I haven’t blogged yet so I thought I’d say what I’ve been doing over the past year, and how climbing has evolved for me recently. Bit of a rant I’m afraid.
For the past few years, my climbing has taken a very different path - it needed to as I started to get bored going to the same old trad venues and doing increasingly more esoteric and arbitrary routes. At the upper-end of trad climbing, risking it all on-sight and 10 foot to the side of a splitter crack while your mate ignorantly eggs you on from within pissing distance has started to lose its appeal - this is for the young and brave.
The familiar transition to head-pointing hasn’t held my attention either. The distinction between peg-or tat-laden headpoints and sport-climbing, or grit solos and high-balling is often hard to gage. Don’t get me wrong, I love it all, I love climbing anything, anywhere, any style, but if I didn’t change and get stuck into the weird and wonderful world of red-pointing at some stage, I’d spend my life doing 7b’s in one fashion or another. So I’ve recently been driven by significant personal ambitions, physically pushing to the limit, rather than nomadically drifting between forgettable ‘classics’. My plan has worked out and I am now keener than ever for climbing, even after 20 years.
The 2009/10 winter here in Wales was awful for rock climbing - very wet in November then very cold. The grit wasn’t fairing up much better so I spent most of my time shivering in various caves or whacking axes into gulleys which was awesome fun. I managed two back-to-back trips to the Frankenjura and fell in love with the place, everything about the climbing and lifestyle there is otherworldly and relaxing, it’s almost like Font in that respect (somewhere I also managed a trip to last winter - been at least every year now since I was 20, starting to feel like a home from home).
This summer, I spent a few brilliant weekends in the Peak District, heading down Chee Dale. I’ve not been there much before - only trad climbing as a youth, so I had everything to go at. Managed to pluck off a good bunch of the classics at the cornices which got me in real good shape for a week-long trip to Yorkshire with Rach. We spent most of the time at Kilnsey; wow, what a crag! I had a few days on True North and very nearly did it but ran out of time and then got distracted by projects back in Wales. Ah well, an amazing route that will have to wait till next year. Back in Wales, I finally got my new problem in Parisella’s Cave - The Incredible Bulk (named that because it’s the extension to Lou Ferrino, miss-spelt by CJD, as the actor who played the Incredible Hulk). Not sure what grade this is as these cave things don’t really fit the mould, I only know it’s awesome sustained power endurance which I absolutely love - my favourite style I think. I also managed a new link-up at LPT, climbing Wild Youth, 8b+. This is essentially the same as Steve Mayers’ Youthanasia, so hats-off to him for putting up such a hard route which went unrepeated for so many years. Infanticide was the next logical step as it shares the finish. This is a brilliant route and quite soft for the grade; it was a great feeling working this, knowing I’d do it and not having the red-point stress you’d usually get with an 8c. I had a few goes at The Big Bang after that but it was way too sharp, just cutting open my skin so I couldn’t get stuck in really so bagged it till I’ve got nothing else to do. The Welsh winter is fast approaching so it’s time to hibernate, eat and socialise, and try to stay in shape!
[Stoned Temple Pilots, V11, Llanberis Pass. Last winter, this neglected cave was rediscovered and cleaned, thanks to Nodder and CJD, producing two much needed steep, sheltered problems. photo: S.Panton]
[The Devils Appendix, Ogwen. A really classic ice route, right on my door step. photo: A. Trendall]
[The Frankenjura: Nightmare (left) and Subway. Two short and powerful 8bs. photos: R.Barlow]
[The Very Big and the Very Small, 8b+, Dinorwig Slate Quarries. A surprise tick for me as I only went up to have a play on Niges’ ropes. Very sweet though, really wanted to do this. photo: M.Reeves]
[The Incredible Bulk, V13/8c+, Parisella’s Cave. About 25 moves all at the same level with no rest at all, brilliant. photo: C.Doyle.]
[Wild Youth, 8b+, Lower Pen Trwyn. It’s hard to believe but there are about 30 moves from here to the top. photo: C.Doyle]