I’ve been in the UK for about 5 weeks and for the main part of that trip I have had back-to-back climbing events in North Wales.
The first event was the BMC International Meet. This is an event that I have attended many times now, mainly in summer, but also once on the Scottish Winter meet (which has now been stopped due to poor conditions). I gave the opening slide-show for the guests, showcasing the best of Welsh climbing.
Usually the weather for the summer meet is great, but not this year, with gale force winds and heavy rain lashing the Llanberis Pass all week.
There are usually loads of very good climbers on the meet, and this year was no exception, although no really headline grabbing ascents were made, I was still impressed with the high standard.
I love making friends with climbers from other countries and over the years I have built up a big network of contacts and friends in ‘high places’. But for me the real highlight of this year’s meet was hanging out with old friends who are based in the UK. I’d forgotten what a great laugh esoteric trad sea cliff climbing can be, as it is a few years since I was at my most active in this field.
Neil Dickson, who lives up in Yorkshire but used to climb a lot down in Wales was one such friend who it was a pleasure to hang out with.
Neil, who has been doing quite a bit of sport climbing on the Yorkshire limestone since his move, which is clearly too fast paced for his liking, summed it up nicely.
“We’ve been here all day, we’ve got absolutely nothing done. Isn’t it great.” he said as we lounged in the sun beneath the yellow wall at Rhoscolyn, after scaring ourselves silly trying to get the gear in a loose E7 with rotten pegs.
“I love trad climbing” I replied, eating another sandwich. Neil and I had both had a stab at the route and both backed off. Neil went first and placed quite a bit of gear. I went second and placed a load more, and also ‘adjusted’ – ahem – a couple of Neil’s pieces. Now we were sat on the boulders, neither of us that keen to go again, waiting for our Japanese guests to step up to the plate. It was a ‘lunch off’ and I can make my lunch last a very long time!!
Later that day Neil smashed the route in true Neil style – easily, and only clipping half the gear! I on the other hand played the ‘old’ card and backed off after climbing to the halfway cams. Scary.
We then took the Japanese guys to solo Electric Blue, which was cool. I went first as the weather was a ‘bit wild’. Luckily we all survived.
The slightly damp and very windy solo reminded me of a day out I had with Pete Robins a few years ago. The weather was terrible, but we pushed on in the car and drove all the way out to Rhoscolyn, our eye on a DWS project. On arrival it was raining steadily and very cold and windy. The project was off. But we soloed Electric Blue anyway and as we topped out, felt quite proud that we still climbed despite the weather.
As we packed up, a friend of ours, Dave Rudkin topped out on a E4 in the next zawn over, and we all sorted kit and walked back to our cars in the rain. Dave and his partner had also been cragging in the pouring rain on a wet E4 route. I thought to myself – isn’t Wales brilliant! You can certainly find keen partners.
Anyway – back to the BMC… The rest of the meet was great, with nice guys from Slovenia with whom I bagged a few classic E5s and E6s on Gogarth (even some that I hadn’t done!).
I’m not sure that moving the meet from the luxury of Plas y Brenin to the muddy and crowded (but very nice and fantastically positioned) Climbers’ Club hut in the Pass was a good idea. But it was probably considerably cheaper.
Will I go again next year? Not sure.