Heat is starting to find its way to our dark cave where we hide from the harsh desert weather. 12 days of bouldering with over 90 problems done…. My finger tips with hardly any skin left!
A week before, in Bishop’s Sad Boulders, I had been sitting below the boulder problem called “Water Hazard Right Start” in grade V9 and I couldn’t move from the starting hold… I thought that it was normal since I hadn’t been bouldering outside for 10 years and for the last 3 years I had focused mostly on trail running. I left it and tried easier stuff.
On the last day in Bishop, Philippe wanted to try a problem in the very same cave and I was kind of too tired to have an opinion so I thought I just fool around on V2-4s having fun. He went over to his project and I sat down on the pad in the “corridor” a space between two slightly overhanging walls infront of the V9.
I looked at it. I had hardly warmed-up since I had such a pain in my fingertips but started to touch the first sharp crimps on the problem. Hmm, felt bigger than last time 🙂 I continued reading the problem, stood up and touched the holds higher up. Found a foot hold I didn’t see last time. Couldn’t help getting curious so I sat down and thought I’d test the first move at least.
“Philippe!! Come and spot me!!!” Suddenly I was more than half way up the problem on flash. What happened! I wasn’t even warmed-up? Philippe came running from his cave at the end of the corridor and took the role as spotter.
I continued up but had lost concentration from having to scream for “help”. It is not clever to fall here without a spotter since the wall behind you is very close and you’ll hit the head. Well – I fell off, in Philippe’s arms, on the sweaty crimpers on the vertical part. Damn… But man, was I exited! This is going down!!
Almost 2 hours later I was not coming higher… I had a very hard time avoiding to think about the pain in the skin. Then Philippe got exited about the problem sent quickly having found some better crimps that he showed me. Thanks honey!
But now the heat was really heavy and I knew that after 2 pm I would have no possibility of sticking to the tiny holds… And tomorrow we were leaving… I started to feel stressed when all I needed was to stay cool. I told Philippe I think I just have one more try and then my skin will open up. Bloody finger tips is not a good thing on a crimp in almost 30°C. I took a long break relaxing on the pads and eating some quick sugar.
It was very warm now and I had forgotten my shorts. I asked Philippe to look out to see if any climbers were heading our way. He said “No, why?”. “I am stripping off to underpants.” I told him.
I lay down on the pads and grabbed the start hold for left hand and put the right hand far down, put my right foot as high as the left hand and left the pad. I was horizontally just above the ground. I did a long reach for the right hand that hurt so much, ignored the pain in the skin, and moved up into a slopy pinch. Right foot high up to be able to keep the left hand in a higher shoulder move. Then I half-jumped to the good crimp on the border to the vertical part. I nailed the crimp! I had already been that high twice. But this time was different. I knew it was my last chance. I quickly found the razor blade crimps Philippe had used and finished.
Victory over stress to know it was the last day. Victory over hot conditions and broken skin. I should have sent before during that day. But sometimes the motivation knowing that it is now or never makes all the difference.