Staffer and Black Diamond Hero faces the heat in North Wales - but climbing was definitely still on the menu. Here's what he got up to...
For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m really not a fan of the summer heat!!! I get heat rash, burn easily, suffer from hay-fever, hate sun cream and sweat a lot! So upon leaving Switzerland and arriving in north Wales to find that there was a uk wide heat wave didn’t leave me massively psyched. I was hopeful, that as with all British summers, it would last a week at most and then return to the typical grey, overcast and much cooler British summer. I’ve been here now for 2 weeks and it has not let up! On the upside it’s a bonus that everything’s dry, it has made for some great views and the midges seem to dislike the heat as much as me.
(A selection of screen-saver views that North Wales has to offer)
The main thing that’s been going on is that I’ve constantly been searching for shade. The landscape here is quite exposed and there’s not much in the way of shade when the suns out. This has resulted in some hot climbing days and even hotter rest days! Fortunately there are a few north facing shady boulders that have made climbing possible and numerous lakes that have helped cool me down.
One of the best boulders for keeping cool in the shade is ‘Stoned Temple Pilots’ (8A). It’s situated in a cave in the Llanberis pass that’s created by 2 large boulders leaning against one another and means that it only gets partial sunlight for a couple hours a day. This made it a great climb to get on and after sussing out the subtle body positions I was able to send.
(Sticky the shoulder crux move of ‘Stoned Temple Pilots’)
Another great problem for hot days is ‘Corridors of Power’ (7C+). Again it’s situated in the Llanberis pass in a corridor of 2 boulders helping keep it in the shade. I had tried this problem the year before on a similarly hot day and walked away with an injured finger… I wasn’t sure if I should get back on it as I didn’t want lightning to strike twice. My fingers felt in no way injured so the risk of injury was as low as it could be and I knew it would be cooler than most of the other climbs in the area. I decided to preemptively tape my finger for a bit of psychological protection against the nasty pocket which injured it last time. I quickly relearnt the moves and was pleased to find them easier than the year before, so much so that I sent it first go from the start.
(Going for a quick French blow before going into the pocket on ‘Corridors of Power’)
I was now left a bit stumped of what other problems were good to try in the heat so I asked about and was recommended ‘Pit Traverse’ (7C) and ‘Bara Brith’ (7C+). These turned out to be good recommendations as I managed to flash both of them with Bara Brith being my hardest flash to date!
(‘Pit Traverse’ and ‘Bara Brith’)
Flashing boulders is always a funny thing. Normally when I go out bouldering I intend to try and climb a certain problem. Sometimes I get lucky and send it quickly, others I come close but need another session and every now and then I get shut down and have to get better before coming back for a rematch. But in each of those scenarios you normally do a decent bit of climbing and figuring out the moves. But when you send something first go it can sort of feel a bit like what’s next?, especially when you’ve had a hot long walk-in and there’s nothing else you want to try at that crag!
Sadly my skin hasn’t allowed me to climb as much as I would have liked. The heat has meant that climbs have to be less friction depended which normally ends up with holds being a bit sharper. Combine this with softer skin from an increase in sweating and it can lead to plenty of “skinjuries”, limited attempts and subsequent rest days to let them heal.
(The all to familiar sight of skin being lost after pulling on a sharp hold a few times)
I can’t believe that I am going into the final week of my trip. It really doesn’t feel like it was 5 months ago when I was boarding the ferry on my way to Fontainebleau. Hopefully the sun and heat will ease up and that I’ll be able to enjoy my final week before going back to weekend warrior mode. That’s enough blogging for now, time to cool off in the lake![ssbp]