Thursday, 26 July 2012

Stuck in Neutral...

So it seems that I am currently struggling with 'progression' as driving instructors would call it. 

Right now, the summer of 2012 is not panning out how it was supposed to, this was supposed to be THE year of crushing, get my degree out the way, finally spend the whole summer in North Wales, get out into the mountains and get all those amazing routes experienced.

What the motherflip has happened!?!?!? Pabbay set me up perfectly, did two more E4s and got loads of good mileage in too! But then this massive, huge cloud came and messed it all up. The weather totally killed my drive, and seemed to dampen the fire inside. Every time I stoked it up to go out to try a hard route I want to do, it turns out to be wet! 

Having just got back from a few days at home with my family, I kept getting the question every recently graduated student (unemployed person) dreads; "Soo, have you got a proper job yet?". I currently am working as a freelance instructor at a High Ropes Course. The work is fairly enjoyable, pretty well paid and beautifully flexible. But none of that matters, because the weather has been so crappy that I may as well be earning loads of money so that I can run away somewhere sunny over the winter. I don't have a burning desire to instruct, its fun and all that, but I think I would struggle to remain motivation for my own climbing if I spent every day taking punters climbing monday-friday. 

But here is the truly burning question... What the bloody hell do I want to do?? Do I need to worry?? What the bloody hell do I want to do??

Either way, in a complete turnaround from feeling like I had forever left to climb all those dream routes after Pabbay, I now feel like the summer is running away from me and that all too soon I'll be working full time and winter will have North Wales in its' icey grip... This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of my time is taken up by bloody driving lessons. Additionally, I said I was interested in going to the Alps at the end of the summer, thinking that I'd nail learning to drive around climbing loads in the warm, sunny, Welsh summer. Now it seems like this will be the time when North Wales is bathed in golden sunshine whilst I'm in the Alps, trudging up massive tottering pieces of choss/climbing some amazing big routes. I don't know whether its something I want to do or not, this alpinism lark.
You didn't hear this from me, but I'm not the world's most natural driver. I may as well have said I don't have a penis, but hey. Its a frustrating/interesting learning curve really, breaking driving down into things I am good at, and things I am bad at is very much like trying to improve at climbing. In fact, having a driving instructor is a good insight into good coaching. It also reinforces the old adage "train your weaknesses", except I have someone forcing me to do the stuff I am rubbish at. So it's not all bad, but it does take up valuable climbing time, and use up literally valuable currency. In addition to this, I have recently learnt my younger brother passed his driving test first time after about 20 lessons. I have had close to 20 lessons, and I am not ready to take a test... What the HELL!?!?! Well its a bloody good effort anyway. Either way, I really wish I had learnt to drive whilst I was 17 or at uni, if you are reading this as a 16 year old who, like my younger self, thinks its crap to learn to drive because everyone else is. Get over yourself, it is a total ball-ache learning when you are older. Plus you look like a total loser. Bad times.

Right now, sitting at home struggling to find a climbing partner, I feel like I have missed yet more good weather, but with any luck the weather will take a turn for the better and suddenly driving will click and all of a sudden, BOOSH! 2012 will be back on track...

Until then, I'll keep on keeping on and hopefully I'll come across a dry testpiece soon enough!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Great British Washout...

Through the open window in my temporary home, I can hear the sound of rain falling. This seems to happen with alarming regularity right now in North Wales, and seemingly across the UK with my Gran even booking a last minute holiday abroad to escape Devon's wetness!!

The forecast is very unreliable, and a dry spell can appear or disappear from day to day. You start dreaming of doing a certain route at a certain place in the next window of opportunity, and then the window closes and your route gets a bucket of water thrown at it.

The mountains of North Wales are a complete write-off, I never got much of a chance to climb in the mountains as a student, as I tended to be revising or gone when the best weather struck. Consequently, I was psyched for the Pass this summer, but as always, fate has other plans for you...

I feel frustrated. VERY frustrated. In addition to this, I am in my third house in as many weeks. First, I was given less than 24 hours to vacate my student house, I moved into Jess' student house for a few days before I had to vacate that, and now I'm in a friends house but only for another 6 days. This, combined with having no job, bad weather and a girlfriend in the Peak District makes Dunky an unhappy chappy. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is just proverbially.

I have secured myself a convenient job. This is conveniently located between Vivian Slate Quarry and Llanberis. I am to be rising to the heady heights of becoming a "High Ropes Course Instructor"... after they've checked me out to ensure I'm not a total punter... I'm not am I?? This is great as the pay is pretty good and the work exceedingly flexible, and I'm eating into my savings at the minute, which isn't great...

In addition to this, it seems as though we may have found a house, in Llanberis, that is affordable if not quite the sort of quality we would have liked. Well, it is a toss up between this house and a nicer one in Llanrug which is further out of Llanberis, the heart of the North Wales climbing 'scene'. I think we are going to pursue the former.

Since Pabbay, I have managed to get out a bit, but not all that much! First few days back were good. though I didn't make the most of them. An afternoon climbing at Yellow Walls with fellow Devonian Sam Farnsworth was great and I managed to tick a route I have wanted to for a long time; The Sind (E3 5b/c) and Creeping Lemma (E2/3 5c). Both very good but very differing routes. The Sind (Sand in Cymraeg) was as the name suggested, sandy shuffley udging up an overhanging corner/slab, very awkward with a little emotional terror thrown in to make it memorable... The Creeping Lemma on the otherhand was wacky and wild! Offering unconventional moves on the middle pitch and strenuous, well-protected awkwardness on the final pitch.

*Warning* I recently heard that the final easy corner section of Creeping Lemma has recently fallen down due to extreme Welsh weather... proceed with caution it's bloody pissing it down out there...

Al Mason on the lower, dustier section of The Sind (E3 5b/c)
(c) Mikey Goldthorp
Next up, I made steps to break down my mental barrier with the Cromlech by climbing Memory Lane (E3 5c). It's good that I can get up top-end bold E3's when my psyche is lacking! Afterwards I seconded Ballsford up Foil, a brilliant effort and the opposite of Memory Lane, with hard climbing for E3, but more runners than you can shake a stick at.

James Gray taking a trip up Memory Lane (E3 5c)
(c) Mikey Goldthorp
An afternoon at Craig Doris with aspirant Alpine Guide Tom Grant almost made me shit my pants when I got on a wet E1 5a going on E2/3 5b! 'Votes for Dogs' involved loose rock, wet rock and dirty rock, in multiple combinations. The final steep crux finale was fairly damp too though luckily I finally got in more than one piece of gear that was definitely bomber. Still wouldn't be a nice fall though...

Craig Doris... it just wants to fall down!
(c) Tom Ripley

Owain on the lower section of Votes for Dogs (E1-3 5a/b)
(c) Tom Ripley
The next day we headed to Gogarth and hoped to get a route in on Main Cliff, unfortunately the waves were smashing the bottom of the crag so we did a few nice multipitches on the Upper Tier including; Park Lane/Doomsville (E2 5b), Fifth avenue (E1 5c), and Fail Safe (E2 5b). A great little day.

Hopefully the weather will improve once I have been home for a bit! Otherwise, it looks as though I'll be trying to save some money to get abroad over the winter... In the meantime, here is a video of our trip to Pabbay and Mingulay, made by Callum;

Pabbay and Mingulay 2012