Friday, 4 July 2014

Trad on the Agenda

Frisbee on Mingulay Beach
I would describe myself as a trad climber; in that I'm weak at bouldering and unfit for sport. Up to a few months ago however I had done little to no climbing in some of the mecca's of trad throughout the UK. Sure enough the grit represents "trad" but in reality it almost deserves its own discipline, many of the routes I've done being essentially dangerous bouldering.

Mingulay's Finest
In the past few months however this has changed. Over several trips I've spent many days climbing on the sea-cliffs and mountains of North Wales and also spent a ludicrous week on the Hebridean islands of Pabbay and Mingulay. These trips, whilst not ideal preparation for a hard sport climbing holiday (gulp) have really opened my eyes to the variety that exists within British climbing. Even further to this though they have helped budge some of the dissatisfaction I feel with climbing when I become to focused on difficulty rather than enjoyment.

the youth loving it

Climbing Welsh classics such as Positron, Right Wall and Midsummer Nights Dream have provided memorable days out and the ridiculous routes on Pabbay and Mingulay were without doubt the best I've ever climbed. Four star lines like Ship Of Fools, In Profundum Lacu and Ancient Mariners all represent the creme de la creme of trad climbing. Massive exposure, perfect gear, surprising holds and beautiful locations. I could write about them all day. Its not just the climbing though; out on the islands time becomes irrelevant, you live almost nocturnally, climbing from afternoon to dark and getting up at lunchtime. If you ever want to escape real life and its sometimes mundane nature this is the place to go.

Robby G on Ship of Fools. Above it blasts straight up the wall to the
grass on some ridiculous holds!

Red Wall, a stunning crag

Soon I'll be departing for Ceuse, a place I've never been and by all accounts another stunning crag. With everything left to do there the aim is to tick as many classics as possible. Following this we head for Cortina and the Dolomites. This area holds special resonance to me, being the place where I first experienced climbing, exposure and the mountains. Returning now, four years after my previous visit, sights are firmly set on some of the big free classics.

The Mingulay Campsite

Dome tent scenes
On the psychebike

Why did we leave the tent??

 Psyche is as high as ever!