Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Cave of Justice, Rollito Espana...

There are a few similarities between the Spanish Cave of Justice (Santa Linya) and the British one (Parisella's): they both give you big shoulders, they both have lots of hard stuff, they're both a bit dusty and they both have plenty of kneebars and a nice selection of big holds. The Spanish one does have one major characteristic in its favour however: it's huge...
(Photo: Gav Symonds)

Almost as deep as it is tall, standing in the back of the cave and looking out to the lip you can't help but be impressed. That the easiest way to climb from the back to the top is 8c+ should give some idea of the angle and the scale. Fortunately for those of us not blessed with Sharma's guns, there are plenty of intermediate finishes and more amenable route up the wings of the cave (though we're still talking 8b to get to the top!).

I spent a fair bit of time here last year, and was keen for a return visit as I had unfinished business with one of the classic 8cs of the cave, Fabelita. I wont bore you with the details (there's a UKC news report here for those interested) but sufice to say, we went to Santa Linya and I was the best. That might not quite be true, since Tom Bolger, Gaz Parry and Magnus Mitboe (the only man more stacked than Arnie?) were all around, and the girls were all as strong as me, but I managed Fabelita and another 8c called Ingravid Serps within the first week so I was rather chuffed. I spent the next few days falling off the top of the 8c+ extension to Ingravids - a bit gutting but hey, I definitely learnt more about pacing/resting on routes at my limit, I just wish I could've learnt a bit faster! Talking to Tom Bolger (9a machine) he's previously found something very similar to my experience so I thought I'd put it down here...

Resting makes you tired. That's it. The key to climbing hard routes. Be like Ondra - climb fast and skip the shake outs. Unfortunately, resting also makes you less pumped, and this is where it gets confusing, and why it's so easy to mess up the pacing/resting aspect of a redpoint. If the route's not at your limit you can get away with it, but when it's really hard for you it starts to matter a lot. On Ingravids Extension I found (all too late) that the best way to feel fresh at the top crux was to skip as many of the shake-outs as possible on the bottom part. This meant that when I got to the rest at the first chains I was pumped - maybe even more pumped than if I'd taken the shakes - but less fatigued as I'd been on the wall much less time. I've found a similar thing before - on Gemenis - a 40m 8b+ in Rodellar with a crux at the top - the key to success was again to skip all the marginal rests and just use the better ones, sprinting between them as fast as possible (which for me is quite slowly - despite my best efforts I aint no Ondra). It seems obvious - and maybe it is to everybody else? - but I still manage to forget it and get it wrong. The other side of the coin is that sometimes when you get to that final top crux, finding a way to quickly shake each arm before you launch into it - even if the rest is marginal - can sometimes make all the difference. Judging when to rest and when not to (and how long for) is tough, and sometimes I think you can't know until you've tried redpointing the route with a few different resting/pacing strategies, but my general experience so far has been that skipping rests low down (unless they're really good) but making the most of the ones high up seems to pay off.

Some pics...
The rest before the crux (Photo: Robbie Meade)

Shaking out after the crux (Photo: Robbie Meade)

The last hard slap (Photo: Robbie Meade)
 Ingravid Serps:
 (Photo: Robbie Meade)

(Resting at the first chains Photo: Robbie Meade)

(Photo: Robbie Meade)
(Photo: Henning Wang)

(Photo: Henning Wang)

(Photo: Henning Wang)

The one that got away... Ingravids Extension (Photo: Henning Wang)