The route transitions from a very steep and physical start to a technical, resistance headwall where you can barely take a hand off to clip. It’s so quiet at the crag that you can hear people talking in the sleepy little village fifteen minutes’ walk away. We quickly replenished our deficit of vitamin D from Welsh winter. I’d work myself to my limit in between siestas in the sun, learning a little more about the route and, in a funny way, about myself, every day.
When you consider every variable, you realise anything can conceivably affect your progress – the food you eat, the sleep you get, how much exercise you do on a rest day, letting your hands get too wet in the shower. It becomes all-consuming. It felt like the only time I wasn’t distracted and thinking about the end goal was when I was on the rock, perfectly focused, climbing in flow. I learnt to hone that focus. To keep relaxed but in-tension and not over-weight the holds. I learnt all the subtle hip movements, the foot positioning and micro-adjustments, which clips to skip and where my eyes needed to be. I learnt that rest days need to be active, to eat well and to never forget the head game. Despite everything I put into the challenge I still fell in the same place, in the middle of the thirty moves of resistance climbing on the headwall. No matter how fit I felt when I arrived at this threshold, I always ended up falling through the air.