Monday, 20 October 2014

10 of the Best - Part 2

This is the second half of a blog about ten days climbing in Pembroke and North Wales.
Day six,


"What did you guys get on to today?" At Easter Duncan and Guy had been on the Fascist and Me. They regaled a story of prussiking, falling on pegs and very greasy connies. I'm not sure how I failed to take their story into account when deciding what to do on the 6th morning. Neap tides meant that at high tide we were able to get to the bottom of the route, but only just and the swell made belaying a touch stressful. The first groove is described as "awkward" in the guide. In the ten days it was by far the closest I came to falling without actually taking flight; greasy (read wet) laybacking and tricky gear, its hard work. Jack followed fine and despatched the top pitch in fine fashion. Someone even stopping to take a picture. We were a bit pooped after this, but after some food I was revived, and the range would be open soon. We didn't have time to do  another route but had time to climb something. I ran over to Govan's with my boots, if there's an ab rope in place I'll go down, if not its a sign. But of course there's one there. The Arrow is the aim. Flowing up it proves to be one of the highlights of the week, pulling through the roof on buckets at 20m was life affirming.


After a quick conversation with the guard he waves us in and we head into the Leap. Jack fights his way up the incredibly greasy Just Another Day/Scorch the Earth, a great effort in those connies. Back in Easter on my first day in Pembroke I threw myself at a route with a reputation, Luke Skywalker. This line has an impressive scalp list for a mere E5 and I soon found out why, taking two falls from the top crux crack. I remembered it vaguely and therefore it seemed the obvious next route. The route was a massive fight, slapping into finger jams at the top and yarding on detached fins fighting the clock. As jack topped out in the fading light we were grinning ear to ear, not much beats a top trad day.


Day seven,


Our last day in Pembroke, wilted arms necessitate a change in tact and angle of rock. Ships That Pass in the Night fits the bill, slabby and delicate is all I'm up to. Its cliche but you run out of words to describe routes like these. Jack then puts in a strong effort of Barbarella only to agonisingly blow the top. I prevaricate about doing Yellow Pearls and choose against it, escaping up the ace E1 the Hole. And with that our time in Pembroke closes.


Day eight,


Its a muggy day in Bangor, the mountains are cloaked by low cloud and the humidity is high. Its Oli's birthday. A decision to head up to the Gravestones is eventually reached. The idea being to try the diminutive but also intriguing shallow groove of King of Rumpy. Its more in the vein of grit than of welsh mountain trad, similar in undertaking to things like Thin Air at the Roaches. After a few ups and downs I commit to the groove, where a rockover enables a no hands rest to be gained. A period of time goes by, probably at least 20 minutes, where I fanny around trying to work out whether its worth committing. We have a couple of pads but the landing is poor and rocky; falling didn't feel like an option. Eventually a sequence involving an irreversible foot cross threw is committed to, and the gamble pays off as the juggy break is gained. "That looked horrible" comments Grounsell. Afterwards we indulge in some greasy birthday bouldering followed by a great swim across lyn padarn with Soph.


Day nine,


Sport Climbing! Despite humidity being off the scale and no sun we head to the Diamond; a very much in vogue venue. Despite poor conditions it stilled lived up to the hype, the classic 7a Rub a dub dub providing a perfect warm up. Next was Non-Tidal Screamer, a truly fantastic route with a bit of a reputation for being runout. To me it felt like the Femme Noire of the Diamond. Bouldery low down, to a good rest, then a sustained middle with a scary top. Definitely keen to get back to this crag in future, hopefully without the grease!


Day ten,


Now the big one! All year this route has nagged at me. If Ghost Train had burnt a hole in my ticklist Lord Of the Flies had taken a flamethrower to it. There are very few routes in the world with the history it has, everyone who has done it has a story. Alot of the routes that I hold in the highest regard are lines that Dad talked to me about when I knew nothing about climbing, Lord was probably one of the first. The story of his huge lob off the top wall back in the day captivated my imagination, "when you fall so far you realise you're falling and wonder when you might stop." Time and again in the Pass I've chosen against trying it, but this would be my last chance this year. The next day I was due to head back to Sheffield for a week of carnage and knew that a return before it got wet would not be likely. Henry was psyched for Right Wall, it had all the makings of a classic day. Henry led up Left Wall to start, then swiftly moved on to the real business of the day. For a first e5 lead it doesn't really get much better than Right Wall, especially despatched in such a confident and assured fashion. At the top psyche was high, I abbed down with my eyes shut and started getting racked up. The first section went smoothly, fully in soloing mode above a shit hook (probably missed best place) and I was relieved to gain the porthole. From there the kit is ok and the climbing technical and blind, though chalk undoubtedly helped me. From there its mostly a blur until one moment at the top where I briefly saw myself taking THE fall I'd heard so much about. Snatching up the groove with the left and stabbing my feet up, looking down at the void. Yarding on grass to get onto the ledge its a mixture of satisfaction and relief. After abbing and stripping we head down and solo Flying Buttress, grinning all the way.


Now I'm back in Sheffield, ready for the grit (gulp) and training (gulpgulp) If this blog was a little to self indulgent for you then I apologise, but purple patches like that one don't come round to often. Now, back to chumming.