Friday, 3 August 2007


No, not the tiny bugs which suck the lifeblood out of you, but the big red kind that says loudly "I've Done It!". Friendly Fire at the Anvil is now officially my first 7a tick!

Leading Friendly Fire the first time in May 07

First, I have to say thank you to Caroline and Jonni for their patient belaying, shouts of encouragement and for putting up with my incessant babble about the Anvil for so many months. Thank you!

Edinburgh was a bit grey when we left, but the forecast was promising. I was excited just to be heading back there and to show Jonni and Caroline exactly what I'd been banging on about since May. Having been to the Anvil three times, I've only had one day on Friendly Fire, since every other time I've been it has been streaming with water. Today I was not to be disappointed. For an Anvil climbing day it was about as perfect as it could be. Warm sunshine, with an anti-midge breeze, clouds scudding across the sky, and bone dry rock. Smashing! In my excitement I nearly couldn't find the place. We walked past the wee path off the track. It isn't the easiest place to find, particularly after a summer's growth of greenery.

Caroline at the top; Jonni belaying in the sun

Although it was exciting to be there I was feeling quite tired. I (again) underestimated the impact of the 2-hour drive and 4-mile walk in, not to mention my yoga class the previous evening which always makes every muscle less mobile on Thursdays. Reminding myself of Dave's advice on redpoint tactics, I sent Jonni up first. My excuse was that he's just spent 3 months leading everything between Madrid and Trondheim, and has most definitely found his leading head. Having said that, I think even he said that if he'd top roped it first he wouldn't have wanted to lead it. Some moves are a little scary, despite the well-placed bolts.

Reminding myself of all the moves was important. I thought I'd got them wired, but falling off the first move on my first top rope floored my confidence completely. The first crux move, just below the second bolt was nails when I tried it in May, but by the end of that first day I was happy with it. This time, it took several attempts just to remember how to do it. Another chunk of confidence gone. In fact, having looked back at the pictures I did it differently this time from last time. Oh well, it still worked. Moving off the pixie picnic ledge was ok, but reaching up for the overhanging flake and crossing through for the slippy quartz band was just as scary. I pinged off it on the top rope and as I swung out felt a considerable relief that the rope was there....not a fall one would want to take on the lead.

We found a wee frog sunning himself at the bottom of the route

I decided that I was too tired generally to lead it today, my leading head not really wanting to come out of its hiding place, so instead thought I might as well just practice all the moves on the rope. I remembered how much better I felt about leading it in May once I'd got the sequence sussed. So I yo-yo'd various moves while Caroline patiently belayed. At least the sun was shining and the wee beasties were indoors hiding from the wind.

First redpoint of the day

Having tried all the moves umpteen times, I realised that I would kick myself if I'd come all this way on such a beautiful day and not at least attempted to lead this route. So I talked to the others, and then they pulled the rope before I had a chance to change my mind. At this point I became acutely aware of how much pressure I put on myself to achieve something once I've set myself the goal. I had to talk myself out of the pressure ("it doesn't matter if you need to rest on the bolt, just try it"), whilst still maintaining the psyche to go for it. The first section was tough, but having got the first crux move, I felt encouraged.

I made a bit of a mess of the traverse left from the third clip, but once I was on the ledge things improved. Plenty of time catching my breathe and managing the jitters in my head meant that the top half went very smoothly. Having clipped the penultimate bolt I started to feel nervous. It was so nearly in the bag, but I knew that this is where my stamina had run out last time. With my right hand in the top crack I felt good enough to make an extra move with my feet to make sure I reached the top hold easily. Magic. The surge of exhilaration after so much preparation was huge. I can stop banging on about it now!

Hanging out at the top of Friendly Fire

Team 7a walking home in the evening sunshine

So what's next? Shadowlands? Maybe on a good day, with some more work....


michael said...

Good on you for getting out and sending it. It is a big effort specially the drive. Quite a gamble if it craps out. You should go and try Daves 7B over at Carrick castle aswell. Its pretty stunning line. Hope you get Shadowlands. Cant wait to get there again...........

alpinedreamer said...

Thanks Michael. You're right it's an effort to get out there, but well worth it. Lovely spot. Shadowlands will take more than 2 days work I'm afraid, and I'm such a chicken when it comes to leading, I'll need to take a Brave Brave Mouse with me to put the rope up first. Any volunteers?? :-)


Niall said...


Nice one!

who knows where this will end? One thing's for sure, you can definately climb harder and better than that!

(how about borrowing a clipstick to dog up shadowlands- mine's not getting used this year!)

DaveR said...

Well done Emma! Keep up the training and getting out on the routes and I'm sure those grades will keep creeping upwards.