Friday 14 August 2009

Another link in the chain

St John’s Head, looking angry

I made the journey back to Hoy, over Cuilags and across the plateau once again and uncoiled my ropes in mist and the ever present buffeting gale at the edge of the cliff. I threw a coil of rope into the mist, but it blew right back over at me. I watched the fulmars for a bit while I got ready to to a ‘bag rap’ to get over the edge in the wind. They were giving me the eye as they swooped past, wings pulled in tight in the mega updraught. No doubt wondering why I’d chosen to be here in this grimness.

Claire enjoys a break from the westerly gale in the shelter of Cuilags

But the arrival of rain on the raging wind soaked everything within seconds and there was nothing for it but to jog back over the plateau like a drowned rat and eat vast mountains of pasta and vanilla cheesecake at the hostel with Claire.

It’s grim, lets go home and eat cheesecake!

Next day, the soaking started even earlier before we’d even reached the crag and with an armageddon front forecast for the following day, it was looking like a wet hillwalking trip to Orkney. We sat on the edge of the cliff, waited, filmed rain. And so the sun came out for us, and the climbing could start.

Not a happy chap. A fulmar vomits in my general direction

It started for me with a dousing of regurgitated fish and bile from an angry fulmar on the abseil descent. It made for a heady smelling 6 hours on the rope I can tell you. Didn’t seem to do my climbing too much harm though. I got my objective of the big link through the entire top pitch on the shunt.

So what happens now? Well, I have to wait for a bit until I get a chance to return to see if I can climb through all those 18 lower pitches and even get to the big pitch, never mind the top.

When the passenger ferry takes a detour around Hoy to avoid the gales across St John’s, perhaps the climber should follow suit? Or not.

I can’t say I’m too confident it’ll go. But I’m confident It’ll be quite an experience trying. In many ways it still feels like early days for trying this project, and it’s probably good for me to view it that way anyway. I’m on the rollercoaster of hard new routes; One minute it feels like E10 and possible soon, the next it seems way out of my grasp. It's really too big to get a handle on yet.

I guess right now I have to focus on what’s under my control. And thats training, training, training.


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  2. Hey Dave,
    to me the Longhope project sounds like the perfect climbing experience offering exposure, objective and subjective danger, a massive endurance challenge and a hard crux pitch. All of that in a great setting and fully exposed to the not always nice wheather.

    Wish you all the best on the route and hope it makes for a perfect story - which I am pretty sure. I am always struck by the commitment you are putting into your projects, where this alpine style route is definitely one of my favs.

    BTW: Who is going to jog/climb that thing with you?

  3. Go on Dave.

    We're all rooting for you.

    Hope the weather goes your way.


  4. 'I threw a coil of rope into the mist, but it blew right back over at me.'

    Love it! Great writing. Best of luck to you.

  5. I can still smell Fulmar puke on my rucsac. Nothing like it in the world.

    Hope you're doing well...

  6. Andrew McKenzie16 August, 2009

    This route sounds amazing! I'll be watching avidly for some more updates! Your adventures are great inspiration for the climber who has too little time to commit to the sport! All the best!