The Countdown Begins

I imagine my next post will be French. I’m not going to post it in French, don’t get me wrong, i imagine it’ll probably be sat in La Taverne on the high street in Fontainebleau. I leave Sunday night to return to my second home for the first time since June 2011, this trip being at the forefront of my mind since it’s inception. It’s prominence in my mind has been growing inversely to the time before we go, and the focus continues to be the climb that has been fractionally out of my reach for the past four years or so: Carnage.

By no means my first attempt at Carnage, but probably one of the oldest photos of my presence there. August 2010
By no means my first attempt at Carnage, but probably one of the oldest photos of my presence there. August 2010

It has been the drive behind my winter training, the reason for several hours of campus training and crimping deadhangs, the one single thing i want to achieve in the short term. I know it well; so well in fact that driving home over the pass on Saturday night, i found myself visualising the moves in my minds eye. Considering it’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since i tried last, that shows how ingrained it has become into my psyche. Left hand two finger pocket, left foot on, pounce off the floor, hit the pocket with the right hand… i’m finding myself so focused that my stomach tenses at the point in my imaginary sequence that it would in real life. I learned a few years ago on the Utopia boulder of the importance of focus in this way on problems near your extreme, and how crucial it is to complete the sequence properly in your head. It’s not just about the hard moves, you have to concentrate right the way to the finish, visualise yourself topping out, sitting on top, celebrating at your achievements. I even know what i’m going to say when i finally sit atop this god-foresaken boulder.

Giving it my all, which wasn't enough. March 2011
Giving it my all, which wasn’t enough. March 2011

I’m strong, i’m fit and i’m capable, and it’s vital to ingrain this in my mind too. Yes, i’m aware this is balanced precariously on the limit of my abilities but to arrive with this attitude would be to invite failure. I must be convinced of my own success before i start, before i get there, before i even leave my house some 600 miles away. I glance in the mirror as i go to bed and pause briefly to take in my reflection. I look good, i think, before wondering if this moment of narcicism is something i want to have. Again, it’s important, to know the training has worked, to know i can do this, and have an unwitting knowledge that the next attempt will finally be the one to lay this beast to rest.

This all consuming obsession does have the potential to derail my trip, and to draw me back to the same small clearing day after day, missing the rest of the forest altogether for another year. Yet, this is what is driving me: these six simple moves that i know so well yet have failed to complete on so many occasions. The next will be different. Just one more and i’ll be there. Now is not the time to waive, now is the time to believe. God i feel like a cliche machine!

Another year, another session, including my closest to date. June 2012

Those that have read my blog posts, or my articles in the past that talk of Fontainebleau will surely be sick of my continual talk of this single problem, maybe even willing me to succeed in order not to be subjected to any more of this relentless rhetoric, especially those who do not boulder at their limit. After all, this is not exactly common for me, and i know what it’s like from the other side of the fence. My answer would be that the amount i’ve written is by no means representative of the time i’ve spent thinking of this and by repeatedly talking of the same is the only way to try and describe how much a single climb can captivate all the attention one has in this situation. People often talk of bouldering eliminating the “head game” that you normally associate with trad climbing. To them, i say simply: try something harder.


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