Saturday, 30 October 2010
Thanks to everyone (there was a LOT) who sent me a message to say you really enjoyed the 5 Climbs, 5 Islands programmes. Episode 2 is still on BBC iPlayer for a few days. If you miss it, it’ll be on DVD soon so don’t worry.
Watching it myself reminded me how much this type of adventure is really what I like and hope I can keep doing them as long as I’m still around. A lot of folk commented about how I did like to try as hard routes as possible on this type of thing - that’s totally true. I totally need to feel that I might not be able to do it, or even more that I actually can’t do it, but learn along the way how to figure out how to make it work.
That process of focusing in and getting really absorbed in the task in hand seems to be hardwired in me. I don’t know exactly where it comes from. I get very frustrated and wrestless when there is a barrier between me and focusing properly on the task. I find it pretty hard to accept that things upset progress and take that in my stride. I tend to respond by going even deeper into the obsessive zone. Climbing yields really well under this approach, which is pretty much the core reason why I got better at it slowly. Up to a point it works really well in other fields too, but at a big cost.
It leads to a funny situation in that as a climbing coach I spend most of my time trying to encourage people to adopt this approach, but a lot of my adult life has been spent trying to blunt it myself. The Triple 5 programmes and The Great Climb I hope gave a decent insight into how these things work out in climbing. On that day my normal focus was totally destroyed every time I put my mashed up ankle on a foothold. Half of me wanted to give up and half of me wanted to shut it out and keep climbing. So ‘machine’ mode won out and I just went a bit quiet and kept grabbing holds til we were on top. It seemed to me that Tim had pretty much the same experience on the soaking wet finishing pitch. It would have been very very easy to admit defeat then.
The experiences of this summer made me think again about the big one - my project of freeing the original aid line of the Longhope Route on Orkney. If ever there was a climb that demanded and would reward the obsessive approach it’s that one. Perfect really. After this year’s shortlived trips up there I realised I probably wasn’t good enough to do it last year, or this. But I’m still learning a lot about the tactics and training needed to make it work. Looking forward to standing underneath it again next summer with fresh energy to throw at it.