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General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
A short story 24-Jun-2004 At 3:22:10 PM IdratherbeclimbingM9
Ozy Direct - roof.

I led the seventh pitch tackling the main roof to a hanging belay called ‘The Gledhill Bivvy’.
I was greatly impressed to find a thick, chest-diameter sized flake of rock, retroglued to the wall at the start of the horizontal ceiling traverse. Obviously it was creaky for those skilled enough to free this pitch and must have been too frightening to leave as it was. The outrageousness of freeing this pitch still causes me to shake my head in wonder, each time I dwell on what it must have been like. While aiding this area I eyeballed the moves required to free it, and am simply amazed that its been done in that style. The handholds are there but are spaced and slope, or are small and sharp. The footholds seem non-existent. The fatigue I experienced on aid indicated how damn hard it must be to free. I gather that it’s only considered grade twenty-five, though I would rate it that simply for its location and exposure, without the further consideration of ‘difficulty’!
For me it was quite a different experience, as I had far too much heavy gear on my double chest-gearslings from not knowing what was required out of sight above. I found they kept slipping back off my shoulders and though I was committed for the moment, made a mental note to devise a better system for the roofs up higher. The rearward movement of equipment had the effect of pulling my upper torso down out of balance, and required mega-strenuous arm effort to maintain a relatively horizontal position and progress. I was grateful for the few, ‘fixed wires’ which I supplemented enroute to the lip.
At ceilings end, the crack starts the wall above by slanting steeply to the right. Getting something to stick here was awkward and on my second attempt I managed to get a small stopper to hold, though it was hard to test other than yanking on it. I gingerly committed to it and it held, but as I turned the lip it popped when my weight shifted to a more outward loading on it. The metre fall with resulting pendulum was totally unexpected due to my having already been on it a while, and the fixed wires under the ceiling are now more thrashed than before, from me swinging on them. I had earlier decided they were not worth cleaning as they looked haggard prior to this additional abuse, plus the effort would have been significantly disproportional to their value, not to mention the inconvenience to future ascent parties.
I was stoked !
As I gently stopped penduluming I noticed my body position had pivoted towards the outward vista whilst dangling, and the clear two hundred metre shot to the deck was more confronting than my senses had appreciated while grappling with the ceiling. The thought running through my mind was ‘wow, what a radical place to come off’! The sense of exhilaration was definitely greater than any sense of fear, however it was still a sobering experience pinging as unexpectedly as I did. I vaguely remember making a strangled kind of exclamation as I fell. It was probably a cross between swearing with a hoot all at the same time! I thanked Ian for his attentive belaying, and also noticed that the arc of the trailed haul and jumar ropes back to him reinforced my sense of ‘being out there’.
It’s a big ceiling.
I negotiated the lip with three pieces set in very close succession (within an arms-length) on the merely vertical, but bottomless, ‘Magnificent Corner' above it.

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