About me:

Originally from Hull, I now live in Llanberis, North Wales. Totally addicted to climbing, I work at the Indy Climbing wall and as a freelance routesetter to fund my dirty habit.

7 July 2011


In the last blog post I said how I’d been feeling good, and climbing well, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is. This week I’m back in Hull, dog sitting (I have a friendly little dog in need of a home. Please get in touch if you’re interested!), meaning the Peak is the venue.
On Monday, with the sun blazing, I made the ever so familiar pilgrimage along the M18, through Sheffield, and on to Stanage. We had a quick climb here but inevitably it was a bit grim in the heat. Back in the car we headed south to the best crag in the peak, High Tor, with one goal in mind...
Between the two classic E5’s ‘Sonic’ and ‘Tales’ lies a big blank section of wall. Peppered with pockets, and flecked with flakes, it provides an incipient line known as Reproduction. Weighing in at E6 6b it seemed like the obvious challenge for me at the moment.
We arrived at the bottom of the crag and the dog was panting away, as we scrambled up to the belay we could see she was being harassed by flies and midges. The odds seemed to be stacking up against me. The dog wasn’t happy, the heat was intense, and the tree belay had gone so I had to sacrifice a couple of runners, but, I’d come all this way, so it was time to go for it.
Setting off I felt more than a little apprehensive, this was my first E6 lead attempt this year and I felt pretty under-prepared. The difficulties kicked in straight away with a crank over a bulge to a blind crack, followed by a delicate rockover using an undercut mono. I started to feel more involved,  but with the dog whining, I contemplated backing off. After a quick shake out, some smeary layback moves lead to a big yard around a curving overlap, and a pulse-raising rockover to some good footholds and a proper breather, great climbing so far.
Despite having done the first 3rd of the route, it felt like I had arrived at the start. I made a few moves up, placed a solid rock 5 above my head, and scampered back down to the big footholds. I’d spied a few pockets above my high point, but had no idea what to do from there. I flew back up past the runner and attacked the pockets with determined, probing fingers, disappointed with each and every one of them. There was nothing else, so I cranked away, move by move.  I stopped briefly at a good 3 finger pocket, but without much for feet I had to press on. With my feet in the pocket I got a nice incut flake and regrouped. Looking down at the rock 5 way below my feet I felt awesome, until I tried to fiddle in a runner.
 I settled with an rp and a microcam, even if they were good placements they would struggle to inspire much confidence. The awesome feeling faded, and as my arms began to tire from the seemingly shrinking finger flake, I felt out of my depth. I knew something didn’t feel right. Looking down at the rock 5 again I contemplated jumping off before I got even further from it. I shook this thought from my head and looked forwards. Okay, the thread runner is only about 4 or 5 metres away and there are lots of pockets to choose from. I pushed on with trepidation, pumping out rapidly through over gripping. I looked down and saw an awesome runner slot, get in! Finally feeling safe again I went for it, feeling composed for a move or two. Although, with my flagging forearms working the digits into the holds became an over whelming effort, and the calves began to quiver as my faith in friction dwindled. I snatched away, surprised to still be on the wall until I latched a deep pocket by the thread. I slapped a quickdraw onto the tat and flailed my wobbling carcass onto the juggy rail, feeling a tangible wave of relief. I’m 2/3rds of the way, my Achilles' are on fire and my forearms are begging for mercy. My lips curl in a maniacal  smile. I hope the next bit is as hard.
After a very conscious ten minutes trying to work cams into pockets and get some weight off my toes it was time to go again. Moving up the less steep wall I passed a slopey, mono pocket with bated breath, and got stood in some narrow slots. I stretched upwards for a decent looking hold, but I could sense my feet sliding out the slots. I stabbed for the hold. It gave me nothing. I feel myself falling back, and my pulse goes through the roof. Yet, I am still on the wall. With my tail between my legs I frantically retreat to the rail. I need to reconsider.
 The pockets are tick marked, I have two high runners (hope they’re good!), It’s time for the final impasse. Strolling past the mono, and the deceptive hold I get a good pocket and the angle kicks in. I could feel the weight of the ropes now and although I had recovered, the pump was coming back on quickly. I stop thinking about it and intuitive onsighting just, happens. The reoccurring theme of disappointing pockets and blind feet threatens to shatter my reality and release me from my back-seat role.  I reach the top, deceived again, all slopey and... fuck. I break out left in desperation. The pockets are shit, I don’t care. Come on, so close now. ‘Locked on’ to an energy sapping, shallow pocket, I stove my toe into a pocket of indeterminate size, cross my brain fingers and commit to a oblique sidepull. Up, up, up. This is it. I’ve done it. Wooooooo! I’ve only gone and bloody reproduced.
When I set off, it felt like it might not have been a good idea but it was. It felt so out-there, the uncertainty is what it’s all about. The worst that could have happened is that I’d have taken a massive fall, even that’s appealing in its own way. Basically, sod the mileage attitude and get on the sharp end. After doing the route I went to Guys house, and on his wall was a postcard saying ‘Only those who take it too far, can ever know how far they can go!’. Go and do it.

