So today I sent my first 7a+ for the year 2016. This is not only a very exciting thing, but also a very emotional thing. I worked the route over a couple of afternoons while I was climbing with Miss K and a few “good humans” at Crazy Horse Buttress in the Mae On province 40 minutes or so out of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Recently I have had the pleasure of climbing with a very motivating and I guess I would say spiritual man from Quebec, Canada. Mario is stout and powerful man who proudly states “I am sixty!” He has been climbing for a very long time and to quote some of my mates back home “he has the strength of ten men, because his heart is pure”. We met in Koh Yao Noi climbing and have now been through Thakhek, Laos and now climbed at Crazy Horse together.
Mario told me about this route called “Are You Courageous?” A stunning 25 metre route that is on a beautiful orange and grey limestone face at Heart Wall. He had started to project it and had spent a day on it prior to our arrival. His motivation was infectious and he was so hell bent on sending this route and was fighting all the way. I loved it! It was inspiring.
It wasn’t until Mario had sent the route left that I decided to give it a shot and make it “a project” as such for my trip here. I don’t know what changed in me but my fighting spirit had come back and I was into it. I thought I have two days of climbing left at best before I leave and this was the route for me.
Attempt one saw me flailing around putting the draws on the route and working the crux a little and figuring out what to do. Attempt two did not go so well at all, I fell off and stuffed up a move lower down that I didn’t quite have wired yet. I went home happy but I knew I had a fight on my hands.
Keeping in mind that I was more scared of failure and success than I was of falling off the route.
After a good rest day I warmed up on a couple of easy routes at The Furnace sector and then we headed up the hill to indulge my climbing insanity. The walk in the heat was difficult. I think it was about 32 degrees and a little humid as it had rained the night before. I tied in and off I went putting the draws back on the beast. It didn’t go well at all and I thought “What am I doing?”
I rested for about 45 minutes and then tried again. I stuffed up the first crux and decided to figure it out and the low off back to earth and rest again. I jumped back on the route again and as I started up the face I felt solid and strong. Pulling into the left hand mono undercling was the scariest thing but I placed my finger and pulled on and locked my elbow off hard. I pulled up to the big right hand pocket and then I was through. Best decision ever!!
The rest of the route was still solid climbing with a strong 6c+ finish attached just for good measure. I clipped the anchors with a very loud WHOOOOOO!!!! Tears began to well as my fear of failure was again crushed and exhilaration was the replacement. It is a strange and complex issue that I confront each time I try a new hard route, but the battle is ongoing in the mind and the rock helps me fight the fear……..be it of failure or success.