Sunday, 29 June 2014

Getting In The Right Frame Of Mind

How are you going to feel when you break out into the crux? Guilty? There's no place for guilt. You have to be thoroughly self-absorbed. You have to be thinking about the things you want to do and why you do them. You have to think about why this climb is so important and why this move is going to define you, regardless of whether you manage it or not. You have to envisage a future where you do it and a future where you fall off. You have to be happy in both those futures and then you have to go for it full-pelt.

Technical blankness envelopes the starting climber. You straight away get a feeling of 'perchedness' and you're already at a considerable height. The beginning's effects are two-fold. You feel incredibly vulnerable, but also like you're flying. It gears you up and sends you floating into the heart of the arete. 
Above it starts to get serious. You're high and the climbing is loose and kind of old-fashioned.  This introduces another level of uncertainty and then you look above. It looks impenetrable, steep and terrifying. You're in space now. Below you is a sizable drop and the wall is overhanging. As you break out onto the crux, there's only one path to chose. It climbs backwards and you end up with all your limbs in a big knot. If you get through it, you might just get out onto the upper wall on some more suspect rock

You need to be damn sure you're not going to regret getting on this route. Fooling yourself that you're going to do it every time is irresponsible. You don't need to be sure you're going to do it, if you're happy with all possible outcomes. To embark on the route is to fulfill the dream: the dream is outrageousness. To get on the route is to have been on that wave. Whether you die, are crippled, or do it, you have explored your own mind, you have explored the thing that you thought most important and you've created your own kingdom. The arete at Maiden's Bluff is a fairy line that allows physicallities to be left behind and the rawest part of the human psyche to be explored.

As we're approaching the time for the solo, it's these thoughts that I'm convincing myself of. Such a looming challenge creates a massive presence in your life that really starts to dominate day-to-day thoughts. It's similar to a traditional headpoint in many ways, but more fractious in its effects on your mind.  Eventually, you've thought about it so much and know it so well that you think it's time to go for it and you can no longer just stay in the present. If you can't create certainty of outcomes, you can create certainty of motive. If I fall off this thing, I hope people approach my actions with an open mind and try and understand. I hope that one day someone will take up the baton of Moors new wave climbing and we'll all have to stop hiding behind gimmicks. There's a new level of risk that we've shied away from, hiding behind the normalising repertoire of the climbing media. Raw Moors smashes this to pieces.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Big Clouds Of Doubt


It's getting pretty close now. The separate parts of the route are all coming together and it's finally starting to seem like a single thing. Conditions are bad and the moves still feel wild. What to do? I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get in the right mental state to go for it. You need to have a manic energetic kind of insanity for this route. You'd need to feel invincible and thoroughly convinced by the value of the climb.I'm sort of there, but need a bit more desire I reckon.

I'm trying it with Matt quite a lot, which adds a bit of a different feel to the route. We normally tend to have our own projects, which maximizes the amount of routes put up, but also adds a sense of loneliness to the whole process. It's a good loneliness mind you, as you really get to know the route. I'd normally stop trying a line once someone else was also working it, but with this thing it's not entirely clear that Matt is going to go for the solo and I've already spent a lot of hours on it, so have quite a rapport.  

It's quite scary to see Matt climbing it actually. He's a fair bit smaller than me and so has to use an even dodgeyier sequence that looks even more mad than the usual method. It will be interesting to see how he gets on with it once he gets all the moves sorted.

What kind of personality does the old arete have then? You could summarise with "fairly easy moves that scare the life out of you". The climbing is knacky and a lot of it is irreversible - so fairly hard to commit to when you have zero gear. There are 'no-hands' moves, there are very high smears, there are wild reverse barndoor moves. It's cheeky and mischievous. It's also loose and bloody dangerous.

It's been a funny old project. The climbing is right at the upper limits of the old-wave style routes put up in the 80s and 90s, but it's taking that philosophy to the extreme. Big holds and outrageously bold. It's the kind of line that will never be tamed. It's fitted in brilliantly with work and hanging around with friends. I'm out of shape, my fingers aren't even that strong, but I can just go there whenever I want. It's an excursion into the mind and the fact that the climbing is so easy allows you to fully loose touch with your body. The solo might still be a way off if this high humidity warmth continues, but I reckon, just maybe, when the time comes, I might just enjoy it! Me and the little arete on a pleasant morning stroll together...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Being Proud Of Your Routes



Is it even okay? I went to Danby Crag last night with the Cleveland MC. I walk around in a daze, finding the summer foliage a bit tough to get through. It's like a mausoleum to North York Moors climbing. There are so many memories here, splattered across the walls with big smiles. I didn't even climb, I just looked.

I felt really happy, in a way that I don't think I've ever felt. It's not a self-indulgent flare of joy, nor even a sense of vindication, it's just ecstasy at the routes and the place.

Whaaaa, the forest. I mean, what an incredible woodland. The oaks twist in perfect circles and the roots out-poke in a jungle to themselves. There are so many creatures. I saw an owl, which flapped away in flight and joined the pigeons. Fungi are starting to poke through and they make their own little world too.


The routes have such personality there, interacting perfectly with their settings in glades and alcoves so well-known to me now that they are likely my true home. Colours spin in vibrancy, twisting and weaving to form a backdrop more notable than what's in focus. It's a fabulous place.

So is it okay to be proud of your routes? To be proud of our routes? Absolutely! There's a celebratory, carnival vibe to Danby Crag now. It's not about us, it's about the hundreds of wonders and ludicrous adventures.

At the extreme left-hand side you have the polish jungle. There's King of the Swingers, The Jungle Drum and The Polish Diplomat. Three tiny routes completely irrelevant to the world, yet utterly absorbing.

There are then unclimbed buttresses, with bold steady wall and groove climbing and a small bulge. The crag continues to the mighty Osiris buttress, with nuggets of unclimbed stuff still all around. Across the way is the high hanging gardens of Roosevelt, Stalin guarding the bay.

The crag twists and turns in insignificance until the Wangledoodle Wall just blasts out of nowhere. What is this thing? Why is it here? Well, it is there and trying to comprehend it doesn't really work. It was just to the right here that the crag collapsed to bare new fruits. There's a fab new VS crack and a terrifying E7 arete here that little old dooge led.

It's now that the twin aretes buttress blasts into view and there is a good handful of moderately difficult climbs:  Tripoli, Howl Psyche, Otter Wilderness, The Moose and Die By The Sword. It's a big mass of rock and the lines are lovely. Intricate, intricate.

Beyond pops up the really insane. Dance of The Trance and the big brother Psykovsky's Sequins - tamed by sliders, but still roaring with its real character. Monos hanging in the canopy invite and kill.

More unclimbed lines lie around in relaxation until the alcove, with it's Breaking Wheel, pretty little slab, Palma Ham, Vulcan Arete and Chocolate Moose. And look what else is there - Fly Agaric!

The incredible thing about these routes is that you can walk around the wood and see people on them, in your mind. When you've climbed them, been on them, you can see people mid-crux all the time. It's not necessarily you, but a spirit of perpetual enjoyment, if enjoyment is the right word. The routes are full of life. The rock has movement, which I find fantastically rare.

There are more things left to do at Danby Crag, but I stand there and only really see the drive for The Wangledoodle Wall. I don't want to do it quite yet. It's a bit to physical for my emaciated body at the moment, but it's nice to see it there. In the main part, Danby is finished for me, which is not sad at all. I thought it would be full of mixed emotions to be in a time where there were no new levels of difficulty there, but it's not. I'm content with that crag and our place there.