Carry on Climbing

Here we venture into the continued escapades of multi pitch…..

So I’m currently still a wee bit tired from Cosmiques…. We meant to do this route yesterday as we were still super stoked, but I decided on a rest day (where I nearly fell asleep at the pool, and got rather burnt).

However, the need to climb and the will to crush, sent us scurrying back to the crag.

We set our sights on a slightly harder route, Cacao Girls in Barberine with the hardest pitch being 6a+.

I was very chivalrous, and gave my parter the hardest pitch, which meant I lead first.

A great 5c warm up, on glorious slab (can you see a theme here?) set us up in good stead.

The route was great, and even on a sparsely bolted 5c, where I felt out of my depth, I dug deep and controlled my fear leaving my partner asking how the ~@%* I made the moves.


Reaching the toughest move on my next lead, 3 bolts in. I panicked. Uncontrollably.

Adrenaline rushed through me like the water released from a sluice gate. I breathed, but oxygen seemed lacking. My thoughts raced to the fall that would happen on the move as I seemed to have no power to pull myself over the boulder style move.

If I fell here, it would hurt. The bolt was 1m to my right and if I slipped off I would hit where my feet were with a bump, slide off and swing back under the gear 150m above the bottom of the crag and I really didn’t want to be hanging that far off the ground.

I tried several times to calm myself, and commit to the move. Each time, I became more pumped, and more scared, to the point of being on the verge of tears with frustration and panic.

I’ve been reading a book recently, about how to train yourself mentally for climbing. Then it clicked, because in one chapter it talks about Acceptable Risk.

Normally, on a good day, I would push on. Charging comfortably through a powerful move. But today just wasn’t my day. I yelled down to my buddy, saying I was scared and couldn’t make the move.

I felt no shame. No one should, sometimes we just have off days.

We sorted ourselves out, and he set off up the route. I followed, pumped and worn out from the adrenaline 15 minutes before, still scared and frustrated at the move that seem to beat me. I pulled on anything I could grasp and very ungracefully hauled myself over, arms and legs akimbo.

Being the legend that he is, Olly lead most of the route afterwards, bar a 5a for me to get some mojo back, and we made it to the escape route available just below the last few pitches.

Sat perched on the rock, looking over Vallorcine made me think my mild trauma was (almost) worth the view and I what I hard leaned.

Even if you don’t succeed, it is an opportunity to learn something about yourself.

It is not a failure if it is a lesson.

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