Iain Small on the pulls off an impressive lead crux first pitch of Year of the Horse while I shiver.
After about two hours I am starting to loose the feeling in my toes.It is a cold day, it feels like one of the coldest days of the winter, and I have been standing around belaying for a long time now. I feel like I am beginning to lose the love for climbing. I have been working for 21 days straight, and it's my first day off. On my previous day off I had tried to go climbing, and that had turned out to be a disaster of wallowing around in deep snow. I should be on a nice grade VI, moving quickly and getting back into the way of climbing, or perhaps I should be skiing, there is loads of snow about at the moment, surely conditions are better for that than climbing.
However, I am not. I am standing belaying Iain on something that to me looks utterly desperate. He has asked me if I would mind if he tried the route. I had been dubious, but he had driven much further to be here today, and seemed quite confident, so I said I would give him a belay.
Myself seconding the first pitch, the hotaches are over, but I still don't feel very well.
He keeps on inching upwards through ever steep terrain, and I keep on belaying and shivering. How is he not ridiculously pumped up there? Eventually he pulls through the roof, and is up the wall above onto a ledge. I pull on the small rucsac and start to second feeling pretty chilly. The climbing is hard and technical, and I am getting pumped, one section seems to be devoid of any foot holds. I torque in a crack, and pull as hard as I can. I reach for some turf, and am just about there when something pops and I find myself spinning in space. I get it second go, and inch on up to the roof. I pull over to find two cams rammed deeply into a crack which I will need both hands to remove. I will need to hang on the rope, but as my body relaxed the hot aches come on. I hang there in agony, my eyes closed trying not to pass out with my wails echoing round the coire. I feel sick. Eventually they fade, and I managed to get the cams out. I second the wall above feeling weak and drained.
Leading the 2nd pitch, I am actually beginning to enjoy myself now.
Iain on the final pitch. I am back to being pretty chilly and it is about to get dark but at least the end is in sight.