|Eyeing up The Keel at Almscliffe|
I had two unfinished problems at Almscliffe - Underhand (7B+) and The Keel (7C). Of the two, I had felt closer to finishing Underhand, so I was going to get on that first. But the rock was dripping wet and, with seemingly little hope of it drying, I went to check The Keel and, thankfully, it was in pristine condition. First, a few warm up problems, and then to business.
I had tried the problem before, so had some idea on beta, but it had been three months since I last laid hands on it. It took me a few goes to figure it all out again - the specific body positions to keep a crucial toe hook in place, in particular. I started linking the bottom section pretty quickly, however, but struggled a little more with the hand match on the lip of the boulder. Eventually, I was making throws for the juggy pocket. But the effort of working it out again was taking its toll on my arms, so I decided to have an extended rest and come back later.
|Starting The Keel at Almscliffe|
After finally pulling onto the slab, I was rather knackered. But I also really, really didn't want to drop the problem. I don't often come to Almscliffe and this was likely to be my last try on The Keel for months, so I had to finish it. You can't drop a 6A slab after climbing a 7C roof. But this fear almost paralyzed me and I didn't move for around a minute. Finally, having breathed heavy and regained some strength, I began a precarious sequence to top it out.
I have to say, I don't think I've ever tried so hard on a boulder over the space of a few hours. And I've never come so close to going home before topping out a problem on the very last try of the day. I was massively relieved to finish The Keel and it is definitely the hardest boulder problem I've ever climbed - despite being my second of the grade.
Anyway, without further adieu... below is the film. With commentary (laughter) from Leigh-Anne as I finally finished the slab after nearly a minute catching my breath and figuring out what to do.