Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

This website came to me, in relation to work, from a friend:
Keep Calm and Carry On: http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com

After the last week or so of office life, it seems like an appropriate thing to remember, but I also wondered whether the phrase applies quite nicely to climbing...

But also on that website I found this:

‘There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a cup of tea. ’
Bernard-Paul Heroux

I need to remember that.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Kirriemuir Sports Day

As the promise of Saturday dawned bright and clear, we headed for the wide open skies of Angus and Kirrie Hill. Many people have talked about Kirrie. I wouldn't say it was quite acquiring legendary status, but certainly there has been enough mention to make me curious. Bong said it was a suntrap like North Berwick (which I always find encouraging) and that it had plenty of 6b/6c/7a type routes.

What I didn't know until we were sliding down the steps towards it, was that it's sandstone. Fine, I thought. Northumberland is sandstone. But there was a wee niggle in the back of my head reminding me that the only bolted sandstone I'd climbed on was the Arbroath sea cliffs, and that isn't on my list of climbing highlights.  But it was a beautiful day, and it felt as though I hadn't seen one of those from outside an office in quite a while. 

For those who haven't been, I think this is a former quarry, judging by the drill hole lines visible on the rock face. It's much bigger than I expected, but a reasonably decent height, and plenty of it. According to the wee guide produced by Awesome Walls in Dundee there are between 50 and 60 routes there (with new ones being cleaned and opened while we were there).  The bolts seem to be in all the right places and all look pretty good. And yes, it's a lovely little suntrap.

Demonstrating the lack of reach

True to form we started on a 5+. This was the first time Diff and I had been climbing (rather than bouldering) since our washout trip to Siurana in March.  I must say I didn't have any hopes for anything harder than this, thinking that my leading head would be well underground by now. But apparently a degree of nonchalance about leading seems to help. We nailed The Hill Has Eyes at 5+ good and proper. Nice.  On to Never Never Land at 6a+, but not so nonchalant now. The first half was dead easy, but it nailed me good and proper at the first crux. First off, the slopers were damp. In fact, everything was slightly damp. "Spoogie" I think is the word Sonnie and Cory used about Dumbie in May 2008.

Second, I couldn't reach either the intermediate crimp let alone the good edge of the flake in order to pull up over. It was one of those annoying situations where strength wasn't lacking, and technique seemed of little help to me with short arms and short legs. Having tried everything, this way, that way, left and right, I came down, thwarted and despondent.  Diff and Bong both scooshed up it, but then they are both considerably taller than me.  I'm sure there is a way to get around it, but I couldn't fathom it, not even on a rope. Eventually I went up and just pulled on the draw to get past that section. Ah well. Another time.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower” Albert Camus

Another one of my dubious explanations of why I can't do something

Next up was Bong on What Every Woman Wants (6c). This looked good, and much more my thing.  There's a proper hands off rest in the middle before the real fun begins. When I say real fun, I didn't anticipate it would take so many forms. The first 3 bolts are great, but sandy as you like, which is a bit frightening. The ledges were big enough, but I realised that on anything small I wasn't going to trust my feet.

Having watched the lanky two get past the crux moves I was dubious about how I might re-work that section.  I opted for the cruise sideways followed by a long stretch upwards with the right, before latching the good pocket over the lip with my left hand.  However, on my exploratory cruise left I pulled on something gently which promptly came away in my hand. I didn't pull hard, so I didn't ping off, but what was left behind was a lovely little ledge just the right size for 3 of my fingers. From this, with a high foot and a mega-growing-stretch, I could reach the bad scoop (one could hardly call it a pocket) and pull up to the good pocket. to clip the next clip. Hurrah!


I couldn't work the very top section out, so I left it for another time. On short winter days I am conscious that other people want to climb too and that taking my time redpointing isn't always a friendly thing to do.

