So, with several weeks of rest following the little list of things wrong with me after Spain, an old friend visited to stay for a week. I know Simon from his time in Bangor Uni, climbing around what was at the time the local crags for both of us and i haven’t seen him since i went to Vancouver in 2011. Simon was the one who leant me a sofa (in a flat, not just one of those you see by the side of the road) and drove me up the Sea to Sky Highway every day to boulder in Squamish in what was one of the best and most memorable trips of my life. Needless to say, all other activities for this week were quickly cancelled.
That is except some unfortunately-timed building work that dragged on until he arrived. And then continued until around the day he left. Such is life, i suppose, and full credit to my Canadian friend as he put up with the mess and interruption with a smile. After all, he was here to climb and that we did. A lot.
Unfortunately, i was working for the first three days he was here, much as he was when i visited him three years ago, so the pattern was similar: finish work, drive home, collect Si, go climbing. His train arrived on the Tuesday and we managed to resist the allure of the good weather by spending the entire evening trying to find somewhere to eat – a surprisingly difficult task for some reason. This meant that by Wednesday evening, while i was a touch sapped by my recent building exploits, Si was chomping at the bit to get on the rock. Cromlech roadside has the shortest walk in, and fit the bill (with the exception of anywhere for Tess to play). A quick warm up on the roadside face and the next thing i knew, Simon was nearly topping out the Cromlech Roof Crack V6, feet first! He dropped that attempt but got it just before nightfall. Meanwhile, i accepted my current poor standards and re-ticked The Blunt V4.
Thursday night was a touch frustrating, in that i drove from Capel Curig, back to Llanberis and then back through Capel to go to the Ogwen to head to Caseg Fraith. It was totally worth it, as it brought back fond memories of the two of us there getting caught in the most spectacular thunderstorm many years back. We were both pretty close in our battle with Boneyard V8 too but most definitely lost our battle with the midge and for the second time in two visits, we were both forced to run away in haste.
By this point, I was getting into the habit of not eating until gone 11pm, although my companion was struggling with this concept. Not that it stopped us and on day three, Simon hitched up the pass early and i found him sat under Jerry’s Roof V9, with the worst beta you can imagine. Within a couple of minutes, we were slogging up the hill above Ynys Etws towards the Wavelength and more specifically, King of Drunks V6. While Si had to leave it to his to-do list, i finally managed to repeat it, for only the second time. Then, on the way back to the car, we made an impromptu stop off at Boysen’s Groove V3/4, which he did manage to tick off. Sadly, i bottled it and will have to man-up and get it done one day. The Witch V7 has a touch more appeal.
Anyway, after a busy Saturday morning, we made a judgement call regarding the weather and headed for Llandudno and the Cave of Justice, at Simon’s request. He wanted to have a punt at Lou Ferrino V10 and in my opinion (no offence dude) he spent a touch too much time on it before we both started trying the substantially-easier Clever Beaver V6. Once again, we had to leave it behind, even with Andy’s beta by text.
Our first full day was a biggie, in many respects. If Porth Ysgo was closer to the mountains and had slightly nicer landings, it would be one of the most popular and best bouldering venues in the UK, let alone in North Wales! Sadly, it is not – it’s an hour and a half from here, an epic in it’s own right, down on the tip of the Lleyn. While this isn’t a major problem, it does mean it’s not an after-work venue and takes a touch more planning. Couple that with the fact Simon had never been and throw in the imminent risk of rain and it was set up to be exciting come what may.
I’ve only been a few times before and every time, i get distracted by the first blocs you come to. Then, after i’m more tired that i realised, i head to the other end of the crag and fail on harder stuff that i wish i’d tried before. This time, conscious of this, we trudged across the broken ground along the sea front and headed straight for Popcorn Party V6 – a classic long-term goal of mine. We warmed up on Jawbreaker V5, an excellent problem in it’s own right, and then got on it. Simon ticked it off, i’ll have to go back and while he only really tried two problems, he said he was more than happy with it.
The last full day was delayed by heavy rain early on. We waited it out until late afternoon and then headed to Sheep Pen; another stunning venue around here that Simon hadn’t visited. We ran straight over to The Pinch V7 and after a small warm up, got on it. Again, Simon ticked it off while i complained of a lack of fitness and vowed to come back very soon, especially after video beta! We then nicked over to Kingdom of Rain V6, also on my tick list but by this point, the day and the week had taken their toll and we were done.
Another day would’ve been just too much. Six days on and we were totally spent, in need of another hefty rest break! Simon left happy with his ticks, both in terms of crags and problems and now has plenty to come for. With him living in northern Germany for the next year, doubtless he’ll be back. Hopefully we’ll both be much fitter by then!