Feeding the Rat


Summer is almost here, spring almost come and gone. Tomorrow night I depart for a 6-week Uk trip, Ireland, Yorkshire and Scotland, mostly trad climbing. I just checked my last blog post, Canada feels like a distant memory know, but I remember coming back not wanting to clip a bolt ever again for the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but “the rat needed feeding” adventure, as Mo Anthoine used to say. 

As soon as I arrived, it was back to work and back to weekend warrior mode. I didn’t mind the work bit, I was broken, both my bank account and my body. The intense 4 months training in winter took their toll, mentally and physically.  I also spend a fair amount of time in two expensive countries, Switzerland and Canada. But after 3 months of London currency and fully recovered, the road is calling again. 

After spending a whole winter in dank caves scratching my way around with ice axes, all I’ve been wanting is to hit the trad cliffs. My long-suffering girlfriend, Viki, duly obliged to yet again spend a whole weekend freezing her bits on a trad belay. I can confirm now that climbing M13+ does nothing to your rock climbing, if anything it makes you feel like a beginner again, which I quite like. Never forget where you’ve come from.

So for the most part I’ve been finding getting back to rock pretty hard. But I knew that would be that case. The power and strength came back surprisingly quickly, I put it down to the BCCAs and the creatine, because once outside I was a sack of potatoes. However, I managed to get up some E5’s in bad style at Nesscliffe (i.e. headpointing) and have some cool days out in Pembroke. I worked Tombola a few days, a E7 that is my anti-style, and wrecked my shoulder. 

Last bank holiday weekend though, things end up going really well. First because everyone was there and got to catch up with loads of friends. Second because my shoulder wasn’t complaining much and was feeling confident. I managed to onsight an E4 and E5, and despite feeling I didn’t cruise them, I felt comfortable above gear and made the most out of my limited bean-juice in my arms.

Thanks Viki, Dave, Jon and Rachel for a great spring. Bring on  the summer

Here are the pics

We had a grand day out in Mewsford, stunning weather and good routes, and a personal photographer in the shape of Don Sargeant. Here we are on Daydreams E2 (Photo Don Sargeant)

Easing my way into trad at the beginning of the Spring. Nesscliffe is a good crag for that, here on Trouble in Toytown E5.

After raving so much about Nessy, Dave Pickford thought to join. Here in his quick ascent of Gathering Sun E7

Visiting climber Will Stanhope was keen to get amongst and I managed to convince him to go for the flash of Yukan II E7. Thankfully I remember all the beta correctly from my ascent last year and he got to the top with little trouble

Will Stanhope flashing Cones and Currant E5 at Nesscliffe

I managed to convince Viki that Nesscliffe is the next big thing and she duly obliged into a few visits there. The ironic thing is she can toprope the clean faster than I do and she ends up giving me beta.

Some of the Bristol crew paid a visit. Gaz and Ollie imported their Brean Down banter to the midlands and their giggles could be heard all to way to Shrewsbury, that is how much fun they were having.

Ollie Benzi flashing Malerne Corner E5. Again, glad I remember the beta correctly.

Dave flashing onsighting Trouble in Toytown E5

Once I got suitable scared on trad a few times, I was happy to get involved with sport climbing again. The results were shocking, but that's was what I expected, but had a great day out exploring a new crag for us, Deb's Zawn. Climbing out of darkness on Department of Correction 7b+.

Viki enjoying the warm Welsh sunshine on Boulder Bolder 6c at Deb's

My favourite dossing spot

The wild horses of Gower. 

We had a relaxing weekend in Portland with the girls, the sun was out the barbie was excellent. Me and the Portland crimps don't get on very well, but sometimes you get out just because it's good for the soul.

Viki outclimbing me, she's the queen of Porland! On a day like this and models like this, I was happy to be the photographer for the day.

Rachel on Wax Museum 7b+

Viki on China White 6c+

Rachel on China White 6c+

Our last weekend in Pembroke I finally found my trad head and had a blast up some really good routes. Here leading the pumpy little number Poisoned Arrow E4. It's get only one star in the guidebook, but it's a really good route worth seekin gout.

Psyched to be out doing what I love most doing... fooling around! Climbing one of the lesser knowns E3s at St.Govan, Range War, just before Tangerine Dream

Viki dropping in at an empty St.Govans whilst the crowds are still in their tents.

Sometimes you are glad that you have systems in place. Here Viki learning how to jumar after forgetting the rope at the top of Huntsman (it has happen to all of us). I ab down with a good rope acces line and always bring down a grigri and a jumar, makes life a lot easier for times just like this. 

Me having the time of my life on Scorhed Eath/JaD combo E5. A trad route for sport climbers... or scared climbers...

The deserted Huntsman Leap. You can still do loads of routes at high tide.

Nathan Lee on Fitzcaraldo E5

Warming up on wet The Butcher E2

Sensory Overload

The End Game