Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Following on from my woeful weekend climbing performance, bad (ok, atrocious) weather forced us to the wall again last night. Although we got there late, and half the wall was flooded, I was looking forward to climbing. However, once again, by the second route I led (a F5) I was a gibbering wreck, and volunteered just to belay George for the rest of the night.

Fortunately, he was having none of it, and persuaded me to try falling off instead. I unwillingly made my way to the bottom of the easiest route in the middle of the main wall and, after some inevitable prevarication, set off. I got to just below the fourth clip - and managed to let go. Result! Up to the next, level with the bolt this time (though I was still clipping from quite low down).

Pause. Pause Pause.

Let go!

That was ok! I felt steadily more confident even though I was getting higher up the wall, and although the intent was to keep falling off, I was able to focus more on the moves and waste less energy feeling generally sick.

I tried a couple more routes, and although I didn't have a 100% success rate by any means, but things were much better. By the end of the night, I even tried a very overhanging F6b - and got over half way! Well, as they say, you can't get hurt if you're in the air (can you?).

(Not) Turning the Tide

Well, when I last posted, I thought things were getting better with my climbing and I was starting to get my head back together. However, a trip to Northumberland this weekend set me straight on that!

It was a great weekend with much better weather than was on offer in the Lakes - we headed to Kyloe-in-the-Woods on Saturday, and Bowden Doors on Sunday, both of which turned out to be great venues. Northumberland has always had somewhat mythical status in my mind as the hardest climbing in Britain, a whole County full of sandy sandbags. I was pleasantly surprised, though - the grades in the newest Rockfax guide felt reasonable and the rock was lovely - grit-esque friction but with flutings, lacy sandstone edges, pockets and much more solid than I had expected.

However, when it came to leading, despite finding an easy, well protected, very pleasant VDiff (Russett Groove), once again, I sucked. Big time. I did the ever so slightly trickier start, and then realised that I didn't have enough small-medium sized wires. And set off into full panic mode. I downclimbed and lowered off, and then sat at the bottom mentally and literally beating myself up. How could I possibly be so useless? It didn't help that at the back of my mind I knew I could almost certainly easily and safely solo the route, if I could just not panic needlessly.

I finally did pull myself together, the ropes back through, retie and then lead the route with less flapping, but once again felt I had let myself down.

Monday was spent joining the Bank Holiday masses at Lindisfarne - also something of a disappointment, though that should not have come as a surprise, given it was probably one of the busiest days of the year on the island. The romantic notion I had of a castle on a tiny island in the middle of sand and sea was shattered when I realised that the castle was on the headland of a substantial island, complete with village with tea rooms and souvenirs and crab stick vans. We elected to leave quickly before we got cut off by the tide and had to stay there for another four hours...

We headed home on a circuitous route through Alston, stopping at the excellent Hartshead Cafe, then an impromptu gear shopping trip to Keswick, and finally a waterslide of a ride back over Dunmail Raise. Back in Kendal, everything was starting to flood and once again we thought we might be cut off by the tide that was starting to run around the car park.