Saturday, 26 July 2014

T-rad revival. Part 2

After returning from Pabbay & Mingulay my psyche was high. I wanted more of it. I think most of us felt the same after the week away, but maybe one rest day would have been wise. The day after getting off the Islands. Ben, Greg, Dougie and Myself decided to head up to Dunkeld for some sport and trad action. I think we all got on 'Hamish's...' once before regretting our decisions of going up there. Body and mind was still tired.

My wee Rab tent has been all around the UK now.

It's a dangerous thing Trad Climbing. Once you have a good trip, it just leaves you gagging for more. Hell of a come down! I wasn't satisfied, I still wanted more. Luckily for me, Gav (my old man) was heading down to North Wales for 4 days with some friends of his. So I tagged along. What a treat, getting an awesome trip to the Islands and now a trip to Wales.

Gav at the bottom of 'Old Holborn'.

We drove down early Thursday morning and was climbing in the Pass by 2pm. The weather was sunny, the rock was dry and the psyche was high. That afternoon we went to Carreg Wastad as it was just across the road from the CC hut where we were staying. I really like the rock and the style of climbing in the Pass. Some of it really felt similar to Glen Clova in Scotland, a place where I've climbed for many years. I teamed up with Gav and we climbed 'Yellow Crack' HVS 5b and'Old Holborn' E1 5b.

Gav following on 'Old Holborn'.

The next day we headed up to Dinas Cromlech. I had been in this area 4 years ago, but unfortunately due to bad weather we couldn't climb there so I was really pleased to be walking up to the Crag in perfect weather with perfect dry conditions. To be totally honest when I first got to the crag I was a bit scared. It looked really big, steep and blank. Years ago when I wanted to climb here I was keen to get on 'Lord of the Flies' E6. This time I was thinking of 'Right Wall' E5, but after looking at the wall I was nervous at getting on anything. I first got on the classic 'Cenotaph Corner' E1 5c. It's pretty reasonable up to about 3/4 height to where the crux is, then it gets pumpy and awkward. I was so close to coming off. The one thing that did strike me the whole way up was knowing that Joe Brown and Doug Belshaw climbed this in 1952.

Gav on 'Cenotaph Corner'.

Gav at the crux on 'Cenotaph Corner'.

After that I belayed Rab, who is a friend of Gav's, on 'Cemetery Gates' E1 5b. He did amazingly well up to to the crux, which is right at the end of the first pitch. As he was just about to pull over the lip to the ledge I saw him wobbling a bit, before I could shout some encouragement he had peeled off. Suddenly a bit of his protection blew and he was coming down even further towards me. If that wasn't enough the rope had unluckily got wrapped around the back of his leg, which inverted him upside down. He came to a stop after taking about a 20m fall. Shock was floating all around the crag. I lowered him back to the belay and he told me he'd had his fun for today!

Rab on 'Cemetery Gates'.

We chilled out for a bit after Rab's acrobatic act. Then I got on the same route; a) to get back Rab's kit & b) cause the thing looked amazing. Awkward moves pulling onto the ledge that Rab had just narrowly missed out on. I decided to carry on in one long pitch up the 'Grim Jim Finish' E2 5b. Every move just kept making me smile. Right to the very end.

Chris topping out on 'Cemetery Gates/Grim Jim'.

After doing the gates, I got on 'Resurrection' E4 6a. Looking up from the bottom I couldn't see any obvious gear placements apart from the crack at the top. I geared up with probably too much kit as I was unsure of what I'd find. Then set off. It traverses in from 'Cenotaph Corner' first. From there I could see a line of holds to start on. From pulling on these I knew the wall had a lot more features and holds than my first thoughts. Again I still did my bad habit of saving gear and not just placing something quickly and moving on. Half way up the wall all I was pulled from my concentration when I heard, ''Alright Ally!''. Taking me by surprise I looked over both shoulders and down to the ground. It wasn't until looking up I saw my friend Will standing at the top of 'Lord of the Flies' area. ''Awrite Will!'' with a smile on my face. Initially I was surprised to see him, but then he does live in Llanberis. Was really funny as we just chatted with each other as I climbed up the wall. I was really pleased that I didn't find the route too bad. I managed to calmly climb through the crux at the top. I really love this vertical technical climbing style.

