I've just finished the best SPA ever with the legend Andy Boorman (over 50 and still cruising E5).
The first day was daunting, having learnt how to tie-off a belay and make a releasable abseil the night before. Anyway, cruised it. Today we had to demonstrate our personal climbing. We headed to Craig y Forwyn left-hand, a good single pitch venue for those wanting to get a load of S-E1 routes in the bag. Over the course of the morning Mikey, Bubbles, Oli and I took it in turns to do Arian Direct (VS) and Plas Newydd Groove (HS). All 4 of us passed, and all 5 of us enjoyed it, although I'm sure Andy must have been tiring of me asking about all the routes he had done.
'Extreme Rock' is somewhat of a trad climbers bible. It's a list of around 150 of the UK's best extreme routes, and in my experience upto now, it's not far wrong. As a slightly autistic list-lover a little pipe dream of mine is to tick the book.
As I was saying, we were at Craig y Forwyn 'left-hand'... The reason for this distinction is that the main part of the crag is banned due to the landowner's logic-less temperament. Within the banned section is one of my outstanding Extreme Rock ticks: Great Wall (E4 5c). I had to do it.
Arriving at the bottom of the wall, I craned upwards. When I got to the crag I had wondered how a route here could be in the climbing Koran. It all became clear...100 odd foot of smooth, immaculate, leaning rock. Several insitu threads guide a path up the wall via a series a well-formed features.
I leave the deck, get an early runner in and feel pumped. I contemplate heading back to the deck. I don't. 50ft later, forearms tight and tired, hindsight regrets. Blind moves head just where you want them to. I find myself 30ft from the top, begging for respite. It doesn't come. I'm falling upwards. Recovering is no longer an option. I beat the sting in the tail just in time. With the final few feet of climbing to do I'm no longer able to hold on. Using my forearms for hands I grovel out over the top.
I had to take five minutes to be able to open the crabs to make a belay. Awesome.
Whilst belaying Mikey up the landowner came out of his house. From the bottom of the hill he launched a barrage of unreasonable, uncompromising abuse. I wore my diplomacy hat but it was futile. Remembering the shotgun cartridge we had found at the bottom of the crag, his five minute warning was heeded.
I will definately be back, and I think a little reshuffling might put this route in my 'Top 5'.