Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Investment

Iain Small on Pitch 1 of Cosmopoliton (E5 6a,6b). The top pitch has yet to be onsighted, and when I left Blair was making ready for the attempt, How did he do?

After all last weeks grumbling and groaning about not getting any better at climbing I had a pleasant reminder that all's not totally crap yesterday.

On the way East from a few days working in Ardnamurchan I popped into Glen Nevis to see if I could catch a quick route with Blair and Iain. They were embroiled in E5 missions and I didn't have much time to play with, so instead I slipped off to the Heather Hat for a quiet boulder.

Longer followers of Soft Rock might cast their minds back to the Autumn and Winter of 2007-2008, when I used to live in Fort William and I got a bit obsessed with a boulder problem on the Heather Hat called Midnight in a Perfect World. I spent hours up on that lump of Nevis schist, trying, failing, resting, trying again. And when I finally finished it off on that February afternoon I promptly got obsessed with it's nextdoor neighbour, a problem called Killer Instinct. This eventually succombed to my similarly stubborn efforts. At the time they were both really hard for me, and when I first took up the Midnight challenge it was definately to be a long term project.

I've been back to this boulder a few times in the intervening years, and despite a few tries have never been able to repeat either problem again: they seemed to belong to that winter season in Fort William when all my efforts were focused on that perfect stone. Of all the routes and boulder problems I've tried before and since in my seven years as a climber, the hundreds of thousands of holds and moves, these ones still have the deepest stamp on my memory.

So, back to last night and there I was again; swinging from the roof beneath the ancient peaks of the Mamores, silently watching my every move; expectant. And before long I was back there, back to that season, that success-hungry hunt.

Except, this time it was different. Were the holds bigger or the problems shorter? Had the heel-toe jam become more secure? Maybe my new shoes allowed more precision? But, no, of course not. All that's happened is my investment has started to pay off and I am, perhaps, getting a bit better.

The bouldering wall on Sanna beach, Ardnamurchan, perfect post-work fun.

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