Silent Toes & The Power of Choice

Exhibit A: Nate Davison, master of power toeing, on Zen Garden |V10| in Moab, Utah.

Silence, Silence

As I write this, I'm simultaneously writing my next piece for FrictionLabs. A reader emailed us with a request for an explanation of dropknees. I was happy to oblige – not only is the dropknee highly underrated and underused by climbers, it's also one of my favorite techniques.

In my research, I came across this article written by Kevin Jorgeson, my friend and (perhaps unbeknownst to him) climbing mentor. Kevin and I are both from Santa Rosa, California, and climbed together at our home gym (YOOO Vertex Climbing Center!). I was always utterly blown away by Kevin's technique, precision, and strength. I still am. I honestly credit him the most for how my climbing style turned out. And he never even formally coached me; I just watched him climb.

In the article, Kevin details how his own coach, Andy Wallach, instilled the Silent Toes technique in him (and many others) through rigorous practice and punishment. Wtf is Silent Toes? It's exactly as it sounds – when you warm up, or any time you climb, keep your toes completely silent. This builds up your footwork incredibly fast, and contributes to your overall strength and competence as a climber. If anyone ever asks me for practical climbing advice, I give them SILENT TOES.

Get to know a technical master – Jonny Hork. I've never, ever heard his toes before. This is him on Burnout |V12| outside of Boulder, Colorado.

Choose Your Own Story

But not everyone will decide to learn how to climb the way I did. Most people will never decide to learn how to climb at all. If you're reading this and you have never climbed a rock, take comfort in knowing that you're not alone.

But then think of that one thing you love. Your one passion that no one else you know can claim as their own. How did you start doing it? More importantly, why do you continue doing it? A thousand answers probably just flooded your brain, all of them right, all of them valid. But I'm going to predict that they all have one thing in common. Choice.

I should premise my thoughts about choice with a personal reckoning: I do not believe in destiny. Destiny inherently implies that choice is an illusion, that everything we will ever "choose" has already been laid out neatly before us. Making choices – then realizing the choice you just made was predetermined – throws you into a loop of fallacious logic. How can destiny come to exist through a crack in logic? Destiny negates free will, which we know every able-minded human possesses. I'm actually just confusing myself writing this paragraph – the topic of which deserves a thousand-page philosophical document – so here, I'll just sum up what I think: shit is random; we choose our own paths.

So. Choice. It's often the only thing we have, yet we can't seem to bring ourselves to make one. Let me give you a personal anecdote: Last February, I was working full time at the Denver Bouldering Club – my local gym, my home for climbing and my social life, one of my favorite places on Earth. But I was entirely miserable. I knew with every shred of my soul that I didn't want to set routes and work the front desk at a gym for my career. I also know that there isn't a ton of vertical movement possible at a climbing gym; maybe in the future, when huge multimillion dollar corporations are monopolizing them, but not now.

But I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to do. But I was palpably aware of my unhappiness, and knew I needed to make a change. So I decided I would. I chose.

The Diamond wall at the Denver Bouldering Club. I still set here once a week – the perfect amount of time for me!

The Diamond wall at the Denver Bouldering Club. I still set here once a week – the perfect amount of time for me!

Change is Choice

Whenever you feel trapped, know that you still have your free will. You can choose to make a change – even if you have no idea what the hell that entails. Soon after I decided I would reduce my time at the gym, I found work with Mtn. Dog Media, then with FrictionLabs (hey check out my portfolio while you're here!). This blog is the next step in the progression; I can feel it. I won't pretend I have a clear destination in mind, because I don't. But choosing to go down this blurry, opaque path – a path on which I get to do everything that I love – was the most liberating decision I've ever made. And this is just the beginning.

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