Milestones: The Crux on Utopia Traverse

This is part eight of a series of posts all about the turning points in my climbing career. From single moves to huge time spans, these are the events that shaped me into the climber and person i am today. 

I’ll be posting a new one every few days so keep an eye on the blog for the latest or, if not, they will appear in one beast of an article at the end of the series. Feel free to comment and let me know of some of your own highlights, i’d greatly enjoy hearing some of your own. 

Milestones: The Crux on Utopia Traverse

Utopia traverse in the world-famous Llanberis pass, North Wales. Photo by Rich Watson
Utopia traverse in the world-famous Llanberis pass, North Wales. Photo by Rich Watson

While Carnage may have been a multi-year siege, it wasn’t the first time i’d done this. After befriending Simon Rose during his time at Bangor, and thus leading to the Canadian trip and many more after, we’d headed out to the Utopia boulder about a week before his departure back home. The goal: Utopia Traverse into Left Hand V7.

God we were close on that first session and i tell you what, it’s a long problem. For those that have been, it starts as far right as you can in a crack and goes right the way round the main face to finish almost up the arete on the left. Some 20-odd moves, it was more of a mini route than a boulder problem. In that first session, we got the lot wired and were up to the crux on Utopia Left Hand; or the last hard move.

Thankfully, Simon got it just before he left, thus not leaving a tantilising project so close to completion before flying off to the other side of the world. The same cannot be said of me. Ten months later and i was still failing on that very same move.

It was getting annoying, although that was probably the only thing dragging me back. Granted it wasn’t every week for ten months but there were plenty of sessions during that time. And every session ended the same way: snatching for that last poor hold before hitting the pad and screaming out.

Something had to change and the idea of training to get stronger hadn’t quite entered my head yet. No, i was strong enough, i could do Left Hand with ease on it’s own but had somehow conditioned myself to fall off at the same point every time. All i needed to do was give it that tiny bit more.

I’ve written an article on this on it’s own so won’t go into too much depth, needless to say something clicked in my head. It’s a bit zen and not something i’d normally say but i managed to harness something deep inside my mind and through sheer focus and concentration, found that extra x% to get me finished.

I did the same thing to a lesser extent on Carnage years later on the final redpoint attempt and have done likewise on various other projects as well. It sounds a bit odd, “harnessing the power of the mind” but likewise with so many other points of this article/series, once you’ve managed it once, it becomes an invaluable resource and not one to be forgotten.

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