Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Posting from UK Part 2

Now that I am somewhat over the jet lag, I can post something a bit more lengthy. The weather unfortunately has been less than cooperative for climbing. Tuesday was relatively dry and Mark Glaister from Rockfax Books took me and Hubert Canart, who runs Belclimb.net, for a low-key excursion to Holyhead Mountain on Anglesey, directly adjacent to the famous sea-cliff of Craig Gogarth. This cliff is a very appealing chunk of gray/white quartzite with a wide variety of lines from easy to relatively hard. The rock is very solid, smooth and quite hard but very intricately featured, allowing lots of unlikely holds and hidden protection options. Best of all, it does not have the death-defying approaches of its more famous neighbor, a reassuring aspect on a grey damp day.

I realized that I have not climbed anything requiring placing my own gear in years and the kind of instinct one has for leading on natural pro can disappear over time. I was happy to lead clipping Mark's gear and get a feel back for the kind of things one has to do to lead unlikely pitches safely.

The weather was barely cooperative and sitting at the top of the crag was a bit of an ordeal in a stiff damp breeze but the sensation of climbing on a green island overlooking the slate-blue Irish sea was a welcome change from the much drier Colorado mountains. Unfortunately I will not get the chance to become better acquainted with this unique place as we are leaving on Thursday and I am heading for the Peak District for a few days. However, I am certain that I will want to return. North Wales is a landscape that is small, intimate even, with a climbing style that has adapted beautifully to the varieties of rock on offer, maintaining a sense of adventure and discovery on even relatively moderate pitches. The sense of history and local culture, both climbing and non-climbing is an integral part of the experience.

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