After a couple of posts from friends, i may have talked down the week ever so slightly. So, in the interests of optimism, here is the same review but with an upbeat approach. Every word of both posts is completely true.
Every other year, i get the honour and privilege of travelling to Scandinavia, to explore more of what i believe is one of the greatest areas of the world. I’d love it to be more (i’ve even considered moving there a few times) but it’s a biannual visit because in the opposing years, my good Swedish friend, Fredrik comes to visit. After a hiatus last year for his wedding (marrying another good friend, Karin at a ceremony i was honoured to attend and even gave a speech) last week was once again Fredrik’s turn.
Months of planning couldn’t really help us with the Welsh weather, as we were forced to play it by ear. Still, optimism reigned supreme as i collected both Fredrik and his brother Tobias from Bangor station late on Tuesday night – the back of the car bursting with food…
With Tobias making his maiden voyage to these shores, i was keen to offer some hearty local dishes and throughout the week, i think i succeeded quite well: pan haggerty, more bangers and mash than we could finish, bacon butties with brown sauce, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, it was a hedonistic and gluttonous feast from day one.
#noeffect needed when you have a camera this good! Day one of the #Swedishvisit was a good one: up at #sheeppen with Tobias getting his first 6c+ with #toedragon and here, @fredrikfa88 making a quick send of #thepinch. Meanwhile, I made progress on #jerrysproblem and we got a visit from Emily Rose. So far so good, praying for good weather for tomorrow! #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #randomhashtagforjim
And day one proper was quickly upon is. A relaxed start (with Welsh Rarebit) meant we had time to ease into the day, and the easy decision to start up at Sheep Pen. Fredrik had missed this North Walean Wonder last time round and with Tobias climbing around the 6c sort of area, it was a good choice.
I was vindicated in my decision pretty quickly: The Pinch 7a+ went quickly while my back was turned, i got a new highpoint on the tough first move of Jerry’s Problem 7c+ and Tobias sent his very first 6c+ in Toe Dragon. Traditions being the theme of the week, this ascent prompted another that my compadres had been doing for some years: a new top grade warrants a bottle of champagne. We even got a quick visit from Emily – a welcome surprise.
I missed a day so here's a (rare hatless) shot from Thursday of me trying #badgersinthemist proper – it's fucking hard… Entirely different problem to the one I did. Other than that, it was a good day, with Tobias getting #ridethewildsmurf stand start at 7a and #gapofrohan (which I nearly managed to reverse) Last climbing day today and off to crafnant #snowdonia #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #beastmode #chezdelabloc
Day two and another relaxed start preceded a trip to Rhiw Goch. I was keen to get on Badger’s In The Mist 7c after an incomplete ascent the week before. While i didn’t get on that well, and Fredrik didn’t really get the psyche for Moria 7b (despite it’s three stars) we did get a good session on dry rock, with Tobias stealing all the headlines with quick sends of Gap of Rohan 6c and Ride the Wild Smurf stand 7a. (Thankfully, we hadn’t bought the champagne by this point, so one bottle would suffice.)
The weather had sat on the cusp of good and bad all week, raining overnight but stopping late morning, allowing us to go in search of dry rock in the mountains every day. Friday was just such a day and the strong wind was enough to counteract the overcast skies. With projects from two years ago in mind, we made the trudge up the hillside above Ynys Etws towards the Wavelength circuit.
It was another day of ticks, although mostly for Fredrik this time as he quickly flew up Utopia Left Hand 6c before a quick look at Love Pie 7c after my tick on Monday and then up the hillside to exorcise the demons surrounding King of Drunks 7a and the tricky Groove 6b that he had left previously.
A rough day trying to find something dry that didn't blow the pads away. Back in the #llanberispass to the same venue as Monday. Tobias had another good session, @fredrikfa88 exorcised some demons ticking #kingofdrunks 7a some 3 years after his first effort. In fairness he hasn't been here since… #snowdonia #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram
Windswept and windburned, we returned home, with three days of trudging the hills and crushing problems taking it’s toll. Not to be discouraged, we checked the forecast and Saturday looked good: sunshine, not a hint of rain but a steady breeze. The plan: the so-far unvisited crag of Crafnant. While it was a way away, it would catch the breeze and would offer the chance for more V-points than we could possibly achieve.
Sadly the risk didn’t pay off, with the skies as grey as Sean Connery’s hair and the air as still as fruit juice without bubbles. Even moving around proved trecherous but not to be discouraged, we made an early decision and went back to the Cromlech boulders for a headtorch session.
It went well, with Tobias getting another V5 (a dyno Loose Canon) as well as a handful of various other bits before Fredrik’s valiant effort on Bus Stop 7b+ and my own efforts on Diesel Power 8a and Jerry’s Roof 7c, despite tendon problems in my left hand.
With their flight not until 6pm, the last day was up to the lads to decide and i was pretty chuffed when they decided to go and try and repeat some of my own problems around Bryn Engan.
The end of the week for my Swedish friends and I and while the sun shone brightly in #northwales, we opted for a north-facing forest… Why? So that @fredrikfa88 could have a blast on #Prowess – my gorgeous 7b line. Despite our best efforts with chalk and brush, it was not to be and for me, summed up the week: somewhat dampened expectations. Still, while I managed a paltry number of ticks, the success story goes to Tobias. It was a pleasure having them both to stay. Tack sa mycket #snowdonia #capelcurig #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #randomhashtagforjim
With conditions lacking, we brushed with vigour to try and get the holds just dry enough and while Prowess proper didn’t go, the 6b+ stand start was a consolation and Fredrik got to try enough to admit he liked the moves – a win in my eyes. Tobias meanwhile was feeling the effects of a heavy week and had called it a day – a good sign that his time hadn’t been wasted.
That being said, as we called time on the week and wandered around Betws before the drive to Manchester, i realised that even though things hadn’t quite gone as well as they could, it was always nice to see my friend again, and a pleasure to meet his brother. Granted the conditions hadn’t come close to the fantastic days i’d somehow managed to find over the summer; we had got out every day, getting good, worthwhile ticks in the process. Even if that wasn’t the case either, social time in good time is never wasted and now i can look forward to my next Scandinavian trip next summer to the island of Aland.
Super #stoked for next week, get to see this guy again! After a hiatus last year thanks to his wedding (so inconvenient!) next week we continue the annual Anglo-Swedish exchange goes into its fourth year when I host @fredrikfa88 and his brother Tobias. A week off and #bouldering every day, I'm hoping to get some good ticks and even more so that they both do so too! This photo is taken on my last visit to #Sweden back in 2013 in his summer house; a cabin out in the sticks with no electricity, a real treat! Next year it's my turn again… #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #noeffect #portrait