The Aeroplane is the fire breathing Dragon…

of our century.

It was not that long ago when flying was a luxury, a pleasure. People would dress up in their finest attire, freshen up before the flight and be kind and curtious to fellow travelers. Even the flight attendants would go that extra mile, just to make sure all your needs were met. Today, flying is worse than going to work. It's a chore that nobody wants to do. It's like cleaning the toilets of hell.

It's hurry up and wait – and then wait some more. The chocolate bars and chips, the cheap food, the magazines and newspaper waste. People run, people push, people snarl and people in general are just trying to get where they are going as fast as they can so they won't have to be in this awful place anymore. It's like road rage without cars. The Wet Floor signs get knocked over and stomped on. The problem is, no matter how much you pace, no matter how high your anxiety grows, the plane leaves when the plane leaves, there is no screwing with the system, sometimes I just want to yell at everyone and say, YO, CHIIIIILLLLLLL out.

Okay, so that may be an exageration and there ARE plenty of cool mellow people here as well, kind and warm hearted, but the entire Heathrow airport does smell of a mix between Doir perfume from the Duty Free shop and chemical floor polish and I feel like I am going to spit up in my mouth every 20 minutes or so because there are no open windows. I have the worst flight schedule ever, an 8 hour layover here. This is going to be a long day, I was up at 5am and won’t be home for a long while later, sort of like an open bivy. The only cure is the bar and a double JD on the rocks. Man I love being an adult. technically speaking of course.

Back to rock talk, – I know I have complained a lot about conditions lately on this rant page of mine, but it's all in good fun and it's because the last three weeks before this was likely the most frustrating few weeks of my entire existence, (except for maybe that time when I wiped my ass with poison ivy). I don't want to whine like fresh grapes but when Dumby Rock is hot and calm, the rock feels like a wet fish drowning in olive oil, and chalk feels like a melting stick of butter crammed in the bottom of my bag. But on the bright side – I knew if I was falling from the crux (uneventfully) in bad weather, I would surely do the climb in good weather. A matter of patience. At least that is what I kept telling myself. Most of my 20 or so attempts were half hearted buggers, climb up to the crux grab the first bad hold and say to myself – Yep, it's complete shite – AGAIN and drop off onto the wire below. But not this week, No sir ree! This week it has been cold, dry, windy and sticky. Where it came from I don't know, the north I guess, why it came I don't care, and even though I am not a religious man, I still want to take this moment to thank every single God that mankind has ever invented. Thank you.

On Wedensday June 11th, Cory wanted to take photographs. You know how it goes. And because there are no bolts and no gear on the headwall, I actually had to climb. Heaven forbid. I couldn't just rappel in, clip myself to a rusty sport hanger and make gutsy looking facial expressions, no, I had to go well beyond the gear and I had to earn those awkward gutsy looking faces. So, to make it feel more like climbing and less like work, I decided to try and do the left version, gunning for the security of the obvious arete, which I did first go and happily named it Cop Out 5.13b/c R. So much fun. So much fun, seriously, I was laughing the whole way up. I finally feel like I am in great condition again. It’s been too long.

Then I climbed just a little on Thursday and took the rest of the day off to belay Cory, who by the way came within three holds of the top. He has done the climb with one hang so many times we stopped counting. Instead we started carving his attempts in roman numerals into the rock at the base of the wall with a chisel and a hammer, so if you are interested it's there for you to see and do the math yourself.

Yesterday, Friday June 13th. We went out again for Cory to pull the monkey out from his arse. WHAT? Er I mean “get that monkey off his back”. Third day on for both of us. Feeling only so so. The mighty wind came in to say hello and wish us luck. It was Cory's second last day, and my very last day. In between burns, I got this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that sent screams echoing into my brain, it said, and I quote:

Sonnie you little maggot, you should really try the route one more time, but this time, do it the way you always dreamed you would, placing those seven pieces of gear as you climb, from the bottom to the top, without error. Stop being a punter and git er done.

So I did.

It took me two tries that day, but I linked Rhapsody again for the second time this week, placing all gear on lead and oddly enough, it felt easier. I didn't wobble at the last move (the redpoint crux for sure) like last time. I felt solid dynoing for the sloper. It was the only way I would be entirely satisfied with myself. All of my hardest climbs I have placed gear on lead and this one was to be no exception, I needed complete closure.

It became a joke later on that I had made the second and the third ascent of the route. Ha ha ha, a funny way to look at it. But seriously, I just wanted to climb it in the best style I could and now it is really, really finished. For real this time. Really. I am not 'running laps' as some people at the crag began to kid, laps would require three or more times I recon. Twice is just lucky and just for kicks.

One day in the not so distant future, I would love to hear that some young punk, (preferably a girl climber, but a boy will do) made a ground up ascent. Whether they flash it or it takes 6 months, I would love to see someone with real talent break down that wall, inch by inch, move by move, it will happen and don't hate me for spoiling the surprise, but one day, it will even be flashed. You can count on it. All these hard routes will. They are only hard today, the future is bright.

Okay time to wrap things up here. The airport sucks, I'm bored and I'd rather be climbing. Steve McClure is up for another shot at the wall this weekend, give him your best, I hope he gets it, sincerely. I hope Cory gets Requiem too, with all my heart, it would be all too sweet. A record day in Dumbarton. Everyone (if you could) please cross your fingers and send good vibrations to these brave men in Scotland.

I'll be back later, updating from Boulder, Colorado, this Scotland thing has gone on long enough, ha ha ha. P.S. I never want to get on another plane for as long as I live and Whithnail and I is the funniest flick I have seen since Dodgeball. Peace out.

p.s.s. These pictures above were taken by Cory Richards and don't you forget it, he recently did a reshoot, but those pictures are for the mags, and so are my exclusive comments about the grade and other such details. Next issue. Hey, I got nothing going on but the rent. Cheers to all.

  • Lydia


  • Suzanne

    Great pics! 🙂

    Sounds like you got to the airport (too early), hope you went direct from London via the underground?.. I’d rather sit around ours than the ones I’ve seen in the US; not that I like doing that either, but at least ours have more nice cafes, restaurants, shops, entertainment (even if people are the entertainment).

  • brian

    So good!!!

  • Ken Cox

    Complete closure indeed! A damned nice finishing touch to this little saga.

  • Fraser

    First, congrat.s on the lead-placed tick! It’s been great fun watching you & Cory on your respective projects over the past weeks, so thanks for the spectacle and banter at the crag. Thanks too for the heads-up on the ‘Batman Returns’ info, I’m definitely going to head along to Dumby later today to see if it goes down….again!

    And to Cory, nice shots there, it’s good to see those last few moves close-up and personal.

    Cheers from Glasgow. Haste ye back!

  • Sonny, well done on your send! I heart about the time tension. Thats a good one!

  • James

    loving the blog! Keep it up!