Reminiscing part 1
The sea surged and the shadow felt ominous, even though the day was sunny, the warmth just touching the hill above. The rock, black in the shade, felt damp, greasy like having soap on your hands, its roughness hidden by a gossamer of sea spray and morning dew.
Martin looked nervous, so I hide my fear under a veil of quips and efficient gear sorting, we joked, laughed and smiled, trying to fend off the dark thoughts and the wet rock. The traverse snaked away to my left to a turn in the rock, hiding the route and the rest of the entry traverse like a magician hiding a dove in his sleeve. Racked up, ropes tied, I set off, stiff and insecure. Looking back the rope arched down towards the sea as Martin paid out my lifeline, casually draped through a karabiner on a poor piece of climbing gear barely wedged between crumbling cracks.
Peering nervously around the corner the route appeared like a rearing horse above me, Martin was well out of sight and I started that familiar song in my head ‘this could be the day that I die’....over and over. Reaching the belay ledge several meters above the sickening upward swell I clipped in and waited for Martin to start moving, composing my features into a winning poker face. His head popped around the corner and my crocodile smile greeted him, trying desperately to ignore the luring overhang above my head. We chatted, I made more amusing quips, admired the sparkling sea beyond the dark line created by the towering rock overhead.
Shivering in the gloom I wanted to be out there, in the sea, in the sun, warm and content away from this dark beast of a rock climb, my body felt smothered like being in a cold bear hug. A deep breath and I set off, gear swinging as I fought with the beast, the deep crack in front of me constantly trying to spit me out. Under the overhang I was in a surreal world, sea somewhere under me, rope flailing below and a ceiling of rock stubbornly barring access to the sun. I placed a camming device in the flared horizontal crack that dripped with water like the beast was drooling, waiting for its meal of a fairly substantial climber, my hands made fists deep inside its maw and I was out there.....a blur of flailing, swearing, grunting and the beast rolled over just a little.
I found myself in the sun, rock hot to the touch, a familiar sea smell filled the warm air, and the breeze felt mischievous and kissed my cold skin. Belay, belay, belay? Where was the belay?. No little metal eyes of joy, no good cracks or rock flakes, oh crap! TBC!!!........