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Trad work in the Peak

21 Aug 2009

There's no predicting what the weather is going to do one day to the next at the moment, but I've been braving the elements working out at the crag.  There was nothing to complain about at Frogatt with Dave and Neil.  It was boiling! They learnt about choosing the right routes to warm up on (and what a difference this makes) and dealing with difficult crux moves.

Neil Allans Slab Neil on Allan's Slab (S)

David Keogh Frogatt Dave warming up on Gamma (Diff)

You can see in the second picture how I work teaching trad - it's best to be on a rope next to the climber to advise on which gear to choose and how to climb the route efficiently. 

More recently wind was the main problem with the Not So Trad climbing club's Learn to Lead course.  You can't tell from the picture below that the wind was practically gale force on top of the crag and fairly blustery below.   That doesn't help when you're taking your first steps to leading. Here's Marie coping very well on her second ever lead on Mississippi Chimney (VD) at Stanage.

Marie Mississippi Chimney 

Still everyone had a super time.  I was joined on the Sunday by James Thacker and Ian Hey (who also instructs at Plas y Brenin) so that each of the climbing pairs had an instructor on a rope next to them.

Meanwhile I might be in danger of actually ticking a sport route.  Not Caviar of course - that's going to have to wait till after the Verdon, but I've made good and quick progress on In Brine (8a) at Raven Tor.  I decided this week to at least get into some Verdon training (climbing semi vertical walls on poor holds!) I fell off the last hard move yesterday and I know for a fact hesitation got in the way.  I don't think I actually believed I could do it after so many months of not getting up you know what and not being used to doing such hard moves above bolts.  Anyway I took the lob - I'll be back next week to try again.

Proper climbing at last!

10 Aug 2009

News flash…. I’ve actually done a climb. Over the last 3 months I have just one HVS and one E1 to show for myself. Sport climbing just seems so depressing now. Anyway, one weekend in North Wales and I’m buzzing. This was my first weekend away climbing since April. I was itching to make something of my recent ‘non’ climbing activity.

On my ML assessment 2 years ago we camped in the Moelwyns and my assessor pointed at a crag (Craig y Clipiau) in the distance, mentioning a super E5 called Crimson Cruiser, a Ron Fawcett route. Since then I can’t think how many recommendations have followed.

When I led the incredible Great Feat/Mean Feat (E1) I was in love with the rock, but much less in love with my slow and indecisive gear placements. I kept glancing up at the soaring groove of Crimson Cruiser to my right and cursed my recent workload. I just didn’t think I was up to it. Then I followed Nic up Non Dairy Creamer, a rather pokey E4 with dodgy gear, but again incredible rock and I wondered what on earth the next grade up would be like.

Success on Crimson Crusier was almost made in my decision to actually get on it. I dithered: I’ve done no trad in 3 months and no pumpy routes. But I knew I had Caviar finger strength. I surprised myself in my ability to ‘make the decision’ and ‘get on with it’. The route is 40 metres in total, half of which is a continually overhanging groove line. I moved slowly up the first two thirds of the groove, ushered on by the next visible gear placement.

After the main difficulties I found myself on the big ledge before the final prow. All day we were in cloud and suddenly the sun shone vibrantly and the crag lit up. I placed a big wire in a pocket, not a terribly text book placement and extended it with a long orange sling to make sure it couldn’t be pulled out. My instinct told me there would be no gear above. The next 6 or so metres were outrageous to say the least, pulling boldly up on huge, blind jugs. I glanced down once to see the orange sling glowing brightly and I pushed on to the top.

PS There is an Asian wedding going on in our street; the drums are beating loudly, the brightly coloured saris are out, the house is adorned with lots of lighting and a marquee is erected in the drive.  I'm off to be nosey!............. Oh, the drums have stopped and everyone's leaving in their cars.  More later I guess.