Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Near hits.

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.

Correlation is not Causation.

So they say. I am rather suspicious of the correlation between me enthusiastically exhorting to my climbing friends "This autumn and winter I want to climb lots of gritstone", and the weather getting incomprehensibly and relentlessly fucking atrocious. It happens most recent years, but this year has been by far the worst. We have now hit DAY 14 of rain in Glasgow, easily beating the 11 days of rain record when I moved up in 2009 (this is likely to reach 17 according to the forecast), and from all reports the grit and even the county sandstone have been little better. Apparently, scientifically, this is correlation and coincidence, not causation. My ARSE. Posting specific climbing desires angers the Weather Gods and they crush such dreams under their merciless storm fists.

So calling of the grit is wisely still up in the air, getting wet along with anything else out there. Calling of the plastic it is for the moment, andI've been training surprisingly enjoyably. Day 14 of rain may be a significantly repugnant record, Day 7 of training at TCA (spread over a few weeks) without getting pissed off, demoralised, weaker, injured, or having no skin left, is a more consolidatory record. I've tended to accept that coming out of a summer where I ended up climbing pretty damn well, I will be rubbish and weak indoors. Embracing this, I've been pottering around on weak problems for weak people, not worrying about pushing too hard, and generally felt okay. My main goals have been simple: Do fun problems so I enjoy training, and don't push too long so I trash my skin and soft tissue. Lower expectations, higher exceedence, and I've ended up feeling a bit of progression after a few sessions.

Now then, Calling Of The Spanish Limestone, anyone????