Petzl RocTrip China: Steve McClure - His Storyby Steve McClure Nov/2011
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Mick Ryan - Senior Editor - UKC, in Beijing.
Arriving at Getu after 48 hours of travel I was having a quiet word with myself and wondering just how good a place this would have to be to justify such an effort. But it soon all became clear. Staggering around under the Big Arch, just about falling over backwards with head tipped, trying to take in the place, it is overwhelming. Then you spot a climber somewhere, obviously miles off the deck since they are a speck, but utterly dwarfed by the place and not even making a dent on the true height of the side walls.
There is pretty much every style of climbing at every grade, short intense hard 8's, long multi-pitch 6's, and the reverse. There are crimps and tufas and jugs. There just seems to be everything; plus more styles you didn't know existed. There is the world of slopers and this stuff is shutting me down. Those with lots of compression and pinch and undercut strength will do well, if you are a crimper you need not apply. Just off vertical walls that look anything from 6a to 7a turn out to be 8c, the intensely scalloped surface offering endless holds, all of which are useless, like holding onto the inside of a breakfast bowl. It's totally unique. I'm crap at it, pretty close to on-sight hell. And also not red-point heaven either, requiring the large biceps and shoulders that God forgot to give me.
But I love it!
I was tempted to 'save it' (i.e. scared of trying!) but I've also learned not to save things, why bother, life is short. So I set off ........
Feeling sloped out we headed for Banyang's Cave, some 'normal' climbing, monster tufa routes and a 20 degree overhanging wall with thin face stuff. The Frenchies had been before and climbed 'Treblinca', an awesome 8b on crimps that Jerome flashed. In true style they said it was 'made for me'! No pressure then! I was tempted to 'save it' (i.e. scared of trying!) but I've also learned not to save things, why bother, life is short, you might never come back and there are plenty of routes! So I set off in the mist and crimped my way up it onsight by the skin of my teeth. Not a big grade by today's standards, kind of entry level for 10 year olds. But I was pleased anyway, and I managed another F8b the next day along with a few 8's.
The last day was crazy, all the climbers up in the Arch, as well as all the onlookers. It was like being in a football stadium! Some of the climbers were loving it, but I'm British. You know how it is old chap? I'd rather be by the fire with a cup of tea. Or in reality, away from the crowds way up in the Arch. From the first moment that I stumbled under the Arch and pretty much fell over at the scale of it all I wanted to climb a multi-pitch route here. The challenge is pretty obvious. Steph and Arnaud's route Lost In Translation is the one, 7b+,7c+,8a/+, 8a/+ and through insane terrain.
The day began badly, with two hours of sleep, but getting fitter with numerous sprints to the bathroom. The spicy noodles were having revenge! But I wasn't gonna back out, this was my last day and last chance. Multi pitching with an added layer of fear!
Think of this as a way to turn a sport route into a trad one, in both cases you spend all the time nearly shitting yourself! I climbed it with Cody Roth, amazing! One of the best routes I've ever done. To make it even better we had a view all the way up of Dani redpointing each of the pitches on his route, one after the other over about five hours.
A fantastic last day, and I didn't even need a bung!
You can read more about Steve and his climbing at Getu in five blog posts at www.steve-mcclure.com.
Sign up for some free coaching by Steve next Saturday at Kendal Wall's relaunch day. Details at Premier Post - Kendal Wall Relaunch Event Saturday 5th November
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