Today it clicked. I’m no longer battling against being able to climb Amber in terms of my rock climbing ability and the physical difficulty of that piece of rock. I’ve now walked up there to clean snow from Amber more times than I have been up there and climbed. I’ve trekked through nearly 1m of snow, I’ve watched my trousers freeze, and I’ve still got the resolve to keep going back.

Today the place was (once again) deserted. The snow covered meadow welcomed me back with open arms and once again pushed me further towards breaking point. Unfortunately for the meadow, it still doesn’t know that I’m never going to give up. That is what I realised today. My mental resolve is ridiculous. I’m even happy to just trek up there, clean the snow, and trek back down. It’s hugely frustrating because I ceased to battle the boulder problem after 2 sessions as I knew I could do it, but the mental battle against the weather and the conditions took over. If it’s not one battle, it’s another. Some are more fun than others, but at the end of every battle is the sweet taste of success.

Every day I come back to the gite and the people here ask me what I did today and then what I’m doing tomorrow. The inevitably reply hasn’t altered in far, far too long; I went and brushed off more snow. I’m going back to Brione. Today was slightly different as I didn’t have to brush off any snow (because I brushed it all off yesterday!) but I did have to retreat because of the conditions. I also solidified in my mind that Amber is nowhere near the limit of what I can climb. I warmed up on it because nothing else was dry, and I surprised myself by feeling good. I did all the moves easily, climbing from before the crux to the end, but then starting to fall off when trying to link more than 5/6 moves. My skin was good and I was good, so the only culprit could be the conditions. Sure enough, the holds were turning a combination of white, black, and green. Chalk, grease, and the small amount of living foliage on the rock. I was greasing off when trying it from the start and so I didn’t see the point in pursuing things much further, so within 30 minutes I was packed up and plodding through the snow. I realised the absurdity of what was going on as I was walking down. I can’t wait to climb this problem because I know that I will have battled something far greater than the physical difficulty of the problem. I’ll have proved to myself that I can push through any conditions and stick with something without breaking, without giving up, without making up an excuse and leaving. That is reason enough for me to push on with this ridiculous quest and continue to trek up there in the snow day after day and do whatever is necessary to get this goal completed.

In other news, I had a rare day of rock climbing which I spent at Cresciano. Having to park halfway down the road, walking for ages, and then seeing lots of melt water on the things we’d gone to try, psyche still wasn’t down. Tyler and I warmed up and took our chances with the 8A wall called La Vent Sombre. It’s only a 2 move affair; Jump to a small rail, then launch for a finger jug. The position you jump out of is very strange and after having an epic with the first move I managed to launch for the finger jug, but fumbled it and didn’t grab it. Tyler found a slightly different way, which was probably harder, but was less weird, and after a few jumps he latched the finger jug. The movement is excellent and if it wasn’t for the sharpness of the rail I would have continued to try, but I couldn’t afford to split a tip or wreck my skin. I’ll definitely have another few goes on it when I head back up there to try one of the other problems in that area, and hopefully latch the finger jug instead of just fondling it on the way up and down.

[written december 6th]