The Day I Red-pointed My First 7A

Below is an entry I wrote the day I red pointed my first 7A. It was a route called “Pear“, so dubbed because the route setter claimed the first ascent after eating a pear. The only pity is that I never took any photos, so all I have is a written account by me on what it felt like. Pear is located in the area called “Shieldtox” at Nyamuk, Batu Caves.

As I read through what I wrote, I can still feel the ecstasy of that day. The only two routes I wrote about in the my entry below that I never completed were Foreign Investment (7B) and November 61 (6C). November 61 because I never went back to Whitewall again since red pointing Pear. Foreign Investment because I was fading out of the rock climbing scene by the time I had deemed myself worthy to attempt such a route.

Saturday 21 February 2004

Today, I red-pointed “Pear”. The day started out as any normal ordinary weekend day. I felt excited about going out to climb because I’d been thinking about “Pear” non-stop throughout the whole week.

When we arrived at Nyamuk, Super Mei, Lil’ Mei and Leong were already there. Sim and I warmed up on “Bangsar Babes Backdrop” and then I felt ready to try “Pear”. I felt good all the way up to the start of the crux, I felt good to go, but I ruined it when I hesitated after getting the upside-down smiley. I suddenly thought of back tracking and repositioning my feet, then when my foot slipped, I lost my head and asked Sim for tight rope. I tried again two more times after hanging, but I knew the effort wasn’t there. I wasn’t really trying, so I asked Sim to dirt me.

I had pretty much written off the thought of the red-point today because it seemed clear that my mind wasn’t ready. I ended up trying “Le Futur” with Leong. I struggled on that route – my right third and fourth finger were hurting. That was also one of the reasons, I wasn’t confident to do “Pear” today – but I think I was just making excuses for myself. I found “Le Futur” pumpy, but I think my confidence was shot when my right hand wasn’t feeling strong.

Struggle, struggle, pant, pant… and finally made it up after a good bit of hanging and some tight rope from Leong. Felt really disappointed with that. I’m going to come back and work that route. It’s definitely a good route to work on my endurance on.

By that time, I was convinced that I would have to hold “Pear” for another day when Adi rocked up. Actually, it probably started from Leong’s pep-talk about the fear of falling. I was describing what I was saying to myself when I was attempting the lead and he said that I was thinking too hard about falling that’s why I can’t climb. I need to forget about falling and just climb.

When Adi arrived, he asked me to belay him on “Stigmata” – the 7B project he’s been working on. He took a whipper two moves from the anchor – I think it hurt emotionally more than it did physically. I thought he was in pain at first. When I lowered him off, he encouraged me to try “Pear” again.

I ummed and ahhed and made excuses about my right hand, but he was persistent in his encouragement. We taped up my two fingers and I went up. He belayed me. I fell after clipping in the crux clip because I couldn’t find my “L-shaped” hold. Strange that this hold has always been clear as daylight to me when I was on top rope and suddenly when I needed it most it disappeared from sight. I hung and then went up the rest of the way. I chalked the hold on the way down and rested for a bit again.

Adi gave “Stigmata” another shot, but he missed a hold halfway up just as Patrick rocked up. We sat and chatted for a while, I ate some bread, and then my inspiration encouraged me to go again. I went up and this time I made it. Once I got passed the pimple and was holding the good side pull, I knew I was home, but perhaps I was over-confident, because I did the last section slightly differently. I still made it, but I know I made it harder for myself than it really needed be. When I touched that jug above the stalagtite, I knew I’d made it. I wanted to scream for joy but I didn’t want to accidentally fall off two steps away from my moment of success.

At the anchor, I couldn’t stop the delight resounding in my head. I gave the wall my customary kiss before being lowered off.

After that, Adi nailed “Stigmata”. To be honest, he had it from the start. I’m not even sure why he didn’t make it the first time.

Patrick said that now he had more stuff to write at rockclimbing.com. He seems convinced that I am the first Malaysian female ascent on a 7, but I’m sure it is either Super Mei or Kak Lily. Whatever the case, I’ve broken new ground in my climbing journey.

They keep asking what I’m going to climb now, but I haven’t decided. I keep thinking it should be “Stupid with Manners” but they were suggesting “Chess” and “Foreign Investment” and stuff like that. Patrick keeps saying that the next 7 will come more quickly. I guess I have plenty of routes to work on:

– “Le Futur”

– “Stupid with Manners”

– “Rules of Attraction”

– “November 61”

Then I might think about trying “Chess” or “Foreign Investment”.

I’ve been reading “The Mind Gym” and I think it’s been a great help to my climbing. There are particular chapters that reinforce that I’ve been doing the right things to achieve my goals. There are also some chapters that seem to be written about me – like “Permission to Win” –I feel like I’ve been the beginner climber for such a long time that I’m suddenly over conscious of the attention and I’m not sure whether I should be succeeding.

As much I enjoy the attention, I find I’m also feeling pressured by it. I keep saying I don’t want to be any different from before, but I have to acknowledge the fact that I’m not the same person anymore. Yet at the same time, I need to hold on to the roots that I started from to remind myself where I came from. I cannot take for granted the effort it took to get here. It’s the dedication, determination, desire and most of all, the discipline that will keep me on track for that 7C I keep dreaming about.

“Pear” for me was like how the second pitch of “Monsoon” used to be for me. I was so scared to lead that at one point and now it’s so easy. One day, I’m going to come back and climb “Pear” and I’m going to feel the same thing I do now about “Monsoon”.

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