Last Wednesday I was meant to go to Orkney for some extreme ledge shuffling but instead I made the mistake of getting emotionally attached to some tiny rocks with tiny holds covered in shiny bolts; much safer, right? Wrong! In the space of 4days I’ve decked out not once but twice whilst out sport climbing.
I always thought it was mere climbing folklore when people blabbed on about micro-fractures and death clips, etc. Indeed I’d been told by people in the know that the first rule of sport climbing is that death clipping doesn’t exist on hard (read overhanging) routes. I’ve never tested this ‘rule’ as it’s become second nature to clip properly but I was quite willing to believe it. As for the micro-fracture myth, well that was totally ridiculous; how could a snap-gate, designed to be able to hold lardy climbers exponential acceleration groundwards through the pinpoint where clip meets bolt get micro fractures being dropped under its own weight, especially from a fairly small height? I’m no physicist but that just seems silly.
Now I don’t know if it was actually a phantom micro crack or just that tape on the draw had slipped round but last Wednesday I snapped a quickdraw! Those of you who are sitting smug in the knowledge that I’m a porker might be more disturbed to find out it snapped just slumping onto it. I’m actually pretty sure anyone’s fall would have snapped that draw, scarier still I was planning on missing the next clip and pushing on to the 5th. That would have been sore if I’d blown it!
Well I’ve been told one ought to ride the horses that buck so on Saturday I returned to Kilnsey to finish of ‘Lapin’. Being a geek, I love lists. My Monday at work was spent on UK Climbing tallying up all the 7’s at Kilnsey that I’d not done (of which there are 21) and all the 8a’s (of which there are 7). Seeing as how I have hard projects to try closer to home I’d decided not to get sucked into another siege down south rather just getting mileage in whenever I go to Yorkshire and work my way through this list. Starting from the right ‘Lapin’ is the first 8a you get to so it seemed an obvious place to start making headway. Also I’d already tried it and I couldn’t give up on the first route of the tick-list! Besides it’s not very hard and other than the slightly dubious nature of some of the holds it climbs really well.
So there I was, back at Kilnsey. A quick dog up and a link from the second bolt to the top and I was ready for a burn. The tricky thing for me on this route wasn’t the climbing but rather the clipping. Karen Magog was there and told me a sneaky way to get the 4 clip in from a crimp. The thing is I clipped the 3rd off that same crimp and the second rule of hard sport climbing is ‘don’t clip all the bolts if you don’t have to’, so now no excuses; one less clip to clip, I’d gotten through the crux last go, the redpoint was on.
I got through the first 2bolts of Myra Hyndley comfortably to the rest, 2 shake outs each arm and a long lock to the crimp, caught it perfectly with my fingers biting right into the back of it (it felt so good I swear I could rip this crimp off the wall!) got my feet up, rope in the mouth, long stretch to clip the 4th and, well you can guess what happened.
2 ground falls in 4 days. Who says sport climbing’s safe?