Sunday, February 27, 2011

Legends, Heroes and Villains

Nigel Callender Monk Life - Photo: (C) Paul Ogden 2011

Every blue moon you do a route or problem that really means something to you. For me, most of these have been steeped in history, usually involving one or more of the few true 'heroes' I've had over the years. Stuff like the many Tom Ryan routes on my local crag of Ailladie back in Ireland, stuff like Jerry's Roof in the Pass or the (very) few terrifying Pritchard routes I've done on slate.

When I moved to Newcastle, there was one line that stood out. It was Malcolm Smith's 'Monk Life' at Kyloe. The perfect line of sustained hard climbing on a beautiful scoop of bullet hard sandstone, tucked away in a remote Northumberland wood. Add to this the history of the line - this was Smith's famous 10 year project, the only previous repeaters true Legends of the UK and international climbing scene from the past 10 years.

As a teenager training in my garage on freezing winter evenings I always felt that if Malcolm had the drive to be pushing himself to the limit, training on his own, far from the supposed training meccas of Sheffield and elsewhere, then I could try just as hard and anything less was accepting failure and rejecting what may just be possible.

Flash forward again 10 years and I'm stood below the line created by the man himself. The one that's seen off all repeats except for a few people who incidentally make up most of my list of heroes. Each in their own way having shaped my own life in climbing over the years. Some more directly than others, one in particular to whom I probably owe all of this. Stay motivated Andy.

For me, unlike the others, I have it easy. I know it's possible, I've seen the videos and been told the sequence, no excuses.

Monk Life, Font. 8b+, Kyloe in the Woods.

F.A.  Malcolm Smith (2003),
        Andrew Earl,
        John Gaskins,
        Micky '8c' Paige,
        Nigel Callender.

Six sessions, 26 years of preparation. I hearby announce my retirement.

Monk Life, Font 8b+, Kyloe from Nigel Callender on Vimeo.