Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Another nice day out

Last weekend we had another fabulous day in the County. A late start (because I'm lazy and Caroline had been partying!) led us to Raven Crag. The parking for Bowden Doors looked a bit like Picadilly Circus, so we felt very smug when we realised we had the whole of Raven Crag to ourselves. Sure, it doesn't have any hard core, Font 8b, pulley-ripping, tendon-twanging problems (nothing worthy of note on the Scottish Climbs blog aggregator anyway), but we just wanted to be outside, climbing on real rock and enjoying the fresh air and winter sunshine.

One thing we couldn't get over was how cold it was! If the wind stopped, it was bearable. As soon as even the gentlest breeze started, we were frozen. The first problem we looked at was the Raven Traverse. It's not that hard, and Diff and I made fairly short work of it last August. But on this February afternoon we found ourselves unwilling to grip the rock properly for fear that it would hurt our frozen fingers! Are we being especially wussy about this? Cold hands + sharp rock = EXTREME PAIN!

We could not get our fingers warm. Rather than risk injury, we didn't pull too hard on the traverse. Instead we wandered further along to a problem I hadn't remembered seeing last time. Mind you, in August, Raven Crag is hidden under 6 feet of bracken, so I think I can be forgiven for not seeing everything that was on offer!

This problem baffled us for ages. Feet were there, the mono was there (yes, even for our pixie fingers it was pretty much a mono!), and we could just about reach the sloper ledge. But after that, there seemed to be an endless reach northwest for the top edge, with absolutely nothing as an intermediate. Just nothing. As far as we could see, you needed to be a) extremely gangly (Sarah?!), b) very tall, c) positive on the ape index by at least 4 inches or d) Inspector Gadget.

Here is Caroline with her hand on the sloper. The problem was where to go next?! Caroline wore most of her skin off by repeating the one move from the mono to the sloper.

As usual it was footwork that triumphed. Having identified which foot to balance on in order to reach through to an undercut with my left hand, I managed to match on it, then go up for the top edge with my left hand and top out. No doubt I was "off route" by using the undercut and any competent boulderer wouldn't count this as a send. But do I look like I care? Not this time.

I never cease to find reward in the process of repeatedly failing on one move, and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, finding it easy. How does that happen? What changes? Why do I find it almost impossible to identify what is different between failed attempts and successful attempts? The wonder of climbing....this is why I continue to torment myself with repeated failure. Maybe David Henry Thoreau was right: Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Pulling on the mono long enough to go up for the slopeynothingness ledge

How did you get up there??

Caroline decided to save the mono problem for another day, so we wandered further along to Meadow Wall, and tootled about on some of the problems there, inventing challenging traverses until the sun was nearly gone and the chill settled in for the night. The wall is reasonably high (we think , anyway) for bouldering, and we laughed til it hurt remembering how Caroline had bottled it on a problem at Bas Cuvier, choosing to jump the 15 feet to the ground rather than top out; her hands were on the top, her body was over the edge, she just needed to get her leg over ;-) !!

So instead of pulling on monos with no skin left on her fingers, Caroline onsighted this scary slab problem. No disco leg, no bottling it, no second attempt necessary. Brilliant. Clearly it was scary enough to warrant a little self-hug of reassurance at the top :-)

We cruised home in a beautiful sunset, pleased that we managed some time outside and looking forward to flexing our egos, promoting ourselves and becoming famous in the Scottish climbing scene by bragging about our world-class climbing achievements on our blogs.

Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed.

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