Our fourth route was, I think, a 6c+ called Dig Deep. It looked fine, but the amount of rock raining down on us while Bong was climbing was alarming.  At one point a huge chunk exploded in his hand and showered crumbs of sandstone upon us. Feelings of guilt and alarm featured equally prominantly as I too started up this route. Diff wisely left it well alone. For the first time I started to question the integrity of the rock into which the bolts were sunk, although they looked fine from the outside.

Diff belaying in the winter sun

Our final route was a 6a+, which I didn't identify a name for. By this time I really wasn't trusting my feet; my arms were tired and my head was somewhere else. I just couldn't work out how to climb the overhanging start. Frustration got the better of me and toys were on their way out of the pram. Diff and Bong cruised it, of course, and the sourpuss in me put my failure down to lack of concentration rather than lack of ability! I am the master of excuses when I want to be.

Diff being inventive on the 6a+

Bong last up in the evening light

As we were leaving, I reflected on how good the climbing actually was. I really enjoyed it; a combination of getting out after so long, being able to (mostly) climb something, not being cold (even on 31st October!).  The routes are good routes. The rock was questionable. I realised how much I rely on my feet being solid and how much it unsettles me when they're not.  I was less worried about handholds breaking and more worried about my feet sliding off, although clearly both were equally likely. Maybe it was a little too damp, maybe we shouldn't have been climbing because of that (although plenty others had made the same call as us and the crag was almost busy!). Maybe the crag is just "new" (as much as Early Devonian sandstone can be new) and the routes just need more traffic to stabilise them.

Most of all, though, I realised that I missed Caroline.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sweaty September

I have foregone a holiday all summer on the basis that work has been very busy and the conditions in Font are better towards autumn. I was desperate for some time off, time away from the office and some long stints of fresh air.  I was also looking forward (with some trepidation, I must admit) to showing Tamsyn and Dina the joys of la foret domeniale de Fontainebleau and introducing them to real outdoor bouldering.

Tamsyn and Dina headed out on Saturday and I joined them on Monday, having had prior engagements on the Sunday. My journey was fine until I reached the French border, whereupon three plane-loads of passengers discovered that French Immigration Control were apparently "working to rule".  It took me just under 2 hours to have my passport checked, during which time there was a vague threat of a stampede, with Gallic tempers demonstrating their frayed edges very clearly. Just a little intimidating.....

Having hung on for better conditions but also been just desperate for a holiday, I had a twinge of mixed feelings on arrival in 30 degree heat. Lovely as it was, I knew it wouldn't be great for climbing anything hard!

With only really 4 days climbing to be had, we started at Isatis.  Being a little over excited about the whole Font experience (the last time I was here it snowed!) I just climbed anything and everything I laid eyes on that looked vaguely do-able.  I was a little freaked by the highball things, and even by the height of some things that are not considered highball, but then all the bouldering I've done elsewhere this summer has been pretty low. I figured I'd get used to it pretty quickly.

Isatis was warm. Oh how warm. Blissful in some senses, but frustrating and lethargy-inducing in others. While I revelled in being able to wander around without wearing a million layers, I quickly realised that the heat was going to put paid to any really hard problems. It's taken me a while to realise that the proverbial "bad conditions" does mean something.  Even at my level, the warmth and humidity means my skin doesn't last long, my fingers slide off things, my feet slide around inside my shoes and sweating with effort becomes gradually more unpleasant!

Dina and Tamsyn were new to the outdoor bouldering experience so I was glad the weather was good. I remembered that when I first started bouldering I didn't give two hoots about the whole "good conditions" thing. It didn't make any difference to my climbing, except that I hated being cold; it made me miserable and I couldn't climb anything for frozen fingers. Ah yes, pre-duvet days!

The warmth was good in some ways, and not in others. Dina wore through her fingers pretty quickly, and I think she was a bit shocked that these things do happen:

I think I just wasn't trying hard enough to wear through my skin as badly as this.  Without wishing to share too much, I wasn't particularly well for the last 4 days of our trip. Praise be for NHS24 and ERI's outpatient department who kindly issued me with some antibiotics at midnight on the Saturday I got home.

