Over next 3 years, I moved away from Manchester to Jersey and Dorset before returning to my homeland in 2011. The Tor fitness was not quite there though and it took all of last year to get back up to scratch. I had a difficult decision to make because I had wanted to get on Make it Funky as I had done a good link on this from the end of the crux to the top after doing Mecca and wanted a completely new project. However, the best laid plans are sometimes blown to smithereens and I hyperextended my right ring finger on the famous 7c+ Mirage in Ceuse summer 2011. Having sent 8a on it on the last day of the trip, the finger swelled up and an xray back home revealed that I had an avulsion fracture! A fragment of bone had been ripped away from the joint by the force of the finger bending back...gnarly!! Luckily I was back in action after 6 weeks rest with no ill effects apart from my fingertip being a bit fatter. So, the Make it Funky bolt hole mono move is no longer so feasible, oh well such is life! This is what prompted me to try the extension seriously.
Evening sessions after work were the key, this way you can get plenty of contact time, which is essential if a project is at your limit. The next problem was getting up Mecca again! I started trying again from the ground after the top pocket on the traverse got frustatingly wet and stayed that way for 3 weeks or so. Progress was slow and I began to fear I was not as strong as 4 year's ago and that I may have blown my chance by not having bouldering enough. Luckily I was wrong and it was a week's rest off the route in flying out to Pisa for a uni mate's wedding that gave me some much needed time off. Doing Full Tilt at Kilnsey last Tues, which I had been trying for years, I knew I felt stronger and this gave me added confidence and psyche.
On Thursday evening I managed to get to the last 2 moves after getting my heel on the flake and getting the next right hand crimp above, so close!! I was mega boxed though and the final British 6a moves to the final jug, which I had never fallen off before, transformed into seemingly impossible barriers and I was off skydiving back into space! 2 days' rest was called for and on the sunday, trying to keep nerves at bay, I set off on my redpoint. This time I was less pumped the whole way on the top section and had something left for the finish. Clipping the chains was a massive buzz I have to say with it being my first 8c. I would recommend the siege of a route at your personal limit to anybody, just as long as you are making progress, however gradual.
(Credit: George Carmichael)