|Al, on the top of Blackbeard's|
|Joshy on the start of Blackbeard's|
I was a little distracted and had to put aside my froth for the blocs for a while as I already had a project lined up for the day. I had spotted a soaring arete a few weeks prior that set my palms a-sweating. It reminded me very much of my time on the Grit. I threw a rope down it one afternoon last week and started brushing it up. It's about 10 metres high and didn't look to have any gear. Sweet, I love that shit. I worked out most of the moves but realised that the crux move (slightly above half way) had to make serious use of a snappy hold on the face. Damn it, I don't mind getting high (not a metaphor) when the holds are solid, but putting yourself on the line with bad rock is a different ball game. I had a closer inspection of the face and noticed that there was a random slot that would take a couple of wires. Unfortunately it was out of reach of the arete, so I would probably have to pre-place the gear with a long sling on it. So be it. I had another session on it later in the week and decided that I was ready for a good old fashioned 'headpoint.'
With the team around on Saturday, I decided that it would be time to 'ave it. I rapped in, had a final clean, popped the wires in (2 number 5 rocks) and I was away. Big Al on belay duty, as Matt seemed to have no idea how to use a harness, let alone a gri gri (so he was spotter), Josh on video and Ness on camera. Nothing like a day out with the paparazzi.
I set off, reasonable holds at the base, lean back off a pocket, reach up for a high vertical seam, lay off it, reach out to a small pocket on the left face, pull up high, back step smear, long reach with the left hand to an insecure sloper, high step with the right, long lock through to a good hold. Re-compose. Thankfully the wind is blowing up the valley, forcing the sling closer to my waiting hand. Clip in, get finger stuck. Have a what-the-fuck moment. Manage to shake it loose. Long move out left to the snappy sidepull, lean back and high step whilst reaching to a slopey crimp with the right hand. Left foot comes on to a good hold, hips push in close to the wall, reach high to the right with the left hand, over the center of your body, a feeling of utter control pulsing. Grab a good sloper and then match. Stand hard on both feet, grab a solid crimp with the left, slopey jug with the right. Experience a moment of fear as i frog my feet up to their rightful position. I'm in!!! Steady away to the top. Sure a tumble from here will mean a ground fall, but it's easy terrain and i'm solid. What an amazing feeling. I grin and stand on top of the prow, enjoying a moment of solitude before rejoining life. White Shadow is the name. And it's a beauty.
Well, that was just the start of Saturday... We spent the rest of the day playing on the blocs, mostly the guys working out the moves on The Quickening. I repeated it for the video, in highly comedic fashion, including a 180degree spin on the first moves, not really the way I did it originally. Then it was back to the Acres for home grown roast pork, beer, wine and cigars. Another night of merriment and another slow morning on Sunday.
Again we ventured out to the same spot and met up with Dave Jones, who was super keen to see some new problems. He looked like he was going to flash Blackbeard's, but then was unable to reach his highpoint again. One of those classic all or nothing first goes. Matt and I set to work on figuring out a manageable sequence for Sex Panther. We made a few adjustments and started getting closer and closer, but were also getting more and more tired. I latched the last hold as my feet cut and took a huge swing, body going above the final holds. I just gripped harder and somehow managed to hold the swing, then just held the return as well. What a problem. Unfortunately Matt continued to take the ride off the final holds, but he'll be back next week... Thanks again to all for an amazing weekend.