In spite of the heat, we mustered enough energy for a bit of dyno practice. From a sit start on this little arete, there was nothing else but a big jump for the top edge. Above is Dina, mid-fling. The hardest bit was sticking the top edge, especially with sweaty mits!

We spent one day at Diplodocus on the yellow circuit. Caroline and I did this 2 years ago, and I think it was the only circuit we completed properly: 39 easy problems and we were still knackered. This time was different, since my buddies had never done such things as circuits. It was good fun showing them the wee tricks I'd learned previously, and watching them work stuff out for themselves too. It was cooler at Diplodocus, and even started to spit a little, but we carried on regardless.

Dina's face is a real picture on this problem (number 8 yellow at Diplodocus I think). The prospect of slipping off this means hitting the big ledge on the way down; clearly this was a difficult thing for Dina to forget!

We had another day at 91.1, which was very warm too. In spite of this I found the red 6b in Stone Country's new Fontainebleau guide relatively straightforward. I think it's known as The Pince.  First pop was desperate. Slippy, crimpy, reachy...didn't really seem possible, but with a bit of perseverence (something I was distinctly lacking this week) it went. Stone Country's book is beautiful, by the way. Definitely worth a tenner. Small, light, good pics, nice honest commentary!

Our last day was spent at Rocher Guichot. I'd not been there before and was pleasantly surprised to find it close to the carpark but not crazily polished. We stopped at the first big boulder (which was pretty big!!!) and walked around it several times. Dina definitely didn't like the height; Tamsyn was pretty sanguine about it, but not overcome with eagerness; I was busy inventing reasons to myself why I should only climb half way up!  So we tootled around on some of the lower boulders to start with.

I thought the lower problems would be easier. Ha ha. There were a couple of very sketchy slabs, tiny crimps, and one giant rockover from the ground - standing start, heel up high, rock over and push hard, turn the hand round an balance precariously against a slab! Magic :-)  With a great deal of egging on from Tamsyn, I was persuaded to try a very sketchy blunt arete. Highball? Really? Oh I never noticed! I'm still not quite sure how I got up it, but I did. Tenuous, balancy, sweaty? All of the above, a definite adrenaline rush. Tamsyn - send me the pics!! Did you find your camera lead yet??

If there are Font lovers out there who haven't been to Rocher Guichot, I would definitely say it's worth a look. Plenty to keep you busy at least!

We found lots of big beetles here too. I couldn't resist taking pictures of them. I think they're fantastic wee beasties:

Four days was great - we climbed every day, but it's still not enough for me. When the weather is dry, it's fantastic. I feel like I've had my fix to last me a wee while, but never for long enough. So when can we go again??

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sheep Sh* Shoes

Determined to get out last Saturday, somehow, someway and with someone, Penny and I left Edinburgh at 13.00 hours and scooted south to Hepburn. Penny had never been before, so I felt like the relative expert (ha ha). In short, I knew where the boulders were, how to get there and that the grades can be a bit random.

Predictably, there was nobody else climbing there. The bracken had shot up since I was last at Hepburn in June. The midges were out, but bearable, and most importantly the rock was dry in spite of a week of monsoon conditions. Yet again I forgot to take my big brush for cleaning things that haven't been cleaned in a while, but since we ended up doing the rounds of several problems I've done before, I don't suppose it mattered very much.

My disappointment in writing this is that the problems at Hepburn don't seem to have any cool names. Or am I missing something? I thought half the fun of climbing and bouldering was that what you did had a name. I can't wait for the day when I can say "yeah, I did Monty Pythons last week" (well, I can dream....!) but saying "yeah I did that roof problem on the roof boulder at Hepburn on Saturday" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. OK, so the right hand roof problem on the roof boulder isn't 7a+, but even so, you get my drift.

