When I was a child I was always fascinated by rocks, but I started climbing at the age of 23, right after I finished my obligatory military service.
The climbing scene in Israel was really small back then and finding routes above 7c around my area was almost impossible.
In 2002 I started developing routes up to 8c in Israel, mainly on big overhangs, because they were more accessible and near where I lived. As a result of being mostly on overhangs I became stronger in this kind of climbing style and technical slabs and face climbing were something that I just never got around to.
Back in 2007 I went on a climbing trip to Slovenia and unfortunately I broke my finger on a one finger pocket while falling. Lucky me ha?
I thought to myself “Hey if I can take the pain it’s probably not broken and it will be fine” – well I was wrong!!
The joint of that finger did not heal well, and ever since I experience excruciating pain while holding on small crimps.
Last year while climbing in Siurana Spain I realized that this finger injury has been sort of a glass ceiling for me and that I have been using it as an excuse not to push outside of my comfort zone.
I felt that I needed to deal with this issue in order to be able to grow as a climber. Pain or fear will not stop me and as we learned earlier pain also.
This was my quest for the past year, to evolve as a climber and to overcome this fear I had from trying routes that have more technical moves and small holds.
This is why I choose “Russians in space” completely anti my style route here in Israel as a goal. It was my nemesis but I knew eventually we would have to get along.
I started to train on my crimp grip and technical climbing. I devoted a year-long climbing on my least favorite style – slabs and faces. There were days that it was scary and full of pain, my broken finger looked terrible and the pain was at times unbearable. My goals were clear and so was my mind so I repeated my mantra – “Hey if I can take the pain it’s probably not broken and it will be fine” – Keep your fingers crossed for me will you? 🙂
“Russian in Space” is an old classic 8b/+ slab from the 90’s it’s been done only twice. “Russians” has small holds and requires technical skills similar to my weakness I was working on.
Remember I told you before how lucky I am? Well this route is in the sun for most of the day, and in Israel the sun can get really rough even in the winter and that just made my quest even more difficult.
The long waiting for cooler conditions with lots of clouds and no rain makes it really complicated, I think there are only 4 or 5 days each season that you can have good enough friction to be able to smear on the footholds.
I came back to the route 4 different times: Day 1 – perfect conditions had a really good go but no luck. Day 2: heavy rain that got the route completely wet. Day 3 – a heat wave in Israel…I melted on the route.
Day 4: perfect conditions!
I was checking the weather forecast like a stocker, checked all the available apps and sites, just waiting for the perfect conditions.
On day 4 I got lucky!!
Everything was perfect, cool conditions and good breeze, my mind was clear and my finger was doing okay – all I had to do is just go for it!
So…I went for it, gave all I got and sent the route! I can’t even explain how happy I was. That was the moment when I realized that it’s possible to break those glass ceilings that we all have in climbing or life. That was a perfect moment a kind of moment you never forget.