Monday, 26 November 2012

One mans tale of a weekend at home that wasn’t

HUMS were heading to Tremadog for there annual winter wash out trip (I mean climbing trip). The usual plan involves the Lincoln mountaineering hut with its amazing wood burning stove and great location in the middle of know where. However as HUMS were going two weeks later into the trip they chose to head to the micro climate of Tremadog for hopefully some climbing/walking.
I had some things on at the weekend so I had not planned to go. The main thing got cancelled a couple of days before. So I text vix saying I would come if they needed another person to spread the cost.
The cars were looking full so I just wrote the weekend off as me staying in Huddersfield. I get a phone call off of vix at about 6.45 saying uni gave us the wrong size bus and I was going. I through a load of stuff in my bag and got picked up by the bus. Then onto wales we went.
I had my iPod with me so I spent most of the coach on the back of the bus drowning out the sounds of Queen with Deftones new album Koi No Yokan which is brilliant! I also rocked a bit of White pony which I have not heard in ages so my next video may contain some heavier music … be warned.
The bus got to the hut 10mins after Haydn arrived in his car. Shockingly he got stuck in traffic and was almost beaten to the hut by a minibus.
The night went how all these trips go booze and sitting around making plans which will never come into action the next day due to the level of drinking.
I woke early as always. JP, Jonny, Haydn and Jess were banging about in the kitchen getting ready for there epic day in the hills. A little bit after 7am I set off walking into Tremadog to buy essentials missing from the hut toilet paper, soap and more beer for me. I got there in the freezing temperatures to find it not open. The shop opened about 8 so after watching the sun rise over the village, or shop I say watch the sky brighten through the clouds. I got the stuff and walked back.
Back at the hut I was disappointed to find my partner was already part way up a route with two other partners. So I sat around for the next 2 and a half hours for Vix to do Christmas Curry with the micah finish. She eventually got back and we headed straight to my first goal of the day. The Fang (HVS 5a, 5a) the original plan was for vix to lead the hard well protected first pitch and me to lead the bold second pitch (play to our strengths). However Vix was not psyched for the first pitch. So I got on with it and lead the pitch.
First move really gets you going felt soft 5a pull on to a good hold. Then some okay climbing on small feet to a hand’s off rest by a giant spike. From here the crux comes an over hanging groove to a stance. The groove is not long but steep and awkward. Once committed it’s fine but you need to keep moving especially if you do it as a lay back as I did. I placed a cam mid crux which felt pretty pumpy but once I pulled past the move I was on easy ground again. A couple of simple moves right then into a crack with some bomber finger locks and slightly smeary feet. What a pitch. Varied sustained and tough but with good gear. Only thing is lacks is exposure.
Vix followed up with some coaxing and a couple of suggestions for a short persons method to some of the moves then came the awkward sorting out of ropes on a small stance for the belay. As quick as possible we swapped over the gear and I got ready to go.
The second pitch is much more intense. None of the moves felt like nothing moves. The pull off the belay ledge is hard and feels very exposed as there is basically no gear for the move. I fumbled in a micro wire in on the stance away from the anchor in a hope to avoid a factor two definitely psychological gear (it pulled out after I climbed a couple of moves).
Big moves on small holds leads to some better holds and some good gear. There is an insitu nut I clipped with out testing. It looked well and truly stuck. For me the crux was the next few moves. You traverse round the corner on edges and smears it took me a few goes to commit to the move trying different things to avoid losing my centre of gravity. You get round the corner and mantle a ledge. It feels so exposed and it’s a hard move after this you get a sling over a spike and you can relax.
