Warning: Long climbing story approaching.
The day we left Fayetteville, Meira and I drove straight back to the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and I had one goal in mind: to finish off Flash Gordon V10. I checked out this problem on our very first day at the ranch and knew it was one that I really wanted to do. I had a few short sessions on it in poor conditions and one really focused long session in good conditions. For me, the problem revolves around one hard move – a windmill dead point move that you do off a sloper and a bad super high right foot. The hold you go to is decent, but you have to hit it very precisely and keep the tension with your foot. I fell on this move from the start 20+ times on my last session and had even stuck it briefly but lost it due to a foot cut. I was almost certain that I would have no trouble with it when I went back especially since the conditions were good.
Long story short, I didn’t send it. The bottom part began to feel effortless but the crux move continued to elude me. I couldn’t figure out the delicate balance of how much to rock over the foot without the foot popping, and whenever I would feel balanced, I would completely miss the hold. As always, I tried to maintain a positive mentality. I knew that any go could be The One, and I knew that I was capable of climbing it, but as I continued to fall, and my skin continued to get thinner, and I got tireder, I started to let my frustration surface. I couldn’t figure out what to do differently, and I felt like it would never all click. I swore one last go and managed to stick the hold, but my foot cut and I couldn’t find enough tension to get my foot back into place to jump out to the final hold. I released the ultimate wobble. I screamed. A lot. I got super down, and I told myself that I probably wouldn’t send it this trip since I would be wrecked the next day, and after that the temps were in the 60’s for the remainder of our trip.
The next day we started at the North 40. Meira had her eye on Orbital Mechanics and I was curious to try Kneeling Before Power. I felt pretty rough warming up and got my ass kicked by Kneeling, so decided I was probably done for the day. While spotting Meira on Leather Face, I suddenly had the crazy idea to go try Flash Gordon again. I had checked the weather while we were in the parking lot and today would be the last day of even remotely good conditions. I knew that the odds were against me, but I told myself that the worst thing that could happen was continuing to fall/fail. So when we got done in the North 40, I strapped up 2 pads and started the long, steep, snowy hike to the East side boulders towards Flash Gordon.
When I got there I made sure to not let the anxiety of sending enter my thoughts. I moved slowly as I set up the camera, brushed holds, and placed pads. I put my shoes on, told myself “no expectations”, and climbed the boulder perfectly to the top first try. The topout was dripping wet and I had no spotter to move the pads under me which added another twist and forced me to traverse a little farther left than the traditional topout. Once I could relax at the top of the boulder, a flood of disbelief washed over me. How could it have felt so easy when I had felt so bad all day? How is it possible that in the 50+ times I had tried the move and not been able to stick the hold and keep the foot… it happened so effortlessly first try today? It almost felt like a dream, and if I hadn’t been able to check the camera and see the footage I might have doubted that it had happened. But it did. It just goes to show that a relaxed, focused mental approach can overcome almost everything else.
We have been resting at Trudy’s amazing Cafe in Jasper all day today, and the Arkansas video is almost finished. Unless we manage to send something epic tomorrow in Cowell it will likely be published fairly soon. Keep a look out!
Also, here is a sweet picture I took of Meira on the technical classic Momento V5. We also climbed the tall, slabby Old English V3 and it was a super fun, scary experience. Until next time!