Petestack Blog

10 August 2011

Ready for the Storm!

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 11:44 am

While there are many great rock climbs at Polldubh, Storm (HVS 4b,4c,5a) is the undisputed classic in taking a compellingly natural and sensationally exposed line in three pitches of increasing difficulty up the biggest and best wall on the crags. And I’d done it just once before (22 July 1990), with my 21-year-old memory of gibbering up it on second remaining a demon requiring exorcism through leading now I’m back climbing again and promising to expand my leading horizons beyond measure if I ever plucked up the courage to get on it. So I hummed and hawed about it for a couple of years, but still couldn’t quite see it happening with that half-imaginary great shadow to cloud the issue until suddenly deciding (maybe after listening again to Dougie MacLean’s Ready for the Storm?) one unexpectedly sunny day last week that it was time. But I couldn’t find a partner, the weather turned again and it was ultimately just luck that brought me the combination of a fine evening (last few hours before the rain, with enough breeze to keep the worst of the midges at bay) and a willing accomplice in the very steady Johnny MacLeod last night…

So I gave Johnny the first pitch (no gimme at 4b with a couple of awkward moves low down), with the master plan being for me to lead the big crack pitch (if that’s not a misnomer when you’re basically climbing a wall with holds up the crack line rather than the crack as such) and crux groove while retaining the option of Johnny leading through to take the crux if I’d had enough. Can’t say I was quick on the crack, but kept it all under control with the climbing steady rather than hard and moves exciting more for the situation than their technicality. Then must admit to wavering with another party on the route behind us (‘we’d be quicker if you just led through and we didn’t have to rearrange this hanging belay, Johnny’) before taking the plunge… except that it wasn’t a plunge but more of a silly slip from the crux bulge as I missed a foothold and felt my stupid hands let go when all but over it. So I could have backed off and turned my agenda for the climb inside out by letting it all get to me, but one crucial foothold and two good nuts (to back up the two ‘blind’ cams that caught me) later and I had it below me, yelling ‘ya beauty!’ and finding it surprisingly straightforward in the end. A pity about the fall (not the first Johnny’s seen me take!), but still pretty chuffed and not letting that take too much of the shine from such a cathartic experience! :-)

So you know what’s sitting in the CD tray this morning and will be spinning again as this gets posted? That’s right, The Essential Dougie MacLean

But I am ready for the storm, yes sir, ready
I am ready for the storm, I’m ready for the storm


  1. Just have to add a quick comment to say the track following Ready for the Storm on that album is the strangely appropriate Not Look Down

    You must not look down, you must not look down
    Watch them fall and you’re sure to follow
    You must not look down
    You must not look down, you must not look down
    Their hands are full and their hearts are hollow
    You must not look down

    Comment by admin — 10 August 2011 @ 11:59 am

  2. Have also just relocated this similar tale from Al Halewood last year (note my comment from the time)…

    Comment by admin — 10 August 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  3. Nice one Pete, it’s still unfinished business for me, hopefully in the next few weeks things will dry up again and settle down!


    Comment by Geoff — 10 August 2011 @ 8:45 pm

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