Friday, 18 January 2008

The Fear of Falling

Cwm Du taken from WaunfawrAdam Rib HS 4b 120m. Pitch 1, 45m, Scramble easily upwards to reach the foot of the rib proper.

Sounds easy enough and the next pitch involves a ‘wide groove’, hmm, yes, best avoid that one - my lead!

Racking up takes longer than usual since we are climbing with rucksacks – argh, I have gear digging into my waist, painful ankles from trying to ascend a miserable scree slope with a sprained ankle and lump in the back of my throat. Ever since my accident trad climbing has never been fun. Nonetheless, I take a deep breath and begin, after all how hard can ‘easy scrambling’ be and this is what I want to do, right?

A few meters up there is an ‘interesting’ lunge for a hold, oh to be a few inches taller, but still, this doesn’t count as a difficulty, since the average size guy would find it easy. I keep moving, hoping for the best, and maybe – um, wait I don’t have any gear! I go over the route in my mind while clutching a dirty hold. Nope, no gear at the start, or the lunge bit or here! I am now about 20 meters up and all that I see is solid, compact rock with no cracks whatsoever. I throw a sling around a slight protrusion in the rock to assuage my mind. OK, well I’ll keep going, how hard can it be. I then come to a very precarious rock over with a handhold well out of reach. Assessing the situation, I think I’ll be OK, but I don’t know. I look around, am I off route, nope. The dank void to my left makes the ancient Welshman's belief in dragons seem reasonable. OK Jenn, you can do this and I’m sure when you do it, there will be some proper gear. Ugh, but what if… my legs begin to shake. ‘Take’, oh god, there is nothing to take me on! Well it’s now or never and you want to do trad climbing, so best get to it. I make myself do the rockover and there is still no decent gear!!

Right, time to down climb… your lead!Old-school tradder Jenn

This situation was to play itself out time and time again. It’s not the falling that worries me. I actually enjoy lobbing off overhangs at the wall. It feels like and amusement park ride. It is the impact with the ground caused by the lack of gear that does.

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