Mission accomplished!! I have redpointed Kalea Borroka f8b+
Sunday 5th April 2009 was the day it happened. It was one of the nicest days we’d had for ages, Tim had come out the day before, and I was super psyched- so there was nothing else for it- I had to do it!!
We’d been told that the good weather wasn’t going to hold, so I was pretty determined that Sunday was going to be the day. Also, as nice as El Pati is, Kodo and I were ready for a change…Rodellar was calling.
We rocked up in the morning; Ben Heason had kindly said he’d belay so that Tim could be free to do some photos and videoing. I decided to get straight on KB by way of a warm up, the first four bolts are almost like a trad route- on one section I back and foot up a small chimney- so it’s not too much to ask from the arms but then you are into the first hard part. It’s a burly crack that unfortunately I couldn’t find any jams in, just weird upside down layaways with a wobbly, knobbly hold to clip off (I was terrified I was going to pull this hold off before I redpointed the route as it’s like a milk tooth, just needs a quick tug. If it had come off, this section would definitely feel harder.) Having come up with three possibilities for this burly bit, I went with my most recent sequence- and it worked! Before long I was hanging from the awesome toe hook at the half height rest contemplating the crux. Since I’d got this far I thought I’d carry on and see what happened, I was feeling surprisingly good considering I normally need quite a while to warm up, I’m a slow starter. Tim was pottering about looking at angles and as he hadn’t seen me on the route before probably didn’t realise that I was doing quite well on it. I hoped he would take a couple of pics just in case I did do it.
I climbed the next tricky bit, which leads you to a flat shelf where it’s possible to get a bit of a breather and compose for the crux. Unfortunately, these holds were damp with condensation from the night before and as had happened on my last day on the route, I had to grip very tight just to hold on, there was no chance of hanging out and getting a breather. So I pulled into the tiny fingertip undercut (the scene of my nasty fall a few weeks before, it’s always slightly damp and consequently made me nervous every time), got through the move and was into the crux. Wow, could I do it? Well, I was going to try. I still felt really good, so with confidence I was grabbing the holds and ploughing on making it to the last crux match on a very small hold. Only I couldn’t bring my left hand through to match. I was hanging on for what seemed like an age, fiddling with my feet but just couldn’t move my left hand. Fatigue and bewilderment kicked in and my fingers gave out. Hmmm… I wasn't too gutted about falling off, as I certainly wasn’t expecting to do that well first go. So I pulled back up and had a closer look at the move to see why I couldn’t do it. I still don’t know why I couldn’t do it but the consequence was that I changed my foot sequence and it made this section quicker and easier- BONUS!!
Ironically, after all the bad weather we’d had, this day turned out to be a scorcher. No complaints there as I am a bona fide sun lover but it meant we had to wait until the early evening for the temperatures to drop. The small holds on the crux would definitely be hard to hold in the mid afternoon sun, so there was nothing for it, we got down to some serious sunbathing.
After about five hours, I was feeling slightly pent up to say the least. The sun was off the bottom but crucially still on the top crimps. In an ideal world I would wait at least another half an hour after the sun had left these holds and they had cooled down but as soon as the sun went off them, I scampered around getting ready; patience was never one of my strong points!
As the first hard bit is low down, I decided to get straight back on it without warming up, if I fell off it was easy enough to lower off and start again.
Feeling surprisingly relaxed I pulled on the starting holds. The conditions felt good, I felt good, things were looking GOOD!
The burly hard bit didn’t feel that good, I shakily made it through, pulling on a greasy slot and snatching for layaways; my upside down knee bar was a relief to slot in. I relaxed a bit here and started to get back in the zone, the holds were drier and I still felt strong. The next section before the big halfway rest had never been too much of a problem but the last move to the jugs was always a bit of a throw; by no means a forgone conclusion but I managed to do it almost statically which felt nice.
Whacking my toe into the jug pocket and hanging off it was a comforting feeling, although I didn’t feel that pumped; effectively having a third arm to hang off was a benefit. I don’t know how long I hung here at the halfway point and shook out, I’m guessing it was 3-5 minutes. However long it was, it certainly allowed me to fully recover and pretty much feel like I was starting off the deck again. I was hoping that the flat shelf 15 foot up was going to be dry this time, I just needed it to not be damp so I could relax on the holds and retain my reserves for the following moves. Leaving the big rest feeling good but slightly nervous, I ploughed on up. The steep angle starts to lessen here, so the holds get smaller and smaller and the style starts to change. Reaching the flat shelf, I found to my relief it was bone dry. Yes…the first time for a while, surely this would give me the edge to make it through the crux on this occasion.
Apprehensively, I pulled into the fingertip undercut (my nemesis hold) and basically locked bloody hard. I was NOT going to ping off it and I WAS going to latch the two-finger pocket!! Which I did…and then the crux started…
My focus was total at this point failure wasn’t an option. I got through the first few moves and made it to the small crimp that I hadn’t managed to match my left hand onto in the morning; this time with my new foot sequence freshly sorted, I matched easily. Yes, I was in. But then I realised the next move was going to be hard. My elbows were going, finger strength fading, noooo, I do not want to come back up here again and I have to latch that next hold. So I slapped with waning strength, gravity was pulling my body backwards but my fingers got the hold and with all my inner reserves I told them not to let go. It worked, I was still on the route, woohoo!! With a powerful high step to get through another good hold and rest was reached- Phew. Only another twenty foot to reach the belay this next section isn’t super hard but not super easy either. There are some small holds to pull on and if I had any fatigue in my forearms they would be difficult to hold. So I shouted down to Ben that I was going to take a little while here to chill and recover.
It was a weird few minutes. I was moments away from the possibility of redpointing my first f8b+, I was still climbing yet it felt like I’d stopped. I was happy but still anxious about reaching the belay without falling. I was able to look around at the beautiful view I had from my lofty position 35 metres up, I was in the sun again and enjoying the warmth. But I couldn’t hang here all day shaking out, at some point I had to move. So I stared going trough the motions of getting my hands in the correct position for the heel hook I was going to put in on my handhold. And then I was climbing again before I even realised it. The heel hook move worked which was a relief, as I had never felt that comfortable with it and then I was enjoying myself again. I felt way strong on the holds and knew I wasn’t going to fall off, this felt great. Then I got to within a few feet of the belay and had a little pause. Having only been there once I think, I was slightly thrown. I knew it hadn’t been hard at all but I didn’t want to mess up. There was a good hold a bit of a rock over and then I couldn’t see the next hold, so I grabbed a small flake side pull that had never been used and was convinced I was going to pull it off. But to my relief it stayed where it was and I pulled over onto a pedestal under the chain. Finally I had made it. I clipped the chain very inelegantly; I was crouched down gripping on for grim death as I didn’t want to slip off. I looked like a complete beginner, if anyone had seen they have laughed their socks off. I’d done all the hard climbing below in a nice fluid style and then clipped the chain looking like someone with chronic arthritis of the spine!
I shouted down to Ben that I’d made it and feeling extremely happy and relieved was lowered down.
Applause and congratulations from onlookers welcomed me down and I stumbled around with a silly grin on my face. A bottle of celebratory beer was soon found and we clinked bottles underneath one of the most fantastic sport routes I have ever done, wow what a line…