/ One Memory - One Route - Only One!

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Goucho on 15 Feb 2014
Difficult one this.

Lets imagine that under some future totalitarian society, everyone has to have most of their memories erased, but you can keep one climbing memory intact - just one!

So which would it be, which would be that one climbing memory you would want to keep?

For me it would be Great Wall on Cloggy.

Ever since I started climbing, Great Wall was something that inspired me. The Black Cliff, Drummond's brilliant essay in Hard Rock - "elephants bounced past trumpeting" - black and white photo's in old Mountain Magazines, possibly the most beautiful sweep of rock in Britain?

When I finally did it, on a heavily overcast midweek day, after several days of rain, the crag deserted, just one of my closest climbing friends (no longer with us) and the squawking crows and ravens for company, the mist hanging low, heavy and menacing, it was everything I imagined and hoped it would be.

Climbed in one pitch, the rock still seeping that cold wetness in places, the clink of runners on harness echoing eerily, anxious and excited in equal measures. Every move pulling me further in to the history, the folklore, the magnificence of the route.

At the ledge at half height, I took a rest, looked out over the black lake below and across towards the black clouds moving in from the coast.

"Doing well youth" drifted up from below, those dry dulcet tones providing just the reassurance I needed.

The groove, the crack, and the moves right to the ledge, fingers cold, arms tiring, head trying to avoid premature feelings of success, slow studied movement - a shouted laugh from below "don't blow it now kid" drifted up and echoed around the black cliff.

And then, I was there, the top, wet grass, and wet cheeks from a few small tears of joy.

As I bought the dulcet tones from below up, I have to admit, I felt extremely bloody pleased with myself, and that fag, god that fag, tasted so so good, up there at the top of Great Wall, with the crows, the ravens, and the dream at last realised.

Rick Graham on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

What a nice post.

Looking at your profile I guess you agonised over which memories to erase.
Creedence on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

That's a great story, thanks for the read. You've just put Great Wall on my wishlist :D.
Misha - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Best post I've seen for a while here.

As for my own... I don't know, too hard to choose!
Goucho on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Rick Graham:

> What a nice post.

> Looking at your profile I guess you agonised over which memories to erase.

Just a bit :-)
deacondeacon - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Magical moments like these are so rare in climbing but still we chase them.
I'll have to have a think about which route to choose but hreads like these are what make UKC worthwhile,
mike123 - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

great post and idea. i know what mine is but you ve set the bar high . i ll have a go in a bit.
jonathan shepherd - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:
For me it would be climbing Moss Ghyll in the pouring rain with two mates years ago. We had arrived at Wasdale with plans for all sorts of routes only to find it was going to be one the soaking Lakes weekends, after much deliberation we though stuff it, we're here so we might as well do something and headed up to Moss Ghyll. You could only see about a third of the way up the crag due to the rain and fog the whole thing was running with water so we decided to do it in walking boots as there didn't seem much point in using rock boots.
After my mate lead the first pitch I arrived at his belay to find him stood with about a twenty foot length of rope running back to the belay in a crack at the back of the gully, there was a dip in the slack in the rope behind and water was running of this like a tap. I lead through a soaking Collies step with water running up my sleeves and thoroughly saturating me. When we arrived at the top you couldn't see your hand in front of your face and on heading down into a brief window of visibility we realized we were on the Eskdale side rather than Wasdale and had to head back up again.
The thing was when we eventually arrived back at the campsite we all thought it was a totally brilliant day despite everything and it's one i'll never forget despite climbing much harder things in beautiful weather in various parts of the world.
LeeWood - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

a lovely ambient story - pity it has to end with a fag ;)
Jon Stewart - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to deacondeacon:

> threads like these are what make UKC worthwhile,

Really? I prefer the mindless bickering about nothing.

Seriously though, yes, great post.

