Thursday, March 8, 2018

BIG KAT, 8B+. The story to yet anther EPIC

it may takes me some time to finally climb my projects. but till now i did get them all :) what blows my mind again and again is the process and the journey with each of that amazing lines and still with being 40years old by now what you actually can do when you really want something, when you are passionate, persistent and patient enough and when you are willing to put in the work time and to sacrifice some things - not chocolate though ;)

i already managed to climb "Big-Kat" one and a half years ago (time flies when you get older...) and wanted to do a video-blog ever since to document the process because i really got kicked my (fat) ass a LOT over two years of trying it on and off and had to dig deep to finish it. work, life and climbing got in the way though and i just managed to finish this blog (kind of) right now. the message and the process is timeless though. so here you go with the story and the process to one that did NOT GET AWAY: "BIG KAT, 8B+".

and it was once again not the "usual" three-day-epic. to give a better understanding of what it means to really test your limits i did put together this video-blog. as you can see in the different sequences failure is the name of the game in 99.99% of the time. not glorious at all but it teaches you a lot when you fail. fail again. fail better. send!!!

a special moment when you have failed for so long...
...finally getting onto that 5m slab to top out BIG KAT, 8B+

it seems i have the funny talent to go for bouldering-projects that i can relative quickly climb every time from either one move in or up to the last move. but usually not link it all together. it was not six years of falling at the last move as in the "highlander, 8C" at sustenpass but i still ask myself how i could fail for so long as i could climb big sequences pretty fast. but a very insecure toe-hook at the very first move and also the next foot move troubled me a lot. and when being able to link the start the beta for the upper part was just slightly too insecure as well, or conditions have been shit, or i was too tired after work or whatever. i did fall on EVERY single move. i had to readjust every little bit of beta till it worked perfectly on link. i even fell twice from the top-mantel and this despite having it done a hundred times. turned out it was just too hard when having cold fingers/being super tired. so i went back on the rope for 3hrs and found a slightly better micro-beta. that was the last missing part to the puzzle. next time i was up there i floated up the mantle. perfect ending to another perfect journey.

for sure it would (have been) be "smarter" to go home, train, get back stronger and just send. but then in the end its all about what your motivation is in climbing. as i was young(er) it was all about sending boulders, move on, next one... get as much as you can. but the longer i climbed the more i got interested in the process; solving a puzzle and find a sequence that not just works but that climbs fluid and nice is THE thing for me. i often climb boulders may a bit harder cause i like a particular move/sequence. i really don't mind, very egoistic i do that for myself. i do climb and train indoors as well and i even can enjoy this sessions but i want to be "outside", bouldering on "real rock". i organized my whole life, skipped a career in (big) business (thats what you normally go for with a master in business and economics) to be out there bouldering on rocks. i already enjoy the drive to the boulders, the anticipation, the warm up, the cleaning of the holds (can people please start to clean the holds before they leave!!!), the padding, to get ready for tries on my projects, to find subtle microbetas, to understand moves, body positions, to laugh, to scream, to have fun, to be angry, to be totally focused, to climb, to move. and you can "train" on your projects as well just not nearly as efficient (skin, conditions etc...).

THE one move that got the better out of me: a toe-hook from which i never could say if it stayed or came off despite me being 100% sure i did the exact same move every time. i finally found a body placement that put up the sucess-rate but then made it more difficult to get the next move done. this resulted in me slipping off from move (foothold) two again and again.

i (re) cleaned this line years ago (did not know at that time that @dave graham was already trying this for a bit back in the old days) and was trying it for a bit on and off while working on "der mit dem fels tanzt" and "insanity of grandeur". it felt quite hard and i showed it to numerous people. but nobody really was interested (may cause there was no vid, so no quick tick for quick points ;). then super strong jimmy web came a long and did the FA of the line calling it "big kat, 8B+". suddenly it got more attention and it has been repeated a few times by now. but nobody came even close to repeat it with jimmy's original beta. way too hard. and he thought his way was soft. haha. BEAST!!! the sds is still is a project though. feels nails and morpho. but should be possible for the strong ones with enough wing span. go for it!!!

because i am an old weak lad i then used a kneepad for a knee bar; you think this was an easy move then? 
well go there and try... ;)

i never ever had so many slipping toe- and heel hooks. i knew i was physically ready after the first season working it - but sometimes when i felt strong and wanted to climb it super controlled i pulled myself up too high and suddenly lost the heel- and/or toe-hooks, sometimes i was too low, then my shoe broke on the heel, on my toe... i also slipped a lot off because of numbing out, dry firing or greasing off... even a few times from the move to the lip.

next problem was the heel hook from the standing-start. this was easy for me from the standing-start, even from the second move in, but i lost this heel again and again coming from the real start and on the next match-move i slipped off again and again as well.

the solution here was that i placed my heel 3!!!cm higher before the match and it did not slip one more time!!! i tried this before but it did not work as i then lost my heel one move before. so i had to replace it in between the two moves..... micro-beta!!!!

and then you feel super strong and 100% sure you are going to send. you pull up too high and you just slip off footholds
.... haha

and so i finally was ready to send. but the next problem was the good rail where you had to match. as it was getting warmer and warmer the friction got very bad. i had a few days with super strong foen wind. but then it was so dry that my skin turned into glass and i just slipped off. watch in the vid how desperate i try to "find friction".

fighting bad conditions.

all this can lead to frustration as well. especially the slipping off (despite still having power) got me sometimes really angry. but that was lasting normally just for a few seconds. then i was all about analyzing and getting ready for next try because up to today i got them all.

to "save" your ears i disabled the sound here. its not "nice" and i am not proud of it but its part of the process and it feels so good to relief some steam from time to time... even though its not a swizzy-thing to be that "outgoing"... ;)
i really don't mind falling off boulders because i am tired or too weak. but i don't like slipping off. so this big-cat-thing was a real test. i was really close but could not send it. so i stepped back and deconstructed every move in the crux again and put it down into the ground - but there is still a sds waiting.. ;)

when you miss all the good conditions then you have to go this extra mile again. as night sessions (at 3am) and foen-wind did not work as it was just too warm in spring. the friction was really bad and i just kept sliding off the holds, even once going for the lip. so i simply went back on a regular afternoon after lunchtime and after working in the morning. it was mid may and already 20+C in chirionico at the parking. so it was way too warm. there was nobody around, no wind... but i finally had my perfect beta and the will to put this beauty (and/or beast) down before summer would hit hard with temps in the 30C range. so i did pull on - and finally did put it down into submission.

the SEND-GO was a nice one as i did just one little minor error. just loving it when the pieces finally come together and one move flows into the next :) but it was a real fight. its always a big fight for me. it never felt easy when i sent a longstanding project. never!!!

with the right beta i could have climbed this already one year earlier. but then again. i am loving the process and its also my "training" and the thing that keeps me going. solving the puzzle so every move went down perfectly and smooth into the next was what i enjoyed most. onto the next one!

finally THE send of BIG KAT  - 
a special moment when you failed for so long
- mid may, mid day - 20+Celsius - shitty friction - nobody around  - but put it into the ground
- finally the perfect go -

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