Myself on 'Resurrection'.

It was Gav's lead next. We went for an E1 called 'Curfew'. Nice wee route but not the greatest at the crag. By the time we had climbed this it was time to head back to the hut.

On the walk in to Cloggy.

On the Saturday we headed up to Cloggy. This is somewhere that I've wanted to visit for a very long time. I had a cool idea of doing 'Vember' E1, down the descent slab to 'White Slab' E2, then across the top to 'Shrike' E2, then back down the Descent slab to the gear and down for a pub lunch. Knowing that the place was dry and weather was good, what a great day it would be. Seemed that we weren't the only ones who thought coming up to Cloggy on a perfect Saturday was a good idea... We were one of the first teams to arrive at the crag,so we jumped on 'Vember' first. For some reason we didn't click that it might be best to figure out which face will have the sun and when. On the walk in we could see the 'Shrike' warming in the morning sun. This should have been a clue. Anyways Gav started up the first pitch, complaining about cold hands. I followed and then lead the second pitch, also complaining about cold hands. Again, what struck me whilst climbing this route was knowing how long ago Joe Brown & Don Whillians climbed this route for the first time.

Gav starting up Vember.

Sitting at the top of Cloggy.

We headed down the big Descent ramp towards the 'White Slab' area, which we were hoping to get on but by the time we made it to the route there were a few teams on it. After trying to find a route that was free, we eventually got on 'Great Slab' VS. Mainly cause we wanted to make our way back up to the top so we could head over to do 'Shrike'. The 'Great Slab' was good fun, but would like to come back and get on some of the routes on this wall.

Some random dude, topping out on 'Shrike'.

After the 'Great Slab' we sat around in the sun for a bit before making our way over to 'Shrike'. I'd never really heard of this route before coming on this trip, which is probably really bad as it's an absolute classic. It's a bit intimidating abseiling into the area. Like I said earlier we should have done the routes in different order, now 'Shrike' was in the shade and felt pretty chilly. You could do it in one big pitch which would be fun, but thought I'd get a bit of drag from the ropes, so we did it in two. What a route though and what a day. As we reached our gear at the bottom of 'Vember' the whole front wall was glowing this amazing gold colour.

Gav on 'Shrike'.

Gav nearing the top of 'Shrike'.

Leaving Cloggy in the evening glow.

''Oohyaa bugger!! Fucking hate nettles!'' I gave a small burst out as making my way up some steep overgrown path. On our last of the four days in Wales we went to Tramadog. Obviously I had heard of the amazing routes and some of the history that has gone here. Mainly the phenomenal line of 'Strawberries' is what I've heard of the most, that and 'Pete's Eats' cafe. I had never been here before. The place is made up of loads of different buttresses along the hillside that are accessed by lots of steep little paths which, maybe due to the time of year, seemed to be very overgrown. The temps were pretty high and probably wasn't the best crag to come to, but we had to sample what the place had to offer. Gav and myself got on one of the classic HVS's called 'The Fang'. He did the first pitch and I did the second. I really like the style of climbing here. Chris, Rab and Choire did a route on the next buttress along, called 'One Step in the Clouds' which they said was amazing. We called it a day after that. Chris and Choire were heading back down to Bath area and we were heading back up to Scotland so thought it'd be wise to head off sooner rather than later to beat the traffic.

Myself on the second pitch of Fang.
Photo; Chris Horobin

Gav seconding 'Fang'.
Photo; Chris Horobin

Gav following on the top pitch of 'The Fang'.

