Despite the cold and the damp, Keith, Emi and I made the short treck to the Zillartal in the hope of finding dry rock. The higher we climbed, the whiter the ground became and my hopes started to fade. Emi on the other hand was confident that we would find something climbable, and since he was the only local among us, I gave him all my faith.
The initial choice came down to 2 options, the Sundergrund or the Zillergrund. The former was the safer bet in terms of dry rock as the boulders were more in the open, however the walk in was long and probably very soggy from all the snow. The latter is almost roadside, except the boulders are in the forrest so more likely to be damp. Decisions decisions...
We decided to check out some lines in the Zillergrund first, the idea being that if they are dry, we climb, and if not, we move on, having wasted little time with a long wet hike. The first few blocks we checked out were unfortunately a little moist to the touch, but just as hope had almost gone, Emi remembered a different line he had tried a few years ago.
He described Mother Firestarter as one of the best 8a’s in the Zillertal, which imediatley got me psyched and on first contact with the boulder it didn’t disappoint. Big Boulder, tall steep face, one line of friendly holds, cant really ask for more. Emi talked Keith and I through the sequence which was as I imagined it would be with the exception of the starting few moves. These, it turned out, were best solved via a crazy cross around the arête, then falling into an upside down backhand sloper, before extending out into the face edges. Wild!
Warming up was proving to be tricky. With no other problems around, it took the form of deadhanging and pull-ups on what other individual holds you could find. Keith and Emi moved on to trying the problem and i was just about to join them when Keith said he thought I could flash it. Another 10 minutes dead hanging and watching the show, and I felt ready to give it a burn. The first two holds were fortunately jugs, but led right away into the aforementioned strange sequence. I was pleased to find these few moves ok, but as I continued upwards on reasonable edges and gastons, contact with the rock became ever harder to keep. With two moves to go, I was almost certain I would slip, and as I placed my foot on a terrible smear and looked up at the final hold I did consider stepping off. An interesting character once said “Until you give up, success is always on the cards.”, and it is so true but something I forget too often. But not today. I pushed with my foot, threw out my arm, my fingers found the edge, my foot stayed on, I was at the top. Success!
Its nice to feel like I am getting back in the game. I had begun to worry that my, as yet, unsuccessful attempt to morph into a sport climber had also had major negative impact on the other aspects of my climbing. Whilst I’m definitely not playing my bouldering A game, I can now see a path to follow when before there was none. Incidentally, I am also closer to my sport projects than ever before, so perhaps the year will be a success after all?