Friday, 4 July 2014

Two Days On

Two days later and I'm still trying to unpick what exactly happened. The history I want to create, that I want to believe, is that there was a calm, logical philosophy that led me to set out on the route. All this theory that I was pedaling out before - if you set out with indifference to the possible outcomes, if you truly believe in what you're doing, then you'll be able to calmly climb stuff without zoning out, despite being really scared. If you can believe that, then it's flawless.

The fear surrounding a route peaks shortly before you know you're going to set off.  Particularly when the holds aren't trustworthy and the moves are completely out of balance, it gets to a point where it's really unbearable. You either need to say "I'm not doing this" or have a real belief that enables you to set out with all that risk that surrounds the climb. For the months, days, hours and VERY LONG seconds leading up to me setting off, I expected this to fall into place. I expected (and also believed) that I had the theory dialed and that I was happy with whatever happened. This worked, right until the point of commitment. Then, it became apparent that I just wanted to survive and I really wanted to do anything to avoid climbing it.

As I was climbing myself higher up the arete, further and further into trouble, I still didn't feel that committed. I had lied to myself. When I got on the crux, there was more doubt in my mind than I've ever had. It was wrong being there. I hadn't got to a point where what I was doing made sense. It was a mad thing to do. There's not even a romantic twist to it: it was wrong.

What did surprise me though, was that my brain didn't just abandon me. The moves on this thing are conscious. When things go wrong in dangerous situations, they can escalate and feed on themselves, or negative thoughts can be kind of cauterised, separated and prevented from making you spiral into a fall. This thing was going way wrong - there was no hope of rescue, I didn't know why I was doing it, I didn't even know for sure whether I was really doing it. It was like some kind of terrible nightmare. I say nightmare, but it was at this point that elements of joy did start to appear - or at least there are when I think back to it.

If this can be seen as any kind of positive experience (apart from a victory over rational thought), then it's this element of the climb that's going to provide that. This celebration of 'the outrageous'
did actually appear. There was, at least on one level, a kind of "look how barmy what I'm doing right now is! Look how little I'm attached to the world by! I'm by myself and the only thing that matters is this feeling in this moment!". This was the value of the experience. That one move, which you don't really know whether you're gonna make or not, hangs over you and it's still having effects on me now, even after (seemingly) surviving.  There must be realities where I'm dead though and I'm yet to come to a conclusion about what I think about that. It'll be some time I think before I fully understand that.

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