Monday, 22 July 2013

Nearly There.... And the FA of 'The Breaking Wheel' (E5 6c)

Marks on 'The Chocolate Moose' font 6c**
We're getting into the dangerous part of prospecting at the moment- the period just before the lead. The Mono Wall is clean, it's wild and it's wired. More than two years of cleaning and perfecting: two years of bad weather, other commitments, physical and mental weakness. But now, we're almost there. I've spent a lot of time on the moves over the last few weeks and at last it's started to feel inviting and beautiful, albeit still bloody lethal!

The whole junior section of Moors activism was at the crag yesterday, with a few unclimbed things in mind. Samuel 'Karl' Marks and Matthew Ferrier had their eye on an interesting highball slab in the ravine, which was rumoured to be around E5 6b. It turned out to still be a bit damp after the cleaning though, so that one wasn't to be. It could have probably still been climbed, but it wasn't going to be enjoyable. Spirits were still high however, with Matt and Sam then quickly dispatching the established 'The Chocolate Moose' (E4 6b).

This whole time, Dave had been cleaning a  repulsive - looking hairline crack. It's an obvious line and after most of the filth was removed it looked to be most inviting. Sam reckoned it looked about E1, which most of the rest of us thought was a wild underestimation of the difficulties. It turned out that we were right and Sam was wrong (for a change) and it was actually a real bastard of a crack. We all had some goes and we all failed to finger-lock our way up to the big ledge.

With desperation kicking in, eventually someone had the idea to jump off some lower holds for the ledge - which was to be a large dyno. This also proved unfruitful, with effort after effort resulting in a hilarious belayer-smashing fall.  After a particularly painful fall that resulted in some whiplash, a more determined air took over and the ledge was latched ground-up. A fine team success at a grade of English 6c. The whole team thought the route was deserved of E4 6c - Even the better part of my own judgement thought thus, but as we all know, E4 6c doesn't exist, so it had to be E5. Could be E3 6c I suppose!

So after an unexpected new E5 6c addition to Danby crag, later called 'The Breaking Wheel', we set about rather tired, on trying to top rope the Mono Wall. Whilst having shunted it a lot, we're yet to try it on top rope, which is a huge benefit for the lower wall which overhangs quite a lot. It felt easy, disturbingly easy. Bottom to top, bottom to top, over and over, link after link. I felt ready for the solo, steady on most of the moves, strong. All agreed that the crux is hard, how hard we don't quite know - perhaps a couple of boulder grades harder than 'the finger' at the Wainstones, which puts it anywhere above font 7c+.

It was really useful to get the chaps' opinions on the danger of it however. I've been on it so much I'd started to convince myself that a fall could potentially be rolled out and then the rocks and trees at the bottom could form a kind of brake. This was debated a little, with the upshot being that when the time for the solo comes, it's best not to fall off. It's really starting to sound quite hard in my head. This is quite important to me I think. I climb best and boldest when I really believe that what I'm doing is hard, when I pull the moves and feel invincible.  If I'm just going through the motions of 'another mid-difficulty sequence', I get complacent and absent. On the Mono Wall there's no place for absence: you have to be there and you have to look at the tip of your finger dragging your body through some of the most ridiculous moves anyone's ever tried at height. There's competition and spirituality all mangled together in some awful cocktail of self-doubt.

It's tough being away from the crag at the moment, doing a bit of DIY and hearing reports of others' successes around the UK. It makes me feel a little hasty, like I should go to Danby right now and solo it, but the right time has to be chosen. Perhaps this is the hardest part of headpointing? It's meant to rain tomorrow, so tonight will probably be the last session for a few days. Hopefully I'll stay fit and everything with align just nicely for an ascent.

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