“I can’t rest ‘till I do it but I can’t do it ‘till I rest”
Watermark 8b is 40 meters of crimps, tufas, a small roof and a final slab leading to the top of the Wild Side, Sella.
Having tried and failed on the popular 8a first pitch on a previous trip I found myself back on the Wild Side with a little more fitness and considerably more redpoint savvy. Utilising better tactics e.g. not taping up my bruised fingertips before an attempt, I quickly finished off the first pitch. This left me sat on the chains gazing up at the possibilities, suddenly immersed in thoughts of the extension.
So, hot off the heels of some quick redpoint fixes I decided to get stuck into this longer term project.
I knew it would be possible from session one; session two I had some setbacks; but session three and I ‘almost’ did it. Then comes the anticipation of pulling it together and those sessions where you expect it to be a formality but due to that very reason, it isn’t. Here’s an account of my experience of the ascent:
Driving up: Fuck. it looks wet up there.
Walking in: Yep it’s raining… a lot.
Warming up: It is greasy, is there any point…? Probably not.
May as well have a no pressure, enjoyment go.
Tying in: No-one but us at the crag; the weather has briefly cleared. James (belayer) says in his Vancouvian drawl “say nothing to Liam” … “Let him get inside his bubble”. After the usual chit-chat I’m away.
The Route: Relax. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Pull. Think. Shake. Go.
The route drifts by in a meditative state. A few grunts. I’m at the rest before the final tricky rockover.
Close your mind.
You’re aware of your position: The damp, cool breeze; the birds; the trees; blowing in the wind.
“Treat it like a working go; try but don’t force it. Go through the motions”.
Every other time I got to this resting position my “bubble” became burdened with doubt. This time was different. Nothing could burst this bubble. And even if it did, does it really matter? It is just a rock climb.
Silently panting onto the slab I let out a small yelp of joy. Concentrate.
Climbing the upper, easy slab in the wet was just as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be: On top of the cliff; at the top of the valley; above the trees; in the clouds.
“I’m there” “Give me a minute”
Soak it all up
Sitting on that slab looking beyond the trees and down the valley towards the Divino, I feel utterly content in that moment.
The rain spots that start pattering down remind me I am alive. I got that “lucky” window of opportunity. Thread the anchor and lower off, stripping the draws as you descend.
“Fucking yes” “Thanks guys”
Veg. Tortilla with Camembert & couscous tasted sweet that evening. Cheap but good Rioja to wash it down and wash over me.
The less pressure we put on ourselves to perform and the more we focus on enjoying the process, the more fun there is to be had; and the better we will perform. Often, the less you expect the more you get. The satisfaction gleamed from achieving a hard earned project gives a burning sense of contentedness that lasts longer than just the moment you clip the chains
- Liam Postlethwaite