Thursday, 17 March 2011

All creamed out...

This week has become a very exciting one indeed.....
On monday me and Davey Morse set a plan to go to Tremadog with the goal to climb the Vector headwall classic Cream, E4 6a. I prepared myself the night before with comedy avec Green Wing and 8 hours sleep (perfecto, non?). Meeting in tremadog village I was surprised to find Dave missing his trusty 'Chariot', instead with a car he had pikey-ed off some poor unsuspecting soul I suspect.

Anyway we busted up to the base of the Vector Buttress, necks craning to get a look at the impressive Vector headwall and the crux pitch... Luckily my nervousness was distracted by two guys trying to find One Step in the Clouds, a Tremadog classic at VS 4c. So jovially, I set off on pitch 1 and soon found myself at the palatial belay that seems to be the starting point of nearly all the classic hard routes on this beautiful piece of dolerite... Soon enough Dave was up there with me and was off and onto the tricky 5c pitch of Cream. Once he was out of sight, doubts began to creep into my mind; 'I've only ever climbed one E3 at tremadog', 'All my other E4 onsights have been bold slabs, not steep cracks!'. However, I managed to banish these thoughts partly from psyche for the route (which was reet high) and lessons learnt from the book: 'The Rock Warriors Way' by Arno Ilgner which is a mental training book for climbing, a rarity and despite having not finished it, it has helped me relax into hard trad attempts much quicker than I thought I would, which has gotta be a good thing, eh?

Despite audible hassle from my krabs of wires Dave made it to the belay and made a sizeable belay in one of the most wild positions you'll find yourself in so close to the road yet not above the sea! I followed, impressed at the trickiness of the crux. Getting to the belay I noticed that a few of the pieces I predicted I might like up there were in the belay, but just took everything I could and started climbing. A tricky move to a Jug filled with wet plants, slowed the flow, until I committed to the tricky section before the rest and the crux crack... I almost managed to spoon this up, noticing a good hold once I had passed it but sketched my way up to an almost no-hands rest. After fannying around trying to get some good gear in, I began to rest and actually really enjoy the position I was in!

Now came the hard bit, getting real steep, real quick, I pulled up into fingerlocks and edges with poor feet, and tried to get some gear in, unfortunately I had already placed the best sized  cam lower down so bunged in the smaller one in the best bit of the crack and hastily retreated. Back up saw me push on into the crux, I won't spoil it for you aspirant Cream-ers but I couldn't see what I was going to and wasn't confident that I wouldn't kick the cam out on the way past so made a half-assed attempt at the move and the dream fell away...

Next up was Dave and despite looking good and being a Brenin wad, he got a move further, wiggled some gear in and fell! Nightmare!! After a rest, it was discovered that he was a move away from a juggaroo! Dave quickly despatched the juggy traverse and I followed with one rest to remove some gear...

Despite blowing a route that I have wanted to onsight for a while now, my over-riding feeling is that of psyche, inspiration and just having some really good fun on it. The climbing is brilliant, loads of gear if you have the guns and in an amazing position... it has made Strawberries a route which I will definately get on at some point in my life I hope, despite the E7 grade!

2011 should be a good year for me, getting on a steep E4 so early in the season bodes well for my goals, this time last year I almost decked out on an E2, and went on to consistantly onsight E2 by the summer!

This brings me nicely on to my travel arrangements for my 21st year! At easter I will be heading to El Chorro, Spain for some sunny sport climbing and hopefully a boost to my rock fitness.

Then in June I am heading to Squamish, Canada... I am really excited about this, I'm not the best crack climber so it will be great to be forced onto them, plus the diversity of Squamish is amazing, slabs, walls, cracks, sport, 500m routes, bouldering all within walking distance from the campsite! I will be accompanied by Heather aka Florence the machine. I'm so excited!!!

First up in my blog reccomendations are the two blogs that should keep you psyched and inspired by tales of hard trad, sport and boulders from two of the best climbers I know:

Alex Mason's blog:

Mason is a good mate and one of my housemates, he regurlarly gets on and cruises hard trad routes all over the country, and I think he's pretty much done every route I aspire to do up to E5, crushed V9 boulder, flashed F7c, RP-ed F8a and racked up some E6 onsights including crushing Lord of the Flies last summer...he really is a stinky bugger....

Mikey Goldthorp's blog:

Mikey, another good mate and Harry Potter-esque housemate (he lives under the stairs) and is surely the most-talented reacher I have yet to meet... in 4 years he has gone from never touching rock to ticking F8a slab, E7 ground-up, E6 onsight solo on grit, Font 7c+ boulders and E5 onsight. Don't worry I'll be breaking his legs soon as an experiment to see if it would slow him down at all.

Keep it creamy...

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