A Fine Line
This weekend past I went out for a sample of some peak limestone. We had been hoping it was going to be cool enough to get out on the grit but the sun was shining and it definitely wasn’t down jacket and thermals weather yet so Rubicon it was.
My lack of knowledge of climbing history is embarrassing and seriously needs to be improved but I know that Rubicon is known for its crimpy style, hard routes and beautiful scenery and also its contrived, hard bouldering. It is also full of history. Ruth Jenkins pushed the boundaries and became the first British women to climb french 8b back in 1995 at Rubicon (when I was just 2 years old).
The concept of having rules on boulder problems is a little alien to me. I am a competition climber and yes sometimes there is black tape that you can’t pass but never rules such as no matching, no heel hooks or banned holds. Climbing on rock is something I thoroughly enjoy and have a lot of passion for but my experience is still very limited and my understanding of some areas is lacking. I remember climbing at Crag X once and being psyched to get to the top of a boulder only to be told when I dropped off that it didn’t count because I used a heel hook at the start and I was supposed to campus. I did’t really understand this so much but this man was rather upset with me so I did as he asked a repeated it the ‘right’ way.
Last Saturday I tried ‘A Bigger Belly’ at Rubicon. It has the tiniest holds I have ever held onto and some of the most powerful moves I have ever tried. It was quickly evident that I wasn’t able to climb the problem using the original beta. I am used to finding new beta on climbs as its rare that I climb with people my size and very very rare that problems are put up by people my size. I enjoy the process though and find it quite liberating when I figure something out that had initially felt so impossible.
Totally unaware of the rules on this boulder problem I did what I normally do. I figured out a way to get between the holds that worked for me. I didn’t actually realise I was using a hold for my foot that was technically not in. It’s not like it made the boulder super easy. I was on a bad, tiny, little hold with my right hand and a backhand with my left kicking my left foot above my head to get my heel on. I think it could be the single hardest foot movement I have ever done.
I guess thinking back it totally makes sense that it isn’t ‘in’ as you could easily grab the big hold I put my heel on with your hand place your foot perfectly making the boulder problem significantly easier. To be honest I just knew where my hands had to go and put my feet where ever I could to make the moves between the hand holds possible.
I can’t do the original method to ‘A Bigger Belly’ so I guess I didn’t climb the original boulder. But I climbed something that I found insanely hard. Anyone who has ever felt the starting holds can appreciate the difficulty of just pulling on! I often surprise myself when climbing by doing I move that I thought impossible or really hard but I don’t think I have ever impressed myself before. I do not mean to sound arrogant at all but on saturday I learnt what it felt like to try hard on rock. To pull on holds that were barely there and really push myself. I am proud of this and happy with what I achieved no matter what the name or grade of the boulder problem is.
I think this could have been the hardest thing I have ever climbed and if it wasn’t a known line I guess it is now so maybe I can call it something else… ‘ A Smaller Belly’? or ‘A Bigger Belly – Coxsey’s Varian(t)’ what do you think? 😛
Photots thanks to Nick Brown – Outcrop Films
Video from Nick Brown and Ben Pritchard soon! 😀