This weekend we were blessed with blue skies, a gentle breeze and the warmth of the sun for what felt like the first time in years, And we were going to make the most of it. After a week of changing weather forecasts and half hearted plans for climbing on the weekend we finally got a good enough report for us to make the drive down to portland.
Waking up bright an early on a Sunday morning usually feels abit wrong, but with the promise of a sunny day at the crag I was packed and ready to go by the time I got the call that Ellis from the Adventure Brand was waiting outside.The scenic drive down mostly involved catching up, chatting about climbing projects and being bundled on by Tia, Ellis’s energetic boxer dog.
After arriving at the crag we quickly set about sorting out kit and eyeing up the first route of the day, I was already set on just belaying for the morning so Ellis picked a meandering little 6a that he hadn’t tried before. On route he remarked how unpolished the rock was, which in this scenario means that the route is probably quite bad, as all the popular routes at the Cuttings have that we’ll worn shine from hundreds of sticky rubber climbing shoes and chalked up fingers.
After a few routes had been climbed Ellis made a start on Fighting Torque, and testpeice 8a (often disputed) that was on his ticklist. He spent time working moves, linking hard sections and putting all the clips in on the route then came down for a rest just as Shane made his way up from the boulderfeifd below the crag. Shane had previously worked all the moves on the route and was tantalisingly close to a send so today was the big push. Fortunately I had brought my camera gear along to the crag so we put a rope up on a wall just left of the route and I got myself into position to shoot some photos. This process involved jumering up the rope with my camera bag on my back and then hanging in my rather uncomfortable harness on the overhanging wall, having numb legs and tired arms was totally worth it to get the best angle of this route.
Shane felt warm and was tied in and ready to go. He seemed to climbed in autopilot through the lower “easy” section clipping in to the quickdraw and breathing deeply as he methodically cruised up the wall. Soon he was just below me and reaching the crux moves. He throws round the corner of the wall into full view, latching onto a small rounded hold under full body tension, letting out a loud shout and breath of air as he moved which echoed down to the boulderfield.
Once he knows he is on the hold he brings his feet through and throws a powerful move latching a hold that sits up and too the right from him, letting out another shout. Just a small bump to the next hold but under full body tension he throws, latches the hold and almost in slow motion his fingers pop of the small hold and send him swinging down the wall until his rope goes tight.
After pulling back up the rope and resting Shane easily pulls this move and continues to the top, meaning it may just be a matter of fatigued hands keeping him from success. He tried again once more after this attempt but unfortunately he popped of that same move, and once again rested and continued to the top. Maybe a bit of training or a warmer day and this challenging climb is well within his reach, Which is really inspiring to see.
After shane had lowered off and had a rest at the bottom Ellis tied in and had another burn on the route. Working the moves all morning had ramped up the fatigue and he couldn’t link the hard moves through the middle of the route, Even after an on route shoe swap…
Even with these tactics being employed ellis still couldn’t link the moves and fatigue set in and the day was almost over. I should also add this is the first time I’ve seen Ellis look like he’s actually trying hard on something, its nice to see he’s human!
Once I had stripped the lines and Ellis had packed up and left we wondered down to meet the rest of the group who had spent their day on the boulderfield soaking up the sun. We had just enough sunlight left to climb a few boulders and catch the last rays of sun. When we were good and tired it was time to pack up and head to the pub.
Looking back on yesterday I still can’t believe it was a January day! Perfect sunny conditions and a whole day spent doing awesome things with amazing friends, And I personally cannot wait for more days like this!
’til the next adventure.