/ High Presure on High Presure.

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Goucho on 11 Jul 2017
Old extract from diary, dated 1981.

The sun bounced off the rock disconcertingly, making my eyes squint, as I waited on two small sloping footholds and a side pull, for the last of the conveyor belt to pass along Dream.

Below me Mike was studying a seal basking in the almost millpond stillness of the sea, which gently caressed the back of the zawn like a teasing lover.

Another twitchy dip into the chalk bag, and upward momentum is continued. The climbing is not especially hard, but it's tenuous and sustained, made more apparant by the lack of gear.

It's that wrong time of a hot afternoon, and the sun beats down mercilessly, and saps the energy.

I run out about another 40', until I manage to get two small grubby wires behind a small flake. I've seen better, but there's nothing else. The next section looks decididly thin, with little in the way of any gear either. I'm beginning to see why it's given E4 5c.

I teeter upwards on insecure smears and tiny finger edges, the heat continuing to steal my energy. A semi mantle onto the top of a small sloping flake is all off balance.

I've run out about 120' of rope by now and can see what looks like the belay 15' above. Looking down I notice I'm a good 30' above those last small wires.

Between me and the belay the slab looks very blank. As I press my face to the rock to try and instil some calm, I feel my right foot begin to slide off the greasy flake.

I find myself stepping outside of myself, and like a seedy voyeur, watch my body swing right and peel slowly away from the rock.

Thankfully, the preservation instinct reconnects brain with body, and as I fall, my left hand latches the top of the flake.

A frantic and inelegant scuffle with friction sees me back on top of the flake, as my heart thuds and bangs in my chest like a John Bonham drum solo.

As I look down to Mike for reassurance, I notice my last gear - the two small wires - have been jolted out of their crappy placements and scuttled down the rope.


Driven by a combination of fear, adrenaline and embarrassment, I hurl myself up the blank section above, feet peddling like a unicyclist trying to stay upright in a gale force wind, until a final telescopic lunge grabs a huge jug and the sanctuary of the belay.

I stitch the belay with too much gear as part of the calming process, and quickly engage the services of Mr Benson and Mr Hedges.

Down below, the seal, now bored with my theatrics, has gone off to watch another team wrestling with a jammed ab rope on the Trap, and Mike is just staring up at me with a wry grin on his face.

As he starts to climb, and without even looking at me, he says just one word.


Cusco - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Fantastic stuff. Thanks for sharing.

And taking the piss out of one's partner is a great part of this climbing game.
radddogg - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Absolutely brilliant account. Thanks for sharing!
BusyLizzie on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Wonderful writing- very evocative. Thank you!
bouldery bits - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Fab. Brilliantly evocative. I'm missing Climbing more than ever!

I wasn't to be born for another 8 years when you wrote that...
jon on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Hmmm, my diary shows 'High Pressure 25 Aug 1983'. I'd like to say that it's possible that my ascent was subject to even more serious objective dangers - in the form of John Barry leading a long string of terrified Plas y Brenin students across Dream, each one of which, judging from their quivering legs, threatened to sweep across my route, and even drag their partners with them. I must have stupidly thought 'to hell with it, I'll be here all day if I wait for them' and got myself committed before realising the error of my ways. I don't recall if I stopped to belay on Dream or continued to the top - my diary isn't quite as detailed as yours. However, I do have photographic evidence. Well, when I say 'I' have it, I don't, but there is a photo in one of JB's books that records the occasion, but unfortunately, I no longer seem to have it. If anyone out there does then I'd be really grateful for a scan of it, though I don't know which book it is.
dr evil - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Great stuff, would you be willing to develop that into an essay for the forthcoming Gogarth book? Cheers, Grant
bouldery bits - on 12 Jul 2017
In reply to dr evil:

Include it as is.

The clipped sentences and sparse paragraphs make the piece. Any embellishment would be unnecessary and make the the piece too cumbersome.

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