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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Well That Escalated Quickly!

Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th May and I joined up with Andrew, Dan and Josh for my first trad climbing of the year.
It soon escalated from modest plans!
Tuesday and with good weather forcast we met up in North Staffordshire with a view to climbing at 'Hen Cloud' and 'The Roaches'.
With my personal plans of just getting 'rock mileage' in over the next few months before working on increasing my grade I was happy enough to look at Severe and Hard Severe climbs, just get to the feeling of grit climbing back.

With lads together, the weather fine and the climbing good it soon escalated and I soon found myself clambering and hauling myself up 'Bachelor's Climb' (VS4c***). I like climbing on grit, I like the friction you can actually get off what look poor holds but I wasn't very keen on this to be honest. Early season nerves or whatever it may of been I don't mind saying that I struggled in a couple of places on this route and was delighted when I dragged myself over the top move and set up the belay!
Along with Bachelors Climb we also climbed Rainbow Crack, Great Chimney, Left Twin Crack and Right Twin Crack.
We then made our way over to 'Roaches Lower Tier' to catch up with an old friend 'Valkyrie'. Myself and Dan had had a look at climbing this famous route last year but in a moment of clarity had decided to abseil off after the first pitch, in hindsight it was probably one of the better decisions I've made in life.
 The route has a short down climb with very little in the way of holds before an extremely balancy traverse which is poorly protected, I would have struggled last year and without Andrews input.
 After watching Dan lead it and with Andrews beta of the route I was buzzing to successfully lead it this time with the help of Josh on a tricky belay. If you were to come off on the traverse it be one massive swing into fresh air, hopefully!

Wednesday and with the weather forecast to be wet in most places we made our way to Anglesey in North Wales.
 Full of confidence after completing what I personally saw as top end of my ability grades myself and Dan teamed up to lead what would be our first sea cliff lead at Gogarth.
 I have climbed on sea cliffs before but only as a second so this would be another step towards improvement.
 Just getting to the start of a sea cliff route can be a challenge and the descent down to the foot of Gogarth Main Cliff with the sea below and cliffs above is both awe inspiring and intimidating.
 We decided to link 'Imitator' and 'Bezel' routes together which would give us 5 pitches at VS5a, leading alternate pitches we would be leading above our previous top grades.
A bit of a mixed bag for myself. Some of the climbing I really enjoyed and some of not so much, hand jamming at the top of a 5 pitch route over the sea gave me severe 'Elvis leg' at one point and I had a brief moment to myself when I'd topped out and made the belay!

Summary - overall a top drawer climbing trip in my opinion. Completed Valkyrie, which I wanted, and thought I climbed harder than I had previously on Batchelor's Climb. A first sea cliff lead and higher than any previous grade is all good in my book.

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