Black Rocks - Gaia (E8 6C)

Posted by George Ullrich
Thursday 18th December 2008
 Three of us drove down to black Rocks on Sunday night, Dave Gill, Ben Robinson and I. We picked up George Foster at Derby train station on the way. We turned up around 11pm, not having been there before, we were eager to get a glimpse of the rock and all ran up there, not realising how close it was, almost bumping our noses on the bottom of Gaia.

Why do we get so excited? ... It's just a bit of rock!

It was time to hit the sack, buzzing with excitement we stumbled back to the car park. Dave as usual gets the ‘piece de resistance'- on top of the picnic table, me in the boot of the car and Ben and George snuggling up in a rather small tent.

Morning - clear, crisp, blue skies, Perfect!

I remember talking to a mate 3 or 4 years ago, and discussing Gaia and how amazing it would be to be able to climb it one day. I seem to remember Simon saying "you should onsight it!" I was like, "no way, that would be crazy."

And here I was, seriously considering climbing it without previous inspection or chalking of holds.

I had to relax myself, just looking up at it gave me a shiver down my spine. I can't explain how I felt, it was surreal.
It's weird, when you've been dreaming about doing a route for years and have been saving it for the time when you think you are ready. Then when it comes down to it you feel enormous pressure not to mess up. It is incredibly hard to relax and climb normally.

I soloed up to the break to place the crucial pieces of protection just above, after a couple of tug tests I concluded the cams where solid.

Total silence, I started to climb. Clipped the gear in the break and began to work out the move to pull round into the groove. It took me by surprise, I had pulled, there was no going back. The realisation of actually being on Gaia was a bit much! All I could think was ‘Just keep on climbing'. So I did, soon I was precariously balanced in the ‘rest' point just before the traverses out left. I hadn't placed my right foot far enough out right (I had rehearsed the moves from the ground in my head, and the main thing I told myself that I needed to do was to make sure my right foot was as far right as possible so I would be better balanced).
But the pressure must have been too much as I totally ignored this. I looked down and saw that the second rope (which would stop me from a pendulum into the arête) was wrapped around my leg, I didn't like this. But there was nothing I could really do as all the pressure was on that leg. I tried to ignore it, and continued to climb. I was attempting to step my left leg up when I lost my balance and realised I was off. I remember kicking my right leg round to get it clear of the second rope.   

George Ullrich - Gaia

Tip: Don't over complicate things - I decided to use a second rope, which would involve a second belayer anchored to the right. This in the case of a fall would hopefully stop me from penduluming into the arête.  The problem was, I was concentrating so much on this rope and how it was wrapped round my right leg, I completely forgot about the first and most important rope, which when I fell was wrapped round my other leg which caused me to flip upside down so violently.


It's strange, but I remember thinking as I was flipped upside down it was going to be ok. And before I even hit the arête, I could visualise how I was going to land and I knew from the way I spun that I would be square on to the wall rather than at an angle which could cause more injury. Don't ask me how I felt this it's just what went through my head at the time.


Anyhow I'm now hobbling around with a swollen arse, fast recovering. Thankfully I think I just got a rather painful bruise.   

 See the short film of George on Gaia here>>>

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Read more blog entries by George Ullrich

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