Sunday, 24 December 2006

Cave Action

Yesterday, when most of Britain was out shopping, I headed up to Birnam with Fiona Murray for another blast on our respective climbing projects. Now is the time that the training really needs to be coming together. Only 3 weeks left before we head out to Austria and Italy.

Diff meanwhile was down in the Peak, scoping out some fiming locations.

Will Gadd and Kev Shields climbing at Birnam, Feb 06 (Photos; Hot Aches Images)

Fiona has been training on Scott Muir's brute route Fast and Furious (which featured in Fools With Tools) and on the last few visits has come tantalisingly close. At the same location I've also got a new project that I bolted in the autumn which I've been steadily getting stonger on.
Tony Stone at Birnam demonstrating that mixed climbing is the perfect excuse to grope a woman's arse.

Over on my project I had decided that it was time to sort out the gear at the end of the route, so I relocated a couple of bolts and added a decent lower-off. Stupidly I hadn't brought a spanner, so the last bolt and lower-off were just tapped in and hand tightened into the nearly horizontal roof. I'd fix it properly next visit, not expecting to get anywhere near that point on my climbing attempts. This route is way harder than anything I've climbed before.

Dave on Project X

Funny how things happen. My high point on the route before had been halfway. But this time I managed to keep going and going, fighting like mad. I nervously clipped the final bolt but a single moment of doubt about the bolts before launching into the last two moves drained my energy, and I was off.


Fiona Murray is a very stong winter climber and on this sort of terrain is certainly the country's best female. With 3 M10s under her belt, Fast and Furious is nevertheless her hardest objective yet. Sure, it's only really a training route, but it's still hard.

Fiona Murray on Caveman M10- Hoarhouse Cave, Canada (2005)

Fiona competing in the Ice World Cup 2006

On the third attempt of the day Fiona finally succeeded on F&F. "First Dickless Ascent" as the Canadians say, a poignant way to refer to female firsts.
Three years ago the route was graded M11 and climbed using heelspurs to rest at various points. Nowerdays mixed climbing grades have been realigned and the style of climbing is to not use spurs, and so on routes like this there are no rests. On the new grading scale F&F is now M10+ (or M10 if you do use spurs).

It's a good feeling to still be getting better at climbing after nearly 20 years at it.

Well we weren't filming at Birnam. Been there, done that. Next stop should hopefully be our delayed trip down to the Peak, next Tuesday.


Dave B


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