Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Summer That Was

When i was 15, i camped out at the bottom of the Llanberis pass with a couple of mates for several weeks in  our summer holiday. Although it rained a lot, and we didn't scratch the surface of our naively ambitious wishlists it was a great time from which i have fond memories. Since that summer i hadn't really been back to Wales, so with my upcoming UKsummer test for the Guide's scheme in September i thought it would be a great chance to spend a while in Llanberis, making up for lost time and trying to make a dent in that wishlist!

Summer of 2006, it rained a lot, so we messed about a lot. Ioan Doyle and myself having fun.

I couldn't have picked a better summer to stay put in the UK. There was a month or so in July/August when i think every crag in the UK must have been snuff dry. In this period i concentrated on the routes in the pass and on Cloggy, when later on i was spending a lot of time on the coast, either clipping bolts on the Orme or getting pumped stupid at Gogarth.

Lord of the Flies - THE classic.


My route tally at the end of September stood at 25 E5's and 6 E6's, which makes the summer of 2013 my best ever for trad climbing by quite some way. I also managed to climb an 8A at LPT, which was one of my summer goals.
     The stand out routes which i can still feel a buzz from even months later would have to be "Profundum Lacu" on Pabbay - beautiful wall, beautiful place and great company, "Lord of the Flies" on the Cromlech, just perfect climbing, bone dry and without a single chalked hold, "Ludwig" on Gogarth's Yellow walls - a great soft adventure, and "Tonight at Noon" on Craig y Doris - pumped out of my mind!

The Cad
The Orme

However, it hasn't all been play. As i said, the main reason for spending so much time in Wales was to prepare for the guides test i had down there. My preparation was largely in the form of getting to know the area like the back of my hand, so i had lots of options of places to take my "clients" during the test week. I also spent a fair amount of time shadowing people working in an MIA type role. Although multi-pitch climbing in the UK and teaching rock climbing like an "instructor" certainly isn't what most people think guiding is about, its important to be able to have that string to your bow, which in part, was what the September test was all about.

When test week arrived i was really excited to get stuck in and show what i could do. I think i respond well in an assessment environment, and although it wasn't all plain sailing, i actually thoroughly enjoyed the whole week. That said, its a really weird feeling having someone watching, criticising and discussing everything you do. I repeatedly found myself questioning why and how i was doing things, things which i can normally do with my eyes closed, but i guess that's the whole point.
        I was really happy to be told that i'd passed and didn't have to re-sit any days. Although sad to leave North Wales, i had accomplished the mission of the summer, and can look to the winter. This winter i'll be spending a lot of time in Scotland, partly because the climbing is seriously good, and partly because that's where the next test is, bring it on!!