On Friday 4th of December Scottish climber Alan Cassidy red-pointed his second F8c of the year, La Fabelita, in the awesome cave of Santa Linya in Catalunya, Spain.
His success was not easily won: unusually warm late-autumn weather and a demanding work schedule (teaching English in Lleida) proved to be a trying combination.
On the day in question, Alan woke feeling positive, but things rapidly went downhill. First of all, two of the three dogs belonging to his climbing partners, Tom Bolger and Lynne Malcolm, decided to go walkabout in the hills behind the house, leaving the owners no option but to go out and search for them. Although partnerless, Alan eventually decided to head down to the cave, only to find when he got there that he'd also forgotten his rope in all the confusion!
However, such is the popularity of Santa Linya that on any given day of the week, ropes and belayers are commodities that are usually in plentiful supply, and it wasn't long before Alan had procured both and was embarking on his first attempt of the day, coming agonizingly close to success but somehow (in his own words) “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”.
The shock of blowing it so close to the belay was almost too much, and with time rapidly running out before he needed to leave for afternoon classes, things weren't looking good. But, as is often the case, the human spirit does surprisingly well in the face of adversity and he decided to give it one last try. Bingo! Success!
Ten minutes later an ecstatic Alan was hurrying off to work with a grin from ear to ear, trying to memorize the Catalan for “sorry I'm late, the traffic was horrendous”.
Thanks go to Pete O'Donovan for this report and photograph.