Monday, 5 September 2011
Close Call at Callerhues
What a great wee crag Callerhues is. Even by Northumberland standards it's off the radar - well away from the famed and overused Bowden and Kyloe, guarded by a long-ish walk-in, sitting in splendid isolation on the expansive and exposed moorland, revelling in any sun and breeze that passes it way. Fewer climbers pass it's way, and so miss out on aesthetically featured sandstone and many varied and classic micro-routes whose small size belies their intensity, where an 8m route will have a full 8m of quality climbing from cranking off the ground on perky rugosities to teetering over the rounded top on subtle seams.
I passed it's way on Sunday, and got to sample a bit more climbing than on my first visit in 2003. Neil and Simon got involved with some funky sketchy HVSes and E1s that used to be mere VSes, we all did Weeping Fingers (I was chuffed with how smoothly it went), I did Tossing The Wobbler (above) without much of a wobbler. The actual wobbler and close call came on Rice Krispies later in the day. This steep sheer crunchy wall, home to two bold and intimidating routes, had inspired me previously but seemed out of my reach. Closer inspection revealed protection potential and ignited my inspiration, so I gave the route a try. A lot of ferocious crimping and downclimbing got some seemingly adequate gear blindly placed. And thence I climbed....
In a rare moment of confidence and committment, I just went for it. Crimped past the gear, crimped leftwards above it, crimped into an impasse at the top. Having checked out the finishing flutings, I just went for them too. Got a hand over, it felt okay, but as soon as I tried to move a foot, I started sliding. Shit I'm actually going to fall....Now the gear seemed okay but it was placed blind and it wasn't that far to the starting boulder below. In that flash of sliding, I felt....okayish....but still nervous, I was definitely falling and not pussying out. But in that moment, I did manage to pussy out, of a sort. I flicked a foot over into an adjacent chimney sidewall and got in balance. I escaped, didn't fall, and didn't do the route despite all the committment and having a hand on the top.
A close call to falling, but also a close call to doing the route. An inch further on the fluting and I could have held it, got my foot up and pulled over. A few inches further from the sidewall and I would have fallen.
I think this will haunt me for a while. I was really pleased that I committed and really excited going for the moves without inhibition. It was unusual to actually be falling off, even if I escaped that actual fall. It was frustrating to be that close. It is confusing to have so little to learn - I could have done a bit better but there's no real lesson there, other than sometimes you just miss out.
Still, I engaged in the route and there's still more to go back for at Callerhues ;).