Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Beautiful Southwest

You know the weather’s been good when all you seem to wear is the same two pairs of shorts and you haven’t been to Tremadog for months! For the last three weeks the weather in the UK has been near perfect. It feels like a proper summer - I can’t remember the last time the weather was this good for so long.

Highlights from North Wales included, Cloggy's incomparably good Shrike (a strong contender for the best E1 in the UK) and Western Slabs followed by Slow Ledge Climb (jaw-dropping exposure for VS) after work, with my Dad, in the evening sun. Just magic!

This photo of Ed really doesn't do Shrike justice, but it is very very good!
Dad at the top of Slow Ledge Climb on the Mot.
I’m writing this driving back for a weeks holiday in South West with my family and girlfriend. Strictly it wasn’t a climbing holiday but I seemed to have got a fair bit done in addition to the amount of time spent topping up my tan.

On day one, Dad and I got up at six to squeeze in a quick route at Carn Kennerjack before breakfast . After faffing around trying to find the place - it turns out the old fashioned words in the CC guide are a tad better informed than the flashy desktop publishing of Rockfax - we eventually located the abseil at the top of the crag. At which point Dad opened his bag to find a second rack, not the two half ropes he was expecting. Thankfully all was not lost as my abseil rope is old climbing rope not a static. Smug at his incompetence I upturned my rucksack to find no rock boots!
Thankfully we didn't knock this critter off when our ropes landed in his bedroom.
We abseiled in anyway (the rest of our team wouldn't have appreciated being woken up at eight). Dad lead a Hard Severe called Gneiss Gnome, which I followed in my fell shoes. We then rapped back down and I did the classic Hard VS Saxon, made more interesting by wearing Dad’s two sizes two big rock shoes. Thankfully the footholds were massive and unlike Leo Holding I wasn’t on Master’s Wall!

The next day I visited Bosigran Great Zawn for another quick hit. This time with Dad and my sister Caitlin. We climbed Variety Show a pushy Hard VS with a three star first pitch a bobbins second. This was first pitch of granite I’d climbed since Lofoten last summer. It reminded me how fun a rock type it is to climb on and got me psyched for ten weeks of it later this year. Caitlin did really well to second it clean considering how infrequently she goes climbing.

It was Nikki’s birthday the next day so we all trooped back to Bosi and made an en masse ascent of Commando Ridge - one of the best easy routes I’ve ever done, but long and tiring in the baking sun.
Nikki, Dad and Caitlin savor the "lustful" holds low down on Commando Ridge.
Lunging Commando...
The climbing highlight of the trip was Astral Stroll on Carn Gloose with Dad. Like Grey Panther this is one of the few E1s in Extreme Rock. The route is brilliant, like a cross between The Moon and A Dream of White Horses but with better rock than both. A pretty wild adventure, right at the top of the grade. I swung leads with Dad and was impressed with his lead of pitch two, especially considering that he rarely leads E1. The third pitch was hard work, soapy holds made the climbing slow. I was glad to reach the belay after what felt like the longest twenty metres of my life. Dad nipped up the final pitch and we slogged back up to the car in a dehydrated haze and in big trouble because we were three hours late for our one o’clock lunch.

The Old King leading Astral Stroll pitch 2.
The Old King doing his thing seconding pitch 3.
That evening we were joined by my old friend Andy Mitchell who is doing a Master’s at Falmouth. We headed back to Bosi and I made an Alzeheimers ascent of Nameless, which according to Dad’s guide I had seconded him up in 2004. However I had absolutely zero recollection of this. Unfortunately Andy wasn’t psyched for seconding Suicide or Bow Wall (my two remaining Hard Rock ticks in the South West) so we soloed Alison ‘s Rib and Commando Ridge which was much more fun without a rope. After lunch we climbed Anvil Chorus, which again I had climbed with Dad in 2004. I could vaguely recollect slapping my way up this desperate corner, which was still there but thankfully nine years later it felt slightly less so. Feeling pretty baked after our ascent in the midday sun (good practice for Yosemite hopefully) we retreated to the shade of the Count House.

Team Cornwall: Andy, Dad, Nikki, Robin, Caitlin and Nic.
We drove up to Birmingham on Saturday and I spent Sunday supporting Nikki in a triathlon. Thankfully for the competitors the weather was cool and cloudy so they didn’t all fry. Driving back into Wales now, the weather is glorious once more. I wonder how long it will last?

Nikki approaches the finish...