I haven’t written a blog entry for sometime now. This is partly due to being busy and partly due to not quite knowing where to start!
I guess I will begin at Cressbrook in May this year. Cressbrook is a small limestone crag in the peak district, a stone’s throw from Rubicon. The crag has no topo and is fairly quiet because, similar to areas such as Brione in Switzerland, it is only found through word of mouth. The weather was pretty warm in May and so I started going in the evening and climbing by lamplight to get good conditions. My project was The Hulk, a very basic 7C+ boulder problem. I don’t know if this is just the difference between UK grades and European grades or a style that doesn’t suit me, but this was by far the hardest 7C+ I have ever done! Climbing by lamplight is great; very eerie, quiet and of course cooler temperatures. As my sessions went on I made progress bit by bit and, not having been able to do all the moves on my first session, I gradually pieced it together. The send came as a bit of a surprise, earlier than anticipated! I got a lot of satisfaction from this problem, a real example of how something that feels super hard at the start can in fact be achievable.
So, the next chapter of this blog takes place in South Africa. This is the most remote place that I have been to go climbing and it felt like a complete adventure from the start. We flew into Capetown and then got the bus out to Clanwilliam (the nearest town to the climbing). Here we were picked up by friends and we drove out to Traveller’s rest where we were staying. This drive we did in the dark so it was only in the morning that we woke up to experience the amazing views, the vast landscape absolutely littered with reddy-orange rock. The place I can liken it to is Hampi; in terms of the vast expanse of rock (I cannot compare the climbing as I only passed through Hampi when travelling and have not climbed there). We had seven weeks and it was like being a kid in a sweet shop. I could talk forever about this trip but I guess the most important point is to say that it is worth it!! Go there if you get the chance, especially if you like steep climbing and enjoy friendly temperatures! While we were there one of my aims was to step up my climbing achievements and climb V12, a grade that has thus far eluded me. I put a lot of time into one bloc in particular: Black Shadow. This climb is brilliant fun, steep and gymnastic. I really enjoyed trying it and could manage it in two sections but alas I was not quite strong enough to pull it out of the bag. It did however give me the confidence that with a little work this grade of climbing was achievable for me, just not quite yet…Whilst working away at Black Shadow in vein I also had some successes completing Nutsa (8A), a few 7C+s and 7Cs (including my first 7C flash – Last Day in Paradise).So all in all a happy successful holiday, I’m already trying to plan a return trip!
Now I’m back in Sheffield and the hours and days are whizzing past at an alarming rate. I am training as much as I can, trying to up my game for the World Cup circuit next year. I have always entered the international events off the back of outdoor trips, which isn’t bad preparation but certainly isn’t ideal. Now that I am studying for an MSc, it seems the perfect opportunity to train in a more structured way….hopefully I will see some changes!
Below: Pinotage, 7B+.
Photo: Jon Butters
Below: Creaky Heights, 6C+.
Photo: Jon Butters