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Emma Twyford

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Sport Climbing

Kalymnian Sunshine

After a less than successful trip to Spain and a hectic start to the year I decided to have a weeks holiday in Kalymnos with a good friend of mine Katy Piddock for some much needed girl time, sunshine and ice cream. I last went to Kalymnos in 2010 for 3 weeks with Adam Hodgson and had an amazing time onsighting my first 8a. This time didn’t disappoint either, though a week just wasn’t long enough.

 

Obligatory Telendos sunset picture
Obligatory Telendos sunset picture

Before I went out I hadn’t really trained I’d been busy setting a lot and feeling pretty wiped out, just before we headed out I came down with a stinking cold as did Katy (not good trip juju). Both Katy and I had been messaging each other excited about our up coming holiday as we had both been working hard – equally looking forward to climbing together again as well as doing all the holiday things. We didn’t have any set plans we both just wanted to go climbing.

The first day we arrived it was windy with showers (not the Kalymnos weather we were hoping for, especially after leaving North Wales in a sunny state). We headed to Odyssey with Katy not having done much there, it was cold and we were glad to have warm layers. Warming up was hard work and with stinking colds neither of us were mega psyched but I persevered on. Katy tried Fouska but didn’t get on with the burly moves still feeling a bit baked from the journey. It was sheltered in this bit of the crag and I decided to put the clips in on Gaia (8b) and have a look at the moves. I’d initially been more psyched on heading to Jurassic Cave but heard that bits were wet and it was cold. Gaia is my anti-style being pure power endurance with big moves but they were also cool moves, in giving it a look I surprised myself by piecing together the moves quickly. However doing the moves and linking them together on something like this are very different stories. At the end of the day I had a quick warm down onsighting Alfredo Alfredo (7b+) which was definitely harder work than I anticipated in the freezing cold!

The next day we headed back, it was super windy again but at least it wasn’t raining! When we arrived some people were leaving due to it being on the cusp of dangerously windy! It was interesting climbing in the mega wind on the first sector so we quickly moved on my warm up was less than ideal. I had a quick go on Gaia getting a new high point, it was sunnier but still windy. Some of the Bristol and London crew had arrived bringing some new psych doing a cool route to the right. I had another go on Gaia messing up low down on the start of the crux being too cold but also getting a massive flapper on my middle finger. I didn’t feel it go as it was so cold but it was definitely a deep gusher – gutted! I did some maintenance then taped it with tissue underneath. I had another go getting to my high point again but finding the last hard move before going left super burly.

First flapper on Gaia was a big one!
First flapper on Gaia was a big one!

 

I had it in my mind that I was capable of doing this route even though it’s my anti style but also being unsure to continue with it due to only having a week. With the new high levels of climbing being performed its easy to forget sometimes that 8b is still really freaking hard.

The next day we had a plan to head up to Spartacus wall, my memories of this sector last time was it being mega busy due to having some classic routes. It was pleasantly surprising to find only one other team at the crag, we did some really cool routes to start with. The best route was a 6c called Les Amazones and for anyone operating at this grade visiting Kalymnos I would recommend climbing this beauty of a route. It was my 3rd day on and after watching a guy do Daniboy second go I decided to have a look at it. I felt pretty baked and didn’t climb well through the start getting my head stuck into the same beta that the guy had used to get out of the steep bit instead of working out my own sequence. Annoyingly I came off but pulled back on and figured out my own sequence which felt much easier. We then chilled out and headed to Grande Grotte to catch up with some of Katy’s friends, after a while I decided I was ready for a second go, this time it went down easily with everything flowing very nicely. It was good to finish on a high before having a rest day and we were both psyched to try and get rid of our stupid colds ready to hit the climbing after a day off.

Kalymnian days off are great when the sun is shining though it was still too cold to laze on the beach or go for a swim. We headed to Fatoliti’s and chilled out on the sofas on the sun with Adam Lincoln, the day seemed to race past chatting the hours away before heading for a delicious ice cream from this lovely Italian couple. A Kalymnos holiday wouldn’t be complete without getting ice cream, honey dough balls and lots of delicious seafood.