For me, doing Arcturus/Golden Slipper (come on, it's one route really) on my first weekend of climbing outside the Peak. Pavey Ark was the first mountain crag I'd ever seen as kid, when my Dad took me walking up in the Lakes for the first time. I remember being awestruck as the crag suddenly came into view at the top of the slog up Stickle Ghyll; I never even imagined that I could one day climb right up the tallest, most vertical part of the crag. Looking back up at the crag after the route I remember how connected I felt to the earlier memory: the same place but with a completely different perspective, and a perspective that I never thought I'd have.


Sam Beaton on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Diedro Magicos on the Puig Campagna, no question, for more than one reason.

It's a rather jolly and very British style route up a huge groove that goes on forever. Even though the route is dwarfed by that huge, complex mountain face you can still see the whole line from miles away. There are two long and varied crack pitches, a bold and delicate face pitch to avoid a chossy bit of the groove, and a fabulous and brutal roof crack to finish. The crux is right up here, where it should be, with as much space between your feet as you could possibly wish for.

I climbed it in January 2007 with Will on our third attempt. On two previous trips to Spain we had been thwarted by snow, but not this time. I was particularly keen to get it done on that trip because I'd just learned I was going to become a father for the first time, and knew I'd not have the chance for this kind of climbing holiday again for some time.

As we returned to the car exhausted, dehydrated and happy I wondered when I'd next do something similar again with Will, my constant companion in the mountains for the previous ten years. The best friend you could imagine having for high camps ("remember that weight is your enemy" he'd say whilst hack sawing off his toothbrush handle - yet still finding room for a plastic bottle of Sainsbury's vin rouge de table de France) and for calm but confident multi pitch climbing in foul weather (Spartan Slab with water pouring up each sleeve and out of each trouser leg, each of us blaming - good naturedly - the other for not having bailed out earlier).

Then, suddenly and shockingly, he wasn't here any more. Just four years after Diedro Magicos and two years after making a speech at his wedding I was helping to carry his coffin into the church. No more winter sun trips to bolt clip in Spain, no more long summer evenings at Stanage End, and no more bank holidays at Great Moss or Land's End.

During those difficult early days with small children I often dreamed of when I'd next escape to the mountains with Will and do something as much fun as Diedro Magicos, but we never did. And now we never will.

Duncan Campbell - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Hmmmmm, very tricky this one!!!

Great Wall was a contender for me, but for a bit of variety I chose another...

As I can only have one route, I'm going fully selfish/personal:

My one route memory is Sugar Cane Country on Pabbay, I remember first seeing this picture during my first year at uni:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=109558

That was about three years before going to the islands, and I often dreamed about doing that route, how those crimps would feel, if I could keep my head together to onsight, what for me is such a perfect route.

As the trip got closer, I realised I had to try it as I had climbed a couple of E4s already that year, and I began to worry if I would be able to do it...

The day before my attempt two friends of mine, Gwen and Ben had both fallen off it. This worried me as Gwen is a lot better than me, and Ben a lot stronger...

However, after a quick warm-up route, I strapped it on and set off up it finding it bold but steady at the start. I felt focussed, confident and basically totally 'in the zone'. It all felt in control until I moved away from the second "ledge", suddenly it started to feel hard, but I pushed on, getting more and more pumped, running it out til I got the most bomber wire in the world, and with failing arms I sprinted to the top.

A successful onsight, quite literally a dream come true. The rest of the day was a haze of contentment.

Weirdly though, upon returning to camp a sadness fell over me (and sort of remains to this day). This sadness was that I'd never experience that route in that way again. I could never dream about it in the same way again, never wonder what it would be like to climb.

Despite feeling sad that I will never be able to do it again in the same way, I also look back with great fondness for that route. It really is mega.
Goucho on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Sam Beaton:

The truly wonderful experiences we have climbing, are often because of the special people we share them with, as much as the actual routes.

And the faces of those no longer here, get etched slightly deeper in our memories, than the features of a climb :-)
Mick Ward - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

> The truly wonderful experiences we have climbing, are often because of the special people we share them with, as much as the actual routes.

> And the faces of those no longer here, get etched slightly deeper in our memories, than the features of a climb :-)

Totally agree.

A beautiful exposition of Great Wall. Thank you.

'And then, I was there, the top, wet grass, and wet cheeks from a few small tears of joy.'

