26 August 2013

Dean Martin, Project Ex

A day spent thinking about stories - I was at a baptism this morning, it seemed the thing to think about - and warming up with a unicycle ride fell together nicely to give good time for the weekend climb. Attempts at coordinating with Dean and with James kind of worked out, as we all ended up at the crag at roughly the same time.

It started though, for me, by finding Dean and Martin in the teaspoon area. I offered salutations: "Dean. Martin." Then I apologised for that. Still, they are a potent combination. Dean noted that they were currently in my stomping ground, and - after I warmed up with a double turn on the arete, a traverse from the downclimb just around the corner adding some circuit style interest - they got me working on what Bryn and I called 'The Project', a highball with a big finishing move.

Bloody EL!

Dean Martin did some work on it, and this initially put me off, feeling a little inadequate in the light of their prowess, but they encouraged me to give it a go (and that emptying my pockets might help me).

Quite comfy, actually.

I spent a fair bit of time in that position, in between attempts to creep further up the climb in a controlled way. The photo is part way along that process, as the left foot was the first limb to make progress. The right hand had already spent some time in the finger pocket that I appear to be looking at there, and the right foot soon moved up to the top of the giant flake (that I'm sitting in), while the left hand made in-roads into the crack, eventually settling on the top right, where the big crack meets the small. That was a new high point for me, but what to do next? The move for the top looked too big. Dean Martin solved that though. Visible on the photo, to the left of the notch on the top-out, is another finger pocket. Crucially, this is not at all visible when you're on the wall, so it becomes about setting yourself so you can just reach for it. And the way to do that is to deliberately turn your head and body to the right, angle your feet in tune with that, focus on the right hand, drop the left knee and stand up on the right leg. From there - which again took a few efforts inching forward and then downclimbing to the seated position - the left hand made its move. Still quite a reach, the finger pocket was the key. A nice touch was a small depression just below the pocket - enough to improve upon the face, but a red herring in terms of the real nature of the move. I found the red herring and nearly settled in it, but urgent calls to keep moving from Dean Martin caused me to take my hand further still, and into the finger pocket.

This deserves a paragraph of its own (if only to break up my rambling). This was a beautiful hold. Like the trousers from 'The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants', this hold was so good that I was convinced it would fit anyone, ease their pain and put their worries into perspective. Once my hand found it, I felt at peace. I felt at home. I wanted to stay.

But I couldn't. I had to move on. The next break for the feet was golden and the top was easily good enough to work with - better than previous surveys had led us to believe. The final foothold - of which there were options, my favoured being the top of the crack - was always going to be a small one, but again it was enough to clinch the top-out. I scrambled down, exultant, to plaudits from Dean Martin and equal thanks to them in return.

The excellent coaching team. L-R Dean, Martin.
I dropped Bryn a text to let him know I'd climbed our project, and we headed round to the Virgin to play on the traverse. I made some decent progress underneath, reaching the swing that comes from loosing the big left ankle lock, but was naturally overshadowed by storming efforts from James and Martin. The most amazing thing was that neither of them actually got the full route.

Dean had to depart, and not long after that, Bryn arrived. Although he'd had engagements elsewhere earlier in the day, I'd suspected that my text would reel him in, and we made straight for the project. I demoed it in the lowering gloom...

This might be the one where I repeated it without the crack. Either way, this caption lets you know that I repeated it without the crack.

...and Bryn took to it after me. He took a couple of goes to get it. He was quicker to get his feet in position, but his top-out perhaps wasn't as smooth as mine - all consistent with our styles/capabilities. A very pleasing result for both of us, leaving us with an ex-project. Not, in the end, a difficult climb, its highball nature being the biggest concern, but a good one to add to the circuit. Very reminiscent of the side of the low roof at Brimham's pommel area - I suspect tonight's experience will allow me to climb that one better next time out.

 And that was that. Essentially a one-tick wonder of a night. Or, as Bryn succinctly put it in a Facebook chat later on...

Ate too much, turned up late, climbed a rock, went home.
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