Feeling a little more rested and recovered from colds. Katy was feeling a little more refreshed and I was starting to feel a bit better too, the sun was out but still with a little breeze and all was well in the world of Kalymnos. Everyone that we knew or met was ticking off their projects and the vibe was chilled but psyched it was starting to feel like a good holiday, Katy and I were psyched to try and push it a bit more for our last 3 days before home, time was flying fast.

It was back to Odyssey for us and after a slightly better warm up I was back on Gaia whilst Katy was eyeing up the lovely 7b+ Alfredo Alfredo. My first go went well but I got another flapper this time in a more awkward place and had to tape up some more. I’m not a massive fan of using tape but desperate times call for desperate measures. Katy had a good first attempt at Alfredo Alfredo nearly making it through the crux section, a sign that the cold was departing. I had another go at Gaia coming heart wrenchingly close to doing the route, it went so smoothly and I’d done all the hard climbing hitting the pocket by the last clip I was moving up on to the last bad hold just before the chains when I came off in disbelief. I’d felt strong and was climbing well, the only thing I can think that happened was that the tape on my finger rolled when I was in the pocket as I felt like I didn’t have it well, in the back of my mind I almost changed to my front 2 fingers because of this but wanted to use my back 2 as they are usually stronger. It’s the first time I’ve been frustrated in a while thinking I was in and knowing I’d climbed well, I let out a huge scream (sorry to anyone who was at the crag) though I didn’t swear. I had one more go that day but didn’t even make it through the first crux due to it getting really hot and the footholds started to feel slippy, I knew I was just pointlessly shredding skin if I had another go.

Second flapper on Gaia, not so big but more annoying.
Second flapper on Gaia, not so big but more annoying.

Although I didn’t send my route that day it was great to see Katy cruise Alfredo Alfredo on her 2nd go and to be getting back to normal. She climbed it in great style and it was good to see her happy from success.

Like a good friend we headed back to Odyssey the next day for me to have another go at Gaia, this was the last day I was going to have a go. My skin felt terrible I was aching and the cold was still lingering but I knew I could do it. Some words of wisdom on this day were that you have to not desire what you want and I’d sort of had this approach on the route for the trip. No matter if I did it or not I was enjoying the moves on a route that didn’t suit me, I was getting high up so it was all good training out in the sun with good friends having a laugh. With the pressure off I had a first good go and got high but figured out a little subtle beta at the end of the crux moves that made a tricky move slightly easier, in my mind this changed the game and I knew the route would go next go if it remained cool enough. I had a good long rest going through the moves in my head wondering if I would do the route, I knew it was possible but my muscles were tired and my skin was sore.

I pulled on wanting to do the route after all the hard work and being so close the day before but knowing that I would be happy if I could give it my best because that’s all you can do right?

I set off through the easy moves feeling ok knowing if I could get through the first crux moves I was giving myself a fighting chance, boom I was in and onto the next crux getting a little shakeout I was through my redpoint crux again heading leftwards. One more big move to hit a small pocket and I was in, I’d taped well this time and when I hit that pocket I was determined I wasn’t coming off this time. I was so happy when I clipped the chains all that work and fighting hard on a route that didn’t suit me had paid off. I’d fought against my cold and done a hard route within the week we had picking something that I had to dig deep for. All that effort had been worth it and I felt like I was back on track.

Start of the crux on Gaia - Jacob Wrathalia
Start of the crux on Gaia – Jacob Wrathalia
The hardest move for me - Jacob Wrathalia
The hardest move for me – Jacob Wrathalia
Taing the power out - Jacob Wrathalia
Taking the power out – Jacob Wrathalia
Starting the next crux moves - Jacob Wrathalia
Starting the next crux moves – Jacob Wrathalia

This trip highlighted that all I want to do right now is go climbing, push myself and surround myself with good friends, I have to give something my all I can’t split my attention because I have to give 100%.

Katy had a quick look at Sirene (7c) after a quick soak up of the sun getting all the moves together pretty quickly. She had a couple of redpoint goes after putting the draws in and came mega close on the redpoint forgetting some foot sequences near the top after looking very cruisy. I was pretty convinced she could do it if we came back the next day.

