In Smallness

Posted on: July 1, 2008

Shane Trudell

In verdure and bloom, spring brings a shrugging off of long worn ermine coats and an unfettering from the frozen shackles of ice and snow. The season of birth and regeneration, my parents clean the attic and my neighbour loses the doors on his truck and the sleeves off his shirts. All of his shirts. For me though, spring is Project Season.

Project Season marks the end of the perfidious winter cycle, nights spent keeping warm in pubs and whisky, and days spent expiating myself by training. Crags proper are ample recompense for the gloomy basement woodies and apartment hangboards I trade in, but spring rock comes bearing gifts; Sending Temps. Ephemeral and transient, sending temps are the perfect axis of cool air temperatures, low moisture content, and your own balanced chakra that most maximizes skin-to-rock friction levels. These are the heavenly machinations of your potential moment, when the moon and stars, the sun and seas have aligned to await your move.

With sending temps in hand, the final task (that is, the final task before actually climbing the thing) falls to you; to focus your Qi. Few actually know what it is beyond a game saving Scrabble word somehow related to the East. To focus your Qi is to become one with the Proj, one with Nature, and one with yourself, a synthesizing of all the shamanistic rituals, New Age aphorisms, and quasi-scientific methodologies you’ve haphazardly picked up along the way. Melodramatic solipsism? Of course, but how else to dance with such lovely reticence?

This season’s project requires the suitor to be equally versed in all styles of climbing. With subtle linkages through desperate holds, the full arsenal of technical trickery from the arcane to the modern is needed, from banal deadpoints through to duelling heel hooks, advanced scums, and even the Double Egyptian. One particularly enigmatic sequence that I had thought perfect for some avante garde Rodeo beta forced me regrettably into the French style, employing a series of extreme back flags that proved crucial, if out of fashion. As for the crux sequence itself, the only option is a cross-under move so vicious it seems more Vampire than Rose.

On route again, I look up to scan the holds I know so well, but I see fors the first time above me still, the whirling, infinite gyre of space and star. With visceral clarity, I see the timeless massiveness of the skies and as if burdened by its physical weight I am pulled whipping from the wall. With tidal force my perspective is shaken open by the mocking nihilism of a universe built of such magnitude. Everything is made small and insignificant; this route, myself, this whole anthropic enterprise. Yet bounding, back from reverberations on the outer un-edges of time and space, my perspective rushes to me. In such a scaling of focus wherein even the rising of the sun is rendered small, I can’t help but revel in that smallness. Where everything is equally small, all have equal claim to beauty and significance by that which we put into it. Enveloped in a calm I feel the rope stretch as I’m softly caught from yet another fall. With epiphanous momentum and intensity my sense of focus had left completely and come back stronger, more well rounded, more robust, allowing me to contentedly live and climb knowing there are no big projects, just big worthy beautiful efforts.

So lightened, if not nearly enlightened, sitting at the end of the rope again, I can’t help but think that maybe now that section will go with the Rodeo beta...