9 January 2012

1.27 Hours


Ever since my halcyon days on the beaches of Goa, the full moon has been special to me (as is to many, especially lunatics and werewolves). Last winter we managed to climb under it- very briefly, though, given that Almscliff was covered in snow, and it was -8. It was a magical experience and although repeating the experience made it onto my 2011 tick list, but weather and circumstance got in the way. Then, after a window in both the clouds and my diary opened, I managed to get up the crag again for the first full moon of 2012.

Now I've not managed to watch '127 Hours' yet, but I believe one of its main themes (apart from the pros and cons of self-dismemberment) is how Aron Ralston comes to realise that he's being living a pretty irresponsible lifestyle. As I set off on my bike wearing my headtorch, wearing my 5.10 daescents, no mat, and no mates, I thought about him and hoped I didn't manage to get stuck on the top of a rock. Unlike Aron though, I had remembered my mobile, and told people where I was going. No penknife though.

I was not the only one to have the idea- I spotted two headtorches bobbing around at the bottom of the Matterhorn as I cycled up to the crag. However, they had the decency to depart as I arrived, giving me sole occupancy. The moonlight gave the crag a beautiful pale blue light, easy enough to walk around with my headtorch despite it being 9pm. I started off with some easy scrambling- even that becomes a challenge when you can't see properly. Having climbed Almscliff in my daescents before I had an idea of what I could safely climb, and, after a bit of traversing, got myself up the rock over in the middle of the warm-up wall. I then played around on the big face next to it to get my head sorted, and strode off to get up The Menhir (the boulder below The Egg). I spent many happy sunsets sitting on that rock- a relatively safe way of getting high, with a freaky dismount- and had climbed it at dusk before, so had set that as my goal. Dave had suggested the Crucifix, but there was no way I was going to try without matt or spotters, and was happy to settle for a lower grade. However, I didn't hang about too long on the top just in case I lost my mojo, and decided to quit while I was ahead.

It turned out the hairiest bit was heading back down a very muddy field on my bike and nearly skidding out of control. I then had a wonderful descent back into Huby, as all the mud sprayed off my tyres and speckled me all over while I bombed the hill. One of those truly life-affirming climbs, and a great way to start what should hopefully be a great 2012.

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