At the top of Castell Hellen it dawned on me. I had only gone and done the unthinkable. What a muppet. This can't be happening. Bollocks. I had forgotten my harness. Not wanting to ruin it for Tom I was determined to go for it anyway. With an assortment of slings lashed around me here and there it was time to abb in. I was suprised how tolerable it was as I began to abb, by the time I got to the belay, I had changed my mind. Because of my Duncanesque blooper we just did Lighthouse Arete (VS 4b), but falling was not an option so it was still pretty exciting. Its a wicked route, literally every hold is a whopping jug and theres plenty of gear so if you're looking for an introduction to adventure, this is it!
We weren't going to get much done like this, and the weather was getting better everywhere so we hot-footed it to the slate, in particular the Collossus area. This huge wall is almost plum-vertical for 45m, I love it.
Armed with a harness each now, Tom intended on doing the blood-sucking, Bella Lugosi is Dead (E1 5b) but the line was busy so there was only one thing for it... Major Headstress (E5 6a).
This is one of the most aptly-named routes i've ever done. The start is relatively steady, but theres enough suspect rock around to keep it spicy. After a few moves on spooky holds, above a small wire I was glad to clip the first bolt. Blasting up a rib on good holds I made the second bolt fairly non-chalantly. I could just reach the crimp above the bolt, with the tips of my tips just biting in and feeling a bit Dawesian I rocked over dynamically and latched a good hold, nice. Contrastingly, about 2 body lengths above the bolt my confidence was leeched by the fall potential. Yarding on a tiny, crozzly crimp I stretched up and up, my left foothold snapped off, arghh, quick, retreat. Shaking out, I eyed an alternative sequence, it looked tricky but there was only one thing for it. I launched up the couple of moves I had done before. Back at the tiny righthand crimp, left hand now on a sidepull, I carefully place my left toe on a coin edge and snapped up to a high position. I can't remove either hand and stay in balance, I slap... and catch. Yes please to trad climbing. That move really took it out of me mentally and the next 20m were arduous to say the least. Tom got his desired pump on second. The sun went down.
With my meticulously packed bag we headed for Main Cliff to get embroiled on The Big Groove Direct (E4 5c). For those who don't know Main Cliff is the dogs. More than 100m high and rising straight out of the sea the climbing is at the very least, committing. From the racking-up spot it was evident the sea was a bit too much. Every 3 or 4 waves sloshing well above the traverse line. We went down to double check but those white horses were angry. Emulator (E1 5b) takes off above sea level at the toe of the buttress, a good route for when the sea prevents access to the cliff proper. It follows a perfect right-angled corner for 40m. It's an absolute pleasure to climb, several sections require you to get fully engaged and a clean ascent is hard-won.
This route plonks you right at the base of The Eternal Optimist (E2 5b). I had wanted to do this route for awhile after seeing Jon R do it a year or two ago. It takes an overhanging groove and arete. The climbing is goey, the protection is tricky to get right (big gear helps apparently) and just when you think its all over the crux slaps you in the face. There is a lower-off at the top of pitch one but it looks a little sorry for itself.
Tom was fully pumped after this route and so headed home. I jumped on the end of Dave Morses' ropes, he had just done The Strand (E2 5b) this is about as good as climbing gets at E2. Good holds and gear all the way, but it keeps coming and steepens at the top. It's a good route to go for as its very safe, there are no hard moves, it feels secure and is about f6b.
One more route. Shag Rock (E1 5a). It takes you to a pinnacle summit via some chimneying, laybacking and seagull turd. Once again though, I had forgotten something. My bloody boots, I had left them in my bag. Oh well, trainers it is. Holding on tight all the way, for fear of a foot ping, sitting on top of the pinnacle was made all the more sweeter. All the tat to abb off was rotten so I abandoned my big pink sling and an old screwgate. Now the Pinnacle looks like a gay Rambo with a pink bandana.
Well I'm back in Hull now for a few days, I might get out in the peak on saturday, if not there won't be an update until I get back from Spain. I guess that justifies this length blog.
Finally here's a little video I saw on facebook this morning, not usually that into poems, and I've never thought much of Tim Minchin before but sometimes two wrong make a right or something.