Monday, 9 March 2015

The Breakthrough

How strange that so soon after thinking I was near a breakthrough, it came. power of the subconscious? deluded? It does make you think about how much power the mind has over the body. Either its just a massive coincidence, I was holding myself back, or I really am in tune with some higher force.

Anyway, the most splendid moment of the past 6 months happened in a daze, on the cusp of darkness, Sunday night. The Kay Nest Aid wall has been causing all sorts of difficulties for me. It's not managing to do the individual moves, nor linking them, but finding THE way to do them. The crux is a very complicated web of structures that can provide a passage through via an array of movements. Scraping through one of these would suffice for a safe or reasonably bold climb, but for an absolute solo, you need to make sure you find the best move for you.

The best sequence is not simply the easiest, nor even the most secure. It is the one with the least dodgey foot swaps, the least high foot steps, the least barndoors, the least low percentage moves, the least moves that freak you out, the most holds that allow for readjustment. Ultimately, you never quite know on a complex route, but you can find something that just feels "good". On Sunday evening, in a bath of orange light, I found that move.

It was so simple it was laughable it had taken me this long to find it, but I think it was only really possible to do it in a secure way since I've been strengthening my fingers. I have naturally strong fingers twinned with decent tip skin, but now and then I push them a little more to see what they're really capable of. They're probably close to the strongest they've ever been and, working with new bits and bobs of technique,  I reckon I'm about near peak ability.

The last two remaining factors are head and weight. My head is in a good place right now. Weight is a bit high, but I've been dieting for about 2 weeks now and have lost about half a stone. If I can get my weight down to about a stone or more below what I usually am (not exactly fat), that crimp is going to feel an awful lot bigger. Tendons, span and feather-weight madness.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Spring Melee

So much going on this spring. There are routes pouring out of my ears. There seems to be a chaos every year, with boundless projects and lines waving out of everywhere. Normally it's just the Moors, which is really quite enough, but this year has taken on new levels of complication.

First off there is THE line. The Kay Nest Aid wall. Long tried, unclimbed, bold and viciously fingery. I am currently on the cusp of a break-through (I can feel it) and it's probably the most important stage. There seem to be a lot of stages in a project: step 1 - find it; step 2 - clean it and find the real path of the holds (this can have to change according to later stages); step 3 - break it down and find the crux (there's only any point in trying the crux at first); step 4 - find a way to do the crux; step 5 - find the best way to do the crux; step 6 - refine this and get it absolutely dialed so that you know it better than anyone ever will; step 7 - wired this in the context of the route; step 8 - lose your mind/rationalise the danger.

The eight step plan - I've only just thought of this. Anyway, I'm on step 5 at the moment. It's a hard stage and a stage that you never really know you've completed. If step 5 proves problematic, then you might have to go back to step 3. Ultimately steps 6&7 take far longer than all the other stages.

So whilst all this is going on and I'm struggling to make this project the most important thing in my life, I also have hundreds of other satellite projects around. I won't go into all the hard and safe routes again, but there are a real handful now that are dominating a lot of my thoughts. The general aim in the Moors is to climb something outrageous before I get old and knackered, but the sheer amount of class lines about is making me want to just spend all my time climbing them.

Lately however, and perhaps surprisingly, I've actually found a decent line in the Peak. I've been turned off by a lot of the natural grit; it's cold and round and you just don't get to be flamboyant enough. A little tip-off from Mark Rankine got me to rivellin quarries though and, although the route he had his eyes on was a bit wack, the wall to the right was way harder and pretty splendid.

I was originally looking at it as a long-term project, with a couple of real horror-show moves up high. These are physical - especially so after the fairly meaty bottom section. Alas, I found the top to be escapable, so the solution: pegs. It's a funny old world trad - if it's going to be dangerous, the line has to be pure. There's nowt worse than an escapable H10. With the bolts though, you're going to have a really cool hard section just above highball height and then get some gear (horror-clipping), before finally making it into a brick-hard sequence to the top. My fave move is definitely the last one though - looking forward to that.