Here I am over half way through my third season in Squamish to try the Cobra Crack. The journey is ongoing and definitely one of the most frustrating and challenging projects I have had. I still haven’t reached my high point from last season when I was excruciatingly close to sending. I have however worked out a better hand position that makes the exit a little easier if I get back there. It’s a strange climb and despite the crux being difficult and powerful it has evolved into a linkage problem for me. I have done numerous one-sit attempts with significant overlap. I have even climbed all the hard stuff through from just above the hands free rest after the 5.11 intro. For some reason though the entire link remains elusive.
I feel a big difference between this season and the last was my preparation. I spent six months before last season working in a climbing gym and training. This season though I felt I needed to earn a bit more and spent the previous six months working a 2/1 roster on a mine site. I don’t feel like I lost a lot but possibly just a bit of raw power in my arms that I need for the large one arm pull over the lip of Cobra after the mono move.
|Locking up high with limited time to get the mono just right. Photo: Drew Smith.|
I have stuck the mono move from the ground 19 times now but only climbed through to the exit crimps 4 times (all last season). A bit of luck with the mono wouldn’t go astray as I feel my strongest attempts have been thwarted by issues with getting the mono correctly while I have climbed through it at other times when I felt tired. The issues generally relate to my tape getting stuck on a crystal or my skin tearing open. The lip move afterwards I have tried to find alternate beta but it really just comes down to having enough power in my arm. I can do it extraordinarily easily after a quick sit on the rope.
|Sticking the lip. The next big pull is right hand to the jam in the crack at the top of the photo with very poor/no foot holds. Photo: Drew Smith.|
|Topping out after I have fallen. My high point last season was fondling the last crimp two holds above where my left hand is in the photo. Photo: Drew Smith.|
Despite walking up the hill a ridiculous number of times and a large number of attempts I am still having a lot of fun. I am definitely reaching beyond what I would have considered myself capable and that is what keeps it interesting. A great supportive crew of people in Squamish also helps.
I also got to climb with the crack maestro Mason Earle who had his own epic battle with the cobra. After a few seasons of effort and falling of the exit crimps 10 times he took some seasons off and then came back this year stronger and on a mission. After only a few days he sent which was really inspiring. The same day I felt really strong but had issues with the mono and my skin. I was so psyched and wanted the double send day so I took the tape off the upper part of my finger for my second attempt but for some reason still had trouble getting the mono. I felt like I could do one arm chin ups on the holds but couldn’t get my finger into the jam. So I just shoved it and pulled tearing the side of my finger open. I still had a lot of energy so I taped my finger really tight and had a third shot ignoring the pain. For some reason even with the tape I got the mono and stuck the lip. I pulled hard and hit the hold over the lip but my pinkie finger got stuck on the outside so I couldn’t invert. I was noticeably tired on the third attempt yet that is my high point for the season.
|Mason cruising the exit on the Cobra Crack. Photo: Eliza Earle.|
|This was after I had cleaned up the dripping blood and shoved chalk in the hole. I taped it up and had another go hitting my high point for the season on the third shot of the day. Photo: Drew Smith.|
I have had one terrible day on micro traction since then and I feel some long-term fatigue settling in. Rest days are in order and it has got really hot here anyway. I still have plenty of time for some good attempts. Some days I think it will be next shot and then some days I feel I could easily just keep falling there all season and never send. That’s the mental challenge when projecting hard things though. My motto now is to ‘just keep turning up’. I hope I will have one of my strong attempts and the mono will go in straight away. If not I guess I will have to train harder!
|Amazing bivouac on the Sky Pilot ridge during a rest break from the project.|