Sunday, 31 May 2009

Scottish Youth Climbing Championships and Cracks of Magic! 30th/31st May '08

Finally, the weekend of the Scottish Youth Climbing Championships that RB qualified for after coming 4th in the Youth Climbing Series this year. We'd been looking forward to it but both felt a bit dubious as to how well she'd do seen as we'd done hardly any indoor climbing since the last round of the YCS at Alien, and RB had done hardly any rock climbing either midweek due to me having my exams. We'd gone down to the wall a couple of times but only climbed half heartedly, neither of us really wanting to be indoors (with me sighing in relief that RB has been much preferring to climb outside!)
The format of the comp was that there were 15 boulder problems and short routes and RB had to try them all onsight and a judge scoring each problem would mark her score sheet. So, not only were they being tested on their climbing, but also on their ability to read the routes and read which ones were best to go for first and which ones to save until they had warmed up sufficiently. The comp was held at Extreme Dream in Aviemore, which although is a short wall, packs in a hell of a lot and has roofs and overhangs galore!
She got through everything in good time, but had a few slip ups on stuff she would normally fly up! Don't know if she was rushing too much or feeling over confident on stuff she thought looked easy but which was harder than it looked! But on other things which did look hard, she'd do really, really well! We thought it would be 50/50 whether she got through to the semi finals, but get through she did! I was so chuffed for her, and she was absolutely delighted and really put her all into next part of the comp, I think it really boosted her confidence!
The semi final was just one route and everyone who managed to top out would get through to the finals, where they would battle it out for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The semi final route was up a slab, onto a roof and then crossing the roof to a volume and the finish and they had 2minutes to complete the route or the were out, so the pressure was on! They all managed to complete it and so all got through to the finals and they decided that the only way to make it challenging enough for them was to have them lead across the big roof that the older age category had just done for their semi's.
All 5 of them were put into isolation so they couldn't watch each other climb. RB was really nervous, never having led (or climbed!) a big roof like that. She's climbed over the roof on the bouldering wall at Dundee, but this was longer and was leading too. RB commented that it was today she was going to be taking her 1st leader fall. 'Just do your best,' I said and don't worry about falling, it's totally safe, just a little swing. 'Just keep climbing till you can't hold on. Don't bottle it and come off at the clip, but keep going.' Easy for me to say!
The 2 girls who were battling it out for 1st place nearly managed to complete the route, with the winner Nikki holding the last hold before falling and Rachael in 2nd place not far behind! Dawn who came 3rd reached the 1st volume, RB was one hold behind her and Lyndsey a couple of holds behind RB, so it was all very close! RB's feet cut loose at the 1st tough bit but she managed to get them back up again, make a couple more moves and another clip before her feet swung loose again. She couldn't get them back up this time, but she damn well tried! And off she came taking her 1st leader fall, which she said was actually rather fun! Such a good effort from her, especially as she doesn't get to train or climb half as much as most of them and I was so happy for her!