Penny on the "warm up" (!) 6b slab

Anyway, I was pretty chuffed with the RH roof problem at 6b. Quite a contrast to the slabby 6b on the warm up wall that I have tried and failed on every previous visit. For some reason, today was the day. A few precarious wobbles up the slab, furiously gripping the slightly sweaty crimpy sidepull, and the next thing I knew my heavy posterior felt quite comfortably balanced over my left foot, while I managed to squeeze one and a half fingertips into the mono above my head. A short step through with my right and a very quick pop, and the top was in my hands! What a surprise!! It was probably a good thing that nobod but Penny and the sheep were there to hear my squeals of delight. I should probably have been locked up for breach of the peace.

The final pop on the 6b slab

So, further surprise to do the roof problem too. The two problems could not be more different. Penny worked out how to start the problem and found the magic little foothold tucked way under the edge of the roof. The problem for us was that slapping for the nose meant that both feet were coming off. One is then left hanging with the prospect of campusing the next 2 moves at least. Some girls are good at campusing. I'm not one of them. So then we found a heel hook. It wasn't very good, and looked pretty worn, so we tried to be careful not to scrape any more off it. It worked though, so we were able to keep at least one foot on while effectively at full stretch horizontally. Another big slap to bring the right hand in and the left hand to join it, left only the reach back to a good lip, a crazy high foot and a hefty rock over to top out. Magic. It took a bit of piecing together, but it was worth the effort for the satisfaction. I hadn't even bothered to try this one previously, thinking it was far too hard. Mind over matter has never seemed quite so pertinent.

Psyching up to slap for the nose... RH roof problem

Having lost a lot of skin from all that slapping, we cruised home. I got to work on Monday and realised that the funny smell was coming from the Hepburn sheep poo on my shoes. So these weren't my work shoes after all....

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Sunshine on Scotland

The weekend before last we had a fabulous day in Glen Coe. Diff was filming and I tagged along to carry bags, with the promise of a day's climbing in Glen Nevis on the Sunday.

We were in Glen Coe by 08.30 on Saturday, and had the most perfect weather imaginable. Enough breeze to keep the midges away most of the time, as well as glorious sunshine all day. It was hot and sweaty work carrying film kit up Buachaille Etive Mor, but the views from the top were undoubtedly rewarding.

How often do you see the whole of Scotland spread out before you, tops as far as the eye can see, the sea in one direction and Rannoch Moor in the other. Even the Ben was cloud free. Incredible.

We were exhausted by the time we headed to our digs in Fort William. We had chips to keep us going, sat on the harbour wall, wondering who the hell thought it was a good idea to concrete over Fort William's greatest asset - it's sea loch frontage. Sometimes I despair at the shortsightedness of urban planners and developers. And while I'm having a whinge, why is there nowhere decent to eat in Fort William?? Curry, Chinese, a chippy and everything else looked as though it had come from a Brake Bros. refrigerated van. If we missed something, recommendations on a postcard please.

And on Sunday it rained. No climbing :-( We were so disappointed and frustrated, but it just wasn't going to happen. We went to the Oban Sealife Sanctuary instead, and tried to learn 11 things for the £11 each it cost us. Did you know, for example, that there is a 1 in 10 million chance of a baby cod making it to adulthood? And did you know that 150,000 sea turtles are killed accidentally by fishing nets and the like, each year.

It's a beautiful spot and they do some good work there rescuing seals and returning them to the wild. By the time we headed down the road to Glen Ogle to check out some of the crags there it was bright sunshine, but all the crags were running with water. We strolled along the disused railway and ate wild strawberries. Not quite the day we had hoped for, but we felt better for being out and about.

Slip Slap Slop

It seems like an age since Caroline and I hopped it down to Kyloe Out for some bouldering amidst all the busy-ness that was the end of June. Having got used to the fact that it would probably rain on us, we were a bit gobsmacked to find ourselves slapping and slipping around madly on greasy County sandstone. Were we nuts?? Touch of the sun maybe.

