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My way to 9a or losing is also winning

21.5.2019

Every year I wanted to improve my abilities by one grade and shift my difficulty limit further. Last year I went on a trip to Oliana, which is located in Spain. My goal for this trip was clear. Namely, to send a route with a difficulty of 8c+ and to bring my limits to a higher level in this way. Before the trip, I underwent a special training and I devoted myself to it so much that I derelicted in my school duties. I just pursued something what I really wanted to do and did anything to attain that goal of mine. When I arrived at Oliana, I wanted to try to send the route called Joe Blau 8c+. The process and the progress on the route was better and better every day. But my greatest enemy was the weather. There was fog almost every day and the holds were wet. But even so, I believed I'd climb it. I knew I had to climb it as quickly as possible because I was weaker and weaker every day. The weather was not getting better and the power was leaving me. The last day before I left, I attempted it repeatedly even though I knew I was already exhausted. But I wanted to try and try it until the last minute as I would blame myself for not doing everything for it.   

As soon as I arrived home, I was unable to stop thinking of the route. I was dreaming of it and I still imagined climbing it. I couldn't wait any longer and immediately started looking for a companion. All furnished, air ticket, car, companion. I had exactly four weeks to hit the form. Four weeks later, I was there again. I was wondering the first day what I was doing here? I could not help thinking that I took on too much. That I'd rather climb a lighter route and wait for me to mature. But no!!! I said enough! What am I saying? What's going on? I just won't give it up, right? I am here to send the route and not to whimper. Stop it, and try your hardest to succeed. Suddenly, something happened in my head and I turned on the combat mode. I put on my climbing shoes, tied up on Master Pro, and 20 minutes later it was over. What? Did I really send it? Isn't it a dream? No, it was not a dream and I could bring home my first 8c+.  

One year elapsed and I wonder where to spend Christmas. There were several options, but finally the winner was the area of Santa Linya, also located in Spain. It is a magnificent cave with routes up to 9b in difficulty. I've never seen so many heavy routes in one place. I didn't know what to do first. Finally, I said to myself that I wanted to take home the first 9a and the final choice was La Fabela Pa La Enmienda. The route has a total length of 55 metres and is divided into two pitches. The first one is 8c+ and when both are joined together, they give 9a.

We stayed in a small village some 30 km from Santa Linya, called Camarasa. A really beautiful place where you can unwind yourself completely, just enjoying the beauty of nature and peace.

To get used to the local style of climbing, I decided to climb the lighter routes for the first days and to increase the difficulty gradually. I immediately sent my first 8a onsight and felt the form was not that bad. That's why I changed the plan quickly and sent the La Fabelita 8c route which I sent very fast. In addition, half of the route is the same as the La Fabele 9a route. It's time to go. Advances in the route were better and better every day. Sending this route is challenging as it is long, overhanging and difficult. After one attempt I was completely done.

Again the weather was playing with me. During the day 2 degrees below zero and fog in addition to it. Thus, the condition is zero. But what can I do? I have to deal with it. Before attempting, a 15 minute fast run to warm myself up was a daily routine. Every day, I gave more time to running than climbing J. Which limited me very much during knee rests. Before the hardest boulder, the last possible rest is the knee rest. Unfortunately, my shin is not long and the knee rest is far worse for me than for any other climber. The whole day of climbing in such a huge winter is very challenging and exhausting. Day after day my trip is getting shorter and I am not able to get over the key boulder. When you attempt a route for a long time, you get under pressure and nervousness rises. Psyche plays a big role and you have to fight not only physically but also mentally. I knew I could climb the route, but everything had to come together. Whenever having a day off, I specially trained to keep the body as relaxed as possible, without becoming stiff. I was doing forearm massages and rolling exercises. I tried to keep my head clear and rested, but whenever I saw a piece of rock, I immediately started thinking of it. With the approaching day of my departure, I began to doubt whether I was able to send the route. It is true that every day I moved a little bit higher, but after each fall I was completely dead, and the 8b was still waiting for me. Every move in the route, I knew exactly how to do it, and all I needed was only putting it all together. One day, as I knee-rested with my head hanging down, I suddenly fell down. My knee came out of the shelf and I didn't understand how it could have happened. The knee pad did not hold and the calf muscle was definitely tired. Hands after three weeks of overhang climbing were completely knackered. I had to put up with the fact that this trip wouldn't come out.

On the way to the airport I have many thoughts in my head. I put everything in it, but it wasn't enough. As soon as I sit on the plane on my way home, I think about coming back soon. Across the isle, I call on Sabča if she would not go there again, because she also started a project there that unfortunately resisted. In her opinion it's not a bad idea. I think I have to come back at all costs. Last time it didn't work out for the first time, and when I came back, I sent it. I thought it might be the same this year, and for the second time it would be a success.

Immediately after returning home, I invented a training specifically for this trip. And how does such a training look like? I knew exactly what I needed to train. My biggest weakness in the route was strength and weak calves. If I were to describe how I trained, it would look like this. I divided the week into several phases. To get a better picture of it, I'll describe the brief content of what I did. So I trained 5 times a week 12 phases and once-twice a week compensation exercises of 2-4 phases.

