Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Limestone Lemurs

After being cooped up like a small rodent from Wednesday to Friday, I handed my essay in, and was picked up by Dave so that we could get an early start on Friday morning.

We woke to thick cloud and rain in Capel Curig, but buoyed by the fact that Capel is the wettest place in the world, we packed the car and set off South, headed for an afternoon hit on Carreg-y-Barcud, North Pembroke. After hours of driving, we saw a few patches of blue sky and forged on, imagining golden sun, blue skies and bikini clad women at the bottom of the crag (or was that just me??). Arriving at Barcud it was clear that few of these would materialise, though I did try and convince Heather to crack her bikini out, but fortunately she declined. Abbing in to the belay ledges, it was obvious that the incoming tide and rough swell dictated a swift traverse to the right-hand side of the Main Face. I ended up on Beyond the Azimuth, with Dave on belay duty, as I set off up the route I began to feel a splattering on me and shouted down "Is it just me or is this sea spray really heavy!?!?" The response being "It's raining get a move on!". 'Right, shit' I thought 'slabby E1 in the rain'. I placed another bit of gear, and began to move up the diagonal crackline, placing gear more often than I usually do on that sort of terrain. Despite being a bit intimidated at the beginning of the route I soon found myself at the top by just taking it a move at a time and getting as much gear in as possible. I searched out a couple of stacked wires for a belay, and bought Dave up. By this time, Heather and Siobhan had also topped out on their route and declared their escape back to the car. Dave decided as we were here he would have a quick top-rope of an E5 he had tried before, and luckily cruised to the top, and we bailed back to the car.

A wild Carreg-y-Barcud
 We headed to Dave's Dad's House for warmth and dryness, and Siobhan russled up a mega chilli, which I ate far too much of! After a good sleep, we headed down to Bosherston Head for some steep Limestone!
It was me and Florence the Machine on Crush Team B whilst Dave and Shivvers went to have a crack at Star Wars...

Florence crushed Cool for Cats at Stennis Head in the shade as a warm up so we headed to St Govan's for some sun and lactic acid. It was my lead, and abbing in I knew that to push myself and get a decent route in I would have to get on The Butcher E2/3 5c or Poisoned Arrow E4 6a. Unsure of how well I was climbing on steep rock I opted for the Butcher. Setting off it felt greasy and I had a hard time believing I would get up it clean, but just took it in sections, and after a tricky section found myself at the Jug rest under the crux...It turned out to be full of water, so with a wet right hand I set about putting in some good gear for the crux. However, in an effort to keep my left hand dry I was using a poorer hold and had to keep swapping hands to place gear and then rest the other hand! After what seemed like an age, I had assessed the crux and decided to go for it, my right hand dry, grabbing the crimp, pulling through to the good hold on the arete, my feet and body moving into position to allow me to carry on upwards, on into the upper crack I plug a cam in and keep moving, riding the pump now, nearing the top, pull over and whoop for joy! Make a belay and my whole body is buzzing, I did it, no in-situ gear to clip, no ledges, hands off rests or respite from the steepness. It felt more E3 than E2 to me but steep, pumpy climbing is not a strong point of mine. Whatever the grade, what an experience and a big boost to my confidence. Florence crushed it on second like the machine she is and we got some grub down us.

Low down on The Butcher E3 5c ***

We abbed back in for the Arrow, a classic E1 I seconded on my last trip to Pembroke, after a few false starts on the wet bottom section, Heather flew up it, and I tried to do the same on second. Not sure what to do next, I decided another classic was in order so blasted up Army Dreamers (HVS 5a) which has some brilliant climbing marred only by the polish. After my battle with the Butcher I felt flowing and confident, enjoying the position and climbing. Satisfied, we headed to the campsite, had some reet tasty food and headed to the pub for some cider...

Sunday began in an overcast manner and with both the Castle and Rusty Walls soaked, we headed back to St Govan's, so I pottered up Panzer II, a shortlived HVS to the right of Army Dreamers. Then the sun came out, Heather then did Tactitian another HVS with a burly, cornery crux...kudos! I then did War Games, an E1 next to Tactitian, its no harder, just a bit bolder and a tad more goey but has hands off rests and the best, most exposed corner at the top. To carry on the Military theme of the day, Heather finished off with Front line a really great HVS to the left of Army Dreamers. A brilliantly chilled day, just enjoying the movement over rock, and being next to the sea in great company, bathed in sunshine!

Florence the Machine fiddling some gear into the Tactitian, HVS 5a ***

Overall, a wicked weekend, with a fair amount of mileage, I also have started feeling far more comfortable on steep ground, and instead of panicking as soon as I begin to feel my forearms fill with lactic acid, I sort myself out and try and find a rest or push on to a rest.

