Day 4 of the Hotaches Oydssey and there is a definite theme developing… COLD. We began in Bowden and it was cold, moved to Great Whanney and it was really cold, then south west to Gogarth where, guess what… cold! I realise we are in the UK so my expectations are low, but it’s May for goodness sake, ou est le soleil?
I signed up for this trip because of the opportunity of visiting lots and lots of cliffs I have never (but really should have) visited before, in a pretty short time frame, and so far we have been doing just that. The only problem seems to be the weather, which was always to be expected yet somehow slipped my mind until the last moment. We have been scanning the forecast and driving accordingly in the hope of maximizing our dry climbing time, yet by the laws of the sod, we have more managed the opposite. Still, some great climbing has been done, and some even greater falls taken – for an example you can check out the little video below.
The highlight for me so far has been Crisis Zone, a magnificent E7 at Great Whanney. In stark comparison to the routes of Bowden the day before, you can actually fall off this route (from certain points) and so can allow yourself to try hard and go close to your limit. The route finishes in a crazy position, with a steep boulder problem around an arête and thank god flutings to the top. After cleaning the thick green lichen from an ab-rope, I was able to climb the route on my first attempt, battling a horrible flash pump in the process, the result of poor warming up in the arctic conditions. With the gear left in-place, the rest of the team took turns to play. It was interesting to see how different people utilize their different strengths, and how once the gear is set and tested, “BIG” routes like this become just another sport climb.
On the whole I think Caro and Hansjorg are still quite unsure about what exactly “the point” is with UK Trad, but from time to time, just for a moment, I see their eyes light up and smiles spread across their face as something clicks into place. Tomorrow is a new day, and the whole country is waiting. I’m excited for so many possibilities, my only hope is everyone stays safe!