When it comes to my climbing, I've always said "I'm not a strong climber, I'm not a super technical climber, but I am good at giving it everything I've got." I've voiced this a few times recently, or at least tried to. First Sam interupted me before I got to the "but", to question what I was saying. Then Mike interrupted me before I got to the "but". Then Nicole interrupted me before I got to the "but".
I sat one evening and thought about this - the most credit I could give myself was to add an addendum to my self-criticism. Everyone else seemed to think those criticisms weren't warranted. I resolved to put a lot of energy into believing in myself and my climbing ability. The next morning, I did an exercise in positive re-inforcement - something I hadn't done for a while.
We went round to Las Chorerras, and climbing with a Bristol lad, Toby, I was having a great day. We were onsighting 7a for fun and having a right good laugh. The line of Super Cantina Marina (8a) caught my eye. I heard the voice of doubt, saying it was too hard for me to get on, and decided it could fuck right off. I cruised up the first 15 or 20 meters, then fell off what turned out to be the lower of two cruxes. I plugged away, and some time later I'd done all the moves and reached the chains on a sustained 40m 8a with a technical crux.
Since then I've been climbing more relaxed than I ever thought possible. A second go on Super Cantina Marina improved the crux sequences and identified a knee bar rest between them, then I decided to take a break and get on some other stuff. I found a bouldery 7c that really wouldn't suit my style (Los Mercenarios at Parade de Enfrente), and worked out all the moves first go. I jumped on the more suitable 7c+\8a Ramalla, and at a hands free knee bar at about 25m had the onsight firmly on my mind, but not the choking desire that usually accompanies it. The crux proved too much, but again I figured it out and felt the line should be very doable.
With my finger skin getting pretty thin, I decided to have one more go on Super Cantina Marina before taking a longer rest. I went fully "A Muerte" and was climbing really well until a sequence error sent me head first and backwards down the crag - thanks Stephane for a superb soft catch to keep me in one piece. After that, I linked from the rest below the bottom crux to the top of the second - although as I reached for the jug at the end, my skin finally gave way on the other hand and I slid off. Two tips were clean through and pissing blood, but I didn't really care. I knew I was rolling the dice when I pulled on, and I may have lost the skin but I'd found more than enough confidence in my climbing to make it worth while.
So I am a strong climber, I am a technical climber, and to top it off I've got a fucking good head for getting the most out of that. If you hear me saying otherwise, you have permission to slap me.
But to give credit where it's due elsewhere, I owe a big thanks to my new found friends in the Chulilla car-park. Coming off a bad depression it has been hard to find confidence, and whether you complimented my climbing (or my singing!), popped into my van for a chat on a rainy day when I needed it the most, accepted some decisions I had to make without any ill-feeling, or just welcomed me into your circle, you've helped me back onto my feet more than you'll probably ever know.
|Joris on (I think) Richer Line (7a)|
|Stephane on what he thought was a 7b line at Las Chorerras (athough on UKC it looks like there's only a couple of 7cs where he was climbing)|
|Nicole getting into a knee bar high on El Ramallar (7c+)|
|Relaxed - this was right before I pulled on to go "A Muerte" at Super Cantina Marina (8a)|
|Focussed - but still relaxed... I never knew climbing hard could feel so simple.|
|About to go for some upside-down airtime... forgot to move my left foot before I tried to stand up. Thanks Per for the photo to remind me not to do it again.|