Friday, 8 April 2016

Obstacles and Inspiration

I injured my finger a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't climbing related and I'm hopeful it will heal, but the result has been a break from the Sandy project. I'm not too sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it's annoying not to miss the time of year that usually has best conditions. On the other side, It's been fantastic to have had a break from the usual slog.
A particular highlight has been a visit by Tom Randall. He's been coming up on and off for a few months now and climbed 'The Art of Non-Conformity' (E7 6c) last June. That was an oft-eyed line and an impressive feat during a quick hit. His visit this time has been no less impressive.

In two days I fired him at six lines. One was Sky Burial (H9 6c) and the rest were unclimbed. He got on pretty well!

The second obstacle I've had this Easter has been the weather and Tom's first day was a total washout. The planned Northumberland hit was a no-go, so I took him to a bit of a wildcard choice, hoping with everything that Cringle Crag in the Moors was going to be dry. Somehow, a lot of it was.

We had a nice time playing around on the arête we called 'coffin' arête. It's steady 6b climbing; fairly blind and with one of the worst falls on a route I've ever seen. Something like H8 was the verdict - neither of us were psyched for the lead...
Round two was on 'the lip'. By now I could see the psyche ebb from Tom's immaculate jawline. He made polite noises, but the fire was yet to be lit.
"You're going to love this one Tom", I encouraged.
"Oh my god! This has to be one of the most intimidating grit routes I've ever been on! This is so long!" He was psyched.
For a good hour I watched him make impressive links and explore around the 3D arête. Love of holds, grand plans for massive cleaning sessions, small spaced cam chat, F8a+, talk of massive lobs, obsession with the finish.. It went on for a while and was great to see. I see him getting that one done.
Now, I'm not one to get intimidated by other climbers, but the idea of having a jam-off with Tom was more than a little bit daunting. Surprise, surprise, by the end of the day I was lunging of a rancid jam. Dark red blood poured from my hand, as I lunged for a high sidepull. It was good beta and Tom's inventiveness has unlocked one of the things in the Moors I really didn't know how to do. The Red Wall.
Day two came. Weather: crap. Even people who lived next to the crags were not psyched to come out. We drove for two hours, to a rather damp Maiden's Bluff. Matt Ferrier joined us and between the two of them, I'm fairly sure Matt and Tom formed a black hole of psyche. I was really excited to have them both on Sky Burial though and they both impressively waltzed the moves. Gradually they became excited. YES! Tom flashed it on a top rope, which is probably most impressive for it's bottom 6c move, rather than the trad crux. Easy and massively dangerous was the verdict I think, which is basically what I thought. Doubtful whether this is ever going to be repeated.
Smuggler's Terrace was up next. The Tormented Sole Direct start is one of the best unclimbed lines in the Moors and we all had fun on the heel move. It was pretty wet, otherwise it may have been lead. Consensus: Burbage E9 7a.  We finished the day by unlocking the Smuggler's Wall Project via an enormous tenuous dyno. That last one was particularly cool.
So, despite the rain, we had an enormously productive couple of days. Two things I didn't see myself doing have been fully unlocked and a few fires have been lit for other projects.

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