I convinced her over the evening that we should go back so we made a plan to do a double hit on our last day heading back to Odyssey then Grande Grotte.

We warmed up then I went up Sirene to change over a couple of draws and give the crux holds a brush. Katy then got on the route cruising the first bit, I had my fingers crossed that this was the go and she absolutely cruised. It was great to watch and an amazing last day send, I was pleased to see Katy do this route in great style and to be fighting fit. We packed up and headed to Grande Grotte so I could have a go at onsighting Priapos (7c). The thing with these sort of lines is the climbing is on massive jugs but you just have to keep on trucking through wild terrain. I really enjoyed the climbing in upside down tufa land it was fun climbing, to finish off the day nicely we had a cheeky ice cream and then headed off to get the ferry back to Kos.

K Piddy post Sirene ice cream celebration.
K Piddy post Sirene ice cream celebration.
Ice cream to celebrate the end of a magical trip.
Ice cream to celebrate the end of a magical trip.

This trip with Katy was so much fun and everyone we met was lovely and psyched!

Bye Bye Kalymnos, what a beautiful view!
Bye Bye Kalymnos, what a beautiful view!

We arrived back into Stanstead at 11:30 and Katy did an amazing job of driving back to Sheffield (we got back at 4am). My head was still on Kalymnos time so at 8:30am I was wide awake! I headed in to see the amazing new clothes line from Rab and have a bit of a better catch up with Gabriel. Watch this space for some exciting news over the coming months!

Then I committed to the drive back popping into DMM to get some stuff for the BMC coaching masterclasses I am currently on the road for.

With this in mind I didn’t want to be a slouch, I went into to Brown’s to visit one of my best friends Charlie who is always psyched! My mind was geared towards going home and sleeping lots but she got me psyched for heading up the pass to Corridors of Power with a small team of Michelle, Dougie and Sorle. After a coffee I was ready to go and chill in the sunshine but on seeing the problem I couldn’t resist trying the problem. It seemed to be one of those that suits the girls better and I came close to doing it quickly but didn’t quite have the beans so will have to head back soon. Then we went to a very busy Pizza and Pint it was one of those nights where it was so good to see many familiar faces and have a good old North Wales catch up.

The next day I headed to LPT with Dougie, I knew this would be my last chance on Melancholie for a while and it was dry. On being down there we found out Oli Grounsell had made the 4th ascent of Megalopa which he was very casual about – congrats to Oli for an absolutely cracking effort! My first effort wasn’t very good and It felt like hard work as it was slightly cold. Second go I made it through the redpoint crux but was unable to feel my fingers and third go I made it to going for the jugs on Bad Bad Boy. I was gutted but pleased at the same time; I’d made two new high points and it was my 5th day on. In my head I know I can do this when fresh as this was the first time all the holds were dry, I had nothing left in the tank at the end of the hard moves but it was so good to be trying hard I loved every minute of it.

My last day in North Wales before being on the road for a while was spent at Gogarth with the legendary Dave Evans doing two classic E3’s in the sunshine by the sea with seals swimming in the water a perfect end to a brief time at home. I may need to reacquaint myself with placing gear well though and being less faffy on the rock, trad head is definitely not in full swing just yet.

Rodellar blog coming soon!

Featured post

Late Bloomer

I’ve had a hard time sitting down to write a blog this year, I’ve written many and deleted them all due to sounding like I was feeling sorry for myself. I started off the year training well but picked up an inhibiting neck injury which prevented me from pushing myself on the rock, I found this very frustrating when Alex and I headed to Rodellar as there were a number of days I couldn’t climb, luckily it’s a stunning place to be and Alex tried to teach me how to juggle, we played frisbee and generally chilled out and had a holiday.

When I got back to the UK I decided to visit an Osteopath called Belinda Rae who has been absolutely amazing and is helping me get past my niggles, however I have also been doing my best to hinder her by having car crashes!

