[Author’s note: this was originally written in the summer of 2016. Basically an entire year passed between when I decided to start a blog, didn’t post anything, and then decided to write another post, which also remained in my drafts folder until now, a year later. The only update to the story is that I still fall on Psychosomatic all the time. Not always though!]
Yesterday marked the end of a three year battle with the longest standing project I’ve ever had. Psychosomatic, a 5.12d at Little Si, was surely going to be my first of the grade, a groundbreaking revolution that would usher in a new era of me slaughtering 5.13s left and right. That’s what naive young Brittany thought back in 2013, the first time she one hung the project. The thirtieth time, however, and even the fleeting memory that there had ever been a positive thought about the climb was nowhere to be found. All summer long, I would diligently try and do my time on Psycho, three burns a session, two or three times a week. It was a new grade for me, so I was expecting to have to work hard at first, that’s how it goes, right? Soon enough I climbed 5.12d, and soon after that 5.13a, yet I still couldn’t do Psychosomatic. No longer interested in chasing the grade, I somewhat lost my investment in the climb, though when I went to Little Si every now and then, I would still inevitably find myself hanging there at the last bolt before the anchors, yet again having fallen off the crux.
I can’t give a very accurate estimate of how many times I fell off of Psycho, because after you try a project so many damn times they all start to blur together. One attempt I do remember though, because it was the one where I decided I was officially giving up. I had tried switching up my beta several times that day, eventually coming crawling back to what had never failed to get me that fateful one-hang but never closer. I failed to execute once again, and something snapped. I had a meltdown on the wall, kicking and swearing and not even trying to hold back tears. I was high enough off the deck that no one could bear witness to my shame, but the burden was heavy enough that I knew this had to be the end of this project. I would come back one day, when I was either physically or emotionally stronger, and Psycho would meet its match once and for all.
The problem with Little Si is that there’s only so many climbs. No matter where you stand on that narrow ledge, you can’t ignore a climb that remains a skeleton in your closet when it stares you down even as you’re getting on something else. It was always there in the back of my mind; my greatest failure as a climber, and forever the one that got away. I switched to Chronic and eventually sent that, thus climbing two full grades harder than the numerical value assigned to my nemesis, and even used Psycho as a warmup for it, under the charade that I really only cared about the real project. If I just so happened to put down Psychosomatic in the process it was just an added bonus, but I could never commit to projecting it again.
With that mentality… yesterday it happened, just like that. On the warm-up go, as per usual, I climbed up to the crux and barely felt pumped, but the last few times up had felt just as good and still ended in thinly veiled disappointment. There was no desperate yelling or magical clicking of beta, but instead I grabbed the last jug, clipped the chains, and confirmed my send to the shocked crew of my friends who had all witnessed at least a portion of my dozens of previous attempts. Being able to finally put Psycho to rest should have been cause for celebration, but the dominating emotion I felt was more along the lines of genuine relief. I no longer would be haunted by the endless one-hangs, and now have become finally free to start getting shut down by the extension…