Saturday 11 May 2013

Some results from the Lead training

For the last month I have been focussing on the darker art of climbing by spending some time on the craggy lead wall. At the start I was beaten up by every route on the wall. Simple 6a routes would make me pump out and cry like a little girl the second I got above a clip.

Since then, I have improved a lot, but I dont understand why or how.

Pete has had unwavering faith in me this whole time, for which I must thank him. He has been sport climbing for a long time now and, despite doubting him over and over again when he suggests what I am capable of, I am slowly starting to think that he actually knows what he is talking about.

The weather on the drive over was less than inspiring
Today for example, we went to Brean Down (just along the coast from Bristol) and Pete convinced me to attempt a 7c that I had looked at about 3/4 years ago as a potential project. However, at the time I was much more interested in bouldering and struggled to find partners to get out during the week. 
Fortunately, Pete is super keen and super strong. After onsighting the route, he gave me all the beta and insisted that I was capable of flashing the route.

As routes go, El Chocco is piss easy for the first 75%, followed by a great rest and a toughish boulder problem to finish up.
On my first attempt I reached the rest and got halfway through the crux. Literally two moves from flashing the route. Unfortunately, I had misunderstood the beta (and perhaps, as Pete said, not tried hard enough when I got there) and wasn't able to make the top work out for me. After a quick rest on the rope, I worked out some nice beta that I thought might work. 

Aware that the beta I had come up with was pretty strong for the end of the route I set off for round two with no small amount of trepidation. This trepidation manifested itself at the top as I was completely unable to move off of the crux holds.

This continued on the next two attempts, each failing on the last two moves of the route. I was starting to feel a little like coming back on another day would be the optimal approach, but Pete thought otherwise.
I took a really nice rest, walking over to the cafe and buying a Snickers and Sprite to refuel and generally wake me up.

By the time I was back at the crag, tied in and ready to go, the sugar had started to kick in and I was feeling a little better than I was on the previous two attempts. I set off again with no particular hopes, aiming mainly to try my best and see how far I could go.

Pete Onsighted El Chocco. E.Z.P.Z

I cruised up the first bit, finding a slightly better sequence than any of my other attempts and milked the rest for a good few minutes. I gave the nod to my belayer and started to work my way through the crux sequence. I reached the poor crimp on the lip with a mild pump going, not the type where your forearms are solid and cant hold on any more, but more like they were about to start protesting any further duress.

I dont know what was different about this attempt, but I went for the first hold over the lip - a weird sloper-crimp-sidepull-crozzle thing that I hadn't felt comfortable with on any prior redpoint. I knew I had to get it in the right place to stand any chance of continuing upwards, and this time I somehow managed to catch it just well enough.

I stopped for a second, surprised that I was still on, and aware that I still had enough power to continue. I looked up at the next hold and took a breath, adjusted my feet and powered upwards. A couple more foot movements to gain balance for the remaining hand flick. Two moves later, I let out a surprised 'oh...' and clipped the chains. The route that I was ready to bail off of and come back to, was unexpectedly completed on my last attempt of the day.

I have learnt to quit while ahead when climbing, and after stripping the route, I stuck everything in my bag and we walked out with the wind to our backs.

Pete reckons that I stand a chance on the 8a to the left, and while I am fairly certain he is wrong...he was pretty much right on the money today...

Turns out that everyone was wrong about the weather today,
we ended up climbing with some of the best conditions that I have had on the brean!


  1. Nice pic's mate!
    Thanks for nice day out :)

  2. Nice work gents! I hope I'll join you next time