I thought I’d written about this before, but … it seems not. Some time last year, or perhaps earlier this year, Dasniya and I went for a wander through Wedding. Up a street, along another, down a path, there to find on one side, the face of a building dressed in cleaved stone blocks, some 15 meters long and a bit over 5 high, vertical with each end a gentle overhang.
Just like my old favourite walls in Balaclava I’d spend the weekend on before retiring to The Wall to drink my one coffee for the week. I am drinking a coffee now, my second of the day. A celebration perhaps.
After discovering this wall, and having really not climbed at all in the last couple of years – though having refound my love of it last year – it took some months before first visiting. I expected it to be tough, and it was. I also expected torn fingers, blisters and the peculiar numbness that comes from grimacing on small edges, leaving each fingertip encased in a small callus.
It took some weeks, returning once or twice in each when I was in Berlin, before I could even do most of the moves and think about stringing them together. And once my fingers had been taught a lesson, it was time for my forearms to be traumatised. In the four and an half months since my first visit, I’ve been there perhaps fifteen times – less than I thought. Each time climbing a little more, longer.
It’s somewhat unpleasant an area. It could be pristine. Opposite is an old people’s home, the wall itself is beneath a large tree on a wide path. The people who walk it are locals who once in a while stop to watch or comment. If I said the corner end beneath the tree had the sweet smell of an alcoholic who’s pissed himself, it wouldn’t be a metaphor – the piss really is there, and once even, shit and toilet paper.
And the dogs not wanting to be left out line up on their leashes while their owners diligently add to the 35 tonnes of hundscheiße laid down across Berlin each day. When not raising a hind leg to spray.
I have small dreams of laying down my own concoction which would terrify the dogs into scampering home and crapping on their master’s bed. Or at least neither pissing nor shitting nearby. I did even do some weeding early in spring so the base of the wall could be found. It’s not so bad, really. Balaclava had the same problem, and I figure that regular use of my Iranische Wand will somehow discourage obnoxious bodily fluids.
Today though, I had a small celebration, finally climbing the full length left to right. I’m a long way from the level I was at where I used to do laps back and forth on the walls underneath the railway bridges, but it’s something of a return. It’s also in the style I like to climb: vertical, thin edges, balancey, and sustained. I’m not sure how hard it is, but in feeling it’s about the same as my former walls. I’ve started working on the reverse, right to left, so perhaps by the time it’s too cold to stick myself to the wall, I’ll be going in both directions. Maybe even photos next time.