Tuned Up!

Sticking the huge crux move on DTS Spirit
Photo credit: James Dunn

Over the past three days, I have been back climbing in the cave at Newtyle. On Sunday I was on a project scoping mission (see last post) and also trying the new line there “DTS Spirit” D12. I was feeling good on the route on Sunday but didn’t manage to get it sent. I also thought that on Monday I would be too tired from the previous day to get the route, this turned out not to be the case.
Yesterday I headed to Newtyle with James and Mike. I was feeling fairly relaxed but also full of psyche. I wasn’t too fussed if I got “DTS Spirit” or not, I was just planning on going with the flow and not to bothered one way or the other. I warmed up a bit and then belayed Mike and James on their project routes, then after having a crank on some new stuff I decided to chill while the tunes where blurring and grabbed a bite to eat. 
Whilst sat listening to the music, I looked up at the line of “DTS Spirit” and thought I’d give it a shot, even though I felt a little drained from the day before. I turned up the beats and tied into the rope for the send. The music really helped take my mind of the route and when I left the ground, I wasn’t thinking about the route at all, I was just psyched for the tunes. To my surprise, I was feeling strong on the huge moves and before I knew it I was at my previous high point (but with both axes this time) and feeling good. I moved up to below the last hard move and had a quick shake out, and then it was all or nothing on the last massive stein-pull move to reach the final clip. I was amazed that I stuck this move but after a quick psyche shout to rid my mind of any thoughts of failure, I did the last move and clipped the chain. 
Reaching the last Stein-pull
Photo Credit: James Dunn
Getting psyched for the last big move
Photo Credit: James Dunn
Shocked but also stoked that I’d got my route I just chilled for the rest of the day, but not before I had had another play on my new project. Mike and James also worked their routes and hopefully it won’t be long before they get them sent.
Today Mike and I headed back to Newtyle , but after spending the last two days in the cave, I was feeling pretty spent and fairly un-psyched to fight my way up my intended route. But with good friendly support from Mike (him telling me to man up!) I jumped on my route and got stuck into the sustained and super long nature of the line.
 Nothing got sent today, although Mike got super close to his project. But the moves where worked and as soon as I’m rested and If the mountain conditions aren’t good then I’ll be back down to Newtyle soon to get stuck into some more tooling rave cave action!

Hitting the Deck!

Since doing “Too Fast Too Furious” I have been focusing my efforts on Jeff Merciers’ route “DTS Spirit”. With the huge moves and sapping nature of this route I can only muster up a couple of shots on this line before I’m out of power for the day. 
So on Wednesday evening after trying “DTS Spirit” for most of the day, I decided to get on “TheTorch Lite” which is the D11 that Mike had been trying for the last session or two. 
I quickly tried the moves by head torch that night and got the route dialled in my head for the next visit.  I was unbelievably shocked by the route, as I’d heard that is was a super powerful and hard line going at the high grade of D12/+. This, I swiftly found out, was very wrong!
On Friday Mike and I headed back to Newtyle full of psyche and energy. I had just received my new Grivel Force axes the day before, and was buzzing to try them out. I did a bit of climbing to get warmed up then went for “The Torch Lite”. I was pleased to get the route on my first redpoint, and was again shocked at the fact that it went so easily.
Mike then went on to crush the route and get the second tick of the day in mega cruisey style with very little drama.
The first ascentionist finished the route at a random lower- off that they hung from two bolts before the end of the obvious bolted line. So Mike and I opted to carry on the true route to the pod and in-situ lower off which is three bolts further on. This is also where the crux of the route is situated, so it would be rude to miss this section out!  
Even with the new high crux section, no figure fours and added length, Mike and I agreed that “The Torch Lite” was a fairly steady D11 (at the most). I feel that any further ascents should finish at least at the lower off or if they are feeling fit, they could carry on to the chains of “Too Fast Too Furious” for the D11+ tick.
The second thing that shocked me on Friday was my new axes, I didn’t know that anything could feel that good when you where climbing! They seemed to perform really well on the uber steep ground but also on the less steep sections that I played on in and around the cave. I’m really looking forward to getting out in the mountains with them this winter and seeing how they perform. The multiple grips sections and handle options on the tools become very helpful when changing hands and choking up, but the angle seems to work well while switching back and forth. I’m sure I can put these to good use in the next few months.
I headed back to the cave today with James for a light session and a scoping recci. We met up with Neil Adams and James Higgins, who were on a sending mission, and what a mission it was! They both got their project “Fast and Furious” sent with good style and left the cave with big smiles and full of winter psyche! Totally awesome!
Fiona turned up later on for a quick training sesh and give the usual Murray banter!
James and I had a play on new stuff (for us), and hopefully there will be some new lines getting sent in the next couple of days. So watch this space.