Sunday, we'd originally planned to go cragging and let RB do her 1st unsupervised trad leads. She's led a few Diffs and V.Diffs before but always with someone beside her and she was keen to do it on her own and I finally relented, now that she's a bit more mature and I know her gear has always been good and she understands how everything works.
But in the end, it was just far too good a day to be cragging and we wanted to be up the hills as it was just so hot a day forecast. So, we were supposed to be doing something easy so RB could possibly lead, but with supervision seen as it was more complicated being multipitch. But Andy somehow managed to wheedle his way into us all doing something hard!! I was a tad annoyed at first, as I wanted the day to be for RB, but she seemed keen to try something harder and was happy to postpone her leading practise so I mellowed to the idea and we all went up to Sneachda to do Magic Crack at HVS 5a. I was still dubious about it as it was HVS and by all intents and purposes it's a slab! Okay, it's a steep slab but it's still a slab and I hate slabs! I've been really getting into my leading of late and don't want to start off a thing where we are always doing stuff that's too hard for me to lead so I don't get the chance, so I was asking a billion questions about the route, pondering on whether I could manage to lead one of the pitches
As it t
urns out though, we had to start up the 1st pitch of the Genie to avoid a snow patch and I wasn't that inspired by it as the bottom was a bit dirty but once we got higher up the climbing was nice and once at the 2nd pitch before I knew what I was saying it just slipped out,
'I'll lead this one,'
Aaaarg, what
are you doing! You hate slabs! Why have you just volunteered yourself to do a 5a slab right at your leading limit! Dafty! But I don't think about it, I just want to do it.
Approaching the slab I gulp, what have I let myself in for! But standing underneath the steep and thin crack that goes up the slab I can pick out little features for my feet and nubbins in the crack for my hands and I can lace it with gear! The start is easy enough and it gets harder the higher up you go, until at the top it gets pretty blank and you have to trust your feet in a couple of dubious looking half jams in the crack with little finger jams and edges at the side of the crack. It's lovely though and for some reason I don't get scared, I'm just purely focused on the climbing! Once past the crux of that pitch it eases off to a ledge and then a corner and flake above which just has one thoughtful move. And that's it! My first lead on an HVS, although my pitch was only really VS, it's still a 5a pitch and probably my best lead to date, if not my hardest.
RB manages it just fine, just getting her feet muddled a little but she's really trusting the rock an
d the friction and she knows what to do with the crack and how to climb it.
The next pitch is a lot more sustained though! The start is easy, then a very thin section which I'd have found pretty scary on lead, then it gets easier again at the top of the magic crack and once past the crack, the top bit is utterly amazing climbing, really beautiful moves across the rock! I could quite happily go and do that route all over again, simply for those top moves, lovely lovely! I was thinking the route was only worth 2 stars as the crack and slab climbing is all a bit samey, samey but that top bit is worth 3 stars alone it was so good! If you get a route that had pitches upon pitches of climbing like that, then god that'd be a billion star route!
Next we have to ab down at the side of the route. RB was a bit nervous about the ab, but once
she set off she did it just fine, with me waiting for her at the top while Andy went down first, then Andy holding the ropes at the bottom, keeping her safe. Andy had shouted up and asked if we wanted to just ab down one ropes length and then climb the crux pitch of another HVS called Damnation. I thought it looked hard as anything, but both Andy and RB were keen to give it a go. I was more keen to get back to the sacks for a drink as it was so hot, but didn't want to spoil the fun! And was also a bit miffed that again, we had been conned into doing another hard route!
But I'm glad we did it in the end as there none of had realised just how much time was ticking on, and we wouldn't have had time to go back down and walk along to Mess of Pottage to have RB
and me lead something easy. The crux on Damnation goes at 5b and it was pretty tricky! Especially as the very thin finger crack was wet and filled with mud!!! You had to jam your fingers and layback your feet up the corner for just a couple of moves, but the moves above and below were sustained and not a push over either! But once up the corner crack, you got to do the brilliant top bit of Magic Crack all over again!
This time we ab'd down to the top of the 1st pitch of Magic Crack, but not quite! I'd been dubious that we'd be able to ab' that far as I was sure the guide had mentioned the last 2 pitches were around 30m each, meaning the 50m ropes weren't long enough but Andy was insistent they were long enough! When it was my turn to ab and
I arrived at the stance, Andy was looking a bit sheepish and admitted that the ropes hadn't been long enough! We were in a safe position though, it was just a 10ft scramble down to the proper ab' point so all was okay. I scrambled down with a body belay from Andy above, RB got lowered down as the down climbing moves were a bit stretchy! And Andy scrambled down after, then we all ab'd down the final pitch, finally back to the sacks and my much longed for water!
Surprisingly it was 4.30, too late to do another route and have RB home in good time for school the next day so we decided to call it a day.
It was a fab day though and RB had a wonderful time and it was ace to see her climbing so well outdoors and feeling confident on multipitch routes, and I'm finally coming round to the idea that slabs arn't so bad

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