The Ravens Edge

From ScottishClimbs

Jump to: navigation, search

At the foot of the crag we decided what pitches we would lead I chose the second and fourth so this meant Nick was to start the route, a lovely looking rock spur rising up to the foot of the steep ground and of course the open book corner which reminded me of Cenotaph corner in Llanberis pass, Wales. Nick was cruising and it wasn't long before I could hear him shouting "SAFE". The climbing was straight forward but to my surprise lacking in any decent bits of gear. My lead...

I left the belay then traversed rightwards towards the open book corner. As I peered round the corner I saw a horrendous looking rising traverse following a slopey ramp which was not very wide at all.

The ramp was testing and gear was good but the last bit was way back at the beginning of the traverse. The lack of gear at the present stage of the traverse meant I would definitely hit the gully floor and be in Ravens gully. Climbing this ramp was entertaining, there were no hooks on the ramp so I had to press weight onto the left axe then gingerly hook small edges with my right, pull up the repeat the process. This method was slow and the footholds were crap. Halfway up the ramp I saw a peg, I didn't care what state it was in as long as I could clip a rope into it then I could relax. Before I made the move I tapped a small peg into a small pathetic looking piece of turf and smiled as I tied it off... Who was I kidding! "Watch me..." I Clipped peg, all that was left was a steeping of crud then I could get the belay. With excited whoops I clipped the belay pegs then one of them bent and fell off... "SAFE".

Nick set of climbing above my head, not the best positions to be in, all I would like best is a bloody crampon in the head. The corner looked mental, I sat chuckling to myself thinking how lucky I was. Its good when you've done your lead then you can kick back and chill out imagining how easy the climbing looked. Nick was know bridging high above me fiddling some gear in the base of the corner then the last I saw of Nick was his feet scrabbling about, then he disappeared into the corner. With Nick away I leant back on the belay and looked out into the glen. I stared at all the routes on Slime wall and watched a Raven swooping around in and out of Ravens Gully. This was perfect, peace and quite, tranquillity. No hassles just me Nick and a clump of rock. "SAFE"

I followed up; the pitch was quite nippy and very pumpy. The confidence of seconding took over and before I knew it I was at Nicks belay. The next pitch was mine and to tell you the truth I was hyped to climb it. The initial corner/ramp was easy then the climbing got a bit technical. The gear was bombproof and all I had to do was get from here to a belay on the left. Well not as simple as it sounds, the initial move out was on a steep slab covered with very thin layer of ice then a feet sky ting moves lead to a good torquing crack that weaved out left. I got my left foot high on a good hold then rocked up to a brilliant sequence of adze and hammer jams/torques which eventually led to a better stance, bomber thread and more amenable climbing. Looking round I noticed Nick jumping up and down like a drill sergeant, star jumping. I mused over this and wondered when he would break out and give me a thousand press-ups or squat thrusts. As I moved leftwards towards the belay the rock above my head leaned out and I found myself squeezing through to the belay. This was a lovely little spot; I could hang my legs over the face and look down into Ravens gully "SAFE".

The next pitch is described in the guide as... climb crack for 30 metres. Nick set of and in a short while he was out of view. This was without a doubt the best belay I had ever been on. It was cramped but out of the wind. I pulled my hood up then sat back and drifted of into a daydream. Funny but winter climbing is a time for thought. Hours sat about doing nothing but hold ropes when belaying. The light was fading and I watched a shadow creep it way up the glen as the sun started to disappear. "SAFE". Oh well I guess I have to leave this comfortable spot. Unclipping the belay and leaving was very annoying. I had got so comfortable. The first few moves were a bit sketchy and my bones and muscles ached, then a very exposed off width crack seared up above my head. The fun was about to began and thoughts of Bulgy in the Cairngorms -off width horror - sprung to mind. Except here it was vertical and thirty metres. Johnny Dawes would have been proud of my 'Best Forgotten Art', fist jam with one hand and hook with the other. Then arm bars, body bars and every other bloody bar known to man. To say I had a pump was an understatement. This was a full on head to toe pump that left me drained and weak. Obscenities ran wild as I climbed, fucking crack, bloody get up there you poof, hold that jam, pull on that hook. Soon I was near Nicks belay and I summoned the beast and used the last of my energy getting to the ledge, never again. As I flopped onto the ledge I realized we had done it. Time to go home, time for a Baileys. A sudden rush hit me; all I could think of was what a brilliant route we had just climbed. As we stood onto of Ravens Edge I looked out towards the glen, the sun had set and all was complete. We both shook hands and then made sure we spied out a descent route. We switched on the head torches and looked at a ledge, snaking rightwards into the Great Gully. I untied my ropes and started to coil one of them. This was a big mistake the rope tangling into one of those unexpected knots. Why does this always bloody happen? I could see Nick was getting annoyed at my stupidity and it wasn't too long until Nick let his frustration be known verbally. "You numb nut its dark and we've got to get down, this is a right fuck up, lucky you've got that helmet on head or I would twat ya". "Fuck that Nick it was a accident" I looked at him and thought how right he was, he's usually right! The situation was getting worse and I delayed everything. What a fuck up. The last thing I wanted to hear was him telling me what I already knew. "Fuck you Bullock", I thought, "Fuck you". Deep down a feeling of failure had hit me. All I could hear in my head was my subconscious replying in a mocking tone.. "Fuck you Tweedley"

