Laura helped me re-plan my dissertation, I cancelled a week-long trip to the Lakes and the pressure released like accepting you'll never make it to the toilet in time: I wasn't pleased with what I'd done, but it certainly felt better.
Warming up in the cave on Tuesday, I was feeling positive. I'd eaten half as much as I usually would over the last two days, and the day before I'd done a 40 minute boulder session to get the muscles going. In theory I was in as good condition as possible with two days preparation.
I met up with Jo Allen and James Noble who'd come over from Sheffield for a couple of days. They were making good progress on Left Wall Traverse (V8) and In Hell (V12), while a week-old pet lamb checked out the place with even more youthful enthusiasm than Mikey G.
I refamiliarised myself with the moves on Lou Ferrino and it felt encouraging, so I toyed with a positive mind set. Should I think I can do it? Should I KNOW I can do it? Should I think I can't do it? Should I stop over analysing? To the latter I've retrospectively applied a resounding yes, as my state of mind manifested in the first few attempts. Scruffy, undecided and weak. Banana time.
Now more relaxed, I had my first proper burn on it, and it was my best go yet; tickling the two-finger pocket nine moves in. I realised I’d forgotten to bump my heel along a few moves back, which had a domino effect on the execution of the subsequent moves. I fiddled with the bits I not done well on and found I could get the two-finger pocket static by pressing my knee up against the far left side of the crimp rail. I tried again, with the new beta this time. This would have to be the go, the muscles were waning. I got the two finger pocket well, but the huge lunge from this, to a fingers-depth slot required more accuracy than I could muster, and it wasn't to be.
I took a good rest, and wondered whether I had enough left in me for a good burn. Pulling on expectation free, after the first two moves I knew this was the go. The first moves never felt easy like that before. Remembering back to the first time I tried it, I just couldn't even pull off the floor. Going even further back, I recall see Chris Davies dispatch it in 'Stick It' and thinking 'I'll never do anything like that... 'cos bouldering is shit' I qualified defensively... Eight moves in and it was all going well, no mistakes. I dug into a deeper echelon of power at the crimp rail and rode a fresh wave to the two-finger pocket. This was it. All was going well, I'd nailed the sequence so far. I sucked up and Starred down the finger slot like an angry python, and with all the venom left, I struck for the pocket. The finger tips licked the edge of the hold, but, it was enough. I lunged over behind my head with my right hand, and went again for the finishing slot. It wasn't over. The tips on both hands were slipping...
I dropped to the floor after matching the finishing hold, at first ecstatic, then, a bit unsure as to whether I had definitely done it from the start (I definitely did). It was over!!!
Whenever anyone gets a successful tick in the cave they always wander out, into the light. Without thinking I did the same. It seems instinctive to leave the place, and for me it will probably for a while now that summer is here.
I'm over the moon to have done it. Steep and burly used to be my biggest weakness, lagging a few grades behind most other styles, and now it defines the hardest thing I've done. It stands as testament to the benefits of climbing indoors. When I moved to Wales two and a half years ago, steep V3/4 felt nails and now I’ve done a horizontal V10. Thank you Indy. I’m fairly sure that patching up the technical and physiological deficiency has consolidated my ability on the vertical too. Anyhow, that’s enough smugness for now.
The next day I went up to Sheep Pen for a chilled one with Laura and Dunc. When we arrived Joble were already there, Jo had done Dirty Slappper (V6) and James had done the rarely repeated Jerry’s Problem (V10) (in about 5 minutes as well!) and this was after a good session at the Cromlech boulders including Jerry's Roof (V9) for James. The first time these two Jerry testpieces have been done in a day?
We warmed up and cracked on, it was a lovely day. Proper t-shirt weather. Laura and Dunc quickly knocked out Dog Shooter (V4), and the powerful Toe Dragon (V5)... nice one Laura! I had a wander around with Joble and walking back over to the Dog Shooter Block we eyed up an overhanging prow on the back of said boulder. There were holds. Nice ones, small ones, slopey ones. A little bit of lichen and a dry-stone wall under the overhanging face must have repelled attempts as it looked unclimbed and I'd never heard anything of it. We got to work, brushing the holds and ticking the feet and realised the wall isn’t in the way at all. It was time to try it.
Noble nobly stood down and let me have the first go even though he’d done most of the cleaning, or, perhaps he was hoping to get the beta as I drop it near the end? Either way, I went for the flash burn and gave it everything expecting V7/8 difficulties. Luckily for me ‘The Heels Have Eyes’ turned out to be about V5 with great climbing. Noble knocked out the second ascent first go, then did a V2 rockover named 'Blink' direct through the middle. Then Jo did the stand-up at V4, dubbed ‘Eye See Ewe'. I think we’ve opened up a great line with some very good climbing and look forward to hearing what people think of it.
|Nearing the top on the F.A. of The Heels Have Eyes (6c+). Laura Perry Collection.|