Tag Archives: boulderer

A Gap In The Clouds

My phone blipped with a text. I looked: it was Pablo. “Man I’m heading Jerry’s roof now”

I looked out the window and it was, near as damnit, dry outside – the first chance i’ve had for weeks. Out the back of the house, the stone walls still clung to the damp but the tops of the trees were swaying slightly, meaning the rock might actually be in nick.

I looked at the fire and the teapot resting, staying warm. On the table sat my appealing-looking tea, slowly cooling. This had been my plan for the morning: drink tea, tidy up a bit, crash out for the morning doing boring normal-person jobs. To be honest, this was quite appealing – was i really gonna change plans at the last second? After all my complaining, it would’ve been pretty pathetic not to go because i had to sweep the floor and drink tea.

I looked at the clock: quarter to eleven. I’d made plans to help with a cleanup at the Mill at 1pm and i really don’t like letting people down. But two hours might be enough for a short session… And of all the people i know, these guys would surely be the most likely to understand. And it’s not as if i wouldn’t go, i just might be a bit late.

I looked at the dog and she returned that look of hope that we’d go do something slightly more interesting than sitting in the house yet again. She wanted to be out and while Jerry’s roof would involve a ground anchor and being tied up, at least she’d be out! A change of scenery, someone else to pester, just not to be stuck in here would be good enough.

Lastly, i looked in the mirror: dickhead. How could i not go?! I’ve done nothing but complain for three months of the relentless deluge of drizzle and now i had a great opportunity to get out and climb on rock! Turn this down, and i would effectively be turning down any hope of outdoor winter climbing this season. I had no choice. And i didn’t want one.

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Half an hour later and i was desperately trying to get warm under the big roadside boulder, pads everywhere, dog bothering us but happy to be outside pulling on dry rock once again. I even let out a little cheer the first time i pulled off the floor!

But that cheer was nothing compared to the whooping and hollering that was to follow! I would’ve joined Pablo on Bus Stop 7b+, and did repeat some of the moves, but i’m rarely a fan of repeating problems i’ve done before. Jerry’s Roof V9 was another option but a touch hard and i didn’t think i’d have time to have a proper blast. Instead, recently i’d seen a video clip of someone doing Johnny’s Problem V7/8 on the right hand side. It’s a problem i’d always neglected in the past (not sure why) but looked okay so i thought i’d have a blast.

I wrote an article recently about how modern technology is changing the way we climb and this was no different. After a token gesture effort to pull off the floor, i decided i wanted video-beta for my feet. It turned out to be pretty useless and some common sense would’ve gone far further (get your feet high to get power from an undercling, and if a hold is heavily polished, it’s probably the one everyone uses…) but nevertheless, at around 1 o’clock, just when i was supposed to be arriving at the mill, i pulled off the floor with feet high, got enough power into my right hand and snatched the pocket with my left. A minute later, i was cheering so loud it was embarrassing.

And just like that, it was done – only my second outdoor climb since the 30th October: Johnny’s Problem V7/8. Pablo, too, made progress on Bus Stop and we both left happy, chatting about the possibility of Albarracin next Christmas, spirits high at having thwarted the weather at last and got outside at last!

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The rest of the day went well – the Mill clean up was hugely successful and i spent the early evening with a fresh pot of tea watching James May talk about Land Rovers (amongst some other cars). It was the type of day that renews your faith in life, brings optimism to the fore.

The previous day, i’d been at a fantastic gig in Capel Curig at the Siabod Cafe and was chatting to people about the atrocious weather we’d all been suffering and while a good moan is good for the soul, i did say we had to keep the faith. Stood under that boulder on a windy afternoon, those words resonated in my mind. It’s there for the keen. I hope we all get out again soon.

