Sunday, 4 July 2010

Taking the tick.

Generally, I like the onsight climbing experience and accepting the challenge that entails. Start at the bottom, use only the information from the guidebook and your own eyes, and climb just that route to the top under your own steam, using the safety system for protection only. This gives the joyous journey of discovery up the climb, seeing how it unfolds and relying on yourself to deal with that en route (which is obviously what makes onsight climbing objectively superior to any other form).

It also, for me, involves the challenge "as described" and "as intended". If I'm tackling a particular challenge, I am tackling THAT challenge, in the normal and intended conditions. If I can't manage that challenge as is, I accept that. If, however, something outside of the remit of that challenge occurs, I will give myself some leeway as to whether I feel I've satisfactorily tackled that challenge. I.e. if I fail, or rest, or whatever due to external or abnormal circumstances, and I get straight back on, knowing that I was climbing the challenge and would have completed it, then I will continue as normal and consider that I have done that climb. Not a perfect ascent, and not as enjoyable an experience, but a fair grey area.

For example...

It rains.
A sheep falls on you.
Your belayer falls asleep.
You stick your finger in a pocket and get stung by a bee.
Or attacked by a hairy Baboon Spider (this happened :( )
You go off-route due to white herrings or guidebook misdescription.
You or your belayer get hit by a freak wave contain several irate seals.
You pull a hold off a supposedly solid climb.
Etc etc

...are things in the grey area that are outside one's control, outside one's climbing skills, and outside the challenge one tackles.

Obviously - see previous post - the "pulling holds off supposedly solid climbs" issue is on that's foremost in my mind. Both of the two climbs I completed after pulling holds of and falling off, I will write them in my logbook as I climbed them - I was climbing them, I was pulling onto easy ground, and I would have done the move fine. I had tackled the challenge intended, and unexpected hold detachment was not part of that. This did get me wondering, would I feel the same climbing at South Stack or the Lleyn?? Well I think different rules apply there - those venues are not "supposedly solid" :), and one has to tackle that terrain in different ways, it IS part of the challenge.

Remember, spirit of the law, not letter of the law...

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