The Dervish Test

Anyone whos reads this blog will know that I more than anyone else have done the east face of vivian, aka sunchaser wall so many times it must be getting tedious for you. Unfortunately it is never tedious for me. I simply loved the place and the link up of the routes from the bottom of vivian to the top of the Dervish. With my absence from North Wales for over 6 months, it was great to nip up the route again.

Llion was playing hooky from work, as he had a dentist appointment and a numb mouth. I was putting off admin work for the coming week, so we decided on a quick hit, hence the vivian route! I have to say with not climbing on slate for a long time those footholds don’t get any bigger, and it was a steep learning curve of what you can actually stand on. So I lead Mental Lentils, Llion did Monster Kitten, then I had to man up and get my weary body up Too Bald to be Bold.

Llion suggesting I belay on the ledge rather than do Turkey Chant, I think to arrange the pitches so he did the Dervish. I often see the Dervish as a real acid test of my current climbing, as I know how easy or hard it should feel given my current level of fitness. Llion danced his way upwards, remembering he hadn’t climbed on teh slab since doing Flashdance last year. I had the safer end of the rope, and my verdict was that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, but not as easy as I’d like it to be.

Whilst it was an amazing days climbing, I got a very sad message on my phone when I returned. My grandad had passed away, probably just as I was doing the crux, he been taken into hospital yesterday and from the messages I got from my mum, he was gravely ill. Thankfully he passed away peacefully. Like many people in the modern world, I have moved away from my family roots, with my mum retired in Bournemouth, a brother in stroud and me in North Wales. My Grandad still lived in the flat he owned with his wife in Sevenoaks. As such I have not seen him in a couple of years, something that I am trying not to feel guilty about, as my lifestyle simply doesn’t allow me to take much in the way of holiday, and dribs and drabs of work scattered throughout a week make it hard for me to get down to see my mum.

In a way this has allowed me to keep my fond childhood memories of both my Nan and Grandad. My Grandad worked for most of his live in a dry cleaners, washing people clothes, and yet he I always remember him chuckling away. He Brewed his own beer, something I will always remember was being allowed a cheeky sip when I came to visit. Even more memorable to a young child was that he always kept a pocket clip of cash, and everytime we came to visit he’d slip us some pocket money. “Don’t tell your dad!”

The money often came from his gambling, he was an avid follower of the horses, and always had a eye on what horses were doing well. I like to think that in his own way he was a risk taker, and that might explain why I do what I do, whereas I take risks in climbing his risks were based on guessing what horse would win. I’d like to think we were both very successful at it! I can only hope that I make it through to his age, at over 80 years old, living through a World War, and god knows what other life experiences, I can’t help but think he had a good innings.

I shall raise a glass of beer to you Grandad, sadly not homebrewed, you filled my young life with joy.

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