27 February 2013

Revelations - Jerry Moffat


When I was a young wannabe climber, Jerry Moffat was top of the pile. I didn't really know how good he was, but I knew he was a lot better than me. I remember trying what is now a boulder problem of his Sole Power on Froggat it was then graded VS 6B. I couldn't get on the starting holds it gets Font 7C now. That was 1985, that's how good Jerry Moffat was.

This auto/biography points out that for maybe 10 years in the late 80's and early 90's Moffat was the best climber in the world. He climbed harder and put up more cutting edge routes than anyone else and I didn't really know.

The opening chapter is compelling a days soloing on Dinas Cromlech all the Joe Brown Classics, then Left and Right Wall. Not a bad day by any means, it must have been quite an hour or two.

The book is ghost written excellently by Niall Grimes of Boulder Britain fame, Moffat has dsylexia and that may account for some of his drive. There are some great accounts of his early years. Dossing for weeks on end even through the winter  in a cave at Stoney, subsisting on the dole and living on noodles and orange squash.  Blow torching the holds on Tom's Roof, when no one else was out as it was too cold. He lit a fire in the entrance to keep warm.

Somewhere along the way he does the iconic arĂȘte of Ulysses on Stanage, has a go at straightening out Master's Wall on Cloggy and goes to the States and repeats the hard modern desperates of Pheonix and Super Crack. Oh and he does the legendary Midnight Lightening at Camp 4 in Yosemite and then heads off up the Nose whilst he is in town.

What shines through, along with the predictable near misses, scrapes and lucky escapes, is how hard he tried. He trained more, did more and wanted it more. He trained five days a week when nobody else did. He read up on Sports Pschology when it wasn't in vogue. He wrote in every page in his diary "I am the best climber in the world. I can rest and shake out on any hold." It seemed to work he went on to have huge success on the international climbing circuit and finished his carreer putting up the some of the hardest problems ever. Try The Ace on Stanage (8B) if you don't believe.

What a punter like me can take from this is, if you want it enough you can have it. There your choices and you have to live with them. I'm off to Caley now the sun is burning my face through the window and there is ice on the car. I am going  to try The Horn again.

Today I am Jerry Moffat, today I am the best Climber in the world and I can climb V4


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