Tuesday, 5 February 2008

gripped and nearly loosing my head

Fantastic weather, a good friend, the promise of a few beers later. Wildcat crag overlooks Matlock and is a imposing looking limestone crag, not hard to access with lots of good mid grade routes, a nice easy summers day climbing

The day started really well, the crag only had a couple of other climbers on routes and it all shaped up for a classic day. A quick run up Bobcat (VS 4b) and onwards. At this point its probabaly worth putting some background in, Craig and I (well if I'm being honest Craig) have a history of minor and not so minor epics..namely falls, faff and mountain rescue call outs (we'll leave out the drinking aspects) but I'm sure you get the idea. I think the route was Jackdaw grove (VS 4b), I led the first pitch with some faff, Craig followed and led onto the second, all good so far.

Whilst waiting for Criag to come up some kind person decided to set up an abseil over the top of us and ab down, needless to say we weren't pleased, but we let the first guy pass on the basis they stopped, and besides he was half way down already. I led off, and within 3 metres became gripped... couldn't move. It's not as if the moves were hard, there was some exposure - but this was OK. Now I've been gripped before, and fell off - but never to the extent that I completely loose my head, but it happened. Sh*t was nicest word I used.

After an age of faff, disco knees and lots of overly deep breathing, along with some abuse/ support from Craig I decided to move... and zip, our friends the errant abseiler knocked off a football size bolder from the top of the crag. I didn't see it - I heard and felt it drop past my head... about a foot away I reckon, and only just missing Craig by the fact that he was sat below an undercut.. nice. What made things worse was the lack of a shout from above, no apology, and that we continued to have a steady stream of dust, small stones and crap streaming down.

No longer gripped I pretty much ran up the rest of the pitch to the top, about to give this guy a piece of my mind, I got there... and he had clients! a bloody climbing instructor no less, I expected it to be a group of mates who didn't know better. We had a friendly chat with myself and Craig pointing out the ethics of abseiling over a route, kicking off rocks and him generally being a knob. If nothing else I'll wear a helmet next time I climb, and I'm sure I'll get gripped again at some point. Great crag though oh and Maltock has some really nice tea shops.

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