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.
 
Saturday
 
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.
 
Sunday
 
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!

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