It is Grit stone and board sessions that are leaving me bruised at the moment, it is the tips that are taking the biggest battering. After a fun weekend of competing in Ratho the crisp autumn sun bathed me in the blues as we wound our way out of the highlands. Gazing at the last rays of a weekend of prime grit stone conditions I pondered the probable bad weather on its way and my weekends choice of deep Scottish hole, colder than outside, pulling on plastic.
However last week the weather did hold out and high motivation from the weekend pulled together some great sessions. I was torn by the cold dry conditions on Monday, rest was calling after back-to-back competitions but after such desperation on the drive home I had to get out. I have had a almost 1/3 of hours dropped at the depot so I got on my bike and rode out to Caley, a great half hour peddle, although my house mate did take the pads on the bus. We had a couple of hours playing on the classic 7b+ lines of Block buster and Jew Jew Club, problems I have tried before and seemed nails. It was ruff play and the start of my finger bashing week. I left with big progress on Block Buster but backward gains on Jew Jew. My blooded hands talked with bloody curses of lessons to learn, grit technique to master and beautiful boulders nestled in my mind.
That evening I headed straight from the Caley with still chalked and battered hands, looking rather scruffy for a chilled top rope session, I had a date! Turns out Hannah was soon confident enough on the top ropes to do her first leads and after a quick belay lesson and some tester falls we were quick off the top ropes and onto the main wall leads. My relaxed rest day was polished off with foot to hand climbing on the 7b/7c routes and bagging the first onsight of the 8a, which has seen attempts from the likes of Dave Barrens.
On Wednesday Ed and myself made a last minuet abort of a depot session to make the most of the dry weather and head back to Caley. We had a great afternoon. It was amazing to see Ed tame (and almost climb 3rd go!) the amazing overhanging arête of Zoo York font 8a in just a session. This really is one of the greatest lines I have seen and it was so inspiring to see it so within Ed’s ability.
I finally managed to pull myself over the top of Jew Jew club from the half way crimps with desperate flailing legs. I felt beaten, there was no way it wasn’t going to happen from the start. I gave up, taped my battered hand and jammed it back into into the starting pocket of blockbuster. The pain was just bearable but I knew I only had a few attempts before the thought of putting my grit burnt fingers, in the desperately tight pocket would be repulsive. Having watched Ed do it (although he was seriously disadvantaged with his chunky meat hooks that could not fit in the pocket!) I powered trough the moves with little fuss second go. This is a really cool problem with wicked moves, really pleased to have done it.
I stood back and looked up at the Jew Jew slopers, Jacob had just turned up and redone it in a couple of goes. Both Ed and Jacob used some ridiculous foot beta, Ed did the no feet version, Jacob the 2m off route beta. It was then that I realized I had to be do something different, that it probably felt so desperate because I was trying it a desperate way. I thought about the move I was trying to execute and I saw the solution. I grabbed some pads and threw my heal up over the top rocking the last move out easily. I did the full thing next try. That afternoon I found a little bit of grit knowledge and I experienced some magic. I am a long way from becoming a Grit wizard but I have embarked on an apprenticeship, it is an exciting feeling! That evening angry techno took magic into its own hands and energized our living room, the midnight board meeting commenced.
By this stage the tips were sweating it out even in cold rooms and to touch a hold made us wince. When we were young we were told about character building, Thursday morning was one of those sort of mornings. We were at the wall by 10 double lapping the 7b’s, 7c’s and then both climbed the 8a, it was real fight! Good to know it was not a fluke. The 24h battle was finished on the hardest boulder problems in the cave.
With the best intentions I went to bed at 1.30am on Friday night, a weekends worth of food prepared and my sport climbing kit out. I stirred naturally at 7am and my heart dropped, it was far too light, what had happened to my alarm? I had half an hour to get out of bed and to the station. It wasn’t going to happen. I had to settle for a couple of frustrated hours back on the board gritting my teeth over the purpling skin. I headed out to the peak district later on for the Alpkits Big Shakeout. It was a great day of outdoor adventure madness mixed with cool acoustic artists, fire poi and cider. It was really cool to catch up with Shauna and Ben and great to be out camping.
Feeling really pleasingly fresh after so much cider I had an amazing afternoon at Burbage South playing on the small collection of boulders near the path with Hannah and Ailsa. The highlight was the brilliant central problem on the sheep and the small but perfect dyno on the brick. It was really cool to see Hannah get to grips with the grit stone and I was super impressed to see her slap up the rounded arête on the sheep with a hint of a grit witch in her climbing. It was an afternoon to celebrate a great week and as we came down from the hills through the amber valleys and back to Leeds the fading autumn light left no space for the blues.