The Deep Water Soloing season came to an end in style. The weekend after the ban was lifted at Berry Head a huge party of climbers assembled to celebrate Rob Greenwood’s birthday and to reincarnate the (unofficial) DWS festival. Routes were being climbed all over the place. Every where you looked along the cliff there were sun bronzed human beings interacting with the most wonderful coloured rock to be found anywhere.
My aim for the weekend was route called Cutlass. This route was first climbed by Ken Palmer on a top rope before Neil Gresham climbed it ground up on the first solo ascent.
The route climbs directly out of the most beautiful orange, black and gold streaked section of the rainbow bridge traverse. There was a couple of really strong climbers about that day who were also interested in trying this route. Me, believing myself to be the weakest of the bunch decided to go first so I could provide some beta for the strong boys to go for the flash. You start the route by climbing along Rainbow bridge before attacking the blankest looking section of the wall. A few deep locks lead you to a large move to a big pinch, here you set your feet and lay one on for a flat hold near the top, hold the swing, grab some jugs and top out easily. On my onsight go I didn’t commit properly to the big move from the pinch and dropped it trying to hold the swing. I blame my saggy core (note to self, something to work on over the winter). On my second go I set my right hand on the pinch properly, drove my feet into the smears and held the move by really engaging the core to kill the swing. I had achieved the route I had come to climb, and all before coffee time.
Later that day Ryan Pasquil and Neil Mawson flashed the route with relative ease (and good beta ;)). I was so psyched watching these boys in action that I decided to have another go on the route. Climbing this route for the second time really topped a great day.
Cutlass was originally graded 8a+ as it was tried many times by Neil with beta that turned out to be harder, after several discussions I believe the grade to be on the friendly side of 8a. Boulder grade wise perhaps it would break down as a 6C into a dynamic 7A+.
Grades aside, this route is fantastic and pretty low so go and get on it people, although perhaps best to wait for the summer to return now.
The following weekend I was down at Lulworth cove. Lulworth cove is my favourite DWS venue for this summer. The routes are characterized by steep and juggy climbing which generally requires a fairly dynamic style. Especially the route I was there to try, Adrenochrome. Gav was getting much further on the route than me and I was getting frustrated, the sea was getting colder and this would be the last opportunity to do this route before the summer was over. I was being shut down by a big dynamic throw where the usual beta is to “tag” into this grim undercut before latching a jug. Try as I might I could just not generate the required momentum for the move. I blame my short arms, but I am just making excuses. Anyway, instead of just tagging the undercut with the left had I decided to use it as a hold and go more statically to the jug with the right. Not the usual method, but it worked for me.
Adrenochrome is probably the best route I have ever climbed in any genre, every move is amazing and the climbing just flows together into one amazing journey through this wonderful feature.
Since the end of the summer weather I have been reminiscing about sunny days passed, gone are the times of just waking up in the morning and going to the crag to climb. Now the first thing I do is check the weather forecast.
To keep myself motivated to train on plastic I registered to compete in the British Lead climbing championships, some of the boys that I coach were also competing. I went down the wall and did lap after lap after lap on the pink spots then the green spots then the black spots….
When the sun did come out I went climbing. Some memorable days were had at Cheddar, many routes were climbed between 7c and 8a+. Generally I tried to flash or onsight every route, if this didn’t work then second go it was.
Last weekend we travelled to the cool new Awesome Walls Sheffield, where the BLCC’s were being held. On the Saturday the juniors competed and the lads all climbed well and had a great day. On Sunday the seniors were up. The qualification involved climbing two routes. These routes had very contrasting styles. My first route was very bouldery, I regretted doing all those laps on the aformentioned spoted routes at UCR and wished I had just gone bouldering. Nearly every one fell at the same boulder problem with a hold or two separating the majority of the field.
The second route was a bit more to my liking, it was about 10 degrees overhanging and had the most disgusting little rat crimps imaginable, just my style. I topped the route with what felt like relative easy. Later talking to Mike Langley, one of the setters, he congratulated me on completing a hard route, commenting that it was graded 7c+. I had to disagree with him on the grade.
In the end I was one hold away from making it into the final and I finished in 12th position. I am fairly happy with the way I climbed, although I definitely didn’t climb my best, which is good as it means I will have more to give next year.
The following day I dragged Hannah around the Peak district looking for a particular boulder problem. Like a numpty I had got too carried away setting boulder problems the Friday before at TCA, when I was supposed to be packing for the weekend, and had forgotten the guide books.