Project-ing: Blood In The Water

Nearing the 4th bolt on Darkness At Noon 

Nearing the 4th bolt on Darkness At Noon 

It's been two Mondays since my first weekend on Darkness at Noon. While the rest of Team SW/AG has been ticking projects off their list left and right, I've slowly been chipping away at my line through muscle memory and sequencing. Just this past Monday things started coming together in nice fluid and calculated movements. It's about this time on projects where the anxiety that sets in just before a redpoint attempt comes from foreseeable accomplishments instead of the seemingly impossible difficulty that lies ahead. 

The weekdays in between Monday's day trips out to Smith are spent rehearsing the movements over and over at all times of the day. Since I can't get out to Smith but once a week when AntiGravity Equipment is closed for business I have to make the absolute best of each trip. The next best thing to actually getting out there is to climb sequences through visualization using a photograph of the route to map out every hand hold; every foot hold. Once the sequences are mapped out then I try to rehearse the feeling of how much energy to use on every hold and I try to remember as best I can how every hold feels. The visualization can get pretty damn close to the actual experience complete with elevated heart rate and changes in breathing patterns. The more I can bring up from memory, the more confident I feel on actual attempts. 

I feel like right now I'm at somewhat of a halfway point and there's a slight sense of urgency to push harder at linking bigger sections. I'm not as worried about the slow decline in peak performance as I am about the discomfort in my fingers. During the process of climbing the route from bolt to bolt I often over-crimped in attempts to hang on move after move. I bruised the cartilage on the top of a finger on my left hand from bending the joints so hard in the opposite direction. Now that I have enough muscle memory built up, that isn't so much of a problem and the bruising is healing quickly with daily ice therapy and lots of rest days between climbs. Still, every time I reach a new high point on the route, new territory can bring on over-crimping and lock-offs as I decipher the new sequences. 

Still, the process is crazy unbelievable. Comparing all the huff and puff over Labor Day weekend with the flow of move after move 3 Mondays later, movement mixes from one sequence to the next with precision instead of stop-and-go movements filled with second guesses and stuttered executions.

Meghan Austin warming up on Irreverence 

Meghan Austin warming up on Irreverence 

As of last Monday, I managed to dial in the first 6 bolts on the route. I've been able to link 1-6 with one fall in between. This long sequence is dependant on a dynamic deadpoint that I use because there is a crux crimp I just can't seem to master. The deadpoint is lower percentage than the static movement but has better holds. The dynamic movement between the lower left hand pocket to the higher right hand pocket is dependant on high-ish feet and uses a shallow intermediate mono pocket for the right hand. The higher right hand pocket is pretty close to full extension for me so it's hard to overshoot (actually a positive thing) but undershooting it is a sure fall rendering the redpoint useless pretty close to the ground. Sticking that hold moves me up into another deadpoint on crimps not quite as severe. Completing that sequence moves me into good holds to clip bolt number 4 and bolts 5 and 6 are gimme's by comparison. So for now I just envision getting every move just right over and over again in the first 60 feet of climbing. 

Cameron Apple starting up on Heresy 

Cameron Apple starting up on Heresy 

I managed to fall my way up bolts 7 and 8 which aren't as technical as the lower section but fatigue from the sequences below plays heavily into the sequences that comprise this new section. For now, they remain a second part to the first six bolts. Before I even consider this new territory, 1-6 need to pass uninterrupted. 

The next weekend I'll have a rare few days off in a row spent visiting friends out of town. That's a day I can't afford to miss if I have any chance of sending by the first week of October. One of my friends working at Stoneworks agreed to man the desk at AntiGravity Equipment for me so I could head down with Meghan and Cameron for a day trip so I wouldn't have to miss a day. While this blog post is being read we'll likely just be starting down the trail picking warm ups and contemplating goals. Cameron is at the last move on Heresy and is likely to send. Meghan redpointed Silver Streak at French's Dome and will likely be picking a brand new route off the tick list to work on. I'll be looking forward to taking a big chunk out of this route. There's blood in water, even if it's just a few drops. 

Juan Rodriguez