Wet Weekends in Wales: Part 2
After losing the first part of Saturday to the weather, the forecast looks better. So its back across the valley by the railway line and up the hill to the Rainbow walls again.
Unfortunately, the forecast is also wrong. Are we deterred? Are we fuck. We shelter out in the winding house. I admire the blacksmithing work and the brake mechanism of the winding gear, while Lee eats pork pies and scopes out what routes are what. It doesn't look good.
Fortunately, our obsession outlasts the rain.I don't think this would work on any other rock type, but as soon as the rain stops and the breeze blows we get dry patches on the slate. It is amazing, from being a dark purplish black, a lighter grey spreads. When its wet, chalk marks disappear, you would be convinced it was all washed off. Then it drys and evrey thumb print is still there. Its like an invisible ink for climbers, telling you where the secret crimps are.
We are climbing by two o'clock.
Sleight of Hand, f6c. RepointI am not feeling like I can get on the Take Over, so I have a crack at the next sport climb to the right: Sleight of Hand, 6c. I have fairly limited success climbing it ground up, so Lee leads, and I top rope it.
There are two distinct parts of difficulty: I'd love to bang on about the moves but I don't want to spray you with beta. Suffice it to see, I can do them. In terms of difficulty, I have definitely climbed harder on indoor boulder problems. The moves are pretty cool, not as amazing as the Take Over, but crucially its not as thin or sustained. A good rest breaks the two harder sequences up, so tactically it is easier to conserve energy.
I go for the lead. I fall on the first sequence, but then I'm up. Rest and the second tricky sequence is fairly straightforward. I break through it and I am up at the lower off, almost surprised its over.
First 6C lead, second redpoint attempt. Well done me.
Overtaken by Dept. C, f6a.Lee goes and tries some hard stuff, which is all belaying mileage for me. I learn a lot from watching other people climb. Watching Lee experiment with moves through Cig-Arete, f7b to try and crack the sequence is really useful. I need to learn imagination and persistence. Basically, my long term strategy is to copy people better than me.
I get onto Overtaken by Dept. C. This should be pretty straight forward, it is comfortably within my onsight level, and in fairness the first bit, up the dolerite vein is really good, pleasant and within my capabilities.
Until I hit the slab at the top. The slab is a beautiful piece of rock, rippled and waved, perhaps like certain gritstone slabs or rhyolite, really unlike slate. Unfortunately it is also absolutely fucking plastered with moss. I look carefully, I have a really good resting point, but I just don't think it has seen a lot of traffic. The moss doesn't seem to have been cleared away from any holds, nor around the bolts. It is in shit nick.
And I've been on mossy algae covered roofs before, fixing solar panels on rainy days. I remember a co-worker pretending to ski down a barn roof in Cambridgeshire, shouting 'wheeee...' as he went.
In hindsight I should have mantled over and carefully padded up, perhaps cleaning as I went. After all, I've got four or five draws in, no prospect of decking out, and the slab is an easy enough angle, well bolted.
I don't though. I bail from a cheap clog screwgate. I don't mind losing the kit, but it does represent a failure of bottle a bit. I should have weighed it up and had a go.
At the bottom, Lee is philosophical. "Not worth it for a f6a. If it had meant getting your first 7a, well, different story...."
That's about the end of the day, we head out. This time we have cleverly parked at the bottom of the hill, so we don't have the heavy knackered slog out.
We pass the beauty of the Rainbow slab: one day I will climb something on that. But I'll have to get a lot better first