Saturday 28 July 2007

Summer of Steall II – a week of hard training

Michael Tweedley ties in to send Leopold his first 8a+

Life has been just the way I like it over the past three weeks – very focused and intense. After the previous Steall marathon, I used the muscular down time to produce a work blitz. Much keyboard pounding later, the ‘urgent’ section of my task list was empty for the first time in over 14 months. I more than quadrupled my workload last year in order to enable a house move. But at times I well and truly lost my way and paralysed myself under a mountain of tasks. Over the last two months I’ve learned a lot about controlling the volume of work and cutting out the vast quantities of wasted time we are programmed to spend on tasks that are, in the bigger picture, meaningless or at least unimportant. What a relief.

As the summer continues to be defined by the volume of water dropping daily out of the sky, Steall has continued to be the venue of choice for rock climbing. Yesterday we climbed blissfully in the dry as usual, watching in awe during belay duty as the Glen Nevis burns turned steadily into roaring torrents and Steall Falls thundered like I’ve never seen it. It’s been a very up and down period for me – I’m trying some very hard projects and finding myself making apparently negative progress for over a week. It is so hard to accept that stressed joints, poor conditions and too many days on are the reason for your retrograde performance. My knee is complaining from a deep Egyptian move (my favourite move too, although I still take a couple of goes to spell it correctly). This perod of barely containable frustration is what Seth Godin calls the dip. The idea is that if you can stand back from the situation and realise that you have what it takes to get over the problems, it can see you through the temptation to get angry, depressed or just give up. Easier said than done. It helps of course if you really want the reward you are pursuing. Thankfully this is not a problem for me on most climbing challenges, as I tend to think a LOT about them in advance and go for the very best ones.

Drying sodden ropes – a daily routine right now.

I must admit, the desire to match the performance level demanded by this project was the main driving force that kept me trying it through this crappy spell. Quite a poor show really as I’ve got plenty of experience at this type of thing. Nevermind – I kept at it and after a rest day, made a big leap forward on the route. Still miles away from doing it, but amazing and uplifting nonetheless. In retrospect the last couple of depressing weeks were nothing compared to the ones I had on Rhapsody – one session I’d feel on the verge of linking the crux, the next I couldn’t pull on the holds. Naturally, conditions and fatique were to blame, with the negative emotions piled on top.

Hopefully yesterday’s good form and progress can carry on for a wee bit at least, before the next dip…

I’m also super fortunate to have someone else sharing my psyche for Steall. Michael was up for the week again, coolly dispatching Leopold (his first 8a+) after having similar frustration earlier in the week.

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