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White Rastafarian (V3R*****) Highball
"The Outback" at Joshua Tree NP
To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to climb this one again. I knew I wanted to visit it, watch my friends session it while I hung out. As long as I at least paid a visit, I would have been fine by that. It really is the most beautiful boulder out there, and such an amazing line. I just wanted to see it again face to face.
This boulder has been there with me since the start of my climbing career. I consider my first climbing trip to Joshua Tree two years ago my first legitimate foray into outdoor climbing. Back then, I was still getting a feel for the rock, seeing what I was capable of and what improvements I needed to focus on. It all seemed pretty straightforward at the time: get strong, climb strong. Then this boulder came along; tall, proud, bold and beautiful, imposing yet apathetic to my presence. It loomed over me like a towering goliath, and at that very moment, I felt fear. I honestly thought sending this problem fell within the realm of the impossible. There was not a single ounce of hope, nor ambition. I felt tiny and helpless.
I knew I had to become much stronger before I could even think about hopping back onto this problem. So that’s what I did: I climbed almost everyday—for hopes of becoming a better climber, yes, but also for hopes of being worthy enough to climb White Rastafarian. The next year, I returned to it twice more. As my climbing progressed and my skills increased, I began to believe that there could be a possibility that I may…one day…stand on top of this rock. It still scared me to death, though. Perhaps it scared me even moreso now that I was getting higher up. I was certainly a much stronger climber at this point, but it wasn’t for a lack of strength that kept me from attaining the send. My own cowardice was still getting in the way. I knew if I could just muster up the courage to pull it together, I would find myself standing on top of that rock.
Courage came in early 2012. It was February. With only one friend by my side and an arsenal of crashpads (mostly borrowed) I drove down to Joshua Tree with the sole purpose of sending White Rastafarian. The entire 8 hours down consisted of me psyching myself up, repeating every variation of “you can do it” known to man. We arrived at Joshua Tree, set up our pads, and began sessioning the boulder.
I had finally pulled passed the obvious crux move—a mondo throw about 15ft off the deck from the first seam to the next—but terror instantly brought me back down to earth. I was…pleased…with the progress, but at this point, I wanted it all. I wanted the send. I decided to cut out early to conserve energy and save my strength. I rested up.
The next day, I returned to the boulder humbled, with a solemn disposition. I knew the send was now or never. I didn’t want to spend another session beating myself up over this problem only to get shut down again. But even moreso, I didn’t want to go home and spend another off-season beating myself up over it, waiting for my next opportunity to finally get the send. I’m not so sure I would have had the mental fortitude to do so. I flushed all thoughts of doubt out of my head, put on my shoes, and jumped on..
On my first try, I pulled passed the crux move, kept my cool, and topped-out. I was overjoyed! It, for me, was the culmination of all the climbing I had done up to that point. I was finally sitting on top of White Rastafarian. It was my proudest send.
Today, I look back at the progression of this climb and still feel deep pride in it. I’m glad I had faith in myself enough to keep at it. I’m also glad I was able to climb it again. It’s pretty chill now; it no longer scares me. Maybe it’s because I’m much stronger than before, braver. Maybe it’s because I’ve already successfully climbed it and know it’s no longer impossible. There are so many things in my life that I’ve done that seemed truly impossible at one point or another: large or small. These little things have given me the foresight to know that nothing is impossible. With the right amount of courage, that fearsome little gumby could be hopeful enough to someday sit on top of any seemingly impossible rock.