The word F*ck echoed around Strathnairn on the evening before I departed for the Lake District. Sticking the crux and making the next move, I fell off. At least I planted my flag a bit higher on ’The Force’. I had kept a week clear in my diary so I could escape Scotland and remember what trad climbing was. However, this just felt a total inconvenience as my psyche was to climb ‘The Force’. Oh well, a week of ledge shuffling in The Lakes will give my fingers a rest.
Ledge shuffling, rest, The Lakes…. I should have learnt my lesson from last time. These routes aren’t given away. Iain sent me up ‘The Gates of Delerium’ at Ravens crag to kick things off. Linking the two pitchs, I collapsed at the belay feeling rather taxed for an E4. Nothing like a good slap in the face to wake me up for a week here.
|The Gates of Delerium. (Photo; Iain Small)|
|Me on Das Kapital (Photo: Iain Small)|
|Tony on Second Coming (Photo: Iain Small)|
|Iain on Peels of Laughter (Photo: Tony Stone)|
Dove Crag was the number one venue in my list with ‘Vlad the Impailer E7’ being the next thing for me to try. The description for the route is pretty involved. It basically gives you all the gear beta. Combining that that with Iain’s extensive gear knowledge of the crag, I thought it would be easy! I can’t really remember much about it. I almost dropped it gaining the niche where you place a rock 1, but managed to compose myself. Got to the crux and made the moves to the niche, then fell off. I’m blaming seepage out of the little crack below but to be honest, I was pretty pumped ;-). Down, pulled my ropes and I jumped back on after a rest. Got past the crux and got into the funky niche. Not many holds there but somehow I managed not to fall off and get myself up and out to the easier ground above. Phew!
|Me in red on Vlad. Some dude with green trousers on the HVS. looks grim. I much rather be boxed out ma face than climbing the mossy slabs. (Photo: Iain Small)|
Passing showers forecast, Dove was the obvious choice as it would stay dry. Next up was ‘Dusk till Dawn E7’. This required a bit more effort than Vlad. After some ‘uping’ and ‘downing’ on the bold start, I eventually committed to the technical sequence. Reaching the crucial kit, I managed to quickly arrange it. With poor feet, all I had to do was pull hard and make a big move to the jugs above. However, I was too hesitant. I hung on, searching for footholds, hoping a little foot ledge would pop out. No, just shitty little irregularities. So in typical Murdoch style, I waited till my arms were totally gone, the tried to commit. Surprise surprise, I fell off. Down, pulled my ropes, I jumped back on and made the move. Feeling more confident and fresh, I tried to relax and enjoy the climbing above. The next minute, I was flying through the air with a block in my hands. Same as before, down, pulled the ropes and back on. This time I am near the top. Misreading the terrain above thinking there would be some better holds on this ledge, I found myself pumping out trying to hold the sloping ledge. Elbows touching the sky, there was nothing left. The powerful moves left denied me. Oh well, working out what to do I carried on to the top. Rapped the route cleaning the gear out, I felt pretty disheartened. I really should have been flashing this. So for the next few hours belaying Iain, I was beating myself up inside. Time marched on, passing showers, the light begins to fade. Iain raps his route and cleans the gear out. I glance at my watch when he reaches the ground. I know it’s time to go. Any normal person would. It’s cold, windy, the odd passing shower with little more than an hour of day light left. Deep down, I knew I couldn't leave. Knowing I would not get the opportunity to be back this year, I sheepishly asked ‘would you mind if I gave Dusk another burn?’ Waiting for a ‘No’, I got nothing but encouragement from Iain. A rapid de rack from him and rack up from me, I remind myself, ‘it’s just a pumpy F7c at the end of the day’. I guess this is where chucking a finally lap of Goat Prow at the end of a day pays off. Before I knew it, I was at the top of the route re threading my ropes at the anchors. Boom.
A major tick of the week was meeting the local Lakeland wad, Dave Birkett and his wife Mary and new born May. They were having a casual day out at Reecastle. I was keen for ‘Penial Servitude E5’. Having red pointed ‘Hells Wall E6’ earlier in the day, feeling a bit weary from the previous 3 days and Dave and Mary watching, the odds were stacked against me. Well I got up it onsight/flash (I knew about the rp2) by the skin of my teeth.
I had to leave on the Friday as I had a First Aid refresher at the weekend back home. A complete pain in the arse but never mind. Before I left though, I cashed in by doing 'Trilogy E5' and 'RnS Special E5' at Ravens crag in Langdale. Trilogy certainly warmed me up and focused the mind. I had heard a few comments about RnS Special. Folk saying it’s pretty bold and more like E6. I don’t know, hard to tell really. I thought it was ok, but at the same time I never wanted to test the ride down the crag.
|RnS Special (Photo: Iain Small)|
Just in case you wanted to know, the First Aid course was fine. Saturday was bearable as I needed a rest. Sunday killed me as the weather was mint. Moan moan moan grumble grumble grumble.
Thanks to Iain for a great trip. He also supplied a lot of photo's for this post as my camera battery died at the start of the trip (I had not means of charging it).