Wednesday, 14 September 2011

New Beginnings

Well yer, the whole more posting thing didn’t really kick off too well. In my defence I have been climbing and also moved house.

The new mansion is in the Ogwen Valley in North Wales. Its pretty ideally located and the work is not too bad either. Sound people and that.

Before actually starting work I managed to get into the cottage a few days early and so got some good climbing and bouldering in before it all kicked off. Carreg Hylldrem bouldering will no doubt become a regular place to train, its steep and full of eliminates.

In moving to a new place you have to find new people to climb with which is much harder than I first thought. My first port of call was friends of friends and when that failed (they have families and are much busier than me) UKC. This is something I didn’t do lightly, there are some proper weirdos on that website. I should know, one of them went to uni with me. So I first met up with one of the UKCites, and to my surprise he was oright, a bumbly but an eager bumbly who can belay. All I ask really. So managing to get a few routes in with this guy, Sam. And also some really good hill days in (Snowdon via Crib Goch and Crib y Drysygll in 2hours then onto Moel Elio and down to Llanberis in 5hours total time, with winds at 70mph on the ridges and tops, and persistent heavy rain…its one for the logbook and sheer audacity.)

But the highlight / brain fuck was trying to solo superdirect on the Milestone buttress of Tryfan. After a training day in Birmingham (causing a 5am start) I wanted to take advantage of the first dry weather since I got here a week ago. So running to the car and nailing it down to the car park I looked up to see trees on the buttress being flung about like pieces of cloth in the wind. Not exactly ideal but I thought it would be ok. Ploughing up the first two pitches was fine, whenever the wind picked up more than usual I could hunker down or torque my arm into a crack an hold on through the worst of it. By the time I reached the final crux pitch the wind was really going for it, clouds of spray could be seen curling around the lake 100m below me. A tad disconcerting really. Never-the-less I began the crux, fingertips curling behind a thin flake, edging upwards I began to think it wasn’t the right choice. But no time for that now. Before I knew it my right foot was up high and transferring my weight onto it I edged up the wall. Just as I started inching my way out left to the blunt arĂȘte and safety of the corner (I think its safe not been up there before) the wind hit me. Pushing me bodily off the wall. I was in trouble. The ‘ground’ below was a long way off and a green corner would undoubtedly make sure I didn’t hit it pencil straight.


Just about clinging on I managed to swing back right and make a dash for the ledge. Sitting down looking at the route, I was being shoved with great force off the ledge! Enough of this shit, I was out of there, traversing across the VD and HS wall to the decent gully back to my bag at the bottom of the route. Fuck! Fucking Wind! I kept shouting at the air around me! Willing it to stop just for a moment for me to finish what I had come to do. But we all need to learn lessons in the hills. Having the audacity to try something out there for yourself and properly commiting yourself and reap great rewards, but the punishment for failure will be certain. Learning where the limits are is a valuable skill in the hills, when to push through and when to leave it for another day.

My aim this year is to push the boundaries I have in my mind. To climb harder, run faster and go out into the hills in the worst possible conditions I can. To test myself. To find myself wanting.

Photo: The Front garden

Photo: The Back garden