Summer update...

19th Aug 2014

Wargames Chilly Yew Cougar Scarpa demo Airshow 2 Foxhole

It’s been almost a month since my last blog, so before going away again, I wanted to try and write a quick update of what I’ve been up to.

In a nutshell, lots of driving and climbing! So all in all it’s been great, trying to take advantage of the good weather and getting to some new places.

After my Lakeland trip in July, I was very psyched for more trad but for one reason or another this hasn’t happened. I think it’s mainly a combo of dogs/family and finding people who want to climb trad. But sport climbing is still fun too, so I can’t complain.

After the Lakes  we went over to Clwyd area and sampled three crags: Frogsmouth (Runcorn), Craig Arthur (near LLangollen) and Devil’s Gorge (Mold). All very diverse and good in their own way, so well worth visiting if you are ever nearby any of them. But if I had to choose a favourite it would probably be Craig Arthur as it has a mixture of sport and trad routes, which is my ideal scenario; I onsighted an E5 6a (Survival of the fastest) and a f7b+ (Relentless--true to it’s name), which was a great day. And funnily enough the E5 felt easier than the E4 I did in the Lakes--those Lakeland grades! That was the last trad route I did until our next trip...

...which was a combo of N Yorkshire and The Lakes again. Yorkshire was great and I always forget how lovely it is until I go again and the bonus is that it has some awesome climbing. We went to Loup Scar and did a very burly f7a+. That was fun but the river crossing wasn’t, in fact it felt a little bit hairy in a kind of ‘I dare you’ sort of way--but we managed to avoid getting wet. Buis came across but Tayo didn’t, he stayed the other side with Tim, he can be a timid little man sometimes. Then we went to Trollers Gill, which was a lovely surprise and had some awesome routes. But the real shame was the (unsurprising) amount of polish. I have to say it did mar the climbing for me but I would probably go back even so, to do more routes.

The next day we had the complete opposite experience on the fierce but excellent Yew Cougar (near Kilnsey). We hadn’t bargained on yet another river crossing, which wasn’t quite as hairy as Loup Scar but was still a minor ordeal as it had rained the night before and the river was FLOWING. It was quite a wide one too (see picture on right). The crag itself is very good quality and the rock was incredibly sharp but tufa (so shouldn't complain too much as I love tufa climbing), to the point that the skin could barely last the day. The routes are shortish and burly, a great style if you are up to it. I started off well, almost flashing  Cruisin’ for a bruisin’ f7b as a warm up. But it rained just as I was approaching the belay so I had to stop, which was a shame. And it kind of did this all day, rained on and off and it was serious rain and quite chilly (see second image on left © Simon Kincaid), so it was a bit of an endurance test. But the walk up the steep hill at the end of the day warmed us all up!

Then we went to the Lakes, did another Chapel Head day (see image top left, me on Wargames, a classic © Simon Kincaid), which is always fun and challenging and we were joined by friends Ben Heason and Ste Mac, who we had stayed with the night before up near Ullswater. The day before Tim had done the big slog up to Dove crag with those two to take pictures and myself and Simon had a day off to let the skin recover.

We then had a frustrating rainy day where trad plans were thwarted but we finally ended up at Hardknott Crag after a lot of driving around and did a fantastic E2. The rock was amazing, shame the gear was a little spaced at the start but the climbing was great fun.

After this little trip, I had a break in Sheff, catching up on life then Tim, myself and the dogs headed Bristol way. We did some work on my Mum’s roof, hung out with family, then I had a Scarpa boot demo (see third image on left © Tim Glasby) at TCA Bristol on Thursday at their Summer comp/party. It was a good event and from my/Scarpa’s point of view it was busy. I didn’t even have time for a veggie burger from the BBQ--hey ho, I got a beer though! Then I was coaching at UCR on Friday and straight after that it was a trip to The Gower. I’ve wanted to go here for ages and it just seemed to make sense to tie it in with the Bristol work. What I didn’t know was that there was an event going on at the newly developed Shipwreck Cove organised by Adrian Berry. So it was great, go to a fantastic new climbing area, catch up with lots of people I haven't seen for years and have yet another BBQ put on again by TCA.

Shipwreck is a very good new venue and I had a great day there, very nearly flashing an f8a of Adrian’s, ‘Airshow’. You can see the fourth image on the left, (and a close up below) of me just before I fall off. Then I got back on and went to the top without a fall. Very frustrating at the time but the next day I couldn’t redpoint it! It felt like a different route, I think I was tired and again my hands were very sore. I tried it three times and kept falling off the same move, a long move to a smallish two finger hold that you have to snatch precisely and I kept just missing it. Oh well, next time maybe. Our third day there, after the van needing to be rescued because of a flat battery, we went to Foxhole on the other side from Rhossili. Although this is a much smaller venue, the quality of the climbing is very good. Even with my sore hands and tired body, I managed to onsight a f7a and the classic of the crag, Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove f7b (see fifth image on left) with me and Tayo underneath the cave-like feature with all the chalk in the groove on Pioneers... And after being blown to bits and quite cold at Shipwreck Cove, Foxhole was a complete sheltered sun trap, so it was lovely to have some sun before heading back to Sheff.


Now I’m home, it does feel as though summer is on the wane but I’m not giving up just yet. Heading off again today, not sure where yet but most likely it will be a revisit to Clwyd, to sample some other venues and maybe head up to N Wales or possibly back to the Gower again. I was meant to be climbing in N Wales with some friends from the Lakes for Bank holiday but that has been cancelled due to an iffy forecast. So with an open mind and a van that goes anywhere, we can follow the good weather (if there is any!)--bring it on!

Hope you are all managing to get some good stuff done this Summer and are enjoying the dry rock.


A lovely scene at one of our more random van spots on our way to The Lakes; a place called Plumpton that turned out to be rather serene. Image: © Simon Kincaid