So this week I had another coaching session with Nik Jennings, but this time we spent the day on real rock. We visited the quality venue known as horseshoe quarry (to give you an idea of the quality it’s nickname is Horseshit quarry). This was a day to work on techniques involved in the redpoint process.
I am not very good at the redpoint process as I approach sports climbing with a bit of a trad mentality. i.e. its all about the onsight, I need to be able to do the moves from the ground first time.
With sports climbing this is not the case especially when you are climbing something hard.
I warmed up by onsighting a slabby 6a arête. The climbing was straight forward with a couple of nice balancey moves. As I lowered off Nik got me to strip one draw to practice clip sticking up and jugging up the rope.
A clip stick is a device that allows you to clip into a draw from below which obviously is very useful when the moves are hard. Jugging up the rope is a fancy name for grabbing the rope heading down to the belayer and pulling your way up it. It sounds straight forward enough and it is, however it is always good to learn a skill before you need to do it in anger.
After the route we had a little chat and he gave me some tips one was to clean my boots, they were covered in sand. He then told me he was going to stick me on some thing hard. He then said we would look at some 7a’s. What the hell??? I thought we would be looking at about 6c or maybe 6c+ at a push.
We went for a walk around the quarry and looked at several routes at the grade of 7a. There were two on the main face, these routes were both slightly overhanging and looked to have some large holds at around 25m in length. We kept on looking around went up to the upper tier there was face climb that eased to a slab and finished up a small overhang it was probably about 12m long. It looked a bit dirty and unloved.
When sports climbing often the length of the route effects the difficulty of moves. Sports climbing routes are graded by the difficulty of the best sequence to climb the route. So a long route could be fairly steady moves but it just takes a lot of stamina to do the route so it gets a hard grade. A shorter route tends to be harder moves packed into a shorter space.
I decided to give the slab a go I started by clip sticking my way up and trying a few moves. The wall just looked blank! I set up the top rope and lowered off and had a rest.
The next time up I tried the start but I was clueless how to do it. I jugged up past the second bolt and linked a couple of moves but no real progress. I lowered off again. Nik then gave the route a go and was surprised how poor the feet are at the start. He talk me through how he would redpoint it while he climbed the route. Doing individual moves brushing the hold repeating the moves to get them wired and slowly making his way to the top.
The he marked up the holds and talked me through the sequence. I gave it another go on top rope and the moves were nails. The crux was the start moving past the first bolt. The sequence Nik used was completely nails. I again jugged past the start and worked the move past the first bolt. I managed to do all the moves from here to the top. Linking up all the moves from above the second bolt to the top. I lowered off, rested ad had another go at the start trying something different. This felt a bit easier but still nails.
Nik went up a third time and found a sequence that works. I then went up and did the start moves. I then worked the moves between bolt one and two then lowered off.
After this I pulled the rope and had a nice long rest and I went for the red point. The moves up past the first bolt are the crux and I fell on this move about 5 times on lead. This sequence on its own would be worth hard 6c+ according to Nik.
On my 6th redpoint I managed to get the good hold and move up to the second bolt and get this clipped. There is one more hard move then a couple of less hard moves but not something I would fall off from there to the top. I rested at the good hold below the second bolt. Then I went for it. High smear with my right left out right to a good hold then a big move to a little knobbing I got the hold but my right slipped off and I fell. Gutted!!
I worked the move to refine it then lowered and had a nice long rest. After the rest I went again through the crux no issue then I clipped the second bolt pulling as hard as I could absolutely knackered I Went for the move but I missed my left foot placement and off I came again. I then did the move straight away on the next attempt and lowered off. ARRGHHH!! So close!
I rested for a long time again at this point my fingers aches and were red raw. My toes were killing from wearing tight climbing shoes and standing on minute edges all day.
I set off on my 8/9th red point attempt still not having linked all the moves with out falling not even on top rope. I pulled as hard as I could but realized I did not have enough left. I grabbed the draw mid crux and called it time on the route. Not wanting to injure myself. Feeling completely gutted.
I was so close. The difference between doing the route and not was moving my hips a couple of centimeters. That’s all it would of taken to keep me balanced.
I lowered off and Nik lead the route making the moves look easy. He cleaned the draws and we moved on.
I ended the day with a onsight attempt at a 6b+ which went badly due to fatigue. I did all the moves but very much dogged my way up. I was too tired to tray and put it together for a redpoint so called it a day and stripped the draws as I lowered off.
Its amazing how close I got to redpointing a 7a only 4 days after my first 6b+ redpoint. I am hoping to get back to the route in the near future if I can find a belayer.