I'll explain it on the basis of days. On Monday I had 3 training phases – campus in the morning, bouldering in the afternoon and endurance in the evening. On Tuesday I had 2 training phases – bouldering in the morning and endurance in the afternoon. On Wednesday I had a restday but it was not a real restday – TRX exercises in the morning and a 12-km run in the afternoon. On Thursday I had 3 training phases – pulls-up in the morning, bouldering in the afternoon and endurance in the evening. On Friday I had 2 training phases – campus in the morning and endurance in the evening. On Saturday I had 2 training phases – bouldering in the morning and endurance in the evening. On Sunday I had a restday – TRX exercises in the morning and a 12-km run in the afternoon. I strengthened my calves every other day with a dead-lift and I built a similar route on the wall like the Spanish one, where I imitated the moves and especially the knee rests. Always after two weeks I had a complete restday. It seemed like this, naturally the individual phases differed by week and with the approaching departure. If I had to write it all down, we're here for tomorrow J. To remember the moves, I drew them on a piece of paper. It helped me a lot because I invented a new program how to send the route J. So far, I didn't know if it would work until I tried it, but there was a chance there. But the body could not bear the effort and something went wrong in the forearm. I had the last week before my departure and I had to leave out the last trainings. I was pretty bad at it because I was giving it all and all my time. The form slowly came in and I felt good. And suddenly a shock and all it was a waste of effort. Ticket bought, accommodation arranged, now there is no way back. If I am not able to climb, I will take pictures of other climbers and run around.

The day of departure came and the forearm seemed much better. But because I was forced to pause, my body stiffened and I felt terribly. So let's see what happens in the end.

Immediately after arrival, I get the idea to go to the crime scene that day and crawl the route. I'm tired, but I just want to try it. The sun sets in two hours, so I am pressed for time enormously. Before entering the route, I found a piece of chalked stone. It is broken into three parts, and when I put it together, I stay in shock. Shit, this is my hold!!! I look up the route and really, it's the hold. It happened just to make matters worse. I climb to the place where the hold used to be and I try to see if it can be climbed. After 10 minutes I come to a new beta how to climb it. This hold that broke out was very important to me. It served as a hold, but also as a foothold from which I made 4 moves at a time. Now I have to use the micro next to it and go high up. For me, it became more difficult and I get more swollen and exhausted forearm when reaching the last rest. But I am still able to climb. I climb the second pitch once more and go for the first attempts. I fall in the last moves on the boulder and I feel I will send it the next day. But the weather changed very fast from 15 degrees to almost 30 degrees. The only chance to climb was in the morning, before 11 am. Then the sun is beating down on the route and it becomes the Sahara. It wasn't better even in the shade. A few times I slipped out of the rest just because I had a fully soaked knee pad because of the heat. On the way back to the hostel I stop by a shop where I buy a carpet tape. What's it gonna be for? When you get your knee pad down from your leg, buy a carpet tape and stick the knee pad to your leg J. It's very effective and it definitely helped me!!!

We're not alone in the cave. There is a guy called Adam Ondra with us J. He tries to send the  Neanderthal route of 9b. One day, when Adam was attempting it and got to the hardest place, he fell. A small little piece cut him from the top. An hour later, I try. When you hear Adam encouraging you, you can't fall. I climb over the last hardest boulder and just one move remains to the bucket on the first pitch. But I forgot to lift my leg before touching the ledge from which it is easy to reach the bucket. And the very lifting of the foot was so laborious that my right hand lost contact and I fell down, yelling. I still cannot believe what happened to me. I fell down in a completely primitive move. I was very disappointed, because I almost succeeded in sending it. Adam and I were not lucky today, but what I definitely think to be a success is that I finally got behind the crux. So the chance of sending it is surely there.

The next day, Adam masters his project and I say to myself, that now it's my turn. But I couldn't get behind the crux. Even though I felt good, it was impossible. The weather is still very hot and I could only give one solid try by daylight. In the evening, in the dark, I tried it again with the headlamp, but as soon as the sun disappeared, the rock began to catch moisture and that was bad.  

The last day is here, the third climbing day, and my power is somewhere else. I don't have anything to lose anymore and I'm on my last try. My head is off and I get higher and higher. I'm resting before the final crux. Everything is perfect, I even shook up my left hand in the boulder, which I could never have done before, because I could barely hold. Now I can climb it. When I go to the last hold, I don't hit and fall down. I have mixed feelings. I'm disappointed on one side, but it is not the right word: I'm totally pissed off that I fell down again, but on the other hand, I'm happy again that the odds are still there.

There are several things that need to come together in order to move your maximum. Namely the form, the weather, the psyche and some others. I thought I'd really climb it, but I failed. The trip won for the second time, but it's not over. I will come back to you and I will win, because I will not give up. I won't be able to go back this spring because I wrote a bachelor's thesis and the cave conditions are bad, so I plan to do it in autumn. I don't take it as a loss. I take it as a win, because the training and the time I devoted to it were not a waste. I got a little further, even though I didn't send it. There's a chance to send it. I believe that someday I will succeed and move a little further. If you follow your way just as I do and you believe, it will work. Maybe in a week, maybe in a few years, but until you stop believing, there's still a chance. Well, I see that I have written a long story, so I hurry again to continue my training. Autumn is coming and time is running out, so I wish all readers a lot of motivation to practice, and have fun!!! Bye, Denis.

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