In this month's Crag Notes, Jim Perrin takes us to Mowing Word - a crag that he developed back in the late 1960s. Nowadays its walls are adorned with classics, but back then it was something of a blank slate. " I had this marvellous cliff to try lines upon", says Jim. "This gleaming-orange, sunset wall of massively-bedded limestone's been my favourite cliff ever since".
Great to read about the first ascent. I caught this route on an Indian summer morning with gentle seas and incisive light, it was marvelous. I can still feel it now, the right place at the right time with the right person.
Thanks again Jim Perrin, look forward to the anniversary ascent piece.
Thanks, Michael - and lovely that you worked Will's words in there!
Hello Michael! Mowing Word was also the scene of one of my more memorable days. A hot, hot summer and stroll across the beach to the bottom of Diedre Sud, a beachy balmy sort of day. Up on the pedestal and a few people around. The teams thin out, I'm getting hotter and hotter in that corner cauldron. The climbing's fine but my head's going gooey. I look down and see my partner stood alone, a shark or similar basking gently below. She's belaying, on the edge of her comfort zone. Time slows down, I finish off with some relief. Getting a belay takes an age with my head going. Eventually I bring her up, all my concentration spent on keeping it together. At last the Mrs pops over the top. I collapse with heatstroke and am useless for quite some time slumped with a t shirt over my head. Fun times.
Nice article, good to have Jim Perrin on UKC...
I too did it with the right person - a really lovely guy called Jon Howell. A while before, when we'd all been bouncing around in a hire car, up steep, windy lanes in Spain, entirely unexpectedly, 'Forever Young' came on the radio. You can imagine the effect it had on me. I was sitting in the back with Jon, trying to keep my reaction hidden, not wanting to spoil the happy bolt-clipping mood of the day. Months afterwards, I asked him if he'd noticed. He'd seen but hadn't said a word, bless him.
We got on Heart of Darkness way too early in the day. It was bathed in slime. I hadn't any big cams (mind you, neither did you on the FA!) and slithered across, overgripping wildly. Although Jon had led Massambula and the Dervish, overall he hadn't done much trad. Even though I waited for ages for the edges of the breaks to dry, I thought he might have heart failure when he came round the arete and saw the traverse, with just a few wrong-sized runners. But he was great. When he unclipped the last bit of shit gear and continued, I was so proud of him.
Jon. Will. You. I did it with the right people.
Oh really, that's given me goose bumps. I had no idea.
Lovely to read Jim Perrin on Pembroke again. An article of his in Crags (1980-ish?) about the early years including a description of his first ascent of The Strait Gate was one of my favorites. Few can convey the essence of British crag climbing as he can; thanks Jim for this!
Will wrote a response to a piece of mine ("Visions and Virians") in that anthology of climbing writers' favourites from among their own work, edited by Pat Ament and called "Climber's Choice". "Visions & Virians" was about doing Dream of White Horses with Will when he was 14, Michael - a very precious memory. He described going across to the other side of the zawn afterwards, looking at what he'd just climbed, and he ended with those words you included in your post. He was a rare, precious soul, for whom the grieving never ends.
Thanks for the story Jim. Precious - yes, and I am sad and uncomfortable to disturb the sand in the river of time. I was once walking aisles in the local library and happened upon a book of 'Anglo Welsh' poetry and found 'On Puncheston Moor' which was a great help in the difficult place I found myself in. As I look back I realize the act of choosing was influenced by reading your columns. Sending love.
Oh blimey, now there is a climbing danger I'd never have thought of. I managed a similar feat cycle camping on the Llyn Peninsula in August once and it took me a couple of rest days to recover.
That part of Mowing Word really does seem to concentrate the sun. After Heart of Darkness/New Morning we climbed Snozwanger out on the wall to the left of Diedre Sud , in full afternoon sun. My climbing partner was feeling dehydrated at the bottom and ended up with forearm cramp so bad he decided to take a belay halfway up the route and get me to finish.
for more nature writing by JP check out @punkistani 93 Jim Perrin
for more nature writing by J P check out - @punkistani 93 Jim Perrin
you might be interested in more J P writing - see @punistani 93 Jim Perrin
if you like his writing you might enjoy @punkistani 93 Jim Perrin
In this week's Friday Night Video we follow Italian climber Federica Mingolla on her transition from competition and indoor climber to full-on trad climber. With the help of a friend, Mingolla realised that competing was not making her happy and...