The project is no more, vanquished on the last try of the day on a day that climbing almost didn’t happen.
Motivation struck late in the morning but the jigsaw fell into place and I topped out after seven days of battle.
The send was a dream; I felt nothing but the internal acknowledgment that I would not fall from the crux any more. The crimps did not hurt, my body knew what to do and it executed without being told.
There have been four instances in which climbing has provided me an out of body experience. Ascents that, years later, still trigger a primitive response deep in my gut. Those ascents, in order: Power of Silence, Purity Control, Crown of Aragorn, and The Black Gate. Each are important and for different reasons. Grades are irrelevant. Only the pure experience remains of those dusty memories.
Colony of Birchmen, the unimportant title I’ve selfishly attached to this particular specimen, might make the list once I have a moment to digest the experience. The send was so anti-climatic that I had to convince myself it actually happened. Yes, that was the crux. Yes, this is the topout jug. Yes, this is the downclimb.
Once again the deciding factors had nothing to do with me. My best friend in the whole world was there to keep the mood light and snap crucial Instagrams. Then Tim appeared, unexpectedly, out of interlocked branches like a Patagonia-clad spectre to provide additional motivation to keep trying; Tim is good at getting me to try hard. An encouraging breeze kept critical grips sticky and new shoes, gifted to me from yet another close friend, edged in hard on dismal holds. Furthermore, the boulder itself was revealed to me by a longtime friend and former co-worker. To say I am a fortunate man is an understatement…
Anyway, the project is no more and for the rest of the day satisfaction reigns supreme. It is fun to clean topouts, imagine sequences and brainstorm cool, thoughtful names while debating potential grades (maybe it’s V9 and everyone will flash it?) but the fact of the matter is I have incredible friends and the few moments of success climbing occasionally provides are worth more than anything else I can imagine.
Tomorrow contentment will fade and it will be on to the next one, as always. But today I feel good.