Prowess Success

The following post follows on from The Almost Sector and not The Almost Problem, as i didn’t realise i had an unpublished piece when i wrote this. It’s still good though so i decided not to change it. Things will hopefully go back to normal next time. 

I’ve just logged in to make the latest post and realised how much had happened since my last one!

So we’ll go through things chronologically. The Monday following our unplanned evening walk around the Gelert forest, i returned for a planned wander, determined to figure out where the hell these rocks are, even if i didn’t pull off the floor. Armed with dog and Ruth, after a look online at UKclimbing and a chat with Tim Peck, i realised what we’d done wrong and was kicking myself for not getting there the first time.

The Beddgelert forest has been reasonably popular for decades; a spot i remember my folks taking me on the mountain bike when i was knee high to a grasshopper. However, in the last three or four years, it has had a surge in upkeep – a new car park, new and improved paths. And Si’s approach was from back in 2009, before the big tidy. As such, it turns out we parked in entirely the wrong place. For anyone visiting, i would suggest parking immediately once you have left the main road and cross the railway here. From here, Si’s directions are spot on, and can be found here on the original post. I’ve also taken a GPS reading at the site, and logged it on 27crags.

This doesn’t distract that, while a reasonable place to go, the area lacked the wow factor one would hope for – a fact eluded to by Charlie before we set off. She had said that Shocker is a much better area, and i quite agree – the namesake line grabs the eye from a jumbled collection of stunning boulders perched in the woodland. It’s Shocker that i’m now determined to visit and tick.

Anyway, all that was on the Monday and while i was working late on the Tuesday, i was away on Thursday for five days; visiting family and friends, working on the Land Rover and maybe climbing some grit. This left Wednesday night.

Prowess had been playing on my mind, after coming so close on the last visit. Progress had been remarkably swift and all i now needed, i thought, was a spotter and a brief weather window. I peered out the window from the minute i arrived at work to around 4 o’clock when, to my dismay, it began to rain.

Big, dense, heavy drops fell from the sky, soaking every inch below. Just as i began to admit defeat, about ten minutes in, it stopped and one eyebrow raised. Could it go? It was dry at lunch when i wandered up to check, it’s clean and dries pretty quick, could it still go?

We went for it: myself, Niels, Karen and Jimbob trudging up the hillside to my hidden little spot. It was dry and there was enthusiasm from my compadres at how the problems looked, with Prowess unsurprisingly taking the limelight.

Bull’s Arse served as the first warm up, being reasonable and fairly easy graded. A quick blast on Bull’s Eye followed although Niels didn’t quite feel it and opted to skip the Protrusion due to it’s bollock-crushing potential. Instead, right to the point.

We chucked the pads under the project line, me confident that it would go very soon. Niels was keen, Jimbob confirmed it (probably) hadn’t been done before and i was stoked. Sit down, grab undercling with left, ledge with the right, pounce for the exposed sloper wondering if it would be dry enough. Niels and Jimbob had inspected and given a poor verdict, Niels had tried a few moves and thought the sloper damp. I hit it and, for some reason, possibly sheer obstinance, thought it was fine.

A few tries, some better than others, and suddenly i found myself high up, at the point i had refused to commit on my previous session. Three voices spurred me on, the heel went around the arete and i put my trust in the trio stood below me. Reach up slowly with the right hand, grab the arete and go; it’s easier and safer to go up than down now. Left hand hit the mini jug, right found the thank god jug and it was there, i’d done it.

Niels tried a bit more but decided another session or more was needed. He was obviously excited though, which meant as much as getting the thing done. I’ll happily go and spot him in return and am thoroughly indebted to my friends for their help and support. He might appreciate that, considering he noticed that half the entire face was a bit hollow… So be warned if you head up there!

The one sour point of the session was the toll it took on my shoulder. I knew it was saw as we walked up but ignored it in the knowledge this would be my last chance for a few weeks. Now it’s a bit knackered, and the recovery is proving tough. C’est la vie.

I neglected to ask anyone to take any photos or video of the actual first ascent but did have half a flick from a previous attempt. Below are some stills taken from said video. If you’d like to go up there, let me know, i’ll gladly take anyone up to explore and see what you think.

In the mean time, it’s back to searching and i may well have found another peach of a spot…

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