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It happened. It was always going to eventually. Yesterday, I finally managed to #climb #outside on #rock! And not just that: I #ticked something new as well! This is only my second tick since 1st November as the few dry days (and I mean about three of them) just haven't fallen to me kindly. So you can imagine my joy yesterday! The climb in the photo isn't actually the one I managed yesterday. This is #busstop 7b+ that fell last year during the #summerofsends but #johnnysproblem is just to the right at V7/8. #jerrysroof traverses from the bottom left of the picture to rise and finish in the middle at the top. Here's just hoping my next session isn't another three months away… #llanberispass #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram

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Exciting Admin Post Developing

So, this blog has been going for quite a while now and it’s had a couple of revamps along the way. Originally the content was quite small but it has grown significantly in that time and now (as i’m sure you can see) incorporates not only a time-killing blog but the Destinations pages (a popular online search feature), a host of new and old Articles (for more extensive time-killing), some buyers guides to Kit (for those looking for some unbiased advice on what to look for) and a few other things like the Useful Links feature.

In short, it’s growing and developing quite a following. The problem is: it still looks like a blog. And as chezdelabloc continues to grow, more from my own state of boredom than anything else, it’s becoming harder to maintain. For example, if you hover over the Articles tab above, you’ll probably notice there are more on there than are possible to click on.

The other problem i’ve got is the distinct lack of good-quality photos. I don’t necessarily mean good quality as in resolution, i more mean good images, good shots and photos that make people slow down when scrolling down and take a closer look. Like the opposite of this one:

Hmm, maybe a little highball for me...

So I’m looking for some help. The type of guy or gal i’m looking for, ideally is:

  • A website developer – someone who can (with my help/guidance/ideas) make chezdelabloc a more professional website with a bit more traffic.
  • A photographer of bouldering and boulderers – someone who wants to share their snaps online, hopefully get them noticed by more people thanks to the increased traffic!
  • Someone who wants a project – something they can play with in their spare time, develop into a site that looks awesome and that people want to return to

The last bit is important because it is purely a hobby. I cannot afford to pay you; largely because i do not earn anything from this site. In the highly unlikely event that those circumstances change in the future, this will be open to discussion but for now, look at it as good practice or good fun. For me, it’s a good place to flex my literary muscles without censorship so best to view it like that.

What’s in it for you?

I write quite a lot – some of it of better quality than others. However, as of yet, i’ve struggled to get much interest from any other the climbing publications (both in print and online). As mentioned above, i use ChezdelaBloc to flex literary muscles and have somewhere to publish bits of advice for people.

For that it’s fantastic, and as a member of the team, this would be an ideal output for you to be creative, chuck in some of your own photos (even linked from other sites like Instagram or Flickr) and play around with web design without strict restrictions on what you can and can’t do (within reason, of course).

Interested? Great! E-mail me at chezdelabloc@gmail.com or leave a comment below and we’ll take it from there!

8 Points Dropped

It’s a funny old crag the Cromlech boulders: it has some really excellent aspects going for it but at the same time is an utter bag of shit. It’s also undoubtedly the most popular bouldering venue in North Wales.

There are dozens of problems within a few seconds of the road, some of them of exquisite quality – definite three-star classics – and while i’m not advocating missing problem like The Ramp V1, The Edge Problem V6, the Cromlech Roof Crack V6 or Jerry’s Roof V9, i do like to try and tempt people from these little blocs.

My theory is that there are boulderers out there who have climbed Rampless at V8 on the roadside boulders but are yet to even look at other classics at much lower grades (and much higher quality) such as King of Drunks V6 just a short slog up the hillside on the other side of the valley. And this despite the polish, the sharp holds and the incessant traffic that can often be more dangerous than a fall!

This has had a significant effect on the erosion at the crag as well. Let’s take The Edge Problem as our example, where the handholds for the standing start are now out of reach for all but the very tall stood atop stacked pads and the sitting start means your backside can no longer reach the floor. It’s something i find myself explaining to people regularly, such as the Sunday following my Porth Ysgo success.

Brimming with enthusiasm, but lacking anyone to go with, i looked through the list and was torn between the Barrel and making the big walk up to have a maiden effort on The Lotus V10. Either which way, i figured i’d have a warm up at the Cromlech, where the problems are a touch easier, and see if i could persuade anyone there to come somewhere, well, better!

