The final chapter, a bit about grades too.

18th Nov 2007

SO, to the day of the ascent. Again, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to lead it. Having gone up there once, would I be able to do it again?

As it was a Monday, a bit of an odd day to get friends to come out and help. Also, I was working but the weather was so nice and I was pretty psyched to do this route. I felt like I needed to get it out of my system and the only way was to lead it, then I could close the book on it and relax for a while.

So we headed out and I set up the top rope. Matt and Lewis were on standby to come out if I needed them to spot.

It was too warm!

I couldn’t believe it. The climbing felt harder than it had the day before, I hadn’t realized how good the conditions had been, also I think I was more tired than I anticipated.

A feeling of doom filled me, was this going to turn into a siege? IE. Taking days coming out trying to do it and always something not being right.

I tried to override the feeling of doom with determination, today was going to be the day, I’d had enough!

It really was too warm though, so I decided to wait until the end of the day when it was cooler. I only top roped it once.

When it had cooled down I top roped the bold bit again, just to check the holds were cool enough to hang, it felt ok not fantastic. I didn’t do the crux, there was no point wasting strength, I knew what I had to do up there.

I called Matt and Lewis to head out and tried to get psyched. John and Chris were at the crag too, it was nice having friends around, it didn’t feel such a lonely experience.

I ran round a bit to warm up, it had got chilly which was great. Normally I’m not into the cold but I had realized how crucial it was for this route to feel doable.

The time came and I went through the process of getting ready. Funnily enough even though I had done it yesterday and knew it was possible I felt more apprehensive, I guess I knew what I was in for and the conditions weren’t so good.

After some breathing I set off, not more than five moves up, my right hand slipped off a hold and I came very close to pinging off. Not a good start. I felt like this was a bit of a test and I managed to put this mishap to the back of my mind and carry on. I’m not quite sure how I did this, as there were some much smaller holds coming up that I really didn’t want to grease off but I’m pleased I managed to push on.

I started to feel good again and the moves slotted into place. My hands were cold and I couldn’t feel some of the holds but trusted that I had the right bit and pulled through. I was at the gear slot and just said I’m never going to do that again- twice is enough. I really felt determined to do the crux. I got the gear in, chilled out and got some blood back in my hands- I was psyched.

After five minutes of chilling I set off. I’m straight in to a 6b crimp move that really takes it out of you before the crux (again this is a Lucy Creamer move that only I have to do). I felt kind of good though and I got the rp 2 in well and started pulling hard on my left hand to get my left foot up. Millimetres away, I really dug in. Saw my toe go on to the hold, this is it ‘I’m in!’ Still the crux pull on the crack to do but I wasn’t falling off now, no way. I did it and got to the last bit of gear, another rp2.

I felt excited and knew the top was within reach. Just a last 6b pull to do. Standing on the foothold, I could get a bit back in my arms. The rp went in a lot better than yesterday, all was feeling good.

I decided to go, couldn’t really stand around much longer, for a slab it’s surprisingly taxing on the arms.

I went for it, fumbled a bit with my feet more through nerves than tiredness and found myself pulling over the top.

WOW! What an amazing feeling…I just couldn’t believe I’d managed to lead this route. I felt really emotional and sat down with a big grin on my face.

Thinking back to my first couple of goes on the route, it felt so hard (I realize now the conditions were too warm but it’s kind of good trying things when it’s warm, as it feels a lot better when it’s cooler). I genuinely thought I would never be able to climb some of the moves, let alone lead it.

And here I was at the top, having successfully led it.

I was so proud of myself and at that moment it felt like one of the most satisfying moments of my climbing career.

It’s kind of weird though, I still don’t understand grit. How can a short piece of rock provide so much intensity of feeling in such a small amount of time? But that’s grit, it does.

I went through new experiences on this route and discovered new corners of my mind, which is great to still be able to have that, having been climbing as long as I have. I can see how climbing hard grit can become addictive, the feelings I had climbing the bold section were liberating.

I will never be a grit master but I can appreciate it in a new way now. I still can’t understand why people get so het up about it (check out UKC), it’s fantastic rock but all rock is to me.

Also, apparently a debate is raging about the grade on UKC. I’m not reading any of it as I am so happy with my experience on the route. I don’t want to change that, although knowing the UKC stuff is going on is upsetting.

From my point of view, I have been entranced by this climb. I don’t care what grade it is, it’s gone beyond that and to be honest I have no idea. All I know is that for me it felt way harder than the E7’s I did recently. I really had to go through some soul searching to climb this route; it was the first experience of this I have had.

Onsighting the E7’s was different. You have to have ultimate confidence in your abilities before you leave the ground to attempt hard onsights and at those moments I did.

Also, I know my best medium is limestone and I can feel confident on that. Whereas, I am not so confident on grit.

I couldn’t careless what the grade is, it’s a fantastic route with amazing climbing and I’ve climbed it. What more can you say?...