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Friday, 26 April 2013

Blood Lust

It seems like Winter has finally gone. It was a brutal affair spanning 6 months and while the ice freaks were having the time of their lives putting up amazing new routes keen rock jocks like myself were dreaming of cragging in a T shirt. Most years, sport season kicks off in March but this year the Marine Drive was temporarily shut as massive snow drift blocked the road. I had been climbing inside all winter with some forays outside and on the fingerboard. Weighted deadhangs were getting me strong but strangely enough my elbows didn't seem to like me hanging 30kg off them. I tried repeaters but they hurt my skin! So i spent the majority of the time pissing about on the board. A couple of weeks ago i had my first day on a rope for 6 months and got very pumped on everything. It was so nice to be out though, I've always preferred climbing continuously up a cliff to spending most of the day stood on a bouldering mat. I decided to try and tick Llanddulas to make myself do some mileage. I had 9 6's to do and Tony's route Tenacious T, 7b+ on the Tower. Tenacious T turned out to be a cracking route. It starts up Resist the Race then breaks left via some tenuous sidepull and backhand moves. Halfway up you get good footholds and can lean in and get a no hands rest. Then there is another tricky link to the top which felt hard on first acquaintance. I managed to get it first redpoint to tick the crag (72 routes). It is one of the better routes on the Tower along with Resist the Race and Vegas Nights. Most people still can't be arsed to walk any further than the Upper Cave though. I also went to Mayfair Wall in an attempt to do some mileage and ended up getting on Oyster which I'd dabbled on previously. I felt strong on the moves and started redpointing as it basically boils down to a few moves. It follows Bearded Clam (7a+) to a good shake then tackles a super burly crack. The key moment was a beta suggestion from Dave Evans which meant it was on. You know when you're working something and your belayer is shouting up beta suggestions despite never trying the route and it never works - well this time it did! It's crazy to think Jerry gave it E4 6b 30 years ago. Today it's 8a and rarely climbed. Moffatt was ahead of his time! I only need to Masterclass now to complete the Triple Crown. I've got a feeling it's going to be a battle. I had planned in winter to try and tick these two routes and make them a priority. You can't think of them as quick 8a ticks (unless you're really good!). They are old school and a lot tougher propositions for most than the modern style routes down LPT. I put another bolt in Masterclass today after the ledge belay. Last year i pulled the big flake jug off Masterclass with a metal bar. I also pulled off the big flake left of Contusion. I looked at the possibility of doing a new route there but couldn't really see it. It was a big gap between The Bloods and Oyster but i guess no one had bothered because of the flake. When lowering off Contusion the other day it looked like a worthy proposition. There were some cool crimpers in the white rock and there were a couple of holds on the left edge of the scar. The rock wasn't great on these holds but they were big enough for it to be ok. After doing Oyster i stuck 4 bolts in the new section. The route would start up The Bloods and rejoin it at it's last bolt at the top. I returned today with Pete Harrison to give it a go. The moves were really good and there were some mean little crimps and quite sequency feet. I was pro and made sure i had a good sequence dialled and managed to bust it out on redpoint. It was touch and go though and cold fingers didn't help. Difficulty wise i think it's at least as hard as Body Torque Direct which gets 7c but it really needs another opinion as it could be 7b+. The name is Blood Lust keeping with the Blood theme and also my mangled thumb from Oyster. Anyway it's one of the best walls on North Wales lime so any new route there is special. We have the greenlight to bolt the old extensions to Axle, The Bloods and Mayfair. This will turn already 3 star routes in 30 metre monsters. It just needs someone motivated to get stuck in, hopefully i'll get the time to do a bit.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Curse or a Blessing?

Sometimes i question the merits of having an all consuming obsession like climbing in your life. For myself and many people i know it is apparent that once climbing became something far beyond what you would simply class as a 'hobby' then inevitably it would be to the detriment of other aspects of life. I'm 30, have little in the way of financial security;I don't own my own house, have no pension or significant savings. Of course getting the balance right is key to having a fulfilling life. To achieve your sporting dreams and aspirations whilst furthering your life by more standard parameters is a tricky ask for the majority. Dream climbing ticks for the average human won't sustain you in later life or provide you with a good standard of living. So obviously the key is balance and plenty of people manage to get the balance right. I think humans who have been 'lucky' enough to find something that they find truly exhilarating are in a way cursed. The mind will be dependent on a repeated buzz to truly feel alive. The mind drudging monotony of a normal boring routine will be a proverbial vampire for the soul. So many people i meet just want to 'get ahead'. Work, work, work, achieve financial security, retire, die. The latter option befalls so many and it is this i want to avoid. Anyway onto some climbing!

North Wales has many superb boulder problems spread amongst its diverse array of crags. There are significantly less that i would class as exceptional i.e. they would hold their own at some of the global top areas. Recently the exceptional list has been bolstered. Pete Robins has put up several pearlers in Ogwen including a recent new 8b extension to Danny Le Rue. There are IMO half a dozen or so problems that deserve this classification but one of the best i've seen is Nodder's new problem Roof of Baby Buddha 7c+ just outside Betws-y-Coed. There are a fair few famous problems that i've seen in Swizzy that aren't as good as this. The problem takes a big roof with a perfect start on big jug. Tensiony slaps up perfect edges lead to a satisfying top out. The rock is great, the line is as pure as they come and the climbing is equally fantastic. I hope i can get it done before it gets wet or it warms up and i get tempted by routes. The boulder is up a private road and it is pretty tempting to drive up and park near it. It has become apparent that if people do this access issues are inevitable and so park at the bottom people. It's only a ten minute walk anyway and just not worth jeapordising such a classic .

Photo of me on it by Craig 'Ducko' Davies:

And the man himself crushing it: