It took me a while to muster up the courage to try Mecca; a classic, short, power endurance route at Raven Tor. If I’m honest, I had felt a bit intimidated by it. The combination of the grade, it’s reputation, the British climbing scene and my “then” self doubt meant that I put it off for some time. Before this route I had only climbed up to 8a+ sport routes and I felt maybe jumping onto an 8b+ was not the thing to do. However, I soon realised that “not the thing to do” type phrases are no way to govern oneself in life or climbing. I had always wanted to try Mecca because it was classic and the climbing looked amazing, what was I doing letting a number put me off?

Eventually I took the bull by the horns and had a go in May this year. My first session went really well and I managed to do all the moves, but only just. I had another session where it started to seem more realistic but then the UK summer began and the rain came. I was also competing in the IFSC World Cups during this period so time was limited. Then David and I left for Colorado.

We returned to the UK in July and I was psyched to re-open my Mecca account. Only it was wet and continued to be so for a few weeks. About two weeks ago, when I had nearly given up for this year, I heard rumour it was dry and that someone had climbed it. At this point I wasn’t sure whether it was worth starting again on it. David and I are heading back to America on the 19th September and I had multiple competitions and a family wedding to contend with before that.

I decided to have at least one session, to re-assess how long it might take and to re-familiarise myself with the moves. The session went well. My climbing has improved a lot in the last six weeks or so and this really showed on Mecca. It felt like a different route and I found myself having a redpoint go that day.

The repointing sessions began and I slowly moved my failing point higher up the route from the bottom of the groove to the knee bar. Yes, I fell out of the knee bar! My penultimate session saw me shake myself out of this infamous resting position. The knee bar, although a good rest for the arms (one at a time, I don’t know how people manage to take both arms off!), required a lot of tension on my part to stay on and I slowly slipped out of it from pure fatigue. A frustrating place to fail.

While on this subject I feel I should clarify for those who are interested: I did use the knee bar and I did use a knee pad, as has been done in other recent ascents. This was always my plan but in addition I am maid of honour at my sister’s wedding in a week’s time and my dress sits just above the knee, a small gender specific consideration…. 😉

So, having fallen off quite high on Monday this week, I returned on Wednesday morning to try again. My first go saw me slip on the crux section. Second go, I felt good, I found myself back in the knee bar but this time not nearly so tired; I wasn’t shaking and I felt fairly composed. A deep breath, a word to myself and I embarked on the top section. I tried bloody hard. And then it was done.

Nick Brown aka Outcrop had come along to film too so he got the whole thing (my little piggy-sounding-trying-hard yelps at the top included…).

Big thank you to David for all the belaying and Pirie for the final belay 🙂

I’m now in Norway for an invitational competition called The Battle where the competitors set problems and then compete on them….wish me luck! Live feed on Saturday night at www.nrk.no/sport

 Mecca, Raven Tor, 8b+. Photo Nick Brown.