So yeah, I did a thing and climbed a route. That was aeons ago now. I should have written a blog about it, but after I'd vomited all my thoughts about it onto the internet, I couldn't quite face it. Most importantly, having triumphed over adversity, etc, I could relax and start to enjoy my climbing again...
Life after Rainshadow, in which piglet goes climbing
|Montserrat South Face|
"the rating is spicy and the distance between bolts is hot rather than spicy, but let us not forget that we are in Sant Benet, the temple of sandbagging..." - Montserrat Free ClimbsSo, ok, the guide was a little off-putting, but Toby had recommended this route - Brown Sugar - to us before we left. It climbs a direct route up the Momia; one of the classic Montserrat towers up above the monastery and it's only 6b+. We'd be fine...
|La Momia (right). Brown sugar climbs the wall just to the right of the LH gully.|
The first pitch is 6a+. Twenty metres. Four bolts. This is ground I should be quite happy soloing, but honestly, the rock in this part of Montserrat is like nothing else. It's like climbing blindfold. It's slabby death. Every foot of rock contains a thousand pebbles. Every pebble looks good. Each pebble is a worthless, rounded, polished son-of-a-bitch. Basically every move is the same; pick a pebble you think your foot might stick to and stand on it. Now feel around - there are quite a few pebbles to choose from so this might take you some time. Eventually, you'll find a rounded piece of shit that's just bad enough to allow to move up an inch, where you can start the whole thing all over again. So, even though this pitch is 6a+, I'm stood about 100 feet above my first bolt, and not only can I not see how to do the next move, I have no idea if I'm even in the right place. Honestly, three feet to the right it looks the same. Three feet to the left is f*cking identical. A million feet above me is the next bolt, smirking. Somehow, there has to be a route through all this to safety, but I'm buggered if I know what it is. The only thing to do is to pick a pebble...
|Pick a pebble, punk....|
An hour later I lash myself to the belay and try not to hug it. I do have a rep to uphold. Jules follows me up with what I will refer to as her "concerned face", which is the one she wears when I've talked her into something and she's not 100% convinced I can get her out of it. We have a little chat, where Jules suggests we may have bitten off more than we can chew and I, possessing the memory of a goldfish, persuade her it will be fine and we should at least have a look at the crux pitch, described as "intricate and bold". Which is just my bag.
We won't dwell on this pitch, except to say that I made it up somehow, and that I made it up the next pitch as well. Eventually we fell into a rhythm of smearing and searching and guessing and trying not to think about how far you were above the bolt, or how far it was to the next one. We were making progress and had made it to the point where the guide suggested "from here the gear improves". A good job too, because each pitch was taking its toll; eroding a tiny piece of my cool and winding me up a little bit tighter. I didn't have much left before I'd snap. No bother, only two pitches left.
The next pitch was a joy. The pebbles had got bigger, the angle steeper and the bolts closer together and I swarmed upwards in the sun, loving the position, loving the climbing, loving life. After a short while I found myself at the bottom of a small groove with a hard sequence at the top, leading to easier angled rock above. The hard sequence would take me away from the bolt, so I dithered a bit - my earlier nerves returning - before clenching my jaw and smashing on through. With a bit of udging and some fancy footwork I found myself balanced on the slab and facing disaster.
I couldn't see any holds. I couldn't see any bolts above. Every direction above looked blank and hostile and unprotected. The last bolt, a quintillion miles below me, was also out of sight; buried in the back of the groove. I was stuck, I was scared and I did not know which way to go. I could feel the panic welling up. There was only one thing for it. I rested my head on the rock and screamed my little heart out. It must have helped because when I looked back up there was the belay, a few feet to the left. How about that? One easy pitch more and we were up at the summit, enjoying the views to the coast in the last light of the day. We abbed off and walked home in the dusk, with the evensong bells tolling clearly out below us.
|Me and Jules on the top of the Momia. I have my traumatised face on.|
|Jules on top of the Momia|
|Jules at the Monastery|
|Abbing off Escabroni Escapullini at Can Jorba; delightful easy slab climbing on perfect rock|