Usually when he falls or slips, he bangs the rock wall and gets angry red face. The wonderful thing is that by the time he's on the ground he's same friendly guy he was earlier when his belayer told him to climb on.
He's been working a grey 5.12 (very challenging) route. His beta for the crux (the hardest part of the route) is not the intended beta (his moves are not the moves the route-setter had in mind). After a week of angry face and taking it out on the wall he gets it clean (doesn't fall). But for him one clean climb isn't enough. This damn grey 5.12 is on the climbing circuit every night for two weeks until he feels he's mastered his project. His satisfaction is confirmed over a beer. Project complete.
But the next week there he is again tied in at the grey 5.12. I'm still trying to break up my knot from the climb I just finished. I walk over to him and ask "Seriously? I thought we were done with this?"
"Now I'm going to do it using Scott's beta." Scott is the guy who set the route.
I roll my eyes and tie in.
I watch the familiar sequence of moves up to the crux. And we're at the crux (well really only he is actually physically at the crux, but I am on the other end of this rope so I'm a part of this).
He goes for the new move. He doesn't make it. I look down because sometimes angry face makes me laugh which is a completely inappropriate response to someone else being frustrated. I hear nothing. I look up. No red face. Just a grin.
"My way is better."
There's a fine line between being engaging with a challenge versus just being stupid. I mean, it feels good to care about things but at a certain point you can care too much, or care for reasons that start to become unreasonable, like wanting to give an outdoor climbing route one more try when it's really time to get going because the park is closing and the sun is going down and the rest of your party is bored or freezing.
I don't always know where that line is. I definitely swear a lot (sorry kids) when I fall but there's rarely a physical manifestation of my frustration. No red angry face. Part of me wants to care about it as much as angry face but climbing is an important mental, physical and social endeavor and there is a bit of balance involved in that.
It's helpful to see climbers who I admire let go (physically and mentally). So, thank you angry face.
Our way is always better.