My return to the wood…

2 years ago I went to Magic Wood for the first time ever. I spent a few days climbing in the beautiful setting, totally overwhelmed and incredibly motivated by the volume of rock. In the evening on my third day out climbing I jumped off a boulder, I should note that I landed perfectly, no sketchy spotting or bad mat placement, and I broke my leg. An incident that, ironically, transformed me into a much better climber.

I was both excited and reluctant about returning. My emotions were confused with those coming from finishing the bouldering World Cup series. I arrived in Andeer, Switzerland wanting to sleep, eat and sunbathe. Climbing was the reason we were there but it was my two week break, my holiday after such an intense period. Motivation was a little difficult to muster initially. My life had been so fast paced, organised and tiring. Finally I had the opportunity to stop, rest and be in just one place for 2 weeks. Luxury.

We arrived to a very wet scene. Apparently it had been really dry for the past months and the farmers were welcoming the rain. We did not share their joy. Our first week was better than the forecast suggested. Things were often damp and it rained a fair bit. We were able to take strategic rest days and take advantage of the cooler conditions brought by the showers. During my first days out climbing I remembered why I had a deep desire to return to the place. Nostalgia around every corner and unfinished business drawing my psyche to the surface. There were two boulder problems on my tick list. Both had tested me 2 years before. Both I longed to finish. The first Piranja. On my first attempt of this problem I fell slightly short on the crux move and landed in a frustrated heap. I pulled back on immediately, doing the move quite easily I got to the final jug and let go. This was the moment that my leg snapped. I have an extremely vivid memory of that moment. The pain pulsing and my desire for it to stop so I could have another go. It didn’t. Instead I spent the next hour being carried out of the forest by my good friend Ged and the remainder of the evening in hospital at the comically named department ‘Notfall’.

It was important for me to go back to Piranja. To finish it and close that door. It took me longer than I expected to do the climb. Being so absorbed in my emotions surrounding the boulder problem I had forgotten that it is actually quite hard. I had to try hard to get up it physically as well as mentally. I did it. I jumped down once again. A distinct and welcome sense of satisfaction followed me around for the remainder of the day.

A couple of days later I manage to send the second boulder problem on my tick list. One Summer In Paradise. This boulder problem stuck with me for 2 years. In the back of my mind distant but clear. Trying this problem again was a little like seeing an old friend after a period of absence when it’s like nothing has changed and you sit down and chat for hours. I remembered every move, every foot hold and my motivation was right there waiting for me too. After one session reacquainting myself with the moves I managed to finish it on my second try from the start, the first time I forgot my sequence and ended up giggling my way off the rock.

Once that was done I was a little underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong I was psyched out of my mind to do the problem but it lacked the fight I had been craving. Rock Climbing to me is a way to test myself. I enjoy pushing myself. I love the feeling of completing something that you have worked really hard for. I was telling the truth when I said there were only two boulders on my tick list but what I didn’t mention earlier was my wish list. At the top of that list stood New Base Line. 8B+, V14, Hard. I had promised myself that I would at least try the boulder.

Simply putting bouldering mats beneath an 8B+ so that I could try it was kind of daunting. I was afraid to try. I didn’t know what to expect. This was the first time ever that I was going to try and climb something that hard. I felt the holds, they were not very good. But what had I expected? Jugs? I was hesitant and reluctant to put my shoes on. Ned quickly pushed all of my uneasiness aside and helped me find the confidence to not only try but figure out and complete almost all of the moves.

The sequence on this boulder problem was complicated and intricate for me. I had to figure out precise beta for all of the moves and work really hard to remember it when trying my best not to fall off. Once I had done the boulder in sections I knew it was possible and it was terrifying. Knowing that something is possible sparks a new head battle. My first session trying the climb from the start I stepped off near the end. It was a cold day and my hands were numb. I felt tired. It was a committing move and I was scared to fall. I was furious at myself. Anger and disappointment brought tears to my eyes. How could I just step off.

It rained for the next three days. The possibility of it drying before I left to go home seeming more and more unlikely. Leaving it unfinished seeming more and more imminent. On Saturday 12th July I woke up after one of the worst nights sleep I have ever had. We went to the forest filled with optimism and hope. Only to be rewarded with wet rock. This was it. My last chance and I couldn’t even try. I spent the next few hours attempting to find psyche and motivation to try some other boulders with Ned but I couldn’t. There was a small part of me that was still optimistic, maybe it could dry. It was due to rain again in the late afternoon but the sun was out and there was a breeze, albeit a slight pathetic breeze but it was there.

We went back up the hill to find only one hold remained wet. It was crazy! Just hours before it was dripping. Suddenly I had a chance. To say the day was an emotional roller coaster is a slight understatement. This was not helped when I once again stepped off the boulder problem at the same move that had challenged me last time. I am always amazed at the psychological battles climbing presents. On my second attempt I was ready, I wanted to commit, I wanted to at least try to commit. But messed up the beta and fell off flustered and annoyed I didn’t even get to try on the move that had been challenging me. I had made so much progress and got so close. Surely I could leave pleased with myself? Luckily I didn’t have to face that ending. On my next attempt I got through the start quicker and more efficiently than ever before. I reached my crux and without hesitation threw as hard as I could to the next hold. I proceed to get extremely flustered, squealing and panicking as I topped out. It still hasn’t sunk in. I have watched the video over and over on my phone. The squealing is rather amusing actually. As was the 10 minutes following my ascent as I tried to get down off the boulder. Luckily that wasn’t caught on camera.

Astronautenfieber – A really fun but slightly scary 8a!

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One Summer In Paradise-

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Exploring Switzerland on rainy days –

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Ned

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Prianja –

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Right Hand of Darkness – 8a

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NEW BASE LINE!!!!!!!!

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Ned flashing Jacks Broken Heart – 8a+

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