It is about a month since I arrived home from Sweden. It was probably my most successful climbing trip to date. I managed to climb fourteen out of the seventeen days I was there and in that time managed 33 boulders of 7C and harder including two first ascents and three 8A flashes.
I had booked the trip to climb one problem; The Hourglass. This stunning piece of rock has been on my ‘to-do’ list since Stefan Rasmussen made the first ascent in April 2010. The line, the rock quality and the movement are all phenomenal making it, in my opinion, one of the finest boulder problems in the world.
Although I accrued a good tick list whilst in Sweden the aspect I was most proud of was my mental ability to actually climb The Hourglass. I had booked this trip for the sole purpose of climbing this boulder and this meant I had put a certain pressure on myself. This was not only an internal objective but an external one too, if anyone asked what I was keen for in Sweden I was honest. I wanted to apply a little pressure and see how I coped with this, after all it is normally the mental side of climbing where I am found wanting.
In the end it took three sessions. Session one was awful; it was too warm and I was tired from travelling, in fact it was so awful I didn’t even manage all the moves. Not a great start. I took some time and got some other great problems under my belt. My second session manifested itself in a funny way. It got to six o’clock on a rest day, the wind had begun to blow and the stifling temperatures of the day had begun to recede. I got excited and went to have a play. The session went better than expected and I, surprisingly, got really close on a couple of occasions. I knew that the weather looked perfect in two days time and so I packed up my stuff, content with the progress I had made. Sure enough, upon awakening two days later a chilly breeze was blowing, the temperature read seven degrees and the sky was a blanket of cloud. It was time for session three! Fingerboard warm up complete I put my shoes on and taped my tips. I climbed the stand start and then had a go from the bottom; I felt good and the rock felt grippy but I came up short on the fourth move, a deadpoint to a small right hand crimp. I didn’t feel tired, I had just been unlucky and so tore the tape off my tips, chalked my hands and got straight back on. I would love to say it felt easy and all went smoothly but that would be a lie. I tried hard, dug deep and made the odd grunt in the taming of The Hourglass but rolling onto the boulder at the top felt great. Elation, relief and complete and utter happiness coursed through me. I normally choke when pressure is applied even when I know I am capable. So often I fall short but this time something was different.
With the pressure off and the weather looking good the rest of the trip just got better and better until the rain came with four days to go. Normally this rain would leave us housebound but I was motivated and still had a bit of unfinished business. I was amazed what I achieved, with a bit of hard work and a lot of paper towel, over these four days and this started me thinking about why I had chosen to get out in the rain while everyone else stayed at home in the warmth. This, however, is another story for another time….
Thanks to Stefan and Sanna Rasmussen for putting me up, putting up with me and showing me around the wonderful bouldering areas that surround Vastervik.
The video below shows my ascent of The Hourglass plus other classics from the area.