Deep s*** soloing and a windy whip

The last month or so has been a bit sensitive in our house. We mused at the beginning of the year that we were all going to get really strong or really injured, well at the moment the house is pretty injured but hopefully things are well on the mend. Ralph has a broken wrist from a ground fall when gear failed on a trad route. Jacob finally flirted with his braking point on the board after 4 days on power training. He has subsequently seriously strained his ankle doing some recovery climbing on the grit. Ben is feeling the strain on his fingers, I have strained my back on my trip and Jacob Handyside has just gone down with tonsillitis.

Unlocking the secrets of the holdless scoop of Pistol Whip F7b, Jacob Cook

Although my back is frustrating especially its effect on my last comp it has at least occurred at the end of the season. It has not been hard for me to take 2 weeks off from any kind of training and I have had fantastic constructive rest days at Almscliff soloing many of the 3 star routes I have neglected to do. I had such an amazing day at the cliff last week flowing my way through 25 stars in 2 hours, 9 routes - 8 of which were 3 star. I was onsighting routes knowing where the footholds would be as if I was redpointing, this awareness and focus was very special.

A week later with my back feeling almost fully recovered and glorious sunshine painting a crisp picture in my loft window I was excited for some more. Jacob and myself headed out to the cliff, cripples laden with 5 pads. The sun might have been shining but the cliff was in the midst of a battle against an army force wind, conditions were cold! We started on a section of wall I have never climbed on and apart from the several feet of cow shit the best place to be in these conditions. Black Wall has fantastic rock with the most perfect Gritstone pockets and brilliant climbs. We only needed a pad to keep our feet clean at the start then we were safely off over deep shit. I climbed all of the classic routes over the next hour or so bathed in sunshine and completely calm. As soon as you pull over the top you are hit with Baltic winds that freeze your warm hands by the time you have run back round into the sunny shelter.

A Sensitive Household, Luke Tilley

With our appetite for Black Wall satisfied we had to move away from a safe haven. Ian Vickers and Adam Jeeworth joined me in the wind tunnel on the brilliant problem of Pistol Whip, font 7b. This holdless scoop requires some grit magic to climb it. When you first try it seems impossible. As you slowly learn the ways of the scoop you start getting a glimpse of possibility and then when the key is held firmly in your hand the difficulty becomes obsolete. It was amazing to see Ian cruise it second go! This must have been my 3rd session on it and after half an hour or so of trying the moves came together. I pulled on and every move felt right and every one was easy I knew now it was going to happen. Pulling over the top really was so satisfying but running round and pulling over the top again straight away was even better - I had learnt some magic on this problem. Although I went home with an aching back having tested it slightly too hard I dealt with it well and will soon be in form. The next climbing year is about to begin! What an end to 2012.

By Luke Tilley