Saturday, 2 October 2010

Muy Caliente

In the ‘no fall zone’ on Muy Caliente E10 6c, Pembroke
I’d never been to Pembroke before, so obviously I’ve been a bit of a headless chicken over the past week spent there. There’s a lot to do! First up I met up with Harry and the team to shoot for a couple of days with them for their documentary ‘Mastering the Matrix’. We talked a lot on camera about my perspectives on finding success in sport or tasks in general, the differences between success and happiness and misconceptions about risk taking. I’d been invited to take part in part because I discussed a lot of this in the practical context in my book. The lessons from sport for the wider world are fascinating and it was a good discussion.
After talking for ages, it was time to put it into practice. So we went to the cliffs and took some falls. We practised falling, taking 30 footers off ‘Test Case’ E3, in St Govan’s. It totally reminded me how often you have to practice falling. I was actually a little nervous before the first one. A couple of months of no trad falls and the unfamiliarity of falling plays absolute havoc with your leading confidence and climbing efficiency. If you don’t believe me you’re either a nutter, operating way below your potential, or more likely kidding yourself. After this I took the opportunity to have a quick play on Tim Emmett’s E10 ‘Muy Caliente’. Moves done first try, link done first try. Game on.

Setting up for the technical crux, the crucial nut clipped
I asked the guys if they wanted to stay an extra day and film me putting my money where my mouth is and blasting up that runout. I must say that my knowledge of Tim’s lead attempts really spurred me on to get on the lead myself. I think Linford Christie would struggle to prevent a boulder splat from 50 feet up if you fell off the end of the runout. Tim’s  lead attempts despite not having linked it on a top rope are an exemplar of taking it right to the limit. A fine effort of boldness. I linked it second go and still felt it was a serious proposition, especially while nervously fiddling in the wire at the end of the runout, all too aware of the long stretch of rope below me.
Once past the runout it’s just a matter of unleashing every bit of power in your fingers on the technical crux. You don’t want to have to do that runout again! E10? Maybe just, because of that runout. It’s certainly easier than To Hell and Back, but maybe a slightly bigger undertaking than Achemine.

Mid-technical crux on Muy Caliente

With that in the bag, I headed to the pub with Pickford and rendezvoused with the gang for the next shoot! Next up our plan was to shoot some nice climbs for a few days for Black Diamond Equipment. Myself and Tim climbing, Diff, Katie and Dave Pickford shooting. 
The next hardest route to get on was Pickford’s line ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ Originally given E9 but later downgraded to E8. However, Dave pointed out that the line hadn’t been done in one big pitch. The second pitch is E7 and was led on a separate day from the main pitch by Pickford, Birkett and Mawson (as far as I know). Dave reckoned that cleaning up this niggle would make it definitely E9.
On day 1 we had a go but sea spray stopped both of us in our tracks. Instead we wandered up some nice E5s which were lovely. Next day we got thoroughly soaked by rain and opted to just to Pleasure Dome E3 and Manzuku E1 in the wet. Once we discovered that climbing soaking limestone in gloves was easier than soggy chalk we got on fine and had a nice day.
But ‘The Brothers’ (needs to be said in a Welsh accent for full effect) needed doing to round things off. So next day after the rain stopped we were there again, this time with both of us feeling like going for it. In the end, by the time conditions were right and we were ready, the sun was low in the sky, the waves were getting closer and there was time for only one lead. So we drew straws. I won and Tim graciously let me go for a good scrap on the wall, struggling at first with warm slippy slopers on the crux, and then rope drag just where I didn’t need it on the upper E7 half. But just after sunset, I topped out with a big pitch behind me and a big smile. Video and pics from all this will be on BDs site sometime soon.
Great trip!
PS: 600 mile drive home, as always, was the most dangerous part of the trip. As I pulled up at a traffic jam I looked in my rear view mirror to see the guy behind driving along looking down (presumably at his iphone) and not braking. So today I have some minor whiplash and a smashed up car to deal with.


  1. Bon effort Dave and very jealous of an evidently great trip, bad luck on the car. I'd like to ask you a question though if I may, it's a bit technical and tedious, but better to get the answer from the only real person who can answer it than pondering about on UKC.

    You have repeated most of the UKs hardest routes over the last few years and have been helpful in attempting to give them comparative french grades and danger explanations.

    You said that the Indian Face was soft E9, F7b+ and very dangerous, that to Hell and Back was E10, F8a+ and very dangerous and that 'If six was Nine' was E9, F8a+ and death. Surely if 'If six was Nine' is F8a+ and as dangerous as the other two, then it should be firmly up there with 'To Hell and Back' (except for it being a little more positive)? Sorry for being an armchair pundit, but this topic is quite important for attempting to make some form of sense out of grading. Cheers.

  2. are those stix really orange and with a different toe hook patch than usual or it's the pic's fault?

  3. new shoes gian, been out a little while now. Franco, can you hear the sound of one hand clapping?

  4. Bravo !

    David from Pyrénées.

  5. nice one big dave !! ;)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. @Anon
    doesn't look like anything currently on the market, or, better : stix heel and elastic, instinct toe patch and colour.

  8. Really sorry to hear about your car accident. I hope you are ok.

    Tim Hetherington

  9. Rockshoes: Orange Stix. Not available to buy (which is a shame!!!)

    Franco: I did start writing a reply about the wee details that split these routes, concerning situation, length, seriousness, character etc. But it's really silly and I stopped. If you're into really understanding if one route is harder than another the best way is to go and do them all, which is what I've tried to do. If that's not possible, the next best thing is taking the consensus opinion of those that have and go with it.

  10. Cheers for the reply. I'll take your advice.

  11. Hi Dave, Any news on the BD video and pics??? Cheers