Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Coming out of stasis

Wobbling my way up the start of pitch 3
For the last four weeks there has been little in the way of climbing happening. There has been a lot of so called epics but I'm afraid they have only really involved a silly amount of alcohol and banter as Uni life kicked back in. So I'm back Brizzle and the Shire is in the rear view for the time being. A very short lived summer hopefully urges a long winter of lots of activities. But first I have to find the psyche!

Summer was a bit of a wash out this year and my logbook looks more empty than a students wallet. Its such a bad excuses to blame the weather for the lack of effort put in as many people have been skirting the grey clouds and have been pulling some wicked accents out the bag. I on the other hand had only a small amount of goals for summer which due to my appalling organisational skills did come. It left me in a bit of a sorry mood really and my passion for climbing slightly wavered...

The goal for the summer was to finally send Avenged at Ansteys Cove. A tough 7c+ with a fierce upper crux (for me anyway). But by the time it was dry and I felt in condition it was the last day of the summer! The pressure was on to clip the belay and go out in Newton with a big grin on my face. I sailed through the first section breathing steadily and keeping calm readying myself for the crux section. I took a quick rest chalked and it was time to go. Pulling as hard as I could I reached to the first of the small crimps. Left heel on, left hand over right up, pull into the constriction bump to the "good" edge and set my left in the pocket. Setting my right hand to the other pocket I soaked up the support from below. All I had to do was pull in a deadpoint into the final big pocket which marks the end of the crux sequence. A place I had found myself at time and time again. I lunged gritted my teeth and throw my head a the wall..

Then felt the familiar feeling of my stomach becoming weightless as I sagged onto the rope.


It has been something that has been on my mind for a while and really has knocked my confidence and if I'm honest, has completely zapped my psyche I just didn't want to climb.

However after having a good 3 weeks worth of drinking my sorrows away I found myself chatting to my friend Dave in the pub (we were a bit drunk) about doing Coronation street at the weekend. I huge British classic route up a never ending crack line in the middle of Cheddar gorge. Something that had been on my wishlist since I started climbing. Something that failure wasn't an option on. Could I really lead it. So many thoughts was buzzing round my head about backing out and saving it for when I knew I was climbing hard! What was I to do!

Then the call...SAFE.. echoed through the gorge as Dave clipped into the first belay. What was I doing here? 4 pitches of unknown climbing coming up with a huge pressure not to drop any move. That meant no silly mistakes and no turning back. Gulp. As I stood at the first belay racking up an air of nervousness over came me as I knew it would soon be my turn to lead the next pitch. A technical roof section had to be over come to a good wide belay!

As I pulled over the the roof I started to think a career in tap dancing would have been a better option as my leg began to violently shake. I took a deep breath a continued onwards finding the belay with not too many problems.

Originally we had said that we would flip a coin for the traverse pitch but by the time Dave got the belay it was apparent that I was going to have to take the buck. A shaky start on the initial crack wasn't the biggest confidence builder but non the less I refreshed and set off again finding myself looking horizontally across the "hand" traverse in which Dave found enjoyment in reminding me of when I started complaining that there was zero footholds! With some pretty decent skills I rounded off the pitch with both knees on a block which eventually turned into me straddling the block and finally humping my way off it to find the "relative" safety of the belay. Relative to having a gun pointed at you.

A white faced Dave approached the belay and gave a little nervous laugh when he looked that the belay. With us both clipped into 4 pegs in which have probably been there since the first accent It soon dawned that the top pitch had to fall. For me the top pitch was the worst of my worries. The longest and hardest pitch saved till last. So off I set taking every possible rest I could making 100% I didn't pump out or get too tired.

I found myself stuff my arms as deep as I could into the crack with some sketchy bridging on some small foot holds, trying to hold my nerve and remain calm. The gear jangling definitely was a constant reminder that my comfort zone was a long way from here.

A "technical" move 
After few more desperate pulls and arms stuffing I found my looking at the final 20 foot of face climbing. All of a sudden I had a hugely overwhelming feeling of excitement and almost started laughing. This was with a element of caution as I carefully pulled on the small brittle edges telling myself "Its not over until your stood on the top". Until there I found my self stood looking out  across the Somerset downs, chew valley lake and of course looking down a the huge feature that Is the Gorge itself!

5 hours worth of fannying around and grobbleing up the face had finally come to an end. What an experience! What a way to regain my love for climbing.

Thanks Dave for getting me on it and the banter at the belays and cheers Justin for the pictures!

1 comment:

  1. thanks bud! and thanks for not mentioning my cop out on the hard pitches! my head was not in the game and I doff my hat for you boosting me through it. Sullenburger next!