Sunday, 30 October 2011

Emotional Landscapes - so amazing.

The Crossover - I love this move! To match the crimp for the jump is nuts.
This move is a stunner - 8b from a stand 

There is always something that gets in the way of a well thought out plan.  I carried out the planning and the training schedule as well as I could.  On arrival the weather was looking conducive to pulling on the rocks.  And then the inevitable - humidity and rain…

On Monday, I awoke to pristine skies, a cold wind from the north and reasonably cold temperatures (around 5 degrees).   This was by no means perfect, but at least I could session the moves properly for the first time in seven days.  It was amazing, the friction on the otherwise sugary smooth granite had become apparent, and the moves now seemed possible.  At last – the jump move was really close now, and the swing seemed to be slowing down.  So, very close indeed to the two crux moves, which link all of this together.  The top out campus crossover was still pretty tricky though - Klem had made this look pretty easy!

I’m pretty optimistic as a person, and in my mind had already now convinced myself that the climb was potentially on.  Sat in the tent on the mountainside later on that evening, running through the moves and the possibilities, I was pretty psyched as if the trip turned out to be successful, I would have indeed climbed one of the worlds hardest problems in a single trip;  and then the rain…

I’ve never been on such a trip where the weather has played such a bad hand.  The clouds and the mist had rolled in (you are normally above all of this at 1500m here), and the temp’ was now at an all time high of 12 degrees – impossible now.  The usual colour of the rock here is an off white/light gray.  It had now all blacked out.  I went for a walk up into forest to have as look at the damage, and as expected the boulder problem was totally blown out.  Myself and Dave session-ed the moves just incase, but where there had been friction enough to function well earlier there was now no chance at all that this was going to go.

Last time I visited this area, to try another boulder (The Power of Goodbye, V13) it was -9 during the day and -26 at night.  I was successful here, and got the first British ascent of this one (one if just six in total over 10 years including Slovenian, American and Austrian ascents).  At the end of the trip, I tried Emotional Landscapes briefly and was amazed by how possible it all felt.  Unfortunately when you add around 20 degrees, the probability drops off in spades.  I waited for another day and a half for the weather to turn around, contemplating the success and the failure of the trip.  During this time, I had a conversation with a team of Italians and a local guy (Andy) within which it emerged that a certain strong American (Daniel Woods), had arrived last year in perfect conditions, and had failed on the crux moves also.  Daniel has climbed the same grade in other countries in one day, and put forward that in his estimation, that Emotional Landscapes was by far the hardest.

Looking at failing is a difficult thing.  I chose to be a slightly more adjective, and look at how close I was to succeeding.  Basically, in one decent session I had achieved a level higher than my standard current form.  I climbed better and harder.  If I could have had the same conditions that I had on the one day it all came together (or even colder), then my chances of success where very high.  I was pleased that I hadn't unconvinced myself of my own capabilities and I will travel back next February when I know it will be cold enough to send the thing.  It is very apparent why Klem Loskot named the climb as he did:  the rollercoaster experiences when you are pushing yourself to your physical limits day in and day out is unreal, and to keep going back when everything is against you takes determination and patience.  Driving back home, a 25 hour, 1200 mile journey.  To keep the chain of thought, to keep the drive and maintain psyche is very difficult, but I will go back and I will succeed.

I had the same issue with a problem in Cresciano some years back, and travelled back and forth in my trusty Volvo V40 four times.  That’s over 8000 miles to climb four moves on a piece of granite.  I knew I could do it and I did.  So the moral of the story: 

Don’t give up – ever.  If you want to do something, just do it – you can.  

A huge thanks to Mabel from Boreal and Matt Wells from Outlook Expeditions for helping me out to get here, and hopefully I can do you justice in 2012.  Also, big ups to Lee, Stuart and Rich at Prana and Metolius.  Next time guys, next time!!


  1. next time Chris.
    thank you.

  2. he nice to read your the energy!!!
    you are still in malta? i live 30min away!
    if you want check my blog there also some photos, informations about malta!! ok stay tuned!!! cheers

  3. Hey Christof, thanks. Maybe back in February, so will let you know. I'm checking your blog right now!! Thanks.