Reflecting on Uni/2013

Right Wall (E5 6a). Photo: Dan Lane

Right Wall (E5 6a). Photo: Dan Lane

I made a vague list of things that I wanted to do during my three years at Bangor Uni. This included:


Cycling down the Llanberis Pass

Doing the Menai Bridge Swing

Jump off Bangor pier

Sleep on the beach

Swim in a mountain lake


I’ve managed most of these, but I’ll let you decide which ones I never got round to!


I also listed a few routes I wanted to do -  although it was more climbs of a certain standard and grade. Consistently climb E4, climb a 7c and suffer up some big hills. 

Routes like Cream, Resurrection, Right Wall, Path to Rome, The Moon, Foil, Geireagle, The DinosaurPositron and I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Boy, amongst others. The ‘classics.’ I’ve done most of these, but some have evaded me.


Perhaps I wanted to prove myself. To show others (and me) that I could be an ‘alright’ climber. I saw other people who were climbing harder, better routes and felt drawn towards them, to climb like them. I’m very competitive, too.

I must’ve come across as pretty stupid or arrogant at times, for wanting to ‘get on routes’ that were probably way beyond my ability. Having said that, I occasionally managed to fight my way up them and succeed!


At Graduation, I’d managed some E4s, climbed a 7c and suffered up some big hills, both in the UK and abroad. I’d call this haphazard list a bit of a success.



2013, however, has been entirely different to my time at Bangor.

Without having made any specific goals, I find myself reflecting on my best ever year. I think you can’t go too far wrong by just wanting to climb harder and harder, all the time, but it does leave a lot of room for unspecific training, aimless climbing and no structure in what you do.


Why has 2013 been so good? Honestly, I don’t know, but I’ve trained harder, gone on more trips, spent more time climbing and been psyched as ever.


There’s been some influential differences:

  1. 1)Getting a ‘woody’ (a miniature home climbing wall) and pull-up bar, and using them regularly.

  2. 2) Going on long trips, where all you do is climb. Trad all this summer; Europe sport all this autumn.


Everything seems to have come together nicely - fitness, ambition and opportunity. The following numbers and letters will mean nothing to the non-climber, but they signify harder climbs (for me).


Winter - Onsighting Travesty (VIII, 8) with Simon Frost. (Although this happened at the end of 2012, I’m counting it as ‘2013 winter season’).


Mixed - a quick Euro-hit with Pete Harrison proved fruitful. Managed to get Pink Panther (M9+) 2nd RP. First mixed trip, so anything was a winner.


Bouldering - easily my weakness, something that I’m keen to improve. King of Drunks (V6) in a session.


Trad - the biggest, most important improvement for me. I went from occasionallyonsighting E4 to doing two in a day every now and then, and finally onsighting my first E5s - The Minotaur, Get Some In (Pembroke), Right Wall(Cromlech) and Warpath (Rhoscolyn). Magic.


Sport - again, a big improvement. From a couple of 7as in North Wales, (it’s not really my style), to redpointing I’ve been a Bad, Bad Boy (7c) at Lower Pen Trwyn. I then went on a 3-month sport climbing trip to France and Spain, redpointing two 8as - Gracias Fina and Coliseum in Rodellar.


Big Hills - There was no suffering on any big hills during 2013. Perhaps this was the secret to my success!

Tom LivingstoneComment