Gaia is a climb that evokes fear and embodies my perception of hard Gritstone climbing. It has really tenuous and dropable moves in a position where I didn’t really want to fall.
My intention was to attempt Gaia ground up, the idea was that Mike would have a little look at the moves and let me know how they felt before my burn. On Mikes flash attempt he got passed the hard and powerful start and high up into the groove here he decided not to climb into the precarious position where we had seen so many videos of many top climbers taking the fearsome lob, he climbed down a few moves and he was off. The gear in the bottom of the groove ripped and he took a floor scraping fall.
Mikes fall really spooked me so we both decided to top rope the route first. I had a few goes on the top rope, the bottom crux to a while to work out and I wanted to get the top crux sussed so as not fluff it on the lead.
After working the moves I was ready for the lead. Standing at the bottom I was so “in the zone” that I forgot to don my helmet. The first crux went down smoothly and moving up the rib into the groove was a joy on the ice cold slopers and dishes. As I placed my right foot on the key foot hold out right I realised that my helmet was missing, thinking about my helmet made me loose my concentration momentarily. Up there on those tenuous smears is the last place you want to loose focus. My leg began to shake. I reeled my mind in, moved out to “the sloper”, flicked my toe to the arete and climbed the route to the top. At the top I celebrated my ascent by wiping a tear of relief from my eye.
We finished off the day with a bit of bouldering. The conditions were so good that everything we tried felt pretty easy. The problems we climbed included Non Stick Vicar 7B+ and Route 66 7C.