Mental Health Therapy…

On March 17, 2013 by Tim Neill

My last fling this winter was a date with Donald King on the Ben…where else. I pretended there were lots of options, but really there was only one. First climbed by the famous Ben pioneer Mal Duff in the mid 80s, Pointblank has only had 1 repeat ( a couple of years ago by Iain Small of course) as far as I knew. So imagine my surprise to see some people on the first pitch as we headed up Observ gully….perhaps they were doing Left Edge?

On arriving at the first belay they enquired the same…..30 odd years and then all at once. Our fellow suitors were of course Robin Clothier (CIC guardian and Ben Ice guru) and Doug Hawthorn (famous for a tonne of necky Ben testpieces like Urban Spaceman etc) and Doug junior (looks like he’s taking after his dad).

So we chatted about this great season and this and that. Robin told us about his many attempts on this legendary route, and then they were gone. I then set off on what was quite a trip. Confident because we’d just seen it being done,  Pitch 2 was a big step up from any other Ben experiences I’d had before. A hug was neccessary at the belay.

Pitch 3 involved a very commiting traverse on steep snow to a wild situation overlooking Point Five, then some very steep pulls to gain the girdle ledge. Another hug needed. I think compulsion got me up those pitches, and having wanted to do the route for years. The weather had gone from perfect to fairly wild, so the relatively straightforward top half felt taxing all the way to a brew in the summit shelter.

A few weeks ago, I met Iain Small on the summit after we’d both been independantly soloing around on the Ben. He described it as Mental health training or something like that. This saturday was a perfect day after a perfect build up all season…all the days on the Ben culminated in leading those pitches. Also, a perfect end to my stay in Scotland. Time to go.

That was yesterday. Today, I’m back home in Nant Peris. Gotta find some rock shoes for tomorrow…

Donald exiting the awkward chimney on pitch 2....a wild place to be!

Donald exiting the awkward chimney on pitch 2….a wild place to be!

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