Mar 10 13
I went back to Malham today, and met up with Neil and Debbie. Driving through the misty mirk over the moors, I was wondering whether it was going to be too cold to get anything done, ironic given the conditions on Wednesday.
Being an early season Saturday, the lower tier was already getting busy, despite the relatively early start. Neil and Debbie were getting ropes up their respective projects on the upper tier, so I had to dismiss the usual warm-up routes on the lower tier and head ‘upstairs’ to join them. Fortunately, the mist began to clear and the sun made an appearance to warm the Cove nicely.
I’d not been back on Obsession since falling off the last moves back in September last year, so the idea of warming up on it was a little disconcerting – but that’s what clipsticks were invented for!
I got the rope up it with the clipstick, trying a few moves on the way and generally reminding myself of the holds. I ignored the first section, knowing that no matter how much I try to remember what’s there and what my sequence is, I always forget!
Second go, on top-rope this time, I tried the first section, making a bit of a hash of the feet, but remembering what I needed to do. It felt harder than usual, but I was still warming up, so was reasonably happy. The mid-section felt okay, though again, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders yet. I looked at the last hard bit at the top, but didn’t work it too hard, knowing that I can only manage a couple of really solid attempts before I run out of skin.
Neil was working L’ob Session just to the left of Obsession, and after my top-rope go, he tried for a redpoint. He was looking good, getting through the first crux section, but, not being fully warmed up, got pumped on the upper section, and fell.
After a long rest, and a bit of contemplative focussing, I readied myself for a redpoint attempt of Obsession, unsure of whether another top-rope go to warm-up fully was worth it against the loss of skin, gien Neil’s experience.
Hoping for some well-timed cloud cover, I set off, up and then left. As usual when I’m fully committed to something, I needed to relax, feeling jittery as adrenaline over-fuelled me. A little mistake on the hands (as usual) was corrected, and the feet found where they needed to be. My right foot didn’t feel great as I moved up to the first hard move, but the fingers pulled harder to compensate, and I reached for the undercut. Clip. Relax. Refocus.
The mid-section (for me) requires a stiff pull off a small undercut with high feet, which always feels a bit tenuous to start, but okay once I move through it. I moved up, then realised my feet were totally wrong. I dropped back down to reset, hoping I hadn’t lost too much power. I pulled, the feet stuck; the higher undercut was partially reached, but crucially held. A slap out left for the crimp, got it. Clip. Can’t clip! Ignore it, the holds above are good – keep moving. Keep moving. Moving.
Here we are again then. Feeling good. Shaking out, recovering. Only the top section to go. Stop focussing on that foothold from last time, it’ll be fine. It always has been.
Apart from that one time, on redpoint.
Stop it. Focus.
Right hand out to the good pinch, left hand to the poor crimp, concentrate on the middle finger – you don’t need much, but you need it well. Right hand to crimp, got it. Good.
Right foot to… right foot to… right foot to… Use it! No. I don’t like it. Smear, and pull harder! Ok, but that won’t work. I know, I don’t care, just pull, now…
I pulled, and stayed on. I moved my right foot up to the other poor sloper, and willed it too stay as I moved my left up to brace for the final reach up. Left hand to the intermediate, reach through for the finishing holds, arch the body, hold the tension, reset the feet. Clip.
Being naturally lazy, I don’t often put a significant amount of effort in to anything, routes or otherwise. This route, this day, I did.
It took a while to sink in, but on the drive home it hit me. I’ve just climbed the hardest route I’ve ever done, and despite getting it wrong on the way, I felt moderately fresh at the end of it.
Not bad for early March – bring on the rest of the year…
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