Wednesday, 21 December 2011
How on earth?
I did have a plan to do a few easy winter routes before trying a couple of harder new lines I have an eye on, but curiosity for the hard routes rapidly got the better of that. I just had three tries on a fantastic new line with a 6 metre horizontal roof. The first attempt was a bit of a poor show to be totally honest. Climbing with tools is definitely feeling a bit alien still, so I did a lot of craning my neck looking up at it and making various excuses.
There’s nothing wrong with doing a bit of training on the job though, so I went back up with Kev and fully attacked the roof. The rock is so smooth cut and featureless that it seems to be better to cut onto one tool on quite a few of the moves rather than even bother trying to get crampons to stick to overhead and distant smears. I pretty much gave up though as I just couldn’t find a way to do the move around the lip. The gap between the hooks seemed just massive and I couldn’t find anything to get my feet on at all.
It’s hard to give up so easy though. That night I dreamed up a method involving throwing a foot overhead into a potential heel-toe and climbing feet first around the lip. When I went back up with Michael, it didn’t work. Not even close. Michael had a shot too and reckoned it’s harder climbing than the Birnam tooling routes - maybe M11+ climbing. Next time up I found a way to stein-pull my axe in a thin hook and do a massive and dynamic move to the first little nick around the lip.
However, I didn’t have the strength to complete the route yesterday. I think a couple of weeks of circuits with tools while the mild weather is in could be just what the doctor ordered. Next time it will be really interesting to see if I can get past the lip and into the overhanging groove above. Hopefully I’ll have learnt a bit more about how to use my tools well again and be fully ready for an anaerobic battle!