Wednesday, 17 December 2008

I miss the pressure

My climbing right now is going through a mixed up time of stored up energy with few outlets. Why? I did Echo Wall already, and my current projects are not in condition yet.

So, for now I train for when they are. This is fine, although it’s not the way I normally do it (normally, I train for the projects by trying the projects).

I miss the pressure of being under the shadow of a huge redpoint project like Echo Wall. I can’t wait to be under it again. Without it I am a pretty mediocre climber. With it I can drag myself up by the bootstraps for brief moments into surprising myself. There is nothing like the pressure of something really big to gain (or lose) to transform the level of your effort.

What does it mean?

Committing yourself to climbing a route you cannot touch at present is a special experience that can change your life. Sure you, can dismiss this potential for an adventure because ‘it’s not an onsight’ or whatever you like. Some people will do this because they respond differently to the stimulus climbing gives, others because they are actually frightened they do not have the commitment but won’t admit this to themselves (note: this is not something to be frightened of – it’s actually an essential ingredient of the reward) and others because they don’t follow the two rules of this type of adventure.

The two rules are

1. The chosen challenge has to be genuinely impossible at the time of choosing. If it’s too easy, it will leave you cold. Need numbers? Add four grades to your onsight level.

2. Committing yourself means committing yourself. Not trying it and seeing how you get on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for quitting when it’s the correct conditions for doing so (see The Dip by S. Godin for advice on this), but most people just quit because they gave up. To underline this, feeling like you might not be able to do it is a necessary part of the plan, not the reason to abandon it. You must do the route, whatever it takes (bar cheating).

Can you tell I need a project yet?


  1. Why don't you head for Northumberland? Must be in great nick and some good routes to be getting on with, and following a fine tradition of Border raiding.

  2. You should get down to the South West (although I admit, its a looong way from your corner of the world.

    There are stacks of unrepeated big E numbers waiting for a repeat in Cornwall, including what is possibly the 1st E10 in the UK! We need someone strong enough to get on these routes!

    By the way, great post - you've inspired me to get on a project this year that I've been looking at for too long!

    Best of luck with whatever you settle on for your next project!

  3. Thank for the inspiring words Dave, they've stirred me to action on a project at my home crag. It definitely meets the first rule, time will tell on the second. Hope you find a suitable project soon.



  4. Great stuff! Glad I found your blog. Pretty inspiring across the board.

  5. Okay.
    read this, opened guidebook, found project.
    and i'm getting closer!

  6. i found 'the dip' useful too. Misha