Saturday, 24 October 2015

Closer to the link..

The Sandy Crag project has really captured my ambitions. After 4 months of hard work, it's starting to feel like I might be able to climb this line.

Never before have I had this level of sustained doubt on a route. Setting off up the slog to shunt the route has been getting harder and harder, as the expected break-through just hasn't come. Added to this, I've had doubts as to whether the project even suits me and whether it's really a viable solo. When you have practised something for nearly half a year and still sometimes can't do the moves, I suppose that's a valid question.

This self-doubt culminated in a couple of rancid sessions in high humidity, without chalk. Low point. I think 'despair' is the word. I suppose the only thing pushing me through the dark nights, bewinded Ronhills and general sogginess has been the lessons I've learnt previously. On Psykovsky's Sequins I found that things that you never thought possible could become so. The difference with Psykovsky's Sequins was that I wasn't so intensely invested in the route from the outset - I tried it over a number of years, whilst involved in other things. There was of course an element of doubt in Sky Burial and Divine Moments of Truth, but this only lasted as long as I grappled with the single crux move. On the Sandy Crag arête there are several hard moves; many of which don't suit me.

The humbling power of headpointing is the way it exposes your weaknesses. On the Sandy Crag arête I've been confronted full-pelt with my fear of compression moves. There is an almost masochistic rite that has to be traversed for you to succeed in a hard headpoint. On the Sandy arête, I've had to not only attempt moves that are disproportionately hard for me, but try these before any other move and force myself to engage positively with them.

The result has been a mini voyage of discovery that has finally began to bare fruits. On Tuesday of this week, I bombed up past Elsdon after work and had my most successful session on the climb so far. I built on the past couple of weeks' work surrounding a certain hold transition, which enabled me to link all the hard moves of the climb together.

That is massive progress. If I can start to be able to link the crux most times, then I could potentially look at being able to do if after the energetic little F7a start. That's going to be really exciting. Once the crux is comfortably linked there are few boundaries to attempting the lead.