7 July 2013

And the righteous will sleep soundly tonight - a weekend in Northumberland



As I walk back in the through the door at home history is made. Andy Murray takes that big gold cup for safe keeping in SW19 and the nation cheers. I suspect a few Single malt and Irn Bru's will be drunk tonight.

While Murray sweats in London a big team of vagabonds and wastrels are laying siege to Rothley up in Northumberland. This year we are a little more sober and a little more adept at pulling on sandstone. The sobriety is due to Karrie who is down at Wimbledon cheering on Muzza and I'm sure having a few Irn Bru's herself. The competence is  due to practice and belief, a winning combination for climbers as well as tennis players.

Rothley sits pleasantly on a hillside, a little ridge of rocks with some nice landings and some incut holds, which seems rare for sandstone. There it is by a bit of a forest. We walk in across a sort of boggy heath and head for arete land and the miss-named warm up area.

There is a nice groove which falls to some bridging and the bizarre mantle of Amphetamine which everyone else misses as they watch the wads at play. Louis and Dean go for broke on Hanging Arete the hardest 6a in the known world. Stripped to the waist and sweating like Andy Murray. They look like some ageing boy band, filming a video for their comeback tour, which the director says needs to be "edgy". In the end after half an hour in the studio Dean finds a powerful sequence and stands up for the key change, nice work.  Louis leaves due to musical differences. myself and the other Dave sprawl on a rock in the sticky heat wondering if the new album will be a patch on the first one.

Pocket wall next, just round the corner and its an egg of thing, but pock marked and strangely lovely. The crack is punter heaven and pocket wall is a beach whaled pocket fest with a top out I make look hard. Dean and Louis sit down and then make it look easy. On the right is a  bit of "7a" that looks inviting, an undercut and two pockets with another squirmy finish. Dean sorts it, I  follow in poor style. Louis wobbles a bit to make me feel better. No more 7a than a dolphin is a fish, but a nice problem anyway.

Yesterday was a heat haze of dimly remembered moments and frantic movement. The long drive in with Gio as the sun got to work on the small stones in the North. The relentless overhanging aretes of Hepburn where if you pulled and threw with belief and precision you would be rewarded or just as likely thrown down the hill scorned.

Dean, Pete and Louis all taking a bow. The hollow flake on Photo Opportunity Arete where font grades seem to reach their limit. HVS 4a probably a better grade and Gio nearly showing us why. He turned indoor practice into outdoor reality whilst my heart was in my mouth, him carrying on regardless. Next thing and he is pulling off a hold and heading into a tree which cushions the fall and lets him walk away.

Swimming against the flow in the river trying to cool my overheated head back to operating temperature. Before heating it back to overload with a scalding hot kitchen and curried chicken. Then on into the evening to a crop of boulders in a woodland glade where every hold was a sloper and a few stuck if you hit them right, as the sun set between a gap in the trees.

We drive back in the gathering dusk, our rag tag rebel army of 4x4's  fuelled on gin and cider. We are a few Kalashnikov's and a roof rack mounted RPG away from marching on Wimbledon. We will  take down tennis and replace it with bouldering in the nations affections if necessary by force, but surely everyone will see the sense in our argument?

I can't remember a fuller day for a while as I sit cleaning my weapon and my body tells me to stop now, you have done enough save a bit you will need it tomorrow. The fight will go on




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