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. As i turned out, i saw a girl topping out The Edge and then had to explain that she’d just ticked the V6 version and had no need to try it from any lower. Nevertheless, she said, she’d been working it from lower and wanted to finish it off – and full credit to her for that.

Within a few minutes, they asked what i was up to. When i mentioned the Barrel, pointed across the valley to it and found it in the guide, they opted to come with me! Success!

While nothing went for me, it was nice to have company and was great to see my two new friends ticking problems and relishing having somewhere new and fun to play on. The day ended with a hot chocolate in Pete’s Eats, as all good climbing sessions should.

But with a slight tweak in my right bicep, i opted to rest for a week or so, with a potential competition coming up the following Friday. I’d heard about the Beacon Boulder Bash for a while but wasn’t convinced until two of the Centre Assistants from work persuaded me to go along.

So competitions can work in many different ways: aggregate competitions last for months with no time limit on completion, timed comps with 5 minutes per problem and 5 minutes in between or a good old fashioned flash contest.

Normally, the flash contest can be pretty tough: 10 points for first attempt, 7 for second go, 3 for third and 1 point for hitting the bonus hold. For this one, though, they were slightly kinder, offering 10 points for a completed problem within three tries, 5 points for any completion thereafter and 3 for getting the bonus hold in control. It meant there was much more room for error, and more encouragement to keep trying things and stay till the end… and the after party!

In store for the winner? £100 cash prize, with other monetary prizes for second and third. The downside to this? A large group of very strong North Walean climbers came out the woodwork, keen to snaffle what would equate to a couple of days wages.

So despite psyching myself up on the drive in, convincing myself that i might be able to win this, as soon as i walked in the door and saw who was there, reality hit hard and i realised the only chance of going home with any cash was to start rummaging through everyone’s bags…

Anyway, it wasn’t about winning, but it wasn’t just about taking part; i wanted to do well by my own standards, to compete against myself, so to speak. Competitions can be very different beasts to just climbing without pressure and despite my best efforts over many years, i’ve never really got it right.

This time, though, it went very well. Out of a potential 300 points, i managed 239, dropping only 8 on problems i should’ve done better on. It was good enough for twelfth and those 8 points would’ve bumped me up another two places.

I can’t really complain about that to be honest, and i won’t – it was a great event, well arranged and well attended, with good problems and a great vibe. The winners worthy, the rest content and all told, a fantastic comp, well worth considering for next year.

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Popcorn Party

An just like that, the psyche comes back and i’m out again! Simple as that really, it’s all about motivation and once you’ve got it again, you’d be amazed what you can achieve.

The day after my soggy ramble in the pass, I’d arranged a climbing day proper with Alex Cutbush. An excessively keen all-rounder, Alex can boulder pretty damned hard but was still exploring what North Wales has to offer so, optimism packed in abundance, we made the long trek down to the very tip of the Lleyn Peninsula and the old classic venue of Porth Ysgo.

Now, it’s a trudge down there and it always feels far too far but once you’re there, it’s an awesome venue; so much so that if it were more easily accessible, it would doubtless rank as one of the best in the UK. There are a few spots like that, like St Bees up in Cumbria for example.

Not that i’ve been to St Bees, mind, i’m going purely off reputation there. The frustrating thing about it is i was living quite close for three years at University and never bothered – there were always places that were closer that would do. Now, years later and itching to get up there, i’m left ruing my neglect.

With this in mind, we persevered down the Lleyn, despite showers and wet roads, armed with “it’ll be fine” repeated over and over. While Alex kept giving me sideways glances, i knew of Porth Ysgo’s reputation and sure enough, as we scrambled down to the coastal blocs, it was easily climbable with plenty to go at.

Not that i was really that bothered: i made a bealine straight for that long standing project, Popcorn Party V6, the lowest graded problem left on the list. It was in good nick, i could start on the low letterbox and it would go.

