Sunday, 5 May 2013

South West Tripping

Dartmoor was bloody good fun, eh, bruises fading, cuts healing, be good to check out some more south west crags. Avon Gorge then, sounds cool. Steep limestone, polished to buggery, compact rock protected mostly by crap old pegs. Alright then. Warm up VS, fuck me, this is a bit spicy. I’m slapping on glass, shit gear, shitting myself. Reach pull reach pull. Thank god a tree belay. That was interesting. Let’s do a bigger one. Called Gronk or something weird like that. First pitch is nails. I lead the crux, just mantle onto the ledge, wish it was that easy. The holds are terrible. Legs are frantically scissoring in the air, chin used as point of contact. Grovelling is what I do best.

So we jog up the remaining 4 pitches, some pretty funky traverses going on, mega exposure. Great route. Where do we go tomorrow? Fuck it, Fairy Cave Quarry will do, always good for amassing a ton of undeserved E-points.
First climb of the day, why not an E2? That can only end well. I’m a gibbering a mess from the first move. Feet skidding, where are the holds, why are there no fucking holds? Cause it’s an E2 you cretin. Sapling runner growing out of a crack, give it a pull, brilliant, it’s shit. Smearing onwards, rubbish micros, I really don’t want to be here. Sketchy downclimb assisted by the sapling which eventually flies off into the early morning murk. Oh well. Luke has a go, gets higher. Massive calf-pump fiddling with gear, he lowers off too. Ok then.

We stuff the fucking thing with gear and headpoint it. It’s hard. I really shouldn’t try to onsight 5c.
Nevermind, nevermind, we do a load more routes in the sunshine. Good times. Next crag, Chudleigh Rocks with a mate from work. Supposed to be polished but we’ll be OK. How bad can it-


Breathe, relax, it’s not the polish that gets you, it’s bad footwork. That’s a relief. Get climbing. Wait a minute, my footwork sucks...oh god I’m slipping, I’m coming off, jug, give me a jug. How the fuck can a handhold be polished as well? Argh, I hate this place already. Top out with zero elegance, already a gibbering mess. That was only a HS for god’s sake.

Still, may as well do a classic while we’re here. Great Western. 4 pitches, lots of stars, that sounds good. Alt-leading, I get the first pitch, crikey this is a bit full on for 4b. You’ve read the guidebook wrong you idiot says Gary. I monkey swing onto the belay, fighting back tears. His pitch is OK, the bastard, the next one looks horrendous. 5a, up a steep wall, then launch round a roof onto a flat ledge. Niiiiice.

Oh my god it’s pumpy, the holds are crap and coated in WD40. Elvis leg as I place a wire under the roof. Extended so far I’ll still probably break something when I come if, if I come off, pull yourself together you sack of shit. You sure you don’t want this pitch mate? Sure? Positive? Damn it. I fumble at disappointing edges, slippy slappy feet, lurch at the flat ledge, there’s nothing, chuff all, maybe a fingerlock. I stuff digits in. I set off the knee alarm, don’t really give a toss, stand up expecting relief but the rock bulges outwards and I’m still on my arms and getting pumped.

Oh bollocks.

Nest of gear, quickly now, I place half my rack and swing for glory leftwards on the best jug in the world. Awesome moves up a steep wall, this is ace. What a route. We finish on easy stuff and leave satisfied.

Well, the weather looks a bit on-off, where’s best to go. Sod it, Avon Gorge again. I’m with Pat this time, he hasn’t climbed trad in ages, better jump on a big fuck off scary HVS then. Three star classic, one for every time I shit myself maybe. Insecure frog traverse under a roof, pegs for gear. Big crux pulling through the roof, desperate heaving, rest on a footledge. No more gear till the belay and it looks hard. Several years pass until I finally commit to the steep rib. Ah, so this is why Rockfax gave it a sloper symbol...

The belay is awful. I will Pat not to fall.

He racks up for pitch 2, hard 4c, a good effort. We climb on, gaining multipitch mileage before the Alps this summer. Day two sees us thrashing up choss and brambles towards Giant’s Cave Buttress. Loads of people watching from the suspension bridge, I really hope I don’t make a tit of myself. Tough moves, thin and spicy, but I’m doing OK. The crux involves shagging a big polished block on an arĂȘte. Getting a bit kinky now. At last, at last, gear that isn't a peg or useless or both. Stylish moves on mega jugs, this rules, why aren’t all climbs like this? We do loads more and it’s awesome.

Finally back to Swanage, back to the Ruckle. I second Luke up a VS and oh my days it feels nails. Barndooring off the crux. That was really hard so I’d better lead a HVS. Spectacular logic fail. The climbing’s alright though, HVS for the run outs. I can deal with that. VS, it’s just a VS, get a move on.
I commit.

Hang on a minute, VS? Swanage VS? Like Tatra? Only with no buggershitfucking gear?

I have made a terrible, terrible mistake.