First weekend meet with the Bowline Climbing Club in Snowdonia at Shropshire MC's Bryn Hafod hut near Craig Cywarch. First outdoor trad lead belay climbs with the awesome Blanka Russell and her shiny, shiny toys.
On Saturday 3 pairs of us had much fun climbing Will O' The Wisp (HVD*** on Tap y Craig) 6 pitches done in 4. Blanka and I followed Paul (PP) and Jack at a leisurely pace with Rachel and Tony Hextall bringing up the rear, making sure I kept Blanka safe and didn't do anything daft like unclip myself from the wall too soon while waiting for Blanka to set up the belay before I cleaned the route. We took the opportunity to take photos of stunning views and the series of helmets projecting across the crag.
I was more than chuffed to do this route with no mishaps, finding the technical level of the "juiciest bits" easy. Blanka remarked I 'flew' up the first two pitches which gave me a nice confidence boost! My two favourite parts of the climb were the DELICIOUS traverse! A lovely, stretchy, reachy traverse with helpful little pegs and ledges, it suited my long gangling form and felt really good.
The wildlife was the icing on the cake. Approaching and climbing in stunning heathland with breathtaking views over the valley gives a next level sense of exhilaration. The approach and descents are just as rewarding, for the range of wildflowers I took in, as the climb. Bog asphodel, stone crops, mosses, heathers, scabious, sedges, rushes and insects buzzing amongst the blossoms are as much of an attraction to me as the climbs.
The social aspect cannot be overstated, there is something very cheering about setting off on an adventure and meeting 10 perfect strangers in a remote valley, who are just flipping lovely. Having fun climbs, sharing a meal, finishing off bottles of wine with new friends and slurping down tea by the mugful in front of an open fire just polished off a perfect 24hrs.
On Sunday Blanka and I rose from our slumbers to sunshine, got ready at a leisurely pace and set out on a lazy-Sunday,-chill-out-climb. We aimed to do a little 2 pitch route of the same grade called "Twink" but unwittingly ended up on the route next door by mistake, Restoration S4a on Esgair Felen Isaf, so I levelled up! Blanka started to think “oops this is a bit spicy” part way through but talking on the approach earlier, she had worked out we were on a technical par on indoor climbs (sport lead 6a+ish). So when she realised it was a tougher climb, Blanka thought hopefully I’d manage it and luckily I did!
There was a tricky overhanging boulder which made me stop to think for a minute, I was so pleased when I had sorted out my foot and hand placement and was able to get over it only to realised I was still attached to a cam on the left rope from the move below- oops! So I had to back climb what was already a challenging move, thinking “NO, I will NOT ask for her to take in and sit on rope, I WILL do this” I managed to sort my feet out and shake out my hand while I took out the cam and then got over the outcrop again smoothly, what a gleeful feeling that was!
Blanka and I are now "climbing di*ks" a proud accolade awarded to her regular climbing partners and I look forward to climbing with my newly found climbing di*k again in the future. The family meets are another bonus to joining Bowliners, so that's my kiddy weekends sorted this summer! Thanks to Bowline CC secretary Andy Potter and Claudia for arranging such awesome events. Thanks to Helen and Robert of SMC for saving me from being lost in a tiny Snowdonian car park as the light disappeared and taking me to their hut on the Friday I arrived and thanks to Cath and PP for being the first friendly Leicester Bowliner faces I had the pleasure of meeting.
In summary, now I have done it once, I will be out at every opportunity: belay b*tch available fortnightly!!!