War Face

Navigating emotions on hard climbs

I seethed on the ground after taking the day's first rip on Super Mama 5.13b. It was my second day on the climb and it felt harder than yesterday – by a mile. Frankly, I was fucking pissed.

Why couldn't I do the move? Why didn't I try harder? It shouldn't feel this hard. Why do I suck so much? What am I even doing here? I should quit.

In the classic war film, Full Metal Jacket, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman barks at Private Joker, "Show me your war face!"

Private Joker's face shows he's struggling. When he musters the courage, his eyes reveal conflicted emotions. He's not suppressing his fear, he's stoking anger to fight it. Maybe this is what a muerte! means.

The war face helps me muster the power to pull hard and the courage to take big whips. It's the resolve to fight tooth-and-nail with whatever comes next.

But the war face draws deep, bringing toxic feelings of anger and aggression along for the ride. When deployed unsuccessfully, the war face shakes me to the core. A downward spiral of negativity and self-doubt is often the cost.

This is where I was at with Super Mama. The fact is, I care a lot about sending.

To climb at my limit, I need to bring these emotions to the surface. The offer that extra something that so often makes the difference between sending and not.