Monday, 11 February 2008

Problems That Don’t Suit You

I don’t trust friction and I have scars on my knees to support this statement. I hate holds that only appear in cold conditions on two days of the year. I hate rounded arêtes – how are you meant to stand on something round? I hate problems where you have to contort yourself so that your right knee is at exactly the same point as your left ear. If I wanted to play Twister, I would do so. I believe that any hold on grit is a figment of the climber’s imagination.

Basically grit just doesn’t suit me. I just spent a weekend flailing in Yorkshire. However, it wasn’t all a waste. I like to think that enduring the worst that grit can throw at me is good for my moral fibre. At any rate, it certainly puts me in my place.

I need rock with actual holds on it, even the most minute crimp would suffice. I think grit is very technical and no one will ever accuse me of being technical. I guess that’s why we don’t get along. I also have to say that technical isn’t what attracts me to climbing. No, I like an all out strenuous battle, not some ‘ooohhhh, will my foot stick long enough to reach that break’ type of problem.

I think working your weaknesses is good, but to a point. Learning to deal with grit slopers won’t easily see me into the next grade, unless my chosen target involved slopers (which I can guarantee it won’t!). I believe in training your strengths first. I’ve made the most progress when I decided to increase my power by campusing. I wasn’t exactly a weakling to begin with, but I found the extra confidence gained from the ability to latch holds more dynamically to be very encouraging. I could easily see where my future was.

However, there is something to be gained in a battle with something that doesn’t suit you – that thing is your dignity. At Slipstones I came across the most frustrating V1 ever, Question of Balance. On first acquaintance, it looks like a romp up the most gentle slab ever imagined, however when you get to the final crimp and realise how high your foot has to go you start to realise this is no pushover. I first backed off of it saying ‘it’s just grit nonsense, who cares’, but I was annoyed. I got on it again later in the day and managed to get my foot high, but the break was literally centimetres away. I fell off and skinned my knees as I slid down the slab. This of course meant war!

I muttered a few more comments about disliking grit (just in case I couldn’t actually do the problem as I didn’t want others to think it meant that much to me!) It’s a V1 for heaven’s sake – there was no way that I was going to let it win. Back on the problem, grab the crimps, pull down, right foot high, push down with the left hand, now rreeeaacchhhhhh… reach more, nope a bit more, for the love of god put everything into this, just a bit more – finally I got it.

All that for a V1 that didn’t suit me, shesh.


Stuart said...

You guys should come out to Oz, we got nothing but roofs and steep!

Jenn said...

Cool - sounds good to me :-)