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Emma Twyford

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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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Swiss bouldering fun and More!

Where to begin……..

I’ve been wondering about writing my first blog of the year for a few months now but I’ve often wondered where to start and what to write.

Being blunt the end of last year was not a good time for me, I went through some personal tough times and didn’t really climb much apart from a couple of days in Morocco whilst on a trip with Mountain Hardwear. I managed to surprise myself by flashing a 7c+ whilst climbing with Tim showing that some element of my climbing was still there. It was difficult to accept that last year was a bit of a step backwards but I hope I can push forwards again this year, sometimes things don’t always work out the way you plan them.

Whilst my psych for climbing was low I did my Mountain Leader qualification through Phill George (for anyone doing any qualifications along these lines I can’t recommend him enough. I had a great time and learnt so much from him, Mick Jones and Sam Leary). I spent many windy days out on the mountain and committed to going out at night to navigate with Ollie Cain, it felt good to be productive in another way.

So this year came and I was still finding it tough to get motivated to climb until Alex and I started talking about a 2 week bouldering trip. Bouldering isn’t my forte but I was psyched to try and get stronger so we set each other training programmes and decided to enter the CWIf comp.

I had a lot of fun at CWIF climbing with Tanya who climbed amazingly well. I also surprised myself by coming 7th in my first competition in a long time. I held my own but still felt like there was room for improvement.

Unfortunately 2 weeks before we went away there was an extremely sad event for Alex that came as a complete shock. Neither of us was sure as to what was happening or whether we would still go away but in the end we managed to get to Switzerland for 11 days of climbing.

The weekend before I headed to Pembroke for some trad fun climbing with a group of friends. I climbed with a mate called Dougie on this very windy trip (we were pretty surprised at how quiet it was for a bank holiday) I will not recount the whole trip but the first day was definitely an adventure of the wet variety! I have learnt the valuable lesson never to The Rob Greenwood about sea cliff tides and karma for laughing at Ollie Cain as the tide was coming in came back to bite me when we abseiled back in with Rob and Duncan only to get soaked by spring tide waves on belay duty – plus the wimpy side of me got a bit scared!

Team wrap up warm with Dougie, Ollie and Helena
Team wrap up warm with Dougie, Ollie and Helena

Highlights of Pembroke included:

Butcher E3 5c                            Get Some in E5 6a

The Fascist and Me E4 6a

John Wayne E5 6a

Finally it was Swizzy time – yeah baby! I was so excited about heading out and looking through the guidebooks on a daily basis for the best problems in a very geeky way.

We climbed at Cresciano on the first day but it was so hot and I lost a bit of skin, the higlight of the day was a 7a traverse that was cool. We did want to have a look at le boule but it was in the sunshine for the best part of the day!

After meeting up with Ben West and his wife Heather in the evening we decided to head to Chrionico but the next day it rained heavily. We were itching to climb and the next day was overcast with light showers but we managed to get out  🙂

I really loved climbing at Chironico and Magic Wood even though problems were wet at Magic from snow melt. I am psyched to go back which is a first for me when it comes to bouldering! I was pleased to tick some powerful problems and frustrated to come so close on others in particular Jack the Chipper (7c) at Magic Wood where I slipped off the top. I was pleased to come away a bit stronger though I would have liked to do better, still that’s all part of the game.

I was also very proud to watch Alex smash in Never Ending Story Part 2 (8a) a problem he has wanted to do for ages and came very close to last time .

I also learnt that I can survive more than two days without a shower even if I did get a bit narky towards the end plus I did brave washing my hair under the cold river water!

The tables are turning for the next trip in August when we head to Ceuse for some roped climbing – psyched!!

Highlights of this trip included:

Powerstrips 7c

Autopilot 7a+/b

Slooper Attack 6c+/7a

Chads Bulge 7a

Autopilot 7a+/b - Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b – Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b - Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b – Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b - Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b – Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b - Alex Haslehurst
Autopilot 7a+/b – Alex Haslehurst
Brushing sweaty holds on Le Pilier 8a - Alex Haslehurst
Brushing sweaty holds on Le Pilier 8a – Alex Haslehurst
Trying Le Pilier 8a - Alex Haslehurst
Trying Le Pilier 8a – Alex Haslehurst
Sore skin from hot humid attempts - Alex Haslehurst
Sore skin from hot humid attempts – Alex Haslehurst
Powerstrips 7c - Alex Haslehurst
Powerstrips 7c – Alex Haslehurst
Powerstrips 7c - Alex Haslehurst
Powerstrips 7c – Alex Haslehurst
Powerstrips 7c - Alex Haslehurst
Powerstrips 7c – Alex Haslehurst
Close but no cigar on Jack the Chipper 7c - Alex Haslehurst
Close but no cigar on Jack the Chipper 7c – Alex Haslehurst
Close but no cigar on Jack the Chipper 7c - Alex Haslehurst
Close but no cigar on Jack the Chipper 7c – Alex Haslehurst
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