"What does a good day of climbing mean? Does it mean that you've ticked a whole bunch of routes? Does it mean that you've onsighted your hardest route? Or, does it mean that you've made it to the bottom of the crag alive? I know everyone will have a different definition, but for me yesterday wasn't a good day ... it was a great day! Let me explain...
We woke up in much the same fashion, breakfast at nine and talking about the climbing for the day. We looked out the window and the sky was overcast with no prediction for rain. So ingredients for a good day of climbing: conditions - check!
We spoke about how important a belayer is to the climbing experience. We spoke about the energy and what you bring to the crag even if you're not the person on either end of the rope. I can tell you of such kind of energy when I went for the flash of Carlo Juliana. I know that without the "good vibes" around, I wouldn't have made it anywhere past the third bolt. In my opinion, the morning chat set the tone for the day.
We met at Saki's and headed to the crag. Today we were going to "Poets" sector. The walk was amazing. The longest and steepest walk we've taken to a crag so far. We were all warm and breaking into a mild sweat as soon as we touched the bottom. We waited for a good five seconds before ropes came out, and climbers started getting ready to climb. The view behind, in front and around was much like the rest of Kalymnos ... spectacular!
Lee jumped on Alcamane a 30m 6c climb to set a photo rope and Lightfoot made an easy onsight of Anacreonte a 25m 5c+ 3 star beauty. Anacreonte became most of our warm ups; brilliant climb with some nice flowing moves. Dave decided that warming up needed to be done in style, so he jumped on Ibria, a pretty wicked 30m 6b+. Ibria makes its way up straight before getting a bit technical on the sequencing and moving right. I believe that this is the crux of the climb and after a good 20 seconds, Dave worked out the crux and clipped the bolt. Great effort for the first climb of the day. Andrew followed and ticked it quite easily with beta from the old man. After this, the crew moved left from these climbs. We moved toward Sapfo and O' Brothers where the day developed from a good one to a great one.
Lena warming up on Anacreonte
I don't remember who went up these climbs first, but I know that I got tied into O' Brothers a 20m 6b+/c while Lena climbed Sapfo a 25m 6a+. O' Brothers starts off very technical and when on lead, becomes a whole different ball game with a ledge just under and to the left of the first bolt. Clipping the second bolt is probably the crux on the climb. I gave it a good effort and couldn't work out making it past this point. I now remember, Dave put the draws on O' Brothers and fell before making the second clip. After he worked out the sequence he made easy work of this climb.
Determination. Ronsley on the slab start of O' Brothers
On Sapfo, Lena had a few troubles on the crux up the top which she worked out and made it to the anchors. She was closely followed by Ruth who really blasted up the route with no signs of there being a crux at all. I did Sapfo and loved it. In the meantime, Andy got on Omero. This 25m 7a climb proved to be just what the doctor ordered for Lightfoot. This climb has two cruxes from what I could tell. He got to the first one and fell. Worked out the moves while he rested. Worked past the first crux, clipped the next two bolts and fell just before the next crux. Again, same drill. By the end of it, Lightfoot made it to the top and worked out the moves to go for the redpoint later in the day.
Dave and his new shoes on Sapfo
On Sapfo, Ruth was so steady on top rope that she decided the redpoint of the route was the call of the hour. She got ready, did her checks and Lee belayed her up. She was solid and the redpoint was in sight. She got to the second last bolt and had the devil inside tell her of all the reasons why she couldn't do the route. All climbers can relate to this. Now, I have to say that Ruth is petrified of falling. Even a little fall is a no-go for her. She would downclimb to a safe point and ask for a take or rest on a pocket, but falling? Yeah you don't mention that option. This makes what happened over the next few minutes the achievement of the day for me.
She moved past the second last bolt and in reaching distance of the last one before the anchor. At this point she decided that she really needed to hold the draw. After feeling the disappointment from the bottom, she apologised, rested and went for the final moves on Sapfo to the anchor. She made it past the bolt and onto the crux, threw for a move and took the fall. Nice soft catch, and a great way to push your comfort zone. This for me at the bottom was inspiring. This was truly a huge step for Ruth and despite making it to the top in the next attempt, that fall would have taught her more than anything else she did yesterday. We ate lunch, spoke about the climbing so far and moved on to better and brighter things. Yes, the day got better.
Dave then ran up Styx, a 30m 6a+ with nice stalactites up the top which Lena thought she needed to be up there to experience. That would have been Lena's most solid climb yet. She was so impeccable on foot placements and technique that she didn't have any issues getting to the top. That would be her first clean attempt of something at that grade. Very very cool. All that energy gave rise to some other nice outcomes.
Lightfoot got back on his project and went for the redpoint of Omero. He made it past the first crux and just when I thought he was through, he fell on the second. He made it up the route again and for me, he made a massive improvement. He got the first crux! There are a whole lot of factors that would have stopped him from getting his redpoint and I don't think they were the moves. He had the moves, he knew how to do them. He just needed to be fresh and put it all together.
Andy grimacing on his project Omero
After all this, we still have room for another great step in the forward direction. Sam, after toproping O'Brothers and having the conversation of "should she or shouldn't she", went for the redpoint attempt of her hardest lead yet. So we all stopped what we were doing and gathered at the base. Lena and Dave went to great lengths to position themselves in spots which would provide the best photo opportunities and after final checks, Sam was off.
Ladies and gentlemen, this climb was truly inspirational. Sam made it past the second bolt with no hassles, pushed past the top bit very steady and solid on her foot placements, rested when she needed to, listened to her beta when she needed to, started talking to herself out loud when the need arose, and even stopped to get her breathing under control despite the pump. She clipped the anchors and everyone at the crag was proud. Another step in the forward direction.
Your monkey fist style is no match for my tiger claw style!
In the midst of all this, Lee got to know Charles Bukowski 6c+ and Ruth went up Styx. Andy then flashed Styx.
I think deep inside we all had that feeling, that we contributed a little to the achievements of the day. You know it was a great day of climbing when you get to the bottom and you hear it about 10 times from every single person at the crag. You know it was a great day of climbing when you gel together as a team and the whole team takes ownership for the outcomes of the day. And, you especially know you have had a great day of climbing when your eyelids won't stay open at the dinner table.
I have been part of many great teams in the past and have shared many a great experiences with those. This team however, seems to be topping that list. And, I am very very proud to be part of it."
-- Ronsley Vaz