Back into the Swing

Pumped out of my mind on 'Tonight at Noon' E6 6b! Photo - Rob Greenwood

Pumped out of my mind on ‘Tonight at Noon’ E6 6b! Photo – Rob Greenwood

The last month seems to have zoomed by. Following my time in Patagonia and then Scotland my climbing fitness had deteriorated considerably and when I got back home to Wales I was falling off routes I’d generally warm up on. My last five months have been very broken up with alpine trips and work and as a result the last month has been spent trying to get as much mileage in my arms as possible to get fit for some climbing trips I’ve got planned later in the year.

At the beginning of March an old friend returned to North Wales called Wiz Fineron. We’d been at secondary school together in North Wales six years earlier and he’d moved to New Zealand with his family. Wiz is a couple of years younger than me and I remembered him being an awesome climber back then despite the fact he was so small. After catching up over a Pete’s Eats breakfast we headed to the Great Orme where Wiz on-sighted everything he tried in damp conditions, following on with a bouldering session then a trip to the climbing wall. It was awesome to see how well he was climbing and really motivating.

Wiz Fineron climbing 'Curved Arete' E5 6b at Black Rocks. Photo - Calum Muskett

Wiz Fineron climbing ‘Curved Arete’ E5 6b at Black Rocks. Photo – Calum Muskett


Wiz making short work of the Quarryman Groove. Photo - Calum Muskett

Wiz making short work of the Quarryman Groove. Photo – Calum Muskett

We followed this with a couple of trips to the Peak District where I gently re-introduced Wiz to trad climbing by trying ‘Kaluza Klein’ ground up together. ‘Kaluza Klein’ is a short and sweet Johnny Dawes classic found at Robin Hoods Stride. We both took some fairly exciting falls before I stuck what I expected to be the finishing jug only to sketch around a little longer before topping out (see video below!). This was followed by a trip to Black Rocks where we climbed on the Velvet Silence block. We both managed to climb ‘Velvet Silence’ and ‘Jumping on a Beetle’, two of the best highball slabs I’ve ever climbed, and had a quick go at the desperately thin ‘Angels Share’ before deciding to leave it for another time (I woke up the following morning with sore glutes having fallen off so much!). Wiz and I are planning a European road trip in June which should be a great laugh!

Wiz mid-flight off Kaluza Klein. Photo - Owen Hughes

Wiz mid-flight off Kaluza Klein. Photo – Owen Hughes


I’ve also spent a bit of time on Llŷn Peninsula with visiting German climber Benno Wagner. Benno is very unusual for a European climber in that he revels in climbing on the loosest, scariest and most challenging rock in Britain. Combined with this is the fact that Benno is very strong and isn’t afraid of long run outs or massive falls. On our first visit of the year Benno went for the ground up repeat of an E7 of mine called ‘Discord’. After a few falls on the tricky crux section Benno continued through to the bold section above. Looking pumped he began to power scream between holds before reaching the sanctuary of the break.

Benno Wagner climbing 'Melody' E8 6b in atmospheric conditions! Photo - Calum Muskett

Benno Wagner climbing ‘Melody’ E8 6b in atmospheric conditions! Photo – Calum Muskett

Our next visit to Craig Dorys was on a horrendously windy day. We had a go at ‘Melody’, a bold Stevie Haston E8 which climbs up some appalling quality rock. Although the route felt pretty straightforward on a top rope I was happy to take the good excuse that it was raining and a force nine gale was coming into the crag. Obviously in Bavaria, this sort of weather is common place and Benno stepped up to the task and went for it anyway! On our next trip to Dorys, Benno dragged me to the foot of ‘Nightstalker’, an intimidating E8 roof, cruised it, and then took me to the ominously named Shale City to try ‘Ugly’ – the man needs therapy!

I also made a quick trip up to Scotland for some work on the three nicest days of the year. I went for a couple of evening skis and afterwards met up with Dave Macleod for a climb in the beautiful Glen Nevis. I can’t wait to get back up here in some warmer and dryer weather to go rock climbing. Right now though, I’m in France’s Gorge du Tarn enjoying the amazing climbing, warm weather and tasty food.

'Jahu' in Glen Nevis, a classic E6 frightener. Photo - Dave Macleod

‘Jahu’ in Glen Nevis, a classic E6 frightener. Photo – Dave Macleod


'Mammoth Direct' E6 a fantastic Gogarth testpiece. Photo - Tim Neil

‘Mammoth Direct’ E6 a fantastic Gogarth testpiece. Photo – Tim Neil


Big Tim Neil finding the line of least resistance on Main Cliff on the first ascent of 'Main Wall' E1 5b. Photo - Calum Muskett

Big Tim Neil finding the line of least resistance on Main Cliff on the first ascent of ‘Main Wall’ E1 5b. Photo – Calum Muskett

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