Exams were out the way, summer beckons and finally spring is sprung and seemed to be turning into, dare I say it, a summer! The last few weeks of 2nd year at Bangor became an existence of lazy barbeques, slacklining, moderate alcohol abuse and a foray into the extreme end of the rock climbing spectrum. Nothing to complain about all in all.
Now to a non climber this sounds very exciting whereas in actual fact it only represents the 10th value on a scale that currently ends at 20. However it has the name of E1 (E meaning extreme) and is a milestone in everyone’s climbing career. The wee beastie in question goes by the name of Biggles Flies Undone E1 5b a fantastic name for what I think is a fantastic route which I will not bore you with the details of.
Term finished, and as the climbing posters which festooned our humble living room in the student house came down revealing the off white walls beneath it felt like it was ours no longer and time to leave.
So back to the western grit where this obsession , or way of life depending which way you like to look at it, all began. It turns out in two years of climbing the sumptious crags of north wales my jamming skills now leave something to be desired. Resultantly an attempted warm up on VS 5a left me shut down and feeling bruised and battered physically and mentally. It seemed in the apt words of my climbing partner James Townley; that the gymnastic climbing of the grit was quite removed from the measured patience of the routes we’d been climbing in north wales.
It took a few days to get back into the swing of things, literally as well as metaphorically. But with what felt like a return to form on the delightful Louie Groove E1 5b which suited my preferences for footwork and balance over strength of arms.
More recently the strong gruesome twosome of Henry and Stu are back from their tragically aborted trip around Europe so thought where better to come than the grit. After a evening spent bouldering the next morning Henry warmed up impressively on Commander Energy E2 5c. Daunted even by the prospect of seconding this graceful route that takes a striking finish over the rounded arete; I attacked it with all I was worth and arrived, surprised, on top of the flake with only the rounded top arete between me and my hardest ever trad climb ( even if it is on second). A nervy smearing of the feet and paddling of the hands had me within a whisker of the top and success. But I felt stuck, legs astride the arete with palms down keeping me in touch with the rough rock beneath me. A squirm and a shimmy and I ungracefully scampered past my belayer with elation and equal embarrassment at my poor form on this most aesthetic route.
It’s whipped around fast and already the final lectures of the 2012/13 year are slipping by. Deadlines approaching and realising all the time you should have been learning you’ve been hanging by crimps all over North Wales and beyond.
But there is still always time for a boulder after lectures now, so with the lengthening days my climbing club went back to the RAC boulders where I’ve had my twin nemesii(??) of The Pump Traverse and a large V5 dyno and thankfully the Pump Traverse fell the other night so that’s one less reason to go back!
Other highlights of the past few weeks were the completion of Snakes and Ladders (and Tunnels). the huge adventurous link up in the Llanberis Slate Quarries that gives you a tour via rickety ladders and rusty chains through enigmatic sectors such as california, the lost world and mordor.
Further back in time was the trip to Siurana which was a fantastic 12 days of crimping and standing on minuscule bobbles of perfect European limestone with a great bunch of friends
Thankfully the weather seems to have taken a turn for the better, some vitamin D . The monotonous grey of rain had started to get a bit much and tempers were tight. However the simple addition of some sunshine lifts everyone’s spirits and means we can get out climbing! A Sunday raid to Tremadog had everyone climbing in t-shirts, personally I had an amazing climb on One Step in the Clouds, a “classic” VS which was a delight of varied climbing in a superb elevated position with views out to Portmadog as the buzzards soared in the trees. The “one step” was hardly noticed as the moves kept coming up the delicious warm rock to possibly my favourite ever belay to date as I waited to Thea to second. We both sat at the belay smiling as we massaged our toes, (breaking in new shoes before Siurana in Easter). This is the life!
Siurana will be my second visit to European limestone but hopefully this shall be a little more productive as my climbing continues to expand. It is described as a vast expanse of orange walls of limestone and crimps, lots and lots of crimps. I will be excited to see if these stories are true. Also roughing it more student style than the last beach holiday of a climbing trip that was the mega fest of Kalymnos. Camping and frugal means. part of the 4 tenets of Wadding
if they all fail try