I also had one of my worst climbing experiences ever when I headed to Pabbay and Mingulay; it was no one else’s doing but my own. The group I headed out with were amazing and the location was idyllic but my head was just not in the right place for climbing and it was crazy how much it affected my climbing. I seconded Alex up an E4 5c on Mingualy called Ray of Light (which should have been an enjoyable experience, albeit the traverse pitch was slightly wet), needless to say I think I cried my way up most of the route on second and didn’t enjoy the climbing. At the time I was embarrassed and felt incredibly down about the whole experience.  I didn’t have many positive feelings to take away from the last few months.

Over the last couple of months I have realised more than ever that whilst it is important to have a good group of people to climb with the only person that can make a change is yourself. So I set about doing this in every aspect of my life as well as climbing; the change in attitude made a big difference almost immediately. I was having fun climbing again but without pushing myself hard unless I wanted to or felt ready to. This culminated in a flash of Yukan 2 E6/7 6b at Nesscliff, this route is so good and I’d love to do more at Nesscliff. I found this route really suited my style in that it was quite technical but you could also slip off at any point. The most inspiring part of the day was watching Alex Mason fight his way up this route second go with some incredible power screams; it made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough and I wanted to be giving it my all on a route.

Yukan 2 Beautiful sandstone line - Ollie Cain
Yukan 2 Beautiful sandstone line – Ollie Cain

A few weeks later I headed up to the Lakes with Caff getting prepared to be scared on some classic sandbag routes. One route he’d suggested for the start of the trip was an E7 on Dove Crag in the Lakes called Dusk til Dawn – nothing like a gentle warm up into the week.

I was keen to head back to Dove Crag as the last time I had been there was 11/12 years ago with Caff; at the time I had found this crag incredibly pumpy and intimidating with some steep trad climbing. I also got sandbagged by Caff telling me that the walk in was only 20 minutes, this time I was more prepared for the hour to hour and a half walk in.

Dove Crag a nice 20 min walk in right??
Dove Crag a nice 20 min walk in right??

We warmed up on a tasty E5 6b called Outside Edge and then Caff decided to ‘man up’ for the main event. Dusk til Dawn starts up another E7 called Bucket Dynasty (this route used to be given E6) which is known to be pretty fierce in its own right, this was proven to be true when Caff did not breeze up the start. It’s one of the few times I have seen Caff pumped and he made the decision to just do Bucket Dynasty first time up which was a fine onsight effort in its own right. I was keen but also apprehensive to try and flash this route placing the gear, I’d just seen Caff struggle and get pumped so I was there thinking that I could maybe do the route but if Caff had got pumped was I good enough to do the route?

The start did not go smoothly and I was up and down a couple of times before committing to the crux due to the fall being a bit more spicy than I would have liked but when I did commit it all came together, a moment of being in the zone until my leg started to shake placing the gear. One more move and I would be on jugs and into safe gear haven, but then it gets hard again. A little sting in the tail of this route which was burly almost saw me off, I don’t really know how I stayed on but I was fighting hard and enjoying that feeling of wanting to do a route badly. I was psyched to say the least when I got to the top of this route and for me that was the day done, for Caff he decided to have a look again at doing Dusk til Dawn now he knew the start of the route and with usual Caff prowess he dispatched another E7 onsight.

Psyching up for Bucket Dynasty with a nervous look - Caff
Psyching up for Bucket Dynasty with a nervous look – Caff

 

Caff cruising the stunning line of Dusk til Dawn.
Caff cruising the stunning line of Dusk til Dawn.

The rest of the week was a blast with a one day hit to Malham in the blazing sunshine and a first visit to Scafell. The hike up wasn’t as bad as I was expecting and we climbed a classic E3 called Nazgul in the evening to top off the day. The next morning we were up at 6 (thanks Caff) to go and climb the mega E4 Lost Horizons and have a look at another E7 called Borderline. I think Lost Horizons has to be one of the most stunning pitches of E4 6b climbing that I have ever done, the  gear is good and the climbing is sustained. Like an idiot I did try to make it into 6c climbing by exiting onto the arete too early and nearly coming off as everything was slopey and out of balance, luckily I managed to reverse it just in time and decided to go the 6b way.

