Return of the Mat (sorry)

Finally, a welcome break in the weather and a chance to get out and touch real rock again. Amazingly, despite a couple of refusals, i found a budding volunteer (so budding he headed out at 10:30am, very unusual for the guys i normally climb with!) in Tim, who text me on Saturday morning. The venue: the Mallory Boulder, high on the hillside above the Pen y Gwyryd hotel.

DSC04196I’d tried once many years ago to find this lump of rock, only to drift far too far left and end up in the cwm below the summit of Glyder Fawr. Not that i knew this as i set off from the road, alone but for Tess, as i’d had things to get done before setting off. All i knew was that i hadn’t found it some five years previous but it was there somewhere. Armed with my brand new Petzl Cirro pad and a monocular, i scoured the hillside for my friends, looking in vain at a multitude of different lumps of rock scattering the hillside.

DSC04203Eventually, i spotted a rock high up right – a giant split through the middle, it looked about the right size and the right angle according to the single photo in my bible of Gaz Parry up there. It must be it, i thought, but had already trended too far left again, tempted by a style that looked like the route for the path. Oh well, i’m tough, i’ve trudged through worse, and i fought my way up through endless heather and rock, following Tess to try and find the easiest route through the undergrowth (she’s very good for that).

Some 45 minutes later, i arrived, hot, aching, thighs burning from the added weight such a collosal pad brings, cursing myself for not correctly adjusting the straps sooner. I dropped the kit, and most of my layers having mis-judged the weather spectacularly, and went and had a peak round the back of the boulder… to find no-one. Not just no-one, this was surely the wrong boulder. Bollocks. I felt sure i should’ve trended left as i originally thought.

I perched myself on top of the block for a much needed rest, abandoning hope of finding the others, and decided to play with the mini-telescope to see what else lay up here. Nothing is documented but there must surely be more. A giant boulder caught my eye, i looked closer and there they were! Only a few hundred yards away.

DSC04209Eventually, i arrived and crained my neck up to the top. “It’s tall!” i exclaimed, with Tim and new friend Derw nodding, but trying to convince me it was fine, with huge holds and easy moves after ten feet. Still, i was not to be convinced, deciding against it this time and instead settled down to watch the others, take photos and generally soak up the nicest day North Wales has had in at least six weeks.

Tim battled valiantly on Cosmic Wheels V9 but sadly, to no avail. The temperature was surprisingly hot and even hugging cold boulders in the shade couldn’t save his skin as he was forced to leave it for another day. The next he will surely nail it. Derw was slightly further away from success but i’m certain it won’t take him long either, such was the nature of his determination. My other new friend, Sabrina, is new to climbing and will surely have, much like myself, just enjoyed a day out at the crag in the sun.

On a side note, today is my last day working at Joe Brown’s after six years. It’s a bit sad, a bit exciting,but now means i have a nice long week off before starting my new job. A grit trip beckons…

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