Summer Loving

Dan Gibson riding The Cow (E5 6a), Gogarth.


Sunday, 26 October 2014

I’ve put it off for as long as possible, but now it’s official: the British summer has finally finished. I haven’t seen the sun for at least a week and Capel Curig has started treading water again. I’ve bought an inflatable dinghy in preparation of the winter floods. Snorkel and mask on, just popping down the river to Betws...


The paddlers are rejoicing, their calls to the Rain Gods answered at last. Climbers have become wild and irrational, constantly checking the weather forecast and fretting over the rain gauge. Still, we can’t complain: May to September is good for the UK!


In no particular order, here’s a few climbing highlights from my best ever summer. 


Rhoscolyn Ripping

Nick Bullock was granted safe passage through The Jub-Jub Bird’s talons, enthusing about the quality and slightly dispelling the myths. Suddenly, before I knew what hit me, I was undercutting those greasy flakes and clipping the rusty peg, gunning for the arete. Good effort on the flash, Ed.


I’ve no idea what grade Gimble in the Wabe is, but credit to Alex for climbing an obvious and brilliant line between Dreams and Magellans. He’s given it E7 6b. After flashing the top half of it on top-rope, I came back and led it a few weeks later. It felt like a necky E5 6a to lead but I guess that’s the difference between onsighting and headpointing.


Cidwm Creaking

The mighty crag of Castell Cidwm was practically heaving this summer. Heading for Heights is a brilliant and powerful route, apparently very ‘Cumbrian.’ There were some interesting belay changeovers with Aspirant Guides John McCune and Tom Grant, just for banter. My experiences on Equinox left me a little rattled, creating this piece here.


Clipiau Clipping

I think this was the first time I onsighted two E5s in a day. The headwalls of both these routes have amazing, pocketed climbing, very reminiscent of Margalef. Thanks for the belays John.


Cromlech Crushing

Lord of the Flies was a milestone in my career. Topping out was a rare ‘perfect moment’ which I’ll remember for a long time.


Forwyn Forays

I didn’t get to meet the infamous Forwyn farmer but I can recommend Great Wall and Quickstep. These routes are amongst the best limestone trad routes in North Wales. It’s great to go with Pete Harrison (author of the new North Wales Limestone guide), sharing the psyche, enthusiasm and Team America quotes.


Scimitar Sampling

Another brilliant day on Scimitar Ridge, this time with Nick Bullock. You must be running out of routes to do here, Nick! He kindly pointed me at Romany Soupand Tufty Club Rebellion, which both stand out as being wild, atmospheric E5s. 


It’s funny how you pick up on little comments people make in passing. Nick said, ‘get on Tufty. If you can do that you can do Lord.’

‘Right, let’s give Tufty hell!’ I thought, managing to onsight it. Because of Nick’s comment, Lord became a much more realistic proposition after that. I even remember being at the base of the Cromlech and thinking, ‘I’ve done Tufty, I should be alright!’


Gogarth Grappling

I’ve tried to redress the balance at the Big G this year. It’s given me some of my best experiences, and I can’t wait for more. Read more in my piece about Contentment.  Positron, Dinosaur, Hunger, Citadel, Eraserhead, The Cad, Run Fast Run Free, Graduation Ceremony, The Cow - they all stand out as being exceptional. It would be impossible to choose just one!


Diamond Dreaming

When conditions and tides align for the Diamond you simply have to drop everything and go. I managed a couple of visits but the window of opportunity slammed shut all too soon. Boat People was a small prize but got me psyched for more.


Lundy Lazing

I spent a relaxing week on the isle of Lundy, ticking classics and a few not-so-classics. Thanks again to the Mynydd CC. Read about it here.


There’s always one that gets away. I’ve learnt a lot about how to headpoint (and how not to!) on Heart of Stone, a brilliant E7 in the Ogwen valley. I got pretty damn close but no cigar - next time!


That’s it, that’s all: in just a blink of an eye summer has gone for another year. Thanks to all who shared the fun and fingers crossed for a strong winter!

Tom LivingstoneComment