/ NEW ARTICLE: House of Cards by Neil Gresham

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UKC Articles - on 05 Sep 2013
Neil Gresham Top Trump, 5 kbIn this article Neil Gresham gives us the background to his ascent of Indian Face, a climb that almost ended in disaster...

"How can a young sport climber with such a limp trad CV, suffer such delusions of grandeur? Surely a fit of inexplicable madness was responsible, or a self-destruct button waiting to be pressed? In fact, it was neither of those things..."

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5758

nniff - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

One of the most intriguing and thought-provoking articles I've read in a long time. Well done on all counts.
ex0 - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

I liked the footnote.
Dave Foster - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Best of the trio, well written and highly evocative. Some of the lines send shivers.

"...I still look back on it with a mixture of pride tempered with disgust."
I like that a lot. Reckon most people can relate to it on a much smaller scale.
johncoxmysteriously - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to Dave Foster:

Seriously, guys. Just proof-read the ‘kin things. It takes five minutes. Less. Hell, I’ll do it for you.

Publishing things riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, and not knowing what words mean, does not add to the affect (see what I did there?). It just makes you look half-arsed.

But yes, this definitely has the makings of a good article.

jcm
alooker - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: liking all of these articles a lot, very interesting
a lakeland climber on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

+1

We, rather UKC, need Ken Wilson :-)

ALC
Red Rover - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Where can I find his account of the climb?
a lakeland climber on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to Red Rover:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) Where can I find his account of the climb?

It's the prologue to the current Cloggy guide.

ALC

Red Rover - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber: cheers
Tom Last - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant piece of writing and an enjoyable series of articles.
Misha - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
A very honest account and a fascinating insight. Interesting how the articles have been very different so far.

The typos at the start are distracting. Embedded. Folklore. More capitals in Cloggy. There's an it's which should be its as well somewhere.
Steve Perry - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: A great article that really captures the courage needed to climb such a route.
Skyfall - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent and maybe I do now understand my mate's Zen ramblings about 'enjoying the journey rather than the outcome'. Still, doesn't sound like Neil really enjoyed the journey after all ;)
Dave Foster - on 05 Sep 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Can't be arsed arguing. I enjoyed it.
Alun - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Dave Foster:
> Can't be arsed arguing. I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed it, and the other two. But JCM has a point. I occasionally had to re-read a sentence in all three articles, only understanding it after mentally inserting a comma, or correcting a spelling mistake.
Fraser on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

That's a really decent, enjoyable read. What I'd like to have heard more about though is how you recognise when you're at that 'Catastrophe Cusp'. What if you think you're at that cusp and things can only get better, whereas in fact, you've still got some way to go....and that's downwards?! A detailed, first person acount of the actual ascent itself would also have been very interesting to read.
Skyfall - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Fraser:

> A detailed, first person acount of the actual ascent itself would also have been very interesting to read.

My recollection is that this is more or less what is contained in Neil's piece at the front of the most recent Cloggy guide.
In reply to Fraser:
> A detailed, first person acount of the actual ascent itself would also have been very interesting to read.

He pretty much gives an account of the ascent in the podcast - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5760

Even more sweaty-palm inducing than the article I thunk.

Alan
Dave 88 - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Really interesting article.

I found it a bit strange about "living in the moment". So many climbs where I've been scared, the thought of how good it will feel once I've finished the route, or my desire to "get the tick" has been the factor that has pulled me through. As shallow as it probably sounds, that psychology has got me up some good routes! I liked the peak fear thing though.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Fraser on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Excellent, thanks for that I'll listen to it later.
Michael Gordon - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Fraser:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> What I'd like to have heard more about though is how you recognise when you're at that 'Catastrophe Cusp'. What if you think you're at that cusp and things can only get better, whereas in fact, you've still got some way to go....and that's downwards?!

In my experience peak fear is when you're no longer in control and about to fall off! Just 'accepting' this and calmly carrying on is a concept I find hard to understand. Surely the usual effective (sometimes) remedy is survival instinct where you just dig deeper and keep fighting (as Neil suggests he had to). Obviously this is far from ideal but sometimes the only way!

Exile - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:

I have once experienced going beyond being scared. On my first grade V on the Ben, in the days of crap ice screws, I became very scared on the crux pitch as the climbing was far harder than I thought it would be, I had no screws in and my second had informed me "Put it this way, if you fall off nothing good is going to happen."when I had enquired about the belay quality.

