Monday, 19 March 2012
A return to trad has been on the cards for a while now and so the rope and rack were packed and we headed off to Brimham to get on some longer gritstone routes. Although sunny today, many of the further edges weren't getting any sunshine and still don't seem to be in the best condition. After seconding The Pig Traverse I chose Grit Corner for my first lead climb of the year. Infact it was my first time on the sharp end since Stanage last August, it's been a very long time! Although an easy route I faltered on the first few moves up a crack, two attempts trying to take it direct, jamming and feet slipping before I realised a layback was the easy way. Certainly not the best of starts. The rest of the crack to the ledge was a path, though very dirty for the feet. Stocked up with cams, hexes and nuts I only actually used 1 sling and a quickdraw for protection and headed up the left hand finish feeling incredibly rusty. A few easy chimney solos later and that was the proper climbing done for the day. My head just wasn't in it.
Brimham is a beautifully scenic place with tons of rock but I've never found her routes to be particularly friendly and so it perhaps wasn't the best venue choice for a refresher. I'll have to aim for an improvement next time out.
At Lovers Leap area sits Anniversary Arete, a boulder problem I'd tried the last two visits here and one of my future aspirations. It's a great looking line and gets a grade of British 6b, a grade I felt I was still quite far off achieving. Its moves are really quite specific and balancey but the start actually felt really steady today, small sharp pebbles and smears for the feet, lay-backing off the arete. After having a high crimp pointed out to me and giving it some thought and attempts going into double figures I caught myself by surprise by latching the top and fought my way over. I almost couldn't believe it, I don't climb that hard, only an hour ago I was struggling on a VDiff. A little while later I did it again without much of a struggle to prove to myself it wasn't just a fluke, it just felt so easy. Perhaps it was the shoes, I'd put my new Chilli's on for the occasion.
On a high, and after a cup of tea, I decided to try another 6b, again an arete, this one called Pommel. It's overhanging but has a positive enough edge to allow a good pinch-grip. A crafty heel-toe in the break made reaching the sharp part of the arete quite easy and I hit the top just as my feet cut loose. An awkward top-out with 'technical knees' completed the problem and yet again it felt pretty easy. I'm guessing this one has been over-graded a little though.
Considering the let down of the first part of the day this turned into a fantastic outing. I'm absolutely buzzing, even if my hands and arms are raw with gritrash I feel like I've broken through a barrier in the difficulty I can climb, probably more of a mental barrier than anything but an important milestone to me. I hope I can continue with this new found good form and use it to improve my trad. It's all in the mind you know!