I'm all too familiar with the concept with near misses. While I may not have them a lot - preferring to fail by wimping out due to dismaying cowardice, rather than pushing to nearer my limit - occasionally I try really hard, get really close, and only THEN fuck it up spectacularly. And the nearness of the miss provides even more angst than the other failures and thus lingers longer in the memory. Lying awake at night, still not quite believing that you didn't do something you so nearly did... "If I'd just caught the right bit of the hold"...."If I'd just got my foot a fraction higher"...."If I'd just held the barndoor a second longer". It's quite surreal, you can almost believe you DID do it, because you so almost did. And then you wake up from the daydream and FFS no you failed even though it was that close.
The other day I had a near hit, and that was *very* confusing. This was back in Pfalz, when there was dry weather and where there was dry rock, on a route called Man Spricht Teutsch at (wait for it) Schindharder Kuckucksfelsen. Yes really, that crag. This was graded 8-/8 and as such is the hardest route I've done in the Pfalz, the challenge highlight of the trip, and a very good multi-crux epic up an impressive wall. It wasn't, however, my favourite climb of the trip, not even the top 3, despite it's quality. Why not, when I usually relish tackling such challenges and succeeding on them??
Well in this case, it was very, very nearly not succeeding. I got through a tricky bit, then cranked and slapped through the apparent crux, rested my way up an easier headwall, wary of the final bulge that of course turned out to be the real hard bit. Sweating and cranking through sloping pockets, high foot rockover with the rope in the way, slap into a dish, start falling off, micro-thought about grabbing the draw, slap past it regardless, somehow fall on and stay on and get to the obligatory single ring bolt lower off. So close yet....so near?? I did it, yes, woohoo, etc. Except the nearness had me not quite believing I did. I stumbled around for a bit before being able to belay, almost believing I didn't do it, because I so almost didn't. And whilst I relish the challenge and the fight, it was too close for comfort to fully enjoy. Not that I want comfort, but maybe a bit less luck involved... Still I guess it makes up for some near misses.