It all started when Martynas forwarded me an email from Lithuanian Alpine Association with an invitation to apply for BMC International Summer Meet in North Wales. Martynas’ email looked something like this: “wanna go? you’d get sick experience”. Quite laconic but straight to the point.
And so I applied. Not really thinking about how many days off I can take or seriously planning anything ahead. But then I got accepted. And then after a couple days of UK trad practice in Pembroke that I managed to squeeze in on weekends, I got on a train to Manchester.
The week in a meet went really fast. First of all, I learned loads. I got an opportunity to climb with much more experienced people who are open-handedly willing to share what they know. Secondly, I met lots of interesting people living different lifestyles, coming from different parts of the world but all sharing the same passion. Thirdly, from the practical point of view I looked around a wide spectrum of vans :) And last but not the least, I had loads of fun and climbed heaps of wonderful routes!
One thing that very positively surprised me is how UK climbers look at climbing history and how they appreciate the stories that hide behind the routes. I should admit that I was never educating myself much neither about the climbing history nor the style. I haven’t read many books about it. For me it’s been all about freedom of movement, feeling of accomplishment and strength. Now, on the other hand, I’m starting to see a bigger picture. Who first discovered a line that I am so easily looking up in the guidebook? How much effort was put in trying to find the best way up there? Who managed to climb it first? All those things now seem to be a bigger part of a climb than it used to be for me.
Here is a list of routes that I climbed together with the awesome hosts that I am grateful to have had:
Day 1 & 2 I was hosted by Ali.
Day 1 - Tremmadog
It was a bit foggy and wet. Still managed to climb two easy routes.
- Scratch, VS 4c. 2 pitches
- Meschach, HVS 5a. 2 pitches
Day 2 - Gogarth
A windy day but much better than the first one.
- Gogarth E1 5b. 5 pitches (we joined 3 & 4) The first line climbed on the Main Cliff. 1964?
- Bran Flake E2 5b. 1 pitch
- King Bee Crack, HVS 5a. (I followed)
Day 3 & 4 I was hosted by Paul.
A very nice day. A bit windy, but sunny and warm enough.
- Diagonal HVS 5a. 4 pitches
- Super Direct E1 5b. 3 pitches
- Cemetery Gates E1 5b
It was dark and rainy in the valley so most of the people went to the BMC factory exhibition. We decided to have a go at the Gogarth and it was well worth it even if just for two pitches. After that we tried out a new shiny climbing gym in Llabnberis.
- 2nd pitch of The Quartz Icicle E2 5b. First was wet, and third… unfortunately it started raining.
- Last pitch of The Concrete Chimney HVS 5b.
Day 5 & 6 I was hosted by Rebecca.
Day 5 - Slate
The most sunny day in a whole week up until ~4pm. Then tea at Pete’s Eats.
- Seamstress VS 4c. (followed)
- Seams the Same E1 5b
- Bella Lugosi is Dead E1 5b
- Pull My Daisy E2 5c
- Colossus E3 5c. Half sport, half trad. I put 1 piece before the second quickdraw. Otherwise just went for the bolts which were very much anticipated at times :)
We planned to do a linkup called The East Face of Vivian, which would involve 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, and some other bolted route that we decided to skip and do both 4 & 5 instead as they are really classic ones. And also, I really wanted to come back to Cromlech for the Left Wall.
- Mental Lentils HVS 5a (followed)
- The Monster Kitten E1 5c
- Linkup of Too Bald to Be Bold E2 5c & The Turkey Chant E2 5c (followed). Pretty horrible slab :)
- Comes the Dervish E3 5c. Likely, the biggest classic in all Slate. Cleaned with a knife stolen from Pete’s Eats during the first ascent.
- Last Tango in Paris E2 5b
- Left Wall E2 5c. From Day 3 when we first went to Dinas Cromlech I was really keen to do this one. Just because it looks so beautiful. As I found out, not only looks! Really wonderful long line. Like Cemetry Gates but even better!
And of course, the final party entertained by Banda Bacana and Nick’s playlist (dominated by Prodigy) on his laptop.
Thanks BMC, the organizers, the hosts and everybody I had an opportunity to meet! Also thanks all my hosts: Ali, Paul and Rebecca for your patience and good company! Thanks Paul (my host during days 3 & 4), Rado (guest from Bulgaria) and Tim (a guy from the top of Last Tango in Paris) for the pictures.