Friday, 30 September 2011

Devonshire Trad

At the beginning of the summer I created a list of local trad routes that I wanted to try. I wrote the list to encourage me to get on routes I had been putting off for a while, to eliminate my standard excuse of “I’m not mentally prepared for leading this route today” and because I quite like making lists.


Clotted Cream at Meadfoot

Telegraph Hole:


Sanctuary Wall:

Long Quarry Point:



After a summer of free-time, good(ish) weather and an abundance of climbing partners my list now looks like this:

Zuma E4 6a
Suicide Blonde E6 6b – Seconded.

Clotted cream E4 6a

Telegraph Hole:
Crinoid E1 5b/E2 5c

Lumpy Universe E2 5c/E3 5c – Trad at Anstey’s?! You have to be joking.

Sanctuary Wall:
Sacrosanct HVS 5a/E1 5a
Incubus E1 5b
Call to Arms E4 5c – Agh, scary!

Long Quarry Point:
Black Ice E3 5c – Slabs, ugh!

Tendonitis E4 6a
Black Death E4 6a
Dripdry E4 6b – Tried, failed, ran away.
Major Tom E3 6a

Aviation E1 5b  
                        Interrogation E3 6a – Shocking, it's a classic, get on it.

The last route to cross off my list was Zuma at Daddyhole, a perfect cool crag for a warm afternoon. It felt good to get stuck into the route after thinking about it for some time; there were handholds and gear and even a rusty peg for company.... then the pump kicked in. My control and poise disappeared in a desperate sprint for the rest, too pumped to place gear or even contemplate the largeish fall that would see me landing on my belayer’s head. Luckily I made it and relaxed on the ledge placing gear to my heart’s content. 

An easy bit of climbing followed, enough to tempt me to believe that it was all over and the final stretch would be a jug-pulling romp to top with more gear than I could shake a stick at. It wasn’t. I managed to get wrong handed and increasingly pumped above a move I couldn’t reverse with only the stubborn determination not to fall off now keeping me on. Somehow I made it to the top and collapsed on the grass vowing to work on my endurance so that next time I won’t have to make the choice between placing gear and holding on.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Project On!

The summer of being-a-climbing-bum has given way to the autumn of having-to-work-like-a-normal-person. I’m working at The Quay, the new climbing wall in Exeter, which means that I now spend 99% of my life surrounded by climbers. This is all well and good until I have to make conversation with non-climbers...
The Arch at The Quay
Conversation with a climber:
Climber: You been up to much recently?
Me: Yeah man! Been getting on the trad’s, cos trad’s totally where it’s at, you know? I got on this route up at Wintour’s at the weekend, mainly jug pulling with like good gear but then there’s this fierce crux. You gotta get this slopey sidepull like this and yard up to this crimp, and I was pumped out of my skull man!
Climber: Narly dude!
Me: Yeah and there’s this, like, fierce mantle at the top and your only gear’s this dodgy RP and I brought my mate up and he was all like “Send it!”...

Conversation with a non-climber:
Non-climber: You been up to much recently?
Me: Yeah I’ve been climbing a fair bit...
Non-climber: Cool, was it good?
Me: Yeah.
Non-climber: Great... (long awkward pause)

With four days off work and a poor forecast Anstey’s seemed the place to be. I thought it was about time to find a new project (in much the same way that an alcoholic thinks it’s about time for another drink) and Tuppence seemed to be the most popular suggestion.

The session went well in my opinion, I got about halfway up and there were only a couple of moves I couldn’t do. I’m going to bask in some unfounded optimism safe in the knowledge that the pessimism will kick in 3 months down the line when I still can’t do the same two moves. Project On!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Cider Soak

After approximately 25 sessions at Anstey’s Cove in the last 4 months, about 100 hours of climbing, resting or belaying, a variety of conditions from blazing sunshine to horizontal drizzle and one too many fumbled clips I redpointed Cider Soak 8a***

It’s been a regular fixture on my climbing week over the summer: turn up at Anstey’s, warm up on the traverse, put the clips in Cider Soak, work some moves, do some links or try a redpoint, fall off, eat dried apricots, try again... all in all a very enjoyable experience.

It doesn’t go down without a fight though: first redpoint attempt of the day and I clip the third clip with relative ease (the technical crux), don’t get too excited at the break (the psychological crux) and fight my way through the top sequence to the finishing jug (the physical crux). I pull up some slack to clip the final draw... and fumble the clip, my fingers start to peel off the jug and I grab the draw in desperation. Bugger. So close but yet so far.

Second go I don’t make it past the pocket, third go I smack my elbow into a bolt on the way up then fall off reaching for the break. I consider stripping the route and calling it a day... one more go.

This time I’m at the finishing jug before I know it and I clip the draw like a model climber on Gresham’s Masterclass DVDs. It’s the perfect end to a fantastic summer’s climbing in the South West with a great bunch of friends.