Lost Horizons an immaculate line on one of the best mountain crags - Caff
Lost Horizons an immaculate line on one of the best mountain crags – Caff

It was time for borderline and Caff set off up first getting to the crux placing the gear and trying to figure out the sequence which wasn’t chalked or obvious, in the end he climbed back down and passed the ropes to me. I was still on a high from earlier in the week so I thought I’d have a look, I got to the crux but was having the same problem as Caff in that the sun kept peeking out. I unlocked a sequence but couldn’t quite get into the good crimp which was extremely frustrating so in the end I backed off and climbed back down. It was Caff’s turn again but this time he had my new sequence for the crux (I think that means I get half the credit) and he made it through only to fall higher up – close but no cigar. He worked out the higher moves he’d come off and then came back down to have a rest. Second time up he got it but still had to work hard, unfortunately I let him down on second by not being able to do the crux but also feeling satisfied that I’d made the right decision on lead. Maybe it was due to being tired by this point or maybe I needed to figure out a better sequence for myself in the end I had to be lowered off as I had swung into the midair of no mans land with this route being deceptively steep. With the climbing done we walked back down with my Dad and headed to Langdale for the fun Raven’s Pit event that had been organised by Claire Carter which involved some good Cumbrian Tales, a local band, good food and a bit too much wine plus walking into a fence.

 

Lakeland legends photo caption anyone? - Dom Bush
Lakeland legends photo caption anyone? – Dom Bush

The next morning the hangover had definitely kicked in and there were a few people milling about looking less than fresh. My parents had rocked up so I tried to put on a bright smile and failed miserably. The walk up to Pavey was gruelling and whilst Caff chilled out I climbed a classic E1 called Capella with my Dad and another guy. The hangover and other mishaps put paid to our plan of climbing Sixpence but as far as trips go this is one of the best I have ever had.

 

Unjustified

I know this is the part of my blog that most people will jump to and I’ve found it hard to write down my thoughts about the route as it has finally sunk in that I climbed it. This year it was one of my main goals to retry this route and get it done if I was good enough. I quickly realised that this would be achievable if I put my mind and some time to it but my visits were still pretty sporadic until the week I did it.

A week before I did the route I made it through the crux for the first time from the ground since I’d started trying it, this was a big mental breakthrough for me as I found the crux really hard. Not only did I make it through once I then made it through another two times but was falling high on the headwall due to having focused my attention on the crux and I was getting overexcited. I decided to head back up as soon as I could whilst everything was still fresh, on the Sunday morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was raining outside and everyone else was all snuggled up cosy and warm. I dragged myself up and got in my van to drive to Malham in the pouring rain; it took an immense amount of psych to persevere on, at Chester I almost called it quits and turned back. The rubbish weather did take the pressure off, after arriving and warming up I thought I had nothing to lose by giving it my best shot. I was psyched up and ready to go after seeing Toby put in an impressive first effort of the day getting high on the groove. I tied on not sure if this would be the go but hoping that I would get through the crux again to give myself a fighting chance.

I didn’t climb the start very well (at least not in my mind) but it was good enough to feel fresh once I hit the start of the crux. It’s funny when your redpointing because something that initially felt desperate and impossible becomes easy and you climb almost in a trance, the crux now felt easy on redpoint and I was through again this time determined not to mess up on the headwall. The move I had to fight the most on was hitting the pockets, I wasn’t really pumped but my fingers were starting to get a bit cold so I had to throw a bit more than I would have liked to. It was important to me to have to dig deep and really commit as too often I give up due to it not being perfect. Once I was in the pockets I knew I could do the route but I also had to stay focused as in true Malham style everything is still pretty sketchy. When I clipped the chains I couldn’t believe I’d done the route; after pouring my heart and soul into trying it I was so happy to have done the route but a slightly masochistic part of me was also going to miss trying the route.

I’m not going to give the route a grade, to me it felt like the hardest thing I have ever been on and done, I don’t hold the experience to pass comment on something that is subjective at best. I had to work hard to figure out the moves and do this route, the crux for me had to be nothing less than perfect due to the burly nature and being spanned out between the holds. Whilst it felt easy on redpoint I have to remind myself of the amount of work it took me to do the route and how the moves initially felt, I didn’t get the crux moves figured out the first time I went up the route and it was only through hard work, stubborness and determination that I won the battle with this route but I enjoyed every minute of the process this year.

