We were in Duthie park yesterday, and there were lots of lovely crocuses blooming. And a curious absence of pigeons. Ryan and Gus had set up a slackline and we gave that a try. I found it impossible to even stand, but Brad seems to have some latent talent for it and was taking 4 or 5 steps along the line within a few tries. He’s just kind of annoying like that. I slipped away from slacklining for a wander around the winter gardens (huge complex of greenhouses, fabulous place to spend a few hours on a dreary winter day).
Today we went to Deceptive Wall, which is one of several schist sea cliffs near our house. Schist tends to be steep and tricky, with lots of horizontal breaks that occasionally favor your desperate pawing hand with a nice juicy bucket. Tricky to protect though – the horizontal breaks are often just thin brittle fins, or shallow grooves – so you have to be creative and sometimes do without. The breaks tend to look very tantalizing from below, too, luring you upwards towards what looks like a perfectly serviceable crack only to discover that no, sorry, it’s full of funky bits of loose shale. Keep moving, nothing to place here.
So today was spring training for me – moderate routes with tricky gear. Brad patiently belayed me while I pfaffed around and finally flumped over the top of a VD and two Severes. My goal was to only place gear I would be happy to fall on, and I didn’t really accomplish that but I did learn some lessons, which were
- memorize where all my gear is racked before I leave the ground, and try to put it back in the same spot if I take it off and don’t use it.
- when looking for gear placements, don’t forget to look down. Things can look a lot different from above than they did from below.
- I don’t think quickly under pressure, so the best strategy for me is to go up, have a look, and then reverse to a comfortable stance to make a plan. Then just do it.
Baby steps. I hope to be doing VS by the end of the summer. Watch this space. But more generally my goal is to be happy swinging leads on long routes in the mountains. I don’t need to get E-whatevers, I just want to be confident in my ability to see tricky situations through on my own so I can cover lots of ground this summer.