Marmot meet- Strawberries on sight!!

28th May 2011

Marmot meet- Strawberries on sight!!

No not me obviously, in my dreams at the moment! Due to the bad weather we had over the few days that the Marmot European athletes were in Wales, this onsight was the big highlight. Jorg Verhoeven from The Netherlands (former World Cup champion, climbed 9a and onsighted E7 on grit), pretty much walked up Strawberries by all accounts. Unfortunately, I was on another route at the time so didn’t see the ascent but he climbed smoothly and didn’t seem to have any problems on it. It just makes you wonder why it’s only ever had two on sights in thirty-one years and by no Brits. I guess some of that sport climbing fitness helps quite a bit and being an extremely good climber, nothing to it!

We had a mixed group of people over here specialising in different disciplines but what really came across is that whatever the chosen discipline they could all very happily crossover and climb any style. For the meet, we had:

Sarah Seeger (Germany)

Stefan Glowacz (Germany)

Marcus Bock (Germany)

Jorg Verhoeven (Netherlands)

Albert Leichtfried (Austria)

Gerhard Horhager (Austria)

Oscar Krumlinde (Sweden)

Robert Jasper (German)

Dodo Kopold (Slovakia)

Reinhard Fichtinger (Photographer, Austria)

Steve McClure (UK)

Jack Geldard (UK)

Neil Mawson (UK)

Me (UK)

Tim Glasby (Photographer, UK)

Ian Burton (Film maker, UK)

Matt Pycroft Film maker, UK)


We had three climbing days and visited Gogarth, Tremadog, Pen Trwyn and Slate, also some bouldering in the Pass. Unfortunately there was a lot of wet rock around but we still managed to climb, not always the routes that we wanted but hey when in soggy N Wales, make the most of it. In fact the first morning was so wet that we were lucky enough to squeeze in a visit round the DMM factory. This is a very interesting thing to do and I think was quite an eye opener for all the athletes, it was a great way to start the meet- thanks to DMM.

I climbed mostly with Oscar from Sweden. At 15 he has already redpointed f8a’s and is bouldering pretty hard too. He had a little experience of trad so we were able to climb some of the real classics at Tremadog and Gogarth. It was nice that he was more keen for the trad experience and didn’t plump for the easy option of heading to Pen Trwyn. I was also impressed with his competency and didn’t feel like I had to keep telling him what to do every thirty seconds. To be honest he seemed more competent than some people I see regularly climbing out on the crags!

On our last day, Wednesday, we headed over to Gogarth to do the ultra classic ‘A Dream of White Horses’, HVS. We were also with Jorg and Albert who had set their sights on ‘Conan the Librarian’, E6, which is in the same zawn (Wen). It took a bit of time to find the ab point (well the zawn actually- ahem- ha ha) but eventually we did and set off on our respective routes. Obviously ‘Dream’ is very easy for Oscar but the whole sea cliff experience is unique and the climbing almost becomes secondary sometimes, especially considering the weather conditions. It was very windy and became pretty cold too, it was quite full on stuff and I don’t think either of us will forget the day for a while. Oscar was keen to lead which was nice to see, so on the last pitch, the awesome traverse, his inexperience did become evident. Everything he did was good apart from his rope work, it does take a bit of time to get to know how to use double ropes. And as we all know traverses can be very tricky to know how to protect correctly to avoid rope drag AND protect the second. Poor Oscar, he had so much rope drag by the end of the pitch that he could hardly top out, it looked quite funny but I was too cold to laugh. Anyway, I stopped smiling when I had to start climbing as the ropes were so twisted and slack that any little slip was going to see me taking a massive pendulum. Although to Oscar’s credit when the rope drag got better he never took the rope in too tight so that I was being pulled off, which was reassuring. Obviously I didn’t find the climbing hard but it felt very precarious due to the high winds. In several places the wind was so strong that I had to stop, cling on really tight and hope I didn’t get blown off- it wasn’t very nice. But all in all an interesting experience that I’m probably not that keen to repeat too many times. The other two hadn’t been able to get onto ‘Conan’ due to the conditions, so without a guide just jumped on something else. This turned out to be T-rex E5, which they seemed to enjoy, apart from the wet rock at the start.

The other big trad route that was being attempted on the meet, was ‘The Quarryman’ E8 on the Slate, this time by Ste McClure and Neil Mawson. Steve’s had his sights set on this for a while and the aim was to try to do the whole route in one day, as this has never been done before. All the pitches have been climbed by various people but never by one person in the same day. So a big ask really and it just goes to show just how ahead of it’s time this route by Johnny Dawes was in that it’s never had a day repeat.

Anyway, to cut a long story short; on their attempt on Tuesday the boys didn’t manage to climb the route, only redpointing the first and flashing the second pitch (darkness makes climbing quite tricky!), again illustrating just how hard the route is. And obviously, the famous third pitch the groove, is just something you can’t train for. You’ve just got to get on it and fight your way up it and hope you’ve got enough tricks in your bag to be able to get to the top!

But the good news is and I’ve literally only just found out, is that Steve managed to climb the whole thing on Friday, which is a fantastic effort. It sounds like Neil got incredibly close to it too but was very tired after spending a lot of time on the groove pitch, that the hard last pitch was just a bit too much. It’s got a minging move off two mono edges with a rubbish foothold to go up to a hold that’s a long way away. Johnny did a massive dyno here and it sounds like Neil split his tip, so that was the end of his attempt. Blooming good effort though and not to be underestimated.

Pen Trwyn was enjoyed a lot too and there is talk of Marcus Bock coming back later to try Liquid Ambar, which he really liked.

So all in all a good meet, shame about the weather but it was good to meet foreign climbers at the top of their game and enjoying the welsh experience!

Well done to the photographers and film makers who were there running around trying to capture everything on film (be that digital film) in between the rain.

And big thanks go to Martin Panton (from Marmot UK) and Sarah Seeger (Marmot Europe) for organising the meet and taking the gamble with Wales.