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.

30 July 2012


We paid our £2 parking fee and set off along the pastoral cliff top. Scooby, enticed by the meaty sheep, pulled hard against her lead, keen as mustard to get involved with them. Once in the next field I set her free and she bounced off through the long grass, rudder waving, tongue lolling. Through the final gate and atop Craig Dorys, I walked hard against the wind, keen as mustard to get involved below. I'd finally moved into a new house in Llanberis with Laura and Duncan and been set free from work. I bounced off down the long wall, rudder waving, tongue lolling.

Between Duncan and I, we only had 8 quickdraws, so after making a couple out of prussiks and screwgates I set off up Samarkand (E5 6a); the third, and hence, final route in the fine Byzantium Wall trilogy. Having not climbed for days and days I pressed on with gusto, where ordinarily, I would have placed high runners, reversed, faffed etc, I was fighting the urge and pressing on. The climbing was steady but in some fairly sketchy situations on rock with an estate agents' integrity.

The drive down had been through rain and clamminess, but we kept the faith, and down here in blue skys and perfect sunshine the gamble had paid off. It always does. Belaying Duncan up Samarkand, I couldn't stop staring at the 30m high, leaning tower out to my right. Perched delicately on an easy angled slab, there didn't seem to be much reason why it should remain standing. Concluding that the impressive pillars' descent was imminent, we abbed in to climb the central line of Absent friends (E5 6b) before it becomes merely a scramble on a beach. The route hosted the most solid rock I've come across at Craig Dorys, and thankfully so. The moves were physical, goey and superb all the way and with 5 decent insitu pegs it almost felt more like a sport route.

We drove over to Ty'n tywyn Quarries, a series of micro-granite craglets just off a beach. In the good weather the place had a real laid-back vibe, and me and Scoob kicked back whilst Dunc led the slightly disappointing Who's Who (E1 5b). As we walked out along the beach we passed a small, scrappy looking bay I remembered from the guidebook it apparently housed a well-recieved route called Microcosm (E4 6a). Not looking like much at all, I wandered over and only once stood beneath the base of the route did its overhang become noticable, which is suprising as it is very steep. I racked up quick as I could and blasted off up the steepening wave. Wild moves and intermittent bomber cams made for an awesome time and I drove home fully appreciating the 'sheperds delight'.

Stripping the micro-gem Microcosm (E4 6a). Photo: Duncan Campbell
After a rest day, where I failed to arrange a partner for the next day, I was chomping at the bit to get out. The Lleyn had been fun, but it never felt challenging and that's what I was after. I roamed around Llanberis trying to find someone keen for Gogarth. I've recently been reading Paul Pritchards' Deep Play, where he describes his life as a climber based in Llanberis and I felt like a character in the book. The only difference being it's now 20 years on, and the 'Gogarth scene' has dwindled somewhat.
Eventually I got given the number for a guy called Sam. He'd never been to Gogarth before, and had barely climbed recently as he'd become a victim of a particular strain of Seasonal Affective Disorder; Llanberis Fever. The perpetual rains of Llanberis lead people to believe that the sun no longer exists, and after the summer (rain) we've had (are having...), there is an epidemic amidst.
We drove out towards the light, dim at first, but, the further we went the clearer things became, until we arrived at North Stack car park, showered in sunshine. Patient cured.

Hell bent on going balls-out we went straight to The Long Run Direct (E6 6b). The tide was coming in and I couldn't reach the base of the route so I started up The Long Run (E5 6a), apparently with no change in the grade. The E5 section went by relatively quickly, without any inspiring runners but lots of imaginative sproggled in wires, passive cam placements and 'perched-on' slings, until 8 metres from the top. Here a decent break provided a smorgasbord of runners, the best of which was a friend 2 which I did not have. I arranged enough kit to be sure it would catch me and made my first skirmish towards the summit. The wall overhead had a healthy abundance of crunchy sea-grass, hiding all the holds. After the third forray up uncovering holds from the natural astroturf and unable to reach higher without committing, I figured that I would carry on with the E5 version and traverse out easily to finish, as going direct was itimidating, dirty, hard and bold. Then Sam shouted up that the sea was coming in. I looked down to see his stuck on a boulder with the tide cutting his access to the wall. My decision was made. The journey into the unknown began.

I flew up through the first few moves which I had dialled by now. I looked to the top for inspiration, breathed hard and set off. Making the first committing foot-stab upwards I breached a bubble of serenity. I fingered onwards, flaking away the grassy beards optimistically where it looked as though there may be holds.  My state of mind masked my rising heart-rate. I was lying to myself and now I knew it. By this point I was a couple of body lengths out from my gear. I was out of reach of all the holds I'd cleaned. Out there.

North Stack Wall from Britomartis Wall. Long Run Direct (E6 6a) climbs more or less straight upto the house. Photo: Me.

I managed to hold it all together for long enough to clasp the top of the wall. Everything I had bottled up came splurting out. 'WOOOOO'. 'YEEAAAHHHHH!'. 'FUCKIN'!'. Cheesily, I began singing/shouting Pearl Jams' 'Alive'. I felt on top of The World, in fact, three days on the embers of that feeling are still smoldering away inside. Hopefully on Wednesday I can add some Main Cliff fuel to get the fire blazing once more.

The perfect solo. Spider Wall (E1 5a). Photo: Sam 
Anyway, after some lunch we abbed in to do Toiler on the Sea (E2 5b), but, both forgetting to bring the ropes I soloed back out up Britomartis (HVS 4c) to retrieve them. Back down and Sam made a brilliant, run-out lead of Toiler on the Sea. Typically, wanting more, I dropped back in one more time to solo Spider wall (E1 5a). Definitely alive.

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