Saturday, 30 June 2007

The Shire

In order to sort out my things for the eventual move to Fort William I've come home to Somerset for a few weeks. The train was only delayed by one and a half hours so it could have been worse. On the wednesday eve before I left the burgh Chris and I had a play at North Berwick Law Quarry. Nothing very exciting happened, except that I was very cold when I tried Fogtown (a F7a that I've tried a few times and fancy as a redpoint target) and didn't get beyond bolt 2. Ach well, serves me right for not warming up. We did some of the easier routes and generally had a pleasant time.

So now I'm back in Somerset, with grand plans for a few weeks climbing, but I fear that, as ever, I won't get much done due to a lack of belayers. The bouldering and soloing is OK, but I've done lots already. You see, I started climbing here in the Shire, with my mates Luke, Johnsey and Sarah H, four summers ago, and we used to get out quite a bit one way or another, visiting lots of obsure and esoteric crags (the major crag of the area, Cheddar Gorge, was mainly closed to climbers over the summer, which was when I was back at home, and Avon Gorge never appealed when we were surrounded by crags in the countryside). Within a half hours drive there are loads of crags: North Quarry, Sandford Quarry, Croscombe, Dinder Wood, Fairy Cave, Goblin Combe, Bourton Combe, Brean Down, Sand Point, Portishead, it goes on... But nowadays its hard to get a belay. Arse. Johnsey is in Canada, Luke is less interested in the rock, and works quite a lot, and Sarah is frequently away. So I seem to spend my time dragging a crash pad around.

Yesterday was no different. I started at Croscombe, a sweet, short limestone crag in woodland the other side of Wells from me. It's steep and pocketed and there are some good wee routes and boulder problems, except that yesterday it was pissing. Just about every bit of the crag was wet, dirty or a combination of the two. I played around for a bit, and am getting closer on a problem of old that Luke and I discovered a while back, which is nice, because the first move used to be a bitch, now its pretty easy. Jumping for wet holds isn't great though so I'll go back when its dry.

The Cave at the Toll Road Crags: The roof is often wet. Bum.

Later I went to an under-rated wee bouldering spot known as the Toll Road Crags. They are a section of wave-washed limestone cliffs under Weston-Super-Mare's Toll Road. There are a surprising collection of walls, slabs, caves and roofs, which generaly dry quickly and catch the sun all afternoon. Just check that the tide is out. Yesterday it was and I got deep down and dirty in the cave area. The Cave roof has a line of jugs that finish half way to the lip, so a long-standing project of mine is to link them and carry on out, but its very hard, and the jugs are a drainage line, so you need a long dry spell for them to dry. They were wet yesterday, but it was worth a go. I also found a wee problem I hadn't spotted before and got close to sending it (as they say), except the crux move requires a long pull round a roof from a heel hook, and if you don't latch the hold and fall off backwards you're gonna be hitting your head on the rock platform below, pad or no. A spotter is required. Maybe I can get my Dad to come along....

Yesterdays new project: mmmm, nice.

Over the last few years I've done quite a lot of nice wee problems at the Toll Road, all of which I'm sure have been done before by someone better, but I've never seen another climber there (except friends of mine), so I always get a feeling of it being my own little spot.

I went on a wee run up Crook Peak yesterday eve and felt no knee agro so things are looking up for next weekend's Saunders. I'm gonna go on a bigger run today (its wet, no climbing) and see how it holds out. Fingers crossed....

1 comment:

Tom said...

I'll belay the first day im back baby. bless.

peace, not long now, you bringing rock daps?....

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