Monday, 20 May 2013

Fall of the Wild

Is it wet? Or is it my own sweat? Chalk. Chalk. Chalk.  Nervousness. Dry mouth.
Is the cam I shoved in above the stuck Friend over-cammed?  More gear.  Need more gear.

Move from the rest back up into the land of confusion.  Sideways holds.  Fight, wires in teeth, grating a bloodied knuckle, jerking and tugging, two happy wires sit firm.  Bubbles of security.  Back at the rest, I look down at Murdo, surprised how far I have to arch my neck to see him.  This has to be the steepest trad route I've been on for a long time.  No wonder I'm fatigued.  No wonder I'm scared.  Whipping around in the maelstrom of my buzzing mind is what I've recently found out about this route.  Folk I know failed on it, where it steepens, right at the last.  All good climbers.

I can see a crack, surely Friend 2 width.  And maybe slightly smaller just above.  I make another pass into the confusion, seeing more with each tentative foray.  The Friend goes in, I struggle to clip it, groaning.  Down to the rest again. Next time, I'll go for it.  The kit's good.  You're just tiring yourself.  Get up there and move right. The top of that black boss. It's a jug.

This time I'm passed the Friend, don't ask me how.  Thinking back, I can't remember what I did.  Reaching right to the flange I can bridge out and stuff another cam into the higher crack.  Clip and move.  Rightwards.  The top of that black boss.  It's a jug.  And it is. Swimming with the steepness, paste feet right and step in to rock up and rock round.  Rounded.  Rounded.  So, this is what the guide meant about laybacking rounded holds.  Feet up again, right toes on a sloping ramp.  Sloping down and down.  But it's too far right.  Trying to pull up, and in.  Slap the left hand.  Rounded.  Slap again.  Rounded.  The right hand is under my chest and I try to bring my weight into the niche.  Face pressed on rock.  Off balance.  Ragged breathing. The terror.  Becoming deafening.  Deafening.

And I'm off.

My first visit to Lochan Dubh Crag proved a memorable one.

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