Thursday, 3 May 2012


In the pic, the reward: roast chicken and potatoes!!!

The above picture shows where I spent the morning: in heaven. Or was it hell?

Today I had no school, so despite being on my fourth day on, I went bouldering. I had the entire day to my desires, so I took the chance to go and check out a new problem, in an area I already know a bit, that could be fresher despite the boiling temps. Sitting in a small pit there's this slightly overhanging face, with underclings and a small crack. I had seen a video, I know the opener and the only repeater of this problem, and I knew that I couldn't trust either of the two. Strong and tall guys: I was calling for troubles. And I got them.
The morning was really fresh and the boulder stays in the shade all day, so I felt relaxed about this; also, the wet streak in the starting hold seemed to magically unaffect the bit of rock that you have to squeeze. I warmed up and started trying the moves - Ouch!!! So this is how real rock feels on your fingers? It's a sharp, painful motherfucker, especially with my plastic-filed fingertips. It wanted blood and it got it. Mine.
Anyway, the central moves went well, so I sat down and tried the first one: no way. Miles away. Good footholds are useless if you are not in contact with them. I found a solution under the form of an undercling that you get above your head from the sitter. I pulled on and everything clicked. I got the crack with my left hand and... I realized I was stuck. Completely stretched, I was unable to swap feet and move my left one on the salvation foothold. I tried this move again and again, but to no avail.
Then hell came.
After thinking "That's OK, I did what I could", I wanted to go and try my other project; instead, I don't know how, I found myself trying to connect every imaginable hold on that face in every possible combination, to manage that crucial move. I tried the most painful finger jams in gnarly, jagged seams that cut my fingers behind the fingernails everytime I pushed them in and twisted. Blood pouring everywhere, I seemed to have a sequence. This involved four foot movements from the same holds, and also a very hard move to get a higher undercling from which I could get the crack high enough to use the good foothold. To do this move I had to heelhook so hard on a bulge, as if it were to save the planet. This whole sequence was brutal and completely exhausted me, especially my right bicep, that was completely empty.
This whole process had taken easily two hours, and by the time I went for the redpoint, I could not do the hard move anymore. For sure it felt hard but I felt proud having managed to skip the reach problem, and the obvious increase in the difficulty only added more pleasure and joy.
When I was ready to go home, I don't know why, I thought I could try the old sequence, moving my left foot 5 cm to the left, on a worse but higher foothold. I stepped on... and I did the moves first go.
After hours of toil and blood, a simple foot adjustment had done the deed. I am a complete idiot. I managed to spend half a day putting together a very hard sequence, instead of trying all the different footholds first. Punter. Idiot.
I took a long rest, ate my cereals and joghurt, drank my supplements, and went. I knew what to do, and I did it, but when I came to the hard bit, the foot swap, first I did it but my left calf cramped and I couldn't get the good foothold, then I was too tired to get the right body tension, and had to call it quit.
So, have I been in heaven or in hell?
Obviously it was heaven, because I made quick work of a hard problem, and despite not toping it out, it's been very satisfying. Obviously again it was hell, because I basically threw success in the recesses of my mind and lost it. This is the price to pay for rejoicing in solitude.
If this morning I've been in heaven, now I'm back in hell, a hell made of daily training sessions, plastic holds, fingerboarding, stopwatch, and a lot of effort.
But if this morning I've been in hell, now I'm back in heaven, a heaven made of pure power problems, pure efforts, untouched by skin grating, or by short reach. A heaven made of simple tasks: can you one arm that hold? Can you get from there to there? Can you keep your feet on?
I like to think that this morning I've been in heaven, and now I'm back in heaven. I loved every second of my foolish struggle of today. I am proud that I found a dumb sequence, I did it, and I discovered that it was useless.
What's more satisfying than useless pleasures?
I am happy because once again I chose a problem that plays to my weaknesses, and I did my best to overcome them. I can't blame the rock. I can't blame the guys who cleaned and climbed it. I'd had done the same.
I am happy because I stuck my head out of my board, out of my Beastmaker, and I found a world in which I can do nice things.
But I am also happy because I know that on my board I've done things a lot harder than the one I saw today, and because once again I've received more than I'd put in.
I hurt now. My fingers are cut and swollen. My back is stiff and my right bicep is useless. And I didn't even top out! I'm happy. I don't need to top a problem out to be happy: I only need to know that doing what I like to do is right.
I'd have so many more things to say.
Right now I'm thinking that I deserve a few days off, and I wonder: will I make it, or will the desire to train and get stronger prevail?
It's been a great day.

No comments: