Friday, 6 September 2013

Gotta light?

Around three weeks ago I suddenly remembered a route that I'd talked about trying in the past but never got to the point where I felt fully keen to go check out. It was partly due to the fact it is situated half way up one of the biggest crags in Derbyshire, rumoured to be 8b with a desperate move and since being climbed 6 years ago it hadn't had a second ascent...
I don't know what it was that got me psyched but all of sudden I said, right I really want to head up to try Limelight and see what its all about. So I called up the first ascentionist, Jon Clark, who was equally psyched to head up there with me and excited to finally see someone on his route.
The last time I climbed on High Tor was around 6 or 7 years ago, still a youth doing my GCSE's. I felt super excited to be climbing somewhere new, and the thought of pulling hard moves high up off the deck with all that exposure behind you made my palms sweat!

The route isn't actually all that long, tackling the big roof immediately to the left of the famous E5, Castellan. It had been a project of Malc Taylors back in 1992, but one move shut him down and he never got to complete the line, and said it could potentially be 8c!! In 2007 JC made the first ascent and not really knowing how hard it felt he gave it a grade somewhere roughly between 8a+ and 8b...
It is one of those lines where I'm sure it'd feel much easier for someone 6ft odd with a huge ape index, as the crux involves one desperate span off a deep undercut pocket to get around the bulging roof before a sustained but steady headwall. But for anyone else its a biggie!

 Jon throwing the crux on the FA

So I gave it a good clean and worked out what needed to be done before the holes in my hands (and left arm!) meant I'd have to come back another day. Which we did a few days later but after a bunch more tries and refining beta for the move it shut me down again. However I'd made a big link through the crux to the top which gave my confidence a massive boost as I was beginning to wonder if it was even going to physically possible for me. All that needed to be done was to add the four starting moves and it'd be done...

The next session started off well with all the moves feeling steady on the warm up burn, but then as soon as I'd try from the floor the span move would just spit me off. I got a little frustrated with myself as Jon and Pete had put the time in to come up and support me and it didn't look like it'd be going down that day. Then suddenly I changed the way I was holding the undercut ever so slightly and straight away made the move and thankfully managed to keep it together on the easier post crux moves all the way up to the belay. Relief!

 Crux span!

Thanks go out again to Team Clark for coming out with me on this one, I really appreciate the time they put in to get me up it! We got some awesome video footage too so keep an eye out for that being released sometime soon. I hope it inspires people to head up there to try the line as it is really unique and in an amazing position above the valley.