16 March 2010

Carrying on a theme...

The second year of University is starting to come to an end, which is strange as we've only just passed the halfway point in March, but after this week there is only one more week of teaching, but still seven assignments to be researched, written and submitted. However, I've assessed the situation and have been able to justify, albeit loosely, that I can have a break this week and get some climbs in. By a break I don't mean I'm skipping lectures to get out climbing - that's just wrong - but lectures have been rearranged, which has meant I only need to be in University at the end of the week.

Today's plan was to head to Hodge Close Quarry and then it wasn't. We started out down the road to the Kirkstone Pass and then some rather dark clouds began to roll in. We ditched these plans, turned at Dockray and were soon on the A66 heading for the Borrowdale Valley once again. The venue of choice was the ever faithful Shepherd's Crag and the first route of the day was The Bludgeon (E1+, 5b).

Grabbing a much needed rest after surmounting the pinnacle on The Bludgeon (E1+, 5b).

I seconded the first pitch and headed out on the lead for the harder second pitch. I was making good progress and was feeling good on the route, however I got too settled in the first niche, where you were able to shake out, and this psyched me out a bit; I was able to think about the harder climbing still to come and the consequences of getting it wrong. I tried thrutching up onto the pinnacle, where another rest would have allowed me to get it back for the final two or three moves over the steep overhang, however I couldn't commit to the moves. Instead I lowered back down to the belay.

Pulling out onto the head wall of The Bludgeon (E1+, 5b).

To cut a long story short, the pitch was eventually led by one of my companions and almost immediately after I was left on my own, at the belay, whilst my other companion thrutched up onto the pinnacle and pulled out over the overhang. I was next. I was moving well and again the thrutching move up onto the pinnacle caught me out and I was off. Swinging into fresh air. I managed to get back onto the pinnacle and pull over into the second and final rest before the final overhangs, which I dismissed quickly.

By now the day was getting late and I was feeling slightly annoyed with myself. The moves were in my ability, but I just couldn't commit to them. In the hope of getting it back we headed over to the soft touch E1, Conclusion (E1-, 5b) where I racked up and headed off up the first of the two pitches.

Above the crux of Conclusion (E1-, 5b).

I organised some gear below the crux, organized my head and pulled up through the crux and was away up the pitch to the belay. It felt good to be able to move with confidence on the rock and make up for such a dismal earlier performance.

Approaching the traverse at the end of Conclusion's (E1-, 5b) first pitch.

The second pitch was quickly dispatched, and after a failed abseil descent we were soon stuffing the gear back into the rucksacks and walking back down to the car planning what to do tomorrow. It looks like it's going to be Reecastle, where I've got my eye on shunting Penil Servitude (E5, 6b), which could very well become my project route for the summer instead of Gillette Direct (E2, 5c); deep down I know I should be onsighting such a route. I just need to man-up a little bit.

There are a few more pictures of the day here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

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