Tuesday, 23 August 2011

On personal challenge and personal style.

The other day I actually tried something tricky. I didn't do it but that I actually tried it was a hopefully decreasing rarity. The route was a slanting sparse crackline up a wall that overhung 3m in 15m height. I make that 1 in 5 so 15-20 degrees overhanging. Hmmm. Bloody Scotland and it's bloody steepness. The weather was good and I'd warmed up well, I climbed up to a mid-height slopey crux and back down again. Back up, more gear, back down. Back up, somehow committed to the crux and pressed on until a metre below the top I was struggling to hang on to flat jugs just to clip gear, let alone move up. Since the finish was 45 degree slopers into flat (not incut) grass, I knew I was beat. No stropping or sulking, but in the post-route analysis I was particularly fond of the excuse of it being my "anti-style".

This seemed obvious at the time, but in retrospect I did wonder if it was a too convenient excuse?? Surely I had done enough around Scotland that I would have tackled such steepness somewhere, and should be capable pushing my limits on it despite my fatness and weakness. Well, as it turns out, no. Definitely no. Recalling the more challenging routes I've done in Scotland looks like this:

White Meter, Loch Sloy - slab.

Chisel, Cambusbarron - just off vertical, powerful cranks but not pumpy.

Big Country Dreams, Cambusbarron - steepish but good rest between two short cruxes.

Walter Wall, Glen Nevis - just off vertical, bold with good rests.

The Fuhrer, Creag Dubh - sheer wall, good rests and good holds.

Auto De Fe, Berrymuir - okay this is very steep but short-lived and obvious gear to go for.

Captain Pugwash, Hidden Treasure Wall - vertical with a reasonable shake at the top.

Heave-Ho, Loch Tollaidh - steepish but good rest between two short cruxes.

Strip-Teaser, Loch Tollaidh - slab.

Call Of The Wild, Lochan Dubh - steepish but good rest between two short cruxes.

On The Western Skyline, Ardmair - vertical with good holds and good shakes.

Unleash The Beast, Ardmair - steep but some resting jams and obvious gear.

Where on this list does it say 15 degree overhanging stamina routes with no rests?? Hmmmm?? It doesn't. Because I don't do them, not at my limit anyway. I'm not good at them, I don't suit them, and although I aspire to be a well rounded climber, such routes are not really suitable to push myself on. So I need to get on some challenging routes that are my style, as well as doing more stamina training. Play to your strengths, work your weaknesses...

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