• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    Margo Hayes Sends La Rambla (9a+/5.15a)
    Margo Hayes Sends La Rambla (9a+/5.15a)
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    TNB: Born-Again Gumby


    “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind, there are few.” —Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

    Could it be that the mindset of a gumby is the key to early season success? Illustration courtesy of Bigstock. Ah…spring is here! And with the thaw of winter, climbers in my neck of the woods (the Colorado Rockies) return to the rock like newborn babes. At least I do. With soft skin, flabby muscles and a wobbly head, I’ll crawl out from the dark cave of winter a born-again gumby.

    In the past I have tried to fight this seasonal return to gumbyness by pulling plastic through the dark months—but somehow climbing in the gym never seems to pay off. I’ll either return to the rock with fingers and elbows as weak as wet sandstone, or I’ll simply be depleted of any motivation to climb once the spring returns.

    For me, fighting the spring re-birthing process seems as fruitless as trying to explain to your mom why your recent V8 boulder problem was such an amazing breakthrough in your life. “You see, I had been falling at this gnarly cross-through to a little half-moon crimp-pocket, but I finally found this thumbercling for my left hand that held me in just enough!”


    But this spring, I believe I have found the key to early season success. Maybe I shouldn’t fight the return to becoming an early-season gumby. Maybe I should embrace the seasonal change that forces climbers like me into a humbling yet open-minded state.

    I’m starting to believe that returning to the rock as a shaky, less confident, but expectation-less climber should not be a negative experience. In fact, the beginner’s mind acquired from the forced break from climbing is perhaps the mindset I should be striving for all season!

    Seeing the world of climbing through fish-eyed gumby goggles might just be an equivalent to the long sought-after Zen state of mind known as Shoshin. Shoshin, or the “beginner’s mind” is a philosophy that praises the openness with which a beginner approaches zazen, ritual, or even life itself. In the 1970 spiritual classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki writes, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind, there are few.”

    Could it be that seeing the world of climbing through the eyes of a gumby—whether reborn or actual—is an open and productive mindset with which you can or should approach climbing?

    If you think about it: who didn’t experience faster rates of improvement during their formative years as a climber? One day you’re a 5.9 climber and then bam! you suddenly leap into the once-stratospheric grade of 5.10. Just like that, you climb a new grade. I’ve often argued that this was due to the relative ease of the lower grades, but … could it be that it was actually because of a lack of limiting preconceptions?

    My early days of climbing weren’t that long ago. With gumby goggles in full effect, my friends and I would gaze at a hunk of stone. Lacking finger strength, core strength, and other physical attributes of a honed expert climber, my friends and I would often devise completely ridiculous, albeit, creative ways to climb routes and problems.

    Chris Sharma spots another line. Photo by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ladzinski.com/site/">Keith Ladzinski</a>.“Dude, I’m gonna grab that left-hand jug and throw a figure-four to get that right hand crimper!”

    Obviously these “avant-garde” methods didn’t always work, but this creative “beginner’s outlook” seems to be a trait that really good climbers carry with them throughout their whole careers while establishing some of the world’s hardest climbs.

    For instance, I’ve always noticed Chris Sharma’s “spacey” approach to sending the world’s hardest routes while watching any of the five volumes of Dosageover and over again. Sharma’s belief in seemingly impossible movements and bizarre sequences seems almost naïve … until he sends that shit! Then you’re like, whoa, he actually did that? It seems that Sharma never lost the blissfully distorted “anything’s possible” view that’s readily apparent when you’re still a gumby.

    With a little research, I found that Sharma is actually aware of his own “gumby” mindset. Once writing in a personal journal that was published for the masses in 2003, he reflected: “In Zen they talk about keeping a beginner’s mind and experiencing each moment fresh and completely open without the hindrances of expectations and regret.”

    But even Sharma admits that his own gumby goggles fog with the crusty film of expectations from time to time. “It’s difficult for me to have a beginner’s mind in climbing,” he wrote, “because everyone, including myself expects me to be an expert.”

    So could it be that the crux of each season’s climbing is not the individual hard moves of the climbs you try, but the struggle to maintain an open mind?


    For some climbers, an aid to replenish the enlightened state of a beginner is to take a break from climbing; Sharma actually quit climbing for four months after sending Realization (5.15a). French rockstar Patrick Edlinger spent his winters mono-skiing instead of climbing. For others, like Alex Megos (who recently onsighted 5.14d and sent a 5.15a second try) keeping a fresh perspective requires a three-try limit on climbs before moving on to the next route. (That’s easy for you, Alex!) But I’m interested in hearing about other’s methods of keeping climbing fresh. Feel free to comment below …

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