Early attempt in 2011 - Toby Dunn
Early attempt in 2011 – Toby Dunn

 

Trying the crux moves - Ray Wood
Trying the crux moves – Ray Wood

 

A very happy face after doing the route - Toby Dunn
A very happy face after doing the route – Toby Dunn

As is always the case its onto the next project now and time to start planning some trips. I’m psyched to see how far I can push myself but also to have some fun. I would like to thank Rab for taking me on as one of their new athletes and also give a shout out to some friends (Will and Becky) for giving me some cosy Bob Hats – if you haven’t got one then order one now to keep your head snuggly and warm in the winter.

I hope everyone has had a fun summer on the crags and my next blog will be coming soon on DWS and facing fears.

Featured post

A Little Bit of Bolt Clipping

My main focus this year has been trad climbing for various reasons; I thought it would be a better focus as I wasn’t really feeling the love for a year of training hard and having projects. I think most people will agree that this has been one of the best years to date to get out on the mountain crags.

However Alex and I had planned a two week trip to Ceuse in August and a few mates were mentioning a possible trip to Spain in the dreary winter months. I was going to write about Ceuse a while back but other events took hold and it seemed silly to then write about it. I wouldn’t say that either trip stood out as being the hardest climbs I have ever done but I flashed some good routes and got a chance to climb at two areas I have never been to. I’m hoping the next few years will bring more trips abroad for longer periods of time.

You can’t go to Ceuse and not be impressed unless you are a humbug! It stands out proud atop a hill – an hour long walk in that gets you incredibly fit. The first day up I was gasping for breath near the top but by the end of the two weeks the walk in was actually enjoyable, especially with some psych music going. I had fun trying lots of routes with a 3 go rule and I had a play on a couple of harder things for next time.

It was hard not to have a good trip; with good company (you know who you are), nice wine and some lovely days chilling in between with delicious ice creams. Although the run outs are notorious in Ceuse some of them were fun but some of them were definitely scary – even coming from a trad climber!

Highlights of this trip included:

Dietetic Line 7b – onsight

Super Mickey 7b – flash

Vagabond 7c – flash

Priviliege du Serpent 7c+  – 2nd go and Mirage 7c+ – 2nd go both in the same day

L’ami Caouette – 3rd redpoint

Looking at the next moves - Alex Haslehurst
Looking at the next moves – Alex Haslehurst
Trying hard but no success - Alex Haslehurst
Trying hard but no success – Alex Haslehurst
One for next time - Alex Haslehurst
One for next time – Alex Haslehurst
A very enjoyable route - Alex Haslehurst
A very enjoyable route – Alex Haslehurst
Happy after smashing in L'ami Caouette - Alex Haslehurst
Happy after smashing in L’ami Caouette – Alex Haslehurst
Lucinda Whittaker smashing in a 7a post pregnancy; pretty inspiring - Alex Haslehurst
Lucinda Whittaker smashing in a 7a post pregnancy; pretty inspiring – Alex Haslehurst
Rob doing what he does best; being special - Alex Haslehurst
Rob doing what he does best; being special – Alex Haslehurst
Alex Haslehurst self portrait - never leave pictures on the camera that you may not want to appear publicly ;)
Alex Haslehurst self portrait – never leave pictures on the camera that you may not want to appear publicly 😉

For Spain I wasn’t sure whether to go onsighting or find a project and I think this meant that I found it hard to find motivation. I came away from the end of this trip with mixed emotions. I felt like I had climbed well on routes I did but I also felt like I hadn’t really pushed myself.

I would love to go back and I particularly enjoyed Tres Ponts and Oliana. Again with Oliana it is a world class crag with plenty of hard routes to go at. I had a play on one of the never ending 50m routes and was pleasantly surprised to get all the moves first go up. I had a couple of goes but was falling off due to mega cold hands, I am keen to head back though to give this route another go but a bit of winter training is definitely needed first!!

Spain has a ridiculous amount of world class crags with mega long routes, it’s hard not to be impressed and also a little intimidated by some of the crags and numerous strong people climbing at the crags. The interesting thing about some of the crags we went to is that the hard routes felt about right but the easy routes felt absolutely desperate – some of the 6b’s felt as hard as the 7b’s!!

