Saturday, 1 June 2013

Kaabah: Tor, Tor, Glorious Tor

I Got a Feeling
That moment when you realise that a route really is doable for you. I think this might be my favourite part of projecting. Everyone into this aspect of climbing will know it. A shot of pure psyche straight into your bloodstream; uncontainable excitement bubbling up inside you. This is a rare event - the route has to be hard enough that not being able to do it is a real possibility, and has to be something you really want to do. Usually the rest of the day is spent overenthusiastically telling anyone who'll listen that "that's doable man!!". Actually, it doesn't really matter if they'll listen, I'll tell them anyway.

A few weeks ago that rare feeling emerged again. The route in question was Kaabah, Steve McClure's fiendishly crimpy 8c+ direct on Mecca Extension. Even Steve called it "thin". No wonder I've had no fingertips for the last 3 weeks!

Kaabah, 8c+: Screen grab from video footage (Photo: Guy Van Greuning)

On My Mind
Just after doing Mecca Extension this time last year I tried Kaabah. After getting shut down by the original sequence I managed to find a sneaky method using a stuck on hold out left that was part of Mecca Extension but should never really have been there in the first place. This method would have taken the difficulty down a notch, but fortunately before I was able to do it the hold was pulled off ! I say fortunately because Kaabah was now restored to its original, harder, better state. I'm not sure everyone who was working Mecca Ext thought it was fortunate! Anyway, I couldn't work out a way through the crux so I gave up on it. 3 weeks ago I got back on it, and with some ideas for beta from Ryan Pasquil I managed to work out a sequence. After that it all came together quickly and soon my high point was inching its way up the headwall...

Instant Crush
Not a reference to the timeframe it took me to do the route in question, unfortunately, but the name of the song in my head whilst redpointing. I decided to forego my usual cheesy trance warm-up for once. I couldn't be arsed getting too psyched. Conditions were good but I felt tired. Too much training midweek, presuming that Mecca would be wet on the weekend as it had been midweek. I didn't want to be too excited, hugely psyched only to fail miserably. I could feel there was a risk of not enjoying this go, and I needed something in my head to remind me not to worry too much, to focus on enjoying the climbing and having fun trying hard. The Todd Edwards version of one of Daft Punk's latest tunes was perfect. Kneepad locked. Chalkbag loaded. Smile on. Instant Crush. The whole way I wasn't expecting much, sometimes that's what you need.

Kaabah is definitely the hardest thing I've done on a rope. It's easier than Pilgrimage though, which gives me confidence in saying my method for that must be 8c+ in route grades, something I was a little unsure about for a while.