Into the Mind of a Climber

I have been enjoying adding a good song to listen to for these, and all were appropriate to the topic, but for today I’l just put a song that I think is quite good

So for this entry things are going to be slightly more insightful, anything in this post in italics should be read in a sort of……slightly muted voice, where it makes me sound as thought-provoking as possible (hard I know but please bare with me), pretty much like a directors commentary.  Don’t worry, there will be the standard bullshit and craic, just thought this would be interesting, everything in italics is unedited thought from the Cadden mind, be forewarned!!!  But that also means these are my own thoughts, and my not actually represent anyone else’s actual feelings or motivations.

Riding high off the wave of psych that had lofted us high and across the Mournes (almost exclusively Wee Binnian, Hen and now Bearnagh) the ever young (slightly older than me) and encouraging (needs a belayer so tricks me into things) Prebble looked to Bearnagh for our next adventure.  As some of you may know, Prebs house is littered with amazing photos of top quality climbs and climates.  To the unknown pedestrian, these combined with a house full of cameras one would be tempted to ask “Oh, nice one, did you take this photo then? It’s really good!”.  You would be wrong however, so one would then ask “Oh, so that’s you climbing then?!?!? That’s fucking sick dude!”.  For a second time, incorrect.  To rectify this Prebs has embarked on a quest to replace each photo with one of his own, each with him as the subject, allowing him to say in all smugness “Yea I took that, oh and it’s me climbing too.  I’m a pretty big deal.”

First of the deeper bits, don’t worry not too far this time.  So basically what I have gathered Prebble has a list of climbs, various ones, where he saw one of those photos of some hard bastard doing it and something clicked and went “I need to climb that, one day, after lots of hard work, after getting there mentally and physically, but one day I’m GOING to climb that, because I have to.”  I have a similar list, maybe not that big, and to be honest only a few are actually in Ireland and so I won’t get many done in the near future, but it is growing as I see more of the climbing in Ireland.  Though these are not climbs I have set sights on everything he brought me for, it’s been that sort of thing where I didn’t know I wanted to do the route until I top-roped it for the first time.  And then it made it onto the list, just long-enough to linger and up the psyche for climbing.  I legit consider myself lucky to be dragged along by Prebble, because if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be nearly as close to doing the routes I want to do in the future.  

So it was that we headed up Bearnagh for the famed Idlewild, I believe the particular photo which inspired this one is of Ricky Bell soloing, mid-rock-over.  This can be viewed either via the medium of “Google”, a free internet photo gallery app, which can also write dissertations, or on hard copy at the hotrocks climbing wall in Tollymore climbing center.  Through some higher form of communication with the strong Irish climber network, which my primary contact with is Prebble, he learned that Idlewild is “totally easy” and we could “lead it in one session”.  Fuck that, I remember thinking the first time we had at it, but it was considerably closer to the feasible climbing spectrum than I expected, enough to prompt further work.  We had set a magnificent plan, I would spent the night at Prebble’s on Friday (Siobhan, I swear that we only watched Netflix, there was no Chill) and drive to the Mournes on Saturday morning, then on back to Prebble’s the evening and on to Fairhead bouldering on Sunday to ground our egos solidly after climbing hard trad.

So that day of Saturn we headed to the land of Mourne, and on the way I educated young Thomas on the musical genius that is Lady Sovereign

while trying to video the drive down, dash-cam style, though with questionable levels of success.  When we arrived we were flabbergasted,

I just want to say I think it’s amazing that flabbergasted is a real word recognized by spellcheck, ok back to the thing.

by the carpark teaming with walkers.  Quickly we realized that this was both a sunny weekend day, and there was an event on, and so were less perplexed for the rest of the walk-in.  The entire way we were bombarded by the sight of people, can you imagine!?!?  But sooner than expected, based on previous scouting missions, we arrived at the tors and entered siege mode at the bottom of the route.

Siege mode is basically the method of headpointing hard and scary routes.  It is made up primarily of talking shit, eating snacks, drinking water, thinking of all possible gear to be placed, and top-roping the route to submission.  This is kind of the main thing which really lets me get on these routes for the lead.  For those not in the know, I have yet (fingers crossed) to take a proper lead fall on trad gear.  I rested once, and have fallen I think 4~6 times while soloing, but these were either on to boulder mats (so basically bouldering falls) or on to really soft grassy slopes.  So I don’t trust my gear as much as I should, but intellectually I know its good, but it may as well be shit for all the trust I put in it.  So getting the sequence solid, placing the gear in the sequence, knowing all the moves perfectly is a really big part of these routes for me, and makes all these really daunting climbs more mortal, and gives me a little more hope for climbing those “photo routes”.  

After much time spent in siege mode, and lots

Like fucking ages, like we are talking solidly a cumulative total of about 15 mins between the both of us.

placing, testing, replacing, re-testing this crucial extra off-set cam that by sheer MAGIC fit in above the peg on the slab, and just below the crux of the route.  And amazingly, this placement was not made from pixie dust, instead constructed from troll snot, allowing for a placement which would actually probably hold a fall of some description.  After a final top-rope run and some prayers to the cam placement, the Brave and Intrepid

Like balls force him to waddle not walk.

Thomas pulled the top-rope through and set up for the lead.  As per a discussion about rope-drag and the chances of snagging behind the flake, Prebs sauntered calmly up to half height, before placing the first gear and then the second (the bomber peg in the slab).  After only a moment to clean shoes, he moved up to the bottom of the roof and spent valuable, but well spent time, placing the god cam carefully and solidly.  A step left and he glided through the scariest move of the route, leaning onto the jug on the tip of the roof (made hard by the pendulum swing of your massive nads, and the commitment to the route, as after this move you can’t really pussy out onto the E2 Edelweiss).  He then moved hands expertly through the sequence and committed to the rock-over, which he made look like piss, the expert he is.

I never noticed until the lead belay that when you do the couple of moves after the rock-over it looks life you are about to backflip off the top, but I didn’t tell Prebble that at the time.  

After a nervous few more seconds of not seeing Prebs from the belay spot, I heard the relieving sound of Prebble’s voice…..I mean……Prebble saying “safe” and lowered him down to get the gear before my attempt.

Never for the previous scary things, has my stomach dropped so hard at the prospect of climbing the route. It took a solid think and nap to get my head in the place.  I won’t lie, pulling the rope through probably contributed to about 5-10% of my drive to climb it, and maybe my pride gave 10%, as Prebble did it.

So there I stood with my dick in my hand (rope in the other), as Prebble set up the cameras for the second time, trying to get psyched.  Somehow I just kind of did, and after a nice half-route, I was placing that nut and clipping the peg, and about to step on to the slab.  After doing the worrying, but not difficult foot moves, I was in the position to place the cam.  The practice was well implemented and I quickly got the roof jug.  Somewhat a distraction, my left wrist just sort of…….popped and extended.  This was a slight inconvenience

I was terrified and nearly let go, but remembered I really didn’t want to do that so I didn’t, instead…

but I wriggled it a bit and all was solid, so I continued with haste.  The rock-over was thankfully easier than other times, and I soon sailed up to the anchor and summarily clipped that fucker quick and sat down.

I sat for a few seconds and stared at the view, which I don’t often do, and even when I do it rarely elicits emotion.  Doing the scary thing makes views look better, and I really enjoyed being able to look at it from the top, and not with serious injury.

Easy stuff.

I shit myself.