58 is the maximal number of regions into which a plane can be divided by 8 circles.

Two days of climbing in a row! Oh what a joy! I have to confess that I was carrying a split tip into todays session due to vanity and ego. After I got up Gourmandise yesterday, I wanted to get some different camera angles and close up shots of some holds. I set the camera up to record the first 4 moves and climbed them, only to afterwards see that I had split a tip and it was now bleeding all over my fingers. I was pleased that I had climbed it on the previous go, but annoyed that I had split my tip for the sake of good video!

The weather was looking good for today so I had to make a decision about what to do. It was a choice between an easy day doing some of the classics I want to do, like Irreversible, or a session on something I’ve had a quick play on, like Narcotic Direct, or a new project. I sat outside in the morning sun deciding what to do, perusing my overly long lifetime tick list of the forest. In the end I decided to have a go on something hard, something that I had tried for 15 mins 2 years ago, and something that had been in my mind for the past few weeks. I mentioned that trying Gourmandise had been great training for undercuts, tension, and power, well, that was essentially the warm up act for Dune, 8B+. Two years ago I tried this with James, because we were on a mission to see/try every hard problem in the forest. We didn’t manage to ascend any of them, but we did see every hard problem that had been done at the time. I’d tried Dune for 15 minutes simply because we’d walked all the way down there and I thought it was worth a feeler. It was hard, but even back then I thought that one day it might be possible. Today I was genuinely intrigued as to how it would feel. Had my memories been warped by rose tinted spectacles, or was this a good problem that was possible for me to do?

Before we went to dune Neil wanted to do a dyno called Nouvelle Vague, 7B+ (Neil’s video here). After a quick warm up on Petit Homme for me (none for Neil!) we got on the dyno. I didn’t want to have a go because I don’t think dynos are all they’re cracked up to be, but after seeing Neil try it I decided to have 3 goes. You are supposed to jump to a slightly incut jug, but it looked so sharp that I decided I better try jumping for a sloper next to it instead. My prediction of it’s sharpness came true when Neil latched the top only to slip off and find a huge flapper on his finger. I failed 3 times in a row, but the third go I had my hand on the sloper. It was worth one more go and luckily I held on. I think it’s rather easy, and probably more like 7A+/B but what does that matter really? I left Neil there quested off along the ridge to Dune. Salamander is a proper Boar Nation area. I’ve seen boar there before, so I am always a bit intrepid when walking around through their hood. I think someone wrote a song called Boar’s with Beretta’s and that pretty much sums up the fear they’ve instilled in me in the past. Last year, Sara and I were walking along when 5 of them came running out of some trees towards us which prompted me to take evasive action by clambering on a rock leaving Sara frozen on the ground. Luckily they turned and ran off in another direction, but I should apologise to Sara for not saving her first! Anyway, ever since then I’ve had the fear. As I walked to Dune I came across fresh boar tracks, fresh pits, and then fresh pooh. Great. I was sneaking along trying to stay alert for any sounds, but also aware that being silent meant I might stumble right onto a boar. It’s alright once you actually come across a boar because once they’ve seen you they are likely to run off, meaning there are no boar in the area, but it’s the build up to the sighting that instils the fear. In fact, not seeing boars is more scary because the longer the time that passes when you haven’t seen one, you become more sure that you’re just about to see one! Seeing one then becomes some great relief, a moment of joy that relieves you from your fear! My moment of joy never arrived though, only a continuation of the perpetual feeling of fear. That is until I reached Dune. For some reason when you have a pad unfurled, chalk on your hands, and v10′s on your feet you feel safe. I have no idea why, but I would guess that climbing is within the comfort zone for most climbers, so whilst climbing you tend not to be worrying about boar nation. Certainly it’s true for me.
Once at Dune I scrubbed the top of the bloc as best I could, and cleaned the relevant bits and bobs, as there was moss reclaiming the top holds. For those who haven’t seen this bloc, it’s essentially a one move 8B+. I climbed from the 1st move in to the end, and would hazard a guess that it’s about 7B/+. The jump start gets 7B actually, but in reality the jump start is about 6C. So, one move into a 7B/+ and you have an 8B+. It stands to reason that it’s going to be a hard move, and it is. There are 2 undercuts and 1 smear of a foothold. You pull on into a near enough horizontal position whilst trying to maintain tension at all times otherwise a plummet to earth awaits. It’s hard to pull on, harder to hold on, harder again to actually feel like you can take your right hand off, then very hard to actually move, and harder still to get the hold. My first few goes resulted in me landing ass first on the pad, but as I had more attempts I began landing on my feet which was a great sign. I was inching closer to the hold but not quite there. The start position is so tenuous to hold, but you also have to move your body enough to generate some sort of upward momentum.

The pictures (still grabs from video – sorry for low quality) give some indication as to what the move is like. My best effort resulted in me being a couple of inches away from the hold. Hitting it is going to be the next stage, and the stage after that will be hanging on. It’s a half decent hold, only because it’s compression between the left hand undercut and the right hand sloper. The rest of the problem is just 3 campus moves and a rockover, which as I said before is trivial. The question on my mind now is whether I can do it. It is very hard, certainly one of the hardest moves I’ve ever tried on rock. I feel a little bit greedy for trying an 8B+ too, since I feel it’s almost a cocky thing to do. I certainly don’t want it to appear like that, but can easily understand such thinking. I think I’m going to stay here for another month at the most, so now the question is whether I think I can do it in a month of trying. Do I want this more than I want to do all the other classic 8A’s? Why do I want to do this? In all honesty, the answer is because it’s 8B+. Clearly that’s the next level, and the next level is always the next challenge. Should I accept it? I’ve not decided yet, and I need a couple of rest days to do some uni work so I’ll use them to ponder about motivation, goals, desires and the reasons behind them.

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek. -Mario Andretti