I so wish that had happened with me - but it didn't. I did it as a first route (out of five, on one weekend, all on Cloggy) with someone with whom I had little empathy and possibly, just possibly, may have wanted me to fail. I also encountered some very disapproving ladies at the top.

So, for me, it was a broken dream. But I'm glad it was a dream come true for you.

Mick
Goucho on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:

Thanks Mick :-)

I think many of us have had those times when what should have been a really memorable experience, has been slightly tarnished by doing it with the wrong person(s).

The right partner makes a good climb a great climb, and a great climb something quite magical.
davidbeynon - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

I'm going to have Hope on the Idwal slabs. Not because it was my favourite route, or the best but because it was my first multi pitch and I enjoyed it enough to keep climbing.

They can erase my memory, but as long as I have the motivation I can get new ones.

If the deal is that they erased my memory and then chopped off my legs I will have the Delago tower in the dolomites.
Dave Ferguson - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

For me it was Pagan, not just because it was a fantastic route, but because it was the culmination of a September of magic on the red walls. I was in my last year of nursing college in Bangor and living in Llanberis, The weather was fantastic, but rather than troop up to cloggy or Craig yr too far we had Red Wall fever.

I used to sign in at college and then escape through a fire exit to my mates car and a frantic dash on the old A5 to South Stack. Never one for prevaricating with coffee (I have since leart my lesson) we used to set up the ab and launch into the chaos of quartzy flakes and spiders webs that distinguish the cliff from other less radical fare.

I never climbed harder than E2 on real rock but this style suited me and gradually the E3 ticks fell. Wendigo, Left Hand Red Wall, Blue Remembered Hills, Fantasia, it felt hairy but in control all at the same time. We were left with the elephant in the room, Pagan - "but I've never climbed E4!, its OK I'll do the hard pitch", my mate explained, and so we found ourselves at the base of the impending wall.

I got the first pitch and its reputation had me quivering, I had hardly slept the previous night but once I stepped onto the fragile ramp it all started to click. The rurp was just as useless as everyone had said and it was a 3.5 friend in a talcy crack that gave me the confidence to teeter up. Wow, the belay, no way out now but up.

My mate had a few up and down moments but dispatched the second pitch in good style, leaving me the third and longest pitch. I must have spent at least an hour moving left and right to work out the intricacies of that pitch but it felt like 10 minutes. I felt marvellously in control on that fragile wall and the moment of euphoria at the top will live long in the memory. A friend had waited at the top to make sure we escaped the walls clutches which was a really nice touch.

The subsequent ice cream in the car park and the beer in the Heights never tasted so good that night. Next day it rained and I went back to college to face the music, never had something been so worth it to experience the bollocking of all bollockings.
TRip - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Reading posts like yours and the other one from Dave Ferguson makes me question the sanity of the folk who were suggesting the climbing North Wales isn't world class.

Tough question. I'll have a think and get back to you.
Choss on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:
For me it wouldnt be any do or die desperate personal Grade pushing. Nor a Long wanted classic. It isnt even the quality of the route.

It would be a lazy warm sunny Spring afternoon about 1990. An ascent of right Hand route on north wall Wintours Leap with 2 very good Friends. The weather was great, the climbing went easy. what made it Special was the great company, the idle chat, the Laughs. Lounging on the Belays, smoking, the views, the positions, Taking our Time, and just Soaking the whole Experience up.

Nothing else in the world existed that afternoon. It was just being happy. And beers and good company afterwards.

Thats what i would choose to Remember. Thats the Kind of experience that makes climbing special for me.
Post edited at 09:46
abseil on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Mousetrap, Gogarth. A utterly brilliant route... so memorable.

On our first attempt me and my mate failed [couldn't start the second pitch], got benighted at about 7 PM, long after dark, on a freezing spring day. Meanwhile below, heavy storm waves were smashing into the zawn. This was followed by a nightmare abseil to the bottom of the zawn and escape out of the zawn [we had brilliantly pulled down the abseil rope... errrr that was clever] - in the pitch dark without a torch. Readers who have been there will fully grasp what an epic that was!

