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Friday, 16 September 2016

Siege Pt 2 - The Holy Grail

After last years solitary blog post documenting a summer getting spanked on my roof project at Llanddulas I guess I should finish the story. The grand plans for a winter of specific training didn't quite materialise as I spent the whole time working away. I was going Kendal wall 2/3 times a week so i was getting the training in but didn't have much chance to set replicas etc.. On weekends I had a day in Parisella's trying to repeat In Heaven, Pilgrim and Halfway House. Ally put up a new route extension to Parisella's Original which I managed Trigger Cut and later Halfway House into. This was a good confidence boost and I headed to Dulas early April for the first sesh. I repeated my biggest link straight away which was a good sign. This was from move 13 but I knew this year I would have to try and do a bigger link to build confidence. Logically speaking it's good to do these big links on a redpoint project. However it sometimes feels hard to summon the psyche needed to make yourself try that hard when you're not actually going from the start. It's easy to just tell yourself you might aswell go from the start when your psyche might carry you through. Jerry was the king at doing these big links prior to redpointing and consequently he often did things with minimal redpoints. Not only are you building up strength, muscle memory and getting a feel for the last moves when you're tired but it also helps to keep the redpoint stress down. So I started trying it from the 3rd bolt 9 moves in. After a few sessions I stuck the crux a few times but fell getting into the kneebar. The breakthrough came with Mick Lovatt one day when I managed from the 3rd bolt right to the end. I also managed from slightly lower through the crux and almost into the kneebar. This was a really important sesh and I felt like I should definitely do it this year especially as I was still heavy after a winter of morale boosting garbage intake. It was time for redpoints, I was back at square one from the ground though. The stopper move still felt a mile off most goes, even the set up move before felt hard sometimes. After a few sessions of this I started to get sacked with it again. After my last redpoint one day I pulled back up to the crux and desperately searched for something, anything to make it more high percentage. In what seemed like a eureka moment I found a new bit of beta that made it easier to get the pocket (but with the other hand). The only problem was it made the next moves sorting yourself out a bit harder. The new beta was more complex but seemed higher percentage than the nightmare move. I spent a few more days trying it from the start and experimenting. Although I got the pocket a few times I never managed to bring my left hand in. Back in Parisella's i was still improving and surprised myself by getting up Director's Cut - a problem I never thought I'd do. Surely I could scrape my way up the roof now. The crunch session came in early July, I was having redpoints with the new beta but just didn't feel with it. The whole thing was a slog and I didn't want to be there. The new beta was more fuckin about and more tricky moves to fall off. I'd done the start so many times the thought of doing it again filled me with dread. I literally couldn't climb it well anymore and wasn't in the right headspace at all. After looking like it was going to happen earlier in the year I resigned myself to leaving it. I didn't know if I would try it again that year or if ever. I started bouldering about at different places, developed a crag x in the Clwyd with Danny and kept popping into Parisellas. I also started doing a bit more training, some max hangs and physically i started to feel better and better. I decided to optimistically try and link Director's into Almost Familiar as it was a stress free project and I could just clip into the rope if i got there. I just needed a stand by belayer. One day i managed to get up Director's again. I made a few moves into the route but came off totally boxed. This could happen if i could refine the beta a bit. I worked out that move then a few days later got through it again but fell on the big crossover on the lip. Once again I pulled back up and found a better way. Next time I got there I knew I'd have a good chance. Sure enough the new beta saw me get to the end a few days later. I'd just climbed a meaty new thing that I never would have thought was possible a few months earlier yet I felt strangely dissatisfied. In my mind I'd failed on the main goal and although this was a nice consolation prize I knew i had to get back to the Dulas for one last look. A few weeks later I made it up with Norm. Immediately it felt better, my mind was refreshed and confidence was high. First redpoint I greased off the crux but on the next I stuck the move. A few foot moves later I found myself in the kneebar for the very first time. It's always surreal when you get to a highpoint after trying something for so long. It can be quite hard to concentrate on the job in hand. It almost feels a bit out of body. As i fought to get my breathing down and shake my arms I just prayed that the end holds of Temple were dry. A few moves later I grabbed the draw as I didn't have enough strength to clip it. Desspite this I was over the moon, i knew it was possible. All summer I had thought back to that session when I did it from the 3rd bolt with the original beta. next go I got through all the hard climbing to the last few moves before the ledge. I was on decent holds but I had nothing left and came off (smacking my arse on the ledge at the bottom). Although elated with this session I was off away for 3 weeks in just over a week and it was due to get hot again. I came back two days later, the roof was in much better condition as it was colder and I knew I had to make the most of it. I didn't feel that great but first redpoint I found myself on those finishing moves again but this time I had strength to spare. After doing the last big finishing move up to the ledge I screamed like a banshee. This was the moment I had dreamed about. Stood on the ledge before cruising up Zoidberg one last time. I got my top out into the light (I can almost see my house from up there). Somehow I'd come through the hardest mental challenge of my climbing life. In the end it wasn't really the seige that won the day. The route had only succombed when I'd raised my level. In the end I'd somehow got stronger than the route. I did the route 4th redpoint after the two month break and had managed the 'stopper' move 3 times out of 4. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere kids! Thinking back to when I was 17 when I used to scour the 97 Rockfax looking for a new route to do I was now pretty happy with my tally. 27 new routes from 7c to 8c and 15 8's. Onto the next...

