Thursday, 11 April 2013

Exmoor Hype and project success! - Tom Newberry

The Easier finishing moves to Womping 7C+

Six months ago, I relocated 70miles up the coast to Braunton, Devon’s surfing capital. This opened up a whole new coastline to explore, develop and get obsessed about. I had repeated various mates test-pieces along the Exmoor Coast on previous visits. This meant I could get straight to work on developing new blocs I had spotted and seeking out more of those rare qualities found in inspiring hard lines. The first place I went to was Silery, the current in vogue place on Exmoor. At the far end of this beach is a well-known Project. Having seen photos of friends trying it this was top of my list as I was keen to see if its reputation was deserved. After a 30+minute walk in which involved and epically steep 350m decent we arrived at the immaculate 6meter highball wall which looked to have few holds and zero friction. I ignored Coach Freeman’s good advice on warming up from our recent Jura trip and jumped straight on. Slowly a sequence came together and I had reached the crux and high point of previous attempties (~7B+ to here). This is where I plateaued for several sessions. So, I put it on the back burner allowing more time to explore other nearby beaches adding a few new problems. Womping 7C+, Barden 7C+, Face Plant 7C, Cake Vs Pie 7B+,  Retrogaming 7A+, Daft Spunk 7A, The groove SDS 7A stand out as the best of the bunch.  See for more detailed report on these.

Typical afterwork session by the sea
Then, just after Christmas I returned to the wall project and although I had focused on other stuff for a while I had never been able to forget about the wall. I decided to give in on the ground up attempts and this time abbed the line. This proved extremely valuable, as it confirmed that my old sequence for the crux was impossible for me as well as unveiling a tiny intermediate not visiable from the ground. Few more burns from the floor and the tiny two finger edge was useful, but not useful enough. The problem I was having is the featureless, virtually blank wall didn’t allow for my usual cheating tactics; no toehooks, heels or knees. I sat and stared until… this mad ninja foot beta came into my head. I had and burn and sh#t I almost stuck the crux. A few more burns down the line and I stuck the move only for my foot to pop. But YES it’s going down. For me this is the best feeling in climbing, when the desperate suddenly becomes the doable. Not today though, skin had split and tide was close. Next session it was a done deal for sure, psyche was high as I slogged back up the lung burning hill. I returned a couple days later only to find the next move was also hard and super droppable, I made a little progress but left a little deflated having walking in expecting to seal the deal. Then bad weather, then bad tide times, then the beach dropped about 3 foot making it uncomfortably high on my own, then it was warm and still, then I had parent’s evenings. It was as if I would never get that bit of luck required to seal the deal. I was racking up a big list of excuses as to why it hadn’t been finish it off. Over the next 6 weeks I managed the odd session going down after work getting 20mins on it before light or tides stopped play racking up a total of 14 bails off the top. I had been here before, 4 years ago with Supercede. It’s not fun and it gets mentally tough. It felt like a chore and I lost that try hard; give everything on every go psyche needed to complete it. I decide for another break as there was little pressure from others. 

I returned to my default mode, time for some mileage. 3 weeks later… With a few new things ticked and a bit of focused time on the fingerboard. I even looked up the inspiring Dave Mccloed quote that put me in the right mind set the day I did Keen Roof. I returned and this time luck, conditions, time everything was on my side. Second go I ping off the very top due to numb fingers and nerves. New high point meant that at least I cold leave with more progress. But I didn’t want progress I felt good, conditions were ace, beta had been evaluated and adjusted to the minute detail. I wanted to send! Yet, I still keep on peeling off. The slickness of the rock meant that catching a hold wrong or placing a foot slightly out of place and I was off. Approaching the end on the session and just as I was giving up on the idea that today would be the day and I suddenly got that perfect go, everything clicked as is always the case on the final send. And boom The Silery Wall project Evolv-ed into Pipeline 8A+/V12. As is always the case, this is an estimated grade. But I feel it could be the hardest straight up in the south west and is one of the best wall climbs I’ve done despite its awkward/frustrating, yet superb, location. I’m sure friends from the lakes we concur that this just adds character.

First Ascent of Pipeline 8A+.
Just after completing Pipeline 8A+ I made the most of dry spell in the UK (I was meat to head over the channel but unfavourable forecasts put an end to that) and visited the M1 crags just east of the peak, Forest Rock and Roche Abbey. Both are fairly unheard of/underrated crags just minutes of the M1 and have loads of hard testpieces to go at courtesy of Mike Adams et al. Despite being fairly damp I managed a few cracking climbs, ticking a bunch of 7Cish stuff but the highlight was defiantly a quick and rather unexpected ascent of Serenity 8B an amazing roof/prow feature at Impossible Roof. Guess I owe a big thanks to Dr.Tom for the spot and hanging around after he sent his problem 2nd go.  Now to use this good run and confidence on a few of my other projects…

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