Having recently bought the new Northumberland bouldering guide, we realised there was a whole lot of bouldering to be had at Kyloe Out. Previously we'd always been to Kyloe In. Granted, In The Woods is better than Out but this year we seem to be using "try new stuff" rather than "try hard stuff" as our motto. Kyloe Out was a pleasant surprise. We picked the Quarry as our first (and as it transpired, only) stop. We had the place to ourselves, with only a wee yellow bird for company. He sang his little heart out delightfully from the very top of the crag, although we were too far away to be able to identify him with any certainty.

Caroline sitting next to the bird perch, having soloed her way there. I went up in bare feet which was both liberating and terrifying at the same time!

We spent a lot of time trying to remember how to mantle onto this slopey shelf. It isn't particularly high, and therefore one would think not particularly scary, but the angle of the slope one has to mantle onto is much more tricky than it looks. I don't suppose it helps that we're not well versed in the art of mantling, and given the heat maybe this wasn't the best day to try it!! Still we had a lot of fun - and nobody can say we don't challenge ourselves! I think we managed one mantle at the near end of this picture and one slightly further along. The problem seemed to be getting feet sufficiently high to be able to jump high enough to push one's centre of gravity over the lip. Neither of us are particularly tall, so it did seem that a little bit more height would have been advantageous balance-wise. A bit more gumption would have been good too!

After enough slapping around, we moved on to a 7a crimp-fest on the quarry wall. Again, not a good thing to try in the heat, but we gave it a good bash until the sun moved onto it. We managed about a half of it, failing every time to make the next move to cross a left foot through, and reaching for the next cubby hole in the very thin crack. The horizontal break was fine, but the diagonal crack (used for both hands and feet at various heights) proved pretty tiny even for our pixie fingers. More fingerboard training required. And maybe some cool dry autumn weather.

While Caroline is infinitely stronger than me, on this particular problem my balance appeared to give me one more move. No pics I'm afraid. It's a beautiful move though, one of those flowing movements that reminds me of the years of dancing, one that reminds me why I climb. Fantastic.

...until that inevitable gravity-laden moment of groundward motion!

Once the sun moved round it was about time to move on; no skin, hot sweaty and tired. We wandered along to the left to have a look at the other bits of crag, feeling inspired to come back again. In a moment of untold self-assurance, Caroline suddenly announced she was going to solo a route. Given the way she'd been eyeing up Birdlime Crack and asking questions about it, I wasn't surprised. She scooshed up it, no problem. So I went too.

High step on Birdlime Crack (MS)

For those who are interested in such things, we also saw some little bats squeaking away in a thin but deep crack above the left hand side of the roof on Overhanging Buttress. They sounded like baby birds, so we were looking for a nest, but eventually saw the wee things scrabbling around in the crack. I don't think it's part of a formal route or problem, but I guess it's worth noting that the crack seems to be a handy hiding place for them because it looks eminently climbable to me.

How to eat cheesecake

Have you really not harnessed the power of the cheesecake yet? You must. Here's how you do it.

Buy raspberry cheesecake and sit in the garden with it, and a nice glass of wine, on a pleasant summer evening.

Open the box, and slice said cheesecake into appropriately sized pieces. We found that starting small was pointless. You might as well just chop it in two and have half each.

Conveniently, friendly pussy cats have a penchant for raspberry cheesecake. Make sure you have one close at hand to assist. Frankie here plays the innocent very well, although he probably knows you're about to blame the disappearance of the cheesecake on him.

Unfortunately, he got caught red-pawed with the box right under his nose. Now if that isn't incriminating, I don't know what is!

Yes, it's as easy as that. Open box. Eat. Delicious. And who knows how hard you can climb using the power of the cheesecake? ;-)

High Peak? Wet Peak!

I forgot to post this at the time, but now I've time to write, I might as well post it now....sorry for the delay!

