Monday, 21 February 2011


Back to writing about what this blog was intended for! It’s been a good weekend. Firstly Jo and Steve arrived for a small bit of half term R & R in the sun. Straight away we hit Sella Wildside. Last week I put our draws in two 7c routes that were not my style. Steep tufas and slopers with a small amount of resistance climbing to the chains. Both felt hard at the time and I figured I’d need to work them quite a bit purely to build up enough stamina to redpoint them. Saturday morning I tied in at the base of the first one and swung my arms about – 10 times. Fully warmed up and with not enough quickdraws to lead anything else I started up “Keep the Faith” 7c. Moving into the crux my hands felt cold but I was calm and just shook them out a bit and kept going. The crux passed in a blur and before I knew it I was in a kneebar shaking out one clip below the chains. Relaxed and enjoying the unexpected progress I hung out for a minute or two and then climbed on to clip the chains. Lowering off from the warm up and stripping a project. Brilliant! Next up was Caroline’s turn on “Cuestion de Estilo” (Question of Style). This route has the reputation of being Sella’s hardest 7c. A tricky to unlock section through some steep tufas requiring the use of a two finger pocket and excessive drop knee’ing. Caroline lead up to the crux and began working the moves. Every attempt ending in a fall and slightly refining or eliminating a potential sequence. By the time she had finished the route was looking ready for a send and she was looking tired. I tied in to give it a bash but didn’t expect much. Fighting through the crux whilst making up a sequence got me to within a fingertip of the send but trying to unwind from a deep dropknee with my left foot too low left me hanging from the first pad of my middle finger. Basically mono’ing the base of a crack instead of sidepulling it. I cam off, lowered off and pulled the rope – left foot higher! Next go it sent without a problem! Two steep 7c ticks at the Wildside in a day was an unexpected and awesome start to my Sella climbing. Psyched!! Before leaving on Sat I tied in and tried an 8a+ with the draws in – brilliant climbing! Like Dinbren but 30 meters long and without much of a break. I lowered off before the top but loved the climbing on it so will be back for the send. Sunday morning and with only a little time available for rock, Caroline and myself returned to Sella and I warmed up by going bolt to bolt up a fantastic 8b, “La Criatura”. Superb!! My new project!

Caroline tied in and went for it on the 7c. This time making it into the two finger pocket at the end of the crux before slipping out of the drop knee position reaching for the crack above. Meanwhile in Echo Valley Jo and Steve were ticking away. I mentioned to Steve that in October I had redpointed a route I nicknamed “popcorn”. I forgot to mention to Steve that it took me 5 sessions to figure out the moves and redpoint it (more than any grade 8 I had tried in Spain). Despite having a name painted at its base I could find no record of it having been climbed before so without wanting to overgrade it I suggested 7c although I felt it may be harder. Steve kindly donated some time and finger skin to giving it blast and reckoned it’s an 8 alright and suggested that possibly even grading it 8a would be sandbagging. Steve also reckoned that it’s common place for the bolter to name the routes regardless of whether or not they have been climbed so mine may have been the first ascent – Cool! Very Morpho (reachy) and sharp but hard and I enjoyed doing it. After that Jo and Steve took a trip to Cova Fuma and Steve tried “Gran Fuma” 8a. Although I didn’t get to see him on the route it was cool to see someone else psyched about a route that I thought was quality – He’s keen to tick it before returning to the UK, fingers crossed he does!

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