It's 10 days ago that I climbed the arete at Landlsip. Funny really - something that seems so impossible and so unlikely, now feels like it has always been there. My ascent of that line feels as if it always has been, as if it was beyond even predetermined. I can't imagine my life without it.
I used the word "privilege" at the time. This is a word that is thrown around a lot these days, but with this line I really meant it. It's a feature that forms the backdrop of so many people's lives in the Moors and that it was unclimbed for so long is rather mental. Whether it is just there as locals walk their dog, or as rangers repair the path, or that looming line for all of us that walk into the Wainstones along the low path, the Landlslip Arete means so much to so many of us.
Working it has been a great time in my life. I walked past it for many years before I eventually tried it on a rope. Those first few times I dangled from the stake, it was totally unfathomable - which side? Which holds? Where? How? After this I was up there with friends - all boggled, all excited. It was tantalising. There were some beautiful days up there by myself - generally in between other projects and often on sunny mornings, when the dawn sun blazes across the face. It's a special place up there - made all the more special by the total lack of other climbers up there.
The day of the ascent was suitably relaxed and enjoyable. We'd had all our gear nicked in Italy, but what remained was everything I needed to protect the climb. I dusted off my old Ecrin Rock helmet that hadn't been nicked and which I hadn't worn since a kid. I went up and down a few times to place the gear and with a couple of last goes on the moves I was ready.
The groove feature is followed to a good hold right of the gear that allows a span onto a pocket on the right side of the arete. This feels like a natural resting point, but on the headpoint I just blasted through. I didn't stop at any point - with liquid chalk on my fingers, calm determination tingling my body and the moves engraved on my mind, there was no need to. Within 4 moves of the ground I started to position myself for the crux. I turned from the right side of the hanging arete to the left, with my feet still on the lower wall. I was below the roof, with my right hand on the arete and my left fingers locked in the pocket further out left. From here you're in a strong position, with a sharp arete and a decent pocket.
The next move is the crux and you explode from this position of strength, with a foot thrown right between your hands. You're not so much placing the face-high right foot as pasting it on the lip of the roof. From here you're in the ridiculously position of then walking your foot into the good foothold, which is even further across to the left. At this point, onsight, you'd feel like you were totally trapped and likely be testing the gear in the back of the roof. Fortunately for me, this move was well rehearsed and I knew that if I pulled up just a couple of inches, I could readjust my right arm, which would allow my knee to come round. It's a ludicrous move.
As soon as you've got past the point equilibrium, the move becomes progressively easier. The climb then becomes a series of bodily expressions - facing down, to the side and up. You point with your toes, gesture to the air - it feels like a real dance. It was and is magical.
On the headpoint I got an enormously tired right arm, which made the final 'out of the swimming pool' move, at which point you're facing a ground fall, feel a little too spicy. Luckily I didn't fall off and I managed to have a lovely relax on the Merlin's Roost.
A brilliant experience for sure and it feels like a conclusion to summer. It's September now and the weather really feels like it's getting set for winter. I'm enjoying sitting by the fire and pots of tea increasingly more, but perhaps even more than that is the thought of those last 3 big routes. I haven't done this for a while, but these are them and here they are! :
1) Pippi Longstocking Direct
2) The Holy Grail Wall - Kay Nest
3) The Magic Scoop - Highcliffe
I've learnt not to expect to climb any of these in the near future. They each demand something of me that I currently do no have. To climb any of these before Christmas has to be seen as a bonus, but all of them are distinctly possible. I've tried them all on the lead/solo, with varying degrees of success. Each are 3 stars and very bouldery in style. exciting times ahead!