A while back, one of my Blog posts had a comment on it from a guy called Steve who said something to the effect that he was motivated to train as a result reading my waffle… then he went and wrote some inspiring waffle of his own about his recent few days climbing with Séan in Fair Head and I got Psyched meself! I had to get out on rock and prove to myself that I could climb something decent and do it fast!
Today we headed out to Dinbren again, a week after my last skin trashing session with “Highway”. Well it marks the end of the first two weeks of our intensive winter running and climbing training schedule and I feel like a different climber again! Only two weeks of training on my board and the 8a felt like a path! I really wanted to redpoint it today so after two laps on the crag 6b warm up I abbed down the route, cleaning the holds and placing the quickdraws – the sharp nature of the crux monos means that I usually only get 3 good burns on this route so I didn’t want to waste any time (or skin).
The temps were perfect, sunshine, dry rock and a nice breeze. Someone must have been working the route lately and there were a few massive chalk lines indicating someone’s choice of footholds… They weren’t much use to me and looked gank so I brushed them off aswell on my abb down before starting. While I was abbing an impressively large owl did a fly by of the entire crag. A father and son team on a trad route further down alerted me to it first with shouts of “ Oh WOW!” and I turned around just in time to get an awesome aerial view of it’s bright golden plumage gliding by. Caroline was fairly chuffed with her close up too; apparently it practically flew past her face! As a side note, the Clwydian crags are generally good for wildlife, so far we’ve regularly seen Foxes, hawks, falcons, Owl’s, Rabbits, mice and even a Poll cat or something up at worlds end (Like a giant squirrel with a massive cigar shaped tail with a black ring on it).
Anyway, I pull the rope down and tie in… the route begins with a boulder problem involving a shallow mono and a slopey matchbox pinch that has to be deadpointed from to a sharp two-finger pocket that you have to catch as an undercut at full stretch. From there a few non-descript moves lead to a good hold and a rest before a long crux sequence out under and through a blank-looking bulge. Left crimp, high right gaston, left to intermediate thumb-catch, foot up, left again out to wide, beefy pinch, right toehook in the good hold allows me to release the gaston and catch a high undercut below the crux bulge without swinging off. Then the scary clip from way above the last bolt.
Now the strange bit, previously I had been sketching by this stage due to the pump and nerves but this time I’m solid enough to relax and chalk up my left before reaching over the bulge to the slopey two finger scoop… normally this feels desperate and I have to snatch out to the right hand mono sidepull but today I can actually lock-off and chalk my right hand (I actually thought to myself “Why are you chalking up for a feckin mono?”) and then wipe the excess chalk off on my trousers before holding the mono. Next I’m adjusting my feet, ready for the deadpoint to the Killer mono with the flapper-ripping tooth. From here on things get a bit Vocal as I know I’m fresh and I really want to stick this sequence. I reach high to the mono and it feels good as I stack my thumb and index finger onto my middle (just like I practiced on the board during the week) and step up my feet. The slap to the sloper happens perfectly and I’m on the bulge and further than I’ve ever been on this route.
The footholds are rubbish at this point. Basically I’m standing on a quarter of your little fingernail with my right and a rough patch of vertical rock with my left. The handholds are slopers. The higher you stand up, the more likely your feet are to skid off and theres a bolt to clip infront of my face but I cant let go of either hand! I hop my left up high and have one of those on-off moments where I’m a gnats left testie from peeling off backwards. I’m on, stand up to the undercut above and the final easy bulge after skipping the last draw. Clipping the lower off I’m shocked. 2 weeks of board work and the route felt like a path compared to how it felt before our trip to Ireland. After stripping the draws I was at a loss as to what to do next… I was all set for a full days battle and I sent it in one! We kept busy – no shortage of bolts to clip
My second 8a …