I headed out with George to Blacksmith Zawn; an impressive cave, overhanging the sea with an plethora of hard, steep routes. The place is so-called because of the angry blacksmith (who owns a field above the crag), known for throttling Stevie Haston, letting his rabid dogs chase you down, and even bear arms if you are to pass by his turf. Fortunately, on this day the blacksmith was nowhere to be seen.
I racked up for the first route, struggling to keep warm, wondering if bouldering would've been a better idea. We abbed in, just left of the line of choice. Once down at sea-level it was much warmer and really pleasant in the sun. I set off on Groove Tuesday (E2/3 5c) in the adjacent, Smurf Zawn. All the holds felt like jugs, but it was taking three or four goes to get any half decent gear in and my calves noticed the slower pace almost instantly. I got established in the groove proper with steepness overhead. Not wanting to be stood on my calves much longer, I pushed on up to a huge, flat flake in the roof and fiddled a small wire behind it. Only after this did I remember to perform 'the tap of integrity'. The hollow sound coming from the big flake just above my head sent my legs quivering like a silent phone on the bedside table. I scampered back down to a safe place to reconsider. Then, I tucked my skirt in, held my breath, closed my eyes and pulled on the damoclean flake. In a jittery whirl I managed to get the holds above, leaving one final pulse-quickening rockover on the bloody thing, and then I was at the top (retrospectively it's probably not that loose but it certainly felt it at the time).
George took the next lead. With a bigwalling trip to Venezuela in a few days he was pretty keen to get some fitness in and decided to go for Angel Dust (E6 6a). This route is gaining a bit of a reputation for being a fantastic, strenuously overhanging pump-fest through some slightly suspect terrain. It overhangs the sea in every dimension giving it a level of commitment usually reserved for poorly protected, and multipitch routes. Brilliant...
If there's one thing I've learnt whilst studying oceanography (there probably isn't), it is that the sea is pretty unpredictable. So despite thinking we had abbed in after high tide, once george had left the belay the sea began splashing ever closer, in front of me and behind me. I didn't know where to watch. Thankfully an intense proximity is as bad as it got, but it certainly made the belay exciting. George was about halfway now and the sun had gone. It looked hard and I was cold. I considered methods of escape. There was no escape but the route. It's something I often suffer from, belayers nerves. Once I get cold, or have sat around for a while, I lose the desire, but this time I had no choice. George made it to the top. My only incentive to climb was that he had fallen off a few times so I might have an opportunity to burn him off.
In a state of partial rigour mortis, I took the last piece of gear from my belay and set off, on the initial steady ground. I made it to a resting ledge before the real steep stuff and warmed my feet which had become angular, yellow blocks. I set off again with a big committing move straight away so I had to plough on. All the hands and feet sloped away, and it didn't take long for the pump to devour me. All that remained was an undignified dog out.
Usually an early season spanking kicks you into gear, so that's what I'm hoping. I really lacked the ability to hang around and my movement was particularly cagey. I think next time I go trad climbing I'll try something a little less steep first, and I definitely need to take a load of falls to get used to it again. I haven't properly fallen off for a couple of years now and there is without doubt a mental block building up.
Anyway back to something a bit more seasonal. The day after I headed to the pass to meet Kieran, Tim and a few others. The sun never quite made it to the valley bottom so we spent the day freezing our tips off. I tried the last moves of the big roadside face link-up into the V2 on the far right. I managed it second go, and upto this point the traverse is V8, but I'm sure I've read somewhere that the link is V10/V11... What ever the grade is I'm keen to get back and do it when the finger has made a full recovery, it should be good for getting some fitness back.
After this me and Kieran got the tick on Ultimate Retroparty (V8). It was a bit of a battle, every go getting one move further, which made it really satisfying when it went.
|Me on Ultimate Retroparty (V8). KK Kollection|
|Tim on Bull's Problem (V5). KK Kollection|
Keiran made a little video of the day if you're interested: KIERAN'S VIMEO
That's all for now!