Application and motivation are strange things. Over the years I’ve found myself applying, not just having a go, giving it a good try, half arsed acting out drunken dreams, but full on 100% totally consumed life defining stuff. I could probably count the number of times on one hand and the outcome’s have never been earth shattering, fairly mediocre to be honest but they’ve always had a marked effect, achieving something new and are defined memories. Trouble is, when you want to be in that place, when you need to be in that place, you never seem to have it. How do you find that sort of motivation, what is that captures your imagination so profoundly that all aspects of your life are dimmed in significance, that one thing that becomes your waking thoughts, destructive yet life enhancing. Well... for the last few years I’ve been missing it. I’ve given myself a fighting chance, put myself in shitty grit quarries, clambered under limestone roofs, sat at the bottom of slopey grit boulders, trekked up to mountain crags in all weathers, even broken out the axes in the Lakes.
I think you never know where it’ll come from, the line, the history, the holds, the movement, the grade.. but as long as you’re stood there you have a fighting chance of it capturing you.
I remember as a scrawny 19 year old walking over to north stack, I’d read the history, heard the dramatic stories, the runout, the quality, the reputation, all of this really meant very little, too young and green to care, but as soon as I caught a glimpse of the white face, the flake and top wall, it was like a smiley pill had just plopped in my stomach.
6 months later I was stood at the bottom warmed up, freshly resoled vectors biting into my toes, hours and hours crimping on the Otterspool Park wall in my arms and wanting it, want that I didn’t know existed. It was my first 6 and I wanted a goodun, I’d picked one of the best. My mate gave me the thumbs up, “go on you can have it, look after yourself”. And away I went. I got to the flake without too many worries... stepped up from the low rising traverse a bit early, down climb, try again, quite nervous but on the ball, threads on the spikes and rocks in the crack, clip the tat and then reach out right to the flake. Now it was time to go, don’t hesitate like usually, look left gear is good, just climb, be confident, read the moves, relax, do what’s natural... and yey, quick rock over and sorted, onto the little boss, nice, crux done. Ok, right, rrrighhttt, that’s the bolt! Sheeat! Clip it! Breathe and look up, this is it, the top wall....... boom, wow it’s a lot flippin bigger now I’m here. My heart went off like an express train; I started that slight dizzy spin, vision going a little bit furry, ears starting to whistle. Fight or flight, we all know it.. well this certainly wasn’t fight. Now as I remember as a kid this happened a lot to me, the big lad in the second year that’s just punched me in face, I’ve no chance don’t even think it, certain death, run, run like fuck. It was always a good option. An option that always worked when things got too much and out of depth.
Well this was different, the thought of committing to 35 feet above was tormented, back off now like usual while you can, but then there’s a burn inside that doesn’t want to give in. Breath, calm down, think clearly, make a rational decision. Preparation Probes, you’ve been laps on stuff way harder than this down Otterspool and you’re not even pumped, you’ve got this, just go with it, you really want this, go on dare to stay, no need to run now. It sounded good to me at the time and still does to this day. It was a stepping stone, a big step and to this day what I learnt in those couple of minutes, has stayed.
A couple of minutes later I found myself pulling through the slopey ledge, big grin, amazing climbing, amazing situation, no fuss, no flapping, just enjoying it. Shit Hot.
Well the point of this rambling is that as much as the Cad was a big progression in learning to keep it together on a bold route, it was the motivation I had behind it, that drove me, drove me to the situation, to the experience, to the lesson with thankfully such a good outcome... that is now I realise gold.
You see motivations in people from all different angles, but there is always quite a unique type, one that is driven without pretention or ego, greed or glory. And it’s great to see. Watching a young lad trying Stu’s Roof at the Cliff over the weekend, I saw it in him. He was so psyched, psyched out of his mind and he wanted it for no other reason than to just.. well.. have it. And its infectious, just his presence at the little roof got us all psyched. And without realising it I was getting the bug for a problem, 3 hours later and it wasn’t happening, walked away empty handed. But that little thing had gone off in my head, and I’ll be back, fresh skinned and ready. A couple of feet of grit, no classic, not the greatest line but with the bug for it.
Question is where do I find a big one... you know one that’ll go for a year, two years, one you can apply everything too, as much as it takes until you do it... hmm...