Final Cut:

The Holy Grail:

Wednesday, 15 June 2016


Back in 2008(?) Liam 'Leeroy' Desroy almost completed a riduclously hard piece of climbing in the UK's temple of link ups Parisella's Cave. The Cave has obvious potentially for such ridiculously sustained bits of climbing but most the beasts of the UK probably aren't good enough and they definitely don't care enough to put the time into doing any of them. Leeroy fell off the last moves of the In Hell/Clyde link up before he became perennially injured and lost interest. This would have been the hardest problem of it's type in the UK linking a tough endurance 8A+ into a short stopper 8A+. Leeroy was definitely ahead of his time there and it's a terrible shame he didn't finish it. Fast forward to 2016 and a fortunate bit of bad weather forced the blonde German global wad that is Alex Megos into Parisella's for two days in a row. Alex's performances have appeared to suggest he is right at the top of the tree certainly in sport climbing. First guy to onsight 9a, Biographie in 3 goes (!!!) and Action Directe in 2 hours. I had to see him in the Cave so i headed over Friday evening. By the time i got there he'd already done Malc's Start in the Pass and Directors Cut in the Cave. He then did the second ascent of East Coker in a few goes before finishing with Louis Armstrong (in a few goes). This was different to other wads I'd seen in there over the years. Usually even proper beasts haven't totally destroyed the place on their first session as there is a lot to learn and a lot of tricky beta. The difference with Alex was that these were not hard problems for him, it didn't matter if he hadn't found the tricks or the most efficient beta as he was well within his comfort zone on these tricky 8Bs. I did a little rain dance that night and luckily he was forced back into there the next day. What could a man with that much strength and fitness do to a place like that. He racked his brain and decided linking Louis Armstrong into Halfway House would be suitable challenge for the day and of course he did it with minimal drama. This is what the top level looks like now folks, all the strong people (some of them world class) I'd seen climb over the years seemed somewhat behind the pace compared to the level Alex was demonstrating. Anyway if he makes it back one day Louis Cut could do with a sit start. The hardest option being the start to In Hell (hard 7C+). There's certainly plenty of potential 8B+ and 8Cs in there but they will probably never get done. What about In Hell/Louis A/Bonnie Extension, 8C+ anybody?. And Alex you are forgiven for jibing LPT, we'll put that down to youthful blip (and going down on a gop freezing day). You're welcome to marry my sister anyday.

Here he is on Louis Cut: