About me:

Originally from Hull, I now live in Llanberis, North Wales. Totally addicted to climbing, I work at the Indy Climbing wall and as a freelance routesetter to fund my dirty habit.

2 September 2011

Crowning glory

If this post can be half as brilliant as the events which inspired it, it's going to be a good one. Having had a couple of days rest I knew I needed to reignite my muscles. So, on Tuesday Laura, Owain, Lisa, and I headed to 'The Cave of Justice' for a quick session, before going to see The Inbetweeners on the big screen. Gravity was strong and I didn't manage to miraculously flash anything I'd not done before, but I did feel like I'd started firing on all pistons again.

After a film and a kip I was ready for action. I headed for Scimitar Ridge with Tom livingstone, his big hair, and matching psyche. Tom decided to go for it straight off on Roc-Nest Monster (E4 6a), a stiff little number with some tricky, blind moves and hard-to-milk rests. A frustrating flash-pump had him off by the first peg, but he recovered quick and got the ground-up tick. I seconded then decided that Killerkranky (E5 6a) would be my next move, but I knew I was putting off the real reason I was here. My reasoning was that I'd not had much luck here before. I don't think I'd ever managed anything harder than E3 onsight at Scimitar. For me though climbing isn't about getting things done, it's about the uncertainty of success and the moment when the rational side turns off and the wild, rushing focus turns on. This is something I often forget but luckily, that day, I remembered. I racked up for King Wad (E5 6b).

King Wad is well known for its stunningly aesthetic upper arete, not only this, but it also possesses, quite possibly, the best finish to a route... Ever. At the bottom of the route, I put all my doubts and concerns behind me and set off climbing each move as it came. Moving quickly and confidently I soon found myself at a baffling move in the mid-height groove. Eventually some fierce crimping and smeary bridging gained a hands-off rest. I had gained the base of the arete proper. I scuttled out to clip the peg and place some gear a couple of times, then a couple more to get a good skeg at what laid ahead. Back at the rest I ran through my potential sequence a few times, trying hard to picture myself making the final lurch. I felt ready to go, so I gave it one more minute, shedded any excess gear, chalked up, rolled up my sleeves, chalked up, wiped my boots, chalked up, checked my harness, chalked up, checked my knots, chalked up. Let's go.

I raced through moves, which felt hard the first time, to my high point. With a slopey edge in my left I eyeballed a sidepull on the arete but couldn't take my right hand off to go to it, trying allsorts with my feet, then I spotted a heelhook by my hand. Seating the heel I knew it would work. I floated weightlessly up to the sidepull and locked on to it. Rocking round to the left I readied myslef to jump but it was further than I expected. I instinctively slapped my left up to an un-holdable sloper. This was it, fight or flight. Breathing deeply, I rocked backwards and forwards like a Preying Mantis, subconsciously rehearsing my trajectory.

I laid one on. Mid-flight, this could go either way. I latched something, but not the jug I was expecting. I'd gained a sidepull, it was supposed to by over. I laid back off it, smearing my right foot. I matched the sidepull with both hands and slapped again. I got a jug this time but it was by no means over. I suddenly became aware how far away I was from the gear and in such a wild position. I let out my most heroic squeal and swarmed up good holds to the top. Then finally, in a fit of uncontrollable elation, I yelled a few 'Fuck Yeahs' (and other less recognisable sounds of jubilation) down the valley before belaying in a state of mad, grinning euphoria, barely noticing the weight of my crown.

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