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Heels 1974

The Crux

page 44

The Crux

My stomach turns slightly as I clip the knotted rope into my carabina and pull it tight. I turn to my partner standing beside his belay rock. The gear at my side jingles as I lift my foot and place it on the rough pitted rock wall. Push up with the feet and keep balance with the hands and the ground is left behind. The first moves are straight forward until the crux is reached. A pause to find the right route even though a rusty piton makes it obvious. Next move puts me in a bad position so I back down and look again. A small alteration and my head and shoulders are in the niche. Though cramped the position is relaxing. I look and explore for another move to leave the niche but the rock corner pushes me out. It almost pushed me off that time, so I take my partner's advice and test the old piton before. clipping on to it as a runner. A fleeting moment of security but I feel too good to think of falling, despite aching arms from staying still too long. Next move must be it. Swap a handhold, push up with the other hand forcing me out a bit, but the hold is good and a swing takes me out of the niche. The easiest way is now up but I feel exhausted and my throat is dry. I put in a piton, clip on a snap link and rest on it. Checking my holds I pull up on the peg but with a ping it pops out and I fall back on to sweat covered ledges. That was no good, so without the peg I jam in the crack and pull up on to a big ledge and I know I should have made that move in the first place. The the realisation that the crux is over and I can scramble to the belay. The sun is nice and I revel in its rays. The exhiliration of another climb is renewed as the 'second' arrives smiling broadly. A pause, and back to the beach.