/ A midsummer's evening dream and a pebble.

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Goucho on 14 Nov 2017
One of my oldest pieces of gear, and something to which I am very attached, is a pebble.

It's about three inches in diameter and a couple of inches thick. Ìt resides in the bottom of my chalk bag, and is worn to babysoft smoothness by thousands of years of the oceans tides, and the thousands of times my fingers have rolled and carresed it.

Over the many years, it has become an integral part of my climbing. It has focused my concentration, been the perfect way of applying just the right amount of the white stuff, and soothed my anxiety like a miniture comfort blanket.

And here it is rolling around my fingers, as I eye up the next perfect moves, in an endless sequence of perfect moves, on a perfect wall of rock, on probably the most famous crag in Britain, on an utterly perfect midsummer's evening.

I've wanted to do this route for so long. A beautiful crescent, arching languidly across the bottom half of Great Wall.

Each move is exquisite. A delicate symphony of faith, friction and finesse. The boldness only adds to the atmosphere, the lack of gear eliminating the need to break up the rythymn of this intoxicating vertical dance.

Fingers stroke the small sloping pockets and side pulls instead of snatching at them. The feet lead, and the hands follow, poise and balance instead of brawn and cranking.

The moves flows with a surprising ease and confidence. I've been going well for about six months, but here, now, I find myself inside an alost Zen like state of mind. As the slowly dipping evening sun warms by body, the joy of being on this route and climbing well, warms my soul with an almost spiritual embrace.

At the belay on Great Wall, I feel a huge wave of happiness and euphoria wash over me.

When Mike joins me at the stance he grins at me - "You want all three don't you, you greedy git?"

I nod in agreement, and bless him, he indulges me.

The first part of the second pitch up Great Wall's groove feels easy, as do the moves left to a small ledge. The wall above is steep and hard, yet I eat it up, feeling stronger and more inspired with each move.

At the belay on Daurigol I gaze out as the sky begins to turn from a vibrant blue and yellow to a blood orange, and Cloggy throws out its ever lengthening shadow across the screes and the black pool of Llyn du Arrdu below.

As I set off up the last pitch, I feel a bit sad it's all going to be over soon, but this last pitch is no anti climax.

After relatively easy climbing up towards Chimney Route, the finishing arete rears up above like the dark prow of a ship. I place a small fragile wire and pull onto the arete, and momentarily pause to take in this moment.

I roll my pebble around my fingers and feel both a wonderful calmness and a rising feeling of excitement.

Launching up onto the arete, the moves are hard, powerful and committing. I feel the pump finally starting to throb through my arms, and fingers, yet the excilleration and undiluted joy of the movement and position are intoxicating.

A final hard pull and long reach sees the angle and difficulties ease. I spend a few moments savouring the situation, perched on that glorious arete, and as the crows begin to retire to their nightime ledges, I take in the spectacular sunset.

A gentle breeze floats up from below as I laugh and grin my way up the final moves to the belay ledge.

When Mike joins me, we sit there for a while taking in the silence and atmosphere.

"Does it get any better than this?" I smile.

Mike just grins, reaches out an arm and playfully puts it round my shoulder, before patting me on the head.

"You realise you're getting all the beer in tonight?" he laughs.

By the time we stumble through the half light back to our sacs, the vivid sunset is slowly being replaced by a soulful and beguiling silver moon, which guides us back down the Llanberis path like an ethereal chaparone.

It's the perfect ending, to what has been my perfect Midsummer Night's Dream.
Greasy Prusiks on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Beautiful. Please keep doing this.
Wanderer100 - on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Eloquent.
paul__in_sheffield - on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Goucho, that’s really lovely writing
Jon Stewart - on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:
Brilliant stuff, keep the coming. When you publish your collection of essays, I'll be sure to get a copy.

I can't help but wonder - did it really go that well, or were there some moments of sweating, muttering obscenities when you picked out the wrong wire or placed it badly, or when a hold that looked good turned out to be crap? There are some leads which my memory I cruised, but my belayer will tell me I fannied about, up and down for half an hour at the crux, talking to myself "f*ck this is hard...that pocket for the left is wank...f*ck, watch me here - that last wire's bullshit", etc. Maybe it's just me?
Post edited at 22:48
Dan Arkle - on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

When you look back in 30 years you'll gloss over that Jon!

Groucho, thanks, that was special. It reminds me that I've never dared put it on the line for that experience, and probably never will. I feel sadness to realise this, but on another level I am happy with my choice.
Goucho on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> Brilliant stuff, keep the coming. When you publish your collection of essays, I'll be sure to get a copy.

> I can't help but wonder - did it really go that well, or were there some moments of sweating, muttering obscenities when you picked out the wrong wire or placed it badly, or when hold that looked good turned out to be crap? There are some leads which my memory I cruised, but my belayer will tell me I fannied about, up and down for half an hour at the crux, talking to myself "f*ck this is hard...that pocket for the left is wank...f*ck, watch me here - that last wire's bullshit", etc. Maybe it's just me?

On this occasion it really did go like dream Jon, (pardon the pun)

I was so inspired by the route - and of course Great Wall is such a magnificent sweep of rock, who wouldn't be - and been climbing really well for several months, succeeding in onsighting a few other E6's. So it was one of those rare (very rare) times where I was feeling really good, and everything clicked and came together perfectly.

Mind you, a couple of weeks later, I had a real battle on every level, on The Cad, which was very memorable in a completely different way
Post edited at 22:53
Jon Stewart - on 14 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> On this occasion it really did go like dream Jon, (pardon the pun)

A memory to treasure. It's great that you can share it through writing, keep them coming.

> Mind you, a couple of weeks later, I had a real battle on every level, on The Cad, which was very memorable in a completely different way

A teaser for the next instalment...
AP Melbourne on 15 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> On this occasion it really did go like dream Jon, (pardon the pun)

> Mind you, a couple of weeks later, I had a real battle on every level, on The Cad, which was very memorable in a completely different way

Really, really enjoyed that Goucho, it's so very well written, well done.
Having followed Redhead on the 2nd ascent [of the 1st pitch] of Midsummer's as an eighteen year-old I simply followed the dots and don't recall much at all. I too had 'the perfect' three pitch lead for the entire route the following summer and echo your feelings as you describe events perfectly.
I'd had an easier time making the 4th ascent of The Cad earlier [it all feels so long ago now] but these two masterpieces will forever remain massive - and classic - milestones for thousands of climbers into the future and, in my opinion, are best done when at the higher end of one's on-sighting ability to get the best out of them [and oneself].
Looking fwd to more of your writing,
Cheers,
Andy.
Big Ger - on 15 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Exquisite, thanks for sharing.
BusyLizzie on 15 Nov 2017
In reply to Goucho:

It's a rare gift to be able to write about joy and make it so interesting. Thank you.

I shall now put a pebble in my chalk bag

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