Sunday, February 2, 2014

Incremental Part II

A lived for a while in Snowdonia National Park and though I had never really had any interest in rock climbing before I moved there, it was the main pastime of most folks in the area, so of course I decided to give it a go.

I was never really any good, but because I was perfectly happy 'seconding', i.e. being the person who came up second and took out the gear instead of put it in, I was a popular climbing companion. Most serious climbers like to be first, so they can say they actually climbed the route, danger and all.

Snowdonia is a beautiful place and could be called the home of British mountaineering, many first ascents were put up the mountain ranges in the 1800s in the days of hemp ropes, tweed jackets and hob nailed boots.

My most regular climbing partner, John, was interested in climbing all these 'classic' routes and that suited me just fine - nothing too hectic or technical - and generally up the most sensible path up the rock face. But despite the climbing being at the 'easier' end of the spectrum, it still held it's scary moments.

There were many useful things I learned during these days "on't rock" (That would be a Northern term for my non British friends), including:

Your body can tenaciously believe it is in survival mode when intellectually you know you are not actually going to die.

This survival mode will make you freeze, even though stopping in place is not an option - You can't stay half way up a rock face forever.

That survival mode can convince you that attaching your forehead to the rock face can help you grip.

That you can force yourself to move using your rational mind.

That you can stop yourself from shaking with your mind.

And mostly, and finally something related to sword play, that even though you can see nothing within your reach to assist you in your ascent, just moving something, anything, however small an increment it gives you, can change the geometry enough to perhaps find something else ... and something else ... that will finally help you reach the hold you need.

Motion changes things.

Just because your viewpoint 'sees' nothing from one place, does not mean that there is nothing to see ....

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