Walking Through A Wall.
Here's a quote for you - bit long, and slightly out of context, because its about base-jumping - but here you go, its from a novel called Zero History by William Gibson, who is a genius. He invented the term 'cyberspace' in, like 1982, before we had the fucking internet. Anyway...
"He says its like walking through walls. Nobody can, but if you could, he says, it would feel like that. He says the wall is inside, though, and you do have to walk through it."
"I'm afraid of heights."
"So's he. He says. Said. I haven't seen him for a while."
|When you are bonkers, visualisation |
of the impossible is important.
A year or two ago I said in conversation that I wanted to climb 7a to another climber. His response was 'Well, you are basically doing 7a moves already.' If he was right, then how come I wasn't climbing 7a on sport routes?
In a social context, this doesn't bother me. I am the king of inappropriate comments one pint into the evening. I've done this for so long that I never even get a rush of adrenalin when my little voice inside says 'go on, say it'. I also have a pact with a few people: it is unspoken and it concerns the act of deliberately forgetting the worst things I say. Not that I can usually remember anyway, only the shock and disgust on people's faces remains. Thank fuck for Cards vs. Humanity which legitimises all this shit.
In a climbing context: very different, and it reflects my history of climbing.
Bouldering- firstly- makes you very strong and powerful, so you can take your shirt off while wearing a bobble hat. It can improve your technique, if you deliberately let it, which means doing a huge volume of some highly unenjoyable easy shit while your mates are having a right laugh working stuff at the top of their grade.
These are the plus points, but there are also limitations to bouldering, and the most important of these is height. Obvious. You never climb anything higher than two sheets of plywood on top of each other, and you never think this make a difference until you try routes and consistently run out of steam three clips up.
Given I got strong as fuck, and then bothered improving my technique, why don't I climb harder eh? Because its scary without a big bastard spongy motherfucker underneath me to save my ankles. Its scary even with a kernmantle elastic band proven to be able to catch a landrover tied to my waste.
|Tenuous move coming up...|
Fear is what gives you those very intense moments that are really like a mental enema. When the moment is so intense you can't remember your name- and don't know why you would be asking yourself that-, because nothing else exists apart from the need to reach and grab an extremely marginal crimp, or clip an awkward clip from out of balance on shit slopers. I reckon that has the same effect on the brain as flushing a 'chodhopper filled to the brim with bangers and mash' (in the words of Viz, pertaining to how one would expect to find a motorway services toilet). It clears it all out, and leaves it nicely empty, ready to be filled with more shite.
Some of the moments are just as intense, but you actually make the decision to take the fall - safe as houses on a sensibly bolted sport route - and letting go and flying through the air. After a few of those its easier to let go because your brain has a quick check: yep, your arms and fingers are fucked, don't reckon you can do what you need to do to get to safety sooooo .... recommended option, chuck yourself off until your next stable position which is dangling from a rope. Dangling from a rope, mind, not splatted on rocks, which is also a stable position until Mountain Rescue recover your clay.
This to your brain becomes an attractive choice, like ordering the Italian BMT every-fucking- time form Subway just in case a Chicken pizzicato doesn't taste nice. It is a trap.
|...And he's fucked it.|
The alternative is to go for the move. Fuck me. It is not easy, but the hard part isn't doing it, its deciding to do it. It IS like walking through a wall. But when you actually make an impossible move, your brain now knows that it can, in fact, sometimes walk through a wall.
Deep eh? Don't like it? I don't care. I can walk through walls me.
Extra points if you can name the route I am failing on in the pictures. (Not Lee and Becky, who were there).