The first problem in the Triple Threat goes down! What is the Triple Threat you ask? What are the other two, because it wouldn’t be a Triple Threat with only two threats, would it? Or four. Or even seven. Then it’d probably be a Septuple Threat, and that just sounds ultra-gehy.
First off, it’s time to do some learning.
Morse code was originally invented in 1836 by three ’Muricans, Sam Morse, another dude, and another another dude. Natural geek-nerds, they were afraid of polite conversations with young ladies, and so they devised a method whereby they could send code via electrical current to a thing that then measured it onto paper-tape. A bunch of indentations and spaces made up characters, which they could then decode into useful phrases like, ‘Watch out, young ladies approaching’, or, ‘Check it out, chums, I found a pumpernickel’, and so on.
Morse Code was then used in Word War One for sending short, concise messages to your buddies in the other bunker, or trench, saying things like, ‘Sup, Doc cut my leg off coz it had gangrene, lol,’ or, ‘It’s a bit muddy in this trench, how’s it in yours?’ and so forth.
Morse Code is ALSO the name of a boulder problem in Spittle Hill, and while it’s not afraid of young ladies or has gangrene, it is harder than it looks. If you think it looks hard, then it’s still harder.
Why? Well let me break it down for you like Vanilla Ice, who was like Eminem but shitter. Morse Code was first climbed by none other than Master Thatcher himself back in 2007. That was the year, you will recall, that Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz split up, Lindsay Lohan crashed her car and checked herself into rehab, and perhaps bizarrely of all, Rolling Stones’ Guitarist and Vampire, Keith Richards, mixed his father’s ashes with cocaine and snorted it.
Thatcher climbed Morse Code to the top and graded it, laughably, V9. I suspect that he, too, had been high on a heady cocktail of coke and Keith Richards’ dad’s ashes at the time. It would then go unrepeated for a millions years. Until now. Well, until the other week when I did it, but I just haven’t posted about it because basically I was lazy. And since that fateful year, the grade of this monster-beast has steadily crept up to V11, which I’ll confirm here and now, on record, for want of any reason not to. I could grade it V6, or V14, because I doubt it’ll see another repeat any time soon, and not many people would even care.
Why? And why am I starting so many paragraphs with the word ‘Why? Because it’s a very specialised boulder. For a start you need to really like monos. And then you’ve got to be quite good at slab-rock-over-finger-mantles-on-shit-slopers-with-scary-top-outs. I’m good at one of those things, and notoriously less good at the other.
That’s why, when I first tried it back in 2011, I really enjoyed the first move (a tricky dead-point cut-loose stab to a mono). The rest of the problem was dirty and mossy, so I never really went back.
And then this year I cleaned it up and started projecting it. I thought, ‘I can smoke the first move, so this rig should go down pretty quickly.’ It didn’t. Not at all. I won’t elaborate on the exact beta, but suffice it to say I thought it was done after the first move crux. What followed was months of off-and-on attempts, all ending in bafflement, frustration, rage, despair and mild indignation. What I assumed was the obvious method turned out to be a dead end, and the method I had the most progress with was awful, undignified and uncomfortable. I set about trying every which way I could to get past what would end up being the red-point crux, all the while doing egregious harm to my middle finger. We all know Master Thatcher’s brain is a massive hard-drive full of precise beta, useless climbing trivia and carrots, and that he can give you a detailed run-down of how to do every single problem in the known universe, but when I asked him how he did the top of Morse Code, what did he say? ‘Oh I can’t really remember…you just sort of do…and then hold the…and then go hurg and twist on the…and go to the top, ay?’ Those may not have been his actual words, but either way, I was sandbagged! Sandbagged I say!
In the end, the breakthrough came when I sucked it up and stuck with the beta I thought was crap. I ended up in a very compromising position halfway up the boulder with my arse flapping in the wind, high above a sloped landing protected by one of Black Diamond’s signature pillow-soft crashpads, trying to mantle a very small hold with both hands and both feet. Not the prettiest of ascents, but it did the trick.
(These pics were taken ages ago, when I naively thought the top was easy)
Now, you’re still asking what all of that has to do with a Triple Threat? Well I’ll tell you. There’s three mono problems I’ve collected into a group, and would like to do at some indeterminate point in the future. I won’t set myself a date goal because I’ll probably fail. The other two are King Line Project, and I know what you’re thinking, that it doesn’t have any monos, but you’re wrong! Just like Morse Code, it’s got a first move crux throw to EITHER a pocket or the mono beside it, followed by a series of large spans between good (apparently) holds. If you’re not sure what King Line looks like, it’s this majestic limestone beauty:
And the third arm of the Triple Threat? Why, it’s Angel of Pain, of course!