Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Pros and Cons of a short trip

The meaning of a 'short trip' is obviously all relative. For some people it can be a weekend, a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months, but regardless of the length we as climbers have all felt that pressure of 'time' to achieve our goals for the trip. Whether it's to send our projects or just to see new crags. A feeling of panic, self doubt and question marks appear around whether the 'goal' will be possible or not and it's all about how you deal with it. Do you give in to the time pressure and forget about the end result or do you fight it and stay optimistic until the last possible chance?

Recently I had this experience during my two week trip to Oliana, Spain in late February. Again, two weeks may seem like a long time but for me, having spent the last year and a half with the freedom of going anywhere at anytime, two weeks felt like nothing.

Oliana, Spain. Photo: Wiz Fineron
Oliana, a completely new crag to me full of 50 meter pumpy classics such as Mind Control and home to the worlds hardest route La Dura Dura. I had so much to go at and immediately I wanted more time. From experience it normally takes me about a week to get used to new areas but with only two weeks in total this was not an option. Do I spend my time climbing all the easier classics or do I hone in on a project with the chance of leaving with nothing? I pondered these questions for the first couple of days as I got stuck in to some of the 'warm ups' of the crag. But it didnt take long for the pure beauty of one line in particular to suck me in and I couldn't resist.

This line was Mind Control and after waiting in line I finally had my chance to check it out and see what it was all about. I thought I should at least try the moves before making any kind of decision. It took some time to check it all out but come on, its 50 of the metres! That's a lot. After my first go on it, I thought it was going to be easy. There's no hard moves and a few good rest jugs between sections so what can possibly make it hard right?... The worry of whether I was going to get it done or not in time wasnt there as I was certain that it would only take a matter of tries. Its just jug hauling.... How hard can it be? :P This optimistic thinking soon wore off as I discovered the true meaning of pump. After about 40 metres of pure resistance climbing I quickly lost control of my elbows and the term 'chicken winging' was strongly in practice.

Wiz Fineron falling from 49.5 of 50m on Mind Control. Photo: Rob Greenwood
This resulted in multiple falls from high up on the route until I really couldnt get much closer. I mean falling at 49.5 of 50 metres with only one move left really sucks knowing that I have to climb all that way again if I wanted to get this thing done. I managed to sum up enough energy and psyche to have one more go that day and somehow raced the rising elbows to the top sticking that last move and clipping the chains of the mega classic Mind Control. Nice one Neil Mawson for the good send the day before, just the motivation I needed.

Not a bad line!!! Wiz Fineron staring down the top section of Mind Control. Photo: Rob Greenwood
 After a well needed rest day it was time to get back to the crag. Do I try something hard again or do I spend the last few days stress free and do more easy climbing? For me its the physical and mental battle of hard climbing that I enjoy the most. Although the easy days out are great fun, I dont think I would have felt like I would have made the most of my trip this way. I had to try something hard again so next up was Fish Eye, another Oliana classic.

I had only two days left and with my first three attempts on Fish Eye the previous days not going so well I was struggling with psyche. The route itself didnt feel so bad (definitely easier than Mind Control) but the past few days had just been extremely still and warm and I was finding it really hard to relax on the rest jugs. When the skin is so soft and sweaty you have to hold on so much tighter which on short routes sometimes you can get away with, but on these pure endurance routes being able to rest and relax on holds is very important. On my second to last day the conditions weren't any better so I decided not to get on it at all and instead just have fun and climb some of the slightly easier routes.
Wiz Fineron high up on Fish Eye. Photo: Alex Haslehurst
Although it was great spending my second to last day with no pressure and just having fun, a large part of me still wanted to finish off what I had started with Fish Eye. Knowing that I only had one day left and having only been on the route a few times by this stage, I had already excepted the fact that I may not do it and having done more than expected on this trip already I really didn't mind weather I did it or not.
The last day was great, we rocked up at the crag with cooler temperatures and a strong breeze. The psyche came rushing back and I just couldn't resist one last go. I knew exactly what to do, I just had to put it all together. With no expectations I went for one last try. I felt great the entire way up, resting was easy and what I thought was going to be really hard at the top felt so good I even forgot to clip the last couple of draws. I clipped the chains and that was it, a great end to a great trip!

Last day send!!! Well psyched! Photo: Alex Haslehurst
For me, this trip was about spending time with some great people, having a good time and learning to not let pressure and self doubt get into my head. With only two weeks, it was a new experience for me and I wasnt sure what was going to happen. I came away from this trip having sent two significant climbs (for me), experienced a new area, with amazing people, and had a lot of fun and laughs. So whether its two days, two weeks or even two months, its all in the head and anything is possible. You just have to approach it in the right way and that always includes a big smile. Why do it if your not having fun right...?

Get out there and have fun!

Another great whipper shot! Photo: Ally Smith

The team... well most of it!!
A huge shout out to my main man Alex Hasleherst as well as 'Team Sheffield' for making it such a great holiday and we should definitely do it again!! You all know who you are so thank you very much.

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