Three words stolen from a UKC article, written by Dave MacLeod some five years back.
On Friday evening I managed to pull, swing, hook and push my way up a V3 boulder problem for the first time at Pinnacle. I came away full of beans, really chuffed with the accomplishment and thankful for the great bunch of climbers who had offered advice, compliments and criticism in equal measure and shouted encouragement when needed.
It wasn’t a hard problem in the end, I guess once you can do them they never are but Dave Mac’s three key words drove me to the finish line. Dale told me a few months back to work on small crimps and this was easy enough at the time on the 15deg boulder wall – lots of options for movement and it was going well until… a reset. I looked around and the 30deg panel had the right holds moving across it down low on a V3, way beyond my level but I was happy to practice getting sideways.
Now, I struggle with V2 problems and when I started hanging from the lowest of the V3 holds, I wasn’t managing half of the V1s, including the one on the same panel that had massive jugs. As such, I didn’t ever dare to imagine that the V3 would be doable for me before the room was reset. After a couple of weeks I had the bottom sequence quite neat and decided to make a slap for the hideous looking three tiered terminator of a hold that held residence above a volume, a volume that looked likely to bash a man where it hurts. It felt awful, I felt weak and it was apparent that I needed to be able to pull up with my right arm better, then hold that position for a split second.
I went away and worked on what was needed for me to be able to make the big lunge upwards. I did some 4x4s, got on the fingerboard and held the holds with my elbows at 90deg and it was about this time that I managed my first ever pull-up! An overhand one from what I’ve been reading this evening. A few days later and I managed five, next evening I managed to touch the hold before dropping to the floor. A few times. Finally I held it but I was out of balance and couldn’t hold on long enough to sort my feet. Back to the fingerboard after a session on the wall and work the fingers till I couldn’t hold on any longer. This approach to a problem was new for me, normally I’d have just kept trying the problem but that hasn’t been getting me anywhere.
On Monday evening, everyone mentioned how tired I looked. I’d worked all day after a couple of hours sleep and a working weekend but Alex (the route setter at Pinnacle) had mentioned that day, that the boulder room would be reset on the 11th Nov. If I wanted to do the V3, I had to get my butt in gear and engage effort unlike before. Tired or not, it was time to apply myself and by the end of the evening I was managing to hold the three tiered terminator but it felt fragile and I was out of balance. Tom offered some advice and showed me a way to get to it that he said “looks unlikely, it does work tho”. I had one go and whilst it did feel better for me, I was far too pumped and tired by that point to pursue it.
Tuesday, I rested after work and ate well. I even went to bed early enough to get some decent sleep. Err, not true as it happens and I went to my lad’s to help him with his decorating till 10pm but when I finally made home, it was decent grub and sleep. Diet and rest is a major part of any training program and this V3 deserved some respect. Wednesday evening I decided to try it just twice using Tom’s tactic and it felt good. My left foot was already in the right position before I even made a grab for ‘that’ hold and I stood for a while just looking at the final three holds for the first time, picturing where my feet would have to be to make use of them properly. I then walked away and tried some other stuff, the reason being that my mind that evening was firmly with my daughter many miles away. I rested properly on Thursday evening, a night out with Tony, a decent curry and just two pints of lager. I was on a mission.
In the end, it was a matter of just going for the last holds and forgetting about the fall risk. I fell. It went and Tom, who was there watching, said it looked comfortable and in control. It was but only because I’d put in the effort, sorted my approach and had a change of attitude. No longer was I looking at the problem and dismissing it as too hard – I’d spent most of the afternoon shopping for trousers, a bow tie and some evening style for the NLMC dinner, yet, I’d been psyching myself up for nailing ‘that damned V3’ as it had become known. ‘The hold’ wasn’t an issue. On my first go past it, I’d gotten scared due to faffing around with my feet and dropped off the panel. Sort the attitude, up again and go for the hold. Second go and oops, too far and I grabbed the hold too far left and off I peeled. Next go I held it but got scared, feet again. Then I managed to cross my right hand over my left and there was only the last hold to go, my arms pumped and I dropped down.
Rest a while, chat to Stuart who was in the boulder room for his first ever indoor climb and watch some geezer playing on a V8. Straight up to the top I went, focused on the final hold and went for it… I made it and instantly peeled off! Hahaha. Funny as it was, I was gutted but everyone was encouraging as usual. So I rested a while, longer this time and watched Tom, who’d come in to work on the V8 I’d just seen blitzed.
When the V3 went down, only Tom and the chap who’d done the V8 were there but the small words of encouragement to “sort feet” and “go on” were enough to get me to the top and in control. It felt good.
Dave MacLeod had a point – Attitude, approach and effort.