This is part one of a series of posts all about the turning points in my climbing career. From single moves to huge time spans, these are the events that shaped me into the climber and person i am today.
I’ll be posting a new one every few days so keep an eye on the blog for the latest or, if not, they will appear in one beast of an article at the end of the series. Feel free to comment and let me know of some of your own highlights, i’d greatly enjoy hearing some of your own.
Storeman’s Legacy 7a+ and Prowess 7b
I dare say, every climber that develops past a certain point dreams of a first ascent. It’s drummed into us through film and article that it’s the pinnacle of climbing achievement. Just look at Chris Sharma: granted he was one of the strongest climbers of any time when he rose to fame, leagues ahead of his peers, but it was only when he began putting up his own lines that people really started to think he was up there in the pantheon of the best.
If you can’t put up new lines at the cutting edge, putting up any new lines is a close second. The vast majority of people won’t climb the hardest routes in the world (almost by definition) but to put something new into the sport is equally as sought-after.
For me, i would say it was half luck and half perseverance. Many had searched the woods of Bryn Engan, opposite Plas y Brenin in Capel Curig over the years in an attempt to find more lines to go with the long-established Brenin Boulder but to no avail. All that sat along the six established lines was Chris Davies hard highball.
The fact that i succeeded owes as much to available time to search as anything else. Once i started work at the Brenin, hour long lunches meant i had little else to do. Walking through the woods, off the beaten track, would reveal something eventually.
That said, it’s only half luck. My first find, the Mymbyr Boulder, had also been found by local activist Jon Ratcliffe years before, and dismissed. I saw potential and again, with a lack of suitable alternative activities, began brushing.
Neither of the mentioned problems were my first, that was Christmas Comes Early 4+, and even that wasn’t my first first – that is to be found in Sweden and is called Call It A Four 5+. But Storeman’s was the first on that block that taxed me, the one i will always think of (rightly or wrongly) as my first proper first.
Prowess meanwhile was my first hard first. Now given 7b, it’s not easy by most people’s standards and when done, was right near the top of the graph, only half a grade off my hardest accomplishments at the time. It’s changed the way i see the world, looking for new lines where before i saw nothing and the effort and multiple sessions, as well as hours of brushing, all added to make me feel i had left something substantial there for others.