A year of solidifying 5.12 while balancing full-time work and life  

2018, a new year, a new job, a new city, and partly a new me. I moved to Las Vegas at the end of 2017 and took a new position with a Solar Company (Sunrun) as a traveling Field Installation Trainer. The job entails traveling mostly around the Southwest Region, and sometimes the US to train, motivate and mentor a new generation of Photovoltaic Installers. I’ve been working in operations in the Solar Industry going on eight years and I started climbing around the same time. The biggest challenge of the new position was the amount of travel it required. I'd be traveling during the weekdays, two-three weeks out of the month. This was going to create a challenge trying to balance climbing, work, and life.     

I decided sometime at the end of January 2018, with a friend and climbing partner of mine, to set some lofty climbing goals for the year. We had both recently moved to Las Vegas, he was out here going to medical school. We met each other climbing around Red Rock and realized we had similar goals and climbing ambitions. At the beginning of 2018, we linked up and started trying to climb some of the local classics around Red Rock and so the #50512’s journey began.

Shane McNichol on “Hotline” // 12c, Red Rock, NV

Shane McNichol on “Hotline” // 12c, Red Rock, NV

We had both climbed 5.12. I can’t speak for Forest’s previous sends, but I could count the amount of 5.12’s I had redpointed on one hand. Either way, we both agreed we wanted to solidify the grade and break into the next level. The year started off slow, we both picked a handful of 12’s to redpoint and had to put in some time to unlock them. Our first mini-project was “Save the heart to eat later”, 12a at Cannibal Crag in Red Rock. Save the Heart is a mega classic! Say what you will about Red Rock grades, give this thing a go and let me know what you think! Routes are constantly breaking and changing throughout the years here. Grades vary in both directions, it’s forever changing. Either way, at the beginning of the year climbing 5.12 took some serious effort. After a couple of sessions, we both sent Save the Heart on the same day, igniting a stoke and partnership between the two of us.  

On the drive home, high from the send, we began discussing some larger goals. I think the conversation started with “Damn, I just want 5.12 to feel like 5.11, imagine being able to on-sight at this grade”. That afternoon, after a couple of celebratory beers and an inflated ego, we decided to set an audacious goal for 2018. The goal was simple, 50 new 5.12 repoints for the year, #50512’s. Although the goal was simple, it felt overwhelming and potentially unobtainable with both of us either working or attending school full-time during the week. We had 52 weekends and some holidays to put it all together, one send per weekend for the entire year, could we do it?

Shane McNichol on “The Gift” (12d) #50 of #50512’s, Red Rock, NV

Shane McNichol on “The Gift” (12d) #50 of #50512’s, Red Rock, NV

Fast forward to the end of November 2018, I’m sitting at the base of “The Gift” arguably one of the most well known 5.12’s in Red Rock. Just to put this thing in perspective, Bachar soloed it in one of the Masters of Stones, makes me cringe. I’d given this thing around 15 attempts through the year, always using it as a test piece for the fitness I was gaining. The Gift sucks you in, the one-hang is so obtainable but it stands true at the grade (12d) and you have to stand and deliver. I’d been climbing, working and traveling non-stop over the past ten months, just grinding away racking up (49) 5.12’s for the year. I chose to leave the best for last and put all my eggs into “The Gift” basket. The pressure was on, time was running out and I wasn’t finishing out the year without this route. All the hard work and dedication came down to this climb, the true test piece of climbing 5.12 in Red Rock.

On November 25th, 2018, while taking advantage of the good weather and holiday weekend, I sent “The Gift”. Sending this route was an emotional moment for me. Achieving this goal changed me as a person. It was by far my most proud climbing achievement and one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished. A challenge that felt nearly unobtainable and sometimes kept me up at night was finally complete! There were many trials and tribulations throughout the year. It wasn’t always ideal, work was tough, climbing is hard and life comes at you fast. My takeaway from the year is to GO FOR IT, set goals that feel scary and unobtainable and just grind away. In the end, stay motivated and believe - Shane

If you're interested in my climbing goals for 2019 or want to check out some photos from 2018 #50512’s you can follow me @shane.mclimbing.  

Shane’s Top 10, 5.12’s during the #50512’s Project

  1. “The Gift” (12d) All the stars #50

  2. “Hotline” (12c) Possibly my favorite climb ever #41

  3. “Sike 13” (12d) Second ascent, Secret 13 crag #18

  4. “Straight Outta Compton” (12d) The Hood #34

  5. “Cloud Tower” crux pitch (11d/ 12a) on-sighted and first 5.12 on gear #2

  6. “Sound of Power” (12c) my first of this grade #6

  7. “Big Damage” (12b) First flash at the grade #22

  8. “New Wave Hookers” (12c) Classic route #48

  9. “The Glitz” (12c) Mega classic #48

  10. “Save the Heart” (12a) Another classic #3

Shane McNichol