There's a point at which things start to click. I blindfolded myself today and felt my way through the crux of the Maiden's Bluff project on a shunt. At this point it all starts being about perceptions. There are in-built errors in the sequence that get ironed in with repetition, trying to climb it a certain way. Safety comes from new eyes, or in some cases, no eyes at all.
Then you can have a play around with other feelings. I leaned right in on the no hands rest and felt my face against the wall. I like to zoom in a little, see the ocean of wall and the infinitesimal deluge of raining micro pockets. The wall's awash, and I span past them all. They look at me like a set of little sea cucumbers and chuckle with me. It's a funny place. It raptures and roars, this arete. It clunks; with even a slightest of taps and the brittle thud reverberates around to shake the bones of you. I then played a little game to get me a bit nearer the solo. I hung from the start of the crux, closed my eyes and imagined the worst injuries possible from a fall. At the point at which I was most revolted by the idea, I let go and dropped onto the shunt. It was pretty hard to let go, especially when I got to the stage of really believing it was going to happen that time. Bizarre and fascinating. I suppose the lesson is that even trying to live out the most basic of philosophies requires high levels of the unhinged.
The climb itself is starting to feel easy, creating a bit of uncertainty. Is it still hard? It certainly seems to be a bit too simple to be new wave. But maybe the obscene levels of danger make it still so? It's a very strange position I'm in at the moment. When I look down from the crux my eyes go all blurry and I can't focus in on the ground. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like with gear: If it had bomber gear; if it had illusionary gear.. I can't quite figure it out though.
Mark Rankine and Neil came up from Sheffield the other day and managed to headpoint the Tormented Sole. It's the first H7 of mine to be repeated and it's probably the best one. They seemed like they enjoyed it, which is grand, but the memory of climbing that made me wonder even more about recent projects. The big question on my mind is how far away is the climbing on the Maiden's Arete from the other stuff I've done. How does it connect? It's easier climbing (as in, just the moves) than Psykovsky's Sequins or Fly Agaric, harder than the Hypocrisy of Moose and The Waves Of Inspiration, but it's BOLD. A proper solo is quite a rare thing and it's making a sequence that would probably be around H8 with some alright gear feel well into H9 or 10 terrain. Add in the fact that the rock is unreliable and it's desperately insecure and you start to get to a point where it seems properly hard.
I'm incredibly weak and light at the moment, which is a fantastic feeling. It's like I'm a fly on the wall - ultimate amateur trad climbing I suppose, where it's all about weird moves and the mind and nothing at all about being an 'athlete'. The rain has set in now and I feel even more distant from the grunting climbing gyms. I like the rain, fat leaves weighed down and birds chirping in extremis. There's no better feeling than finding your path again, excited at what's to come.