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Sunday, 8 November 2015


First and last post of 2015! The old blog, it's nice to look at the old posts as it documents a frenzied period of development on the North Wales lime. I can't really be bothered with it these days but I feel the need for a cathartic vent about this year's siege. After spending the first half of the year ticking some boulder problems and sieging Enter the Dragon at Trem I got back on longstanding link project at Llanddulas. After dispatching Raiders in good time last year it seemed like the time to finally try and crack the beta on the crux section. I bolted this section back in 2011 but never really came up with a decent sequence on the crux move.
In April I rigged up a little tension line between two of the bolts and sat there for a while trying to come up with something. One thing I'm good at is doggedly trying the same move over and over even when all hope has seemingly evaporated. On the rope I managed to reach the good pocket before the kneebar using a dropknee. This seemed like a goer but i needed to return with a belayer to try it properly. On my return I found it couldn't get to the intermediate to do it that way but I could just about go from further back although it was a much bigger, faster move. By mid May I had done this move into Temple and through the last hard move, encouraging progress. The next goal was to do it from the start of the crux section to the end. I was buzzing over it now, the sequence really flowed, 7 hand moves to the kneebar then 11 moves to the ledge. One day at the end of May I pulled up the rope to try the link, I took my weight on the tiny 3 finger backhand then 'crack'. I let go instantly, my finger had gone off like a shotgun. It sounded like a classic ruptured pulley. I sacked it off and spent the next week depressed, just as I was getting somewhere i had to stop, maybe for the year. After a few weeks my finger felt surprisingly good, this didn't seem like a pulley rupture after all. Easy routes felt fine and I started to think I could be back on the proj after all. It became apparent that it had been a ganglion cyst that went pop and not my pulley. I was still a bit hurt, as this was still traumatic to the tendon but at least I could climb.
By July it was feeling pretty good, I did a new 7c+ at Dulas and started working a harder one that I'd bolted in February. Pete Robins was waiting for the Diamond so he started coming and set about working Raiders, 8b+. I was a bit worried he was going to piss it as he has most of my routes but in the end it took him 7 sessions, only a few less than me on the FA. I finally worked out my bouldery project and got lucky one go. Dick Dastardly seemed Font 7c+ but it is very short so 8a+/b seemed appropriate.

Pete on the 2nd ascent of Raiders:

Yankee Doodle Pigeon and Dick Dastardly:

I'd done my two projects and my finger had done some hard boning so I got back on the big one. I soon got the big link I'd hurt myself trying. The start of the crux section where it leaves Last Crusade to the end. It was 13 steep moves to get to this point, i had no idea what the hard moves would be like from the start but it was time to start redpointing. Pete had bolted a project coming out of Wirral Whip so I could still rely on him for a belay. On my 2nd session I got the roll over to the sloper and was slapping out to the good pocket on the crux. Little did I know what a twat this move was going to turn out to be...
My work had dried up so i had to take a job in Guernsey, a lovely little number for most people but a bit frustrating for a man who's just started redpointing. Luckily i managed to do some nice bouldering and training while i was away but it meant 3 weeks off the route. Through the end of August into September I felt closer and closer to the crux but didn't stick it. It's move 19 on the route so it's quite far in and the type of move made it a nightmare on the link. My feet were over to the right on a smeary vertical bit and my hands right next to each other. In a really quick timing move your left hand slaps way out left to the pocket. It's timing, body positioning and execution. When I got there on redpoint I have a split second to execute and if I didn't do it right I was off. Yep my project had stopper move and I could get there feeling fresh and strong and still drop it. This is a mentally hard style for a route.
The breakthrough came on redpoint sesh 12, now October. I finally stuck the crux, my left foot came off and I lost my sequence and fell off but I was screaming with joy. In the back of my mind though i had a sneaky suspicion that just because I'd done it once it didn't mean it would become a regular occurrence. I did actually manage it again on my next sesh but for the next few weeks went backwards physically and mentally. All of a sudden I was nowhere near the move and even the set up move was feeling hard. I don't think you've truly redpointed until you've gone backwards on something and experienced the mental turmoil that comes with spending so many days falling off one move. It really is hard, it's widely known that redpointing at your limit is the hardest gig in climbing. After ten days when all the excitement has gone and it's become a slog, that's when you really have to dig deep. I played around on the beta, desperate to make it feel easier again. Throughout the year I'd used Parisellas to train for it with it being similar in style. I upped the ante of my training and even replicated the crux on the board. I trained more days on and took 2 rest days after. Just over week ago i stuck the crux again, this time getting a few foot moves further. The next moves are tensiony on shit feet as you climb into the kneebar. It turns out they felt horrendous from the start when your core was sapped. I was happy though and felt like i had cracked the training formula. This is when real life reared it's head again and with the prospect of working away til Christmas and with the weather turning I decided to take my draws out for the year.
Although disappointing i have to remember that at the start of the year i didn't even have a doable sequence on the crux and I managed to stick the move 3 times from the start (out of probably 70 attempts!). I got the thing dialled, learned how to train for the crux and that I needed more tension for the next moves. It's a bit dismaying to think there's 11 more moves from the kneebar to the end but they are a lot higher percentage, easier resistance climbing which suits me. For next year I need burl to stick the crux, tension to get into the kneebar then meaty power endurance to get to the ledge. I know it's pretty hard so I can't be too disappointed. It's 8A to stick the crux and get to the kneebar and then you have to do the 2nd half of Temple. On a good day i could do Pilgrim or In Heaven (the hard way) in the Cave yet only made it half way along the Dulas proj. My only concern is that I may have to deal with wet holds in the first half of next year. The crux hold gets a bit damp, it's a shame I had a dip in October when it was dry and mint and I had time.
And to the callous, thieving little twat who nicked my draws, I hope your head falls off.
Footage of my best go, on my last session:

Pete's project which became Turbo Terrific 8b, should be popular this: