Friday, 18 June 2010

Realising ones limitations, or just rusty?

Not eveything went to plan with yesterday's day on the hill. Originally, we had wanted to do the NE Ridge of Aonach Beag, a long traditional mountain scramble in a remote place. Departure time was to be 7am, but when we awoke blanket low cloud smothered the hills. We decided to leave it a few hours to see if the cloud would lift.

By the time the cloud had burnt off to leave glorious clear skies, it was rather too late to start the long walk-in to Aonach Beag, so we changed our plan. An afternoon climb at Far Eastern Buttress sounded appealing, with its friendly aspect and short approach.

After investigating the disgusting Hole and Corner Gully (I proclaimed it vile and full of midges), I started to lead up the rather fine line of Farewell Arete. All went smoothly until I reached the crux step. At the ledge I arranged protection and attempted to decipher this baffling move. The guidebook mentioned a step left, and I could see where I was supposed to go, but could not see how to get there!

So: a left traverse on poor footholds with no visible handholds at all, at an overhang. After a while I began to suspect a spike may have fallen off to leave an obvious scar, but it was basically an excuse for not being able to find better holds in the confusing jumble of false holds above my head.

Unable to figure it out, I climbed back down, having been given a reminder that I am by now quite rusty on the more difficult climbs. James proceeded to solo a VDiff called the North-East Nose, a good effort!

Are my strengths to be found on easier mountaineering routes? I think so--but only because I do not have the inclination or drive to improve my abilities on difficult rock. Despite the sense of failure from yesterday afternoon it was not without its lessons.

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