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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Black Friday

By Anna Wells
06, Dec, 2017

Pushing into the darkening Thursday for my first E5

I wake up to my alarm. It’s 4pm on Thursday afternoon and I’m in the middle of a string of nightshifts. I quite literally roll out of bed, put some clothes on, grab my climbing bag, and ten minutes later find myself driving up Glen Nevis.

Dave Macleod had suggested I try an E5 in Glen Nevis called Black Friday. I had casually agreed and not thought too much more about it…until suddenly here I was at the base of the route, lost in the world of nightshift delirium!

He is making a short film promoting Poldubh for the Nevis Landscape Trust, and was keen for some footage of people “trying hard”. Given that I had never climbed E5 before, I felt confident I could create the impression of trying hard!


ph. Dave Mcleod

Dave had very kindly cleaned the route for me, and set up a rope so I could practice the moves and learn the gear. Jamie had very kindly come to belay, and Kevin had joined the party with a second camera. Suddenly I felt scared!!! I sort-of hoped that the route would feel really hard, and I could just put in some mileage then save the leading stress for another day.

After two top-ropes, I suddenly felt myself flooded with adrenaline because I realised I could do it!!! It’s a familiar feeling that rush of energy and fear, when you realise a route is within your grasp and “all” that remains is the execution.  Is it fear of falling or fear of failure? It’s hard to say!

The light was fading as I tied in for “the send”. Calm head, familiar moves, feeling good! I got up to the crux section and talked myself through the moves and the gear. Got it, let’s go! Feeling steady, through the roof, and then I spent a bit too long fiddling in a huge cam. Move out left, grab the flake, laybacking, and grab the jug, YES! Celebrating in my head, when suddenly, my foot slips, and I am flying through the air. The big cam rips and I’m left swinging in space feeling absolutely robbed!


ph Dave Mcleod

Dave is pointing the camera at me as I swing about having a little tantrum. I knew he would be secretly happy about this from a cinematic perspective! I’m lowered to the ground and everyone consolidates me and says I will manage it another day. But I’m buzzing and robbed and I want this now! It’s getting pretty dark and I start night-shift in 2 hours. So we pull the ropes, strip the route, and without hesitation I am pulling of the ground once again.

I reach the crux section as darkness really sets in, but I remember all the holds and there’s no way I will let this one get away now. A defiant grunt as I shift my foot off the slippy hold and top out straight into the camera lens and Dave’s smiley congratulations.

Thanks very much to Dave, Jamie and Kevin for the huge support and encouragement!

And thanks as always to ALPKIT for their continued support and awesome products! I was wearing my Koulin Trail ¾ tights for this climb. Stylish, stretchy, and fast-drying in the Scottish drizzle they have become my #1 choice for climbing! Also, they have an extremely useful side pocket, big enough to securely store a phone; or in this case, the microphone set that I wore to capture my heavy-breathing and panting on Black Friday!

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