Dan Varian TMI Friday
Well it’s been a busy week for me. I have been secretly hammering a project into submission (metaphorically not literally) for the last 2 months..ish. I’ve gone from finding the crag, to noticing a possible line, to holding the positions, to doing the moves, to doing the problem, which is now called Dandelion Mind. Start to finish it’s been the most enjoyable project process of my life and one which i feel privileged to have been allowed to fulfill. I don’t like talking about projects to much especially in public as hyperbole can whisk you along, it creates expectancy and you can get nervous. I had none of that on this. I knew i was shit ; it was hard. Those weren’t going to change fast, but if i worked hard then there might just be an overlap between the two which i could cross and sneak up the problem. So over the past 2 months i’ve been running, eating right and training hard, and most importantly resting alot. I feel like the last 6 sessions have flown by in a blur of learning, squeezing and tiredness. I did the problem yesterday on my 7th session on it this year (i fondled the holds last year to get an idea of whether it was possible but i wasn’t in the mood for this then. This year i wanted to step things up more and take some risks, last year i just punted about in the low 8′s getting about 50 of them done but none took more than 3 sessions, this was mental collateral in a way against future injury, because my finger injury at the end of 09 properly screwed me). In a way yesterday was a big return to mental form for me. The end of playing it safe cotching along and the beginning of taking more risks with difficulty. 7 sessions isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, my mind is happy upto 50+ on a problem so long as i am making minute progress.
Regardless, the last 7 sessions have been some of the funnest of my life, the problem drip feeds a happy feeling inside me as i bounce around through its bizzare moves, footless swings, kneebar! and brute power crux. It’s not sharp and it is simply a matter of crushing it. It’ll feel easy to world bouldering beasts as if you are comfy on the crux holds it’ll come together fast. Initially I wasn’t comfy, far from it, the crux holds felt small at first and way too close together. Half pad sidepulls which are barely incut would be mean at rubicon, but this crag is waay meatier and the wall is just over 50 degreees overhanging i think. Sufficed to say they required some manningTFU. As a result there’s now 5% less of me walking round the world since i first tried this (and i’m still far from ripped compared to my contemporaries). 4 weeks on the fingerboard helped a lot too. Suddenly the sidepulls were crushable, and i was bloody loving it.
The Kneebar on this problem also heralds a new era for faggotry (and a BIG thankyou to Busby and Pete Whittaker for sorting me out with a fiveten prototype kneebar pad, which is wicked), As without the kneebar the problem would qualify as UK font 8C, and that is not a grade which should ever be bandied about without acknowledging the mighty G. With it the problem is not only possible but it could even be 8B. As yesterday Ned (Beta Destroyer) Feehally found some slightly easier beta for the last move which was the secret to success (that and perfect conditions and the fact that I felt well light) but this has certainly dropped the problem from mid-high 8B+ (the last attempt in the video shows me getting painfully close this way) to low 8B+ possibly even 8B. All i am waiting for now is the opinion of the Dark Lord of british bouldering, the mighty Adams (we have a history of ruining each others problems with better beta). Between the 3 of us we have done 95% of the peak 8′s and we are differently skilled so if it has any more secrets they won’t hide for long. Unless new beta comes to light, this is a safe bet for the hardest problem in the peak. And more importantly it’s massive, steep, totally independent and not even a sitter.
In other news, me Ned and Luke nipped out to burbage on tuesday the day after my last session on this and my ticks for the day include happily ever after (7A+? flash) Nefertiti (7A flash) Navana (7A? ground up) living in oxford 7B? bouldered ground up above pads. Ned’d trained in the morning and left to go back for some more training in the avo, i stuck about and spotted Luke whilst he walloped Boyager, this gave me the inspiration i needed to wallop Voyager, first try of the day, i’d had 3 very short (3-5goes) sessions on this in predominantly bad conditions (think shirts off and shorts) before going to Italy 2 weeks ago and had ripped a huge flapper. But sufficed to say it felt rather different to Dandelion Mind, it is only hard due to its sharpness, the actual physicality of the moves is nothing special. SkinB more than 8B. which is gritstone’s style i guess, skin, knack and luck. Either way it has been eclipsed by how happy I am to have fulfilled a life goal of finding, working and realizing long held personal pipe dream. To me it embodies what hard bouldering should be about. Pulling like a mule and appropriating failure.
The UK waits years for decent, non eliminate, big, independent 8B+ blocs and two come along at once! (7 of 9)
I celebrated with some positive reinforcement via my stomach, after bouncing around the foundry with the warm smug fuzziness of success inside me.