PS. the blog title is in reference to today, when a hold blew as I was pulling slack to clip and I hit the ground from 7meters. Thankfully I ended up on my feet ( I don’t know how as I was clipping upside down) and I came off injury free but went into adrenaline overload!!!!

Too Fast Too Wet….

Over the past few days it has been pretty busy for the Scottish tooling scene. On Thursday, Jeff Mercier and Jonathon Jolly arrived in Scotland for a weekend of crushing and fun. They were over from France for the final STS comp and were hoping to get some mixed action in the mountains while they were here. Unfortunately as most UK climbers will know, winter hasn’t really arrived in Scotland yet, so there wasn’t much mixed to be had up high. They then opted for plan B.

 On Thursday they headed to Newtyle. Jeff had climbed here 6 years ago and he knew there was room for another line to the left of F&F. So they packed a handful of bolts and a their big drill in their luggage and set about opening a new line at the crag on their first day.
On Friday, Adam and I headed back to Newtyle to get stuck into some redpoint action on “Too Fast Too Furious” and also met up with John and Jeff. It was fun to climb with such inspirational and strong climbers who, like myself, where just there to have fun and a good time even if we didn’t tick our intended routes.  Jeff managed to get his new project ticked on his second try after failing on his flash attempt due to the dripping/soaking conditions of the cave. They called the new line ”DTS Spirit” and I’m looking forward to getting on it to see what it’s like.

By this time the cave was heaving and there where loads of people climbing, watching and chilling out, Including Dennis Van Hoek who was over from the Netherlands for the STS comp. Later on Jeff did “Torchlight” the D12+ which is found between “Training for Something” and “DTS Spirit”. This was inspirational viewing and got me psyched to give this route a go as well. All in all it was a good day and after continuing well into the dark with head torches, we finally left the cave tired and ready for a bit of rest.

The next day Mike and I returned to the cave for another session on the extension which proved to be very beneficial as we found some crucial beta which would be needed to get this route sent and put to bed. Although we did not get the route done on Saturday, I knew that with the new found beta and a rest day, the route would go down on my next visit (hopefully).
On Saturday evening I headed across to Glasgow where the final STS tooling comp was being held. I was in time to catch the end of the qualifiers and the final, then it was on to the after party/drinking. It was good to catch up with everyone after the comp and chat about everyone’s goals for this winter season, but it was also cool to chat with Jeff and John about their plans and objectives for this winter. Hopefully if the conditions get good in time they will be able to come back over for some crushing in the Scottish mountains.
Early Sunday morning we eventually made it to bed in the hotel and after some mix ups with alarms and timings, Jeff and John raced off to the airport after only a couple of hours sleep, just in time to catch their plane back to France.
Dennis and I headed back to mine and then chilled out and recovered for most of Sunday. In preparation for some sendage the next day (Monday).  
Yesterday James, Dennis, Mike and I headed back to Newtyle to find a very dark, dull and wet cave. We all found it pretty hard to get psyched in the dingy darkness but tried our best to get cranking and get warmed up. 
After a quick burn on F&F to get warmed up I jogged around and got psyched for the send. Dennis swiftly got stuck into Jeff’s new route and James and Mike also did some cranking. Feeling really good and despite the dull light, I was mega keen to get my route ticked. I set off up the steep wall and cruised to the end of F&F, it was then onto the hanging ramp traverse and into the bad rest. I didn’t want to hang around here too long as it’s easy to lose energy in the uncomfortable resting pod, so I charged on to reach the lip of the cave and fought to get to good heel hook before the headwall. 
This was my previous highpoint, but now I had the new beta it was not long before I was battling my way up the wet chossy groove to clip the chains. Not before both feet blew off on the last move and I nearly slipped off my soaking tools. 
I was pleased to get this route and now that it’s done, I’m just mega psyched to get on “DTS Spirit”. 
It has been an awesome couple of days. I got to meet new people and make new friends, got psyched to see everyone enjoying the STS final and listening to how the comp series has got them pumped for the up and coming winter season, and obviously managing to tick the 40m cave at Newtyle was OK I suppose……
For more info from Dennis, Jeff and John, check out their blogs below.