Came back with a different mate and completed the route on a glorious summer day. Magic. Those days will not come again sob sob sob... never again sob sob...

Tips for readers: don't start up Mousetrap unless you're sure you can do it, don't set off to do it at 4 PM+ in the spring, don't try it during a storm, DON'T PULL THE ABSEIL ROPE DOWN!
ads.ukclimbing.com
WB on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

It is not one route, but one day. Again up on cloggy. A midweek early start with no one else around, and in beautiful sunshine we climbed Llithrig, Octo, and Vember. To me that is a pretty good day anyway, but what made it even more memorable was popping in for tea in the Victoria on the way back and bumping in to Joe Brown. He asked what we had been up to, and we told him it was three of his routes, we then had a good chat about the routes. What I didn’t realise, was there were other people around that day… as there is a photo of an ‘unknown’ climber on Octo in the latest cloggy guide. A good reminder of a great day.
Snoweider - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

I'm going to choose the scene of a minor epic, which is funny, becuase my climbing career ever since has largely been about avoiding a repeat of this scenario, but as a memory, it is class and I would like to keep it.

After a latish start and climbing Garadh Gully on the Ben, W and I are sitting eating our lunch wondering what to do next. The sensible option is to head down, as its about 2pm, but the ice fall at the bottom of Glover's Chimney is looking fat and blue and lovely. We've never climbed ice like that before, so eventually we succumb, and W leads off. After 60m of rope is payed out, he calls down to me to climb, with the caveat "don't fall off". When I get to the belay I can see he'd run out of ice screws, and as I recall, I'd just climbed the steepest ice of my life belayed to a pair of axes and a DMM Bulldog.

The gully proper begins after this, and what had looked like a short stretch of easy snow, turns in to pitch after pitch of endless plodding. Thankfully loads of gear, and great views of people's arses as they step accross Tower Gap above us in the glow of a winter twighlight. Eventually, we reach the base of the chiminey proper, as darkness falls. Wally leads off while I stand in the darkness watching his light disappear up the crux. When it is my turn to climb I discover my head torch battery is flat, I flail around in the black night, no idea how I got up it but I did. We arrived in the gap to discover a storm raging all around us- we'd been sheltered by the lee of Tower Ridge. Abbing in to Tower Gully seems a bad idea with all the fresh snow... So we continue up on to the summit of the Ben, where we arrive in the teeth of a gale around 8pm. Navigating off is hard and slow work, I don't really remember much except it was very dark and cold and windy. We arrive back at our van just after last orders... which was annoying.
LeeWood - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Can I count one outing == one route? The concatenation of the Idwal classics - leading on to Holly Tree Wall & Grey slabs. This is uniquely memorable for me as it was a rare day spent climbing with my dad. Here he is on that day:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=158840
jcw on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

A moving and thought-provoking thread. In the first place the Thought Police are going to have a lot of problems eliminating my strongest memories, strong because they are not necessarily things I want to remember. Certainly in the UK my choice must be a day rather than a route; and inevitably it will be with friends, half a dozen specials and one or two sadly lost ones.

But in the end I finally decided on a day in the Alps in 1994. Julian Cox, who had just graduated turned up in Chamonix after a successful trip in the States, and in his usual amiable suggested we climb together. The multi pitch routes in the Bregaglia off the first cable car were fine, but the walk up to the Sciora hut to do the Bugeleisen really brought my age home to me. Nevertheless we led through on it, so one way and another we'd got a bit of mileage in by the time we returned to Chamonix. So we settled for a three star Piola routes on the South side of the Aiguilles Dorées "Eole danza per noi" to finish with. At Champex I got my over 60s lift reduction, but my knee gave me hell on the walk up to the Trient hut. And continued to do so that night, so I was not feeling on form after descending the Fenêtre de Saleina to the foot of the face. It was bitterly cold at 3,500m and the first three pitches were pénible, but fortunately not too difficult (V/V+). And then suddenly things got moving and we had some brilliant climbing in a great position, very sustained 6aish which Jules led immaculately.

