About me:

Originally from Hull, I now live in Llanberis, North Wales. Totally addicted to climbing, I work at the Indy Climbing wall and as a freelance routesetter to fund my dirty habit.

30 January 2012

The Medium of Learning

Well, I finished my exams just in time for the rain to return. I had a few days on The Orme and managed to wrap-up a few Parisella's projects including; Clever Beaver (V8) and the Clever Beaver SS into Right Wall Traverse (V7), the latter opens up a plethora of link-ups to try. I had a crack at some of the Mayfair Wall Routes too. I managed to repeat Julio Juvenito (7a) and flash The Bloods (7a+), but, Bloodsports (7b) got the better of me. I bottled the crux move, reversed and slumped. After a bit of heckling from Callum I continued from where I was. This time I managed the crux, clipped in and took a hang. This still wasn't good enough, so I forced myself to the top of the wall, no more rests no matter what! Needless to say, with the right attitude I left the anxiety behind, and ploughed up to the chains, elbows by my ears. Fitness reclamation phase 1: initiated.
 Also, one day, when the cave condensed into a temple of sheen, Callum and I found Manor Crag to be dry. We enjoyed a good V4-7 curcuit on overhanging cracks, steep slappy moves and potentially did a new problem, although apparently the Cattell Brothers 'cleaned-up' here a few years ago. Here's a link to a video of the worthwhile: Why do I have to be Mr Pink? (V5/6).

The most interesting, eye opening event to have happened lately occurred on a trip to the slate with the younger slatesman; Callum Muskett. I went out without any aspirations or routes to try, Callum on the other hand had a few things in mind. First on the agenda was a route on the California backwall, Stairway to Silence (E7 6b). I belayed off a single old bolt high up on a pedastal, while Callum tried to set off from various positions, unsure of the correct/best line. He decided on a thin rockover manouvre to begin and in only 3 moves became pretty committed. After a couple more moves he placed a wobbly skyhook on what looked like a useful hold and pressed on. Once he was stood by the skyhook, it became intense, watching cold fingers struggling to find purchase on the tiny crimps, then... in a moment of perceived madness he lined up for a dyno, a few sharp breaths and some prey mantis-style rocking and...
 "TAKE!". Callum returned to the deck at 9.81m/s, ass first, but he was not the real victim.
Callum still smiling, and the remains of the skyhook,  just after decking out on Stairway to Silence (E7 6b).
One skyhook down, we retreated to the bottom California to formulate a new plan. I went for the lead on Espirit de Corpse (E4 6b). It's a route I'd always looked at and wondered how it could warrant the grade as it follows good cracks all the way. I was hit straight away with a demonstration of the routes difficulty having to use some tenuous footholds to gain a break, but it didn't feel 6b. After this it became fairly straight forward, and I assumed the top was nearing, until I looked up and found myself beneath a really long, thin (rock 1 size) stretch of crack. Ready to eat my words, I pushed on only to find a series of great moves linking some big crimps together to the top. 
The 'trad head' was with me much more than at Gogarth, or, is the route is a softie? Anyone done it?

After this I gave Callum a belay on The Medium (8a), a desparately thin slab testpiece from the Dawes himself. He made light work of it, on toprope, remembering the moves well. I almost declined the offer of a toprope myself, assuming that 8a slabs would be far too hard for me, but without much else new to try I gave it a shot. I popped off before I even got to the hard bit, making me feel pretty useless. Then I thought about it: What makes one man able to stand on these holds, and another unable? Finger strength? Not on these ungrippable slithers of slate. Good edges? Well, I had brand new boots with perfect rubber. Without finding a single reason why I couldn't climb the route but others could, I tried again. Ignoring the feedback from the mob of senses in my feet "off! off! off!" it came together, I got through the whole crux sequence really quickly, bewildered at what just happened.

The one thing I was missing on my first attempt was the belief in myself, that I could do it, the faith in friction and balance. Once I'd thought about it, I was lost for an excuse and just dug in.
Callum led the route straight after my go, not a bad consolation prize. Then, it was on me, I'd not even come to terms with being able to do the moves at all and it was my turn to lead. I set off into the crux sequence with uncertainty and doubt, and my prophesy was right, or self-fulfilling?. I popped off stepping into the crucial sequence. Darkness decended and we left.

This day was an essential day for me I realised two really important lessons:
Don't go out to 'practice', go out with intent. Too often I just go ticking routes and avoiding the main challenge of the day. I need head out with a plan, or at least be more ambitious on arrival.
Secondly, assume you can. I guess this kind of emphasises the first lesson. I need to develop a more 'aggressive' or rather, confronting approach, and rationalise the self doubt within.

I returned two days later with Duncan to try again. This time the conditions were less crispy, but I managed to refine the sequence and on my best effort fell off the final lunge for the '9mm jug'. Hopefully Ill be back tomorrow for the send, to begin learning the lessons. 

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