Monday, 5 July 2010

Climbing Memory

It's a funny old thing the human brain. I have a great memory for useless trivia I first heard years ago, but ask me what I did yesterday and I'm flummoxed. Climbing memory is an even odder thing. This evening I went to Burbage South with my friend Jim and climbed three routes I'd previous led or seconded at some point in the past. The first, Byne's Crack, I led a few months ago. I seconded it this time and it was exactly as I remembered. The jams were just as good, and all the holds were where I remembered them. The second, Brook's Crack, I led, having seconded it several years ago. All I could remember was that the first half was easy, then there was a bit of a grovel round a bulge, and I remembered the top as being not too bad. The guidebook intimidatingly described the route as "strenuous and sustained for its entire length", but I trusted my memory over it, in spite of not really feeling the psyche, and set off upwards.

The start was as easy and pleasant as I remembered, the crux bulge was still a complete grovel, and then I found myself below the upper crack. It looked like it was going to involve some serious jamming, so I got stuck in, but almost immediately something in the back of my brain told me to try some extreme bridging, and lo, suddenly all was good. It was odd how the memory of how to finish the route was only triggered by being back in that same position, but I was very glad for the extra help!

The third route, Gable Route, was one I had led the same day as Byne's Crack a few months previously, and I had found it fairly straightforward then, so I recommended it to Jim. He found it a bit of a struggle and there were some allegations of sandbagging bandied around. This got me wondering if I'd remembered wrong, and sure enough, it felt much harder this time. I wonder if it was this more negative approach which made me climb it badly, was I just not climbing as well this evening, or did I just miss some subtle trick I'd found last time to make it feel much easier.

Hmmm. Funny things memories...