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September 25, 2019

I remember @ciano_leary leading this pitch, during the first Irish Winter ascent of the Nose, which was also his first big wall, and his first aid pitch, and only his second multi-pitch climb. This is a tricky bit low down – pitch 3 I think – which is probably too hard to learn how to aid on, but I thought Cian, who’s a tough Dubliner, could free most of it – he’s a strong boulderer – but he also hasn’t climbed much in the cold, being a fair-weather chap, and seeing as the sun wasn’t up yet, and it was below freezing still, he just had to aid it.

The bit I remember most, was him getting to a move he just could not do, a flared pocket into which nothing would go. This impasse resulted in him pleading to be let down, his reason being, that he was ‘in bits’; Irish for shitting your pants. Luckily, I’d armed him with a bird beak, and after telling him what a bird beak was, and looked like, he fished it off his harness, looked at it, and then told me to go fuck myself. “Place it, stand on it, and then I’ll lower you down” I promised. And so, after whining, grumbling and the odd sob, Cian hooked the beak onto the sloping slot, its tip biting down on a few granite microns, clipped in his aider and stepped up. “Lower me down!” He shouted, his body tensed like a man chained to a ticking bomb; to which I replied: “Are you mental! I can’t lower you off a bird beak; you need to place something solid and get off it!”. Which he did, God bless him, but only after many threats of violence. Then he placed another, and another, and so eventually he completed his first pitch as an aid climber.

Ten days later, he climbed his first big wall.

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