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  • Writer's pictureBUILT TO SEND

It finally happened…

Well I suppose it had to happen sooner or later, but it was still a surprise when it did…

In these dog days of lock-down, the weekends have turned into a bit of a blur. The BUILT TO SEND workshop has been quieter than normal, and other than daily socially-distanced visits to ship out “essential gear”—all climbing gear is essential in my view—to the climbers who are slowly getting back out on rock, April and May passed indistinctly, without the usual punctuation by climbing trips. The weather was disappointingly good.

Eventually, in late May, with the easing of lock-down, and determined not to allow another good weekend go by without climbing, two of the BUILT TO SEND team took the first tentative steps outdoors. We drove in separate cars to Birchen Edge for some two-meter-plus climbing. What a feeling to be back on rock! We ticked off a list of classic easy routes to work out if we still had the skills. We pulled through the roof on Topsail; we balanced up the initial slab on Porthole Direct; and thrutched-up then ran out the rope on the wonderful Powder Monkey Parade… a route everyone has to do at least once in their life. It was a glorious day. Then, just as the sun was inching down, we decided to do just one last climb, and tied on underneath Camperdown Crawl. I had all the wrong gear, so pulled through the top section carefully, with my last wire a long way below me. Which is when it happened. I poked my head over the top of the cliff, and right in front of my nose was a BUILT TO SEND pack. A black X0 BUILT TO SEND alpine pack to be precise; a “generation 2” pack made in our smaller workshop. Well, it had to happen eventually. The owner of the pack was the rather cool looking Mike Broady from SwitchBackGuiding ( who was in the peaks introducing some youths to “God’s own rock”. It was my “first time”, so to speak, so I was glad to share it with Mike (a climber; the sort of person I can identify with) rather than an overweight banker from London, for example. The point is, my first time couldn’t have been much better, and certainly could have been a whole lot worse…

Although it shouldn’t really have been a surprise, it somehow still was. I didn’t have the presence of mind to have a camera sent up, so the occasion passed un-marked. Mike went his way, and we went ours, and a cool professional indifference was maintained throughout. Fortunately, Mike, being exactly the gentleman he appeared to be, was kind enough both to say very kind things about the packs, and also to email through some photos the next day. Here is fulsome thanks to a gentleman with very good taste in rucksacks.

[An amusing addendum. The next day we drove all the way down to Swanage, bailed on a very intimidating looking Boulder Ruckle (exceptionally heavy seas breaking comprehensively over the rocks), and moved on to Dancing ledge. Later than day, I saw Instagram posts from Boulder Ruckle with another person with a BUILT TO SEND pack. To use the well-known idiom, “It’s like busses …”]

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