24 December 2011

Well I have said it now



I had a good year last year. I led a few great routes and pushed the bouldering grade a bit. I only got about half my list but there were a few things that I was pretty pleased with and one or two where I surprised myself. I went to some beautiful places, with some great people and a had a few laughs and gained a few memories to keep me warm.

This coming year has to be about one thing really amongst all other diversions. Twenty years ago I stood and looked at Pebble Wall at the Cliff (the narrow, lighter streak on the right of this picture) and thought it looked impossible. I failed to see how any human had ever climbed it. I saw no holds and no way I would even be able to get off the ground.
It is now a classic, one of Al Manson's many strong fingered, high quality legacies. Perhaps the most famous problem at the Cliff in the middle grades. You rock over onto your right foot in the break and then use two small pebbles to stand up on your foot and gain the top. Word is it's all in the feet and you need strong fingers. So as I often say - It has my name all over it.

In the twenty years that have passed since I first looked at Pebble Wall. Bouldering standards have spiralled upwards wildly. What was once exceptional for a very small elite, is now if not mainstream, at least common place. Like the Pommel though, you see many try it and not so many climb it.

As boulderers now we have mats, super sticky rubber and communities devoted to sharing information (beta). I now see holds all over the wall and have the moves in my head. Both from watching people climb it in real life and on video. I have done similar problems on the bouldering walls I pretend to loathe, but which are responsible forkeeping me fitter than I have been for years. I too have a realistic chance of climbing it.

If I get up it I won't join the elite, bit I can get back to the cutting edge of my youth. This was the long term goal three years ago when I started taking my climbing a little more seriously. 2012 will be the year when my theories about improvement are put to the test. I still need to lose a few more pounds. I will need some good spotters and all the beta I can find but there is no reason not to start trying.
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