Over the past few weeks the temperatures have dropped and autumn is here. Whilst I love living in Sheffield I do not live here for the limestone and the arrival of the gritstone season is something that I have been eagerly waiting for.
Millstone has been one of the venues of choice over the past month and I have been progressively working my way through the classic E5s of the crag. Edge Lane, Green Death and White Wall have provided ‘memorable’ outings, but are all realistically leading up to the big one – London Wall (and its oversized reputation) – which I have not yet done. You can’t let these routes get the better of you psychologically by leaving it too long so hopefully I will get on it soon, irrespective of the outcome. I witnessed James Turnbull of Outside get bullied by this route the other day, I don’t think he would mind me saying this but the route had him before he’d even got on it. Poor James. He’ll be back on it soon though and will no doubt wonder what he was ever worrying about…
In between the traditional on-sights I’ve had a go at head-pointing for the first time in my life., it was a somewhat accidental affair owing to a very misty afternoon where neither myself or Katy (Whittaker) were particularly willing to get on the sharp end. After one session on a top rope I felt confident…well…confident-ish. I had written the following message to Katy the night after I managed it on top-rope in order to remind myself not to underestimate it:
Why is it that my memory is already telling me that the route was easy – it clearly wasn’t.
I am sending this message to I have written proof of that truth.
In fact I may re-read this tomorrow to remind myself.
I came back to lead The Bad and The Beautiful (E7 6b) later that week with Nathan Lee . It was an odd experience top-roping it cleanly and easily three times before pulling the ropes and tying into the sharp-end. My heart was racing. I knew I could do it, it was just a question of mind control. I didn’t want to fall. In fact, I really didn’t want to fall. But I knew I could do it, so I wouldn’t – right? The over thinking stopped the moment I stepped onto the route. Silence. My first E7. Style, ethics and everything else to one side this felt like a proud moment.
Another place that deserves a quick mention is Burbage South, but more for the bouldering/highballing/soloing than anything else. I realise that this post is going to turn into something of a list, but I guess it’s a list that I’m proud of so here we go… Problems like Gib’s Rib, The Attitude Inspector and The Alliance represent three of the best 7a/+s I have done and well and truly got my winter bouldering enthusiasm back on track. On the flip side of that climbing genre coin routes like Nosferatu, Pebble Mill and Above and Beyond the Kinaesthetic Barrier remind me that the routes are a) just as good and b) only a bit higher (!) so it’s worth keeping all options open in the months to come.
Here’s to the rest of the season!