I hurriedly book the Friday afternoon off work, set it in stone and click send. I send a text to Oli who’s on half term asking for a belay, the reply says yes but a few days later he decides his teeth need checking. No matter, I’ll try another student, Barr says yes. Game back on. I go to the works and try moves that I think match the route before returning to foot on campusing which feels strangely nourishing when you’ve got an actual target for once (trip to Spain). I am fidgety at work and on the sly repeatedly watch a video on the internet, again and again, as if I can feel each hold. “He’s a lot stronger than me” “he looks smaller than me” “the footholds look good”
A brief respite on Wednesday evening down the Secret Garden, a lantern session with Chris but I feel awkward and inflexible, watch him shuffle up Left-Hand Man and catch a ricochet buzz when he pulls over the top.
On Thursday evening Chris bails on me, luckily Emlyn the Grit Lad says he’ll be there and I ask him to belay, phew. In the shower I’m looking up at the tiles and stretching out my arms trying to measure the distance I’ll have to jump at the top. I feel the need to do this as my confidence in jumping was shot down when I failed on Wings of Unreason 2 years ago. I jump and make my target but don’t try again, the image of the bath crashing through 2 floors below stopping me. Incidentally this did happen with my first student house, the leaking cubicle led to a rotten floor which led to a shower in the living room below (though no-one was present when the shower became a lift)
Friday. Flow through the morning’s work like an automaton and link the two buses home perfectly, briefly congratulating myself on a PB time home I read a message from Will who’s seen my requests for Burbage South devotees and says he’ll drive out. Brilliant. It’s softly snowing as we arrive and walk in, I don’t even worry when the flurry thickens as it all just tumbles off the dry rock. Will and Sean do The Knock, the final moves protected from the snow by a jumper, this is pulled away when you reach the top which gave the scene a strange vibe as if they were performing a magic trick. I fail where I usually fail but push a bit harder the next go and reach the crimp on the arête, I jump off as the left crimp begins to eat my skin, I really need my skin today.
Finally, I’m underneath Nosferatu and I’m leaning in off the now pad-strewn boulder. The crux sequence goes by without chalking or breathing and my only memory is watching my lace perfectly nestle itself between the rock and my shoe as I roll my foot into the last move. Don’t stop, don’t falter. Before I know it I’m geared up and eyeing the top, its ok I tell myself, its only 3 tiles away. After deliberating for an eternity I set and throw upwards catching the monster rail, the awesome wave comes now and I shout out, unashamed as my voice breaks. Excitedly topping out I forget about style and simply launch myself belly first, I apologise to an elderly dog walker for shouting and skip back down fizzing with happiness. It felt like a big one.
|Will on the final unsettling moves of The Knock|
|Emlyn on Desparete, wonderful rock|
|latching the jug at the end of the hard sequence|
|eyeing up the last move before a spicy top out|