Tuesday 7 May 2013

Super Saturday

At a bit of a loose end last week, struggling on the limestone and looking for partners for the days of brilliant weather ahead, I gave Tom a text asking what he was up to. He replied with some juicy gossip; he would be around one day, but the other would be spent belaying Pete on his secret project. Of course I interrogated Tom about the project, but being true to Pete he wouldn't reveal its location, only saying that it was probably "his hardest yet". We arranged an appointment to head to the grit crag of Wimberry in the Chew Valley on Thursday. As we headed over I asked Tom what he had his sights on. "You on appointment with fear?" He replied "Nah, Appointment with Death". My stomach dropped. This is one route I never thought would see much attention, as its a whirling mass of dangerous possibilities. Snappy pebbles, no gear, a high crux, all the makings of a real grit horror show. However, he reassured me the pebbles were OK and that he'd done the moves with Pete a few days before. Then it clicked, Pete's project was on Wimberry and it was the big one.

Wimberry, best hard grit crag?
That day I had no idea where to start, Jon Fullwood said that he'd been there when Ben Heason made the second ascent of Order of the Phoenix, so that was on the list, but then again so was everything else.... As I walked round to the top of the crag, I remembered something I'd seen in the guide, an arete that was only climbed on one side, leaving the other side open to exploitation. It was better than I'd imagined, high, well featured and most importantly not done. I set to work cleaning and it became my main focus for the day. We took turns on our projects, Tom looking very solid on Appointment, saying a lead might be soon and reassuring me that its not so bad (hmmm). After dialling my route on top rope I nipped up it in shaky style, at one point staring straight into the sun when reaching a crucial crimp which made me wobble a bit! It feels great to have made an FA at this mecca of hard grit. I named the route Disconsolate as I'm a moody boy (and the arete on the left is called consolation prize...) After this we opted for abbing and cleaning other projects and lines, it was Order of the Phoenix for me and after a good brushing to get the moorland gunk off, I got some of the moves done. Then it was home time, set for a rendezvous on Saturday.

High on the FA of Disconsolate
Saturday dawned dank and grim. On the drive over it was more of the same, showers, wet road and black clouds, not looking promising. Adrian Samarra (hot aches pro) had been drafted in by Wild Country to film Pete and Tom, and he was well assisted by two keen-as students down from Cumbria. As we approached the crag it was surprisingly dry, the rock was with us. Everyone got busy on there routes, Pete working on his down-climbing and inventive gear clipping methods, Tom lapping away on Appointment, and me floundering/nursing a split tip from the key crux pebble on Phoenix.

Order of the Phoenix (Cheers to Pete, great photo!)

Tom's project went first, and he's written a superb account here in two parts. It was a stunning piece of commitment, and one of the biggest repeats on grit in the past few years, no jams on it either interestingly. It was then my turn on the Phoenix. Having stopped top roping it due to thin skin I hadn't managed a full link, but team psyche is more than enough to make for any doubts! The ascent was a bit scratchy down low, but felt steady on the no fall moves, aside from the crux pebble cutting my finger even worse. This must be the most at ease I've felt on/before a hard headpoint, which just goes to show what kind of day it was, steady away on unsteady ground. Here's a video of my ascent.

Pete on the prow...                        
I'll leave Pete to give his account. All I can say is that its now three days on and I'm still buzzing, one of the best leads in grits history no doubt, and what a day it crowned, I won't be forgetting that one in a hurry.

Adrian Samarra supported by Matt and James captured both Tom and Pete's historic ascents for Hot Aches, and Mike Hutton got some cracking shots.

Not much more that can be said about the day really, I've run out of superlatives. Everything went right, the weather, the timing, the big efforts, the filming. I'll be back soon though, another Appointment has been made and its not one I can skip.

Tom in cruise control on Appointment With Death
Thanks alot for reading!

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