Following on from my previous post, here’s an update of my progress on Fish Eye. For some background, Fish Eye is a 50-metre, steadily over-hanging, stella line which blasts up the centre of the cliff and was established by Chris Sharma. It gets its name from the ‘fisheye’ perspective, bowing of the cliff, when you stand beneath it; unlike my theory that it was named after the ‘fisheye-like’ pocket at the top crux. After 28 meters of physical punchy climbing you reach the first crux; made up of 13 hand moves through the blue rock which take in a series of under clings, long spans and a deadpoint throw to reach the rail, where you need to work hard to gain a rest if you’re to get anything back. Following a solid move off the rail its sustained running between pockets until you gain the final open hand grapefruit rest. From there its 14 hand moves to the anchors, skipping one clip along the way, the first four moves off the rest are the critical ones.
The most frustrating thing about this route, or even Oliana for that matter, is that it has a very short red pointing window. It’s in the sun all day until about 4pm and only recently have the days been getting longer, till about 7pm now. Unfortunately this translates to one red point burn per day if you get high up on the route or possibly two burns if you fall at the lower crux. For me it’s not a given that I will get through the lower crux and so many days I don’t even get a look in at the top crux.
After four days of working Fish Eye (this trip) I reached my high point, or the upper crux, for the first time. I was very surprised to say the least. I pretty much knew all the way up that I didn’t have the fitness to see this thing through to the chains. But I was climbing it, I was in with a chance, slim but I was there, not for long enough. The second time I reached the upper crux was again a surprise. In fact it was my warm-up burn and I felt so good on the bottom crux that I just decided to keep going. I was carrying a cold pump all the way, but the whole cliff was yelling ‘Venga’ and it motivated me to keep pushing. When I left the last rest I felt pretty fresh but I guess I was so blasted and dehydrated that when I went to crimp my fingers just didn’t work. The brain was sending a signal but I stared in disbelief at my dumb digits that did not follow the command. I did not try this tactic again.
I cannot recall anything special about the third time up at the last crux, only that I fell off, again. After some more dogging I was convinced that I had unlocked the puzzle, and so I was psyched again, charged with new hope that I could send the route with my newly cut key. So on I plugged and this is how it goes. The fourth go up at the last crux I rushed the moves, didn’t seat my fingers in the shallow pocket properly, the tape slipped and so I fell off screaming, again. The fifth go up at the last crux I held the pocket, got my hips in, reached up tall for the crimp, got it, but got it badly, then my next foot placement was out, my arse sagged and so I fell off, screaming, again. The sixth go up at the last crux I had three fingers (instead of one) heavily taped with deep splits underneath. It was just ‘a see what happens burn’ and surprisingly I was staring at the high crux again. I could smell the rain in the air, the wind picked up and then the rain started, I could hear it coming. I rushed from the rest before I was ready. Again I came off screaming in disbelief as a flood of bitter disappointment hit me like a brick.
And so the rains came, they threw everything they had down on Oliana for three repugnant days. Then as quickly as they came, they stopped and the sun reappeared. And so my saga continues. The seventh go up at the last crux I was sick but fresh. I thought this time for sure. But it was not to be. I don’t know for the life of me what I did or didn’t do wrong, but I had already decided to walk away and try other routes, and so I did. When I came back to Fish Eye a few days later I was psyched again. The eighth go up at the last crux everything went perfectly. I adjusted my foot placement only slightly (as planned), drilled into the shallow pocket, grew three inches, crushed the next crimp, squeezed the life out of the right pinch and continued to the top in what seemed like slow motion. Eventually my day had come. Wow what a journey. In the end it took me 20 days in total, over two trips. Thank you Simon, and I’m sure Simon thanks that belay slave god out there once again. Thanks to Chris for establishing such an amazing line and to Daila for your inspiration and kind encouragement. Thank you Rosemary & Keith and my mother, Diane, for giving me the opportunity to return to Spain and attempt my dreams. Thanks also to Allie and Tamara for your wonderful support.