Monday, 21 May 2007

Fire and Water

Sunday dawned, grey and foreboding, and Dave, Sam and I set off again for the Anvil (it's starting to feel a bit like a habit!). This was Sam's first visit, and my first attempt at the drive-walk-climb-walk-drive combination. As we began the long walk in, it started to rain....again. Sam was still keen: "Are we there yet? Is it here?....Is it here?". You can just see him storming ahead in this picture:

When we got to the crag, it was still raining, but the chill and the slight breeze had mercifully appeared to frighten the midges away. Friendly Fire (my 7a project) was even wetter than last week - positively dripping. I must admit I was pretty disappointed; I was psyched to do it today, feeling strong enough, rehearsed the moves in my head time and again..... but there was little point if the top section was actually running with water. I'm not interested in scaring myself silly on wet rock.

The top of Friendly Fire...dripping

Sam was quite excited by the whole thing, which was really good to see. I felt a bit like one of the chosen elite, that I had already climbed here, when someone as strong and dedicated as Sam hadn't. All very exciting, sharing new playgrounds. So the big news of the day happened pretty quickly! Having warmed up by doing the first section of his project a couple of times, and testing the crux just once or twice, Dave managed to complete his project, now known as Fire Power (F8b) holding the crucial swing, and continuing in fine style to the lower-off. I was belaying and was acutely aware of paying out enough slack to not allow Dave to use the rope to hold the swing. To me it was so obvious that he hadn't been on the rope, that I couldn't understand why he was asking. I kept thinking, "just keep going, just keep going, don't stop now!!". Sam testified later that there was no use of the rope, and Dave was quietly but clearly glowing with the full brilliance of success. At last! :-)

The Big Swing!

Just one tiny slice from sharp quartz; even on the final
attempt the Anvil couldn't resist drawing a little bit of blood.

Dave was a happy man! Well done to him, too. This is the first time I have witnessed first-hand someone working a route at this level. It's been eye-opening, fascinating, inspiring and scary to watch. The intensity of effort, the persistence, the determination, the sheer bloody-mindedness of it is incredible. At times I feel a bit over-awed by it; I'm not always convinced I am capable of trying as hard as that.

So Sam had a pop at Shadowlands (F7c), and would have got it on first redpoint if it hadn't been for the puddles on the top holds. The Wrong Kind of Rain had obviously been plaguing the Anvil since our visit the previous week. Shame for Sam, but he did say it was a nice route.

Sam just above the crux of Shadowlands (F7c)

Sam also completed Heavy Metal (F7b), an impressive ascent, and strange to be able to stand so close to take pictures - it starts half way up the roof, off the huge boulder.

Sam looking strong on Heavy Metal (F7b)

With some of my psyche gone since Friendly Fire was wet, I thought I'd have another grapple with Shadowlands. Having done all the moves last week, albeit one by one and with many forced partings with the rock, today was a very different story. Up to the ledge was fine; I did it first shot (although I made an enormous hash of it three times later in the day). I even managed to work out an easier means of jumping for the spike (which is a long way away for me - and quite precarious). But I couldn't do the crux for love nor money. I owe Dave a lot of thanks for his patience, as I went for the hold time and again but couldn't pull on it, or hold it to make the next move.

Goundhog Day on the crux of Shadowlands (F7c)

Shadowlands again....

I seemed to spend an eternity trying to cross over with my right hand, flag my left foot, stand on the spike, let go with my left, all in some random order, none of which felt right this week. I don't know how I did the crux last week. I can't remember; I just did it. Clearly I need a lot more strength all round before I'll be able to complete this route. (Having said that, I reached the top of the campus board tonight, for the first time ever. I'm wondering how much stronger I need to be!!)
Playing chicken as usual, below the clip on Shadowlands

Not content with one 8b in one day, Dave got straight onto some of the moves on Body Blow (F8b+), which he made look pretty straightforward. Amazing how success can open your mind to new ideas!

Dave on the start of Body Blow (F8b+)

Body Blow again. One day I want to be able to do this!

Towards the end of the day, the weather cleared and it was a beautiful evening. My last shot at Shadowlands was in glorious sunshine. I don't care so much what folks say about the heat making rock greasy, I love climbing in the sunshine. In Scotland it's warm enough to enjoy and not too hot to need to hide from. Lovely. The midges weren't so bad this week, either. With the aid of Skin So Soft, I think I only have 6 bites. Not bad....

Carrick Castle in the evening sunshine

Lochgoilhead in evening sunshine

One final mention for this little fella. This is Einstein. Diff and I went to see him on Saturday night, whereupon he tried to run away with my watch, and behaved like a 6 year old on 3 pints of Orange Squash. But how can you be cross with a face like this....? He also appears in his own podcast. Famous at 4 months, huh?!

1 comment:

Dave said...

Nice write up of our day Emma. Don't feel too down on your efforts. Keep up the training.