This weekend I went back to Bowden (but not Back Bowden). Hazy cloud and light winds after a previously dry day promised good conditions without being too bitter, which was about right. I'd hoped to try The Gauletier and maybe Posiedon Adventure, but came away empty handed. Warmed up gently on easy solos and going up and down routes. No dicking around trashing my skin bouldering - I'd already done enough of that the previous day, training on slabs at TCA, just for these routes.
Got on TG, went up and down working out the first crux getting stood on the low gear break. Committed to that, and thin crimps above. stood one move up nibbling foot edges, and wondered why all I could reach was a slopey seam below the main break. I pondered smearing and slapping for the break, and I pondered breaking my ankles with the ground too close for comfort, and I jumped off in control instead. A sensible but disappointing decision - I just didn't know if I was going to hit the ground or not, even with Brian running to take in rope, and I shouldn't do a slappy move with that uncertainty.
Then it got a bit still and humid and my fingers were dripping sweat after hanging on crimping and even looking at PA terrified me slightly, so all that was left to do before the drizzle came in to season a 2+ hour journey of incompetent twats hogging the overtaking lane at 60-fucking-mph was: What could I have done differently to get up the route?? I could have risked the move, I could have fallen off, I could have hit the ground. The problem was simply: I didn't know whether I was in a groundfall situation or not - without a running belayer I definitely was, with a running belayer I "might" be okay.
So what I could have done was had better information. I've done plenty of falling practice at the wall, but generally I've tried to go for the longest falls my only-very-slowly-diminishing cowardice will allow, with the more rope out and the softer fall the better. Outside and relatively low above a hard landing is a different matter, and while I've been in running belay situations before - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=44562 for example, which involved a much easier move, a better move height to gear height ratio, an easier angled slab to take the sting out of the fall, and much more time for the belayer to react - I don't know how much I can get away with to stay safe. So maybe I need to take some practice falls outside (or even inside with a low bolt) to gain that knowledge. Then maybe I could have made a different decision on the climb....or made the same one...