Sunday, 8 March 2009

Carreg Hylldrem

My schedule this year dictated having time off during the worst times, namely January and March. Despite the forecast, we decided to head to North Wales, which was of course very soggy. The mornings were OK, but they quickly changed around noon.

We had an obligatory look the RAC’s and Cromlech boulders, but decided they were either too damp or most likely to be so by the time we got the mats out. We also scoped out Ogwen for future sessions, but the experience was more akin to winter climbing with all of the ice and snow around.

Desperation took us down the Aberglaslyn Gorge arriving at a relatively less damp Nantmor, but once again by the time we walked into the bouldering area, the heavens opened up. Determined to climb something not involving plastic, I remembered reading about a bouldering wall at Carreg Hylldrem that claimed to stay dry in all conditions. Preparing for the worst, we were pleasantly surprised.

What a cool little place. It’s steep, featured and most importantly sheltered from the rain. I can’t believe I’ve never tried it out before. There are 4 main independent ‘up’ lines which the guidebook claims all go at around V4 and a low-level traverse at about V3. Endless eliminates abound as well.

We spent about three hours working the problems and making up our own ones. It was really nice to be climbing on real rock again and I thoroughly recommend giving it a go. I would say that you don’t even have to wait for a monsoon for it to be worth it… but this being North Wales, one is often around the corner anyway.

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it was good fun.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


Exams are finally over, which means that I now have my life back, at least for a short while. I went bouldering (sadly indoors) two days in a row for the first time in ages. The old addiction is coming back. My biggest limiting factor seems to be skin at the moment. Ugh - my hands ache. I found two different V5's that I'm currently working; one at the Arch and one at the West Way. I was hoping to use them as a yardstick for this ‘rebuilding’ phase.

Whilst flailing on one of the aforementioned V5 today, I became aware of a conversation. Before I pulled onto the problem a man and a woman walked into the room. Mid-move on the crux of the V5 the man said to the woman ‘looks like that would be a good one for you’. ‘No way’ she exclaimed. He then added ‘it’s all just strength’. Two points: A). Despite the grimace, I can still hear you. More importantly B). Strength is only the beginning. Every muscle in my body was aching and shouting ‘no!’ If it was just about strength, I probably would have never gotten up a V1 today. I am ridiculously out of shape, tired and distracted. I might not be climbing anywhere near to where I was however, I told myself that I could do this one move. Maybe I would never finish the whole problem, maybe I won’t get my strength back, maybe my life will never get even slightly sorted out, maybe my course was a bad idea (tangent – sorry…), but for god’s sake – I could do this one seemingly impossible to me move!

And I did. Then I fell off the next one.

To me, it’s hardly ever ‘just a boulder problem’.

I still have a rather sinking feeling that began to develop towards the end of last week. I just hope it's all worth it. After I finish something big, I often feel down (as do most people?). I'm hoping it's just that and not foreshadowing. Cue the usual questions as to why am I doing this, why can't I just be happy with how things are... etc.

I was hoping to get out this week, but the weather looks horrible - however on second thought, I think that I need to get out of here.

Everything flows, nothing stands still.