Tuesday, 12 March 2013

You can't always get what you want...

Redpointing can be a frustrating process, but only if we lose sight of why we're there.

With most of the country under severe weather warnings options for the weekend had appeared in short supply, but by the Friday afternoon there was a glimmer of hope in the forecast - Portland. All the rain would be overnight, and with a westerly wind, I thought of Chayne Cliff - an often overlooked crag because of a bird ban for nesting peregrine falcons from the 1st of March.

Chayne Cliff holds some stunning lines over bands of flowstone and coral. As usual for portland there's a fair share of technical climbing, but the unusual rock formations make it stand out from the crimpfests of The Cuttings and Blacknor.

After a warm up, Ramon and I went over to have a look at a line that I first set eyes on years back called Road Rage - a three star line that goes at 7b+. I wasn't climbing well enough to try it back then, but it was one of the lines that inspired me to commit to serious training so it was a bit of a pilgrimage to finally get on it.

A couple of local lads were there working Road Rage and Illusion (7c), so we got some great beta and after two goes I had my sequence worked out. It's a sustained power endurance test with two cruxes - a sequence of long moves at mid height, into a semi-rest, and the technical crux on crimps, crossly holds, and a tricky gaston move round an arete right at the top.

I had one more burn before we headed off to the bunkhouse for the evening, making the chains with one rest, so I was quietly confident of a Sunday send.

Road Rage area - Adam getting ready for an attempt on Illusion (7c)

And then testing out his belayer... it's a fierce looking route!

After a relaxed and jovial evening and a good solid breakfast, we headed back down to warm up and discovered the slightly greasy conditions of the previous day were gone - the friction was perfect.

Before I even got back onto Road Rage, I could feel the nervous excitement that often comes when you really believe the send is on... I knew I had to try to bring that down or I was going to suffer a full-on bout of sending fever.

I managed to relax before setting off for my first attempt of the day, but after cruising most of the route and pumping out just below the chains, it came roaring back. All I had to do was climb a little bit more efficiently, and I should get there with the beans to push through the last couple of moves.

I couldn't calm down, and I compounded the issue by going again a bit too soon - this time I didn't have the juice. So I stopped for lunch and a good hour's rest.

My timing was poor, the sun had now left the face, and with sea-spray in the air, the holds were quickly greasing up.

Getting frustrated, I began to worry more about getting the send than enjoying my day, which rather defeats the purpose of getting out of London. Some nagging concerns from my personal life were adding to my frustrations, and I didn't really snap out of it until Adam made a couple of comments about enjoying the journey and following the Rock Warriors Way.

I sat myself down by the water, where the sun was still out, and thought about what was important. Here I was away for a sunny weekend in Portland (shirtless climbing in February), with a great bunch of friends and a wonderful girlfriend, and I was getting annoyed because I couldn't send a route? Madness!

So after a bit, I came back up for a last couple of attempts. I greased off twice, but it didn't matter any more. I was climbing like I should have been two hours ago, relaxed and focused. Road Rage will definitely go when the conditions (and my timing) are right, but that's not really important. What matters is the movement on rock, the company of friends, and the contentment with where I am, both in my climbing and in those personal matters.

Sometimes molehills become mountains inside our own heads... it's good to see them for what they are, and let them shrink away again.

A little wander looking for interesting flotsam to photograph helped remind me what's important about getting away for the weekend

As did hopping my way out to a large rock in the sea for some quiet contemplation

And a nice sunset to round off the day

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