I started up the first pitch with more confidence, but after reaching a higher point than Saturday, my confidence ebbed away and I soon back off, thinking of the time and the fact I didn't want to let Rob down by not getting this route down.
Me just below my high point on pitch one on a very lean route.
(Photo: Rob G)
Once I was on the ground, Rob set to work and climbed this very difficult pitch in fine style, picking his way through the thin edges and fine cracks to a belay of sorts. I apologise at this point as I was to nervous (focused if I lied) to take photo's, sorry Rob.
I started off up the pitch and no everything is not easier on second, it still proved to be tricky and as I arrived at the belay congratulated Rob on a great lead. I was up again and there was no way I could not, not lead this pitch. The pitch started off easily enough, but shortly above the belay, it got a bit stiffer.
I found this tough mentally and doubted myself more than once or twice, a bad thing to be doing. Rob encourage me from below and was great, glad I was on the route with him. I pushed on, got some more gear in. (The gear seemed to come in clusters with run outs in between.) I made an airy step and then went to move up and lost my nerve and had to sit on the gear, booo :-(
I collected my thoughts and encourage by Rob, I pressed on, but this seemed a tough pitch. I started up a vertical wall and near the top struggled to find good axe placements. I decided to down climb for a rest, at this point my left axe slipped a bit and my feet popped, but I managed to stay there. I wedge myself into a crack and had a few words with myself and made few silly comments.
Rob continued to encourage me and showed great tolerance ;-) , but it was getting cold and time was matching on. Whilst I was having my moment, I think his patience (rightful so) ran out a bit, the next thing I hear from Rob was "There's no need to cry about it!". This made me chuckle to myself and I new he was right, his comment and making me laugh seemed to help me focus and clear my thoughts. I manned up as they say and got on with the job at hand.
I was soon over the wall in front of me, next a little run out to a suspect bit of tat, some discussion about if this was the belay. It all seemed a bit rubbish, so I pressed on thrutching my way up a series of cracks, placing my axes blindly and relying on feel and trusting my ability as Rob had told me to do several times. I arrived at yet another suspect belay, I hammered the peg back in until it made a solid sound, placed a size 3 nut and called for Rob to start up.
Rob soon arrived and commented that that was a tough pitch, I thought so. :-) But I had not bricked myself since I got going again after the slipped so things were good. I suggested that maybe Rob lead the next two pitches as one as they were a bit shorter and would save time on rigging belays and my faffing on the lead. He agreed and headed off on what looked to be a bit easier ground, IT WAS NOT!
Rob climbs very well and when you see him thinking about something, it means it is tough, soon I would find out what was causing the thinking, but not before having a few spindrift showers. After sometime Rob called for me to climb, I asked what the belay was like, "Not great came the answer", oh well what can you do, don't fall off!
I started up, through some difficult moves, eventually rounded the corner to see the slab of death, no ice and patchy snow and no gear between and the corner above the slab. I thought fecking awesome lead Rob. I passed this and the corner and the little steps above, collecting gear and feeling very tied and my arms felt dead. I arrived at the belay and congratulated Rob and clearly the boldest pitch on the route, with some tough moves.
I grabbed a few bits of gear and started up the easier (Grade IV, 4) snowy ground above whacked one bit of gear in above a cornice I had just climbed and headed for the top of the buttress and finally to a bomber belay, woohoo, just when you don't need it. Bloody Scotland! Rob soon joined me and we congratulated each other. I also thanked him for his encouragement and patience.
We made away down to the coire floor in rapidly fading light and then down to the car park in a very rapid time in the dark, I think we were back at the van around 2000. Giles had already left and Nik and Dan waited for us with hot tea.
We sorted our gear and headed south again. A long drive through the night, with Rob doing the lions shares and arriving in time for us to have showers and head straight to work.
This rounded out my winter, but what a great way to finish up. I'll do it again next season as well.