My wife expressed a huge sigh of relief today when I walked into her flower shop and told her that I “sent”. After 11 times of coming home, bummed out, sometimes pissed off, on the 12th time, today, I sang a different tune.
4 years ago I stared at what I thought was going to be the perfect line in the Bull River Canyon. But 4 years ago I had not the skill to develop neither this “line” nor the ability to tame such a beast. Thus, the beast remained asleep, waiting for the right time to be woken.
Something inside me changed this year…something grew stronger, went deeper–it was as if I finally realized what I had to do to be a better/stronger climber. I knew that it would take more commitment, more sacrifice, that it would force me to dig deeper then ever before. There was to be no hesitation to this newly formed dedication. I needed to stand steadfast, taking any punches that were thrown, and if hit, if knocked down…I would need to get back up and start fighting back.
In early December I found myself standing beneath a section of the Bull River Canyon wall. As I stared up at this magnificent looking fragment I saw something different. This time I could see the route. It was as if someone painted a white line from bottom to top, guiding my eyes through the uniqueness of what was to come. With great excitement and a somewhat sleepless night, the very next day I showed up with my paintbrush and paint, ready to create my long awaited masterpiece on a beautiful blank canvas.
Three days straight hanging from a rope, getting soaked by the near waterfall, contemplating my sanity. What the heck was I doing? Why was I doing this again? Bolt by bolt, slowly I made my way through “the line”, hoping that what I was doing was in conjunction with the vision. I didn’t want to mess up anything, but only to create a route that would challenge those who were willing to rise to the occasion.
Over the course of the last couple of months I just couldn’t seem to nail down enough time to spend on my new route. Whether it was due to travel, the river flooding, convincing people to climb/belay, there always seemed to be something hindering any real dedicated/consistent time in pursuit of sending this project. It actually began to eat away at me. I was trying to link sections of the route together but was having no luck with any sort of promise in sending. It wasn’t until about a week ago that I finally decided that enough was enough. If I was going to have a shot at this route, I needed to focus on it. So, I did my best to clear whatever schedule I had set forth and went at this thing full force.
My last solid attempt at this route I had actually surpassed the difficult sections leaving only a few moves to the chains. It was near sent…until my pic broke a small section of a hold putting me into “thin air”. I was speechless for at least 5 minutes. I had fallen just shy of the end. I kept replaying the scenario over and over in my head. Why, why did that happen? And, like anything, after my emotions settled…I realized that my tool placement wasn’t sufficient enough. I was pumped upon reaching this hold and didn’t place my tool with precision. I was sloppy and inattentive to the meticulous move required. However, despite the negativity rapidly running through my head, I knew that I needed to remain positive if I were to have any chance with sending. Yes, I fell, just shy of the chains, but…I also had just crushed the hardest parts of the route…which had never happened before. My head was now back in action.
As I looked over I found myself approaching my recent high point on the route. Remembering what had happened last time, I moved my tool with exactness into the hold I had broken out of previously. Only this time, my pic was locked in. There was no falling with this attempt…only sending. And sending time it was. Carefully working my way up the last dagger of ice I reached the ledge and whilst screaming aloud, I clipped the chains. It was over. The beast was awoken, and then tamed with authority. It took four years for this vision to come to fruition…but like when I stared up at this “perfect line” four years ago, deep down, something told me to just be patient…that it was to only be a matter of time.
Thanks go out to those who helped along the way (and to my patient wife for putting up with me through all of it).