RAC Boulders and California

Well, despite my rather emotional morning remembering my friend and the worst times in my life, I can assure you that I am OK. So I hit the RAC boulders in the afternoon, did the circuit in rapid time, and managed for the first time this year the complete circuit of the pump traverse. I had fallen off the drop down move everytime I had tried it this year.

I then met up with llion and headed up to the quarries and into California. It was a lovely evening and it may have been too hot in the sun so we headed into one of the holes, where it is usually cooler, but even there is was pleasantly warm, but not too hot.

This was another of a favourite haunts of my friend, and there is a tree planted in his memory, sadly it was looking rather sorry for itself, although probably as much to do with the lack of direct sun this hole gets. It holds so many nice memories, and tonight was just another one of those.

We started by repeating one of Ian Lloyd-Jones new routes, a great F6a to the right of Tambourine Man. With any luck before too long the new guide will be out, so keep your eyes on the Ground Up website and V12 Outdoors, as they will be the places to get an early copy. Alternatively visit the slate wiki site, as these routes are documented in there. I have to say that ‘We Speak No Americano’ was one of the better routes of that grade in the Slate quarries. So much so after I lead the top pitch I lowered off and made llion lead it as well.

After that there was much debate as to what we could do, the back wall looked rather too challenging for us today. Not that we haven’t had our fun up there, I have climbed the two classic E5’s with Llion, as well as other friends and Central Sadness is my favourite slate route of all times.

Looking around it was looming over me, and had been there since we entered the other world of California, it was most recently used as part of the recent Clash of the Titans film. You can’t help notice it as you enter the quarry, a 40m high arete of slate, cutting a line from the skyline to the scree strewn floor. It is though, virtually devoid on any protection, making it more of an extreme scramble/solo.

Setting up the arete, I mantel onto a roof of a hut that straddles a quarried arch at its base, ahead are a line of large handholds that lead out to the arete proper, the rock is slick and virtually devoid of foot holds. Scampering right to reach the arete is always nerve wracking I remember the first time of hoping and praying that there is no more climbing that hard up there. On the arete I control my breathing as you are poised on a knife edge and the serrated edge lead to the sky, the holds are ample, but the setting instantly exposed, and you need to be calm and composed up there.

Edging upwards the world below shrinks and I am alone on the crest of a wave that suddenly rears up. One high step is all that guards the upper easier climbing, and reaching up I feel like I am laybacking the sky. The moves start to blend into one as I dance upwards and round the arete and into the blinding sunshine, pausing for just a moment to saviour the peace and calm of the airy setting.

I bring Llion up on the rope that for all intents and purposes was there for comfort rather than effect. He joins me and we reteat off. His memory of following our friend up the arete make it a fitting route for the day.

Sitting down we look into the quarry, and I remember watching the first ascent of Fruit of the Gloom, as Dave had to follow up the most rediculous off-width/chimney that is invisible from where we are sat. As I took photos of them climbing the rock was just cascading off the face.

Similarly, a few friends headed in here a few years back to celebrate the life of our friend. What better way to do it than with fireworks. Like naughty children we would each take a turn to line up a rocket with the tunnel mouth half way up a cliff, ‘Fire in the Hole’, and whoooosssssh………bang, as we missed the hole am basically put surpressive fire down on the cliff which we all love to climb on.

Whoooossssh……Bang, and then the sudden realisation that we have set fire to all the gorse bushes on the ledges of the wall. Sniggering like the children we had regressed to, all was well in the world, as we were sure it would have met with approval.

Tomorrow its raining, so back to start the second edit of the slate chapter for RF, of which the topo shot for this crag is in my opinion stunning, and now I can re-write a couple more route descriptions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *