Friday, 31 August 2012

Battered at Ballater.

Battered - arms and shoulders still tired.
Bloodied - ground-up little fingers from fingerlocks.
Broken - a cracked torn nail from falling over and bashing my finger.
Bruised - swollen and stiff knuckle on the same finger.
Beaten - by 2 out of the 3 challenging routes I tried in a day.

Finally a day at the Pass in good fresh conditions - a slice of mid-autumn crispness at the end of August, maybe a sign of things to come? - but was it enough....not quite. It's still just plain hard there, and despite (or perhaps because of!) the short gritstone-esque style of climbing, I still don't feel that comfortable with it. But I've given it a good go, and that's something. Also, despite twice as many failures as ascents, it was actually a decent and interesting day.

I warmed up, inadequately, and tried Doctor Dipso, a cool, short, open wall climb, and failed just before easy ground due to being immovably pumped. It was very close  - with a bit more determination I could have done this. But with a bit more cunning I would have not paid too much attention to a veteran E6 leader with 20 years experience of Aberdeen climbing who said it was "not pumpy really", and warmed up a lot better. Although the style of climbing suited me well, the sustainedness definitely warranted a further warm-up. I need to heed that.

However that dismal failure was a warm-up in itself, so when I got onto Cold Rage next, it was a different story - after several times up and downclimbing at the lower (and hard!) crux, and a lot of huffing and puffing in the upper groove before a merciful back and footing rest, I managed to grind my way up this exhausting and satisfying route. Despite the hard unnerving start, having a good rest above and sensible gear for the rest of the route made it mentally comfortable if physically tiring - and the experience made the day worthwhile.

Finally, I mentally tossed a coin as to whether I had enough energy and dry skin and light left to try Peel's Wall, lost the flip and failed on the route. This was one time when I should heed the E6 Aberdeen veteran who said it was okay (it's not) but a bit pumpy (fucking pumpy). Equally I shouldn't have heeded rumours of it being safe and technical - it's only safe if you can place the very limited gear, instead of being totally out of balance on the lower flake, or blocking the crucial wire placement in the upper with fingers. A nasty experience trying to avoid groundfall potential before I could get to slump on the gear. Maybe I was a bit tired from other routes, but I definitely need to heed warnings of pumpy, and be wary of local climbs with local gear placements!

So: Warm up better, be warier of pumpy routes, don't take protection for granted. Don't go back to Ballater for a while!

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