The Spirit of the Jedi; Witnessing an Awesome AO Sport Climbing Performance

After five days of rest (yeah, five whole days off!), with the hurricane and rain behind us, we ventured out to climb in the sunshine yesterday afternoon. I was loving the sun and trying to climb in it to keep my hands warm. As the sun dipped low behind the horizon, I was shivering in my down jacket belaying Kevin, when one of the guys climbing next to us started gushing about how perfect these conditions were at this point, what with the cold shade and brisk breeze accompanying it. I again wondered at how human perceptions of what entails perfect conditions for rock climbing can vary so much from person to person…one man’s perfect is another lady’s hand-numbing impossibility. I’m just glad that at least my main climbing partner (Kevin) likes it warmer than lots of guys do, even if he can tolerate it a bit colder than I can.

So I gave up on climbing another pitch, and we packed up our stuff and started to walk down the trail to the car. Rounding the corner at the Pure Imagination/Golden Ticket area, we stumbled upon a small Adam Ondra scene in play – apparently, a short while back he’d onsighted Pure Imagination (14d), and he was just about to give Golden Ticket (14d) a go. We started chatting with Nick Duttle about the routes we’d just been on, and (as is normal), Jedi started making the rounds through the small, quiet crowd of people gathered about to watch the attempt. Next thing we knew, he’d cozied right up to AO and was practically climbing into his lap. Adam’s belayer looped the rope around them, performing some cultural pre-onsight 5.14+ juju-Jedi ritual or something, but Jedi didn’t seem to care; he was fine being a pawn in this game so long as he was being petted. Obviously, they recognized immediately that Jedi has mind powers that can help prepare people — particularly other young Jedis – for hard sends.

Just kidding, of course. But it was funny to watch, still; that dog works his way into everyone’s heart immediately and brings people together with his goofiness and loving nature.

Anyhow, if Jedi hadn’t stopped and made himself part of the scene, I probably would have walked on by – I was tired, cold and hungry and ready to head home, but since Jedi insisted, we decided to sit back and watch the show. As you probably already know, it did not disappoint. For me, the coolness that’s hard to capture though, wasn’t just that AO succeeded in crushing such a hard route. What can I really say about that that hasn’t been said before – he grunted and yelled and tried really hard and skipped a clip and ran it out and did some incredibly difficult moves that I’m sure most people do dynamically statically and yeah, that was really pretty amazing to see in person, for sure (understatement!). But it was also the spirit of the particular scene, the energy floating around the crag along with the climbing performance that happened that made it so cool to be there. It felt mellow and electric at the same time; everyone was psyched but there curiously wasn’t a feeling of pressure; it was more just an aura of strong support along with hope and encouragement. I hope that’s what AO felt too – because I felt it, loud and clear. What an awesome time and place to happen upon such a display of both incredible climbing prowess and the positive energy of the climbing community supporting and loving its own Jedi.

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