It’s been a while since I jumped on a hard alpine route. At the end of most summer seasons, I just want to go rock climbing, as I won’t have done much of that good stuff since early June. But this summer has been a little different. With the avalanche carnage in July, I took some time out for both others and myself, and then managed a trip to Pembroke as well to get reacquainted with UK trad action. So perhaps there was still some motivation left for alpine action when the work season drew to a close in late September. Nevertheless, I wasn’t super psyched to get back on snow. Perhaps the hangover from July was still with me.
I was cragging at a steep little number below Bonneville when the text from Matt Helliker arrived: “Plan for tomorrow. Call me!” When he mentioned Beyond Good and Evil on the Pelerins, I surprised myself by accepting immediately. After all, this a classic 90’s test piece we’re talking about, put up by the suffermeister Parkin and his angry young man partner Twight.
So at 10 the next morning, there we were heading up it, and it all felt totally natural and fine, though luckily there was still that nag of doubt. After all, to be an adventure you have to have a degree of uncertainty. For me, that meant that anytime I felt in the least unhappy, I could just hand the lead over to Matt. So he got the hard pitch on the first 10 pitch block, though apart from that we
swung leads or moved together where neither of us could even contemplate falling.
Reaching the junction with the nearby Carrington Rouse, Matt was clearly very psyched for the last 2 pitches which form the crux of the route. A switch clicked in my head: “what the hell – he knows the descent from doing the Carrington Rouse two days ago. How bad can it be?” As if mirroring my thoughts, Matt said “It’ll be fine – we’ll top out before dark anyway “. And so I settled on the stance for an hour while Tim and Tamsin rapped past us on Carrington Rouse, and Matt battled upwards, giving me the occasional “Watch me here, thin move coming up” and himself the occasional talking to.
As his axes thunked into the first good ice of the pich after 20m of very scratchy insecure mixed, I let out an involuntary “YES!”. The final pitch to the ridge line was cheeky too, and I was happy to let Matt lead it, knowing it would be faster that way and we’d have less abseiling in the dark to do.
Even so, darkness overtook us about 4 pitches from the base of the Carrington Rouse. And then it was just into plod mode, but a happy plod as we’d hung in there and got the tick in spite of the uncertainty.
Adventure. Welcome back. It’s been a while….