The sun beamed through the small airplane’s window across the skydiving instructor’s face at 5,000 ft. Del was having a few minutes nap before he made a hole through the sky. He is a typical ‘Yorkshire pub man’ looking guy. Another instructor on the plane looked confused whilst trying to solve the crosswords. The mood was causal. A Danish polite flying the plane in shorts and flip-flops turned around with his thumb up indicating it was time to jump at 12,000ft. His Ray Ban’s really suited his profession.
The sponsored instructor Chris who had done thousands of jumps put away the newspaper and opened the door. I started to get nervous. It was my first solo jump in order to be qualified.
“Andre, don’t fuck up,” said Del, what else do expect this type of dude to say or was he actually referring to my previous errors?
I approached to the door and looked down, the fields looked the image on the vintage Devon’s custard product that I had when I was a kid. For once I was actually quite scared. Was my chute packed properly? I wasn’t prepared to experience a malfunction.
“Are you ready to skydive” said the sponsored instructor Chris.
For some stupid reason I responded, “Hell yeah, I was born for this”
Off I went flying through the vast sky doing all sorts of poses before pulling the chute at 4,000 ft. The feeling was spectacular.
After more or less than 20 jumps, two written exams I now currently hold a skydiving ‘A’ license which will hopefully last forever. But it’s now July and I haven’t been climbing for 5/6 months due my elbow injuries. The healing has finally picked up but is still slow and I am about to go to the worlds most amazing climbing destinations, Yosemite. I organized this trip before I became weaken.
A year or so ago, I once stood on the summit of the Hand of Fatima with Leo Houlding looking at such a view of the Sahara desert at 400 metres.
"Man what a view, is this the best view you've ever seen?" I said
"Nothing beats never never land Andre." Leo said whilst shaking his head.
Andre "Never never land? Where's that?"
Leo "Yosemite, the heart of climbing"
I knew I had to go.
I had lots of homework to do for a novice learning big wall climbing. I had left it all to the last minute really. Spending days on the wall sleeping on ledges/portledges is something I haven’t really done before. The first training is to get back into trad which I had put it aside for a while after a nasty fall on the ‘Master’s Edge’ at Millstone. By looking at my ‘friends’ I couldn’t believe a micro nut can actually hold your body weight.
A few trips around the UK following Ken Wilson ‘Extreme Rock’ I managed to tick some classic’s up to E4/E5 from Ruckel to Stoney I had finally got my balls back and no longer minded scary run outs. Mileage of stamina indoor climbing followed by lots of running has also been done. I am grateful for where I stand after not climbing in nearly half a year.
I leave to the Yosemite Valley next week and the first route I will be doing is ‘The Nose’ with my pops. He is coming out for just a week so no time can be wasted. Many people are laughing, as it’s ridiculous to do The Nose on your first climb in the valley. Some think I wont succeed with my old man. I made a few cash bets for those who doubt. After this I will be staying out in the National Park for 8 weeks With Liam Halsey who is no stranger to on sighting hard trad. This is a privilege for me to team up with the DMM/Five Ten sponsored climber. His tick list is enormous. I cannot wait.
Dad realising he will have to jumar for 1 kilometre on El Cap
On the summit of Fatima's Hand overlooking the view back in 2011