Two Sides of a Coin
Its Monday and i’ve been Skiing for a week before now. A nice relaxing week without a rock shoe in sight. Incidentally i used to think these were painful until i put my feet in Ski boots for a week, their design seemingly being inspired by the makers of the thumbscrew and iron maiden. Anyway its Monday and i was too knackered to climb yesterday and i’m beginning to get tetchy that i haven’t climbed for a week (bit of an addict you see) I’m also aware that i’ve been through an Airport yesterday; airports love to fly different diseases about the place and sit them next to each other and defenceless individuals for hours on end with recirculated airflow. I could definitely feel a cold coming on.
Luckily my body was playing ball, it’d realised it wasn’t facing downhill and squatting. I set about trying my project of the moment. I’d had a productive session on it before going away and got half a sequence worked. Trying this sequence i did the foot move i hadn’t done last time but it felt hard. After about an hour of getting close to the cross move crux i started to try a different sequence, this quickly came together in about 30mins and I realised the problem was no longer a 4-5session goal, it was potentially a 4-5minute goal. I had about 20 minutes of daylight left and a flash flood of motivation and pressure washed in. I had about 2 hours of climbing behind me and it was on the same moves so tiredness wasn’t far away either. I still had an efficient start sequence to decide on as i had 2 methods. 3 goes gone and i had that sussed. Big rest, quick brew and the light really was fading now. This was my chance, i pulled on and felt good, floaty good, i sailed through the beginning of the crux, got my foot up, didn’t have the pinch perfect but i squeezed hard and it understood. Foot didn’t quite go on right. sod it just give it a go it might stick, touch the hold at the end of the crux, hit it nicely but left foot has made its last purchase of the day and is heavily overdrawn, it bolts and i go with it. My next go is technically better but my foot pops and the humidity has come with the darkness. Denied.
Its Wednesday and i’ve been pretty ill for the last 12 days i’ve attempted to get back to my project but have felt like a welterweight been shoved into a heavyweights fight to make up the numbers, there is no crush only skin and tendons working. I’m walking upto flasby fell with Katie on a flying visit to meet my folks who are staying near for the week. I’ve been wanting to try Rhythm for years ever since i heard Steve raving about it at Kilnsey when he found it. It’s only had one repeat since by Clifford and the tiny vid of him doing it has been on my pc for 6 years, knowing it might come in handy. (there is also a vid of Dunning doing it but its private) The walk in is Sommelike in muddiness from the snow melt until we get up on the fell. desiccated cracks of crepuscular rays are punching through the clouds and I have a discerning sense that i may not be back here for some time, if life has its way of offering up the usual distractions. Its a long walk too. Arriving at the Rhythm boulder it looks about 3feet high. I begin to question whether i am infact in yorkshire or wales. 10m later my question is answered.
One of the most stunning pieces of rock architecture reveals itself as the ground drops away, it looks better in the flesh than in photos. The clearing of the trees and view give it a Bouldertopian feel. I pull on the warm ups on the block with a trepidation i haven’t felt since trying to climb on antibiotics in font in 2009 after catching Strep throat from something in a Sheffield night club. Am i in the clear or was all this just a nice walk? new shoes don’t help, i feel light and ungainly in my feet, brilliant i’m going to climb like Keith bradbury, Woods or Traversi for the day. Front wheel drive here we come. Safe to say i’m not ill anymore anyway. I rocket about on young Dave’s nose until the top out comes (great problem) The time comes, i jump on rhythm and fresh skin is a blessing on the holds, having climbed on sandstone all winter it feels strange but i quickly remember what to do, hook skin on holds then pull.
I look at the holds from the top of the boulder which appears to be a climbers Rorscach test, interpret it how you like but there are only really 2 proper holds there and you need about 4. Cliffords way looks like it’ll mince skin if you rip off the crimp. I’ve heard dunning went more out right to a vague dish/pocket/crimp (its barely anything so is bizarrely all of these) This looks nice and getting up from below it feels very usable, i end up using this and a bizarre arrangement for my LH that involves pretty much just pushing my skin into lots of tiny dimples and a pebble. It works and i nail the last move first try. Skin 1 rock 0. Getting into it from the stand it takes a while to suss the body position and i rip off the crap holds a few times until i suss the body position out. The stand comes together quite fast and i’m happy, i haven’t even tried the sit and it looks both easy and hard, big hands no feet. It completes the line like a visual exclamation rather than being only a full stop without that little extra fleck of ink !.
The ramp is easy, about 7a so i know i have a good chance, just as that realisation comes,
the sun comes out for 20minutes and i stop trying it, i pass the time swearing at the sun and do my best Canute impression. It gets the message and my next go ends with me dropping off the last holds with numb fingers. Another Brew and another crunch time. 30 minutes of light left, not much skin left maybe enough for 2 more goes but 1 really if i want to keep it intact for county projects. The coin lands on its other side today. It feels grippy and i float up it hitting the holds perfectly. I’m at the last move, calm, i punch up and get the hold, nothing rips like it so easily could of and i top out like Keith Bradbury, all arms and no legs.
The last 2 weeks have taught me about biding my time more and that you can’t win them all in the closing moments of the game. Of course the joy of it all is that i can go back to my county project too. boulder problems not boulder moments. But every boulder has its moment. Its perfect time to complete it. and like the sweet spot on a bat it feels bloody good when you hit it. Rhythm was one of those for me, and its made up for the week before.
Katie took this picture just after i did it and i think it captures the mood perfectly.
Rhythm is such a beautiful line. Great effort Steve.