Monday, 18 June 2012

Inauspicious Limestonery

After my first trip to Norway this month passed with little climbing interest beyond ogling some incredible looking cliffs from a boat and getting comprehensively shut down by Stavanger's bouldering wall. I failed to get to the top of a single problem. Mostly because all the easy problems were about 10m high, and everything else overhung by about 2m for every 1m of up. Brutal.

So on my temporary return to England I was keen to get some mileage in. Jaime and I paid a visit to Ravensdale one evening, which I'd quite enjoyed last time. This time round I found myself climbing a polished, unprotected crack full of dead birds directly above the belay, then traversing over some massive wobbly blocks to a big ledge. From here the guide helpfully suggested I go up, passing a peg somewhere. The wall above was about 5m wide, with no visible pegs and nothing resembling a line. Bah. I picked a random combination of polished holds and snappy crimps and teetered upwards, with every move blind to what might lie above. After a harrowingly long time I reached a poor nut behind a rattly flake. More blind questing upwards revealed a peg (who knows if it was the right one, it certainly wasn't very good) and some more rattly blocks. Finally I got my hands over the top of the crag and was rewarded for my efforts with a proper gear placement. I was very glad for this whilst scrabbling around in the grass in search of some holds to top out with. A quintessential Peak limestone experience - lineless, rubbish, loose and with uninspiring gear. At least it wasn't too polished.

I spent the weekend in Bristol staying at the Chateau de Gray, so the obvious thing to do was go climbing in the Avon Gorge. Mmm. We arrived to discover that the road was closed for some kind of bike ride, which was a pleasant surprise, making communication between climbers possible for a change. We had selected a couple of single pitch HVSs at the left-hand end of Main Wall for our days entertainment, but having negotiated the approach scramble and flaked out the ropes, Oli discovered he'd left his rock shoes in the car. At the top of the crag. Idiot.

Luckily the sun was out, so I sunned myself whilst Oli abseiled back to the ground, ran around to the top of the crag where the car was parked, and ran back again. Well, he said he ran. He took a very long time and didn't seem that out of breath when I got back, so I'm not entirely convinced. Anyway, after all of this faffage he set off up the charmingly named The Corpse. There was a rather unreasonably bold, tricky section low down, but once through this the rest was reasonable, sustained climbing (at least for quarried limestone). I seconded like an idiot, and I'm not sure if I'll ever get over the unreadability of the rock, but it was a fun little excursion. Sadly we didn't have time for another route, but we did get a lovely roast dinner cooked for us, so it wasn't all bad.

Some lineless limestone bollocks...
So I'm off to Lofoten on Saturday. I'm incredibly psyched, but don't feel as if I'm as prepared as I'd really like. I've only really managed 2 decent climbing trips since March and haven barely been to the wall. Which is not exactly the optimal training for 12 pitch E2s like Vestpillaren. Still, if it worked for Whillans in the Himalayas, maybe it'll work for me...