Sunday, 2 August 2015


Do you prefer bouldering or routes? For me it’s routes. No doubt about it though they are more effort, more mentally tiring and more stressful. So I went to the dark side.

First I had a trip up to the Peak. I spent two evenings sneaked in after team training. For these I just climbed with my brother and we went around working out the problems the rocks threw at us. I climbed well with the feeling of the grit under my fingers like having sand on my skin from the beach. I worked the Terrace, a classic 7C. With clinical precision and absolute control like taking a penalty in the World Cup I climbed my way up it. I then took it easy and supported my brother as the sun dropped behind the hills. We both walked away feeling very happy with how it all went. From the rugged beauty of the Moor the next evening we went to the tranquil setting of Water-Cum-Jolly. The water was still like the muggy calm before the thunder roles in. With this storm came Tsunami 8A. It’s brutal, basic and brilliant. I was so close each time tickling the crescent shaped crimp! I came away as a gambler putting everything on red and it coming up black.

Next on the list was North Wales. The Pass was dank, drizzle washed over the car windscreen and fell to the floor with my hopes. One boulder was sure to by dry, well at least the bottom of it was; Jerry’s Roof. I had the ideal bouldering conditions wet, one boulder pad, no spotters, no beta things were looking splendid. Jerry’s Roof and Bus Stop weren’t too bad so I finished those quick. I decided to try Diesel Power. Not going to lie, I wasn’t very close to this. This didn’t stop me loving it though, I was stretched out on a roof trying hard to keep my feet on and eventually taking a swooping swing and landing with my bum on the mat. Doesn’t get much better! After Ed Gow-Smith and James Squire showed up so we climbed on the beautiful slopes of Snowdon. You know that nervous energy? That energy you get when you know everything is in place to climb something truly at your limit. Well that’s what I was swamped by when I stuck the shoulder shearing move on Stone Temple Pilots 8A.  The cave felt like being swallowed up into the mountain, it was dark but the chalk on the holds caught the smatterings of light and reflected it showing an interstellar path of holds out of Snowdon. I would never have done it though if it wasn’t for great beta and a bit of pressure to keep the ‘send train’ going as James topped it just before me. To end the day we headed to wavelength area and went right to the top. No noise reached us it was the perfect end with chilled out climbing at it's best.  

More limestone was calling. I visited Parisella’s Cave. It’s very steep. I set my pad up to climb Rock Atrocity 7C and found myself quickly coughing up the cloud of dust I landed in. I fought my way up just before my arms gave in. Another venue I visited was The Gop. This was a very short, very steep cave in the Welsh hills. One problem there stood out for me, Smoke a Bloke 7B+. The problem was one move long and what a move it was! Just pull on and jump for a pocket off two small crimps.

Next up was a quick attack of Peak limestone. I felt like I was in a rhythm now and hit crags like Blackwell Dale, Tideswell Dale and Raven Tor in the evenings. Tideswell was a special favourite situated in the most picturesque peak valley. You climbed off a meadow of grass on high clean limestone. I love the crimpy style and Pump up the Power 7C+ stood out for me as it’s such a classic.

I haven’t talked about closer to home. Hartland was the place where all my effort was focused and on one problem: Supercede 8A. Situated on a rocky beach, with the waves crashing like a natural rhythm to climb to, I’d say it’s one of the best places to have a project. I went down with the Mabons to try it. I spend about 4 sessions on it overall and that day everything was perfect. For me that was the hardest bloc I’ve ever climbed! Just next to it was Northern Exposure, a high, unrepeated problem which was given 7a+ but multiple strong climbers had failed to get the repeat. I tried it with a large crew and we had loads of pads. The atmosphere was chilled out and everyone was enjoying the evening. We pushed each other on to try to get the second ascent. The move that was stopping me was a desperate twist on a tiny edge in the crack. The first time I properly commited, I did the twist and slapped a sloper next to the crack. Now it was to the finishing jug, I latched it but felt my feet cutloose. In slow motion I twisted and my right hand ripped sending me into a sideways helicopter. My spotters divided out the way to avoid getting landed on. My side hit the pad and I watched my momentum take my face towards a rock, I stuck out my hand. Pain. My wrist felt like it had been bent back 180 degrees. I wasn’t able to climb for a month and that brought an end to my bouldering phase. Bouldering from North Wales Bouldering in the Peak and Hartland