4 March 2013

Fresh faces, big ticks

Lone man on Low Man
How I got to meet all the people I climb with has always been a great source of fascination and joy to me, everyone seeming to be connected through chance, mutual interest, or long standing friendships. Bizarrely, circus skills seem to play a big role in this, and in one case even the Mental Health Act (1983). However, everyone seems to know everyone somehow and we have formed a large community of genuinely lovely and interesting people. I would love to draw a map of how we all inter-connect. One way this social network has cemented has been through a Facebook group, Communal Climbing, as a way of organising who, what, and where we climb. Pretty much everyone in the group has climbed with someone in the group at sometime or another. Some use the group more than others, though the group's creator Stuart goes out of his way to make it as inclusive as possible. Last week, however, the group got two new additions from total strangers. Both asked to join the group on the same day, shared the same last name, but had never even met. And so it was that when I rocked up to the crag on Saturday, Louis was already in full swing with new guys Lewis and James. It seems, in climbing at least, there truly are no such things as strangers.

Now if you follow the blog you may be aware that Louis seems to be on a bit of a roll right now (see Chasing Italians), with The Horn at Caley being the first archipelago to be submerged by this growing tsunami, and I was keen to join him. Saturday was a picture perfect gritstone day- frost at night, blue skies in the morning, no wind. On days like these you wish you had no responsibilities at all. However, I do, so it was nigh on 4pm by the time I got to Amscliff. I rode up the hill on my bike, contemplating on the way up how there seems to be an inverse relationship between responsibility and motivation- when I was young and free I had lots of time and no idea what to do with it, but the more my life filled with responsibility the more things I found that I wanted to do with a rapidly shrinking window of opportunity. Still, at least I was out for an Almsciff sunset and I counted myself lucky. By the time I arrived Louis had not only met up with his new compadres, both he and Lewis had demolished Flying Arete (Louis flashing both sides), and the crew had headed up to lay seige to Pebble Wall. After a catch up, introductions and and a warm up, I watched all 3  getting properly stuck in. Louis was managing to get off the left pebble to slap the sloper, but it wouldn't stick. After I while I felt I should do some proper climbing and soloed Three Chockstones Chimney (though soloed sounds a bit dramatic for what is the safest route I've ever done), during which time Louis decided to stick the sloper and pop Pebble Wall in his bag! Turns out it was all about the right pebble. Luckily for me, stuck in the deep recesses of a chimney at the time, Lewis had also brought his camera along and caught it all on film.

And as the setting sun started playing hide and seek in the clouds, it was time to head off again. A short session for me, but it was nice to catch the end of a big day for others, old and new.
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