Another day, another drive, another snow filled walk, and another failure. I really thought conditions would be primo today, and in fact, they were. The only problem was that one of the crucial holds had gotten wet since yesterday. I genuinely couldn’t believe it. Every day a different battle emerges and today it was the best conditions I’ve ever felt, but the battle was against a wet hold. The battle has not been against the actual boulder problem for a long time now! So the inevitable question is “Why am I still going there?” The penultimate sidepull that you do a blind slap to was sopping wet and I did my best to dry it and then to chalk it. It was making some difference, but it certainly wasn’t dry and this would be a problem (if I got there on the link). I warmed up doing the end moves and the grip was good. The moves felt easy and I worked my way down until I only had to add in the first move. I’d been avoiding the first move because the first two holds are kind of sharp and I know that I’ve got limited goes at pulling on. But now I was ready to do this problem and so I sat down on the ground, chalked up my hands, looked upwards, and set off. Bang! First move went down without a hitch, and I sped through the next few moves. I got the second sloper on the lip and couldn’t believe how grippy the rock was feeling. My skin was getting colder though as always seems to happen on the first serious go of the day. I moved my feet feeling great, even thinking in my mind that this is it, but before I could blink my ass was in the snow and I was off. My left hand had ripped off completely unexpectedly, due to the cold skin I guess. I was shocked and annoyed, but after those feelings had subsided I was happy because I knew the conditions were amazing. After a bit of arm shaking to get the blood into my tips, I was ready to go again. Again, I felt good, and before I knew I was at the crux and I was reaching leftwards. Boom. Only the blind slap, which isn’t a hard move, and I don’t fall off it in isolation. I’d done it. I had the sidepull and then it all got snatched away in a moment of dampness. My left hand ripped off, leaving me flailing on the pads. I couldn’t believe it. The battle against doing Amber seems to be getting more epic as each day passes. It was at this point that I took a long hard look at what the hell I was doing and had a long think about the reasons behind it.

I had some stark realisations. Rewinding the tape back to my very first session on Amber… I’d nearly done it and knew I could do it. I decided at that point that I should get it done as it’s a cool problem and I could then move on to the other things I wanted to do. But that didn’t happen. The snow fell for many hours and days, coating what seems like the entire world in the white stuff. I was still in the mindset of wanting to do Amber, and I think this might have been the first mistake. I’ve walked up there so many days simply to clean off snow, and after some reflection, I’ve decided that maybe this was not the most optimum plan. Perhaps I should have left Amber and gone climbing on the many other things that I want to do. I’ve held back when other things are dry because I wanted to save my skin for Amber. I’ve walked up to Brione during premium climbing conditions only to brush off the snow. Why? Well, I’ve chosen this battle. I made a decision to keep on the offence, keep pushing, keep trying to do Amber. I chose this path because I didn’t want to walk away, to give up, to accept defeat. But after having some time to reflect on this, I’ve realised that maybe this isn’t what happened. I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to these things. Some mornings I won’t make a cup of tea until I manage to throw my teabag in from 10ft away, with my eyes closed. Some mornings I’ll try for 30 minutes, or more, before actually having a cup of tea. It’s ridiculous, I know that. Once I sat for hours throwing cards into a pint glass that was about 20ft away. I must have gone through the deck so many times but I didn’t give up until I got one in. What this goes to show is that I have issues. I’m obviously nuts. But there is method in my madness. The reason I do these things is not because the act I’m attempting really matters, it’s because I want to know that I can undertake a challenge and see it through to the end. This is what has happened with Amber, and, initially, I thought this was a good thing. But perhaps it’s not an optimum plan of attack when it comes to rock climbing. I’ve missed out on climbing other things, perhaps even DOING other things, all for the sake of keeping to my battle. A more optimum plan would have been to leave Amber and try the other things that were dry, and when Amber did eventually dry (because everything dries eventually), I could have gone back and done it. If it was simply me versus Amber, in controlled conditions, then I’m sure I would be the victor. But it’s not. This is like a street fight with no rules. Each day Amber presents a new adversity and I ask myself to keep on pushing, and I expect myself not to quit. This is why I go back each day. It’s because I don’t want to quit. I don’t even think climbing Amber remains the real challenge anymore. The boulder problem has become external to the process that I’m embroiled in. It’s bizarre. The process has overtaken the act. I don’t know if this is a good thing when it comes to rock climbing. Perhaps my battle should now be to let go of this process within rock climbing. Amber isn’t at my physical limit of difficulty, I simply need to go there and find dry holds, good conditions, and crush. I’ve wasted too many days now on something that isn’t hard enough to warrant so many days of effort. Whilst the number of climbing days on it aren’t all that great, the total number of days dedicated to Amber is ridiculous. I should have been trying Boogalagga, or Confessions, or La Prou, or something else that I desire to climb. I could have been making progress on another problem and then gone into crush mode when the weather turned primo. In fact, my process can’t be good within rock climbing, as I need to be going out climbing in order to improve at climbing. I don’t need to clean snow in order to become a better rock climber, I need to rock climb! The real battle is now learning to let go. I need to walk away from Amber, do some other rock climbing, and when it comes back into condition, when all the holds are dry, when I’m climbing well, I’ll walk up there and do it. I’m certain of that. That being said, I have left my pads up there again. This necessitates another trip to Brione and another session on Amber, and perhaps if it’s dry/clean/etc I’ll do it. If it’s not dry/clean/etc then I’ll take my pads, load my car up, and leave. I’ll return when conditions are good and I’ll finish the job then. It’s interesting that I’ve realised all this today. Was it simply a case of the straw that broke the camels back, or did I have a(nother) moment of clarity? Perhaps that’s not important. The most important thing is that I’ve realised something important within my climbing and I’m happy about it. At the end of the battle against Amber I expected to taste sweet success, but instead the battle is still on and I can taste a small slice of enlightenment, which is sweet, but is it sweet enough?

The view on the way down from Brione.