The next section suited me perfectly. It was a bold slab that had been rain washed. No chalk just thin technical moves. Lovely! I moved slowly and carefully up and right as I had read in the route description before setting off. I placed some poor runners a micro wire in a flake and a very shallow nut.
10m above the good sling, 4m above the micro wire and a bout 1-2m above the poor nut I came to tough move on the top slab in an exposed position. No sight of vix as she was currently hidden under an overhang. The move was obvious but the holds were poor. I quickly worked out I needed to do high step rock over on a good foot hold and reach for a positive looking edge. The hand holds I was on were poor a small crimp for my left hand and a slopey edge for my right. I eventually committed to this move which was probably 5a in a situation I would not want to fall in. Definitely felt hard for HVS but then again it was my sort of move. After this move it was a romp to the top on good holds. Another fantastic pitch The route definitely deserves its three stars.
The head wall was what I love in my climbing a no fall moment in a lonely place on a head wall with no one around; all you can do is focus on the next move. The hidden belayer makes it so much better.
After this it was vix lead the plan was for here to fire out Oberon (S) then I would try the plum (E1 5b). Unfortunately it started to rain lightly as vix headed off on pitch one and was raining properly when I started to follow. We sacked it off after the pitch and head back to the hut for drinking and cheese board.
Another night of booze followed.
I woke up early again (just like always) and made myself some breakfast. It had rained pretty heavy the night before. So I went for a walk a long the crag the top was drying out nicely in the sun but the bottom of the crag was wet. I decided to sack off the idea of leading the plum and instead we all planned to head to the slate quarries. Me and H headed off early to try get some extra routes (and avoid the usual faff of leaving the hut). We had breakfast at erics then set off down the road.
Haydn was a bit tired from the night before and his long walk the day before so I got to choose the first route. I have had my eye on looning the tube (HVS 5b) in Australia section so it seemed an obvious choice. I walked up there but it was the only damp route. Gutted!! I tried some crappy looking corner and I fell off after slipping off a wet smear. So I sacked the route off.
Haydn suggested trying seamstress or/and Seams the Same.
Everyone else turned up and we all headed to Serengeti as vix wanted to lead seamstress (VS 4c) this meant the route left for me was Seams the Same (E1 5b). I got on the route it was great. Perfect slab climbing on a thin seam with enough gear and little edges. I got a major calf pump on the route from pushing hard on small edges all the way up.
Vix in light blue on Seamstress and me on Seams the same.
Photo courtesy of James Pawson
The route had one hard move right at the start that felt just 5b ish and the rest of the route felt sustained 5a. For me it felt HVS I thought one of the moves was a little reachy I guess that would be hard for a shorter person. The route felt great to climb and so much fun. I really enjoyed standing on some tiny polish smears and feeling great on the frictionless edges. I would love to return to try the harder routes to the right.
While H and Rowan followed me up the route the temperature dropped rapidly and it started to rain lightly so me and H headed off back home.
For me this has been one of the best trips climbing wise in a long time even though the quantity of routes was not there both routes were hard sustained and completely amazing. It reminds me of why I spent so many days doing trad routes at the start of my climbing.
I have spent a lot of time sports climbing and bouldering lately. This has all been to develop my ability as a climber and it seems to of worked. I was comfortable on all those routes I could definitely climb harder and I will!

