Sunday, 15 February 2015

The God Delusion

Despite having the Wednesday off work, Iain was niggling at me that Tuesday was the day we needed.  Over a 24hr period I kept looking at Wetterzentrale.  He was right.  Monday and Tuesday cold, Thursday and Friday warm with Wednesday holding that uncertainty.  After some painful indecision from me which the people around me were suffering as well, I eventually sent the drafted text message to a work colleague to see if he could cover my shift.  A rapid response; Yes!  Boom, we were on.

After a bit of chat with Martin Moran about Giants wall, he made a comment saying it isn't a place you want to be visiting too often in a season.  Similar to North Stack Wall at Gogarth I guess.  You go there, do a route and run away for a few months allowing your mind to repair from the torture it’s had.  Fuck, I was going to go back in the space on 10 days!  Was that enough time?!

Prior to the ‘big Tuesday’, I had 2 confidence knocking days.  This wasn't helping my mental preparation for The Giants Wall.  A day on An Teallach with Moran.  The walk in was grim.  The weather had ‘survival’ written all over it, not ‘let’s try climbing a new hard line at the very top on An Teallach on some bold compact sandstone’.   Anyway, an annoying lull in the weather saw us swimming up Hayforks which just lured us into tying on.  Not wanting to digress too much, I was sent up to try some new direct line up the middle of the wall.  Not overly excited by the gear, the constant groupal pouring down one me, Martin becoming buried in new snow, I sacked it off and down climbed. 

Suffocating. (Photo: Martin Moran)


Saturday.  Bag packed, sandwiches made it was almost time for bed.  I sat on the floor with my head in my hands still suffering from the day on An Teallach.  I was just not feeling the psyche for any winter climbing.  I sheepishly sent a message off to Andy.  It was agreed I would not come out and winge whilst he went to solo some Torridon ice.  I feel bad bailing but I needed a day away from faffing with ropes, lanyards, gloves etc.  Sorry Andy.

Working on the Monday, time just dragged.  In fact it stood still then went backwards.  Clock watching for 9pm.  Hurry up!  All hell broke loose when the big hand struck the 12…  I drove my little red Skoda at 50mph to Beinn Bhan.  I hate sleeping in my car.  It’s just shit.  I don’t do it.  I like a bed, get up early and drive.  It gives me time the think and digest the apple I had for breakfast.  But on this occasion, even I saw the sense of winding back my seat and trying to get a few hours kip.
I saw Iain’s head torch flickering about in his car.  My car was getting rocked by the wind.  Sleet was building up against the window.  Ah, I’ll turn my phone on.  Hopefully it will chirp with a message from him saying ‘fuck it’.  No message.  Wallowing around lathered in sweat with a bag that weighed a tonne whilst belching yoghurt, muesli and tea.  Was this worth it?  Thankfully gearing up under the Giant the weather calmed, dawn broke and everything had a positive slant.  I even felt my face cracking with a smile. 

So going back to the beginning, we had two options in mind.  One was to poach a new line or do The God Delusion.  On arrival at the car park the previous night, we met Uisdean, Greg and Guy.  Iain and I were 24hrs too late.  But maybe that was a blessing in disguise.  A quick chat with Uisdean, it sounded like I might need to do a few more pull ups.  Iain agreed so we settled on The God Delusion.  Needless to say, my fear index was in the red.  Having read Moran’s blog the previous day, this was not good preparation.  This sounded intense and pretty serious.  Knowing that the first ascent team were pulling blocks off and lobbing onto lanyards, we were going to be in for a fun ride.  Iain, linked the first two pitches in good time. 

Iain can just be seen in his dark blue jacket.

I shuffled my way about on pitch 3.  

Me on Pitch 3.  (Photo Iain Small)

Iain making the difficult step as described on pitch 3.

Iain grumbled his way up pitch 4.  

Iain on Pitch 4.  Brilliant climbing. 

This is what its all about.  Grovelling and knees.  None of this fancy pictures you see in the media.

I pissed up pitch 5. 

The barrier wall pitch. (Photo: Iain Small)

Now, pitch 6.  The crux. Hmm, Iain kindly handed it over to me.  He had already done 2 big pitches.  Glancing at my watch, I had plenty of daylight left which relaxed me a bit and off I went.  I guess the crux move is pulling over this big roof.  It involves some deep lock offs, nothing for your feet and a nice ledge to land on beneath you.  

Me in the groove above the roof (Photo:Iain Small)
Myself somewhere (Photo: Iain Small)

Winding my may up the pitch I reached the niche.  By this point I had no slings or runners left.  I seriously needed to extend my runners.  So at the expense of my hexes, I used these all linked together.  I should have taken a photo and sold it to these instructors that like to write books on climbing and stuff.  This is the real deal instead of them taking photos of their little set up at the base of their local crag.  I better shut up before I lose my AMI membership.  After some pretty committing moves out of the niche, I was beginning to feel the burn.  Looking between my feet I could see why.  Just space then the snow slope below.  Clawing my way the strenuous technical moves, I was glad of my hex expenditure.  

Steep and exposed (Photo: Iain Small)
Lets not forget the view... (Photo: Iain Small)

Iain joined and despatched the next pitch.  Then the final one.  I remember reading somewhere about Pete Benson on this pitch.  It said something like, ‘what you just don’t need’.  When I looked up at it, I thought it looked easy.  It’s not.  It’s just a pitch that you just don’t need.  Awkward to start with some strenuous moves up the corner above.  The God Delusion certainly knows how to pump the energy out of you.  After the vertical soft snow, I was happy to be lying down on the plateau belaying Iain. 

Me (Photo: Iain Small)

Looks easy!  Top pitch.  (Photo: Iain Small)

I managed to get into work for just after 9am the next day.  Bouldering at the wall the following evening I fell off everything I can do easily.  That is a sign of a good day out.  Just in case you are wondering what I had for dinner when I got in.  I still had a tin of mackerel and oatcakes.  But this time I had some beetroot to supplement my withering lettuce leaves. 

So, The God Delusion.  What a route!  Comparing it with Godzilla, for me Godzilla is the line.  You walk into the corie, you look up and see the Godfather corner.  You look down the wall and you see the obvious grooves and corners leading up to the Godfather.  That’s Godzilla.  However, The God Delusion winds its way up some very impressive ground.  I think that’s what make this route different.  It’s a bit more intricate.  I have so much respect for Guy and Pete for establishing this line.  Repeating it is easy, just follow the route description.

It’s been almost 3 weeks since The God Delusion. People that follow me on Flickr will know I have been out.  Don’t worry, I have something to say.  I’m still high after taking Extasy on Friday so give me time to come down.  (I meant ticking the route Extasy ;-)).

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