A change better be as good as a rest: I'm heading up to the Lakes to try trad, rather than Sport in Wales. I've been feeling a bit listless about sport on slate, a bit like the obsession has become a bit too obsessive. I still love it. I just think we need a row to clear the air and then make up. So I'll have a fling with some granite. Not limestone. I'm not a total bastard...
Prior to this trip, I'm even getting a little bit excited. I've been poring over some topos and route descriptions, and I could fancy having a bash at pushing my trad grade a bit beyond the VS/HVS which is all I've ever really done.
Trying hardish routes on sport is fine, but can be frightening enough when caveman-brain decides it not like fall off go splat. Flat like when Ug run over by herd of Bison, never get to mate with Ugga, who hot like the newly discovered fire.
I also reckon a similar thing happens when poor old monkey brain confronts something potentially more serious: a fall onto trad gear. Now I'm thinking that I just won't have the physical or technical capability to climb without falling, or place gear that will hold a fall, even in the most bomber of placements. Even more perniciously, I am worried that the act of placing gear inefficiently might lead me to blow it on otherwise easy ground. What if I pump myself out so fucking badly I can't grip jugs?
These are legitimate fears. Loads of people HAVE taken falls by pumping themselves out placing gear.
But I know I can technically do the moves at the grade. I have tried an E1 in the quarries as a clip up: my mate left his gear in and up I went. I even felt confident enough with the moves to run it out on the top quarter of the climb. So I need to shift the confidence I've gained on the moves - from testing out the lists of my physical ability in safety- into not being anxious about the gear, which I hope I won't test, given the grade.
Well, anyway, we'll see.
I'm quite inspired by a few of the E1s and HVS routes. I'll be looking for a well protected wall leading up to a run-out slab which should suit me nicely.
I'll be trying Neil Gresham's advice from his essential Masterclass DVD. I'll be doing a three route warm up, with the third route nearly at the grade you want to break into. For me, that means a couple of VSs and then an HVS. Get a pump on, then shake it all out, before heading up the route of the day... Tactical rests... Straight armed clipping...
The quality of the Lakes rock around Eskdale looks good enough to enjoy routes of any grade. We've also got some scrambling lined up, a mountain day up to the top of Scafell Pike, and even - fuck me dead - Hodge Close Quarry has some slate in it! Bolted too.
So stay braced for the next report, and we'll see what I've got to moan about then. Politics probably.