Highlights of this trip included:

El Segre 8a – half flash/half onsight

Orient 7c/+ – flash and Energia Positiva 7c+ – flash  both in the same day

Ke Bo Ke Sta El Pa Africa  7c – flash

Dave Evans cruising Ke Bo Ke Sta El Pa Africa at Collegats
Dave Evans cruising Ke Bo Ke Sta El Pa Africa at Collegats
Cute cat psyching up to jump at the ranch
Cute cat psyching up to jump at the ranch

Anyway I’m now back from my trip and I may squeeze the odd day in outdoors (I already managed a couple) but my head is definitely leaning towards indoor training mode as I suffer from bad circulation – ice block hands and feet! 😦

I hope everyone enjoys the winter season and has a very nice Xmas and New Year 🙂

Finally as this will probably be my last blog for this year thanks to DMM, Mountain Hardwear and Five Ten for their support with kit to help me climb and keep warm!

Featured post

The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

After my last blog I have quite a bit to write about.

Starting with the week of awesome weather we had a couple of weeks ago! I had such a brilliant week doing things I have wanted to do for ages.

I started by trying my project at the orme but it was too hot, I thought I would be tactical and leave my draws in for later on in the week.

The next day I was setting routes in the Beacon but by the end of it I was tired and my back was spasming, (route setting is definitely not a rest day!) this did not bode well for the next day as I had agreed to go bouldering in the pass at Jerry’s roof with some of the girls. I was anxious that I would not be able to climb but still keen to head out and support Jemma and Sophie in their attempts on Bus Stop after work. We all warmed up on the Cromlech boulders, it wasn’t a great start for me but I felt a bit more loose than earlier on in the day so decided to have a bash at Bus Stop too. My first go on the flash attempt went pretty well but my foot slipped out of a very irritating heel hook – this happened quite a few times. Jemma and Sophie were also cruising through the start but decided to look at the finish (we had decided to finish up Jerry’s having been told it was nicer) but I decided ignorance was bliss and hoped that if I got there I wouldn’t fall off.On my last go of the day with skin wearing thin having pretty much gone through on one finger I fought my way through to the Jerry’s finish regretting not having checked it out and desperately not wanting to blow it. For once I was lucky and I managed to push through to the finishing jug. I was a very happy lady to do this v8+/9 in a session as it is very burly plus there was a bit of blood on my thin skinned finger after the attempt so it as just in the nick of time!

Sending Bus Stop V8+/9 - Sophie Wilmes
Sending Bus Stop V8+/9
– Sophie Wilmes
Sore Skin After a few attempts, done just in time!
Sore Skin After a few attempts, done just in time!

On the Thursday I went to the Orme again to try my project. I thought it would be perfect with the afternoon low tide. Unfortunately there was no breeze which made it hot and humid. I was also a bit stiff from the last couple of days but decided to give it a bash. I was pleased to make my highpoint feeling fitter and stronger so it bodes well for future attempts.

The next day I went to meet Ollie up at the Cromlech in the afternoon by now feeling pretty jaded and thinking I should have been on the shady side of the pass and not the sunny side! I was on a mission though to try Right Wall (E5 6a), this is a route I have wanted to do since the first time I visited the Cromlech when I was 16. I was going to second Ollie up True Grip to warm up but he backed off so I decided to just get on with it.

This route did not disappoint me, I loved every minute of climbing it and being in such an amazing position on such a sunny day. It is definitely a route I will remember for a long time.

Finally on the Saturday Alex and I headed up to Cloggy with what seemed to be half the UK trad climbing population. We ended up queuing for a classing E4 6a called Great Wall, on the walk up I was tired and my knees were sore to the point we almost headed back down. For the climb we decided I would lead the first pitch and Alex would take the second. I climbed ok to the crux not too far from the end of the first pitch but my head wasn’t really psyched. I’m not ashamed to say that after consideration I down climbed from the crux to the bottom of the route knowing I didn’t really feel up to going for it. In the end I had a very pleasant day seconding Alex up both pitches and just enjoying the climbing.

