As the title says!
Went to our usual midweek haunt of Kirrie Hill for a spot of bolt clipping and had a really crap evening.
I normally enjoy sport climbing midweek, the ability to squeeze in as many routes as possible in an evening and I normally love the style of climbing at Kirrie. Er, crumbly, dusty, mucky sandstone at it's best. But I like the style, the moves, ledges and blocks, big sandstone rounded horrors of holds, roofs and bulges, little flaky edges and side pulls, it's all good!
I guess I've just not been for ages (compared to last summer anyway, when I was there pretty much every week, pushing myself and enjoying it) I came to find that all the midweek sport was really helping to improve my confidence on trad at the weekend. I knew I could make moves above gear, and I think it was just all that extra mileage that is possible with sport that improved my 'leading head.'
Still, I do have a tendency to find bolted climbing *more* scary than trad climbing. Silly I know, especially seen as Kirrie has got to be the most friendliest bolted crag in Scotland! With trad there may be long run outs, but generally the more cruxy moves are always well protected, with the run outs on easier sections that you don't mind so much. There's nothing quite so satisfying and absorbing and finding that right bit of gear to place, fiddling it in, possibly another piece or 2, or 3 or more if the crux feels really balsy and you're not getting pumped silly for being such a wimp as to want in so much gear!
Anyway, you just don't get that satisfaction with bolts, and because there's nothing to focus on other than the moves, I find 'the fear' creeps in more and it's hard to relax and just enjoy the climbing, instead I'm always thinking,
'gotta reach the next bolt, gotta reach the next bolt!'
But normally I enjoy it nonetheless.
I was probably just having a bad day anyway.
It was cold, not like cold, cold, but the Haar was in from the North Sea and extending far inland, so it was that muggy, damp kind of cold. That kind of cold that seeps into your bones and joints and doesn't seem to leave.
God, was I stiff! I couldn't seem to warm up at all. Didn't seem to help that we were climbing as a 3 (RB, Jonathon and I) so too much hanging around waiting. Especially as RB was really pushing herself this evening on toprope, so taking longer to climb routes.
RB was climbing well! So was Jon. I was struggling to make big moves to try anything harder. My legs wouldn't stretch for high steps and I couldn't get my weight over my feet for rock overs, every time I was stretching for a hold my calf (still tight from the nerve damage 2yrs ago now!!!) would go into cramps (always does that now if it's not warmed up sufficiently)
I seemed to be lacking strength and finding even the 5+'s a struggle and was getting pumped on one move in particular. Jon and RB had led this route first to warm up on (we couldn't warm up on our usual 4+ as someone else was on it. Faffing even more than I do! Think they were fresh out of the wall. Dead funny to see! And it's funny to think that I used to back of 4's like they were doing, everything taking so long. And it's funny how you can tell that folk are complete beginners. All good though! We all get there in the end (mostly!))
So, this move. RB had found it reachy and taken a while over it. Jonathon, of course, had managed to just stand on a ledge and reach a jug over the lip of a bulge. RB and I had to use a rounded side pinch on an arete to the left, use a 2 finger pebble for the right hand (who ever heard of having to use 2 fingers on a 5!!) Then we had to use a smear for the right foot, just leave the left foot dangling and step up on the smear for the juggy ledge above. It was a really committing move with the bolt below (well, obviously not miles below as the bolts at Kirrie never are! But enough to know you were gonna have a wee fall if you came off) When it came to my turn to try it, it took ages to commit. Every time I tried to use the smear, my knee was pushing against the rocky bulge above the smear, meaning it felt like I couldn't trust my feet. And I didn't think I had the strength to hold either the side pinch or the pebble whilst I stood up. All the while I'm getting more and more pumped, and my shoulders are beginning to ache so bad it's painful. I'm doing all my usual groaning and grunting, and finally I know I have to commit or take the swing and rest on the god damn bolt! I refuse to rest, and just go for it, with the usual, 'watch me!'
And it's not easy above either! The next few moves are big moves, and you're always having to keep your body tensioned to keep into the rock. My arms are so tired now, but I just have to keep moving, trusting the friction on the rounded holds will be enough. Until at last I get to a point where I can rest in balance and let my arms recover. I sink into the rock, letting my head rest gently on it, breathing rate and heart rate lowering. Thank god! That was tough for 5+!!! One of those hard for the short routes I think. Both RB and I agreed that the 6a along to the right was easier.
I never really recovered after that. Tried a 6a+ on toprope. One that I'd wanted to lead as my 1st 6a+ onsight. Hah! Glad I didn't! I would have fallen off before even making the first clip! VERY strenuous! Just no strength in this stiff and cold body today! Finally half pull over the roof, but can't get fully over and slump onto the rope in disgust. Too hard, pissed off, lower off. Had enough!
Jon leads a different 6a+ and RB battles her way up it, working out the moves on toprope. I give it a half hearted attempt, a strenuous mantle type move where the rock is steep and slightly bulging, just too much for my protesting wrists! Everything just hurts today, damn damp and cold!
I retreat, tail between my legs, feeling thoroughly miserable now.
I miss the hills, I miss the west coast crags, I miss Andy. Really wishing he was about just now.
Oh well, live for a better day!