Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Dark Toon

The buttress taken by the route "The Dark Toon" (II/III), E Face Am Bodach. 
As a climber there are few things better than being "on a roll"…sprinting through your wishlist of routes unhindered, and it seems like nothing will stop you. But there are few things worse than being on a losing streak.

Since the beginning of March I seem to have been unlucky when it comes to climbing. Four consecutive attempts at going climbing ended up in going home empty handed. What had happened to my rapid momentum and success of February?

Good snow cover and hard frozen turf everywhere
Not that I should complain…even without climbing anything more this winter, it would already easily have been my most successful ever season. But it was starting to get at me - it never feels good to fail on several routes in a row.

Looking towards the Buachaille

Despite the excellent conditions continuing into March, I decided to try and step back a bit from winter climbing for a while and focus on other things. Lots of hill-running and trying to sort out my life for the coming summer kept me busy, and after this and a week down in England, today I finally felt more than ready to get back climbing again.

Underneath the avoidable cornice at the top of the route

The tricks of the mind…both the most crucial weapon and worst vice of the soloist. Sometimes backing off a route is by far the most sensible option, but it doesn't stop me from running it over and over in my mind afterwards sometimes. Why is it that some days that crucial "psyche" is absent, even when conditions are spot on? Self-doubt can eat away at you if you aren't so careful, and negativity can get the better of you.

But I got a fix today, and reminded myself that I can indeed winter climb. "The Dark Toon" (II/III) on the East face of Am Bodach in the Mamores - a short day and not the most memorable route, but just what I needed.
In Glencoe "Elliot's Downfall" has touched down (just!) and No.6 Gully is seeing plenty of ascents

Just now I'm looking back through photos from previous winters, and reminding myself that the same thing has happened ever year…boldness and energy seem to disappear for a while on occasions, but it always comes back soon enough along with the reminder that nothing is more important than listening to your motivations and moods when it comes to climbing.


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