9 June 2011

3 June 2011

BMC International Meet

So this is the driest spring on record! There has been sunny weather for months. Then when I commit to try a bit of climbing………. it rained. (actually the other time I tried to climb in the UK in 2011 it also rained which, on that occasion, precipitated prussiking out of the Ruckle! Twice! in one evening)

But this is my story of the international meet……. Sunday: as I drove West along that flat straight section of the A5 the sun was setting behind moody cloud shrouded Snowdonian peaks reminding me of a scene from Lord of the rings and giving a premonition of the apocalyptic weather waiting in the mountains.

True to form it was a wet Monday morning so my Finnish guest, Perttu, and I headed to the North coast on Calum’s advice, thanks, you saved us the soaking most of the other climbing teams got. Sport climbing from the beach of LPT was good and we got a couple of routes ticked before the tide chased us back up to Marine Drive where I dug deep and enjoyed a 6c retro-flash.

Perttu at LPT

Tremadog. I had never climbed there before so when we arrived I, as usual, didn’t have a clue what to climb so finding a route called Helsinki Wall in the guide was obviously a good omen. Strolling to the top of the crag to start climbing was unusual and more walking than I would have preferred but I finally located the descent gully and some extremely unappealing looking rock that must have been Helsinki wall. Brilliant! Perttu had travelled all the way to North Wales for me to show him some sport routes and a chossy looking gully wall. Worse was to follow……. as we were now at the foot of the crag I instigated plan b and tried to locate the second pitch of Stromboli, to my embarrassment this actually resulted with me climbing a tree, slinging a branch for protection as I ascended loose rock and brambles to reach the grass. Cool. Later on Perttu made short work of the good E2 Plastic Nerve but that’s not so surprising considering he has climbed Fr8a on gear (~E8).

Alex on the Ramp

On Wednesday all the climbing teams swapped round and I was with a different guest. Alex had led a handful of routes on gear before the meet but had been happy on an E1 he had strayed on to! so I pointed out Gauntlet on the upper tier at Gogarth and he was psyched for the lead. No dramas with this line or The Ramp so we had a go at Central Park, as Gogarth cracks don’t exist in Serbia to practice on Alex had been training on a campus board. Maybe this is why he had a bit of a moment as he quickly learnt about rapid down-climbing for a shake out. From my hanging belay below I was trying to explain about my aversion of shock loading any gear when Alex stepped back up and finished the awkward crack in good style.

Alex on Central Park

I had a good week, I hope the guests did too!

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Bad Landing

As I was driving I saw a strange thing:
From the trees blew a leaf that bounced off the radiator grille and landed in the middle of the bonnet with a thud that was slightly too loud to be the noise of a leaf landing on a bonnet?
Still driving, I squinted through the windscreen at the leaf caught motionless in that eddy caused by the sleek Landrover streamlining, once stopped I cautiously prodded the bat hoping it was not bleeding (or would make me bleed in revenge for driving in to it then poking it).  Happily nothing other happened than the furry matchbox shuffled its wings back in to order.  Studying it by the light of a torch beam I could see a delicate transparent membrane poking from below its nose, the membrane was part of the bats precise ultrasonic echo location, I guessed. Incorrectly. As the bat came to its senses it finished chewing the insect it had been chasing and ate the wing that was hanging from its mouth.
Unblinking, it fixed me with tiny black crystal eyes then maybe because I had just blinded the nocturnal creature it started off on a circuit of the bonnet moving with a surprisingly efficient shouldery crawl on its elbows (wrists? or some other anatomical adaption).  After I picked up the bat its hooked ‘feet’ helped make rapid and determined progress up my arm until I couldn’t hold my nerve any longer and scooped it off my shoulder.  I’m not sure what passing drivers thought about the figure standing in the dark with one arm raised like a Nazi salute but the bat hung upside down from my finger for a while then flapped off back in to the trees.