Monday, 19 November 2012


So if you have read my previous blogs you will know I was not happy with my chorro trip.
My last day involved a good weather day but the crags were still soaked.
We headed up to arabe I decided to try a 6c to warm up. I went awfully. I dogged the hell out of it. When I got back to half height I realised that I was on the next route over .. it was a 7a+. I was happy with my working of the route all the moves felt do able but I would not be able to complete it in a day so I stripped it.
Next I tried the bottom half of the 6c I really didn't enjoy it so I binned it and stripped it.
I soloed a 3+ pillar in my trainers and enjoyed the view. I fired out a 6a to get my hardest tick of the holiday (depressing) then got on another 7a. It felt very doable but it was wet so I binned after working the moves.
Psyche was really low so I fired out another 6a and sat around in the sun.
The most annoying thing is if the weather had been good the 7a+ and the 7a were very doable and could easily be ticked with a bit of work.
Psyche is low but I put a video of the trip together.

Chorro 2012 from Luke Donaldson on Vimeo.

Since I got back I decided to try and get psyche. So far I have been to depot twice and been to Holmfirth these have not worked.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Day 7 We actually climbed yesterday not today though

So after my depressing blog yesterday, I actually got out climbing yesterday.
Me and JP went for a walk for an inspection of the area. so if we could find any dry rock.
Encantadas looked wet so we walked on to the end of the road to look at Frontales.
As you can see lots of wet patches but faint hopes of dry rock in between. Poema de roca was still seeping badly so we gave that a miss.
However Castoroja area of frontales was looking relatively dry so we decided to head there (bottom right of the photo below).
We headed to castoroja I warmed up firing off a wet 5+ with ben. As I was just setting off on the route a large party of people turned up from Essex and it got stupidly busy as other groups turned up as well. So I decided I could not deal with the combination wet routes that don't inspire me and loads of people. So I headed off to Los Albercrones.
When we got there only one other group was there. There was also a stream running out of the crag of water runnning through the crag.
I jumped on the 7a El Truco Del Almendruco. I decided to give it an onsight go and I managed to get to about half heigh settting the draws before a rest. I then climbed bolt to bolt until the third to last bolt. I gave the next go a blast but I was stumped. vicky then dogged her way up to the top with a clip stick.
I went to belay JP on a 6a at the bottom of the stream where he did really well on a tough section but  unfortunately completely pumped out. Alex gave the route a blast and flashed up to where I got to and was completely stumped on the move.
Next was my go again. I got to the same point but climbing better I had no idea. Vicky went up and after a paddy got to the same point as me and alex.
All stumped we all had one more go up and then called it a day as we couold not work out the move. I hauled my way past that move and climbed to the top with no issue. So I was just one move from doing the route.
Anyway after this spanking I headed back to the olive branch to rest.
Last night we headed out for a meal to the rocabella basically it was crap and not even cheap never going there again!
Just as we got back from the restaurant the heavens opened and then a thunder storm came.
This morning the weather is shite! Here are a few view from the olive branch where it is raining ... again.
Just another day without climbing :(

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Day whatever I don't care anymore!!

So since my last blog I have climbed one route ... well waterfall would be a better description.
Rain has come in and seems set to stay. Yesterday we forced ourselves to check out Poema de Roca cave even though we had been told it was seeping.
This was the sky we were greeted to when we set off to the crag:
Beautiful no?
We got to the end of the track out of the olive branch turned the corner and saw frontales it was a massive black mess! the whole thing completely soaked. Anyway we continued on to the cave in hope of dry rock. The view from the path was not promising.
We walked through the woods and passed the tiny stream that goes across the path this I have only ever seen a small trickle running down the hill after a day of rain.
We continued on .. The cave is an amazing hole in the hill side with blobby tufas and amazing limestone. We got to the cave and it had just started to rain again. The cave was a mess. Completely soaked. Dripping, seeping, socked everywhere.
So we were in the cave and ready to sack the day off again but then I thought I want to climb. So I geared up and lead a 5+ waterfall route. It was actually on really nice rock (or it I have not touched rock in three days?). I lead the route with out too many difficulties over than going through two days worth of chalk on one route. I clipped the chains and asked if anyone else wanted to give it a go they all declined ...
In the time it took me to climb the route two other parties turned up. We all left and went away with out a hope of climbing :(
The route I lead took the nice looking black waterfall streak behind James (guy in the blue) up to the tufas near the top.
So the last few days have consisted of scrabble, shit head, booze, eating like your on a climbing holiday but without the climbing, boredom, pool, music and lots of sitting down. I am going to be so unfit when I return from here it will be ridiculous.
Oh well a few days left hopefully the weather will stay away.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Frustration Day 1 to 3!!!!

