I've given up with consistently updating this blog, but will occasionally bore the dwindling blogosphere with posts if new routes are involved:
Part 1: Getting stronger
This winter, I hoped to replicate the experience from when I first started visiting North Wales' finest poo filled bouldering venue in the winter of 2009: Pushing my bouldering grade in the cave, and reaping the benefits on sport routes the following year, at home and abroad.
Sadly, my elbows had other ideas, and tendonitis prevented me climbing as often as I might have liked. However, the reduced frequency of climbing/training and longer rest periods might have been just what I needed to nudge over the 8A threshold...
1) "In Life (lite)" 8A or f8b+?
I managed to work out the cunning beta that avoids the very hardest moves on the original In Life (8A+) by walking my feet along the back wall of the cave. This 8A or "lite" version of the problem is still a pumpy little number at f8b+, and was a great indicator of form before going to Spain in February.
In Life (lite) from Ally Smith on Vimeo.
Unfortunately, the trip to Chulilla was a virtual wash-out with the majority of tufa routes dripping wet after heavy rain in late January. The 40m long El Remanso de las Mulas (f8a+) was highly memorable for: A) falling off at 39.5m on my first redpoint, and B) on the successful next go, sitting in a pant wettingly exposed kneebar, taking in the view down the gorge, with the drip-drip-drip of a soggy tufa exiting my shorts at bum level...
2) "Broken-Trigger" 8A
Damp holds, numb hands, knee-pads slipping, etc: I can offer a multitude of reasons why I didn't get up it sooner, but the real answer was that all the stamina training for Chulilla had made me weak! This problem helped me get stronger; it felt more like a "proper" 8A to me, i.e. it wasn't a 30+ move traverse like all my previous "8A's".
Broken Trigger, 8A from Ally Smith on Vimeo.
3) "High Wall Left" 7C (or f8a/+?) - Possible First Ascent?
Whilst repeatedly falling off Broken-Trigger this winter, I started faffing around with reversing Left Wall High as a warm-down project.
At the end of March, I had a very frustrating lantern session falling off Broken-Trigger 3 times at the very end, and then compounded it by falling off this right at the end too!
Friday night fails - Broken Trigger (8A) & Left Wall High Reverse (7C) from Ally Smith on Vimeo.
Next session I managed to fall off Broken-Trigger again, but at least that time I made it across (and slightly down) this neo-classic traverse ;-) which might even be a first ascent?
However, the video of the "FA" just shows lots of people milling around with me hidden in the background, so you'll have to make do with the foot-pop video above if you're feeling in need of beta?
4) "Dickens' Cider" f8a+, First Ascent
This one is definitely a first ascent! Dickens' Cider is a fun little route, linking the boulder problem of Clever Cleaver (7A/+) into the finish of Almost Familiar (f7c) via some funky heel and toe hooks along the very lip of Parisella's Cave. It felt meaty to me - time will tell if it's worth my proposed f8a+?
New f8a+ route at Parisella's Cave from Ally Smith on Vimeo.
Part 2: Getting injured
Over the long Easter weekend I hurt my index finger in the pocket of Halfway House (7C+) - a fairly significant tear of the A2 & A3 pulleys which put me completely out of action for a couple of weeks, followed by a long & slow rehab program.
The last thing I did in Parisella's was to use the new bolt on Dickens' Cider to climb the highball Upper Cut (7B+) with a rope on; Hence, this is probably my last cave video for a while 😢
Upper Cut, 7B+ from Ally Smith on Vimeo.
After a slow start, and a couple of hitches along the way, I'm happy to say the rehab is going well (drafting another blog shortly), and I've started working one of my projects at Kilnsey - a new extended start to Neil Gresham's Freakshow; more on this soon...