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

Gaining the margins

By Ramon Marin
20, Nov, 2014

My heart lies in winter, there is where my fondest, most memorable experiences are.

Ramon on the successful ascent for Marginal Gains, M11

Finding the psyche. 

I can say with confidence that some winter climbs, the ones I went in deep, have fundamentally changed me as person. So recently, whilst climbing in South Africa, out of all places, I decided to rekindle the fire of winter climbing. I decided I was going to give winter another shot this season. I was going to “force it”, as they say. And if it was going to be a good season, I wanted to be prepared. To sacrifice all rock and finger strength to be ready for it.

So that’s the mindset I landed at Heathrow in mid-september. As soon as I landed, the axes came out, and waited no time in getting to work. I got busy organising the White Goods Drytooling meet, which was a success. The huge numbers of people didn't materialise, which made the last minute logistical problems a bit easier to deal with. Despite that, a good group of motivated toolers made the trek from all corners of the country to join in the fun. Team Scotland this time came in the form of the ever chirpy Dougie, our guest speaker Ally Swinton and Scottish winter machine, Greg Boswell.

The fire has been truly rekindled

Demonstrating Carless Torque, White Goods. David Taylor TaylorMountainPhotos.com.

Going for Marginal Gains at Masson Lees after a number of previous fails.

But this year something has changed, I got a trip booked for Spray On. I know I need to train hard for it. And so with renewed energy, we went back to Masson Lees again a few weekends ago. I needed to break through my mental barrier and get involved, I promised that to myself, that I would just really go for it and battle it out. I'm suppose to be climbing M11, but this route is a different beast, I'm not used to climbing on drilled holes and I haven't got Andy's apex either.
That weekend I did indeed break through the roof span move, I managed it twice. Invigorated by this, I kept going through the lip of the cave in what can only be described as a fig9/fig4 marathon and eventually I linked all the moves. I tamed the beast, and no longer felt impossible. I went back to London and rested all week and make an effort to get psyched for the weekend after the Goods Meet.

Simon Ward doing a sterling job with Fig4's. A steep learning curve as he's my recruit for Helmcken Falls.

Last weekend we were back in the cave at the back of Masson Lees. I had a game plan, warm up, do SubRosa and just gave it all I had on the route. And that's exactly what I did. Really pleased to manage the span move across the roof, so I kept going... and going... and going... until I felt my lungs were about to burst. Three clips from the anchor I couldn't go any further, but this was really good progress. In the meantime Viki and Simon were having it on Sub Rosa, both doing really well, so I thought that would work really well, it would give me a couple of hours rest and I would give it one last go.

So with the fading light and the heavy mist, I stripped off my t-shirt and got involved. By the anchors of Sub Rosa I felt exhausted, and I almost shouted take to Viki, but I thought what the hell, might as well make it count and take the lob. But the lob didn't come, I just hang on and hang on, and with almost exploding forearms, I clipped the chains. The beast had been slayed.

Viki sending Sub Rosa M10

Read the full account and some more great images from White Goods and Masson Lees over on my blog.

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In pictures

Ramon on the successful ascent for Marginal Gains, M11

  climbing dry tooling ramon marin

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