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Too much work, very little play!

So It’s been a while since my last blog post. September hasn’t really been a good month of climbing for me, after getting back from Magic wood work has gone hectic.  I managed to get out early in September to Ban y gor. I hadn’t heard great things about it but Matt had been once already and was keen to go back so it can’t be that bad. Can it! We got there and I was far from impressed, most of the routes on the main wall started up a “chossy” lower wall that reached a loose band/ ledge at half height. From the ledge the upper wall had some good quality climbing, well the routes that I did, did anyway, It was just a shame it only lasts for about 8m. After taking one look at the guide I was already over it. Who ever the “Smart Alec” was that wrote the guide-book tried to be intelligent and write it from right to left, which goes against the grain every other guide-book ever written. After finally working out the guide-book and still having not found much inspiration I put my shoes on tied on and started “Hummin’ Bird” F7b+. The lower wall, as I said before wasn’t very good. but the climbing above was 2 stars. There was a bit of a hard move leaving the half height ledge, followed by a bit of “Fridge hugging” that then lead to a tricky thin groove to finish. The plan of the day was to do “Almost Me” a F7c just to the right of Hummin’ Bird. The route starts from the half height ledge off of a pedestal, heads up a short wall then goes through the widest part of the double roof. Matt went for onsight while I jugged up a rope on Hummin’ Bird to take some pics.

Matt putting the draws in "Almost Me"

Matt putting the draws in “Almost Me”

He cruised the start and into the roof but unfortunately dropped it coming out of the roof. I lowered down to the ledge and tied on. As I had just watched Matt I knew it was quite a big move coming out of the roof. I found the start fine and got into the roof with no problems, I pulled round the roof but came up short. I managed to reverse back in to the roof,had a quick shake and tried again. This time I over shot it and fell off. I was a little disappointed as I wasn’t feeling that tired, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Tom pulled on and had a play on top rope. After Tom both Matt and I got first red-point.

"Almost Me"

“Almost Me”

Matt sending "Almost Me"

Matt sending “Almost Me”

Following “Almost Me” I tied on and tried “Stitch That”F7c+. After almost dropping a move over the roof due to my foot popping I climbed on to the chains getting the onsight. I thought the grade was a touch soft, maybe more like F7c even so the climbing was quite good. Meanwhile Matt had got on Hummin’ Bird, he got on ok but failed in the top groove on his 1st red-point. As he was feeling quite tired he stripped it out and left it for another day. I finished of my day with “Pet Cemetery” f7a, “The Beauty of it all” F7a and “Heady Days” F6b+. Overall I was too impressed  with Ban y gor.

Matt on "Hummin' Bird" F7b+

Matt on “Hummin’ Bird” F7b+

The following weekend we tried to get to Cheddar but the rain shut us down, we got all the way there to find the crag just dripping. So we turned around and headed back into Bristol. On that Saturday it was “Bristol open doors day”. This is a day where over 60 building of historic or architectural interest open their doors to the general public. As we had already driven to Cheddar and back we only had time to visit a couple of places. The First place we visited was “Redcliffe Caves”. The caves cover over 3 acres under Redcliffe and were mined for red sandstone for the glass making trade. The first reference to the caves was back in 1346 and the earliest writings found in the cave date back to 1761.

Cave drawings

Cave drawings

After wandering around in the dark for and hour we headed just over the road to “St Mary Redcliffe Cathedral”.

St Mary Redcliffe

St Mary Redcliffe

As the weeknights grow darker and weekends disappear it was approaching the end of september and I had only manage to get once on real rock. Steve and I managed to get a Monday morning off so we headed to Cheddar to Meat up with Gav. Steve has been after “Everyday lives of Ordinary People” F7c on the Remnant. Gav wanted to get on “Shadow Walker” F8a+  on Lion rock and I wanted to try a fairly new line that breaks out of Shadow Walker that goes around F8a+. After warming up I put the draws in on this new line. I got to the rest just before the first crux on Shadow Walker and the holds were soaking. After dogging to the top I had 1 red-point attempt but the holds were so wet it made the crux almost impossible. Gav had one go on Shadow walker and also came to the same conclusion. Steve manage to make a good link on Everyday lives but no cigar. During the day I was chatting to Gav about a route he did recently called “Infinite Gravity”, a 45m F8a+ on the South coast of Swanage. Apparently there’s nothing like it in the UK. I was pretty psyched to get down there and try it especially as the draws were in it.

