The move. It was day 28 of our trip. We’d headed up to the far flung crag of Cave Club to do the classic v10 Cave Club. An awesome problem on really good rock which I’d managed to despatch relatively quickly. I was keen to ride the wave of success and so we cruised down to Ammagamma.

Cave Club - Crux Move

The really great problem of Cave Club

My only goal for the session was to do the move. If I could do the move then all the other pieces of the puzzle would fall into place. I told myself that so many times that I really did believe it. The link wouldn’t be a problem if I could just do the move. To do the move just once would provide the mental and physical breakthrough that I needed.

It was during session 3 that I began to discover some bits of micro beta that enabled me to get closer and closer to the move. Physically I was in better shape and mentally I was in full analytical mode. As the classic school problem taught me “control is nothing without power” but only when you remember that “power is nothing without control”. Power and analysis are two sides of the required coin.

1. Left Foot Position – Whilst trying the move I realised that the position of my left foot was of crucial importance. My left foot wasn’t on a hold, it simply floated in space, pressed against the steep rock. But it’s starting position had a huge impact on the trajectory my body would take. Initially it was almost directly under me, quite close to my right toe, but as I moved it ever further leftwards I began to move closer and closer to the hold. In the end I realised that I needed to consciously move my left foot all the way to the arete, just so it put my hips and chest into the correct position for doing the move. Keeping my hips open made a big difference, enabled me to stay more front on, and that allowed me to get my entire body higher.

2. Taping my left ring and index fingers – The left hand pocket off which you jump isn’t exactly comfortable. I hate sharp holds and the edges of the pocket are kind of sharp. Without tape it actually hurt to pull on the 3 finger stack due to the pressure on the second joint of my index and ring fingers. With tape the pain went away and this meant I could try that little bit harder.

3. Breathing – Emily asked me if I was breathing out during the move. I wasn’t. She suggested that I make a conscious effort to exhale during the move. This, she said, would keep me stronger through the move. I had very little to lose and it did sort of make sense, so I gave it a shot. It made a big difference! I’d like to do a bit of research into the science, or perhaps someone can help me with that, but it’s a fact that if you exhale sharply your core tightens and that really helped me with the move.

Slowly I got closer and closer to the move. The progress was measured by how I was landing on the pads. I went from smacking my ass into the ground to landing on my knees, to landing on my feet! This was a huge improvement and the different bits of micro beta were making a genuinely measurable impact. As I kept trying I found that I was dabbing my feet a lot, my heels would clip the edge of the pad or hit the ground at exactly the same time my hand hit the hold. I needed to pick them up more, get higher into the move. But then Emily came through with another bit of micro beta!

4. Moving the pad – Emily offered to move the pad further back, so the arc that my feet were taking would miss the edge and hopefully enable me to hold the swing.

5. Right foot position – I’d been experimenting with different right foot positions as you can either put your toe on a straight down flat hold and jump, or have it in much more of a hook position. The hook foot position is about 10cm long and the further up you have it the more of a hook it becomes. I found that the middle hook position worked best as it allowed me to both pull and push at the same time. The ramification of this was a higher body, a slightly longer delay before my foot cut loose, and reduced the likelihood of a dab. I used my right foot to pull me rightwards and then push me upwards.

I still felt like I just needed to do the move. Do the move! Just do the move! I was so close to doing it, with Emily even suggesting that maybe I should just start trying it from the start so that when I did do the move I would actually be on my way to the top. But that didn’t feel right. I needed to actually do the move. I needed to let my body feel it, as if that’s all it would take for me to be able to unlock it’s secret and do it on tap.

Slowly all the micro beta began to add up to something meaningful. I caught the hold. I didn’t dab. My feet swung backwards as they had many times, and then they stopped. I was in mid air. But then I felt myself swinging back towards the rock and all of a sudden my feet had found their way to the foothold. I’d done the move!!!

Ammagamma - Crux

Hand on hold, foot not yet cutloose!

It was a huge moment. Ammagamma had fallen. Now I had done all the moves. The spell was broken. Mentally this was a game changer. Having done the move I suddenly believed myself that everything would fall into place. Having done all the moves I knew I would be able to do Ammagamma. It was just a matter of time. I immediately started trying the problem from the start, but only 3 tries later I realised how exhausted I was. I’d used everything I had to do the move and subsequently I just crashed.

With the mental barrier destroyed I knew I just had to return and keep trying it from the start. There are 2 or 3 set up moves (depending on if you count changes in hand position) before the jump and I remembered what Simon Weill had said about knowing that when he got through the jump move he knew he was going to the top (and he did). I told myself the same. Just get through the jump move from the start and you’ll find yourself stood on top. Session 4 would bring that… I was sure.