Do you remember that weekend a few months back, when everyone said "ah, the weather's going to be rubbish this weekend, let's go drinking" (or somesuch)? (Er.. which one? I hear you say) Well, we decided to go to the Peak District instead. To be fair, Tamsyn had booked a train ticket from London (some nonsense about it being £256 on the day or £60 booked in advance) so we couldn't leave her stranded at the station just because the forecast looked a bit rubbish.

It didn't start well, and continued in that vein for a full 48 hours, right up until we drove home in scorching sunshine. It took us 6 1/2 hours to drive down, through horrific rainstorms, flooded motorways and squeaky windscreen wipers. We were down to 20 mph on the M6 at one stage, from the rain, and then to 10mph because of the large number of vehicles inconsiderately taking up space in every lane. At one point we crossed a spaghetti junction, and every road we could see from the upper bridge was nose to tail traffic. Ah yes, this was the weekend the English school holidays started. Why oh why oh why.......

Having awoken to standard northern grey drizzle we opted for some tourism. We headed down into Blue John Cavern with our friendly guide, Brian. I don't know how long he'd been giving that tour, but I really hope he has a very high boredom threshold!

So we took lots of pictures inside the cave and marvelled and oohed and aahed at the water-worn rocks. It was pretty big, and for us climber-types the standard tour wasn't enough. We wanted to see more. But they don't let you, and I must admit to being a little claustrophobic so maybe it was fine (for once) just to stay on the tourist trail. Other tourists are funny sometimes though...

By the time we emerged above ground again the rain had (almost) stopped. So we cruised over to Stanage Plantation.....the long way, because I got muddled over which road to take. Ah well. By the time we got there the rain had stopped and the sun had come out and it was dry enough to climb! Probably a worthwhile diversion.

This was Tamsyn's very first foray into outdoor bouldering, and with hindsight, maybe the Plantation wasn't the best place to start. Some of the boulders with the easier problems on them are pretty high, and if you've been used to big squishy mats to land on indoors, the prospect of even a flat but hard landing isn't enormously encouraging.

This picture was taken on the south face of the Pebble Boulder. Tamsyn's face says it all!

Having pottered around here for a bit, we decided to try Burbage South. Caroline and I had been there in March and really enjoyed messing about on stuff when we didn't have a guidebook. After another small detour on foot (my fault again), we reached some good easy-looking boulders with lots of shot holes in them.

We pottered around here for ages, Caroline and I trying to teach Tamsyn to trust her feet and realising it isn't really something one can teach. It has to be learned. Trying to do things "hands free" seemed a good way of starting that learning process!

Needless to say, we wore our skin out pretty quickly and were mindful that maybe the weather would be better tomorrow...

It was and it wasn't better tomorrow. We took our time packing up, had a leisurely breakfast and headed for Cratcliffe and Robin Hood's Stride, on another promise of some good low-grade bouldering. We were hopeful. It was a bit showery, but the sun was strong when it appeared. We trekked up the hill with fingers crossed that the heat would dry the boulders fairly quickly, while we had some lunch and figured out the guidebook. Alas, it was not to be. No sooner had we reached the top of the hill, reminisced a bit about Font and bouldering in forests, than the hot sun was blotted out by the most torrential rain. We sheltered in a cave hoping it would pass and the hot sun would reappear. To start with it was funny - one of those downpours that doesn't quite seem real it's so heavy. We watched the rivulets washing acorns down the slope and waited. Then the rain penetrated our cave and we realised we were sitting in puddles. So we had a cherry stone spitting competition (in which Caroline and Tamsyn were neck and neck, and I was lagging way behind).

Our cave got wetter, so we moved (mistake - we'd have got less wet sitting still) to the hermit's cave lower down the hill. It continued to pour. Eventually we got bored. If it stopped raining, it wasn't going to dry in time for us to climb. Tamsyn had a train to catch and we had a 5 hour drive north.

