Friday, 24 October 2014

My experience of the classic boulder problem Deliverance at Stanage Plantation

Deliverance at Stanage Plantation - Credit: Mike Etchells
Standing on smears, you rely on the rubber within which your feet are clad. Good rubber and a decent pair of shoes will make all the difference here and, for me personally, a softer shoe gives more feel, so this is what I opt for. 

It's fine standing there, knowing that your shoes are sticking, as the very fact that you're still on the wall proves this, but when it comes to moving you bring in an unknown, and your mind races with possibilities. The worst of these tend to freeze you in your tracks; you stammer and hesitate, you opt for the body position with the least likelihood of an awkward fall should the rubber fail, but not the best position to make the next move.

While stood there, contemplating the jump, the possibilities leap in and out of your head, making quick and fleeting appearances like a rabbit bobbing out of its hole. Your foot pings, and you skid down the wall. Your hand pings and you fire yourself off at an odd angle. You push out from the wall too hard and completely miss your pads. Anything except actually latching the hold you are launching for.


Almost latching Deliverance at Stanage Plantation - Credit: Mike Etchells
When quick movement is required, a dyno, split seconds count. Pushing off your feet, you overload the rubber now, which does not just have to contend with your bodyweight but also the additional force generated by your legs. And with it being a dyno from a side pull, the entirety of your continued movement up the wall is dependent on your rubber. 

After several attempts, gaining the trust of the rubber, or the rubber gaining your trust, you eventually shut out these thoughts, attempt to keep the rabbit buried underground, and start visualising grabbing the next hold more often than not. Your body position is refined by orders of millimetre shifts, your fingers perfectly fall onto the crystal strewn surface and of the single handhold between you and the top. Your feet are placed perfectly on those smears. In the space of half a second, your movement aligns, the rubber sticks and you latch the top - adrenaline pulses through your veins and is quickly washed away with relief. All that worry, for a single, solitary move that is over in the blink of an eye.