Black Diamond Presents: Magic Line with Carlo Traversi

Magic Line required perfection from me.  Both in a physical sense and mentally. The physical was less about strength and more about maintaining stability and tension throughout the pitch. I tried to imagine a distinct separation between my lower body and upper body as I climbed, alternating tension between the two to keep me on the wall while also allowing some portion of my body to rest without slipping. 

It’s like breathing with your body, expanding and contracting as you move from position to position. Mentally, perfection was characterized by finding comfort in the inherent insecurity of the footholds. It takes a lot of energy to continually convince yourself that you are not slipping off the wall for 100 feet. That’s what it feels like. There is no real moment of relaxation or reprieve. The final moves guarding the chains, though not near the hardest, slowly lure you in with gentle persuasion, but then they turn on you, forcing your feet a little too high or into an awkward match. You feel so close, but everything starts to slip away. 

The constant pressure on your feet turns into a dull numbness making you question every foot placement. Your toes start to press through the rand rubber and slowly curl over the outsole. As your heels drift upward you can feel your toenails taking more and more of the weight. Clawing to stay on. 

With the finish jug in sight, you reach your hands high and kick your right foot just below them to oppose an improbable smear. You apply pressure and pretend that everything is stable although you feel every crystal fighting to escape the envelope of rubber around them. And then doubt creeps in and you detach.  

I fell twice at the final move. Once in 2016 and again this past season. I could feel my mind giving up in those moments, convincing myself that the best way to send was to pull or push harder; more power equals more control. But you can pull yourself off the wall and you can push yourself away from the anchors. Control isn’t everything. Sometimes it leaves you stuck fighting the same battles with your mind and body.

I learned many lessons from this route. The first was finding this unique feeling of flow. Not your typical smooth movement pattern, but instead a slightly jerky amalgamation of careful movements and quick reactions as my body continually fought to keep balance. It took a long time to find it. It never felt right but once I settled into it, it just fit. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

The second lesson was blocking all doubt. No matter how I felt in the moment, it was just a feeling, not an outcome. If I was still on the wall, then I still had a chance. 

And the biggest lesson was learning to relax. Even as the fatigue builds and the stress becomes unbearable, just relax, and move.  On February 27th, all these lessons lined up and it was just climbing. Pure and simple magic.

-Carlo Traversi