It has come to my attention that my blog has been more than a little inactive recently, and due to complaints from climbing partners, I feel under such pressure that I have decided to write an update....
I haven't been out that much since February, though I planned to since I'm going to Ceuse in June and I wanted to be ridiculously strong for it. However exams, lack of motivation, and a trip to Rome kind-of put paid to it, although I have managed some climbing.
I've had two very unproductive trips to Dumbarton; on the first I did some easy problems, then tried Gorilla, which I didn't get. In fact I never got the first move, but I think that this was because I was scared of the top out, so that in a way I didn't really want to get there. I don't have a whole load of experience of climbing at my limit, but increasingly I find that if I'm not very motivated to do the thing then it won't go. I confirmed this with my second trip to Dumbarton, trying Persistence of Vision. I was a complete wimp and didn't even get to the top, since the motivation wasn't there.
In short I'm looking for the psyche, which occasionally deserts me. I went to Ceuse at a similar time last year; I went leading 6a and left having done a couple of 7a's. I put this down to psyche. I think it's easy to be psyched in Ceuse since you are surrounded by so many other good climbers, all you do there is climb, and in particular last year I was there with Ben Litster and Nick Duboust, probably some of the most psyched people you could meet.
Anyway back in Scotland I went to Cummingston with my girlfriend and had a really nice day doing easier routes, though I think she was a bit cold.
Moving into May I visited Kyloe In and Out for the first time, with Sam Clarke, and was pretty impressed by both of them. It's interesting going climbing with Sam since he has basically done everything under E5/F7C within a 3 hour drive of Edinburgh. This works well for me as I only moved to Edinburgh last September to study physics at Edinburgh University. I did all the classic easy problems but didn't make any headway on anything harder.
A couple of days later I had a better time at Upper Cave Crag, Dunkeld with Sam, Dan and Ross from Kingussie. It was a good day as I lead my first E1, which in writing doesn't seem like such a big deal. I know that the climbing is technically well within my ability, it's just the execution and the fear, which I guess is what trad climbing is really. Sam lead the first pitch of Squirm Direct, then I decided to lead the second pitch of Squirm (E1 5c). I was reliably informed that the crux was short lived and then the climbing was very easy. The crux was over very quickly and easily, far more so that the rest of the route. I began to have misgivings when I placed a nut behind a flake, tugged on it and watched the flake moved. The misgivings became rather more pronounced as I moved up the loose, slightly wet, overhanging flakes, occasionally noting the rope stretching a long way down to the peg just above the belay. A bit of a panic ensued, which I fought through and eventually found myself on the top, a very relieved person.
I find with trad climbing, where the moves themselves are not very hard for me, motivation is less of a factor. I don't need to be terribly motivated to do the route, just fairly calm. I have since climbed another E1 - Dead Ringer at Limekilns, and found it far more enjoyable. However, I couldn't honestly say that it was particularly enjoyable while I was climbing. In retrospect of course it seems amazing, and I do feel good having done something which I feel is an achievement. That said, I'm not sure if I enjoy climbing better at the time if I'm climbing something easier, say VS or F6a. But E1 is still not my limit, so I think with more experience climbing at this level will become more enjoyable, at which point I will probably be trying to climb E3's and wouldn't be satisfied by climbing an E1!
So in Ceuse I plan to do a mixture of pushing myself hard and climbing lots of easier routes. Last year I loved the routes at Demi Lune since I felt comfortable on them and was able to enjoy the climbing at the time. I would also like to do some onsighting in order to get a lot of routes done and improve my trad climbing. Then again, I need to do some routes at about F7b/+, otherwise I wouldn't feel I had done much worthwhile! I go on the 3rd June.