Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coming down to earth

(All photos should be click-able for bigger versions) A beautiful early summer's sunday for climbing. Unfortunately the stars (difficult to see of course, at this time of year) were not aligned quite properly.

Lets go climbing!

Tony on the crux of the layback corner at the right end of the cliff, 5 (HVS 5a)

Things started well enough, I soloed a few easy routes, Anni and Tony both led some lines - Tony powering up a steep little corner at the end of the cliff, a smooth onsight.

Saku graduates on "Graduaatio" 6 (E2 5c)

Perhaps I should have known things weren't going to go so well when I realised despite having more quickdraws than any climber really needs, I had failed to bring any of them with me. No problem, I think, I'll just borrow Tony's.

Anni on the left hand crack of the School sector 4 (V.Diff)

So I decide to try an huge HVS traverse I haven't done before called Katon Alla or "Under the roof". The main section of the line is maybe 15 metres of traversing under a roof - fingers stuffed in the crack at the back, feet hopefully finding smears on the slab below.

Unknown climber on Czech Mission 6+ (E2 6a?)

I was aware that even with lots of cams to stuff in the crack I was going to have to carefully managed the ropes to allow me to climb up the finishing groove-chimney thingy once I had passed under the roof. Hence I put much attention into extending the gear and letting the ropes run free.

Unknown climber on "Summer Daze" 5+ (HVS 5b)

Nevertheless there was still plenty of rope drag as I battled up the steep finishing moves, finding myself chimneyed across the top groove, looking down 20 metres below to the ground, trying to stuff some more gear in somewhere, cursing the rope drag and realising I was facing 180 degrees in the wrong direction to where I needed to top out.

Anni come out from under the roof on "Katon Alla" 5+ (HVS 5a)

After breathing more dust and dirt and lichen than is ever a good idea battling with grubby holds, I eventually managed to extricate myself and arrive panting at the belay. Of course immediately on trying to take in the the ropes they jammed in the crack exactly where I knew they probably would (just next to where Anni's left hand is in the photo above), but hadn't had the wit to work out a solution to stopping this happening beyond just hoping for the best.

Your correspondent still not liking his blue shoes much on "Flying Wombats" 5- (Aus 15).

After much cursing, mixed with sneezing fits - hayfever brought on by attempting to breath lichen and granite dust - I realised this wasn't going to work. So Tony gamely offered to lead the route on the spare rope, rather than second, clipping my gear until he got to the point where he could un-jam my ropes. So with Anni belaying he set off. But before even reaching the first runner, fate intervened, and somehow he slipped and went crashing down to earth from about 5 or 6 metres up. He came to a rest after rolling down the slope a bit, sat up, grimaced but uttered the manly words of "I'm OK, nothing broken... I think."

So at this point I'm still stuck at the top of the cliff, sneezing madly, ropes jammed below me. Whilst Tony is grimacing and gritting is teeth, lying on the floor 30 odd metres down and across from me with his ankle starting to swell. The US military term of "clusterfuck" was, without a doubt, the best description of the situation. The day was not going smoothly.

High Def Anni.

The charlie foxtrot situation was eventually resolved by me fixing and abbing down my ropes some way, to a point where I could shuffle across and un-jam the ropes myself. I then built a belay at this point, and Anni seconded on the now free ropes, removing all the runners under the roof, before getting to my belay and lowering off from there. I then stripped the belay and abbed on down to the ground. Now all reunited on terra firma, calling a lunch break seemed the best option. Tony could walk with some difficulty so we hobbled back to our bags. He sat out the rest afternoon taking some pics. Anni and I did a few more routes but my heart at least wasn't in it. Driving home Tony decided he better go to hospital to have the ankle checked out properly. Bummer. Get well soon dude.

But the weather was great, the sun burnt my neck, cuckoos and blackbirds were singing, and lizards skittered through the dry leaves on the forest floor whilst fat, ugly spiders wandered up the granite putting our attempts to shame. And you've got be thankful for that.


Anonymous said...

Hi Toby,

Tony is fine, albeit with crutches. Just a strained ankle. I have to correct the facts a little bit here: He tumbled down from the height of 3-4 meters, rather than 5-6 :). And we told the nurse it was more like 2m.

But anyway, it was an impressive fall.

Nice pictures from an otherwise nice day.


Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Thanks Anni. Those metres were of course climbers metres, which - a bit like fishermans' kilos - are a bit smaller than normal metres. :-)