We started abseiling back down at 2pm with little hope of the lift which stopped at 5pm. Nevertheless we hurried and were lucky as it was running late so we were back home for dinner. It was a marvelous day, though pretty hard for me but the thing that made it outstanding was when trying to make that lift, I suddenly got back that old mountaineering feeling in my legs, tired but powerful: the kind of thing which keeps one hammering away all day. It was the last time I was to experience it.

That is why I would want to recall that day, to remember what it felt like to be a mountaineer.
Enty - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:
Bloody hell - how do I pick one from the last 30 years??? I'll try.

It's not the actual climb it's part of the period soon afterwards. So this is my favourite climbing memory.
If I could re-live one afternoon of my life over and over and over again I'd be sitting in a deckchair on the bridge below El Cap.
It's lunchtime and I'm drinking a can of Cobra Malt liquor with Tom Evans the Yosemmite camerman. There's a bunch of other climbers there - some just got down after some gnarly week long aid-climb horrors, some Nose In a Day climbers, some Nose in 4 day climbers and some El Cap Virgins - all having a beer.

The previous night I'd bivvied on the top of El Cap after topping out on Zodiac in the dark after a fairly speedy one bivvy ascent doing it with 99% clean aid.
The previous week I'd been sitting in the exact same place, drinking Cobra, after topping out on The Nose after a 3.5 day leisurely ascent.

Magic times!

E


PS great topic
Post edited at 19:20
Mick Ward - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Sacrilege to have a sport route; ludicrous to have one lost amid muddy landslips. But it was in a place I loved, for people I loved - even if one of them was absent and the other one was dead.


'One day it came to me that the soloing had to stop, at least on the east coast, before it was too late. Soon afterwards, the drinking also got back under control. I returned to life’s battles. There seemed nothing better than to fight on. But, with Will’s death, something vital had gone from me. Life was a joyless spread of days, to be endured until it was all over.

How do you love someone with no joy? Michèle struggled, but things got worse. In the end, for both of us, I had to leave the island. Quixotic or not, I wanted to leave a legacy in stone for Will. For two years, I’d explored the crags, searching for the right line, yet too mentally and physically drained for the necessary cleaning and bolting.

Finally, running out of time made everything brutally simple. The weather was horrendous as, once again, I shouldered huge loads of new routing gear to the top of Wallsend. Swinging around in space, in a spider’s web of ropes, in howling gales, prising blocks from the wall. Skyhooks popping. Jumaring back up at day’s end, body numb with cold, mind numb with fear. It was a kind of penance.

On a dire day, with very little time left, I finally set off up the chosen line, my last new route on Portland. Steve Muncaster, bless him, belayed. The good handhold at the base of the main groove was slick as a bar of soap. I flew off, repulsed by the only easy move on the entire route, beaten before I’d properly begun.

So… back up then. A hopeless venture, but you’re here, so why not? Touch the bar of soap for a necessary moment, then quickly move past. Furiously chalk up. Increasingly technical moves lead to the overlap and a sopping, vital, crimpy layaway. More chalk. Giving it all I’ve got now, I somehow teeter past, into the rest, and hang there, panting like a dog. I fight to get my breathing under control. Slowly my pulse comes back down. But I know, deep inside, that the struggles below have taken too much out of me. I’m f*cked. The crux is just above. Steve is silent. There’s just the emptiness of Wallsend. The silence. Me. And the crux above.

With the pain of a wounded animal, I contort into the first Egyptian, then the second. Reach for the crucial crimp. It’s not there. My frozen brain tries to comprehend. It can’t not be there. And I can’t hold this position any longer. Each precious second draws me closer to inevitable conclusion. My body is gone now. I’m almost off. I know that, when I fall, I’ll be too shattered, too beaten to try again.

My time is long gone, yet somehow I’m still there. Far too late, questing fingers brush against the crimp, reflexively lock. With infinite delicacy, I step through, pirouetting on a tiny smear. All of Wallsend is spread out below me. Disbelievingly, I reach for the mono. With dying arms and shaking legs, I slap for the greasy break, then the next soaking one. For the third time I slap, by some miracle catch the undercut and hang from it, breath coming in great shuddering whoops. I’m dimly aware of Steve, far away, can sense his uncertainty and encouragement across the gossamer strand of rope connecting us.

