Although I am doing some more onsight climbing again this summer, I’m feeling more and more strongly that I’m missing a hard project. I’ve written about this before here, but it never fails to surprise how big an effect on me this has. Many people ask me after lectures if I feel pressure from outside to do more big new routes, because this is what I’m ‘supposed to do’. But this pressure is nothing except a need from within, and an extremely strong one it seems.
This strength of feeling to find a hard project to focus my efforts and bring the best out of me can feel like a magic feeling when you have a project. But when you don’t, it can feel like a source of insipid torture. In a nutshell, right now I feel kind of restless, but at a level rather more than I can just shrug off. To be perfectly open, it’s getting me down a little.
Naturally there is one simple way out of this; to go out and find a project. This is a search I have been intermittently starting over the past month and will be doing a lot more of in the next couple. But this is not as simple as it sounds. I often feel that it should be, given the abundance of unclimbed rock about. But it doesn’t seem to be so easy to find the right projects. Perhaps this is why they are so captivating when you do find them. Achemine, Holdfast, Rhapsody, Sanction, Metalcore, Ring of Steall and Echo Wall were all examples of perfect projects and I was so lucky to have them. But I have to admit that life without this drug is difficult for me - I need to find more.
This thought was brought into my mind after talking with Arnaud Petit while at a film festival in the Pyrenees last week. Arnaud recognised how hard it is to find a project that is impossible at first acquaintance, in order that it forces you to reach a new level, but ultimately possible to make progress and maybe eventually climb it. This and with good quality rock and line too. It’s rare. We saw this with Rhapsody which is a brilliant and rewarding climb in many ways, yet imperfect. Echo Wall is probably the most perfect project I’ve found yet, hence I could give more to it than ever before.
Now I am searching the crags for something bigger, harder and if it’s possible; better than Echo Wall. I might find it next week, it might take years. Doesn’t matter too much I guess. The longer it takes the keener I will be when I find it.