Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Still More Rain
So, after being rained off Stanage twice in as many weeks (the second of which involved seconding Dan up a route in the rain and a howling gale, mmm) it felt like I was due some good fortune with the weather. Heading to North Wales last weekend for Oli's 30th Birthday festivities, it looked like I might need some. After a strange night in a teepee and no small amount of faff, Oli, Kim, Mark and Tom drove to Ogwen, and bashed our way up through the heather to the foot of Craigiau'r Dena, Milestone Buttress's more rambling little brother. It was damp and windy, 2 of the 5 of us had never climbed before, and this was generally a stupid plan.
Not one to let stupidity be an obstacle to adventures, I set off up the first pitch in damp trainers. I decided to frighten the non-climbers by making it look really hard, so I busted out some extreme bridging and a bit of desperate scrabbling, before hauling myself inelegantly onto a heathery ledge and belaying. Everyone made it up with a depressingly small amount of flailing and a thoroughly disappointing lack of failure, but in the meantime the rain had really started laying it on thick and we were all pretty sodden. Seeing as we were on a big ledge we could easily walk down from, and a party ahead of us (we weren't the only idiots out that day) had just backed off the second pitch citing extreme wetness and general terror, we decided to sack it in and head for the lure of the Alpine Cafe in Betws.
Here we spent several hours drinking tea and eating cake, whilst the sun taunted us by beating down outside. Eventually after a few false starts I mustered a party of intrepid adventurers and we stomped up toward Clogywn Cyrau to try and grab a quick route before dinner. Things didn't go well when we managed to lose each other in the woods below the crag, and then as we were trying to reconvene the heavens opened. We made it to the base of our target route just to check, but it really was soaking, so we ran away to the pub and tried to drink away the trauma.
The forecast for Sunday was possibly even worse, so we went for a wander round Llangollen. After some unfathomably complex lunch bill-division, and some awesome whisky fudge, we managed to negotiate with the women to go to World's End and climb one route (and one route only). Although the weather was dry, I was almost certain that as soon as we reached the crag it would start raining yet again. This wasn't helped when the short drive to get there took ages, and then we had to walk down a big hill only to walk back up it again. Boo.
See, it really was sunny!
Improbably as we approached the crag the sun came out. As Alistair hadn't climbed anything for over a year, we set our sights on a ticklist VDiff appropriately called Incompetence. It looked like a chimney, but other than a classy sit-down rest the climbing was pretty conventional. The holds were pretty polished, but it was still quite fun and it was novel to be on a dry crag (although having to put on damp rock shoes was distinctly unpleasant). Also, and maybe most importantly, not only was this a new crag point, but a new guidebook point. I think that just leaves Jersey, Portland, Swanage, Nescliffe, Cloggy, Cwm Silyn and Arran and Arrochar of the British guides I've not climbed in.