The decent into the gully looked okay but the guidebook stated that care should be taken. What were they prattling on about, it's a huge path. You could guide an elephant down there. Nick was ahead and all I could think of, was what a fuck up I was. Walking along muttering obscenities at myself I found myself looking at Nick thinking what a twat he was, how dare he voice his opinion in such a manner. The glow of my head torch lamely lit the way forward. What an amazing place, the gully below, big and black... a endless hole, boring its way into the heart of the Great Gully. I could see the car headlights in the glen and wondered what the inhabitants had been up to that day, where they climbers, walkers or just everyday tourists up for the New Year festivities? I bet they were warm!, chilling out to sounds and looking up towards the hills and thinking what idiots were engaging in winter activities. Fuck I have got at least two bloody hours left... I thought what was in Nicks van, warmth, nice soft socks, cigarettes and a machine that would transport me to a hot shower and a mug of tea.

Daydreaming I wondered further down the path, holding my axe loosely, looking above me and around at the dark shapes of small buttresses and crests. The dark shapes reminding me of mad, fictional creatures. Towering above me, watching our every move. I thought how clumsy I was with my sidestep crampon technique. My right leg buckled and within a second I was on my back, then on my side sliding. My eyes were fixed on Nick his face hidden by the glow of his head-torch, his body just a dark shadow "No, Michael, No" is all I could hear. His figure then got smaller as I kept sliding down the ice.

This was very bad, my stomach churned my view changed and all I saw was the black hole of the gully getting closer. I'm dead, fuck I cant stop... my ice axe lamely hitting the ice in a last ditch attempt to stop, once, twice... why the fuck is the axe not going in!, fuck, fuck, fuck I'm fucked, Nick... Realising this would hurt and a ground fall was imminent I tensed up and accepted this was the end... fuck. Then in an instance I stopped. Looking between my legs the gully floor below was then highlighted by the moon. I've stopped, thank god I've stopped. Turning onto my front I then whacked my axe into the ice and grovelled my way back up to the ledge. The ledge seemed so small now and my head was in overdrive. My legs turned to jelly and all I could do was creep along the ledge. I felt dizzy all I could think of was my mum and dad and all the crap that had happened during the year, the unexpected and sudden death of my mum... the months of torment and depression as I witnessed the rapid decline of my dads health, culminating in him fighting for his life on a life support machine then to him finally giving up all hope and dying a year later on the same month and two days before my mothers death. Then dealing with the news of my brothers hospitalisation. My year was crap and falling to my death would have been a grand departure to a bad year. What a mess, I felt alone and realised that I had nothing left except the few good friends in my life, worst still I have never even said to them how much they mean to me. Its very simple you would think all you have to say is I love you or thanks for being there. I was too busy thinking of me. Its only now I know how distant I've been lately. God I should of told everyone how great they are. Imagine dying it without saying what you really think.

The tears welled up in my eyes; thankfully Nick wouldn't see these what would he think? I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. The whole place was very spooky now, dark shadows of the crest looking down on me judging me, tormenting me. I couldn't get my head sorted. The decent down the gully was slow. Nick had left and gone ahead all I could see was his head torch descending into the gully then disappearing most probably trying to sort his head out in his own way. I reached a wide section of the gully then sat down, the thoughts were still tormenting me. I looked up and saw Cuniform Corner, which leads to the spot I had slipped. In an instant I collapsed on the floor then buried my head in my hands. My fucked up life. Where do I go from here who do I confide with, there all gone now and the only family I have left are mad. I had been so strong over the year and hardly any tears had been shed. Not in front of anyone that is. Now it all seemed to hit me in an instant, I started to cry again laid on my back and stared at the stars, hoping to hear some words of comfort from my mum or dad, wherever they are. My cousins and uncles and aunts all swear they have heard or felt the presence of my parents. This is what has turned me into an angry, cantankerous bastard. When will they visit me?

After sorting myself out I stood up patted the snow of my arse and began to walk down to the rucksacks which were below Slime wall. I could see Nick packing his kit back into his rucksack. We had some chocolate, I put the sac on my back turned round and looked at the gully and the route then headed back in the footsteps from earlier this morning... warmth was near, bed was near more importantly another day was near...

Michael Tweedley (16-01-2004)

Personal tools