Monday, 27 July 2015

Sandy Arete


I'm feeling far from the Moors. It's fantastic how much stuff is going on down there at the moment, but my centre of focus seems to be shifting.

Sandy Crag arête is an absolute belter of a line, with a pair of arêtes firing straight up for 20 metres into the Northumberland sky. I think I've been hypnotised half by class and half by the spirit of the place. I think a good place makes you feel like you know it already. I feel an intimate connection with the hills around Sandy Crag. I feel like I know it as well as any other and the arête allures.

The quality and boldness of this piece of rock is blindingly obvious. What has been less obvious is whether it is going to be that project that fits my strengths so well as to mirror the maximum abilities of my body. I was looking for Monos and wild finger moves, which this thing didn't quite seem to be. As I had told myself that my next project has to certainly be 'the one', this uncertainty wasn't what I was really after. Nevertheless, I persevered for 5 or 6 sessions just to really get to know the line.

What I have found is that it may actually be more fitting to my strengths than a route that I would have designed myself. I'm deep in this realm of thought at the moment - do we create our new routes, or merely find them? Would being able to design them make them better? Realism V. Romanticism I suppose.. Anyway..  The arête fits me a lot better than I had thought.

There are around 8 hard moves, which start just out of highball distance and continue for 9 metres. The first couple are intensely fingery and have surprisingly proven to be some of the hardest. Move no.2 in particular is a finger pull harder than Fly Agaric or Divine Moments of Truth. You have a very incut 2.5 finger 12th pad thing with the right and a knobbly, more conventional 8th padder on the arête with the left. You're lunging for a rounded quarter pad two finger dish off of an okay right edge, but it's tricky to latch just right. You need to get that dish right, because it quickly becomes your only decent hold for the psycho-crux. Probably H10 to the dish?

From the dish you'd be lucky to get away with a couple of broken legs. But what's fantastic about the line is that each of these moves is an absolute masterpiece of flow; leading seamlessly into the next. So, after this finger pull, you're straight into a compression slappy sequence and then a ridiculously corey- high foot. It's fantastic! I'm pretty flexible, but the foot you have to paste onto the arête involves a couple of intermediate smears and slaps, which are all incredibly unnerving. So after 4 hard moves on solo, you end up perched on your toes, with sidepulls holding you on. At that point you're over the bulge and the physical climbing is over, which is kind of a relief, but also disconcerting. The next 4/5 moves are all fluffable and the 1st one you have to do is probably the trad crux. You're now at well over 10 metres and you have to pull on all your insecure limbs to slap into a left sidepull/undercut at the limit of your reach. If you tire or sink just a little on that move you'll be whizzing off to emptiness. After that it's a dialable 6c path.

It's taken a real long time to get a feel of all the intro and exit moves, never mind all these crux moves. There were just real issues with getting into the finger move, which only resolved themselves after an hour of moving my hips to different points around the aretes. Now though, I'm feeling like ever move is fairly dialled. I could potentially start to link sections together in time for Autumn, which is where I need to be if I'm going to get it wired enough for next spring. See how it goes, if it takes ages to get from the link to total-dial stage it might be a two-yearer. My 25th birthday is in April though, which was always an end point for dangerous routes in my mind. I'm surprised that it is becoming a reality of sorts..

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