Friday, 8 June 2007

Once more again, with feeling

Good day today - boshed a load of work this morning, sold some software, legged it down to the crag at Servoz for a spot of elevated fun and activity before heading back to the office. Plus I climbed with a new partner today - Brian who's an american lad that's been out here a while and a fellow geek. Turns out he's one seriously gnarly climber too. We decided to do a variant route to the top of the crag of the multi-pitch climb Crampons and I did yesterday.

Crampons, myself and Brian made light work of the starting 6a climb that we struggled with the other day (still can't figure out why) including whisking straight over the overhang with no probs first look. Very cool. With the longer rope we were using we were able to cut the 3 pitch climb to the top down to 2 and joined Brian perched on a ledge 10m below the top of the crag ready to have a look at a 6b pitch that would take us up to the top of the rock.

Crampons had a bash leading first up. I'm pleased he did because my arse was making noises like a dolphin due to the intimidating look of the pitch. Pretty much the whole thing was overhanging with wide holds putting enormous stresses through the arms. High up on the crag and in the beating sun with hands slippery with sweat just added more difficulty to an already hard climb. He managed to get 3 quick draws in before coming back down for some R & R. Beaten back by the rock. Brian went up next and got to the top before abseiling back down dangling on the end of the rope in mid air like bait on a fishing line. I couldn't not have a go and surprised myself by making it up to 4 quick draws. I really should have pushed myself further but my arms were getting really tired and with all the pressure going through my hands I was starting to feel like I could do the climb if I had more strength. Damnit - the first climb in weeks that I couldn't do. But I felt really good to have got to that stage and realised that only condition was preventing me, not the technicalities of the climb.

Crampons had a visit to the vet to attend to (his dogs, Crampons has had all his shots) and so abseiled down on the second rope whilst Brian and I remained up at our perch for Brian to have a go at an extremely overhanging 6c. No chance I was going to try it but I was happy to belay him so he could shimmey up. We needed to do a high-level traverse to get from our current anchor under the 6b to the anchor under the 6c about 8m to our left. That was pretty fun - delicate foot placements and working along the ledges with a little bit of climbing for good measure, lots of fun. Really strange to be working sideways over a big drop but we were all roped up and clipped into a couple of pitons. Brian even managed to snap a quick photo of me easing my way over to the starting ledge of the last pitch looking rather calm too!

Me on the traverse (click for a bigger image).

When Brian started the last climb I've never seen anyone close-up tackle such a difficult pitch so well - he worked his way over the huge overhang to the smaller overhang that led up the rest of the way smoothly easing past the difficulties with arms trembling with effort at the more strenuous parts. Hugely impressive and I was in awe as I belayed him from a rather uncomfortable sloping ledge under the overhang. Pleased to be part of the team!

We abseiled down swiftly then grabbed a beautifully cold beer at the bisto opposite the crag before coming back to Chamonix where the heavens decided to open! Good day.