Reaching my high point on The gimp V8 at Caseg boulders

One Week

The September Summer has arrived and with every sunny day (and the thought that it might be the last for a while) i’m driving myself into the ground like a tent peg. Even typing is taking energy that i don’t think i’ve got and the rumour of a wet weekend coming up is being welcomed as a much needed respite.

I’ve been out every night this week, cranking hard with variable success. What’s not helped is that, while the days are now a touch shorter and darkness falls at around 9pm now, i’ve been getting back too late to bother with dinners and have managed a pitiful single evening meal since Monday. It’s now Friday and even that was kebab meat and chips from Bethesda on the way home.

Still, it has definitely been worth it. It began on Monday, after a lazy day got to five o’clock and guilt kicked in that a) i should be making the most of the dry spell and b) Tess really needed to go out for a bit of a run. Off to the pass, my back rammed with three pads and i made the tough trudge up the hill above Ynys Etws straight up to The Witch V7.

On Saturday night, i’d been for an after work session up to The Wavelength V8+ and promptly flashed the standing start, wholly unexpectedly. Even King of Drunks V6 succumbed with ease on the second go – the first time i’d repeated it. Surely The Witch should go?

I got completely shut down, forgot my lighter and was eaten alive as the air was as still as a British train with leaves on the lines. It was not a good session and i was in an utterly foul mood and i dragged my poor Metolius pad down the hill, Winnie the Pooh style.

So Tuesday night was start again and i was heading back for a second session in as many weeks to Rhiw Goch. Last Friday, i’d headed there with Alex Cutbush from work and had a thorougly excellent evening: Gap of Rohan 6c flashed, Ride the Wild Smurf 7a second go and White Rider 7a+ second go. Alex ticked the first two and we moved onto Moria 7b. Sadly, it did not relent and we were chased away by oncoming darkness.

The repeat was with a new friend, met at the Cromlech boulders, called Pablo Sordo. He’d so far only visited the roadside blocks and was keen to check out what else was around, so we trudged up. Like Alex, he ticked the easier two problems but struggled with the huge thrutch on White Rider and again, we dragged the pads left to Moria. It fell first go, static, with ease, thanks to some new heel beta from Charlie Torrence’ Girl Crush video. Pablo than nearly flashed it – his first 7b no less. He eventually sent in the dark, by headtorch…

So Wednsday i was meeting another friend, Ella, with some of her colleagues. My pick was the Caseg boulders and after the Indiana-Jones-style approach over rocks and rivers, we had a little play, dabbling with various lines. I had a quick look at Don’t Think, Feel V8 and was shut down but did reach my high point on The Gimp V8 so was pretty pleased.

Needless to say, by last night, i was feeling it. Knowing i could no longer push it hard at my limit on V8s and V9s, i suggested Sheep Pen for the large crew, especially as we had quite a variance in abilities. We ended up at the Main Block for the duration, with eight pads no less! No excuses left for the old project line, Kingdom of Rain V6. Other than it’s brutal.

It did fall, thankfully, as i’ll never have a safer environment to nail it, and another line was ticked off the List of True Greatness. Everyone had some success too, which always makes a session substantially better: Alex, Niels, Pablo and Ian ticked Toe Dragon V5 and Dog Shooter V4 and made inroads into the link up traverse. Emily showed her growing stature as a boulderer by casually campussing the start of the latter problem, and cranking hard, while her friends seemed to enjoy exploring one of North Wales premier venues.

Today is similarly glorious and while i’m in desperate need for sleep, food and a shower, i’ll most likely be out straight from work. A new line i’ve found, provisionally named Hiding In Plain Sight proved tougher than i expected yesterday lunchtime and will now be broken into a standing problem and a sitting version, called Planing In Hindsight. They sit right alongside one of my best lines to date.

While undoubtedly the best problems i’ve put up to date (Prowess 7b, Bull’s Eye 7a and New Direction 6c) are all fairly tough, this latest is at the lower end of the grade range. The Obvious Child 5 is a superb line and while it’s not particularly hard or long, the moves are glorious and i would definitely put it forward as the best V0 in North Wales.

And it’s not just me putting up new climbs: Owen Hayward did the impossible and doubled the quantity of both boulders and problems at Sheep Pen, right under everyone else’s nose. Much like my own stuff, they’re not dross either, are well worth a punt. A session with Emily Bridger in mid-August exploring the Turtle Block confirmed this and left me wondering how no-one had seen this stuff before. A topo for Owen’s stuff can be seen here.

So tonight i’ll have another brief session on my latest first, although the way i feel right now, i’m not that optimistic. I’ve gone past the point of hungry and know that over the next few days, am going to have to force large amounts of food down my neck. Still, i can’t wait for a lie in Sunday morning!

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