It’s an old, tired man that leaves the security of the undercut and heads out across the top wall. Pinch, undercut, crimp, pinch. And then finally there is joy beyond compare in those last few exquisite moments as I realise that, against all expectation, it’s going to happen. There’s an hallucinogenic sensation of utter incredulity as my rope goes through the belay karabiner. Thus does Will come into being. Just beside it is Michèle. It means far more than I can ever express that, barring rockfall, these two routes will remain, side by side together, long after I’ve gone. My beloved Wallsend has given me so many wonderful days. Will and Michèle are mementoes in stone to those I have loved.'

Mick

Kafoozalem - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:

Very moving Mick - beautifully written.
jon on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:

What is the route Mick?
Mick Ward - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to Kafoozalem:

Thank you Pete. I guess it shows what grief can do to you.

Mick
Mick Ward - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to jon:

It was called Will, only F7b, maybe a bit hard for the grade, certainly (for me) a nightmare in the conditions. Andy Long and Gav Symonds did it a couple of days later. But, since then, the area's got muddy and, after this winter, God knows what state it'll be in. So Will and Michèle may never be worth doing again. But I can't help that. I did my best.

You'd like Wallsend, Jon. A peaceful place...

Mick

Goucho on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:

That was straight from the heart Mick - very poignant and beautifully written.
pasbury on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Wow - tough one and a great post.

I've surprised myself by not choosing anything that represents the physical difficulties or personal challenge of climbing but instead; landscape, relationships and the placement of the game in my own life.
Red Wall, Avalanche and Longlands continuation on Lliwedd one hot, sunny June day about 15 years ago. I climbed with M who had a deep romantic attachment to the old fashioned image of the early climbers (think of the picture of Oscar Eckenstien? with pipe clamped in his mouth on the same cliff) and N who I had climbed with for many years before and many years since. It was M's stag weekend at the Pen-y-Gwyryd, chosen specifically so that N & I could climb the route with him.
It was at a time of my life when I had made the transition away from a life spent living in mountainous areas to a less carefree existance working in cities. On the other hand my climbing ability, though declining, was still more than sufficient to approach this climb with just the carefree state of mind that I would come to miss. In short it represents a sort of end of youth which I still lament and probably always will.
Lliwedd was bone dry so that the usual earthy smell of the place was absent, we were alone on the route, everthing went to plan, the climbing was easy but interesting. M made self depracating comments on his girth and general climbing abilities though actually he was a worrying bold climber considering his lack of experience. I remember a deep glow of satisfaction on the summit; smoking, coiling ropes, and taking a nip from M's flask before running down to the pub.

It's been surpisingly emotional thinking about this.
pasbury on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to LeeWood:

Marvellous!! Soon I want my daughter to take just such a picture.

