It is crystal clear. Now is the time, now is the moment. It is either make or break. Right here and right now. Sounds pretty melodramatic now but at the time I was all consumed in the present. I still remember it as strongly as if it was only a second ago.
I hold onto the cool sandstone. It is neither hot nor cold. The texture and roughness on the flat hold is just right. Fingers positioned with millimetre precision to get just the right friction so that I don’t have to exert too much energy to keep contact. I find the sweet spot of balance. If you can call holding onto a rock ledge the size of a pack of cigarettes on an overhanging wall balance. I max the amount of weight I put on my feet. I am stretched out trying to relax as much as possible. Eyes closed I am in the now. I have climbed the crux of Technicolour Darkness, the rope hangs heavy on my harness. I certainly won’t die if I fall now but I will most likely go a very long way…. And most certainly I won’t get another chance at this. I have to get this right and get it right now! Slowly the Cigarette box hold grows larger and the wall less steep as I relax. I set up and do the last hard move. I have just completed the hardest route of my life.
Devil’s Peak Middle Traverse
I am running along the upper contour. The City is far below. The pace is fast but not ridiculous. I look behind and realise that they are not going to catch me, certainly not right now. I feel like I am floating along. I savour the moment alone and know that it is time to go. I slowly push the pace. By the time I reach the next marshal the moment is gone but I will savour it forever.
The new route I am trying to climb is almost good enough. It follows some pretty bold new ground up the middle of the Yellowwood Amphitheatre. Everybody had look at the unclimbed walls for ages and had done nothing about it. Lloyd and I set off to explore and like a jigsaw we pieced things together but then there was the horrible traverse left to the gully. The piece just did not fit. I came back and knew I had the iron out the kink. Now I crouch below the bulge. The gear up to this point was not perfect and the climbing moves very committing. I fiddle with some psychological gear. At least it will slow me down if I fall. I push on playing that taught violin string between lactic burnout and success. I reach the hold of no return, I cannot fail now. A calm (yes and loads of excitement) surges and I position my feet and do the final move onto the ledge.
Paarl Prison 27km
Suddenly I have caught him. I know not his name but it does not matter. We both know that the race is on. 3km to go and I push the pace. He holds on then backs off slightly. I know it is now. We are not racing for medals or money but that is of no concern to either of us. This fight is between the two of us. I hope my tactic has worked as I know I can’t outsprint him on the field. Luckily he does not come back for round two.
I have pushed my envelope for most of my life in a variety of ways. My achievements are far from extreme when compared to what others way braver than I have done. The outcome is not important. The moment is what we strive for. And as soon as we feel it so too it is gone. Point is I think we push and train ourselves to feel that moment. I have no photos of those moments but the emotion is tattooed into my mind and I seek it again.