Monday, 16 February 2009

Copyright David Simmonite

Time to move on...

The last few months have been a mixture of being rained on - which has been frustrating, getting snowed on - which has been invigorating, and occasionally climbing in between.

I dread to think how much money I have spent on diesel driving to look at dripping crags. To me, this winter seems like one of the worst I can remember and I could count the number of good grit days I’ve had on one hand. However, this time I am partly to blame for being out of the country when we had all the freak amazing conditions.....

In years gone by I would have found the thought of missing a good day on the grit too much to bear and for that reason rarely left the Peak from October to April. Whilst maximising the amount of days I could climb, it also maximised the days I could not, and so motivation levels were often rather low and I imagine I was not the jolliest person to be around.

Nowadays I realise that whilst climbing is a huge part of my life, it is not the only part and dare I say it, not the most important part either. I owe it to the people I care about and who care about me to be as positive an influence as I can be, by a combination of trying to make them happy, and also being happy myself.

I have been fortunate enough to spend more time skiing this year and have loved every second. The feelings of being so excited to leave the house in the morning, and not wanting the day to end, reminded me of how climbing felt many years ago. I guess it is inevitable that one’s initial excitement will subside a little once something becomes a regular occurrence. Over the last few months I felt I had become quite disillusioned with the whole climbing thing. The excitement I felt from skiing helped me to realise that it wasn’t climbing I was disillusioned with, but the climbing scene. All the things that I love about climbing were still there, I just needed to look a little harder.

And that is why I may seem to have gone off the radar a little, I have been getting back to basics, down and dirty, filthy even...

For anyone that followed my blog last year, you may remember I had briefly tried a former project at Ilkley known as ‘the wall left of The New Statesman’. In short the route tackles a big blank wall via four giant moves (one static, one dynamic slap and two all out dynos) between five holds (some quite good, some not so). I managed the individual moves on my first session and began to link some together on my next, but since I wanted to eventually climb the line without pads, I knew I was a long, long way off feeling confident enough to lead the route, and so put it on the back burner.

Fast forward to 2009 and my friend Ryan turns his attention to the route. For the benefit of anyone who has never seen Ryan, he is pretty much built for climbing. 6ft+, slim build, floppy dark hair that hides his boyish good looks, big brown eyes you can loose yourself in, a cheeky smile... Sorry, I got a bit carried away; just give me a minute to calm down!

Seriously, Ry is 6ft+ but with an enormous 8inch ape index, or at least that’s the word on the street, so they could have been referring to something else? Those figures basically mean he can reach between holds that are miles apart, doesn’t weigh much and is not too bunched on rock-overs.

I can’t think of anyone who is more suited to this route and so it came as no surprise when Ry made the first ascent after just 3 sessions on the route, climbing two of the dynos as static moves in the process! What did surprise me at the time, was that Ryan fell from the last hard move and walked away unscathed. I struggled to understand how a fall from so high could have such minimal consequences, even with pads, but Ry assured me that it was no problem and encouraged me to repeat it.

Gerty Berwick and The New Statesman

I guess at this point I should quote one of my recent postings explaining my views on the use of pads. Hopefully by repeating what has been previously said, I might avoid unnecessary comments from miss/ill/uninformed parties.

I think refusing to use mats is pretty stupid- without a good reason for it... My reason always seemed good enough to me to justify the risk; trying to repeat and put up new routes in the same style...

I decided to repeat Gerty Berwick in the same style as Ryan had climbed it. Ryan got there first; his vision defined the route and therefore the challenge to others, and I feel that future ascentionists should be mindful of matching or improving on this style. This way there will be progression in the sport.

It was a really enjoyable experience and was a pleasant change to test myself physically on a route without having to worry about the consequence of failure. By using pads to protect the route, you are able to comfortably fall off any point up to the first gear and thus I think it is perfectly possible to climb ground up. However, since I used pads, I don’t feel able to comment on the grade.

Hat’s off to Mr Pasquill for getting it done. She’s a feisty little lady is Gerty


dom said...

Good Effort on Gerty Bertwick, looks like a sweet route.

Have you heard Odub's latest rap? he mentions your grading in it, pretty funny!
(page 11)


john said...

I think its about time we lost the stigma of using pads. One wouldn't purposely eliminate any other type of protection. It is an archaic form of bravado to purposely make something more dangerous! Pads are part of the modern game, they save the ground, peoples ankles and encourage a collective spirit at the crag which is one of the best parts about climbing. Good effort on route! Would a subsequent ascent without pads be an improvement in style? If you move a large ankle breaking boulder underneath be an improvement in style? Are we going to start talking foam thickness, pad area etc in grading debates!?