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.

1 November 2012

The Big Payback

During my week off I managed to limit myself to just a couple of hour-long sessions at the wall and to be honest it was quite refreshing. Whilst my psyche was locked in its cage the stories of other peoples days out was like waving a red flag at a bull. I managed to channel this into doing some stretching and tennis-balling (rolling your back on a tennis ball to work the knots out). I cannot describe how beneficial this was! I went back to my project; Never get out of the Boat (8a) and the moves felt solid, even the top crux off the pinch was ok. I felt so, so much stronger, a little bit of a power top-up and a rested body gave me inexplicable gains. I went for a redpoint and made it to the top shake-out before the crux but I couldn't recover! I had nothing to give to the pinch and the game was up. I forgot to shake my left hand out early on after the first couple of moves which didn't help. I didn't really mind, it was great to make progress and feel strong on moves which felt so hard before. I  knew it would be on with a bit more fitness.

Two days later Tommy C, Ollie C and I went to Upper Pen Trwyn to do some routes in the sun, I was going to use this day to get some fitness on. We warmed up on Pure Gold (6c+), it had a lovely lower groove, but the problem headwall was a real slap in the face. Next up was Gold' n' Delicious (7a+), I went for the onsight but UPT's thin, technical walls are heinous to read. I spent a good while trying to figure out the top, finally finding a two-finger micro-crimp which was enough to balance over to some insecure, pulse-raising undercutting and then the lower-off. This was probably as hard an onsight as I've ever done, so I was really impressed with how easy Tommy and Ollie made it look on the flash.  Moving on, it was Tommy's turn to go first on The Magical Ring (7a+). I stepped in for the flash and it felt good. It's amazing what a bit of chalk and beta can do.

We'd had enough of the thin stuff so we drove back round to Parisella's. Tommy jumped on Harry's Zontal Band (7b) and after the first crux pull he walked across the rest. I got psyched up and went for an onsight of Tomorrow People (7c). From the deck I plotted every move I wanted to make, throwing in plan Bs and plan Cs for the less obvious bits. I consulted with Tommy, who had done it before, and his sequence was very dissimilar. I concluded that our dimensions are also very dissimilar and so it was onwards with my sequence.
The first few moves felt harder than I had imagined. It was time to Engage plan D: pull harder!! I made it to the poor shake-out on the lip, then launched into the top boulder problem and executed it with just a little juice left in the tank. The top 'easy bit', which I hadn't accounted for, was nearly fumbled but I made it to the top. I decided to take the flash tick as it's a bit of a shit route for my first 7c onsight and technically I did have beta. I managed to squeeze out a flash of Harry's Zontal Band to cap off my best ever day on Pen Trwyn.

A week later I returned to The Diamond to find pretty disappointing conditions. George and Tommy had two goes each on Dumpster Divers (8a+) in the same time it took me to go bolt-to-bolt on NgootB as I had to clean and chalk ALL the holds. The top 8 or 9 holds were all soaking wet with water running down the wall, so where the route would usually be more or less over, leaving me with a juggy romp to the top, I now had a lot of wetness and insecurity to contend with. As I lowered-off I shouted down 'it'll be a miracle if it goes today, it's all soooo gopping'. I gave Miles a similarly lengthy belay on Boat People (7c), did a couple of quick sprints along the pebbly beach and set off on a redpoint. I was shaky on the first few moves and could feel the warmth leaving my fingers. I remembered to flick the left hand this time. 'Breathe' I told myself, puffing out hard, trying to restore some focus but I continued to climb jittery as soon as I pressed on. My feet pinged on the grease a few times as I neared the pre-crux shake-out. I was upto my eyeballs in acid. Lactic acid. It felt more and more improbable that I could make another move and it got harder and harder to fight the gravity and the doubt but I made it to the pre-crux shake-out. I thought about Adam Ondra and the way he breathes. I mimicked his powerful exhales and I could feel my forearms reinvigorate. 'I can do this if I give it everything on these next few moves'.

I grabbed what I now affectionately knew as 'the pinch' and squeezed a few million years of fossilized life from it. I slapped out into the next hold. 'I've never got this far'. My elbows cocked but for everything my body lost my brain gained twice over. I was never gonna let go, I was never getting out of this boat. I slapped up again with nothing left in my arms but the memory of strength and so I looked to my feet for assistance. I put so much effort into nailing the footwork, dropping the knees further than ever before and it worked! I grabbed a soaking wet jug and my heart sank. I couldn't hold it. For some reason though everything that should have been happening wasn't and a few moves later I was one move from the top. All the chalk I had left on the penultimate hold had turned to unclimbable slime and I had to hang around cleaning the hold for 3 or 4 minutes before I could pass, the whole while being so conscious about not blowing it. I had a single 5a move between me and my hardest route ever, the pressure to not ping off the greasy little blighter was enormous. As I grabbed the final jug I felt an almost physical whooshing sensation of relief. Out of the boat just in time for the start of bouldering season.

The first session on Never get out of the Boat (8a). Owain Atkins Collection.

Thanks for all the Diamond psyche Tommy.

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