Ok so for the first time in ages I went bolt clipping. It hadn’t been the original intention but it was what Ritchie and I ended up doing. And it was brilliant. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a day’s climbing so much in a long while, and what’s more I’m hopeful that it will have given me enough of a confidence boost to be able to stop just pottering around so much on trad routes. I’m a far, far better climber than I ever give myself credit for.
So what did we (I) do? We headed over to the Fudd Walls area and clipped some serious bolts! Here is the list:
- Item 1: Warm up on a 6a (!), ‘All Fudd Up’. Easy onsight. Nice
- Item 2: A 6a+, ‘Chocolate Fudd’, from which it is more than plausible that the crux holds have fallen off (it was much harder than the 6bs!), and sadly I rested on it.
- Item 3: A vague feeble attempt at a 6c called ‘Would I, Should I, Fudd I’. Neither of us had the bottle to go beyond the first bolt!
- Item 4: A 6b called ‘Fudd Off’. I thrilled and surprised myself by onsighting this one (my hardest ever sport onsight!), finding only one hard move. Recovery of QD from the 6c.
- Item 5: Another 6b, ‘The Fuddites’. This one Ritchie attempted first but failed on (trying not to use a crack feature, which I decided was more than fair game), so after watching him I can only really, truly claim a flash (although to all intents and purposes I onsighted this one too!).
- Item 6: Some weird ropework at the ledges by the lower-offs (Ritchie walked over to the 6c from ‘The Fuddites’ and lowered down from the ‘Would I, Should I, Fudd I’ lower off bolts in order to rig a top rope on it), led to me running up ‘The Fuddites’ for a second time to strip the ‘draws on second. Again, totally clean!
- Item 7: Top-roping the 6c (‘Would I, Should I, Fudd I’). Bloody hard. The route is described as having “an intense and reachy sequence”, and boy did it. Happily I managed all the moves on my first proper attempt, completing the route in two continuous halves. Don’t think I’d have the balls to lead it as the crux follows an incredibly committing semi-dynamic layover move to a cruddy sidepull, between the first and second bolts. Whilst you probably wouldn’t deck from the crux (so long as your belayer was on the ball), the possibilty of a deck-out can’t fail to enter your mind. Think I need to find a safer and less insecure feeling 6c to redpoint!
- Item 8: Moving onwards back towards the car, we stopped at the Compact Walls area, and set off up a 6a+ called ‘The Great Escape’, where the fatigue from a fairly intensive day’s climbing began to rear its ugly head. I got to the last bolt and couldn’t commit to the final couple of moves to get up to the lower off. Gutted. My failure then proceeded to turn into a bit of a circus act as Ritchie also failed to do those last moves up, leading to him making a bizarre and hugely worrying traverse of the crag until he could finally get up to one of the numerous lower-offs. He then had to be lowered off and shift himself across the wall on a truly horrendous diagonal line in order to clean the route. Great fun!
I can honestly say the route ‘Would I, Should I, Fudd I’, graded as French 6c, was the single hardest route I have ever attempted outside. And what’s more, I enjoyed trying it. The hard moves felt good and it was a great feeling to be trying things that actually felt physically hard rather than just mentally. I’m pretty sure now that I could redpoint a 6c in a reasonable period of time – after all, I did ALL of the moves on this one on my first burn. I think that maybe, just maybe, I would actually like to have a crack at some hard sport climbing in the near future. Wow.