So, after a warm up that lacked me actually getting warm on Jawbreaker, a classic V5 nearby and some head scratching that the massive adjacent block had moved, we were on it. Alex nailed the slightly-higher V5 version quickly, i got the V6. After years of round-to-it-ness.

And so it meant i could hobble through the kitchen this morning and scrub the first problem from The List in 2016. Hobble? Yes, well, that was because of last night…

You see, once the motivation comes back, for me, it’s a case of do something every day. Wanting to rest my weary elbows, i was at a bit of a loss what to do with myself. Then, at some point in the afternoon, i remembered a video i’d watched on YouTube last week.

It featured Chris Davies training at the Mill. There, while cranking hard and waxing poetic of the quality of climbers in North Wales, he advocates taking up some aerobic exercise to compliment it. I run every now and again so figured i might as well go for it.

I have no idea how far it is around Llyn Padarn but that’s the standard route, and i completed it relatively easily (once i got going). Tess certainly seemed to appreciate it.

Tonight, i’m working late so it’s an enforced rest night but tomorrow i’ll be out again and hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. Back on it with keenness and gusto.

Snap To It

Yesterday, i was lambasting a friend for not making the most living in North Wales. Then it occurred to me that, recently, i was just as guilty.

Granted, since Fredrik left at the start of November, it’s rained relentlessly. Over the Christmas period, it even rained enough to make headline news – more so in Cumbria and Yorkshire but North Wales had it pretty bad. (That being said, Boxing day, i did enjoy driving the Defender through some awesome floods between here and Caernarfon but that’s not the point).

Instead, it’s been time to train. With access to the Mill, and a free climbing wall at work – one where i can set my own routes as well – coupled with a weekly treat to the Indy to tick off some more aggregate problems, i’ve been back inside every other day.

While this has led to my first 7c+ ever (albeit indoors) it has also led to some slightly debilitating tendinitis in my right elbow. Even typing is aggravating it slightly.

So today, something snapped me out of it. Granted, i didn’t get out of bed until half past ten, but then, i got on with things. Washing? Done. Tidying house? Super fast. Tea? Two cups in thirty minutes. Crossword? Complete and then off up the pass.

On the bottom of The List is a problem i’d not seen for real before; the Lotus 7c+. I put it on there right at the start, possibly after hearing it was good, and having seen a video, thought it would be a good project for the next dry spell. So, softshell-ed up, i jumped in the car with Tess and headed out. Drizzle meant that even scrambling over rocks to find the climb was tricky but, despite navigating with only a still taken from an online video, eventually we arrived at said problem.

And it looks good. Turns out it’s not hard to find either; something i discovered on the way back down and i quickly stumbled across the Wavelength boulder. It will undoubtedly be one of the first i’ll be checking out as soon as the pass eventually dries out.

But more than that. While it might just have been wandering in the rain looking at rocks, today was the day that dragged my sorry backside out the house to get me back en route. While i’ve said before that New Years makes little sense for goal setting, being mid-season, it’s hard to deny that 2015 was immense; both in terms of trips and ticks. And it may well be that it’s not until March 27th that i’m not able to give it a full onslaught. Nevertheless, today feels like a big step in the right direction. Here’s to the New Year.

On The Up

Fed up of being fed up, Tuesday night i opted to kick the total-rest into touch after an offer of a football match over Colwyn Bay way. It was a good game with a great bunch of lads and when i came to work yesterday without hobbling, i reasoned that perhaps i was rested enough and should probably try climbing again for the first time since Fredrik and Tobias’ departure.

It wasn’t anything major, just a quick after work session on the wall at work at Plas y Brenin. I’ll be honest it’s not a great wall, being very limited by the availability of places for holds, but it’s serves a purpose. It also means I don’t tend to get carried away with jumping on the hard climbs too early as there really aren’t any!

Nervous about my hand, i taped up and found it hurting after about twenty minutes. So i took the tape off. It worked perfectly, just going to show that often, taping isn’t the best idea. That’s not to say you should never tape up to support pulleys in your fingers – it’s a judgment call that you need to make each time you climb.

