The footage of Tyler Landman doing the second ascent of Practice of the Wild was what first inspired me to visit Magic Wood in 2012. Obviously I’d already heard about it, as ‘Chris Sharma’s hardest boulder problem’. I’d heard about Chris’s method for the last move - a wild all points off dyno across the roof. Landman looked so dynamic and strong on it and the climbing looked so good. It it was an exemplary piece of hard climbing. I had to go there.
In the past year or so, I’d gone through two ankle surgery rehabs, a big chunk of the year on crutches and was looking at another surgery. I was 36 and after so much time just trying to be able to walk and climb anything, the idea of reaching a new level of Font 8C seemed laughable. A joke. I looked at the problem and even in my dreamy inner thoughts I felt there was no chance, ever. Don’t kid yourself on MacLeod.
So with some positive feelings returning I made a statement of intent by building a model of Practice of the Wild on my board. It was a pretty good one! At first, I couldn’t do any of the moves. After several sessions, I could do two of them individually, then another, then another. But that’s where the progress basically ended. By last September, at my strongest I could string two moves together (of seven). At this rate, I’d maybe climb the model when I was 45?! I’d have to hope it was harder than the real thing. Actually I knew it wasn’t.
None of this matters to anyone except me. And only two things about it really matter to me. Firstly, Practice of the Wild is a brilliant piece of climbing, and by being hard enough to give me a good battle, I was able to enjoy it all the more. Secondly, I had to make real progress in my climbing to do it. Well okay one more thing matters, I had to use my brain to figure out how to make the progress. The battle was won while sitting on my ass at 2am with square eyes reading obscure papers on cellular metabolism. There is more to climbing than just pulling on holds.