Very suddenly everything went calm and my inner voice told me that being scared would not help. I then became very analytical about every move and emotionally detached from the couple on near misses I had while completing the pitch. It was in many ways a very empowering experience - it really opened my eyes to what I could do.
Tony Naylor on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Exile:
Not as serious a situation, but I once had a similar experience. The first and only time I went pot-holing was fascinating, challenging (I have mild claustrophobia) and er, 'invigorating'. Half way through the route, I got left behind. The bag holding my battery came to bits and I stopped to repair it. When I looked up, everyone had gone. Properly gone - no sight or sound of them and I didn't know which way they'd gone. It's hard to judge how long it took me to hook up with the guys again. Probably five minutes, but it felt like half an hour. This wasn't the harrowing bit, but it served as background to it. The harrowing bit was a letterbox crawl near the end of the route through a horizontal gap about two feet deep and twenty feet long. That's when the claustrophobia kicked in good and LOUD. I had to tell it to STFU because I was busy and I'd pay attention later. Got through as cool as you like. And every night for the next three nights, I woke up bolt upright in bed, drenched in a cold cold sweat and scared to death :-)
Dave Foster - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Alun:

I like the way you capitalised his initials, which of course is grammatically correct ;-)
puppythedog on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to Exile: I've been in properly scary situations not related to climbing and experienced an utter calmness until it's over and then fallen apart. It's a normal process call dissociation and can be massively helpful.
Calder - on 06 Sep 2013
In reply to puppythedog:
> (In reply to Exile) I've been in properly scary situations not related to climbing and experienced an utter calmness until it's over and then fallen apart. It's a normal process call dissociation and can be massively helpful.

A subconscious decision to disassociate, or a conscious one? I've never been in anything like as extreme a situation, but sometimes the brain just takes over and shuts down its fear department.
peterbeaumont - on 07 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: nice to see mike goldwater's pic illustrating the article. we got johnny, nick and neil to go back for a photoshoot for an article for the observer magazine and set up a top rope for some pictures (which subsequently led to a couple ill informed comments on this site when one of mike's pics resurfaced years later). just the three of them had climbed it then. it was fascinating hearing them all talk about the route.
puppythedog on 07 Sep 2013
In reply to Calder: as far as I know most of the time dissociation is not a choice. The detachment from emotions I describe is at the soft end of the dissociation spectrum with Dissociative identity disorder at the other end. It can be a really useful thing enabling you to not feel in situations where you need to be calm or taking your self out of a situation completely and letting a bit of you that is not your normal conscious self take over in other circumstances.
Exile - on 07 Sep 2013
In reply to puppythedog:

Are you talking about combat? A good friend of mine has experienced similar in that situation. I, and he, didn't fall apart afterwards but did both have a feeling of invincibility. The difference between the two situations that came out in discussion was that I felt totally in control of my own destiny for the rest of the pitch where as my friend felt an acceptance that he could be killed at any time but accepted this and just tried to do his best.

(I'm not likening climbing on the Ben to combat, just comparing reactions to serious situations.)
Calder - on 07 Sep 2013
In reply to puppythedog: That sounds familiar. I've not experienced it often because I'm so much of a wimp that I try to avoid those situations, but when I have it's quite something. As is the rush afterwards.
ericinbristol - on 07 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent piece. But get a grip UKC and fix all the typos.
puppythedog on 07 Sep 2013
In reply to Exile: My experience was no combat, it was a few desperate horrible situations in psychiatric inpatient settings. Very rare for such horrible things t happen but a couple of times hey have when I've been there. At least that's my experience. there have been other health type things which evoke similar things, such as dealing with cardiac arrests and stuff.
mikekeswick - on 08 Sep 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Very well said that man. Doesn't it just grind on you.
JLS on 08 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Enjoyed this. I'd enjoy more of the same - recollections of important ascents from the people that matter.
pec on 08 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Interesting reading the bit about climbing up to place the gear and then downclimbing. I was at Cloggy a few days before his ascent, when we arrived we saw somebody halfway up Indian Face which I later found out to be Neil. We thought we were about to witness the second ascent but then saw him downclimb. Although seeing an ascent would have been better, the remarkably calm and controlled way he downclimbed E7 ground was one of the most impressive bits of climbing I've ever seen.
Michael Gordon - on 08 Sep 2013
In reply to Exile:
> (In reply to Michael Gordon)
>
> I had no screws in and my second had informed me "Put it this way, if you fall off nothing good is going to happen."when I had enquired about the belay quality.
>

Good quote!

When I've got myself into stupid situations soloing (thankfully not too often), getting breathing under control and then concentrating on climbing well rather than tensing up has been what's got me through, that and having holds to aim for.

Different type of fear I guess to the 'about to fall off' desperation!


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