I was praying for a warm-up climb but instead I got the opposite for two reasons: there was nowhere to hide from the bone-chilling wind and ‘Burning Ambition’ is no walk in the park! We were there on my request and surely I should’ve known by now that the last place one gets what one wants is in Hellfire… it’s the place where you get to face your fears.
The quieter part of me that’s a glutton for growth, was thrilled though. Yvette was practically bubbling over with the excitement / nervous energy that goes with doing ‘Burn Out’ (5 star climb) for the first time.
It was hard for me to tell how the rest of our climbing team were feeling because their warrior skills are honed in ways that I can only dream mine could be. If I had to guess, I would say they were very happy to be outdoors doing ‘fun’ routes!
Anton lead the first pitch of ‘Forked Tongue’ for the first time (which was a test of mind over matter, given that it was so cold I was surprised he could feel his fingers).
I was fantasizing about hot coffee and wondering what good resolutions I could make that would forgive ever having spoken with a forked tongue and magically make the 2nd pitch disappear (which starts with a grade 23 bat-like move)!
The wind was getting stronger and ‘Burning Ambition’ was less exposed, miraculously we chose it as the more appropriate route for the weather.
After Anton muscled up the crack and did the splits across the traverse, I asked Louis to stay a few metres behind me at all times…. for beta and moral support! Louis was so upbeat about climbing anything, his optimism was infectious!
I learnt that redoing a climb really helps with technique and confidence. The only upsetting part was when I bit into the crag under the roof section… I guess I wanted extra protection!
I left Hellfire early but the rest of the team took on ‘Melt Down’ and ‘Wounded Warrior’.
As I was leading the walk-out for the first time, I realised that it’s OK on my own in the wild. You need to lift up your head to check your direction and see there are cairns at every corner waiting to guide you; when you feel insecure there are footprints, of those who’ve gone before you and when you do lose the path, rather backtrack to familiar ground before heading forward again!
Not getting what one wants is often exactly what one needs… I’ll return again unless hell freezes over!