Alzheimer’s Onsights

With age comes experience, and I would like to think I have accrued a fair amount of that over the years, and there are routes that I climb regularly and each hold is like shaking hands with an old friend. The gear is just there, the routes goes this way, and the routes are no longer unknown but more of a well remembered dance. Kind of like the margarina, but hopefully more stylish!

Anyhow, today we went to Tremadog, and I got on routes that I don’t do that much, well not all of the route anyway. Thinking I was good we ‘warmed up’ on The Plum. A great E1, only to find that someone had made the start desperate, and the rest just sustain. As well as being psychologically underprepared for the route, as I had envisaged walking up it, I was also overdressed, and by the end of the first crack was sweating heavily.

This was much to the amusement of Matt who was working on an adjacent route, who just saw my eyes out on stalks as I turned the arete, trying to place a runner, whilst the sweat blinded me. Anyway it was great after that, and I had full forgotten most of that route, until the crux on the arete, from which point I was back to familiar territory.

The next route I suggested was Vector, one of the Classic must do E2’s in Wales, and one that I am often found on when its raining, as the rock is so steep the second pitch often stays dry. However it was llion’s lead so he took that pitch leaving me the final hard pitch.

A pitch that I have avoided for many years, it is actually on a route that amusingly gets E1 called Diadec, but because you approach it from a different directions the climbing is actually easier. Anyway I stood below this groove, utterly perplexed. Almost convinced I was going to have to reverse to the belay and admit defeat. One very interesting grunt/scream/shriek later I somehow managed to morph my body into a position where upwards progress was possible, and ran up to the belay.

I often prise myself with a reasonably good memory for routes, moves and gear, however I think I managed to prove that given enough time away from a route, then you can actually forget most parts of them. My head has now stopped aching, but body has taken over in sympathy.

It begs the question, how long do you have to wait until you can ‘onsight’ a route for a second time?

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