A good effort to Dave for abbing in and getting on Star Wars, the idea of it intimidated me all weekend, unfortunately the send was halted by a dodgy move above RPs, still at least I've got some beta on it now!

I cannot wait to get back down there, armed with a bit more sport fitness and more sun!! I think I will try and get a load more E3s done and maybe have a crack at Bloody Sunday, Poisoned Arrow, or Star Wars all E4... Spicy times!!


Monday, 4 April 2011

Battling with the Colossal....

Colossal is the theme of the blog for better and worse, this week, although unfortunately it isn't due to a colossal amount of routes.....yet.

Since Thursday's successful trip to Tremadog, in which Mikey has had a write up on his new route, The Philtrum, which received its 2nd ascent at the hands of Ed Booth on Sunday the 27th, confirming the grade at E6 6b....decent!! You can read Si Panton's write up on the V12 website here;

Next up was an assignment due in 5:00pm friday...yikes! Luckily, it was fairly straightforward River Habitat Survey....zzzzzzzz. Saturday was also spent making headway into an essay whilst the sun shone outside.

Sunday promised a trip to LPT and with any luck a 7a+ redpoint, in way of a bit of training, despite the fact my heart lay in the Pass. Any dreams were however thwarted by a colossal error....leaving my rock-boots at home...d'oh!!! The day however was not lost, I ran up the F5+, and the F6a twice in Charlie's softer than 'kitten fur' shoes, and had a play on I've been a bad, bad boy F7c on toprope whilst Mikey tried to redpoint it. I am unsure on how to feel about it as a potential future redpoint project, it has some fairly steady sections, but a few wild moves where I struggled to keep my feet on... but anyway it was cool to have a go...

Monday saw more work done, but an escape to the slate quarries with Mikey (again!), visiting Colossus wall, a place where I have unfinished business, with the wall's namesake... Colossus E3 5c. Last March I had a go but intimidated by the steepness of the wall and the fact it looked wet higher up, I bailed by the 3rd bolt. This time, I was sure it would go better, I would defeat Colossus despite my diminutive stature.... Up by the second bolt I pulled on a nice positive crimp to give me some security from greasing off the slopey one I had with my left, but instead of upward motion I felt a thump on my forehead as I prised a rugby-ball sized block of slate off the wall! Glad to be wearing a lid, I composed myself and carried on up. The crux proved to be a bit pumpy, and technical, but I enjoyed every second of it, especially the wild dynamic crossover I made to the ledge that marks the end of the difficulties. Topping out, I was once again awash with the adrenal highs of a good fight into the unknown, reminding me the reason for getting out of your comfort zone. As I basked in the glorious March sun (and my own self satisfaction), I belayed Mikey up it for his warm-up. I then gave Mikey a belay on Major Headstress an E4/5 6a, then seconded it. I managed to get through the crux clean but stopped concentrating and fell off a 5b/c layback move then again trying to go direct to Mikey...woops! Fantastic climbing on that wall though... Great Balls of Fire, E4 6a is set firmly in my sights!

Tuesday saw a colossal training session at the Indy Wall on Anglesey, a few runs on the F6b(7a?) circuit, and then back to trying to redpoint the F7a+/b(7c?) circuit. Managed to get a new highpoint, on the final section, but just lost power on the unhelpful 'elephant ears' hold. However, this bodes well for my fitness. I've given up on trying any hard boulder problems now, and my power is dwindling a bit... Finished off with a fingerboard session doing frenchies on the Jugs and then the slopers, and then just did a 'pump session' where I just traversed around the feature wall trying to maintain a steady pump, I then moved on to traversing the top-rope walls and onto the lead walls before heading home for press-ups, sit-ups and beans on toast...

I am currently battling the colossal amount of Psyche I have, to instead finish my essay and then.....

Onto PEMBROKE!!!! YYEEEEEHHAAAA!!! Should be a mint little trip, heading down with Florence the Machine, Davey Morse, Shivvers and a couple of cars worth of BUMS, including Mikey and Mason...pretty keen to be honest with you, so many routes to do!

Now on to a couple of Blogs for you to peruse...

First up is a mate of mine from the shire who has now moved on to Scotland, but he writes a really good blog, with nice abstract views on everyday life, and climbing of course:

Next up is a Guy I have met once or twice, but is a mate of Mason's, and despite being a handy little pocket rocket, is always genuinely psyched for other's achievements which I really respect.. Guy VG's blog:

Peace out.