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 May 2012

Climb Fast, Climb Free

From the familiar racking-up roost, the big cheese, Jon Ratcliffe, and I spied some tasty looking prey. We swooped down past the small fry of Upper Tier to get involved with The Rat Race (E3 5c). The Rat went at The Rat having been deprived of any Gogarthian delights for a year. The sun hadn't come round yet so it was freezing cold and the rock was pretty slippery from the morning moisture.
Jon plugged away steadily all the way passing a particularly wet looking section around the crux. On second I couldn't feel my hands until I got to the end of the pitch after getting pretty pumped from not being able to tell what I was holding onto.
It was my pitch, the pitch. A loose, overhanging chimney! Although technically easier that the first pitch it packs quite a punch, if only visually. At first I tried to climb it straight on pinching some wobbly fins of quartz, but I soon realised this wouldn't go at anything like 5b. Only one thing for it; to get right in the back of this sandy cleft. A long rockover onto a big foothold signified commitment to the traditional approach. Back and footing up, I looked down between my legs at the Atlantic sloshing away at Main Cliff, even the powerful pounding of the ocean can't bring this mother down. Talking of 'ard bastards, Joe Brown, the first ascentionist is one gnarly legend. With all my modern kit, the knowledge of difficulty, and even knowing that it was even passable I was still intimidated. Acknowledging this act of heroism, and feeling dwarfed by my position with respect to both the cliff and my predecessors, I surged on feeling like a determined cartoon mouse.
As I neared the belay I bumped into Duncan and Bubbles on the sight-seeing tour; Cordon Bleu (HVS 5b). We shared a huge belay plinth in the sun, and with only a long 5a pitch to go I felt at one with the Main Cliff.

I mentioned in my last post about going to try Dreams and Screams (E6 6b), well being a notoriously seepy venue, we gave it a miss, but I still wanted to get a pump on. I tried Run Fast, Run Free (E5 6a) early in 2010, but ended up pumping out ripping my highest runner, blasting a chunk of rock of in the process which stoved me in the face. The route has a reputation for being very pumpy and after my last attempt, I felt nervous about this go. Also by the time I got to the base of the route I was cold and tired, but, I was there, so I got on with it. The first few metres were wet but I managed to dodge around the worst bits, moving about as well as I ever have. I made it to my previous high-point feeling fresh. The stopper crux from last time was passed in about 3 minutes, to a slick flattie. Having assumed it was 5b jugs from this point, I got a slap in the face when I was still crimping and the feet were shrinking into greasy, glassy nubbins. The pump came on thick and fast, and all the holds were very blind sidepulls. I wanted to press on up, but everytime I did I could feel my arms wilting immediately. I hung around shaking out my arms and legs, but was barely getting anything back. I figured I would have to go for it and hope I got lucky and hit the good bits on the blind sidepulls. I got lucky twice, making it to the final impasse with about 30cm of rock, covered in jugs,  between me and the top. Blinkers on, I surged up trusting my feet to some poor, anti-directional edges. I grabbed a handful of mud-topped quartz on the top, it offered no purchase and a fleeting moment of panic gripped me. My elbows were ticking upwards, counting down the seconds I had left. I scrabbled out left gaining a, fortunately, juggy pinnacle and heaving over on to the top.
It would definately have been screams.

Yesterday, Duncan and I headed for the Orme for some sport action. In Llandudno we got stuck in an hour and a halfs worth of traffic because of some ridiculous parading of steam engines. It never cleared and the mechanical monsters kept steaming on by. We gave up in the end and tried another approach going the wrong way down a one-way. When we got there, evidently other people had tried and some officious penis had taken it upon himself to stop us passing through. I was already pissed at the delay so I grabbed him by his jacket and pulled his head in through the window, rolled the window up, trapping his head and set off at a considerable pace. Once he'd stopped screaming I dropped the window sending him spinning off into the roadside railings. We'll I wish I'd have done that, instead I just did as he said and turned around.
Then we remembered you can't even climb on the upper Orme on bank holidays anyway, so saved by the bellend, we drove straight over the top to try Red Meat (7b). Met with further adversity in the shape of a bird-ban we left the Orme after wasting nearly 3 hours and made a bee-line for Noticeboard Crag.

Noticeboard Crag from the caravan site. Duncan Campbell Collection

I'd driven past hundreds of times and always fancied going to try the line of the crag; Fiendish Beanish (7b) which takes the line straight up the middle though the sheet of perfect orange, pocketed rock. We did the airy Leaning Jowler (6b) to warm-up, then I went for the onsight. I made it to just beneath the 5th bolt giaing an isolated pocket with my right, but couldn't figure out what to do. Feeling run-out and pumped I reversed to the deck to let Duncan have a burn. He surged up to my high point, matching the lone pocket and throwing out right for another pocket. He pulled up a load of slack to clip the bolt, but had to drop it and grab the draw as he began to peel off the rock. After a quick rest he climbed to the top ticking some hidden holds on the way.
I went for it again, armed with knowledge. This time I got the isolated pocket and rocked straight up to a flattie. After a couple more steep and brilliant moves I was at the chains. Almost seconds later Duncan had knocked it out 2nd go for his hardest ever sport route. It's an absolute gem of a route and well worth seeking out. There's also some old trad routes on the cliff which I think should be retro-bolted up to give a fine set of steep routes perched above gypsy heaven.

On both these ascents I think I could have moved quicker, as soon as I was pumped I became very hesitant. I need to climb faster and with less care about falling off. So a bit of falling practice is in order, but perhaps first I will get a new harness.

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