Chorie on 'One Step in the Clouds'.

After Wales I flew back to Chamonix very briefly for the race weekend. I had entered the Vertical KM, as well as Gav. My Sister had entered the Marathon as well as a few other friends I knew. The morning of the VK race I did the Cosmiques Arete with my mate Colin from Cham, my Brother in Law Paul and mate Danny from home. Colin is a good friend of mine and has been in Cham for the past 5 years. Running is his main passion so has decided to head over to America for a while to run around on their trails for a bit. It was an honour to do one last lap of the Cosmiques Arete with him as this was probably his signature route. To be totally honest the main reason I briefly came back to Cham for this weekend was for Colin's leaving do on the Sunday night after the Marathon.

Danny on the crux wall of the

I did a few wee warm laps on the first slope of the VK race, before it was my turn to leave the starting gate. Gav was set off an hour before me, so was able to cheer him on. I've ran the Vk course many times as it's just out the back from where I stay in Chamonix, but every when it's a race you push yourself that bit harder. I really struggled from about 1/3 height to the top. I hadn't done any running for a few months and also hadn't really been looking after myself in the best way before hand. Was glad to have done it but knew I could do a lot better. Was great to have friends and family cheer me on at the finish line. Then afterwards getting to watch all the top athletes come up was pretty inspirational.

Gav (green) coming up the top part of the VK.

Myself struggling up to the finishing line of the VK.
Gav, Colin and Woody  cheering me on. 

After my brief Chamonix hit, I flew back to Scotland then drove down to the very bottom of England with my folks for my Cousin's wedding. We picked up my Sister and Brother in Law from London then made our way to the New Forest area, where the wedding was held. This was only my second wedding I've been to, but from what I gather you've to get really drunk and have a good time. So that's exactly what I did.... After the wedding a bunch of us all headed along to Cornwall for a few days. I really like the climbing in Cornwall, and would love to do a lot more there. But it's just so far away! On the first day out we went to  Bosigrein. Me and Gav climbed the amazing 'Bow Wall' E2. Nice and steady up to this roof where you traverse hard right. Man I was so close to pealing off on the traverse. Really pumpy pulling around and just smears for the feet. Meanwhile a bunch of the others on the trip were on the famous 'Commando Ridge'.

Myself on the first pitch of 'Bow Wall'.

Nearing the crux on 'Bow wall'.

Gav following on the first pitch of 'Bow wall'.

Gav on the crux of the first pitch.

Gav on the second pitch of 'Bow wall'.

Susan at the end of 'Commando Ridge'.

Charlie at the end of  'Commando Ridge'.

Commando Ridge'

The next day we went to a crag called 'Carn Barra' it's just along from Land's End. It took us a bit to find the crag, but luckily saw someone's abb rope so headed straight for it. Once we abbed in we had a look around to see what we fancied. However after talking to the couple that were at the crag we were told that some of the routes were damaged by the winter storms. I'm not just talking about a chip here and there. There was a huge block about the size of a small car gone from the top of 'Crack in the Sky' and was now sitting down at the bottom in the sea. This was a route we wanted to get on. We decided to get on it anyway so Gav got on it. My Uncle Ray was with us so we tied onto a rope each and followed up the route. It was a really good fun route and still felt around E1, which was the original grade of the route. Since it's changed Gav wondered if he could call it a new name, and so dubbed it 'Crack in the Floor'.

My Uncle Ray at the crux of 'Crack in the Sky/Floor'.

Gav and Ray having an old boys moment.. (this was not staged!)

Two happy oldies. ;)

For some strange reason ever since I moved to Chamonix, 4 years ago, I haven't been climbing as strong as I used to. I don't know if it's because of trying to do different things or sinking into a slight low. But the climbing over the month of June and having such a great time with so many different people has been amazing. It's given me a massive boost to my climbing, and now I want more. Thanks.

Myself topping out on 'Bow Wall'.

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