There's no doubt I've over done it.
I've had the opportunity to climb my project every night, bar one, for 6 nights.
2 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on and to use the old cliche, I feel like I've gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.
For me, Solstice isn't for cheap or for easy.
It's the very edge of my ability and I love to climb it, but the more I do - the more I think that it might not be very fond of me. I'm bruised and battered and my muscles ache and I've cuts and scrapes everywhere.
Not so attractive, but at least I know I'm trying hard.
So last night marked 3 days on for me. Met Ron in town and we drove out to the Cave. I was totally psyched and my body felt strong and ready to get my project done.
On the way to the Cave I asked Ron if he was heading to Wicklow to climb his new route project at the weekend. He responded and I misheard him. What I thought Ron had said was that he was going to visit his new line on Monday.
What he had actually said was that he had visited the line last Monday - so my total lack of reaction and disinterest and no further questions on the matter caused a little confusion, but once Ron repeated what he'd said the penny dropped!
He went on to tell me that he'd sent his new line in Luggala and I thought, Wow - that was pretty good going last weekend - Solstice ticked and a new line in Wicklow!
Hard boulder problem and a hard trad route. Awesome!
We arrived at the Cave and after warming up I got straight to work on Solstice (7a+) - conditions were not what they have been in the last 3 weeks though and the start of Loco was very damp indeed.
So damp in fact that I was spat off the line just before the knee bar rest at the jug.
I took a minute to recoup and watched on as Ron pieced together bits of Maneater (7b+). With no beta he was starting from scratch. The only information he had on the line was where it started, where it finished, and the direction it took.
I figured out quite a bit on Solstice yesterday evening and it's nice to see that even though I didn't finish it, the attempts I took on it were the most solid of any session I've had before. I took three real attempts on the entire line and was utterly gutted to have fallen on two of them. It broke my heart.
It's at times like those that I have to remember that I've never climbed this hard before and the fact that I know I can do the moves and just have to link it together, which WILL happen soon enough, is real progress on my climbing.
As each of my attempts passed, Ron was looking more and more solid on Maneater and suddenly looked like he might string the whole thing together.
I had watched him arrive at the Cave, knowing nothing about the climb and about 2 hours later, he was ready to go for a complete attempt.
Daylight was spent though, and so he threw on my head torch.
On the way to the Cave Ron had said that his wrist wasn't feeling the best after Monday's send of his new trad route in Luggala. I suppose this is the reason he worked out a sequence on Maneater where one doesn't really need one's hands at all.
He moved through the line smoothly from one knee bar to the next, stopping here and there for no hands rests. It just looked casual. Dark as it was when he arrived at the final crimp before the glory jug at the end, neither of us could really see that the crimp had seeped and become wet.
Ron put his fingers on the crimp and immediately knew he was in trouble. I wondered what the problem was, because the end is a well rehearsed, comparatively simple sequence. Ron stayed quiet as he made a go of the final move to the end, but his left hand exploded off the wet crimp and he was denied his first complete attempt on the line, as he dropped to the ground.
Never one to give up, we simply sat and waited until he was ready to go again (I had finished at that point) We plied the end crimp with bog roll and the plan was to chalk it up if and when Ron made it to the final section.
Make it there, he did and it was prepared as dry as it could be. Crimp made, right hand over to the Glory Jug, matched, Job done.
Ron had arrived at Maneater, worked it out and sent it all in one session. Interestingly he said that with his sequence on Maneater, Solstice seemed harder.
Which made me think - if I get Solstice done - can I squeeze a sneaky send of Maneater in before the Cave season is over?
Or is it just that Ron is unstoppable?!!