Sunday, 17 March 2013

Time Slips By

It seems that the tunnel-visioned focus of the winter rock season is starting to blur.  After months of obsessing over Malc's Arete - constantly failing on that final move and trying to work out how I can train for it (be better, be stronger, be longer, jump higher) - my attention is waning.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still after the prize and am still trying every so often, but as the Spring approaches it's not as high up the list of priorities.

As the season advanced I made minuscule increments of progress - having the start wired, jumping, hitting the lip, twisting and bending the knee, even holding the top for a millisecond - and I dared to dream that perhaps it might happen.  Then it started to go backwards, or at least the progress stopped and I was still hitting the pads.  My hopes were dashed and I felt cheated.  One particular day I went in a cold wind and could hardly keep my pads down and got pretty pissed off - with conditions, and with myself.  Then, the very next day I went to a different boulder, under a blue sky and snowy mountains and out of the obsessive project bubble.  I had a great day, possibly the highlight of the season, climbing new problems on perfect rock. As perspective returned I felt my spirits lift and the dark shadows pass.  I felt like I'd been passing through the stages of grief - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and now, finally, Acceptance.  I realised again that it's all just a game.  It really doesn't matter. If I ever do Malc's I'll be thrilled, overjoyed. But if I don't, I'll still relish the challenge of trying.

So, the focus has started to shift to routes and fitness.  I'm off to Chulilla in Spain next week so I've been trying to prepare for that, and hope that in turn it'll prepare me for the Highland spring. We've been fairly lucky with the weather up here and trips to the reliable weather-proof options of the Am Fasgadh Sunday scene and Moy and a sunny weekend at Goat Crag have kept me on my toes (and arms).
Am Fasgadh Sundays:
Andy Wilby on Black Sox Direct, 8a+.  After some determined sessions Andy did it this season. Effort!

Besides doing Am Fasgadh's The Shield in January, a few fruitful battles have set the wheels in motion for what could be a good year. First were Fidgey Muckers, a 7a at Goat that I'd failed on last Autumn during a period when I'd hardly done any climbing, and then The Combo, the 7a+ that links Mighty Atom into Too Old to be Famous.  At Moy I surprised myself by doing The Seer second go.  It's gained a pebble-hole on the crux span since I did it last winter so think going down to 7a+ is fair.  Oddly, it probably makes it a better route - less cruxy and more sustained at the same level.  Retro-flashing Constant Flux afterwards was a good reminder in hanging on and working things out when pumped - the aim for Spain.

Am Fasgadh Sundays:Tess off The Shield, 7b

Yesterday me and Sarah had a quick hit to Am Fasgadh while the sun still shone in the West and I had my best ever goes on Primo (or more specifically, The Curving Crack, the 7b+ first part of Primo).  I first tried this back in 2010 but it had never seemed like a reality until this year when I worked out how to do the last hard moves.  For a weakling like me it's a pure power endurance route, short and hard with no real respite.  There's a miserable semi-rest at what's known as the quartz 'jug'.  Jug!  Ha! I can do the route in overlapping halves to and from the jug but the redpoint crux is moving off it into a crozzly pinch.  For the first time I managed that twice yesterday, peeling off just afterwards, but there's a bit of me that thinks that if I can stick the next move it might just be do-able.  Where's that fingerboard?