We begin today with some more……well lets just say this music is NOT the same theme that has been running in most of the reports so far. But it does give you all a greater appreciation for my varied, if somewhat questionable music preferences.
I am sure after the reports, you must all (rightfully) question how much climbing Kevin and I ACTUALLY do. I mean, lets face it, there is little evidence to support our claims of being climbers when much of our time is spent getting lost and listening to Bullet (for my Valentine, for you plebs) and 30 Seconds to Mars (the Joker’s band). Well let this be a reminder that sometimes climbing does get done (no matter how infrequently this ACTUALLY occurs).
Our story begins after our unsuccessful expedition to Patagonia, the morning after in fact (dedication right there). Now many may believe that this was due to uncontrollable psyche, false. This was due primarily to the weather, it was good. For those in the know this was an even soon to become rather rare in the coming months, especially in the Mournes, and we were loath to miss this small weather window. So we bounced in da whip (drove in the car) to Hen (the glorious one).
After an ominous walk in, haunted by the ever-present and threatening hovering of dark cloud, we managed to reach Greg (the shelter stone) and eyed up the guide for some top quali routes. Chatter ensued, including but not limited to; our improved fitness since last Hen trip (likely down to the high altitude training for the Patagonia ExPed), the glory that are fruit pastels and their rejuvenation powers, and the legends of the demon horses. We concluded that the best routes that we had yet to do lay on the far side of the summit tor, and began the migration. During this lateral movement, I was struck by a similar notion to last time (throw people at Summer’s end E1). I was convinced Kev had the skills and the stones, and he mirrored my enthusiasm, at least in a form of eagerness to look at.
We stood at the bottom, Kevin only half convinced. Ever eager to help people progress (cunningly disguised as malice to hide my kindness), I showboated the merits of the route as a first E1. As a reminder, these are:
- Short, like about 5m.
- Easy moves with obvious crimps (no protection, but if there were gear it would be a VS at best)
- At all times there is an easily reachable crack filled with jugs slightly to the right
After the proposition was made Kevin began shoeing up with a newly found desire to climb it. After finally learning how to use a camera (don’t ask, I have no excuse) I began spotting as Kevin began climbing. He made solid progress to the good crimp at 2/3 height and eyed u the next move. This was a high rockover on to the good crimp, but as he had not seen the solid sidepull to the left, based on the information he had at the time he made a sensible escape on to the jug-crack. I then, after permission so as not to be too rude, repeated the route as it is quite nice and quick to do for one who has already completed it. We then moved on to the lovely route to the right.
Now this is a strange one, it exists though it does not. It is a diagonal crack, with lovely moves and good holds, but poor rock quality for the first meter. It does not appear in the guide, though is obvious to the eye, and I have climbed it before with Alex and Prebble. So this time we did it (lovely climb) and now we name it (sort of). After writing this report I think I would call it Schrodinger’s Route S, but Kevin wanted to call it Reach Grab Pull S, as this was the style of climbing involved. So call it as you will, it was there. I was then struck with a notion to to repeat a route I had previously done, Antar Mona, to confirm suspicions about the grade. Now convinced, it is easier than it is graded, though still high enough on the scale that Kev was angry that I had climbed it without divulging the seriousness of the thing before he spotted me for it (sorry Kevin).
We then wandered round for possibly the hardest VS I have done, The Man With No Name, which Kev gave a solid effort on, committing to fall on gear and all (which is more than I have ever done due to fear). Sadly he was defeated, and left the gear in for me to give it a bash. I pulled though the first few moves, only to be bamboozled by that which had vanquished Kevin, the welded red hex was in the only spot for a hand-jam. So I hauled off the layback and moved on to the easy part at the top (which was far scarier), a few meters of smearing on green damp slopers.
I then looked to Touchdown for a final lead of the day, as the wind was picking up a bit. A highly eliminate route which I would never recommend to do, though with one key feature, the gear. There is one crack perfect…..for THE WHITE TRICAM OF LEGEND!!!!! and a bomber (wafer thin) thread of the pink nut….on its side. A delicate rockover and some crystal crimping (found mainly by touch and smell than sight) lead me to the top. A quick dander up the route, meanwhile looking at motor-bikers with suspicion and distrust, and Kevin joined me. We then sailed over to the bottom of Simplicity, for master Kev decided we could each get a cheeky solo in before escaping from the rain and wind.
And there we have it, of status as climbers was confirmed, and we headed home safe and happy, though minus some skin from our fingers. Such is the price for climbing in the Mournes.