Monday, September 5, 2016

Chasing the shadow

Few lines are as awesome as the Shadow. Few offer such an intense experience of climbing. The Shadow is a 20 minute meditative journey that relates to normal climbing only by the fact you are using a rope and a rack.
It is the most unique pitch, intimidating and very tenacious and unforgiving to climb.
The difference between the onsight and redpoint on this route is not in knowing the sequence, since there is no sequence at all and you will always be improvising. The difference is rather in getting used to how it feels and the overwhelming intimidation of two slick featureless granite walls that you are trying to stem up between. It is about accepting the fact that you will never feel in control, accepting the peculiar feeling of a foot that could slip anytime, relaxing and going with the flow instead of fighting it.
I kept coming back to it on different days during the summer. My onsight effort was good, but it felt simply too big at that time. Then, on two consecutive tries, my foot blew due to pumped calves or a split-second of lost focus. I couldn't mind it as even those tries felt so epic, and the fall felt like somebody waking you from a dream. Yesterday, I busted out my sport climbing shoes (my TC's are worn out to the point of being dangerous), hoping for a last-ditch effort before my flight home. The tight shoes offered poorer smearing but I knew they would be solid.
I've usually sucked at the last day sending missions. I build it up way too big in my head, jitterishly fall off and am left with a bitter taste of defeat. Then I would usually take it all in, realize how cool it is to be sitting there under the cliff with a bunch of friends and how that tick never really mattered, except to the small selfish bit of your brain that is now still hurting and will make sure you will come back to the route one day.
Anyway, yesterday it all clicked and I latched onto the finishing jug with a huge smile. The Shadow was my dream pitch and I believe no sport route can match the beauty and excitement of this clean cut dihedral. This route alone is a reason to learn how to do trad. Granite is so wonderful :)
What a finish to the summer in Squamish! I feel it all passed so fast, suddenly it is September and everybody is leaving to the Valley or Smith Rock. I am returning home but for once feeling content because The Shadow was kind of icing on the cake. Peace :)
The best corner in the world! The Shadow 5.12d, on the Grand Wall of the Chief, Squamish

The 'jesus stance'

No hands! That's chill!
Many thanks to my friends who came out to belay and take photos. Martin, Daniel and Ben and Teresa yesterday for the great support. This was epic.

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