One Day, Maybe

Rathlin Wall...the view that inspires

The Promised Land!

I pull into the top crack of The Promised Land as the evening sun bathes the crag in golden light. Friends from Chamonix who have just arrived abseil down beside myself and Nick and shout over;

‘What route is that?’

‘Promised Land’ I shout back, followed by ‘Welcome to climbings Promised Land!!’ and laugh.

Maybe it’s not the Promised Land but I lost count of the number of times over the weekend of the Fairhead Meet the proclamations and exclamations of the quality, beauty and world class standing of the climbing at Fairhead…and the words didn’t come from Irish lips…we already knew it.

Words and pictures can never do justice so such a place…pictures can inspire however, so here are a few!

Nick on Hells Kitchen Arete

Nick on Hells Kitchen Arete. A stunningly positioned and sculpted piece of rock!

Maiden Voyage. An immaculate techy wall split by thin cracks, exceptional climbing! I first tried this line with Caff a few years ago but he backed off due to loose blocks at the start. Last year I spent a day and a bit cleaning it but got shut down on the lead. Paul and John then did the subsequent 2nd and 3rd ascents. I returned this year with this top of my list climbing better and inspired to give this my best effort...which turned out to be just enough!

Maiden Voyage. An immaculate techy wall split by thin cracks, exceptional climbing! I first tried this line with Caff a few years ago but he backed off due to loose blocks at the start. Last year I spent a day and a bit cleaning it but got shut down on the lead. Paul and John then did the subsequent 2nd and 3rd ascents. I returned this year with this top of my list climbing better and inspired to give this my best effort…which turned out to be just enough!

LoLo on Primal Scream. A particularly good effort as she had only ever onsighted E3 and wasn't too knowledgeable on placing wires...shows what sport climbing can do for you!

LoLo on Primal Scream. A particularly good effort as she had only ever onsighted E3 and wasn’t too knowledgeable on placing wires…shows what sport climbing and a calm head can do for you!

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LoLo about to top out on Primal Scream. A beautiful, inspiring wall. The direct on this route, The Complete Scream, is a sensational piece of climbing…Un Jour Peut Etre!

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Nick starting off up Un Jour Peut Etre. A route John and Paul climbed the previous year. John rated it as the best route he had done at Fairhead...storing acclaim from someone who has done nearly every route there!

Nick starting off up Un Jour Peut Etre. A route John and Paul climbed the previous year. John rated it as the best route he had done at Fairhead…strong acclaim from someone who has done nearly every route there!

Myself starting off up the first of two 6b pitches. Sustained technical climbing of the highest quality!

Myself on the first of two 6b pitches. Sustained, technical intricate climbing of the highest quality! Photo: N. Bullock

Trying to find a decent jam somewhere after pulling through the roof on the third pitch. Great effort from Nick especially after having ended up upside below me at the start of a pitch after pulling off a biggish block. I'm glad the belay was good.

Trying to find a decent jam after pulling through the roof on the third pitch. Wild, exposed and strenuous! Photo: N. Bullock

Myself trying desperately not to fall off right at the very top of the route...its not over until its over!

Myself trying desperately not to fall off right at the very top of the route…its not over until its over! Photo: N. Bullock

Will  and Heather on the immaculate slab of Buttons and Bows.

Will Sim on the immaculate slab of Buttons and Bows

Mizen Star

Mizen Star…a classic E2

Dave Pickford pulling through on the incredible  Wall of Prey.

Dave Pickford pulling through on the incredible Wall of Prey.

Nick going Above and Beyond on the Pat Littlejohn classic. A joy to climb this one again as it is one of the most stunning pitches I've ever climbed.

Nick going Above and Beyond on the Pat Littlejohn classic. A joy to climb this one again as it remains one of the most stunning pitches I’ve ever climbed.

Dave Pickford topping out on Salango. Not your average E3!

Dave Pickford topping out on Salango. Not your average E3!

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Thanks to Swaily and Sean the farmer for another great meet and to Nick Bullock for a great trip and indulging me on my favourite piece of cliff!

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That was Spring…apparently

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Cool looking limestone crags at Ifen, Bavaria

One final unpack and repack and I was off to Bavaria to see out my winter season on skis. The winter season had been an incredible one up to now, from Canada to Ireland to the Alps to Scotland and now back to the Alps. I was looking forward to getting some ski time in but really I was looking forward to getting back in two weeks time to go rock climbing!

Fortunately the ski season was holding out well and I had a great 10 days teaching skiing to beginners and getting lots of mileage in myself. Now I will happily confess skiing is not my strongest skill set at present however the challenge of applying coaching techniques and skills was fascinating (and hard work) and I was amazed that by the end of the ten days I had taught four students how to reasonably competently ski around a hill!

Back from skiing it was straight into a few weeks work and staff training and so far the best weather of the Spring! On a calm, blue sky day a few of us went for a paddle from Porthdafarch to Holyhead, i.e. we went for a wee look at Gogarth from the sea. I had always wanted to do this journey but not being a paddler (in the slightest!) the stars had never aligned until now. Paddling up to the bottom of Main Cliff and through the arch in Wen Zawn gives a completely different perspective of these fantastic cliffs. I would highly recommend it to any climber given the opportunity!

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Myself in a sea kayak…a very rare sight! (Photo L. Roberts)

The following day I was back at Gogarth to atone for my boating transgression to go for a journey along the wild, atmospheric ‘Trunk Line’ A Mick Fowler traverse of the right hand side of Main Cliff. Wild and pumpy climbing!

Dave starting off along Trunk Line

Dave starting off along Trunk Line

The wild pumpy traverse out from Alien on pitch 3. Photo D. Rudkin

The wild, pumpy traverse out from Alien on pitch 3. Photo D. Rudkin

The end of April brought the start of two weeks of BMG summer training. Dave and myself kicked it off with a a couple of routes in Cathedral Quarry…a very impressive slate hole in the ground beside Little Langdale in the Lake District where we were to be based for the first week. We spent the week looking in depth at how to move efficiently, safely and quickly over rock climbing and scrambling terrain. Despite the winter being determined to return with snow low down on the fells it was a great week exploring the Lakes and getting invaluable input and feedback.

The second week was based out of Plas Y Brenin with the focus being on coaching and delivery of our rock climbing and short roping skills in a bigger context…i.e the alps! Using observation and analysis, questioning and teaching models we were introduced in depth how to get the maximum amount of information out of people to give them the best experience plus a whole load more!

Cristiano from the Dolomites on Resolution Direct

Cristiano from the Dolomites on Resolution Direct

The following week was the return of the BMC International Meet to the Pass and as with last time so did the windy and wet weather and numerous references to the Pass being akin to Mordor! However, as usual, North Wales delivers and numerous visits to the coast and one fine day in the Pass allowed the international visitors to sample the best of what we have to offer in North Wales with everyone fully embracing the trad style! I think it goes to show just how proud we are of our trad ethics and wee cliffs in this country that people will willing give up a week of their time to show others around. Or maybe its just a great opportunity to go and climb a lot of classic routes ourselves one more time!

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Finally it feels like a holiday! Crisiano embracing the nuts and foregoing the bolts on the Orme!

The rest of the time has been a mix of climbing and climbing work trying to stay warm on breezy crags in the Pass or heading for the sun at the Orme. Time for summer to arrive now though!

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Tim on St. Tudnos esoterica

Sunshine on a cold day at Craig y Don...

Sunshine on a cold day at Craig y Don…