‘Difficulties can be overcome. It’s the imaginary ones that are the problem.’
Bypassing the Double Direct route doesn’t avoid the necessity to mantel. My climbing partners did it very stylishly and in record breaking time because there were others waiting for the route. They smeared and matched on the horn, without a grunt or even heavy breathing. I managed to overheat before I even got there, while cleaning on the traverse. As I cursed my stifling wind breaker, I managed to get my heel up to my ear in order to avoid (what would have been) a much easier smear and as a result, I ended up perpendicular to the crag. After all that unnecessary exertion, I practically pulled my jacket off with my teeth before I even reached a comfortable spot!
Anton had visions of me leading Magnetic wall and went to the trouble of setting up all the gear, so that all I needed to do was clip in. There are few ledges with such awe-inspiring views and a Falcon even graced us with its presence.
I followed, imagining what it would be like to lead this route. Well let’s just say that that really blew my mind! Before I’d even given leading a chance, I was over-analysing what it would feel like being in front of the rope while pulling up on these two-finger sized pebbles!
I started worrying about what was next, instead of just paying attention to the rock I was on. By the time I finished I’d already tired out my fingers because of not being very present and conjured up a third rope, imagining that I’d be leading with a back-up top rope! Anton started explaining how things would work if he lowered me: I’d pull myself along the traverse, in reverse using the slings he’d set up for that purpose, so that I could anchor myself on the ledge and belay him down. At that point my brain short-circuited. I realised that there’d be no safety of the top rope and I imagined myself swinging in space on that traverse. I could feel the wind picking up and imagined us having trouble understanding each other in a difficult situation.
Fear definitely gets in the way of listening! It’s not a bad thing to plan for what can go wrong but excelling in only that, is debilitating.
Eventually we settled on us both being lowered from the abseil point. Anton did all the cleaning, while I followed on the face of Magnetic wall… avoiding the traverse completely!
It was a good experience because this time I really had to pay attention to where I was following on this gearless route. I noticed the natural cracks that were the obvious path to lead me home. I found the moves easier, as I’d done them a few moments ago and I was no longer anxious.
Anton did Quake and it was good to see him pushing himself.
I vowed to play with leading on easy routes in my spare time and practice my new skills: such as lowering a climber; climbing a rope; setting up bomb proof balanced anchors that avoid the potential for shock loading; rope management and getting myself out of the system on belay.
When you’re given the opportunity to set great goals then you realise where you must grow! Goals have a way of really, showing up one’s limitations, focusing one’s attention on so many more levels and making learning exponential!
Another mind blowing day on the mountain!