Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Commander Energy; Pushing the limits

Commander Energy; pushing the limits

It's March. The cold winter weather is finally gone and the sun is out kissing the rock with its rays. I have just arrived at the roaches for the 2nd time in my life. Looking out the van window, it all seems even more impressive with its many buttresses protruding out towards me than the last time I was here over a year ago.

We unloaded our things from the van and i shouldered my bag while i waited for everyone else to gather there things for the short walk to the entrance.
My heart was beating fast, i knew what i had come here to achieve, but was i capable of it? I wasn't sure myself. Locking the van; we walked together up the road laughing and joking about the previous night shenanigans to the gate entrance.

As we approached i noticed there was a notice on it about the nesting birds, “please god don't be near my climb" i thought to myself as we one by one yomped through the gate, over encumbered by our heavy bags and boulder mats.

Up the path, i lead everyone to a spot which i had dreamt about every night leading up to this point. There is was, "COMMANDER ENERGY", the name was cool enough, but the climb looks amazing!
I hadn't let on to anyone much about my intentions to do this climb. I looked in the guidebook.
E2 5b.

Before this point I’d never really gotten up much above VS due to the brown pants syndrome that engulfs many climbers standing a body length above gear. But here i was, I’d come all this way and waited a whole year to take a chance at it, i wasn't going home without trying it now!

After about an Hour i asked my mate dale for a belay. He asked what the grade was, E2 5c i told him. "Have you climbed anything like this before?" no i replied, worried about what was in store for me but so anxious to find out its delights!

I weighed up what i thought i might need to do the climb, couple of cams small, set of small nuts and maybe a sling or two. In reality, i had no idea what i needed. I had so little trad experience of anything like this.

I started climbing.

As i gently moved up the first section to a side pulling crack i couldn't think about anything except the consequences of falling. I placed my nice new shiny black diamond cam into a slot about 3-4meters up.
There was now a tricky move where i needed to get my left foot high into a tight and Un-comfortable crack and the push up almost entirely on it. I went for it many times but each time climbed back away from the move. Why couldn’t I just do it! I psyched myself out of the climb and climbed back to my belay and un-tied.
Frustrated by my unwillingness to do the move, why didn’t I trust my ability? Why was I so scared to take a fall? Why didn’t I trust my gear? So many questions and thoughts went through my head. My friend dale was top roping an E4 with the hope to lead/solo it and he had never been trad climbing outdoors before, what did he have I didn’t?

I had some lunch and stared at the rock for about another 20 minutes, it had become a little windy now and everyone was almost ready to move onto another area, and some more exciting climbs. I finished my sandwich and put on my shoes. I called my mate Dave over and asked for a belay.
This is what I thought to myself, go big or go home, I’d always had the motto jingling around in my head for when I needed to psych myself up for something I thought was miles beyond me. One last check of my gear and up I went.

I got to my first placement on the lay back and quickly placed a cam. I was back to this move again. This time I refused to go back down without it being due to a fall. I brought my left foot high to meet my left hand and stood up precariously. I had nearly stood up enough to grab another flake under the arête when the all of a sudden my leg breaks out into some disco jive.
 I grabbed the flake desperately and reached down onto my harness to grab my no. 1 wild country friend. I had never had disco leg this bad before and it was making my gear placement incredibly hard. Wham, in the crack it went! Over whelmed with relief I repositioned my foot to stop the wobble. That was the hard bit over I figured.
I moved up and out to the right grabbing hold of some amazing juggy flakes on the arête. I placed a small nut behind a flake and then started the layback out across the arête.
The holds were great and the moves of my style and I quickly moved through them to a standing position on top of them. This was it I thought to myself, I’ve done it!
I placed a weighted sling on the flake below me hoping it would do some good if the worst did happen, the nut I had placed earlier was more of a mental piece than a life saver!
I looked up, just 2 meters or so of climbing and I’d be at the top. I grabbed a firm hold of the arête; this was not the kind of hold I wanted to be climbing on this high off the ground.  I looked up again to asses what I had to do. It soon dawned I was going to have to almost layback the sloping arête and smear up to the top.

I looked down to see my friends at the bottom staring up at me. It went silent around me as my friends and on lookers watched to see if I’d actually do it or not. Giving there words of encouragement from my friends I placed my foot onto the wall and started climbing again.
I steadily moved up, my feet kept slipping ever so slightly every time I moved my hands higher. I kept moving until I found what I thought was a good slap spot near the top, I went for it. “Oh shit!” the hold was non existent! Suddenly thoughts flooded back about what would happen if I fell! I had no choice now but to stick with it, I committed both hands and heaved myself up to the top.

Pulling myself up I looked up to see my friend dale with a welcoming “high five” for my efforts. I couldn’t think, I was shaking and ecstatic with what I had just achieved. I looked down and gave Dave a winner’s fist shake and started to un-tie.

What lay ahead of me now? What new world of climbing did this open? Why had I held myself back so long?

I didn’t know the answer to any of my own questions, but I did know that the only way I was going to get better was pushing my limits.
Who know, maybe E3 soon?!