Welcome Autumn...

7th Sep 2014

Steel Ali Lu Fall Bay Red Sea Walls The Jacques Liam final Crowd

Summer has now officially ended but I’m optimistic that we will get an extension into September, and one way to do that is to head south. So that’s the plan, Tim and I were meant to be heading to The Gower Peninsula today but he wrenched his back yesterday and is laid up in bed. We will just have to wait and see if he recovers enough to be able to make the journey. He was meant to be shooting images at Gower for an american mag article, so bed rest is the only option for now.

So what have I been up to since my last blog? Well, it’s been all go as ever. A friend (Simon on the right at Foxhole, Gower) and I headed over to Llangollen to climb on Clwyd limestone just before the August Bank Holiday, we stayed one night there and then left! The weather was unfortunately rubbish, and the forecast looked best further south, so we made the arduous journey down to The Gower Peninsula--yes, my new favourite place!!

The weather played ball and we had a fantastic time. What’s not to like? There’s fantastic sport climbing and great trad; see the image on right of me on ‘Steel’ E4 6a, on Three Cliffs Bay. It seemed a pretty tough onsight and I had a bit of a battle on it, by the time I got through the crux a crowd had gathered and they cheered me on; which was very encouraging if not a little strange. But that’s climbing on a crowded beach for you.

My sister Ali came over from Bristol to join us which was a nice surprise and we had some great nights in the van (see image left), chatting and playing music, with the odd glass of vino thrown in--well, we were on holiday! 

I managed to onsight a few f7b+’s at Oxwich (Image third left) and Foxhole and we did more trad on Lewes Castle crags, which was all good stuff.

I’ve got say that Gower has won me over and me and my itchy feet are even contemplating a move there...it’s such a lovely place with a lot of varied climbing, so you never know, next spring could see us heading down to S Wales to sample the delights of living on this special peninsula.



Beautiful views from Lewes Castle. Image: Simon Kincaid.

After Gower I had a brief couple of days back in Sheffield and then headed back down to Bristol. My nephews were playing a gig with their band, ‘The Jacques’, who are just about to release a new EP (image fourth left) and also they were both leaving home that weekend to go to college and uni. So my sister Ali had a leaving meal which I was very glad to be at, things will never be the same now, as it’s only Phoebe left in the ‘nest’.

I had driven back down Bristol way, as I was heading further south to Exeter to work at the first ever DWS competition on the docks. DMM were one of the sponsors, so I was helping out on the stand they had there. I had been vaguely tempted to enter the event but I realised it was basically a bouldering comp, so I would’ve got very wet! Bouldering not being my strong point, especially in my weakened state at the moment.

But it was a fantastic event and was great to see all the crowds that gathered for both days (see sixth image on left). With the added spice of the potential ‘splash-downs’, it was an exciting watch. There was a very big field of strong climbers and I’m pleased to say the DMM team did extremely well. Liam Halsey, did an incredible job to win the men’s event (fifth image on left, Liam close to his final high point) and Emma Twyford (see left) came a brilliant third in the women’s. In the semis the competitors had three ‘problems’ to try and they were essentially extended boulder problems. But in the final, there was only one route and the routes setters had done a great job of utilising the wall to set some ‘funky’ problems; so you only had one chance to prove yourself. It was great to see Scarpa climber, Michaela Tracey prove her worth after becoming British Bouldering Champion a few months ago, she carried on her good form to win this DWS event too and that was after making her first World Cup final--one on form lady!

I was planning to head back to Sheffield but luckily on Monday morning made a U-turn and headed down to Berry Head in the pouring rain. I was questioning this rash decision but as it turned out, I had a great day. I started off with a some DWS, doing a traverse called Rainbow Bridge f7a, which I found quite arduous. I wasn’t pumped but the rock was really greasy and I wasn’t warmed up, so it took a bit of talking to myself to get myself along it! So that was entertaining and then I did a classic trad route called ‘Dreadnought’ E3 5c. This had been on the list for ages, so trying to ignore the greasy conditions I headed up it. I climbed it with a young, very talented climber, called Jim Pope from London. He’d barely climbed trad before and didn’t know how to belay double ropes, so it was a little baptism of fire for him. Especially as he had to endure two hanging belays as I was doing all the leading. If you’re not used to trad, there can be a lot of faff factor involved, especially as we couldn’t swing leads so there was some tricky rope work going on. But I hope this didn’t put him off too much and he gets into doing some more in the future--he seemed to take it all in his stride. Apart from the damp rock, it was a great outing which I really enjoyed, and I hope he did too.

I’m now back in Sheff and have been down to Cheedale Cornice twice, which has been good, although oddly very greasy. Which is very annoying as I am trying an f8a called ‘Unleashing the wild physique’ and the crux has some small holds that you have to hold onto for a long time. And the smeg is just proving to be too much of an uphill battle. I think I’m going to have to wait until it gets cooler or less humid before I try it again--hey ho.

So that’s it for now, hopefully I’ll have been down to Gower again next time I write, we’ll just have to see how Tim’s back recovers.

Beautiful light on the men's final route at  the DWS comp Exeter Quay.