Jon Cardwell does Biographie after 10 years and 75 tries


Thursday, 26 May

(c) Matty Hong

"Climbing means so many different things to me. It's an outlet for self expression, a vehicle to travel the worth with and experience incredible places. It's also a wise teacher that holds you accountable for every action from your footprint at fragile crags to your preparation for meaningful climbs. More than anything, it's just fun!"

Jon Cardwell shares his amazing story of have he did Biographie 9a+ in Céüce after some 75 tries during ten years. It is the nicest story of how he came to Céüce having just done his first 8c+ as a 18 year old and directly started working on Chris Sharma's 9a+. Jon's story is about inspiration and team work and to never give up. It is about evolving and enjoying the process and getting mental stronger. It is about climbing! It is about having fun!

- I first visited Céüce in 2007 with Ethan Pringle, naturally on my first day I jumped on realization the first day, quickly realized it was too hard at the time and carried on the rest of my time there experiencing many other routes - I went on to watch both Dave Graham and Ethan send it that season. A couple years later in 2009 were my first real attempts, I think I redpointed to the top crux about 20 times but I think even then it was maybe just a little too challenging for me then there was a long break and I returned in 2014, where unfortunately we had poor weather, despite this I got close, maybe falling at the crux another 6 or 7 times. Then there's last year when I got super close - I was working it by myself and then eventually Stefano Ghisolfi, who was super inspiring! Unfortunately I couldn't do it, mostly because I had created this mental block that falling at the crux was to happen every attempt. It was really hard to work through. But, finally, this year I returned after a lot of training and a better attitude and after about 15 tries, I finished it!

The previous day I got really close, climbing the first part effortlessly but I made silly mistakes, like rushing into the crux causing a foot slip, and on other time I hesitated midway through the crux and I shorted a grip...conditions were perfect! The next day, it was warmer and there was pretty much no wind - which has always been helpful in ceuse. However, the warmth kind of felt nice and I was finally able to climb in a normal t-shirt as opposed to a long sleeve. It made me feel more free to move as silly as that sounds. Anyway, the warm up was nice and my first attempt was super solid, but just as I grabbed a hold further than I was falling previously, my hand slipped off! It wasn't too frustrating though because I knew that I didn't waste much energy, I was hardly tired! I rested about 2 hours and then tried again, what followed was a smooth climb of the first part and a true fight in the crux! I was exhausted from two days of climbing but somehow my intuition kicked and I had just enough power to make it to the jug. It was totally surreal, it felt like a dream everyone cheering me on. The top felt weightless. So happy.

I think in the last year, I really improved as a climber. Mostly in my ability to climb with less hesitation - in the last year I really focused more on onsight and flash and I think these forms of climbing really help that, more than physical challenges they are almost the best training for one's climbing mind! You must make important decisions quickly, without self-doubt, and when you make a mistake you're often finished. This really helps your mind act without emotion - which often gets in the way of hard redpoints - "is this the try?" "Are conditions perfect" etc....once I realized thoughts like that didn't help, I moved with more confidence and was able to perform to the best of my ability (still far from the super stars we see today) but definitely at a higher level than last year. That, and quite possibly after so many tries on one climb, I had it dialed! 

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