Tuesday 20 May 2008

All that way for 20 minutes...

I'm getting into a good rhythm on Echo Wall now. Today we got a late start after work but got up to the route by 4pm. It was well baltic - around freezing but the wind was bitter. Not a day for sitting still. I knew I only had one burn before my fingers (still suffering from a dose of frostnip) would be frozen. Now with the whole route finally dry I could work on the upper crux (the bit you cannot fall from on the lead) and the rather more chilled but still very poorly protected stuff above. The good news was this part felt much more doable that it did in summer 06. I came back up and was waaay to cold to move the rope and head back down for a shot on the lower crux. Logistics logistics logistics are running through my head - there is so much to think about to plan for a lead of this climb - how to work it, how to get the gear to work, which belayer should run. How can I find two people to belay me for the most serious route I've ever seen? I think I'll need to start off with two ropes, drop one after 50 metres, and the other after 60 and solo the last ten metres of the pitch. But the bigger problem (as I hinted at in Committed) is still maintainence of fitness. Today's cold only allowed 20 minutes of climbing. So now it's after midnight but I have to make up my daily volume of climbing on the fingerboard. I'm not totally sure there is another way around this. I'm glad I've been doing so many long and physical days though - it's really reminded me how much the body can respond to deal with whatever you ask of it. I feel good. So, after another cup of tea, I'll do my hangs, get some sleep and head back into the north face in the morning. Thank god for ipod is all I can say. Otherwise I think all this walking into the same coire would send me over the edge.

Claire has been amazing over the last couple of days. As you can imagine, after 15 years of visiting it, the north face of Ben Nevis and the approach to my project (climbing most of Tower Ridge) doesn't seem quite so big as it did when I was 16. But if you've never done much mountaineering, chain days following a psyched man up the ridge, jumping about ledges with a camera all day, then abseiling into the void for a long slide down the snow slopes below would be more than many a tough guy/girl would deal with. She seems to be dealing extremely well with the near vertical learning curve of big mountain fitness/soloing head/rope logisitcs/shooting film. Inspiring stuff.

Elsewhere on the internet I read that Sonnie Trotter came close to repeating my climb Rhapsody tonight. I hope the fall was not too nasty. I'm sure it'll go down shortly. I wish him good friction for his impending send - gaun yersel!


  1. Dave, Echo Wall sounds lke a space expedition. Start off fully loaded, and jettison empty fuel tanks as you go! Are you serious about dropping ropes at 60m up?? Are you sure you didn't hit your head with that shovel?

    Good effort, and best of luck! I'm excited to see where this is going...


  2. Anonymous21 May, 2008

    Could you not use 70m ropes?!

  3. why jettison the ropes? don't you have a sponsor who could make you a special 80m rope?

  4. It's not rope length thats the problem - it's drag. the runners for the crux are under a roof and cannot be extended or you hit the ground from the tech crux.

  5. Anonymous25 May, 2008

    Was wondering if you'd have a chance to come up for air and comment on Trotter's efforts on Rhapsody.

    ...can't imagine dropping ropes and finishing solo on such a climb. That's another realm, for sure.