My last climbing day in the Gramps. At 6.30am, way before sunrise, it was already 11c. My skin was very sore, the blood blisters and bruising on my right hand pinky, middle, and index all too sore to touch.

On the drive to the crag I went into hardcore PMA mode. We listened to Queen’s breakthrough and under pressure, followed by R Kelly’s masterpiece; the world’s greatest. If ever there was a time to take PMA to another level it was this.

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I am not going to be a star. I am going to be a legend. – Freddie Mercury

 

We walked up to Trackside as dawn brought in the day. I was going through all the possible scenario’s in my head. How would I deal with failure? What would I tell people? How would I be affected by it? How would it affect my mental state? And my future climbing? But what if I did do it? What a story! What would I write on my blog? Would I tweet something? I started crafting my letter to the medal shop; the success story of going from no climbing to 8B was just magnificent. How was I going to tell my wife that I couldn’t continue on our honeymoon because of a boulder problem? I kept flip flopping between success and failure scenarios.

Warming up my skin felt sore, but my muscles felt good. I kept the warmup at Trackside brief and pushed on the citadel. As we got closer all my win/lose scenario planning seemed to fade away. It was replaced with nervous excitement. I was feeling mega amped. I knew it was on, it really could happen. The dream could become a reality… it really could! Although it was already quite warm when we arrived at the bloc a strong wind was blowing. The wind of change? Of success?! Of failure? What was the wind bringing?

I taped up my fingers and then pulled on and did the move to the high pocket with my new beta a couple of times. Then I sat down for a go from the start. Everything faded away. No pressure. No success/failure scenarios. No trip extensions. Just a laser like focus on the first move; get 3 finger stack straight into that pocket. Boom. Then the second move. Move feet. Keep tight. Get undercut. Ok. Move 3. Rotate 3 finger pocket so index finger is hooking the corner of the pocket hard. Breath in several short breaths. Move left leg out towards the arete. Exhale sharply, jump, slap… feel weightless as my feet cut and I swing. Slow motion. I swing, glide outwards and then in. On the in swing my right foot goes straight onto the foothold, my engrams remembering the dynamics perfectly. Move 4. Heelhook in. Move up to pocket. Move 5. Move feet, put toe hook in accurately. Remember to breath in, fill my lungs. Move 6. Slap for high pocket. Exhale sharply. Nothing but a focus on getting my 3 fingers into the hole. They go straight in, but my feet cut, my toe hook has slipped out. I swing, no, glide outwards. This time my hand has purchase already. I’m still on. My hand is glued in. Feet back on and push to the top. Complete autopilot for the remaining moves. Rock over, get hip around lip. I’m on top.

All my scenario planning is laid to waste. An animalistic cry emerges from my lungs. The feeling of elation is unlike any other. Standing there, the dream is reality. I’m stood on top of Ammagamma.

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Words can’t really do justice to this feeling

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Emily looking so thankful not to have to hike up again and me clearly in shock