So I set off at 4.20am on saturday morning. I picked up ben then vicky and drove to the airport.
We met up with the rest of team Hudds at the airport (JP, Alex, Nick and Rowan). The flight was fine but as we landed it was clear the weather forecast was correct and not what we wanted! It was looking very wet. After missing a train by 10 mins we sat on a platform for about another 50 mins.
We arrived at a damp Alora frustrated where we met team bristol (Tom, Brian and Mark). The day involved shopping, drinking and eating. It was too damp to climb :(
Day 2 the forecast was rain. Most people went off to do the camino, I wanted to climb so I sacked it off and waited for a mate in hope of finding dry rock. I eventually headed up to encontadas where I got back on project genecide again. I had fallen off this loads last year. I got up to the crux again climbing in fine just the humidity was extremly high and I was a sweatymess. Also the pockets were soaked I greasy out of a moist pocket. I got back on and did the move. I then fired out the crux no problem till I encountered another damp pocket and got spat out. I did the move againbut using a worse hold to avoid the damp pocket. then clipped the chains. I lowered off Alex top roped it and stripped the route.
Next up we ate some lunch. I was at a psyche low then it stareted to rain. We sacked it off and went back to the olive branch. Frustrated!
Day 3  another bad forcast day ...
The weather held off all day thank fully. I met up with Andy and we headed up to Desplo
I had been recommended Manzanilla Madness (7a) as a route to try before I went out to chorro.
So me and Andy headed up there. We warmed up on a nice 5 called Ostras Pedrin It flowed and climbed surprisingly well to say it looked crap. Next up we wanted another warm up so we went for Maritobi a 6a+. This looked wet be we thought sod it its only a 6a+ ... The route looked wet and it really was. It was drenched. The route was a shower leading up to a crux at the top involving a sloper and some side pulls on overhanging rock. I did the route no problem untill the last move committing to a soaking sidepull. I slapped to what looked like a good hold it wasn't. It was a poor flake and I was off. I got back up there and got the move I did it more direct off of side pulls and gastons.
Here is a picture that does not show how wet it actually was:
The oute follows the lime of dampness on the right then cuts across the face to the damp hole at the top middle of the picture and ends in the grey wet patch at the top of the picture.
Yes it was as pleasent as it sounds. Actually the moves were quite nice if it wasn't so wet.
Anyway Andy went up this next and did it with some faff on the wet crux.
Next up was Manzanilla Madness I decided to have a flash go. I tried the start abit too direct and flew off. I then clipped the second bolt with a clip stick and gave the start a go. The start is the physical crux.
You pull onto a steep wall in a postive pocket stretch your rf into another pocket. Lf onto a edge lf into a poor pocket. Reach rh to another good pocket. bring lf high to a diaganol edge. Now Rh mono time lock the good mono then slap to a good side pull adjust weight and slap rh again onto a really good hold. feet really high into a pocket and a edge lh onto a pinch.
So that's the psyical crux done you then get a easyish section with good rests. The next section is the redpoint crux. You have a steep pumpy section on some poorer holds ending in a stiff pull get onto a head wall which is a heavily technical slab ... Lovely!!
The route goes direct up the centre of the above picture then cuts out right on the upper slab.
First time from the ground I got my way to just before the head wall dogging it on lead.
I then had a go on top rope and made it to the top in bits. So whats next .. red point time. If I can do the moves on a top rope I can work it on lead.
First RP attempt I blasted through the physical crux then I got to the end of the redpoint crux but I came off pulling onto the head wall as I messed up my feet. Gutted!! That should of been it! I then worked my way to the top on lead. working the moves.
Next RP attempt I was even smoother then as I was doing the last move of the red point crux before the shake out I elbowed the wall and came off. FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had another RP attempt and messed up my feet mid RP crux and then came off on the last move of the RP crux again. I was knackered and I then worked my way to the top of the route. I did the slab with complete ease while completely done meaning if I can get through the RP crux I will do the route.
I was so close.
Here is a quick breakdown of the route
Bottom half physical crux
Top half of the route
 It's currently raining on day four and has been since last night ... :(