This is not a blog post about hopping up rocks.
I was introduced to climbing outdoors through trad climbing, and during my first few years on rock I didn’t clip any bolts, perhaps 16 before I had my first day sport climbing. I had onsighted E5 and was still genuinely oblivious to any sort of sport scenes in the peak district. The UK is perhaps most famous for its scary trad scenes and weird ethics, so being a british climber, introduced to climbing through trad, it feels like this should be at the heart of my climbing.
Recently I feel this flame may have gone out a little, which is weird as some of my fondest memories in climbing come from trad, such as onsighting the sister route to London Wall; White Wall, for my first E5. Not believing I could smear on quarried grit until Pete assured me I could, and then running out of gear on the final crack having used it all up battling through the first 10 metres or so is one of those early experiences that really sticks in the mind. It’s rare that I have such battles nowadays, maybe because I appreciate the risks more and I don’t want to break myself.
Over the past year or so I have definitely clipped more bolts than I have in the past, and my climbing last summer was probably split 50/50 between trad and sport. Over this last winter I also did more bouldering than ever, between November and March, non bouldering consisted of just 3 trad routes, 3 slate sport routes and a week in Chorro. So I think its pretty clear that I’ve just been enjoying a no faff approach to climbing more, or just the climbing part.
Trad climbing can be a faff, and clearly there is much more to it than just the climbing. It is a ball ache having to stop every 5 metres or so to fiddle in some gear half way through some non moves, and the general faff and long belay stints all add to the feeling that your not really climbing well, or climbing at all. This is obviously not always the case, or necessarily as bad as it sounds.
Over Easter I finally lost my Pembroke V. Heading down I reckon I was perhaps 5% worried that for reasons mentioned I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I should. Just to be clear here I’m not worried I’ve completely lost touch with trad, just that I maybe I have a little. Over the first few rusty days, which involved getting pumped on E4’s, hours of coasteering to find only wet routes and generally too much faff I just wanted to be climbing.
After an easy day, because for some reason I felt tired from 4 x 6c’s I decided to head down Stennis ford. There had been a thick mist and it was generally wet/ greasy down there and in hindsight (the next day = dry) even wetter than we thought, but anyway the plan was From a Distance (E6/7) and that was what we were going to do.Inevitably I had to try a lot harder than I would have liked, and also inevitably I fell off. But I didn’t really care too much and was soon back on and at the top, topping out to blue skies which had eventually graced us with their presence.
The next day it was obvious what was next and I left FAD for Point Blank (E8), an amazingly aesthetic route cutting across the smooth walls. Run out and with a reasonable french grade to boot we abbed back in. On the way past I checked what 3 pieces of kit I need after FAD then set off. After a lack of commitment which meant trying to wiggle in the crucial cam too early, instead of pushing on to a bit of a hidden jug round the corner, I went into the crux rather pumped. Failing to lock deep enough missed a crimp and took the ride, I guess it would have been a shame not too. Next time round however their were no problems with the lock and I was soon at the top. A great pair of routes, and I was psyched watching Will Stanhope climb Muy Caliente which is definitely the next one to go for on the wall.
It was embarrassing to have never been to Pembroke before, so I’m glad I’ve got that sorted now. I can confirm its as good as everyone says and faffing is also still quite fun.