“so you don’t use the crack right of the arête”
“No, ye git the big fat f**king pinch, swap feet and lay it on”
The climber laybacks up feeling good and grabbing the slopey fat pinch with his right hand he milks it and eyes up the distant finishing jugs, swapping feet the climber gives it everything, hitting the jugs for a second his left hand holds it..........a moment later the climber is sailing down over Divided Years. On his way down 2 questions were going through the climbers head along with various swear words:
1: Had he been sandbagged.
2. Did he deserve it.
We all scrambled into my Almera having just enough room for Rays big bags full of hairspray. The ferry from Holyhead to Dublin takes in the brilliant view of Gogarth and arriving on the other side we drove North for 2 hours to stay at Meelbeg Cottage near Newcastle in the heart of the Mournes.
The first morning after pulling Ray away from the wifi connection we drove the 20 minutes through the Mournes to park in the Little Carrock area before setting off walking towards the Buzzards Roost passing the Mourne Wall. I’d put my walking boots on and took the lead chuckling quietly while Ryan and Ray followed in approach shoes as I led them the most boggy way I could find to the cliff. Nearing the cliff we took in the awesome line of Divided Years, a huge ships prow which was full of in-situ kit and quickdraws. We did the classic 1st pitch of Spirit level into Plumbline before doing the classic E4 Twist of Fate.
The next day we warmed up doing War Music whilst Ricky very kindly stripped Divided Years and put chalk on the key holds as well as divulging lots of good info. I climbed up to the key pecker where the hard climbing begins and downclimbed as Ricky recommended. Ryan did the same.
Soon after I gave it a proper go, not getting the kneebar in very well I reached something shit, started to pull out and promptly fell off. Ryan goes up next slapping through my highpoint he lays it on for a load more moves, his body was quivering with surprise and I looked on in amazement. If his body didn’t explode maybe he’d top it out? If he did blow up what would be the alcoholic % of his remnants?
The surprise eventually caught up with him and he gave the pecker a good testing. It was a fine image and if I was a marketing genius I would have got a picture with a caption "Define Masculine".
Next go up I milked the kneebar and reaching up higher my fingers closed on a fingerjug sidepull, I was both elated at grabbing it and gutted at missing it earlier. Pulling right the hard wire placement felt fine along with the crux moves to gain the shakeout. I felt instantly recovered and knew I was in with a good chance. What followed was the best sandbag I’ve had. The hardest moves on this top section are leaving the shakeout, these felt ok and arriving at the open pinch I’d been recommended I committed to the dynamic 6c move which would be one of the hardest on the climb. Not quite hanging the jugs my right arm was decimated from the pinch and even after a rest day it felt kod.
We returned after a rest day and the crack right of the fat pinch held a good hold and a static 5c move led to jugs. We both did it 1st go that day having left most of the gear from our 1st day on it. It is one of the best climbs I’ve done and it was great to do it with Ryan but looking back on this bugger I was a bit disappointed with my effort in general as it had a farcical element about it. It is also a bit of a shame it doesn’t finish with the chuck off the fat pinch as it would be a hell of a finish.
Ricky pulled out a very good lead on a knew climb with some hairy looking moves and runouts going on to create a contender for the hardest climb on the Roost, Peacetime.
After celebrating Ryans birthday and our ascent the following day we had perfect weather and hiked up onto the ‘abundant tors’ on Sleive Binnian, joined . We did Electra, a brilliant E1, some bouldering and a rather unique E7 called We’re All Learning in the sun which offers 20 metres of burly E3 into 5 metres of gritesque technicalities. Later that day Nathan Lee did a fine lead on the bold Tolerance, whilst belaying I was eyeing up a flightpath to take in slack in the event of a fall. This area is well worth a visit, giving ace climbing with unbelievable views.
With a poor forecast we set off walking having ditched Ray somewhere. The forecast was poor and after 30 minutes I questioned Ryan asking him what he thought. He said he was keen to give it a go and admiring his enthusiasm I made a mental note to do the thinking for both of us, later confirmed whilst playing cards under an overhang on the Roost, sheltering from the rain. We had a quick session in the Tollymore Wall that afternoon and I was interested to see how Ryan would be after treating his body like a bottle recylcling bin. I feel obliged to put in a good word for him with the female contingent in Sheffield, he didn’t look too bad at all and once he fixes his gap tooth he’ll look very similar to a member of one of those boy bands, 1 Direction etc.
The following day was our last for climbing. We walked in and thought to warm up climbing up and down the start of Peaceline. After we both did this Ryan took off for a proper go. I’d warned him a few times with dark humour that if he fell off the crux he would gain enough velocity to knock the rest of his teeth out like seen in the old Roadrunner cartoons. The footage I’d seen of Rciky on it had made me sweat thinking about being up there. Not dicking about at the crux Ryan slapped the arête and crucifixed bundled his feet right before trying to slap into an undercut.
Parting company with the face I was thankful we’d borrowed Oli grounsels ropes as Ryan plummeted back in, landing well. It was pretty obvious that a good landing poise was necessary to avoid being battered by the fall back into the face. I climbed back up and getting near Ryans highpoint I put in a rather inadequate wire, eyed up the big move to the arête and reversed again, not feeling like taking the all too likely plunge when fully lanked in the crucifix.
Did I deserve a sandbag? What do you think.
For anyone heading out to the Mournes with Divided Years in mind I’d offer the same advice I was given for that final hard move:
“Ye git the big fat f**king pinch, swap feet and lay it on”
Big thanks to DMM for supporting the trip, especially Kat Dunbar and obviously Ricky Bell & Michelle O'Loughlin