We've all heard the phrase, "Good Luck!" It's the message delivered by friends and loved ones when you set out to try something new. The dictionary defines it as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions," but I don't agree. I think luck is made.
Learning from everyday events, we discover things about our environment and the nuances that contribute to both success, and failure in our life. Whether it's winning big on race day or watching someone slip on ice, we increase our success probability through knowledge and experience.
Whenever i'm climbing big walls, I try to think of every possible turn of events that could unfold before I even leave the ground. This is the experience gained through such events as continuously falling off a ledge in the night, trying to poop into a small brown paper bag without a headlamp, and catching a large rock with my face, amongst many others. These events have taught me that being prepared, rather than fortuitous, leaves the odds stacked in your favor.
For me, being prepared often comes down to what I pack. With big wall climbing, I must take with me everything I will need to survive on a wall for extended periods of time. It could be for a night, a week, or much longer. Once off the ground, I will need food, water, cooking equipment, sleeping equipment, a portaledge (packable hanging bed), a first aid kit, climbing equipment and of course, a backup plan.
Photo Credit Cut Media/Adidas Terrex
With so much gear to cram into such a small space, I often take dual purpose items. A simple change from a standard 3 piece cutlery set to a plastic spork will only save me a few grams, and switching out my inflatable sleeping mat for a foam one only saves a little space, but it soon adds up when you apply this critical thinking to all of your preparations. One of the pieces of gear that I took with me to Pico Cão Grande which came in particularly useful was the Gear Line. Due to the tropical storms that pounded the island, keeping everything dry was a daily battle. With limited anchor points and space on the ledge, I would use the gear line to help organize our gear and to keep it out of the rain. When it wasn't being used as a drying rack, I would use the Gear Line to hang solar panels from the cliff wall or to organize our gear rack.
These micro adjustments in packing can make or break the outcome of a big wall climb. So rather than "hoping" something might work out, plan ahead. With a little preparation and forethought you'll be able to create your own "luck."
Watch the full story on Gaz's expedition to Pico Cão Grande in the Claim Freedom film presented by adidas TERREX.
Gareth (Gaz) Leah is a British adventurer, climbing developer, writer and photographer who has been obsessed with climbing since 1987. Gaz has been a Nite Ize Ambassador since 2016 and also works with Adidas Outdoor, Adventure Medical Kits, Revo Sunglasses, Mad Rock Climbing, Hanchor, DMM Climbing, Maxim Ropes, Voltaic Systems, Climbers Against Cancer, Escalando Fronteras, Pro Climbers International (PCI), Acceso PanAm, and Adventure 4 Good.