Bits of Summer

Arriving at the car park short changed for the metre I did a little sweep around the elderly clientele to find that even my boyish face was intimidating, and in fact nobody had the £1.20 I needed. Eventually parked and having satisfied all parking permissions we headed to Wen Zawn. We warmed up on Quartz Icicle and then abbed down to ‘the whale’ as I was confident the sun would be glancing off the greasy pockets on The 4th Dimension within the next 10 minutes or so. I wore a t-shirt and a pair of board shorts as I was also confident it would be very hot down there.

2 hours later the sun had failed to arrive and appeared it would in fact set before it reached us. Furthermore this dark zawn was now acting as a wind tunnel and it was basically quite cold, and still obviously greasy. Luckily Tom the Alpinist had brought a jacket down so we shared that. Bored, Tom set off and negotiated the slimey start before getting pumped and coming down. With a few hours of daylight left I too had a go and arrived at some hard moves before getting flash pumped and falling off as well. Tom had another go and fell off again. After doing lots of climbing that day we topped it off with an enjoyable 80m prussik out.

The 4 dimensions seem to be those of faff; tides, sun, abseiling with subsequent pendulum and finally prussikking to name a few. Over two more days, 3 more goes and another 160m of prussikking I embraced this faff. For the first 3 attempts we were actually going the wrong way and on my 3rd attempt I did nearly climb the route with our variant and an elongated traverse back to the actual route, but fell on the real crux higher up; some thinner climbing with smeggy feet from the build up of grease below. It wasn’t until my 4th attempt and after speaking to Adam himself at the Diamond that I realised the error of our ways and greasy 6a flakes further left replaced the greasy 6c crimps. Either way the added faff only added to the unique nature of this route, and I was pleased we got it done as it’s the kind of route I usually look at in the guide and think I can’t be bothered with that. A good suggestion Tom.

The 4th Dimension © Tom Livingstone

The 4th Dimension © Tom Livingstone NOTE: don’t go this way, go further left on obvious flake a meter to the left of blue rope.

This summer I tried to spend a bit more time in the UK, because as everyone knows it not too bad when the sun is out, and divided my time between Bangor and Sheffield. In Sheffield I fell off every route at The Cornice and in Bangor at one point we had three days of persistent rain. Coupled with an empty house and few people about it felt somewhat lonely, I seemed to be living out a real version of what people perhaps stereotype Bangor to be like.

It wasn’t all Morrisey and rain though and I had some good days on the Diamond and Gogarth. The Diamond provided a 50% good conditions ratio for me this year so I was able to climb Petes new superb extension to The Brute; Brutal. After climbing The Brute it goes into endurance mode with lots of jugs which will hopefully allow recovery. The last few moves are more than droppable, with technical moves on ratty crimps culminating in stab to a little sharp pocket. Its great being on that headwall in good conditions.

The Brute © Glyn Hudson

Repeating The Brute © Glyn Hudson

All summer I had been looking forward to a DWS trip to Majorca. I won’t repeat the same old about the delights of DWS, you know, like being in the sun with all your friends, beer, beaches, warm seas, Villa parties and a 21st, but between us we used a lot of chalk and serotonin and I for one thought it was quite scary. Scariness aside though if you want guaranteed fun head out here with a team. Having been in such a hot place (for us Brits anyway) and then returning to the bright lights of Bangor, I had it in my head that I was returning to winter and that Majorca was therefore a fitting end to the summer. This wasn’t quite the case though, and September seemed in fact to be holding onto summer when we returned.

Nathan leading the conga up Ejector Seat © Oli Grounsell

Nathan leading the conga up Ejector Seat © Oli Grounsell

Jack chasing the shade on Afroman © Oli Grounsell

Jack chasing the shade on Afroman © Oli Grounsell

Mikey being Mikey © Laura McQuillan

Mikey being Mikey © Laura McQuillan

In the Night every Cat is Black © Laura McQuillan

In the Night every Cat is Black © Laura McQuillan

Shamefully I haven’t climbed to the Lakes since climbing Troutdale Pinnacle with Finn and Jon years ago, so I was keen to return when Caff suggested a quick hit. We arrived in the dark but waking up the next morning to blue September skies above Wasdale I did wonder why I had kept away for so long. ‘Nowt burra Fleein’ thing’ could perhaps be dubbed the Divided Years of the Lakes, and as we slogged up the scree towards this ships prow we were not underwhelmed.

Nowt Burra Fleein' thing © Alastair Lee

Shit line….. © Alastair Lee

The start of the route is great fun and climbs very gymnastically, with big heels, aretes, slaps and of course a cut loose, far from the style I imagined I’d encounter. This bit is pretty well protected with some good cams but above this the route is reliant on shit pegs (minus 1). After the gymnastic start you find yourself in a good niche, which looks easy to leave but somehow isn’t and from then on the route just isn’t as restful as it looks. To compliment the poor pegs in the top half I was expecting a solid style of climbing courtesy of some jugs and  nice crimps but instead got the polar opposite in the form of slopers, undercuts, guppys and heels. When we did eventually reach the perfectly positioned jug on the arete there was still a tenuous rockover to go, which my legs tired from a whole 1.5 hours of walking did not appreciate. Caffs ML legs didn’t struggle though.  I think even Alastair Lees brilliant picture of Birkett doesn’t quite do this route justice.

October held on to summer for one more day and then it disappeared.

About to rock onto the slab © Caff

About to rock onto the slab © Caff

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