December 25, 2008 George Foster


I feel strangely compelled to mouth off about this route all of a sudden. Maybe it’s Dom’s recent(ish) post about it (with accompanying video – Maybe it’s cos i feel like i haven’t done anything notable since doing it myself a couple of years ago. Maybe it’s cos it’s xmas and i have nothing better to do. Or maybe it’s cos ‘why not’ it’s an ace climb and deserves to be recognised by one and all, young and old, ugly and pretty, fat and thin, santa and jesus.

Nijinski (if you don’t know) is the striking arete that greets you in the car park at Auchinstarry and was first climbed by blah-de-blah at some point in the past. It’s got a (fair) reputation as being a touch bold and a touch ‘on-off’ (again fair) and goes at a grade of E5 6a (unfair!!). The first time i visited the ‘Starry i found myself stood at the top, rope in hand waiting for the shout up from my mate Dom, who was soloing it at the time, to say he needed rescuing. Thankfully that shout never came cos i wasn’t aware that he was even climbing until he pulled over the top and screamed with relief in my face! Lucky that! As i had carted the rope up there it felt best to give it a shot on top rope. I vowed i would NEVER climb it, as awesome a line as it is and the fact that EVERYONE knows about, i just didn’t think i’d ever summon the balls to solo it, which is essentially what it is. I couldn’t even do it on a top-rope – but that’s maybe just cos i’m crap!

Fast forward a year and the uni climbing club is back at the ‘Starry. With little to do we decided to stick a rope back on it (there was a new kid joined you see and we wanted to see if he would flash it – he did i think) and had a play. I top-roped it 3 times all in a ‘oner and started to think maybe it’d go – hmmm. The very next day we came back and i top-roped it once more to check for gear – finding a skyhook and 2 weighted down RP placements which i thought looked okay.

It was quite an intense experience leading that thing as the moves never felt secure even on top-rope and the boldness is terrifying in retrospect – in fact i remember getting so gripped up when i top-roped it for the very first time with Dom that i physically couldn’t move on it – ON TOP-ROPE!!!!! Gay or what! For some reason my mental game was very good back then, i totally switched off everything and if i were told to lead it now on that gear i’d sell my rack! The one time the ‘bubble burst’ on the route was 3/4 of the way up reaching for the decent flat jug at the end of the crux when my foot popped just as i got the hold. I remember that being a bit of a pant-filler.

It didn’t seem that much a deal for me at the time, and it’s definitely not a big deal to anyone else, but now it feels like that was the best climbing moment i’ve had – and one that i’m not looking likely to repeat. Its the only time my head has been ‘perfect’ and i’ve climbed TOTALLY at the my limit with very little practice and completely pulled it off. A pretty cool experience.

By the way what an awesome route name! Nijinski being a turn of the century Russian ballet dancer. Better get your dancing shoes on for this one.

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