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Giving birth to E5 in a year?

26 Aug 2011

Today is Vanessa’s first birthday!!  A whole year has passed by since she said hello to the world.  We’ve just spent a week in Lundy and we all faced a number of challenges.

Vanessa took her first few steps and we managed to balance being parents with adventurous climbing and a very full household.

We hired Millcombe House and I think probably Nic and I took the room where the Queen stayed.  I’m only assuming this as we had the best room, lucky us.  There were 13 adults and 4 children.  Wow!  Chaos was one way to describe things.

Nic and I took the climbing every other day approach and the first day was my turn.  It came as quite a shock to be scoping out blind loose tops in order to find our way down to the pristine granite.  Sport climbing and bouldering are decidedly low key in comparison.  For the first time the concepts of being a mother, climber and self preservation hit me.  On the crux of the first route, despite it being well protected I thought about Vanessa and my mind wasn’t entirely on the job.  As the week wore on I got used to things – I chatted to the other Dads, I’m not sure they feel it in the same way as a mother.

Despite a chronic lack of sleep I managed to climb really quite well.  I led three E3s and even an E5.  It was a soft touch more like E4, no doubt, but I give myself E5 for simply getting on it.  It was the end of my second day’s climbing and I’d already led two E3s, the second in the baking sun.  I hadn’t been sure if leading the second would use up all my mental energy, but I took the risk.  Heather and I laid out recovering in the ‘Battery’ a ruined outbuilding surrounded by old cannons.  We re-fuelled with water and food.


Supercharged... you can see how the water was coming in fast!

For some reason I’d forgotten that the route was tidal.  Woops.  We’d lost track of time.  As we headed down someone else’s abseil rope and hopped along the boulders I was shocked to see the water lapping up the base of the route.  Quickly we climbed up onto a ledge and I could gather my thoughts again.

I’d chosen to do Supercharged, a short slim groove, a recommendation from the rest of the team.  Despite talk of it’s soft touchness I was battling against my mind.  Giving birth to E5 in a year.  Was that possible for me?  I didn’t know anyone else who had done this.  Sometimes the external knowledge that something is possible makes it easier.

But above all my instinct was telling me to get on it.  It was well protected and if I fell off I knew I’d be able to aid it.  The whole time up the route I doubted myself but yet I found my body placing gear and climbing upwards.  It was really satisfactory to reach the top.

Well done Caff!

01 Aug 2011

Massive well done to Caff (aka James MacHaffie) who has just done the coveted second ascent of the Big Bang 9a at Lower Pen Trwyn (North Wales).  Caff is instructing on the Rock Action course later this month. 

The crux is this top slab!!  It was considered about V10 (8c+ to this point) but Caff told me he got a V8 sequence!!  Who knows or whether his fingers are so strong he doesn't even know.  Amazing effort.

Thanks to Chris Doyle for this bit of film