Photo: Ramon Marin
It’s August 19th. I am standing below the line My Piano at Nesscliffe. The rock is still damp and the moves seem to just about go. Extra care on the footwork is prepared. I have just broken the ‘thank-god’ hold to place the cams half way up the arête whilst head-pointing. My friend from Chamonix goes up on top-rope to flirt with the line.
“Without the hold now, its desperate Andre…” Stephen shouts from hanging on the rope whilst looking around for another possible solution. “Bloody desperate” he goes on. I am starting to loose hope.
I lower my friend down to the ground.
“I don’t know how you’re going to place those cams in now” he said.
The sending opportunity seems to be closing the doors.
But the iron still remains hot.
“Give me the cams, I am going to do it now.” I said softly.
My Spanish friend Ramon gets all excited and went up to the top ready to snap some shots. It was a real front row IMAX ticket for him to see the show in real-life action. E8 is the big boys league and only few achieved this level – they are the ones with the biggest balls of them all. I rack up ready and battle my way up the balancing corner of the amazing sandstone cliffs. My god, Stephen is right, placing the cams seems absolutely desperate. I have no knowledge of this new sequence and just managed to put in two cams without falling. I take a deep breath and run for the oasis.
It’s a real head game where the risk is high. It’s a dangerous man’s sport and I don’t know why we do this, perhaps for the thrill feeling - to feel right on the cutting edge. Climbing is certainly a very strange sport.
Time has flown by; it’s been nearly 3 months since climbing on the outdoor rock. That’s what happens when renovating a new crib and working in London all the time. But soon I will have much more free time when work settles down again.
It’s October 29th and I am on my way to the Peaks to see the Hamer bros. For some reason I am a wee psyched to boulder for a change. I drop the idea to Sam, he looks at me in the eyes as if I proposed to rob the Bank of England. He said “behave”. I suppose I will take that as a no. Sam is a trad warrior and will not tolerate ‘a few poxy moves’. So we’re going to go large then! Within an hour we were in the Hamer’s back garden, Curbar. God, I would love to live in the Peak District.
End Of The Affair is probably one of the most famous Hard Grit routes. A line I had considered for years but had been too terrified to touch it. But today the weather is perfect and my head is aiming straight.
After flowing up easily several times on a top-rope, the music inside my head speeds up. A similar theme from the movie Jaws. Oh boy, the pressure! It’s not hard at all. It’s just precious. It’s possible to be brushed off on any of the delicate moves. It’s the challenge I signed up for.
Millimeters from the final hold, my foot slipped; how did this happen? Why did this happen? Did I not place it on the right pebble? Did I not put enough force on? I suppose these things can happen on god’s own grit. But why at that particular move? The move that is forbidden to fall. Everything goes slow, and you slowly realize your going down. Black hawk down.
I will probably leave this one behind for now.
Here is a little scary video to see.....
Moments before the flight, photo: Archie Cameron-Blackie
Landon punter faffing at Nesscliffe Photo: Ramon Marin