Thursday 26 March 2009

The Joker

Funny how things work out. I'm really motivated for photography at the moment (the shot above is from dusk on friday) but seem to end up climbing. Partly its the weather. Unstable air keeps rolling in off the atlantic and boiling into cloud over Kinder; shutdown for promising afternoons. The last three days I've set off with photography in mind and ended up making the most of a blustery, showery hour or two before darkness. And I probably would have just sacked it if it hadn't been for chance meets and calls along the way. So props to Zaff, Cavey and Keith for encouraging me onto the crags.

One thing I've really noticed this season is how hard it can be to get warmed up. The upshot seems to be that I get a rollover effect on successive days on. So this week, without realising it, was a bit of a textbook method for me to sneak in to form: three short sessions all ended by darkness, the first two concentrated on good, constant movement over familiar ground. The first, on wednesday at Burbage West, also served as a little wake-up call. I've got The Nose and The Nostril well wired and on the circuit, but was shown easier methods for both. In fact the Nostril sequence is so much easier I'm not sure it counts! Its great that little bits of rock like this can keep teaching you stuff.

So day three and I end up heading for The Plantation to meet a psyched Keith. He wants to try The Ace; I'm jonesing for some magic light. Its been raining half the day, there's a strong wind and Lee looks at me like I'm an idiot as I leave the house. Heading up to the crag I've got my full camera kit, tripod and the knackered boots and pad that live in the car boot. We force a good warm-up cicuit trying to keep out of the wind, push a few eliminates through the 6b traverse, then head over to The Ace. The Joker isn't something I've ever been that bothered about, one or two sessions a year to reassure myself its out of my league, but the west has blocked up with clouds and Keith's attitude is infectious. Cleaning the left-hand crimp, its clear to see its changed since I last looked (november, I think). A few crystals have been lost along the back and its slightly more positive, especially at the right end. It almost looks deliberate, but Keith isn't convinced and once hanging the hold its clear the best hand position doesn't use the most positive part.

A few goes in and I'm up to my previous highpoint: two joints over the top. Keith is looking strong as ever on the low start but struggling on the crux match move. The landing isn't great and I'm still not greatly motivated by the problem. Next go my fingers really lock into the crimp, my thumb assumes the unfamiliar bone position, breathe in rhythym to the swing and back on the pad, this time with a sharp pain in my palm where the lip crystals bit. The not-strong enough excuse is looking frail. Another go, same result; its on but the double catch seems no less improbable. Next go I resolve to do the match, try, and make the move but don't stick it, spin and land hard on a rock left of the mats. What's curious though is I don't get to consciously execute the move; there isn't time. The move is made on the ground and the sub-conscious takes over. Now I'm interested!

Five minutes to let the pain in my foot subside, push Keith through the moves a couple of times and then sit down to try to generate some desire for the problem, take in the place, think about the move. Next go is predictably crap, next again isn't. Initiating the move I know this is the go, the move is done in my head, everything sticks, I'm up and Keith is as pleased as I am.