This weekend was supposed to be the start of a week long trip bouldering in the Lakes, but 'real life' reared it's ugly head. Being utterly useless at generating motivation to get on with uni work, I've ended up having to sacrifice my Easter holidays to instead read journals and disseminate the work of competitive scientists.
The trip was supposed to be with Mikey G, Kieran K, Drew M and Tim P, so Laura and I went over to meet them for a days climbing at Nesscliffe before they all set off. We had a lazy start after a late night, and got to the crag around midday. The weather was amazing with the sun blazing, but it called a stop to my plan to try Leaf Storm (E6 6b) as I started to sweat just stood at the bottom. We started off with a load of bouldering including the classic Berlin's Fallen (6C), The Highwaymans Escape (6C+) and my favourite, The Planch (7A). Then we went round into the huge quarry with its gobsmacking 40m high corners, walls and aretes. Nessy definitely has the best lines I've even seen in my life!
Yukan II (E7 6b) is a stunning slim groove said to be about 7b+ with a couple of exciting sections and it's on the hitlist for the year. It was in the shade so I figured it could be worth a shot. When we rocked around a couple of Lancs lads were trying the route, I realised there were going to be on it for a while and with only an hour and a half left at the crag I knew I wouldn't get chance to try this either. However, it was great to see people turning an E7 into a spicy bit of fun as they took it in turns ground-up. Seeing that has broken the aura for me and I can't wait to get back and try and flash it.
With the routes I wanted to try out of bounds, I plumped for a razz at the Nessy testpiece My Snorkel (E6 6c). Quite appropriate at the moment to, as I struggle to keep my head above water in the sea of shit that is final year. I went for the onsight, it looked well protected with a couple of pegs. I got up to the first peg via a long, committing stretch. Once I'd clipped this it was time to suss the crux. With an arete in my left hand and an undercut for the right I tried desperately to keep the sun out my eyes, and to make a heinous high rockover. After a few goes, I was getting bloody pumped, finding it hard to release a hand to shakeout. A local offered beta, but I thought I could do it so I declined.
Then, embarassingly, Scooby attacked his dog which really thickened the lactic custard in my arms. 'Ok, what's the beta?' I shouted, as my hands unfurled on the holds. As per the advice I swang around to the otherside of the arete, and made a big reach up to a good flattie. I was through the crux, but I was screwed. Stretched out, pumped out and with no holds for my right hand I made a desparate bid for some higher holds. Needless to say, I was off. I couldn't even untie my own shoelaces afterwards. Fitness Needed!
I watched Mikey cruise it and got that nostalgic jealousy as he reached all the holds with such ease. I've worked hard to let it go, but it's hard to not feel hard-done-by when you watch someone able to reach past the move which had you off.. That said he fully deserved the tick, climbing with such confidence and guile.
Going for the second go with tight and swollen forearms I wasn't holding out much hope. I nippped up the start easier than before. Swinging round the arete, I could feel my grip loosening. At my previous high point, I smashed on this time, laybacking the arete to a good pinch just above. I clipped the peg from a pair of mediocre holds, but I was pumping out. I fondled the little crimps above but when I tried to pull on them, my elbow just lifted instead. Fight mode engaged as I tried to shake some energy into my arms. I decided on a sequence and went for it. Boning down on the crimp with everything I had left in the tank, I slapped up into a slopey undercut. The top hold was within arms reach. An all out slap landed thankfully on an incut jug, but I could still barely hold on. Luckily this was the end, and all that remained was a scamper up a sandy slope.
I seem to get ridiculously pumped a lot!! It's probably time to get fit now if I want to stand at chance on this years projects.
The next day we parted company with the lads as the four of them set off up to The Lakes with four big people, four loads of luggage and four bouldering pads in a Nissan Micra. A solid win for optimism!
Laura and I headed to Ruthin Escarpment on the way home. It lies in the rolling hills of the Clywd region and provides some good quality limestone micro-routes and bouldering in a chilling little spot.
It took us about an hour and a half to find the place, getting lost in the woods and running into a really creepy, derelict farm complex. Finally getting there, it seemed a shame to be using this amazing weather to climb on an insignificant and uninspiring little bit of limestone. Totally wasted from the day before, it hurt to just clench a fist, so everything felt quite hard. Particularly the 6B's which felt no easier than the 6C's. I managed a couple of problems, but the lack of footholds wasn't ideal with our arms on the day.
The highlight was a new variation finish to Pity the Billionaire (7a). Simply called Pity the Billionaire RH (6C), the problem takes on a funky pinch to pop out onto a series of flatties on an undercut wall. A highball extension to this would be possible at about 7A+, but I didn't have the beans for it.
Anyway, it was good to get on an E6 this early in the year (even if it was a punchy E5), and after eyeing up Yukan II, my goal of flashing E7 seems an excitingly realistic proposition.