Later that week I got a call from Charle Woodburn, saying he had been chatting to Gav about Infinite Gravity and Gav had told him I was also keen. So with a bit of last-minute shuffling of a some work we heading down Wednesday night to try the route the following day.  We got down the crag for about 10am, the route is situated in a big cave called “Blackers Hole”, Swanage. The line tackles the belly of this huge 45 degree overhanging ships prow, with 22 bolts and 16 of them 4ft slings it’s safe to say ‘she’s a bit of a beast’. Charlie started up it bolt to bolt to warm up, the start was ‘gopping'(soaking wet and really greasy). After 40 minutes Charlie lowered off the top looking rather unimpressed with the conditions. We pulled the rope and I tied on. It was just as bad as Charlie said it was. The lower groove was soaking and the rest of the route didn’t get much better. I was about half way along the route when I saw someone “abbing” off the top. It was a good friend of  mine Andy Long who lives just down the road on Portland. I had sent him a text saying we were coming down. I finished the route to the top and lowered off. The conditions were awful but Andy was adamant they would come good later in the day.

Andy jugging up to take pictures

We waited for about 3 hours and gave it another go. Charlie pulled on but slipped off at around the 4th bolt. I closely followed slipping off in exactly the same place. The rest of the route was feeling a bit better so we trusted Andy’s word and played the waiting game. It got to around 5pm and the sun had come round onto the route. Realistically we only had one proper burn each on it before it got dark so we had to make the most of it.

This time Charlie managed to get past the wet groove and on to the dryer part of the route. He climbed really we up until about 3/4’s of the route where messed up one move and dropped it.

I pulled on and also got through the dampness of the lower groove. After chilling out at the rest after the groove I pushed on to the 2nd crux which is around 2/3’s of the route. I went into it quite tired and alongside finding it quite bunched I powered out one move before a rest. I pulled back on and tried to finish the route just for training purposes but failed on the top section.

It’s amazing how quick you can loose you fitness, but if you put the effort in you can get it back just as quick. So back to the drawing board to try to schedule in some training. As Charlie didn’t get the route as well he was pretty keen to get back down on the weekend. Unfortunately due to other commitments I couldn’t make it. Instead I managed to get out to Cheddar on the Sunday where I ticked off some routes on a wall I’ve never been to.We went to Madrugada wall and I did “Ho Ho Ho” F7a onsight, “Rape of the Sabine Women” F7a+ onsight and “Thermopylae” F7b flash. Following that we headed down to Arch rock so that Heath and Jason could try “All Hands to the Pump” F7b. Heath managed to make a good link on top rope and Jay managed to get it 2nd red-point.

Another week has passed and we’re now into October. Steve and I headed back out to Cheddar last Friday to try to finish what we had started a few weeks ago. Now that October has come round Cheddar conditions are starting to come good. We got there and it was Baltic, A woolly hat, thermals and down jacket is now essential Cheddar crag gear. We only had limited time that morning as Steve had to be back in work for 2pm. I warmed up putting the draws in this new line on Lion Rock. I was very pleased to find it was dry and in primo condition. I felt pretty good so as soon as I got down I went for a burn. I got all the way to the last draw where I dropped it due to flash pump of death and forgetting my sequence. I left draws in and we ran up to the Remnant, Steve also warmed up by going bolt to bolt on “Everyday Lives”. He also went for the tactics as me, lowering down, having a couple of minutes then going for it. He managed to get high but also pumped out. We ran back down to Lion rock, I knew this was going to be my last go due to time being upon us. I felt pretty relaxed when I started, I got through the first crux and into the rest. I pushed on out to the arête and sent it. This was the 2nd ascent and I think the grade is around F8a+, A good alternative ending to Matt’s Shadow Walker. I stripped the draws out and we rushed back up to the Remnant. Steve pulled on and got to basically the last hold, he came up a little short and dropped it. unfortunately Steve’s Everyday Lives saga continues on for another day.

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