I couldn’t resist announcing this. Headed up to the Peak District for a couple of days of serious climbing to brush up my skills ready for my impending SPA Assessment weekend (providing yet another provider doesn’t cancel on me). After 2 and half days of racking up the climbs getting myself fluid and relaxed on the Severe grades my climbing partner, Phil, had a crack at his first E1 climb the coveted Long Tall Sally (E1 5b, Burbage North). With a large amount of huffing, puffing, some incredible disco-leg action, a short rest and enough gear placed to make Dave MacLeod’s Long Hope look like a VDiff, he hefted himself over the top.
Of course that meant I had to second Sally. I worked my way up with the odd wrestle getting Phil’s well seated gear out, past the crux with little problem and calmly topped out to see the biggest smile I’ve seen from the intensely excited climber with his leg still shaking! The smile quickly faded and replaced with a “F*** sake, Sketch” when I said that I fancied giving it a lead.
I racked up, mentally going through the moves I made, whilst being casually threatened by Phil of the consequences of me flashing the route. I hashed the first attempt at getting off the floor, and the second, third time I got my hands in the right places and made for the first gear placement – a well seated Peenut, 2 feet up from there I stuck another but in, then came the move over the overhanging lip with little trouble. I found my footing after the lip and stuck the third nut in and then came the crux which was a bit anticlimactic, the only trouble was the poor footing which worked the hell out of my calf muscles, 2 more bits of gear in short succession. A reasonable sloper on the right and some more dodgy footing made the sixth nut a little less desperate, as I placed that I realised I was out of quickdraws and still had a good 2 meters left to climb!
Sufficed to say a little bit of ‘the fear’ crept in but all I had running through my mind was Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally! Luckily that kept me calm and I made for the left crimp, a foot in the crack enabled me to reach up to find the jug and then cruise on up to the top and over letting out a completely involuntary “WOO!”
Phil called up something crude and decided that he didn’t want to climb Sally again and would abseil down and retrieve the gear. Fair enough I’d say, climbing it once was stress enough!
Once we were finished we called it an end to the trip and made our way back to the south both agreeing it had been highly successful. Both bagging our first E1 trad leads.