A good day today; 2 pitches climbed, no rain, and finished in the light.
Woke up feeling as only a big wall soloist can (I forgotten), with throbbing hands, tired muscles, knowing you have to get up and get moving (when your soloing if you’re not climbing, you’re not going anywhere). Had a nightmare I was being crushed to death - which considering yesterday’s traumas I’m not surprised.
First pitch was rated A2 and was a mix of very corroded bolts and rivets interspersed with bat hooks (I really hate bat hooks). If you don’t know, a bat hook is a tiny hole drilled in the rock where you insert a small pointed sky hook. Most climbers avoid such things as they wear out and can be hard to find, preferring to place rivets instead to span blank sections. The only good thing thing about them is they don’t go rusty and disintegrate! For what should be easy I found it all pretty scary, due both to the bad state of the fixed gear (who ever placed the rivets hammered them to close to the rock for rivet hangers), and because I’m still not very confident about the rock.
The belay was a single bolt, but strangely there was a hole for another (removable bolt?). I’ve got 3 spare bolts, but just backed the bolt up with a cam.
Next pitch was A3 and began with something I hate, a traverse along under a small roof. It had also become cloudy, and the route went up a big wet slimy patch once you got to the end of the roof, a bolt with some tat on it way above me. I really wanted to call it a day, a cry off due to bad weather, both feeling intimidated by the climbing and the weather. In the end I told myself to get a grip. And I did.
The traverse was ok apart from one loose bit that spat out my cam 3 times, them a line of bat hook holes lead up to a line of bolts, each with 3 holes to hook in order to reach the next. I was a case of moving calmly up the bat holes, while having your brain switched off. A little bit of natural hooking and some beaks and before I knew it I was at the belay.
Using two 9mm static ropes, and doing a 60 metre free hanging rap back to the portaledge was a good reminded to go with something thicker next time.
And so back in the ledge again (using my small home made 3/4 ledge, which isn’t quite as cushy as a full one) about to have a brew and some unidentified Norwegian chocolate, which has either got seeds in it, or stones.
A Mars Bar bar costs 60p. Were these words worth as much?
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram