Easter break means one thing for climbers that pretend to be students, not overdue dissertation work not revision for fast approaching exams and definitely not 4 weeks of family time. 4 students at Leeds University, Jacob Cook, Luke Tilley, Conor Cussell and Ben Finley took the first opportunity to make the most of winter training and a bank of Yorkshire grit trad with a spree of big ascents. The trip was for Luke a whistle stop guided tour of 3 new climbing areas on 3 completely new rock types. Jacob had trad head in high gear and with new fitness from a driven first 2 terms of heavy training, unleashed a solid performance of big onsights. Conor and Ben where in for the ride and getting a footing on the classics.
The trip was blessed with stunning summer conditions, the lads hit 3 big crags delving into 3 very different styles. Sunshine on Gogarth started the trip with a big main cliff route. Luke and Jacob set off up Citadel late in the day with high chances of getting benighted but made for a satisfying big E5 6b journey to start the trip. The team took the classic E2 5c “The Strand” by storm and left with hunger for more welsh material.
A change of scene to the post apocalyptic slate mountain scenery, Jacob travelled with flying colours across the serious blank expanse of rainbow slab, cruising onsight along the “Rainbow of Recalcitrance” E6 6B. Luke read the slate stanzas of “Poetry Pink” performing a precise dance of mind and footwork to take another classic E5 onsight in the local tongue. “Heading the Shot” also fell at the first attack by Luke who felt that heading for such great heights above bolts proved it worthy of the trad grade E5 6B over the somewhat mild 7a+ sport grade. The same face harbours a connection with the next world, the world of French 8a slab climbing an excursion of boot rubber and fingernail edges. Jacob connected with all the holds and fell tantalisingly close to bagging a big slate test piece. The pair timidly stood at the edge of the world looking in awe at “The Quarryman” the 3 pitch E8 7a, a seemingly insurmountable voyage. They left determined to return to the big “Quarryman Groove” pitch, the inspiring F8a, Jonny Dawes gymnastic creation, on their next visit.
The trip was, from its conception, capped by the mighty faces of Dinas Cromlech and as the weather of dreams became reality conditions drew the 4 students like puppets slogging under a cruel master to the foot of this great open book, their pages blank waiting to be written. Luke and Jacob both took the pen and scribed big onsight ascents of “Right Wall“ E5 6a. Luke took “True Grip” as his fifth E5 onsight of the 3 days and the pair wondered up Resurrection E4 6a to give the left wall battle. All the while, a dark brooding pressure built up manifested in “Lord of the Flies,” it hung in the air. Jacob had 4 big onsights dispatched in the last couple of days, good conditions, crucial gear purchased that morning and a deep seeded desire to realise the ‘Lord’.
All the ends lay in the open there for Jacob to piece together. As the clouds built up over the Cromlech the ends knotted into fear within everyone as Jacob pushed passed the poorly loaded cam and makeshift sling, unable to fit the pink tri cam sold to him that morning as crucial gear. He pressed on desperately lonely creating moves from some of the smallest cromlech holds and a fine tuned trad head. The relief of the top was a shared experience that stayed with the small team as they headed home exhausted but satisfied with the adventures unlocked within their neighbouring country. A brutal dip in the sea brought them back to reality, back to the exams, back to dissertations and family commitments. A welsh fairy-tale, a foggy memory, a tick in the guide.