Last week we went off-page and explored one of the pisa problems dredged up from the murky mires of my mind. This week our normal service resumes. There are individuals who have been waiting for this week's problem for some time; I make no apologies if I gush slightly in my description as it is one of the best problems I have done anywhere at any time. So turn to pages 178 and 179 of the Cheshire and Merseyside Sandstone guide and we will begin:
Vitalite - V6
Vitalite is the jewel in Pisa's crown; yes there are harder problems and yes
it is an eliminate, however climbing with three finger stacks does not get
better than this. The quality of movement on this problem means that as an
entity it transcends its location, environment, and the circumstances of its
creation. If it were pure this problem would have stars- lots of them (and I
would still want to give it more)! Subtle and frustrating, delicate and powerful,
Vitalite has it all. This problem deserves special attention; it should stand
proud, pure, the only problem on a huge boulder sitting majestically in an
unspoilt landscape. Unfortunately Vitalite calls Pex its home but remains undiminished by that fact.
First you will want to go and fetch a brush from your bag, one with very soft
bristles that will clean rather than scrape chalk from the surface of this
sandstone. Next find holds 16, 21, and 22 (there is no point committing to this
endeavour if it is sullied by excess stale chalk- you won't appreciate the true
feel of the rock and upward progress will be hard to achieve). Finally, before
you begin to climb, step back, breathe in and know that you are about to try one
of the best.
Start by matching hold 3, your right foot should be buried in a low pock
mark, your left should be high on hold 1 firmly set square to the wall. Now
reach up high with the left to hold 16 (to do this you will need to drop your
right shoulder to such an extent that it feels like you're looking at the floor).
Hold 16 is a very marginal three finger stack, to lock it you will need to take
your right foot out of its low resting place, kick it to a deep flag out to the
left, find the point of balance and reach with your right to hold 21. Breathe!
You should be holding 21 with a stack and it should feel like a gaston (your
right elbow should be high), rock up onto your left foot and hit hold 22 as an
opposition stack. Squeeze! Swap feet on hold 1, bury your left foot deep into
hold six, again with your heel sitting square to the wall start to rock over.
At this point you'll appreciate all the cleaning you have done- you've been
holding hold 21 for a long time and now you have to shoulder press off it.
Press off the right hand, rock onto the left foot until you reach the break.
Match, stop, think... Take some time to savour the moment. Jump down, pack up
your things and go home, you won't climb anything better this session!
Vitalite V6 from Owen McShane on Vimeo.