6 July 2011

Hotting up...

It’s been a long time since the last blog, mostly down to lack of internet access, but back and ready to vent my bollocks. Well, in a nutshell June was a slow month for climbing but nonetheless a good one. Most days out I was feeling confident and I’ve been chomping at the bit for some difficultly. Ive been to home in Hull narrowly missing out on a day tick of Mr Nice (7c+). Then I had a uni field trip to South Wales i.e. Pembroke, so I took my car and had a few evening sessions. An attempt at White Heat (E5 6b) was aborted from 1/3rd height due to an unnervingly, rapid rising tide, I stripped the route on the descent though so the onsight is still there.
At the end of the trip, a few hours before heading back to Bangor I made a last minute decision to try John Wayne (E5 6a), I’d wanted to do it for a while but found it really intimidating. Trying to exclude and doubting thoughts from my mind I kept busy before abbing in. At the bottom I couldn’t find any more procrastinating tasks so it was time to head upwards.  Flying through the preamble things felt good. I was stood on a slabby ramp beneath the route proper, trying to fiddle in some good gear until, click, a sinker wire. It was time to engage the tendons and the pulleys. No hesitation, pulling between fingery breaks I reached the peg. The rough rock teamed with the howling wind provided a certain encouragement. This ascent was different, I just kept going, stopping briefly to send home a cam or clip some tat. Nearing the top I took a deep breath and committed to the final push, which turned out to be ever so slightly anticlimactic as the meat of the route had been done.  A desperate drive home ensued, after a 5am rise, I was glad to see my bed at 4am.

John Wayne (E5 6a), Chris Carroll Collection

Back in Bangor I moved into an awesome new house and the weather found its feet. I headed to Idwal slabs and walls with Laura, we smashed out Tennis Shoe Direct (E1 5a) and Rampart Corner (E1 5c) and dropped down to the atmospheric ‘suicide walls’. The intention was to do the ominously named Mur y Meirwon a.k.a Wall of the Dead  (E5 6b), but it proved to be absolutely nails so I finished up Suicide Wall (E2 5c).  I found myself unable to let it lie, and headed back two days later with my new housemate, Owain to see it right. After seconding Owain on his almost gearless ascent of Suicide Wall it was time for a rematch. It turns out even with the knowledge the start is nails, involving some awkward sloping footholds and fiddly vertical handholds.  Made it through this time though and gained the comfort of the ledge. From here its the bold half. As the protection gets wider spaced the difficulty escalates, culminating in a final 14ft run-out on either small or knobbly pockets.  On reaching the huge jug at the end of the run-out I let out a celebratory whoop only to find I had one more big move to make.  I quickly recomposed and popped for the top. I don’t know if I’ve got the experience to say, but I reckon this route could be soft E6.
Anyway that’s the blog up to date apart from a couple of new projects to mention. One is a new line I’ve found. I managed to top rope the first half clean first go, but it has a hard, thin move which so far doesn’t seem very well protected. I’ve yet to try the second half but thats quite exciting.  The next project is more of a long term goal. For a while I had hoped to tick all the extremes in North Wales Rock but I decided to make it a proper goal and try to tick the entirety of NWR from the multipitch Vdiffs to the slate 8b, Bungles’ Arete. Here’s a link to the full list for anyone interested, North Wales Rock Ticklist.
Piece Out x