17 June 2013

Week 2, Day 1, Week 1 - Almscliffe Foundation Session

My pep talk with Dean was last week, so this is week 2. But it's the first week of the new twice-a-week regime, so it's week 1. And today was day 1 of that week. Look, I just want to improve at climbing, I'm not concerned about easily understandable blog titles.

For this relatively unusual Monday session (though I believe some folk were out last Monday, when I wasn't free) James was my wingman. I told him my plan - to climb some of the classics, rather than push myself on new stuff, in order to give myself a good foundation going forward. We started near Low Man, on the Menhir. James showed me a new (to me) finger hold on the face to start the climb off, and a brilliant low pull for the left hand that makes the early moves much more solid, eliminating the need to shakily eke out the reach for the big pocket.

James and the giant egg.

Next was a solo double act - James went up Stu-Pot, while I took on Low Man Easy. James had finished before I'd figured out how to get started, but once I got going it was plain sailing. I stopped for a little while at the top to talk with Liz, one of a group of James' future colleagues - at Bewerley Park - who were there doing various leads. James signalled from below that we were moving on, and I returned to ground level. James noted that he'd never done the Matterhorn arete. And promptly did it, so a great tick for him. I elected to stay low at the other end of that particular face, tackling the short half-mantle problem. Next was boulder 10 and Low Man Slab. The highballs to the right of the slab went first, including a new one on me, the arete, which is apparently graded Severe, but certainly didn't feel severe. Low Man Slab's highlight was James' first and my second conquest of the face to the right of the crack, with my method being for the right hand to go twice in the closing stages, and even three times to gain the top.

We made to move back to the front of the crag, and spied Bryn on his walk-in. We timed our move and his walk to meet at the warm-up wall, and I continued my solid session there and on The Postman, with my best effort there for some time. Next was the nose just to the right of Left Rib. Standard climb, but we tried some eliminates. First was all of the major footholds (not counting the ledge that you need to start on) by me. Then James took it to the next level by suggesting missing out all of the major footholds and all of the handholds except the top, requiring some sly balance on the first ledge. I got fingers on the top, but the dynamic nature of the move threw me off. Then James put it to bed, and I followed, getting my fingers that much further than before. It almost felt like we'd eliminated the entire problem, amusingly.

A quick play on the overhang just opposite, and then Morrell's Wall finally called us. And then threw us all off - even James wasn't happy with it, possibly due to the humid nature of the evening, and despite some fine sounding advice from another climber who had seen us from nearby. Not that we performed badly, it just wasn't happening.

And with that, we called it a night, and look set to reconvene on Wednesday, hopefully with a bigger crowd. Which is not to say there was anything wrong with the small crowd, far from it - a very focused session.
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