2x 9a in a day

April 17, 2024

Written by Anak Verhoeven

The story of a very special day with a normal send and an impromptu headlamp send in the dark
By Anak Verhoeven

The Daylight Send

Cosí s’est arrêté is a 50-meter long, overhanging route in the beautiful Piscineta sector of Rodellar, Spain. A dream route for me. After working the moves I came to the point where I had every single detail of the route memorized. And that’s when I suddenly had this crazy idea: to climb it in the dark with a headlamp! Just to give myself a fun, personal challenge. But first, of course, my full focus was on trying to send the route the normal way!

That send happened on a warm, sunny Saturday with a clear, blue sky. I warmed up and then waited for some wind in the evening after 5pm.

When I started my attempt, it was still warm. I was thirsty while climbing and had to think consciously about breathing well not to hyperventilate. The light was dimmer than when I had worked the route which made it more difficult to have a clear head when focusing on beta details. But, I was determined not to let go and climbed on and on, through the upper crux, past the series of endurance moves at the very top… until I clipped the anchor! Yes, goal for the day reached. 🙂

The Send in the Dark

About ten minutes after sending this superb line I started wondering if I could maybe give the headlamp-idea a go right away, on the same day… Since I had already sent this superb line earlier that day, everything beyond this would be like a bonus. So, I figured I might as well just try it that same evening. Of course, it was easily possible that I wouldn’t see the holds well enough – especially in the crux – or that something technical would have to be adjusted with the headlamp itself. In that case I would have to work the route again first and come back later to try and send. But, somehow, I thought there was a chance of sending it straight away with the headlamp nevertheless…

 

I waited until it was completely dark and, in the meantime, I attached my headlamp to my tank top with a string I had found in my backpack. This way it couldn’t drop down in the water and I could also place it back on my head with one hand (I made sure I practiced that first 🙂 in case I knocked it off my head while climbing.

While waiting for the total darkness, I felt a familiar kind of pressure. The situation was somehow a bit similar to being in the isolation zone of a world cup late at night, waiting for my turn to come out and perform. 

And then, it was time to start climbing – with a big black void underneath and a circle of light around my head. Those first few meters felt a somewhat awkward. Everything was so quiet and strange and different from daytime. Starting off to climb a 9a like this did not feel comfortable.

“What have I gotten myself into now?”, was my thought.
As I got higher, I started being more at ease. It actually felt great! I was definitely a little more tired than during the daylight send and I could feel the humidity of the evening. When looking down I saw the small speck of light from my headlamp reflected in the river. The wall was full of little spiders that had come out at night. I had to move slightly more slowly to see all the holds and be precise, but I just kept going and going and going… I passed the first crux, and the second one. I was sure now that I could do it, but the endurance moves at the end are relentless. A few more movements to go. And… I clipped the anchor a second time in the same day! 

 

Well, that hadn’t quite been the initial plan when arriving at the crag that afternoon. And this crazy idea I’d had to climb a 9a in the dark actually turned out to be possible! What an experience, what a day.

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