Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Rock Update

Well I’ve not been idle since sending the final solution last Tuesday. Sticking to a one day on, one day off approach meant the next days climbing was Thursday and we hit Dinbren. Dinbren in Clwyd is a strange crag… we’ve been visiting the place on and off for the last two years but until recently I had only ever climbed a handful of routes up to 7b. It tests me… Its like you have to go there and stare down the routes before they let you lead them. It felt like I was banging my head off a wall – I just could not make any progress on the steep, crimpy, powerful lines. The climbs here are all overhanging – usually beginning with some form of roof and often finishing with a bulge or capping roof. The Limestone is compact and all the routes utilise a variety of undercuts, edges and pinches to contort a path upwards – there are very few holds resembling our understanding of a jug. All this goes towards explaining why we usually have the entire crag to ourselves! It’s the Anti-Dave of crags and probably just what I need to be working.
After the confidence boost from France I decided to keep working Dinbren until either I broke through the barrier or it broke me – either way I’d be stronger next time I went to France. Thursday we went there with the goal of proving to myself that the 8a was not a fluke – I had two in mind – One was a John Dunne addition from 2002 called Highway and took a direct line up a clean overhang to a protruding bulge that is tackled on small slopey pockets. The other 8a is a 3 star line that has seen a lot of attention lately from one of the guidebook writers, Lee – Elite syncopations blasts a powerful path up some steep ground to join and finish up a 7b+ after the 3rd bolt.
Thursday I jump on Highway to begin working the moves and see if it’s a go’er. The first 6m or so are basically a stiff little boulder problem finishing with a deadpoint from a two finger tip crimp to a sharp inverted pocket with your right before moving up to a jug, a bolt and a little rest before the long, precise crux sequence through the steepening ground. This took some working out – try after try I was being spit off – first trying to catch a poor undercut without swinging off, then trying to move off the shallow two-finger pocket on the bulge, then trying to stick the sharp half-pad mono, then the deadpoint from the mono to the “Bassa” – that’s what I’ve ended up nicknaming the nasty sharp mono-and-a-half divot with the sadistically placed rock-tooth! I always end up growling “Yeh Bassa!” (or words sounding quite similar) when I stab my right middle and ring finger tips onto it’s tooth and weight it before hiking my feet up awkwardly under the bulge and launching for the grit-style sloper with my left! Thwack!! A font-style top out later and you’re at the chains. After my first inspection on Thursday I had unearthed a sequence fairly quickly that worked for me but had serious doubts if I could string it together without falls – it was complicated, and Steep! We finish the day off with a load of easier routes in the 7’s and Head home to regrow some skin.

After a days rest we found ourselves back at Dinbren again on Saturday. This time the curiosity gets the better of me and I jump on the other 8a, Elite syncopations. Totally not my style. I spend what seem like hours working out the moves and making sure I’ve tried every possible sequence and found every single nubbin and edge on the route. I get to the top and lower off and we go and do some miles on other lines before I come back for round two and work the line some more. After the second session I am sure I’ve not missed anything and know whats needed. The route is basically a 2 move desperate to get off the ground and then a 7b+ to the chains. But what a powerful 2 moves they are! I can do the moves but they come with a high risk of injury as they are dynamic and involve deadpointing through a roof to a crimpy pocket from a knee level undercut, bearing down on the pocket and basically doing a one-armer from it to a pinch above the second bolt – after that it’s fine to the chains. Right – I can do this but it’s not a route that will crack simply by spending time on it – I can train that kind of specific strength at home on the board and come back to it ready… that’s made my mind up for me anyway – Highway, the John Dunne 8a is my current project…
Monday and we’re back. This time we waste no time and after clearing a wild rose bust from the starting holds I find myself linking huge sections of the route 1st attempt while putting the draws on. I get to the top and come down – the “Bassa” has already made a nice little incision across my two finger tips but not quite cut through the tough layer of skin yet… we go off and do some 6c’s and 7a’s that Caroline really enjoys (Caroline has the extra difficulty of having to overcome the often reach dependant nature of some of the routes – but she’s adapting to it much like meself – moving through the myriad of emotions from depression, anger, determination, to joy once you crack a move!). It’s time to give the 8a it’s first real redpoint effort. I tie in and blast through the boulder problem, shake out at the rest hold and move under the bulge… Crimp, high gaston, thumb-sprag as an intermediate, onto the wide pinch, toehook in the rest jug locks me into position and I can reach up to the undercut in control, feet up, clip, left over the bulge to the two-finger, adjust feet, mono, adjust feet, stab to “Bassa” (Ouch!), feet under the bulge and slap! Some airtime follows…
That was the last hold and the end of the difficulties – I didn’t get it, but it’s all of a sudden very close to being in the bag! Next Day! Unfortunately the mono and the “Bassa” left their mark and I’ve a flapper – How ironic after just blogging about skincare! Haa! Time for some TLC before my next redpoint attempt but the relief of knowing that there are two more 8a’s that I can do is indescribable – At least it wasn’t fluke – and more importantly I’ve some more short term goals before looking at the crags 3 8b’s…

1 comment:

TheUsualSuspect said...

"before looking at the crags 3 8b’s" - now that's the attitude I like to hear!!!!!!!