The change of season always brings a shift in focus.
After months of darkness, early mornings, and exceptionally cold belays there is a definite sense of relief when the spring arrives. This is one of the things that has kept climbing interesting me over the years, just as soon as your becoming increasingly tired with one aspect of the sport another pops its head around the corner – and throughout April/May this head is Gogarth.
However, still being in winter mode I had to take time to adapt: my pulpy fingers were still soft from months of glove wearing. Fortunately this was easily remedied by climbing (aka. the fun part). It is amazing how quickly the body adapts, every year I get paranoid that I will have forgotten how to rock climb and that I haven’t put in enough effort at the wall and my whole year is going to be a big let down AND PANIIIIIIIC!!!!
Assuming a good level of fitness has been maintained the most challenging aspect of getting back onto rock is familiarising myself with how to stay relaxed – something part mental, part physical. Muscles + fingers adapt assuming you’re putting the hours in, but for me staying calm on a route is one of the major factors as to whether or not I succeed. Most of the hardest trad routes I have climbed haven’t been done whilst I’ve been bouldering or sport climbing at my best, I’ve just been comfortable whilst performing moves on sight with a bit of doubt in the back of my mind.
Aside from getting out climbing I decided to begin a campaign to de-fluff a few routes on the Upper Tier. It is good to give Gogarth some love, it’s one of my favourite crags and it’s nice to give it some care and attention. I have always hoped that these actions are something that will earn me extra brownie points the next time I am pumped senseless (divine intervention: a jug here, bomber wire there – you know…). Anyhow, the following routes are now clean and ready to go – enjoy! Fifteen Men and a Dead Man’s Chest (E5 6a), The Horrorshow (E5 6b), The Emtionary (E5 6a).
After enough lichen had been shed I turned my mind to other things, far away from the technical crimping of Upper Tier and onto something altogether different…
The Flytrap Roof – E5, 6a
FA: George Smith
If you are one of those people who have got a copy of the Gogarth Guidebook beside your toilet (you know who you are) then you will probably be familiar with the first ascentionist. For those who keep guidebooks firmly on their bookshelves I will give a quick summary: throughout the 90’s and 00’s George Smith took development at Gogarth somewhere rather unorthodox by going ‘upside down’ in some fairly implausible terrain. What is all the more impressive is the fact that many of the routes he climbed actually came in at quite a modest grade, something only made possible by the judicious use of the knee-bar. The Flytrap Roof is no exception and hopefully the photos below illustrate that it is NOT Right Wall on Dinas Cromlech…
So, on that note I will finish with a quick summary:
Keep it fresh, stay relaxed, and if you think it’s getting boring (or two relaxing) try getting onto something completely ungradable – at the very least it’ll bring a smile to your face!