Friday, 11 November 2016

Bristol Calling.

Training - the way I do it, only semi-structured, bouldering and routes indoors, but pushing myself and my limits hard, listening to my body, working some weaknesses, keeping some awareness of relevance - is fun. The pleasure of playing with movement, piecing together puzzles, crushing challenges. But it's also training for something. Sometimes that's something specific, upcoming trips, particular plans or route inspirations. Sometimes it's just keeping strong and fit, which is a worthy goal in itself. My mate PK, a semi-recent convert to not training and not pushing himself at all, sometimes berates me "yeah wot u training for tho?". Well not being weak and unfit and useless for a start!! 

So there came a time recently when my TCA sessions turned into a Ratho session full of surprisingly decent performance and easy falling practise which was confirmation that a planned Bristol trip was inspiring again. This was in theory going to coincide with getting to Cornwall in colder conditions and getting on crisp granite, but it didn't, alas that will have to wait for next spring, hopefully a reasonable grit season will be enough preparation for that. In the meantime I took advantage of much more local climbing and a much cheerier vibe than one would ever find around the Central Belt, as well as splitting the journey up following some inspiration from the shiny new Lancashire Brick (more on that almost excellent volume later). So it went a bit like this:

EKU28 or The Russian at Wilton 4 (since they are essentially the same route in a "use the crimp with your left, or right, hand" sort of way). This was highlighted in the Wilton 4 clean-up film earlier this year and despite a slightly green appearance, it was in the fabled "mint nick". A lovely wee solo, probably E2 5b.

Fiend Alone with Jeanette, Pots And Pans Quarries. An old inspiration from an old photo. Another E2-ish 5b solo in another minor quarry. This one was a bit eliminate avoiding the arete, but smearier and scarier. Reaching the top in the encroaching gloom, whilst actually alone, was quite satisfying.

Whilst I was down in Bristol, PK made good on his long term threat to take me to the Frome Valley sandstone. This is esoteric and specialist even by my perverted tastes, although admittedly the climbing would be quite fun if it was clean. Maybe his imminent guide will replace cobwebs with chalk and moss patches with polish? This wee route for example, was 6m of juggy roof climbing. Not bad for something 20 yards from a busy footpath. That busy footpath saw the farcical scene of PK and I hurtling along it at dusk, trailing gear, rucsacs and 50m of rope, frantically trying to escape the above wasp that was cunningly embedded inside my vest. One emergency disrobing and 8 stings later it met it's well deserved fate. The stings were itching for days, the wee cunt.

Two fun sport routes at The Gap. The first is a groove, the second is an arete. Two sides of the same feature, I like that. Both very nice fun routes that belie an initial slightly flakey and grubby vibe, very typical of the area which has seen minor quarries transformed into worthwhile sport venues. Very soon these will transform into overrated honeypots due to an imminent Rockfax guide. Unfortunately the same PK was due to write a proper independent / local activists guide to the area but other parties didn't get organised in time, so this Rockfax purchase will actually be justifiable for a change.  

Crimpy sandstone sport climbing is quite fair training for crimpy quarried grit trad climbing, as evidenced by a fun start to a glorious Saturday at Lower Montcliffe. Unfortunately this fun turned sour as we were kicked off this delightfully sunny but newly owned quarry, albeit after a conversation that turned from typically bullheaded "git orf my land" to a useful discussion of possible progress, respect, and future access with permission. It turns out the situation is somewhat more complicated and hopefully will get resolved sooner rather than later, as LM is a fine example of hidden gems away from the big Lancashire venues. Big venues such as Anglezarke where we finished off the day with a couple of decent routes although frustratingly a re-failure on Tangerine Trip, approximately 0.5 inches from the finishing handjam after me climbing, and pushing past terminal pump, surprisingly well. At least I'm now experienced enough to know that if this is E3 then Supercrack and Wilton Wall are solid it's not. Still I came away from the weekend with enough inspiration for more Lancs suntraps until it gets cold enough for proper grit (i.e. not long probably!)

Missed off this list was a bit more sport dicking around, and an exciting day at Avon doing Yellow Edge (apparently suitable for ambitious E2 leaders, I think I'm a decade and a half beyond that and it was tough, sustained and dangerous as an E3 thanks) and Last Slip (apparently suitable for people who find grit E4 5cs easy and also ignore guidebook bullshit like "lots of small wires". Yeah, lots. All 2 of them. In the same fucking shallow slot. Well below your feet on the 5c quarryman bridging crux. Thankfully the weather was crisp enough to get it done with a lot of deep breaths and my eyes half-closed). An evening celebrating with Kwak beer and a fantastic amount of in-house cats at the Bag Of Nails pub went down very well.

I also got to Fairy Cave and didn't get halfway up Balch's Slide.....but I know someone who did....

HPI Savage XS Bristol Bash!

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