For the last few weeks I've been really enjoying the trad, but, it's felt like an uphill struggle trying to get the fitness/competence/confidence back and after reversing away from the crux on Fiendish Beanish on Sunday I was just about to start feeling disheartened. But during a brief session at The Indy Wall on Monday afternoon, I managed the '7a+'! traverse for the first time and with relief I could begin to see some improvement in fitness.
On Tuesday, Tom Livingstone and I went to Craig Dorys. I think the crag is made of sun-baked mud, or shortbread. It persistently exfoliates the outer layer, after fiddling with a bit of rock whilst belaying I realised you could keep picking away at the rock until you're left with just a pile of muddy flakes. Anyhow, it makes for some mightly absorbing climbing.
Tom kicked off with the classic Cripple Creek (E3 5b). Uninitiated to this kind of terrain, the usually gungho Livingstone adapted well, taking his time and employing a more considered approach.
We abbed back down and I scoured the guide for any hint of persuasion towards a particular route. With so many gobsmacking lines to choose from I got overwhelmed and characteristically indecisive. In a moment of haste I opted for a drop of the big, bold, Honeydew (E5 5c/6a).
The first few moves leave you at a ledge with good runners and a junction with the Knowing Her (E2 5b). From here a high rockover commits you to the route. Setting up to get on with it, the internal chatter went into overload, doing this move would lead to success on the next 10m of flaky wall climbing, or, a horrendous, maiming fall. I grabbed myself by the mind balls and thrust into 100% commitment. From here the climbing edged out above the lip of a cave on small flakey edges not beyond suspicion. I was no longer scared like I was on before committing, it felt natural to be there and I had total confidence in success, having said that the return to normality came with a shocking wave of relief as I gained the juggy, cam-gobbling break. I proceeded up the 2nd half of the route with much gusto now I was safe and revelled in the mudstone roulette.
At the top there were loads of loose blocks, we cleared off all the rubble resting on ledges which must have totalled about 4 tons, a new passtime I hope.
After seconding Toms rapid ascent of Byzantium (E4 6a) my arms were feeling weary but it was still light so I went for a go on the phoenomenally well named route; Noble Savage (E5 6b). It takes the proud headland face on up an uncompromisingly steep crackline. We got on to the route's tidal belay plinth, knowing if I didn't manage it, we would be wading back to the beach. The first few metres went in a flash past the best line of the biggest jugs ever, to a hands off rest. From here the most perfect fist jam in the world plonks you at the crux. A big, bouldery slap sees you through it and then it's just precarious blocks to the top and a belay from a decaying spike and an overhanging earth mound on the otherside of the headland. I'd already belayed off a threaded rabbit hole earlier so this felt bomber.
I can't wait to get back there and roll the dice with Dorys.