Cooper and his girlfriend Nicole to arrive I reminisced on the past three months of doing the same warmups over and over before heading further up the canyon to the Gandalf Area. I thought about the times when the warm ups felt so easy, and the times when the warmups felt hard due to a horrific lack of sleep and an overall feeling of just being down. I thought about all of the friends that had done the same warm ups with me and all the great conversations we had and the days we got to spend together all because of one boulder problem. I looked back on the day we brought our Romanian friend Adrian Zdrobis up to the problem and he did it in one session and remembered how poorly I climbed on it that day but watching him crush was enough to keep me going.
Cooper and Nicole finally showed up and we all finished warming up and proceeded up the canyon. We got the pads all situated under the boulder and I did the stand start as a re-warm up, it felt insanely easy. I came down, rested for 5 minutes and pulled on. The first move felt horrible and I only got three fingers on the first crimp, but I brought my right foot up and decided I might as well try to bump to the second crimp. I stuck it. I switched feet, came into the first crimp and about fell. I told myself before pulling on that if I made the first two moves there was no way in hell I was falling. Left foot up, toe hook with the right and crossed to the slick pegmatite right hand. I got it right where I wanted it and crimped down with a vengeance. Slowly dragging the right toe hook up I glided up to the left hand gaston, I hit it perfectly. No longer having to use the small left foot due to the numerous hours spent campusing and weight training I brought my right foot up and fired out to the sloper like a boss, again, I hit it perfectly. I paused for a split second but I already knew I had it in the bag before I even bumped to the jug pinch, like I said, there was no way in hell I was falling. I bumped to the pinch and continued with the remaining moves to the top and just like that it was all over.
Persistence is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” This is what I learned from As Had As They Come the most. That you have to be persistent with the things you really, really want in life. You have to be willing to dig in, work hard and continue to try even when things feel impossible or don’t go your way.