Wednesday, 11 March 2015


It's hard to know what was different on the last go.  Sometimes things just click.

I'd been there for well over an hour already, my toes starting to freeze in the March night, my fingertips starting to burn. I existed with the boulder in a glowing bubble of white in the inky darkness, spotlit by two lamps and my headtorch, the woods and roaring river beyond forgotten.  I'd never been so close to success, but with each failed attempt I new the window of opportunity was getting smaller: the accumulation of skin loss, fatigue and battered motivation all taking their toll.

This was my fourth session here in two weeks: two on weekends, two on weeknights with lamps. After each one I'd come away with a glimmer of hopeful progress: a new hold reached, a shift of weight. The unknowns becoming known.  I'd occasionally tried the first few moves before, but was no-where near making or sticking the crux move.  It's hard to say exactly what had changed, but building a board at home probably helped.  Tonight's task was to bring them all together in one: a series of static points of contact linked through movement, timing, balance and power. Now, after the umpteenth crash back to the pads, the clock was ticking and I was gearing up for another defeated retreat.

One more go.  This one really will be the last.  I even said it out loud to the darkness beyond my island of light.  "One more go".  Sat on the pads, chalked and ready, a thought crossed my mind. Every time I've done a problem I've found hard I've tried to work out what made the difference on that final attempt.  More often than not I couldn't tell you what it was. Better accuracy? More power? Maybe it's more mental than physical: focus, desire. Sometimes things just click.

On the final go last night something clicked again. A millimeter shift of body weight? An intake of breath? Perhaps. Suddenly I found myself  outside my bubble of torchlight, dark and alone, and standing on top of The Catch at Scatwell.

Dancing in the darkness

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