This week has been a bit of an eye opener after 10 days straight of work I was keen to chill out but also psyched to climb and make the most of some half decent weather.

On Monday I headed to Tremadog with Dave Evans, the initial plan was to do Weaver into Bananas (E5 6b) but there were wet patches on the route including the crux so I decided to head up The Croaker (E3 5c) to finish which was a cool route in its own right. After that we did Void (E4 6a) where I was lucky to get the final pitch – it was so good but felt like a bit of fight. I never felt like I was off and I could place good gear but I still got a bit pumped. This route was safe but made the climbing on Right Wall feel like a path in comparison, I guess I’m just not used to thrutchy climbing!

On Tuesday Calum and I headed up to Glyder Fach for Calum to try his new route, I was also keen to have a look at a route called Kaya (E7 6b). After a couple of top ropes on Calum’s new route he cruised to victory making the crux climbing look easy. I seconded him up it cleanly but had no inclination to try and lead it. Next up it was my turn – Calum kindly chalked the holds ad gave me a bit of beta before setting off. I was nervous about falling of the first bit into the ground but seemed to climb quickly and in a confident manner to clip the first peg (phew)!  The climbing then eases off but there were a couple of burly and sketchy moves to make with sidepulls and smeary footholds. I got anxious about blowing this bit, the friction on the rock was amazing but the sun was out, I waited for a while to get some a shade from cloud cover but it wasn’t long enough. In the end I went for it, I made it into the big sidepull with only a couple more moves to go, but I relaxed and tried to get my foot high on the good foothold too quickly. My right foot slipped and I was off. Disappointed I pulled back on and went to the top with ease kicking myself for coming off where I did.

The committing part before clipping the peg on Kaya - Calum Muskett
The committing part before clipping the peg on Kaya – Calum Muskett
A good rest before some final tricky moves - Calum Muskett
A good rest before some final tricky moves – Calum Muskett
On the top after falling off :(
On the top after falling off 😦

On reflection I learnt some valuable lessons from that route.

Was it a failure? I don’t think so. I have consolidated at E5 this year, I haven’t onsighted E6 yet either. Its nearly 3 or 4 years ago since I last did an E7 (Monopoly) whilst I was living in Sheffield, but I did that route as a headpoint. I guess I have been pretty focused on sport climbing so my fitness is pretty good. I don’t feel like my head let me down though, I committed to the moves and definitely went for it, I think this will hold me in good stead for future E7 attempts. I was a bit gutted not to do the route on my flash attempt but happy to have put in a good effort at the same time, hopefully I can go back to finish it off.

Yesterday Calum, Ed Booth and I went up to try Ogwen Crack (E7 6c/7a) we all found it ok up to the crux just above the peg but then found the crux absolutely desperate and a bit unpleasant on small painful holds. We decided to try and work out the moves on top rope, I managed all the moves but one. By this point none of us were psyched to continue though I may go back for it one day if I run out of things to do. We decided to move on to try another E7 6c called Daisy World (Calum had already climbed it before). On the way over being the massive klutz that I am I went over on my foot and bashed my knee badly but was lucky it wasn’t worse than that. We continued anyway and had a play on Daisy World, the climbing is pretty tricky and off balance to the pegs but the crux of the climbing then kicks in. I managed to climb the route in two halves and with the exception of one time I made it to the pegs clean. My reservations with this route are that the landing is terrible and there is no gear till the pegs. I am keen to head back to try it when the sun is not on the route and when I don’t feel stiff and sore to see if I feel differently about trying the route on the sharp end.

Attempting the desperate crux on Ogwen Crack - Calum Muskett
Attempting the desperate crux on Ogwen Crack – Calum Muskett

I am starting to find a new passion for trad climbing. I love the diversity in North Wales where I can go bouldering one day, sport climbing the next and then trad climbing in the mountains the next day. I enjoy bouldering and sport climbing but trad climbing and getting pumped trying hard is giving me a new sense of satisfaction. It has given me a new level of psych in recent months, I feel very lucky to live where I do.

I hope everyone is making the most of the amazing dry rock the UK has to offer!  🙂

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