Costa del Llanberis!

The heatwave which has has been sitting across the UK has been amazing, Llanberis and Llyn Padarn have felt more like the Costa del Sol! At times like these there is no better place to be than home in North Wales.

Enjoying the sun in our garden...Costa del Brynrefail! 

Llyn Padarn Morning Swim

Filling our house with lovely psyched friends at the weekends has not been difficult! Last Saturday after a team morning swim in Llyn Padarn we braved the heat to mission it up to Cloggy for an ascent of November E3 5c and the Axe E4 6a. I've wanted to do the Axe for as long as I can remember, and unlike many uber classic routes which get built up in my head the Axe did not disappoint. I think it's one of the coolest trad climbs I've ever done (apart from maybe King Wad), however being up at Cloggy makes it extra special. Quite a few of the holds lower down on the Axe are a bit hollow sounding and there are a couple of spicy little run outs and balancey moves which add to the excitement!

Second Pitch of November E3 5c - checkout the number of  rucksacks at the base! 

Duncan on the Axe E4 6a

Topping out the Axe
On Sunday it was so warm we all decided to have a chilled day enjoying the sunshine swimming and boating on Llyn Padarn...happy days.

Team morning swim

Paddling home to Brynrefail

Gorge du Tarn and a Stranded Belgium Police Man!

Trying to make the most of a week off work Amy had we planned a trip to Gorge du Tarn in France, I was keen for Amy to experience the great climbing and the idyllic setting of the Tarn. It did seem a bit of a shame to be going away during the best spell of weather for many years in the UK! However experiencing France and new crags is always fun.

The drive down through France was very enjoyable. As usual when in the van we took it easy and completed the drive over two days. Using my new All the Aires guidebook I got hold of, we found some great motor-home aires to stay at. I very much recommend this book to anyone driving around France (they also do a version for Belgium, Spain and the Alps), it's great for peace of mind to know that after a long drive you can rock up at a safe place, often in a nice little village and more often than not free, with water top-ups on tap. Choosing an Aire in the guide book is a bit like window shopping, they all have photos, descriptions and GPS co-ordinates. Once a stop-off has been chosen it gives a nice point to aim for, making the 'time-remaining' read-out on the satnav slightly less demoralising!

A nice little 'Aire' stop to spend the night somewhere in the middle of France

Arriving in Gorge du Tarn
As far as climbing trips go this trip was pretty chilled, almost a holiday!

Mm Morning Swim

Cooling down

Amy enjoying the summit of  Pegasus a great little multipitch in Gorge du Jonte with a proper summit

However amongst regular swims in the Tarn, nice multipitch routes, coffee, lunching in the van and red wine (French of course!) I did get up one route I was super happy with. First red-point I managed Les ailes du désir 8a, the whole 50m of it! I had previously onsighted the first half which is 7b+ on another trip. I had had a quick play on the upper section before but found it to be hard and, living up to it's name (Wings of Desire), VERY runout! This time I managed to hold it together to work out the moves and even though it was a real fight I managed not to have to put my wings to the test on the successful red point.

Photosphere Panorama of the amazing cave of Tennesse Sector

Lowering off after Les ailes du désir 8a

My van getting x-rayed in a spot customs check on the way home!

Digging Graves and Stating Youth!

I can't believe that almost a month has past since I got back from France. My return coincided with almost two weeks of amazing weather in North Wales, it was just as hot here as it was in the south of France! With my climbing desires temporarily quenched I quite enjoyed sitting back and enjoying the sunshine, catching up with friends, work, BBQ'ing, swimming and getting some veg planted in the garden. I was reminded (as I am every year) that when the sun in shining there is no better place to be than home in North Wales.

Amy preparing for a pre work swim in Llyn Padarn

The view towards Llanberis Pass from Brynrefail

When the sun is shining there is no better place to be! 

Elephantitus contender for best V6 boulder problem in N.Wales, best enjoyed with cheeky swim afterwards

But I could't sit still for long, with all the mountain crags dry it was too good an opportunity to pass by. Still feeling pretty fit from two weeks of sport climbing Luke and I were keen to have a go at Pretty Girls Make Graves. A well known, well protected E6 in Cwm Glas Bach in Llanberis Pass. We both failed on the onsight attempt, we managed the route ground up second go with the gear still in place. This made it (almost!) feel like sport climbing (maybe around 7b+). Although it would have been nice to get it onsight it certainty did not feel like a failure! We both had a great day out, I'll always remember finger locking my way up the top crack in gorgeous evening sunshine. The route was my first E6, but given the style it didn't really feel like it.

Why can't it always be like this! 

Luke enjoying the upper crack of Pretty Girls Make Graves

Cwm Glas Bach at it's best at 8pm

The view down Llanberis pass from Cwm Glas Bach

Llanberis Pass sunset

The next couple of weeks flew by, being quite busy with work and mixed weather I got out a bit less than usual but still managed a couple of days out bouldering, a fun evening in Castle Inn, and a zero carbon emission climbing session in Vivian quarry (we biked there!) with Amy.

Latching the tricky dyno on Harvey Oswald a tricky V6 boulder in Ogwen Valley

One evening last week came the big one for me, I finally managed a successfully red point of Statement of Youth 8a down at LPT.  It was the first route of the 8a grade to be put up in the UK by Ben Moon in 1984, today it's still widely regarded as quite a tough 8a and a total 3 star masterpiece. The route took me about 5 sessions spread over two months and maybe around 6 or 7 proper attempts.

The climbing on the route is amazing, very technically involved and very dropable in lots of places. Surprisingly given that the hard climbing only kicks in half way up the wall it's still a power endurance monster with a very dropable crux right at the very top! A month ago before I went away to France I came close, falling off the end of the top crux. Thanks to Amy for filming my attempt.  The ending is quite exciting!

Me approaching crux on Statement of Youth . Photo from an attempt a couple of weeks earlier, thanks to Delyth for photos

Me setting off on Statement of Youth. Photo from attempt a couple of weeks earlier, thanks to Delyth for photos

As is often the case the successful send came on an unlikely attempt. Having not been on the route for a week or two the technical moves on the top crux were not fresh in my mind. I found myself mid way through the crux wrong handed, having forgotten to utilize a crucial undercut; unable to reverse the moves I managed a desperate match on a small side pull then just about scraped my way to the top. I still can't quite believe it! Mm what next...