Thursday, 24 March 2011

ONE OF MANY FIGHTS

In the pic, warming up during a previous visit years ago.

I am on the train. Phone calls have been made, text messages have been exchanged, and the plan is unfolding nicely.
I can't cancel the smile from my face.
My pad is wet, it's raining, and from the window I see nothing but wet lands.
And I still can't cancel the smile from my face.
All of a sudden, I feel the pressure of what I am going to do, and gone is the smile. My mind is strong, I have climbed this problem so many times, in bed, at school while waiting for the students to finish their tests, at the gym while resting between attempts, in the shower. Now I am going there do climb it only one more time, but the only time that matters, the one that's for real.
I get down at the station, I feel good and happy, I am home again, despite having moved again: home is where friends are?
I see Tom as I go down the stairs. Long time no see my friend.
In the car there is Tom's friend, a true beast, and again through rain, mist and some more kilometers, I finally see the see, the Pier and The Orme.
It seems doable, then it seems not. How low will those clouds be? How wet will the holds be? How small will they feel?
As it happened many times in the past, when I lay in the tent in the grass surrounded by the Dolomites, mixed feelings fill my thoughts: I want to get it done, but would pay so much to have a simple, valid, small excuse to call me out of the fight. "I hope it rains outside". How many times I recited this mantra to avoid another 15 pitches on 50 years old rotting pitons. Some of these times, my prayer became reality, and with all the pressure disappearing in a split second, we raced down into town to dive ourselves into coffee, strudel and krapfens. Some other times, the sun reminded us that we were there to do some business, and our will made the rest. Make coffee, eat some cookies, dress up, gear up and do the job. Despite all the toil and torture, I do not wonder why I remember all the times that we climbed and not the times that we could rest and go to the bar...
"I hope The Cave is dripping" I find myself muttering. This thought lasts no time. I don't hope it's dripping, I feel it will be ok, and I don't care how it is in fact, because I am going there and climbing the problem.
"It's not looking good".
"It's dripping".
"It's wet".
IT'S A FUCKING STICKY DAMP.
The guys take everything out of the car and I understand that we are truly here for business. No exitation, it's time and when I hear Tom asking me to do the "Acid Test" for conditions, I am already one arming the pocket, with even my down jacket on. Tom is happy.
With a giant packet of tissues we all dry the holds, and it's really time.
Pressure kicks in. I am not afraid, because I know that I perform at my best under pressure. The first move is fine, and the second one feels good despite feeling a little longer than I expected. I know where to place my feet and I get the flake good and I am solid. I flag my right leg behind and I match, then I throw out right and I miss the hold. I am back on Earth.
It's been a good go, given the conditions (I wonder if it really was a sticky damp or if it simply was a total, complete and utter swimming pool...) and given the fact that I smartly chose to came here on my 8th consecutive day of climbing or training. I am knackered but confident. Maybe just too confident, almost naive.
I rehearse the move, and now I know where to take it and how to take it. It's time again and this time I don't miss it, but I miss the heel hook because I haven't checked where it is, and I fall going again to the good drilled pocket. Now I really am under pressure, this move feels very precarious, you can't see the hold, and I am perplexed.
Adam pops up to say hello, and I am happy to meet him. I am even happier when he points out that I am heelhooking the wrong bit. He shows me where to do it, and on the previously precarious move now I can shake out for how long I want. Thank you.
Releif, I rest and go again. I am confident.
I push with my left foot and I hear Tom saying "Nice and smooth Lore, nice and smooth": he's so close yet I feel the words so distant and I think if it could really be, that I am nice and smooth in my climbing. All of a sudden I am at the flake, I match, and while kicking with my right foot I cut loose and swing out, it should not happen, I think, but I am still there, on. I kick in, and go on. I get the hold out right, I heel hook prefectly and I get the pocket. I am there, so close. And so fucked up. I struggle and I fall on the last move. No. The nightmare. Falling on the last move. And feeling completely thrashed. Pressure pressure pressure. I perform at my best under pressure.
After what I judge a good rest, which it's not, because in these conditions a good rest for me should be a three days rest, I gulp down some supplements: aminoacids and glutamine, and I hope they do something good.
Will they? I'd better do my part.
This is the go. At the flake again, I almost forget to match, and that's not a good sign, because my mind is not focused, and so my body cannot be either. I kick, I cut loose and I don't hold the swing. It's over. It's fucking over. I am fucking done.
Tom's friend brings the pads under his project, and I start packing my stuff. Tomorrow it will be soaked by humidity, and the tissues won't do. It's over. I could have done it, but it didn't happen. I gave my whole self and it wasn't enough.
No.
I am packing my stuff only because I know that I will remain here until I have climbed the problem, and I don't want to lose my stuff in the dark. I have all the time in the world.
I am there again, at the starting hold. Nice and smooth. I do the first move and I feel a particular pressure on my right foot, unlike previous tries. I think "This will make all the difference". I get the right hand pocket and its lip feels grainy and sticky, and this makes me strong. I get the flake, I flag, I match and I kick. I cut loose. It shouldn't happen. It shouldn't have happened. While I swing out, not arguing with gravity, much more exchanging fists with her, I feel the indecision, the uncertainity of the future in my whole body: when this chaos will be over, will I still be on here, or on the ground?
Here.
Left foot in the pocket, right foot in the smear, dyno out right. There. Thumb on. Heel hook and shake out, because I am so strong. I get the good hold, "remember all the one armers you've done" and I let go of the flake with the left hand. I stop the swing on the rail and I reach out and high, then I engage auto pilot and pull through and I am on the finishing hold. I only have to tap the back of my hand to complete the problem.
And I can't. And I FUCKING CAN'T. The rail was dripping and my left hand got soaked. I am sliding off the hold, I cannot match and I cannot finish the problem. What should I do? Jump down and take the tick? Try to adjust my right toe? Get a heel in? I don't know and anyway I can't do it. I just do not let go. Everyone is screaming at me, I say "Spot me well" to I don't know who, I just hear shouts from all around, I try to raise my body, I push with my right foot and squeeze something with my left, finding some sort of friction in a toe hook. Chaos. Shouts. Grease. Fatigue. Pride. Honour. Will. Delusion. Frustration. Sweat. Everything condensates here and now, in this fractions of a second during which I somehow tap the back of my left hand with my right and come down.
I scream, everyone screams, and the echoes get lost in the sea.
I hug my friends, I yell and the world is a perfect place. I take out the flask and down goes my 15 years old Laphroaig.
I have done "Rock Atrocity" and I am God.

2 comments:

Richie Crouch said...

Hahaha what an Epic tale!

I cannot wait to see the beast unleashed upon switzerland in less than 2 weeks time! :)

Unai said...

You are God