Tuesday, 6 March 2012


I was BUZZING! For days after! Last saturday, me and Al headed out to the Slate, with an ambitious day planned; first we would head to Serengheti where he would redpoint The Medium (8a), I would flash Heading the Shot (7a+), then we would head down to the Rainbow slab, I would onsight Poetry Pink (E5) and he Ground-up Rainbow of Recalcitrance (E6). Upon arrival we both had a head-sorting solo of the Quarries' classic Seamstress (VS), then Mason abbed and put the draws in his project, and all but the first draws in my target. After a quick toprope each and a lead attempt on The Medium by Al, I was up... Like a substitute being called on to the pitch I felt excited and yet unsure whether I would be able to step up to the plate and put in the required performance.

"54-46 was my number, ohh yeeaaah"

I was bricking it, I've heard a lot of 'E5' being bandied around, despite this I set off knowing the first bit from previous ground-up efforts to be scary but easy. First bolt clipped, I began my mantra "I am Johnny Dawes' illegitimate love-child, I will cruise this". I startled myself moving past the first bolt, how could I be so chilled onsighting way above my ability?

"Right now someone has that number, ohh yeaaahh"

Up above the second bolt now, I falter. I know how to get into the crux but it's a little tricky. A quick foot swap and I am immersed, all small feet and thin side-pulls. I grab a good crimp at my full reach 'You forgot the number 1 rule of slate; don't overstretch!!'. Paddling my feet up, I match left foot and hand, rocking up into good holds and the next clip, a few strenuous moves and the next bolt is clipped, rushing I almost fall but nope, I'm into the jugs yarding my way up the final run-out, looking out over Moel Eilio, over Bangor and onto Anglesey, I'm BUZZING! I did it, I tried hard and did it!

Heading the Shot: THIN!
(c) Nikki off UKC
(stolen photo as I cleverly forgot my camera)
Before long, Gwen and her friend Anna turn up, and Gwen (total technical crusher) cruises the crux without my flapping, only to fall off the traverse! Nightmare! Anna begins to re-work it (and later sent it, bon effort!), as Mason has some more burns at the, not so moderate, Medium. But no such luck, with each attempt I see his psyche diminish (not something I witness all that often with Al), Ballsford then turns up and we decide to go down to Rainbow Area. With diminishing time, we hit up Taken Over By Department C (7a/+), Al puts on a stylish onsight, and Ballsford puts on a stylish repeat ascent. Which left me to make a frumpy dogged ascent. It went so well up to the last bolt, reachy powerful moves, but I did them, then I failed to find the correct sequence and was well and truly taken over by fatigue. Still, a great route so get on it!

The next day, everyone was paired up and Al had to work, so I followed Ballsford to Parisella's Cave so that we could both send Left Wall Traverse (V8), neither of us did, but we both made better links and got some shweeet beta for the start! Also was reet good training!

Having felt smothered by the rain in North Wales, Jess and I headed to Glossop to visit her Dad, their awesome new puppy, Woody and so that I could pull some moves on the fabled Gritstone.

Thursday dawned bright and clear, so 'Team North Wales' consisting of Dave Morse, Josh Marshall and I headed to Curbar, or 'Sandbag crag' as it shall now be known. Having not climbed on grit much, or for a while I declined the offer of first lead, which was valiantly taken up by Josh. He fought the good fight with Maupassant (HVS 5a) for a while before declaring man-down and sending me up into the jaws of the layback flake!

Josh fighting the good fight on Maupassant.
(c) Dave Morse
Next, Morsey went a bit crazy on Insanity (E2 5c), a horrendously steep, pumpy, thin, awkward layback flake. After two good efforts, the rope ends were once again handed over to me (why me!?!), I fought the fight, but I got a good kicking this time, and was sent packing. A quick Top-rope effort from Josh and we decided to move on. Avalanche Wall (HVS 5a) being the next on the list upon recommendation by Jess' Dad. After some faffing at the bottom, I got stuck into the great movement between twin cracks, before jamming myself into the niche. After a bit of a flail, I got into the jugs and topped out triumphant, glad not to have to tell Jess' Dad the bad news that his daughter was indeed, dating a pansy.

Dave on Insanity
Dave then wanted to return to a previous spanking on The Toy (E1 5c), after getting all the gear in he fell off, returned to the ground and sent it, like a true hero! Looking forward to being on the blunt end of the rope for the first time all day, I was alarmed to see him drop the ropes saying, "You'll flash that Dunky!". Without question I tied on, squeaked me boots and set on up the longest 6 metres of my life. Nearing the top crack, I used my rat fingers to simply climb the crack instead of using Dave's sequence, just about managing to haul my sorry ass over the edge and to terra firma! Cheers for the gear and the numbers Dave!

Dave, happy topping out on The Toy, E1 5c
After lingering in the Gritstone evening, we headed home, with Josh psyched for a quick boulder hit to plantation the next day we chatted about problems we wanted to try, hushed hopes of Not To Be Taken Away for Dave and I, with Josh being keen for the Green Traverse, something I hoped to have a play on.

Friday turned out to be slightly colder than the day before and we hurriedly got warmed up on a couple of moderate problems, a flakey throw for a flat hold and a lovely little arete with a slopey, horrible top-out. After some spankings on a few other problems, Chris Todd headed over to Zippy's traverse (Font 7b), we all had a go, Chris got close, but no send! Josh headed up to the Green Traverse (Font 7a) to get the beta from Big Ron Fawcett, with the rest of us close behind. I felt that being fairly competant at the grade it should go for me, but no luck for any of us, and so we were sent packing with our tails between our legs once more! So we headed over to the Grand Hotel block, home to Not To Be Taken Away (Font 6c), the start felt a bit greasy, but after a few false starts, Dave was up on the ramp, faltering around the tricky high move he took the fall. I had a few goes but was really struggling with the start. Luckily, after failing on the first moves a few times, I got properly established and clicked into that focussed mind-set, concentrated on my feet and cruised to the top!

Not To Be Taken Away; Classic.
(c) Dave Morse
We then went and had a play on Silk Start (Font 7a/+) and Help the Aged (Font 7a/+), I could do niether but Chris put in a mint effort and nearly stuck the move on HtA. Running out of time, we headed down to D.I.Y an E3 6a solo with a cruxy move to start but trickyness up high and despite a good drop-zone the ground slopes away behind this, giving a feeling of exposure. Dave and Josh put in a brilliant effort but felt uneasy at committing to the tricky high move, I struggled on the start move partly due to fear of falling off the top.

Josh putting in a great effort on D.I.Y.
All in all, it's been a brilliant week or so of climbing, with both sides of the coin, failure and success experienced. After playing with Jess' new puppy, Woody, all weekend I really should be cracking on with my dissertation...

Woody and Jess watching the rabbits...N'awww

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