While i tired very quickly, this isn’t really a surprise and it was a good session. Crucially, it proved that i’m now well rested and ready to get back on it. With a hectic work schedule at the moment, it means it’ll be slow progress but with psyche building, it means i’ll hopefully be climbing strong once more.

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Bored!

Resting sucks. You may have noticed the blog has gone particularly cold lately, with not a lot going on and, put frankly, that’s because there’s not a lot going on! I’ve opted to take a fortnight off following Fredrik’s visit, to rest everything out from the end of season and hopefully let my left hand recover a touch. Problem is that doing nothing is so undeniably fucking boring!

The week has dragged something chronic and any chance of human contact has been snapped up but a couple of trips to the pub and people coming for dinner once or twice doesn’t eat up enough time. I honestly don’t know what “normal people” do with their spare time!

It hasn’t helped that the weather has been utterly atrocious since he left, with relentless rainfall making everyone around here almost house-bound. The rivers are enormous, the roads have become streams and just stepping out of the house has the potential to soak you. An optimistic me would say it’s too wet to climb anyway, another side of me looks out the window and lifts one half of a lip thinking “man, it’s fucking horrible out there. Again.”

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With not a lot to do (i’m resting from ALL exercise, not just climbing) i’ve resorted to a little work on the house. The last two days have been spent sanding and varnishing the bathroom floor. My house has always been a work in progress, for six years now, and finding time to actually get jobs done can be tricky. It’s the one bonus that now, the bathroom is beginning to look very stush indeed. Just the ceiling to do (again, sand and varnish) and i will finally have one room entirely completed!

It’ll give me something to do in the evenings this week. I’m working two evenings later in the week – something that is normally incredibly irritating but now, has become a blessing. Meanwhile, it’s a case of casing new venues, new countries, and watching lots of videos online. There really is fuck all else to do.

 

The Dry Side of a Damp Coin

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dampened Expectations

When you go on a bad trip, it’s a travesty. When you play host to people and it’s a bad trip, it feels even worse.

We’ve all been there: hounded by bad weather or a lack of suitable options, or any of a multitude of factors that can mean your rare week off can not quite match your expectations. I’ve had my fair share – frozen to death in Magic Wood, boiled and lost in Frankenjura, rained on for a week in Daone, overwhelmed in Font and of course, the Ill Fated summer of 2013 with Fredrik.

Well the man in question came for his biannual visit last week, this time with his brother in tow. After months of planning and discussion, he finally arrived at Bangor station late into the night and was collected in the Green Machine ready for a week of sending.

While the weather was typically session killing, every morning of the week, we awoke to a wet outside that was painstakingly drying out. Yes, it meant we could still get out but it severely limited our options.

Not for day one, though, as Sheep Pen was on the cards one way or another – only a week of driving hell would prevent a day to one of North Wales greatest bouldering crags. In truth, it was a great session too, with sends galore including The Pinch 7a+ for Fredrik and Toe Dragon 6c+ for Tobias; the first of that grade for him and a prompt for a bottle of champagne for dinner. I even made some progress on Jerry’s Problem 7c+, although not much, and we had a visit from Emily.

Alas, though, as the days are now quite short, the success was all too brief; the downside of coming over so late in the year. The up side to that was it gave us plenty of down time, so back home and into the kitchen to cook up some hearty British meals.

I had planned to make sure we were well fed throughout the week and didn’t disappoint. The menu for the week included pan haggerty, bangers and mash, Welsh rarebit, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and of course, bacon butties. And that doesn’t include the large bag of pies and pastries for lunches.

On to the second day and on to Rhiw Goch, with a personal aim this time: a correct ascent of Badgers In The Mist 7c. With my success on the direct variation, i was hoping that the ground work had been laid. I was wrong. It turns out that direct is as different a problem as you could get and my abject effort means i’m resigned to starting again on a problem i’d already had on my ticklist a week before. The frustration from that was carried through to the next day. Where the sun had basked us and dried the boulders of the previous days, Friday was no such luck. Wild and windy meant that when we headed out to the open boulders in search of dry rock, we were blasted from all sides. By the time we got home, with ascents of Utopia Left Hand 6c and King of Drunks 7a in the bag, we were windburned and wiped out.

