Living in England can at times be a very frustrating with bad weather !
For people not familiar with the UK, April is one of those calendar months where if you are a climber you don’t expect to do much other than sneak in a few extra training sessions. This year the April showers were out in force, swelling rivers, bursting pipes and drenching the crags.
Upon returning from Switzerland both me and Mich were feeling in great shape. After a decent training stint and a great trip away to tune our skills, I finally felt like I was climbing well again and before too long my thoughts had wandered to places I would like to visit in the UK.
When you’re climbing well you always feel a surge of energy to go and explore some new places and try and test yourself on some new problems. I was very excited to plan a weekend trip back to North Wales. I spent 11 years living there as a boy and have such fond memories of scrambling about the Snowdonia mountains with my Dad. Going there always feels a bit like returning home. Second on the hit list was the Lake District. I had only managed the one trip up there spent at the costal area of St Bees (this place is a must for any UK climber). I got some serious sunburn whilst enjoying the incredible blocks by the seaside last year, which was great but still left a lot to explore.
Mich rocking the double toe hook on a V8
I felt great, skin was sore and muscles tired but I was ready and willing. A friend told me that it might be wise to take a rest week and recover but I was too excited. However, the British clouds must have heard our conversation and saw fit to push an extended period of rest my way in the form of one of the wettest Aprils I can remember.
Me on Boneyard V8
Fast-forward a few weeks and the weather was starting to clear up and part of me was thankful for the break. The forced lay off had allowed me to recover from the beating Swiss had handed. Me and Mich prepped the van and booked the bank holiday weekend for Wales.
Zooming down the A55 I felt so free. Escaping for a weekend, leaving Sheffield behind for the simple pleasures of sleeping in our van, having coffee in the morning and just making life very easy. The forecast was not brilliant but we knew we would get 2 days climbing so decided for one in Ogwen Valley bouldering and one at Lower Pen Trwyn doing some routes.
We woke Saturday morning to the sound of new born lambs bleeting in the adjacent field. This was Wales alright! After a quick coffee and some breakfast we hit Caseg Fraith. This is a fairly non descript area in Ogwen but houses some great problems. We warmed up a little before climbing the classic 6a+ arete there. I muffed the first go through some silly beta from a local guy before wobbling up the top. Mich however, made no mistake firing the flash in awesome style. The weather was lovely and we enjoyed some quality rock tinkering about on the blocks.
We met up with a local friend of mine Mark who acted as tour guide. After finishing at Caseg Fraith he marched us over to the Milestone boulders a bit further down the valley. I was keen to try the 7a crimpfest Harvey Oswald so bounded over the scree to The Pit boulder. Sadly it wasn’t my day and as I over gripped on one of the tiny crimps, it ripping a hole in my finger. The rest of the party took it upon themselves to reminded of the order of things with Mark casually flashing this and Mich flashing to the last move before opting for skin over an attempt at the powerful last move. However, karma restored the balance later as Mark managed to muff the very last move on the 7c Pit Traverse, denying him a tick.
Me before splitting on Harvey Oswald V6
A little battered and bruised we headed down to Lower Pen Trwyn the next day. I had climbed a brilliant F7a+ there a few years previous and was keen for Mich to try the moves. I did have some fledgling plans to have a look at the classic F7c(+) I’ve Been a Bad Bad Boy but the route was occupied! Oh well, the gapping hole in my finger felt sore anyway so opted to reacquaint myself with Night Glue instead. LPT is a seaside crag that is only exposed at low tide. This makes conditions variable and today it felt minging with sweaty and wet holds with the occasional drizzle from the heavens.
Warming up at Pen Trwyn with Skin Deep (6a+)
I was made up that I got to use my new clip stick and Mich made great progress on Night Glue. We had a good day, playing on the rope while the pier’s band blaring in the background. Finishing off with fish and chips before hitting the road to check in with my Dad, this felt like just what I needed and reminded me that climbing in the UK, despite its weather is a pretty good place to be.
Mich high on the awesome Night Glue 7a+