Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Holding the crux. A good feeling
Right now I’m totally locked on with my highball project in the glen. Progress has been superb and It’s gone from a distant prospect to feeling very possible in a short time, thanks to all that training. It’s really at my limit though, so I have to accept that every good session might be the best before I lose ground. It doesn’t matter - I’m enjoying trying, a lot.
It’s only when really committed in a die hard way to a project that the windows open up to learning new things. It surprises me that the learning doesn’t stop even though I’ve been here before - maximally motivated, maximally stretched and close to both success and failure all at the same time.
It’s good for me to experience this on a hard boulder line for the first time in a few years - the levers of progress are so different from what I’m used to. Over the past two years, I’ve not really been able to train as I’d like due to injury, so most of my climbs have been trad. I missed hard bouldering and hard boulder training intensely, and have relished the last four months of it. The past three sessions on the project have been the culmination of it. Last session, I held the crux sloper. Tonight, I touched the next hold. If I hold that, I’m on terrain where I would only fall If I made an stupid error, which is just as well as it’s getting into soloing territory up there!
On a boulder, so much extreme effort and focus is distilled into millisecond adjustments of movement and timing. There is very little room for finding what’s necessary during the climb itself. This is the land of the intuitive. Recording that you’ve made a movement decision only just keeps up with actually making the movement. Conscious thought is way too slow and clunky. But it’s not intuitive adjustment out of thin air. It’s adjustment of a model of how the move should go, and how the effort should be timed and focused that’s been refined hundreds of times in your mind. At the level where the real enjoyment comes, it’s a heuristic process of visualisation; you don’t always know why something is right, you just feel like it will be.
To illustrate this blog post, I scrolled through the video of the attempt, shot on my compact propped on a stone. Looking through it, frame by frame, it hit me that I have a record of several movement decisions in my mind’s recording of the move, for every frame of video. 30 frames/sec is too slow! How great is it that movement on rock is so subtle, and that the mind is so expertly geared up to analyse and refine it. You can see how it gets addictive eh?
Hopefully I have the program sussed for that final hard move, and weather, and muscles allow me to get back to it in a few days time.