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Redpointing. It’s all about the journey. It’s only a game. It might only be a game, but are we just playing with it, or is it playing with us? If it’s only a game then it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. It’s just about the taking part.
I was thinking that, until it got close.
Then it was more than a game.
If I list the 10 most important events of my entire life, probably 4 will be redpoint ascents! This is no game!
I returned to Malham on a bad forecast carrying a deflated ambition from the last rather close call. I’d done it but I hadn’t. Would I ever have the drive to push through again, and was the window closed anyway? At least the bad forecast was bad in a different way, blazing sun, and I picked out my line through the glare, seepage lines dotting the way signalling impossibility. But closer inspection showed the power of the sun as dampness tracked back up the wall. The window cracked open again, but today the gap would be marginal, the rock hot to the touch, it would gradually cool in the shade, and then the dampness would return in the evening. When to try? I waited like a pro, and then threw myself in at a calculated moment.
Conditions surprised me, warm, but no humidity; a marked change to previous cold days. Warm fingers found new texture, previously hard and wooden, now conforming to the intricacies of the holds. Suddenly I was there, the final few moves. Concentrating 100% I took on the complex sequence and held it together. The final moves up Batroute took me by surprise, pumpy and technical I closely watched my petrol gage through a third eye; dropping fast it would hit red as I hit the finishing jug. More haste less speed. There was no margin for error.
I topped the route with nothing to spare, my physical ability dropping at exactly the same rate as the difficulty of the moves, even down to the final UK 4a mantle. Then safety. Turning back the view hit me, the beautiful Yorkshire Dales stretching out into a sun soaked spring evening. I had a bit of a moment and let it sink in. It’s only a game. But I’m glad I won