Now here we go, my partner for the day was the" Dominator" a man who's eagerness puts Derek into a very poor second. Mob ascent of The Point as Dom calls it well to be honest so do I now. Keeping up with these boys is hard and sometimes a little lonely, that initial slope is big and long.
I must admit I did think Dom had soloed the first pitch as I could not see him as I approached the bottom of the route. I know I have new axes but Holy Mother of God they are not that good. "Got a belay" said my turbo powered friend thank God for that I thought. "Do you want to lead the first pitch Mark" said Dom, "that's very kind of you Dominic my good and safe friend but I shall decline the offer if you do not mind on the grounds that I have not slept for a week worrying about how I might end up at the bottom of this route feeling under-skilled and overwhelmed"
Dom lead off singing some sort of tune, I belayed him and tried to stay calm, which was something I tried very hard to do for the rest of the day. "Climb Mark" Dom said I only hope I can I thought, up and away.
It does not matter how many pictures you look at and think that looks OK. I thought it was steep and I have NEVER and stress NEVER climbed a Ben Nevis grade 5 before it did take me aback. I felt sure that I could not have lead that pitch or the next 2 steep pitches I did not have enough in reserve to feel happy taking the sharp end of the rope.
I remember at one of the belays Derek looking at me and starting to giggle like you all know he does and I told him this was not the right time or place to be enjoying himself. Stating the obvious I got up The Point, I didn't fall off, I managed to hold myself together and really hope I wasn't too much of a hinderance to my new found super star Dom.
When I climbed through the cornice and saw Dom and Rick smiling I really couldn't believe that I had climbed the most famous gully in the world so they say whoever they are. I was so relieved, pleased, glad and happy to be walking on flat ground.
What a day the boys were wonderful and looked after me with words of encouragement, kindness, all whilst feeling very safe.
Thanks Dom, Rick and Derek for a most memorable day and allowing me a glimpse into world that is grade 5.
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