Sunday 8 November 2015

Natalie's Transition

A couple of years ago Natalie Berry asked if I’d be keen to show her some trad climbing places around Scotland as she was making a move from competition climbing into trying out trad and general mountain adventures. Of course I was delighted to climb with her and along the way, the Hot Aches crew of Paul Diffley and Chris Prescott followed her progress and the fun times we had. The trailer above is for the film which is now finished and premiering at the Kendal festival shortly. We’ll see you there if you are coming.

The process nearly fell at the first hurdle thanks to my ineptitude at catching a tiny crimp properly on Hold Fast Hold True (E9) in Glen Nevis. It was the very first day Nat and I climbed together. Nat did her first trad lead and then we climbed another few pitches before I decided to go for Hold True. I was actually climbing it really well and was almost distracted by the fact that I’d just dispatched the crux totally static. Then I just caught a crimp one finger-width to the right of where I should. A tiny error. My left ankle was already in a sub-optimal state after a fall 15 odd years before. Landing on it again from a great height didn’t help it much at all. I was seriously not happy with myself for making an error at one of the worst possible moments, not least because of how the experience of watching someone fall earthward might affect Natalie. It’s not really in the ‘mentor’ job description.

However, she still wanted to climb with me (once I’d had surgery) and so we went on to have quite a few nice trips to some amazing corners of our islands. We did quite a few mega classics, got freezing cold on ice routes, got too warm on melting ice routes, took falls, went for long runouts, opened new routes and stood on top of the Ben on a perfect day after a fine ice climb. It kind of led up to Natalie’s ascent of Dalriada on the Cobbler just a few weeks ago, a fantastic effort in very cold late season conditions. 

The film is great because you don’t normally get to see someone as they progress right through from fumbling wires on a hard severe, to calmly running it out on mountain E7 in the mist, while shivering away from the cold.

It was a pleasure to watch Nat’s progress unfold. It’s always a pleasure to watch great climbers progress - when they have talent and a determination to see through what they started, you know they will get there in the end. Watching the film back also made me want to have more trips like those, if Nat will tie on the the rope with me again. I promise I wont fall off and hit the deck, and will leave the crag before it’s totally dark!

If you are at Kendal, I'm speaking there at 10am on Sat 21st. Transition is premiering at 7.30pm on Friday 20th. All the details are on the Kendal site here.

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