After working 16 days on the trot with some overnight camps, night navs
and late sessions I headed up to the lakes via LPT and gave a talk at the
Kendal climbing wall, the start of 3 days off.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse and the day after the talk
involved brewing in the Square Orange Cafe catching up with Adam Hocking for 2
hours waiting for the rain to stop planning to visit my sister and godson in the afternoon.
Around 13.00 I head down to Falcon crag, climb 2 routes and with the weather
improving I txt my sister that I was going to be late, 7 routes on shepherds requires
another txt to my sister. I leave borrowdale and drive round to Thirlemere.
Looking up at Castle Rock and feeling somewhat selfish I send yet another txt
and with a trip up Harlots Face to finish the afternoon re-acquiantance on Lakeland rock
Ipromise to return again asap.
In terms of climbing great routes in a fantastic landscape there are few places like it.
I drive back to Wales late that night musing over which was most dangerous
between soloing a few extremes or driving down the M6, it seemed that more could
go wrong on the motorway in terms of mechanical failure and human error.
The next day involved a trip to Treaddur Bay with Hazel Findlay to check
Tim Emmets E9 6c, Chicama out. The tide was high, the rigging complicated, the
downclimb toprope to check it a pain in the arse, the route was dripping wet and
seemed very reliant on rotting pegs which all reminded me why I’d not tried it
before. The moves were thankfully really good so a return visit is in order especially
seen as how Hazel and Pete Graham have replaced the rubbish old pegs, a great
effort as it wouldn’t get climbed without them so it would just be left neglected.
Hazel made the 2nd ascent after very few trips down and did it in pretty cold and poor conditions.
Hopefully the weather will improve for Hazel to make light work of some more
hard Welsh trad. Emma Twyford is also keen for this climb having been on it once
with Hazel. Watch this space!
After my 3 days off 7 days of mountain navigation courses resumed which
were great if a little cold and windy. My first day off I was very stoked to do
some climbing and with Mark reeves in tow we made the pilgrimage through the
rain to Craig Dorys where the rain stopped and thankfully the crag was dry. The
previous year Leigh McGinley and Stevie Haston had put up a knew E7 going up the
left side of the Stigmata buttress naming it Box of Blood with Leigh saying it
was the best climb he’d ever done and Stevie pronouncing it a 5 star route. I
get racked up with a huge rack to embark on my first trad route of the
The first half of the climb is shared with an E5 called Crucial
condition, bridged in a shakeout at about 20 meters where that route sneaks left
to ledges I feel pumped already from the careful style of climbing which is
dictated by the loose rock. With a nest of cams in weird wafers that Leigh had
said were good I pull up and climb fast for a few meters as there is no
protection. Wedged into a groove I put a sling over some iron coloured crusts of
rock and plug in a poor cam to help hold it on. I found 2 very poor rps and try
and work out where to go. There were 2 possible paths, the continuation of the
groove on the left or where the first groove fades and forms an arête. I go up
the arête, arms tired I make some steep moves and reach up for what appeared to
be a good ledge, feeling a crumbly sloper I stare for 2 seconds at a sloping
crumbling choss section and feel ill at the place I’ve climbed into. Thoughts of
a big fall or worse were in mind and it was 50/50 on wether to scrabble for dear
life or reverse the steep moves on tired arms and a swift reverse to my perch in
the groove ensued. After a few words with myself I found the true line up the
continuation groove which led to good gear in a break thankfully and an awesome
'crack' in a vertical headwall. Hanging off hand jams on the final shakeout
having climbed up and down from the last 6b moves on the headwall 3 or 4 times
trying to work it out my mouth was parched, fingers on a timer as soon as they
used small holds and there was a deep ache in shoulders and legs-this was a
pretty familiar feeling and if the gear is good with a clean fallout zone it’s a
position I highly recommend. I wasn’t convinced the gear Leigh had mentioned in
the final crack would hold a fall so it would be a good ride from the top.
Having tapped a very loose looking flake to check it would hold my foot I
committed to the final long rockover out of the crack to a good edge and final
lunge for a porthole just beneath the top.
The route was incredible and gave me the feeling of deep satisfaction
like a game of chess which you had to try hard to win. I was blown away Leigh
McGinley had climbed the route a few months after a hip operation- knarly git.
Mark Reeves seconded up having belayed for more than 2 hours I got him a brew
and cake in Abersoch. Nice one Mark. Yet again 1 climb on the Lleyn is enough.
In the realms of bouldering Pete Robbins continues his development in
Ogwen valley giving yet another devastatingly difficult arête called Madame
Allure which at font 8b makes it one of the top 3 or 4 hardest problems in the
Welsh mountains. In Spain Ryan Pasquil continued his run of good form making a
swift 2nd ascent of Vacuna Matata, 8c+/9a and doing a few 8b+ in a session. Strong