With a degree of reluctance we opted for coffee and cake in Bakewell. It continued to rain, and we felt a bit better about bailing. We've always said that no trip is a wasted trip and now we know that Cratcliffe and Robin Hood's Stride are worth visiting.....when they're dry!

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Home alone Saturday night so was flicking through photographs of various climbing trips. I couldn't resist publishing these ones. They will only be funny for those who were there (and maybe even then only after a couple of glasses of wine!), but there you go. I write this blog as much to amuse myself as anyone else!

Friday, 5 June 2009


No matter how many additional hours I do at work, it always feels like a treat to leave early, especially when the weather turns in my favour just at the right moment.

Martin agreed to pick me up at 4pm so I was anxiously watching the clouds all day. Between the time I left my desk and the time I reached the front of the building, the sun came out and there was blue sky! We headed out to North Berwick Law, where I still had my project, Law of Gravity, to go at. Martin has said on many occasions that he used to do reps on this route by way of training, so I reckoned that I might learn a thing or two from him.

Although it was still sunny when we got there, it chilled off pretty quickly by the time we'd warmed up. Martin went up and put the clips in, seemingly cruising the long reaches and waltzing past the finishing moves which I find so precarious. Even the crimpy start to the 7a+ version is considerably easier than the top 3 moves.

When he had reached the top, he lowered down to the highest big ledge (the one on the left that you stand on in order to reach the two undercuts for the top move). Then I said, can you see the tiny hole in the wall by your left knee? The response to this was "yes, but I don't fancy it for my foot". That's what I have to use for my left foot, because I can't reach the right hand sidepull/undercut.

I went up bolt to bolt next, and showed Martin my non-lank version at the top. I'm not sure whether I felt a sense of trepidation or vindication at his proclamation that clearly these moves are much harder for me than they are for him.

The next bit is for those of you who know this route well. If you don't, apologies, this bit is geeky and boring!

Here is a bit of a fuzzy image showing where my hands and feet go in order to reach the top. It's a bit too zoomed in to be clear. This is definitely the crux for me. I put my right foot on the big ledge(RF1) and lay back (as much as I can, given the hold is level with my face) off the big hole with my left hand (LH). With my right hand on the low ledge (RH) I have to out on my left toe in that tiny hole (LF) and pull my right foot up onto a tiny smeary chip (RF2)and then slap with painful precision for the top hold which everyone else uses as an undercut (RH2). If I catch it wrong, I'm off. After that, it's a simple step up and through with the left foot and reach for the top edge.

Pulling faces at the prospect of the crux on another previous redpoint (September 08)

So first time, all the moves felt very reachy, unusually so, so I shook out for ages at every opportunity (while Martin chilled off below! What a saint! Thanks Martin). I was surprised to find myself facing the top crux, never mind finding the energy to do it! I faffed around, started the move, backed off, started again, backed off again, feeling that my left foot and left hand were both very precarious. When I did go for it, I didn't catch the right hand properly, and gravity took over. I have to say, that would have been a good day if I'd left it there. It was a new high point.

A previous redpoint in September last year

But having a long rest, some magic dried fruit stuff that Martin offered me, a bit of a run around and I found myself in the same place on the second redpoint. Cool! I was in danger of repeating the faffing, but all the previous moves had felt easier this time: less reachy, less effort generally. Having tried to rush the crux moves to start with, I composed myself and tried again only to slip and scrabble to a recovery, hanging on only by fingertips and willpower! Phew. That was close!! A bit more composure and I just went for it, remembering that I didn't want to have to do the whole lot yet again!

Whoops of glee echoed round the small quarry, and fortunately only Martin to hear them. With hindsight probably a bit embarrassing to have made so much noise about a route that people used to lap, but it was something of an achievment for me, and after all, we climb for nobody but ourselves. A lovely evening, and some success to boot. It's nice to feel good on a route given my recent bout of apathy, nonchalence and gloom. Maybe this is the start of my climbing rehabilitation? Here's hoping....