Wizzy - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

At the moment, it has to be doing the 5 star finish on great western for the first time!
abseil on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Thanks Goucho, this thread is really great, enjoying it.
nickh1964 - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Great thread.
For me its Long climb on Ben Nevis, done the summer of my A levels and a perfect hot summers day. Snow at the foot, not quite certain we would be able to follow the route, getting to the top as an RAF jet screamed over doing a victory roll for us. Lost innocence......
Offwidth - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Dreaming and drifting up in drizzle, trusting to the forecast after a years wait for opportunity; hoping the creaking joints, that prevented training runs, hold out to a lightweight gamble. Snigger, startling an embarrassed shadow: a sneaky shit way too close to the water supply lochan. On the main line now and reversing the start. A close shave... warning against laziness ....stupidly bypassing easy height gain on tricky terrain: a slip during a wise helping-hand leads to a swing in space....fully awake now. Start; clouds dissolving in still air, rock bitter cold, hearts beating with expectation as the rising sun opens the stunning vista. First obstacle: big men with big sacks bumbling beetle-like to escape the slashed cleft. Wait and dance to stay warm. Moving now rope down and a rising polished crack swallows arms and feet where unfeeling fingers might unfold: gristone experience pays off... what's the fuss. An excursions to visit the high point, too soon to feel happy. A soaring corner leads to an eerie where the way is unsure, the most promising turns insecure but passes with care. The beatles block the next rise as the heat of the sun kicks in, so thirsty queue jumping on scrappy scree brings the stegosaurus spine at the front and no more waiting. Abseil off and 6 hours to halfway raises hopes despite caution. Slower now, as the rock descents repeatedly trick the eye above swimming drops (small forced retreats and retries) and water runs worryingly low. Yet progress is progress and a breeze blows in welcome releif. A bigger wall comes and the rope seems too short: inadequate unplanned belays make uncomfortable compromise for tiring bodies. Runners above ease the nerves and above a sting in the tail boulder problem becomes a physically revitalising joke. Easier now and on familar terrain for the first time. Knees starting to give but who cares: its downhill all the way now, or at least thats what the summit says, tempers soon simmer in escape prolonged by effort and pain. Home at last but bar closed, yet bad luck is of course better placed here.
Carless - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:
Enjoyable thread & enormous question!

Hard to choose just one...

One that's really outstanding was Big John on St. John's Head in Hoy

Loads of great details go towards it

The place - remote, unspoilt, enormous (approx. 1150 ft vertical)
The approach - superb 1300ft scramble down to a beach that very few people have ever been to - great wildlife
The route - unplanned - meant to go and try and free LongHope, but got there and there's this soaring obvious crackline leading up the left arete - well, you just have to go for it
The company - climbing with Mick Fowler's always a great laugh
The climbing - nowhere outrageously hard (max 6a) but outrageously good everywhere - belay on a jutting spike 800ft above the sea, top of a perfect 100ft layback pitch
The wildlife - fulmars - don't you love them, especially the one who puked at Mick, missed and hit another fulmar - the ensuing fight was a joy to behold
The local knowledge - the bloke in the pub who said when it was going to stop & start raining - and bugger me, he was right - doing the last pitch (of 14) at 10:30pm in the starting rain
Walking back to the bothy in the pissing rain - knackered but ecstatic
Post edited at 15:47
BigHairyIan - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

> Thanks Mick :-)

> I think many of us have had those times when what should have been a really memorable experience, has been slightly tarnished by doing it with the wrong person(s).

> The right partner makes a good climb a great climb, and a great climb something quite magical.

You know, being with the right person at the right time is all that really matters. What one does is purely incidental... Or something like that...
TRip - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to Goucho:

I've thought about this for quite a while. Tough question. Kippling Grove with my Dad, Orion Direct with Will, the Freney Pillar with Jack, Luke and Hamish, Hornli Ridge with Dad, West Buttress Eliminate the day after my finals, Eagle Front with Nikki, Astral Stroll with Dad.

After consideration it has to be the Cassin Ridge on Denali. Very committing and totally alone, especially after the hustle and bustle of the West Buttress. Climbing with Livingstone, a great partner for such occasion and a good laugh. High quality climbing, never desperate but not easy. Waking up on the second day, to find it was snowing, totally committed by this point. The only way off was up. The clouds clearing and going for the top. Summit at 11pm, completely wasted and utterly beautiful. Stumbling back into 17k camp, pitching the tent and find our stove wouldn't work. Too tired to do anything about it. Sheepishly going to see the Rangers next morning to borrow theirs, expecting a bollocking. They didn't care and were so psyched for us. Back at 14k Camp, eating Dairy Milk completely exhausted. Happy days.
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jon on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to TRip:

Happy days indeed. I'm still really impressed.
TRip - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to jon:

What's yours Jon? Or are there too many to choose from?
Mick Ward - on 21 Feb 2014
jon on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:

No, it wouldn't be one of mine Mick. I was thinking about this the other night for a different reason, but couldn't come anywhere near choosing just one. Maybe I will before the thread dies...
Mick Ward - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to jon:

There's always one. You give your heart. You give everything you have.

mick

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