With a promising forecast for Saturday, we were hoping that it would be the crowning day of a mediocre week. Supposedly dry, sunny and with a light breeze, the plan was Crafnant: a new crag for me meaning plenty to tick off. The downside? Quite a drive and a twenty minute walk in up a steep hill. It was also an unknown quantity, a risk, and it was probably this that led to our downfall.

Around two o’clock, we arrived only to find the air heavy with humidity, the sun hiding away behind a blanket of cloud and every single rock covered in what felt like fairy liquid. Even moving around felt nigh on impossible and the vast majority of problems unclimbable.

We looked and after some indecision, we reluctantly retreated. It was a tough choice as it meant we were restricting ourselves to a headtorch session somewhere but even in hindsight, i’d say it was the right one. Where we went wrong was gambling it would be in nick in the first place.

The evening session on the Cromlech wasn’t that bad though, with Tobias (undoubtedly the most succesful of our troupe throughout the week) getting yet more bits done before Fredrik had a semi-triumphant blast on Bus Stop 7b+. My poor showing on Diesel Power 8a highlighted my level of exhaustion after a summer of sends.

The Swedes’ flight wasn’t until the evening and with the best weather of the week so far, it seemed churlish not to get out. One last effort meant time to pick a project and Fredrik was keen to try Prowess – my three-star 7b line in a north facing forest that won’t catch the sun until March… In short, one of the few places i was pretty certain wouldn’t be in nick.

But projects are projects and i was very keen for my friend to try my super line. Armed with brushes and chalk, we trudged in and got to cleaning but sadly to no avail. Tobias tweaked his shoulder on Bull’s Eye 7a and Fredrik failed to nail the first crux, albeit getting the standing start 6b+ as a consolation.

At Crafnant, Fredrik squeezed in another new line and named it Dampened Expectations. It’s an apt description of the week, for while we all hoped it would be the trip of a lifetime, i don’t think it’s one that will sit in the upper echelons of experiences. The one consolation: it was fun to see my friend for the week.

Mentality: Psyche, Slumps and the Perils of Hope

Hesiod was wrong. When Pandora opened the box, it wasn’t just hope that escaped with all the evils of the world, there was also psyche.

Psyche is what drives you, what makes you push yourself but when it evaporates, there is a slump.

A wonderful example of onomatopoeia, a slump is exactly as described: a period that drags you down from the heady heights you’d managed to achieve when the psyche levels had dragged you skywards. But a slump can continue downwards, in a spiraling trajectory, continuing further and further to the point where psyche levels seem like they will never raise you back, and certainly not to the point you once were.

For while psyche can raise you to levels you never thought possible, a slump delve you to the very depths, rendering you useless and pondering whether you thought it would ever end.

There is always hope, though, that it will end. In many ways, hope and psyche are very much alike and one can easily lead to another: hope can regain the psyche, psyche can lead to hope of yet higher highs. They are the only ways out of a slump.

Like the waves of the sea, they take it in turns to inflict their damage on you; either mental or physical. Too much psyche or too much hope can drive the slump still further but without them, there is no way back, while too much psyche can lead to overindulgence and far too often does. That feeling of invincibility suddenly stops when a sudden realisation of mortality rears it’s head – a close cousin of our now familiar slump.

Sometimes psyche and hope must be dealt with from within – a personal challenge with yourself to rouse yourself from your troubles and regain some former glory. Sometimes, though, it takes an outsider; someone else to come and remind you of the greatness you have already shown and the greatness you have yet to achieve. Truth be told, it is a combination of both; the visitor merely a catalyst to the fight against your own demons.

I am now awaiting my catalyst. I can only hope that when the psyche returns, i have not delved too deep.