Gaz Marshall getting ready for a rollercoaster ride on Firestone E7 6b, Cairngorm. Click on the pics for a bigger view.
Last week I had an excellent day out with Gaz over on Hells Lum. Gaz was after his first E7 and had been working on the unrepeated (?) E7 Firestone by Julian Lines. Firestone is a perfect piece of granite. Worn perfectly smooth by ice and water, it’s quite beautiful to look at. It’s also quite weird, if you stand on a particular part of the hillside, it looks easy angled enough to almost run up. I can tell you, it doesn’t feel like that when you are on it.
Gaz was clearly juggling the sense of being within striking distance of leading his project that day with the questions about when is the right moment to go for it. How much des excitement cloud the judgement. Only experience tells you. And experience is got the hard way and no other.
So, he went to find out, and started padding up the slab. I hung on a rope and shot pictures for some time as he got higher and higher, but suddenly became aware that he’d stopped one move before the end of the difficult section, and everything had seemed to go nauseatingly silent. Still looking through the lens, I felt my mouth go dry as I watched him try several times to replace a sliding foot before suddenly launching both hands into the air, windmilling wildly and shouting “NAHHH I”M OFF”.
I wondered what to do. As he turned and fell, I realised I was most likely about to watch a mate break his legs. So quick thinking allowed me to put off bracing myself for it by simply carrying on shooting pictures as he went for the big ride down the slab.
I can tell you he was going pretty damn fast by now!
Impressive body pasting to maximise sliding friction, together with a fine land-and-roll down the boulders technque. Allowed Gaz to take the 12 metre fall, then get up and start laughing his head off. Thank god for that.
Claire reckons it’s witnessing scary climbing antics from behind a lens than from belaying. But this did me little good when it was my turn to solo Firestone next. I made it, but I must say I prefer having holds to squeeze harder when I get scared. Full points for steeliness went to Gaz though for limping back over to the route, walking wounded, and going back up it to finish the job! A fine example of grit you don’t see very often now.
This doesn't really need a caption, does it? Gaz’s blog about the adventure is here.