Monday, 24 June 2013

Back On The Mono Wall

It's been a tough few months since march. I've been doing my final exams for my German degree, whilst also managing to get chicken pox, which was pretty nasty. I also managed to get a finger injury 2 months ago, which might have just saved my degree, but also put the mono wall back a little. It was my own fault, trying to warm up doing mono pull ups, my finger made a noise like pulling a chicken wing off. I've gradually got back into it and I can imagine a time when the old finger will be as strong as it once was, but it has undermined my belief in the invincibility of finger tendons. The actual injured ring finger itself is fairly irrelevant for the mono wall in any case, as it's on the right hand, which is only really used in little finger monos. A greater set-back is that it was too jiggered to train and as a consequence my core and tricep have withered to nothing.

Still, just getting back on the Mono Wall is incredible. I actually feel noticeably happier after an hour hanging on the crux and looking at what might be. The finishing headwall is ready for the solo now, with the sequence being a tricky one to make feel safe, but probably the best part of the route. I reckon this part in itself is around E8. The crux has been a little harder to make feel solid. I've had three trips over there on my bike in the last week and on the first I forgot my rope, which was massively annoying. I was so annoyed that I set out on the solo for a look and, after a couple of down-climbs, managed to get to the crux sequence, which was scary.

It was a good experience climbing up the lower wall without the hindrance of an unbalancing rope from above. The lower wall is pretty steep and it's really hard to simulate how the moves will feel on a shunt. This is one of the real problems in solo-development, as the eventual solo feels miles away from the weeks of practice. On the Mono Wall this lower wall is at least fairly secure, as long as you have strong pinkies. As you hang from the second-to-last mono and look up though, you can tell that the next moves are going to be agonising. The next foothold you need is above your head and you're gearing up for a throw into the crux mono. I can't really imagine how this is going to feel on the solo - probably pretty wild.

The main limiting factor with the route is skin. If you get on it with perfect fingers, you have about 5 goes before you can no longer climb on them. You have to pull really hard on a very small surface and it rips flesh from all the pressure points ridiculously quickly. You can push past this to a certain point, but eventually the monos just fill with blood and it becomes impossible. Little and often is the name of the game and at least the sores occur on parts of the finger that you don't need for any other route. So you can carry on climbing and rest. I've tried tape, but then your fingers don't fit in. I think this would put people off, but it's like hunting a fast deer - you just need better tactics.

On a more aesthetic note, the crag is looking really nice at the moment. Conditions are fluctuating fairly wildly, but the rock is bone dry. Last time I was up, at about 7pm, the sun started blazing round the corner and the whole wall was washed with light. It was a pleasant experience and an unusual one for this happy north-facer. Solstice sun is a funny one, but it blasts the mono wall now and seems to be saying something.

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