Friday, 4 July 2008

Devon Days

Day 2

After a very lazy start we finally made the long journey from my friend Keith’s house to the west coast where the weather was glorious. HotAches were already in-situ on the route so I waisted no time in setting up my ropes and dropping in to join the party.

I made my way down the wall, placing gear, cleaning slots and re-familiarizing myself with the moves. On reaching the bottom of the wall I decided to start off climbing to see how high I could get. Unfortunately, I fell in the middle of the low bold crux which is possibly the worst thing that could have happened. I tried to push this mistake out of my mind, but fell off again, and again.

This was a big worry. Falling here is possibly the worst place to fall on the route and will almost certainly result in broken legs, of worse. I need to be confident that I will successfully climb through this section to have any chance of being able to focus on the momentous task that lies above. I managed to climb the lower section a few times but never felt really comfortable; I think more practice tomorrow is in order.

I gradually worked my way up the wall, section by section, finally making it to the top. My toes were on fire and my muscles were tired. It was now around 2pm so it seemed wise to take a break for lunch, giving my feet a well earned break. After eating, I wandered down to the beach to look at the scenery and the other climbs. This gave me a chance to gather my thoughts and feeling and try to sort them into a manageable form so I could begin to make progress towards my ultimate goal. Due to the sheer scale of the climb, I was finding it incredibly difficult to psyche myself for the eventual lead. Normally, the routes I do are less than 15m and it is fairly simple to remember the sequence and visualise myself climbing the entire route and successfully topping out. However with almost 50m of climbing, it’s hard to know where to begin and the thought of being on the lead, for the moment, is overwhelming. For a few minutes, a Kestrel hovered perfectly motionless about 20m away from us, level with the cliff-top. We sat watching this fantastic bird, transfixed by its beauty until it dived out of sight.

My feet felt a little better so I set off to the bottom to attempt to link as much as possible. By this point the wakes were crashing at the base and the spray had soaked the first 10m. I started from here and began my long journey upwards. Right from the start, my toes were on fire but I pushed on and tried to block out the pain. Slow and steady is the only way to go, keep moving up and you will get to the top. I didn’t feel as pumped as I had been expecting and I found I could actually remember a lot of the moves. Towards the top of the route, my legs began to cramp but finally I topped out into the fading evening light.

I was very happy with my performance and had managed to make some very big links, suddenly the prospect of being on the lead seemed a little more plausible. However, my feet felt like they were in pieces and I hoped that 1 night would be enough for them to recover.

We left the crag and put up our tent. It is the first time I have used my Trailhead 6 and it sure is comfortable. Later we met HotAches down on the Quay for a short interview and some other incidental shots. We finished shooting as the sun went down, headed off for some food and went to bed. Dreaming of pain free toes.

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