Sunday, 28 April 2013


Today was my first visit to Millstone, a place I have been avoiding for a long time now. The reason for my reluctance to go there has been mainly influenced by a number of comments made by the Captain back in 2nd year about how all the climbs were steep, intimidating and downright painful compounded by the fact that if you couldn't lead VS then you would have nothing to climb (this was back when I aspired to lead Severe). What I discovered about Millstone is this description is indeed true of some of the climbs there but cannot be applied to all of the climbs.

The Captain at Millstone

We started the day with John leading Embankment 1 (pitch 1) with a very hung-over me seconding. In hindsight I felt that both of us made this climb look a lot harder than it should have been. I decided to jump straight onto a VS, Embankment 2, as true to the previous description if you want to lead something good you need to be climbing at VS. I cannot describe how much of a pleasure it was to lead this climb. Twin cracks provide abundant foot holds and jams whilst the right hand crack is perfect for protection throughout (tactical nuts at the start before cams towards the end). I honestly think that I can call the lead of this climb my best lead ever! Unfortunately to get the full tick I lead the top pitch as well which I found a right struggle and felt pretty shaky on throughout. However this did not take away from the overall sense of achievement of the lead of the first pitch.

Embankment 2, VS 4c
Following this John decided to up his game and jumped on Embankment 3 (pitch 1). A shaky start with his first nut popping out he approached the crux centre and after about 2 rests on gear he powered through to the top of a very stiff route. Sadly my seconding of the route left a lot to be desired with a lots of assisted stand ups and a very tight rope!

The Captain on Embankment 3, E1 5b

With the weather closing in I had a brave attempt at Bond Street, HVS 5a, which would have been my first of the grade, however despite good technique on the lower crack my strength began to fail me on entering the first niche and after two rests I decided to lower off and save the route for a more stylistic ascent on another day.

Bond Street . . . I'll be back!
Overall putting to one side frigging up an E1 and lowering off a HVS I have doubled my experience of E1 cracks, lead a quality jamming VS and summed up the courage to attempt a HVS. Who would have imagined!

Millstone gear rescue service (Bond Street)

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