No not Mexico.....North Wales!
Pulling into the Cromlech lay-by I do my usual thing of looking at the boulders from the van, today is different though, if I am honest, the boulders do little to stoke the flames of inspiration today. Fumbling around in the back of the van, dodging mouldy banana skins and uncovering a dusty guide book which hasn’t seen any action in a while, unlike the girls and boys who go down the Octagon (night club in Bangor) - a genuine experience if not sampled before!
Anyway, checklist; crag station bag, shoes , chalk, flapjack, some water from the stream (hippie I know), put on my favourite purple jumper, wrap a cosy blue scarf around one neck an pop my flip flops on, possibly the best approach shoes in the world! (For me its all about looking good on the approach, those of you who know me can vouch that is true!). I eye the steep Cromlech approach and place one foot in front of the other. I arrive at the base, I pause for a second have a quick read of the “joke book” (A hilarious way of referring to the guide book that gives me zen like cool) remove the scarf squeak my boots, then all alone, set off up Sabre Cut, an amazing ‘old skool’ route. Before I knew it I was at the top wondering which path to tack back down! Ooops, as always, should of read the descent bit in the guide!
I weave my way through the heather, choosing between sheep tracks. Back at the “crag station” into approach -flops and sketching my way back down the hill side, across the road and heading up the to the beautiful Mot.
The whole Cromlech descent, all I could see was The Cracks, those CRACKS, the most obvious line on the Mot. As I approach, a little short of breath, there was no time to take in the splendour - there’s a party racking up saying “umm the cracks, yes that’s a good idea” and like all climbers, I selfishly wanted it to myself, I didn’t want to be stuck behind anyone, (‘cos I’m sooo fast...) so up I went.
Hanging out on the ledge before the last pitch, I re-tied my laces, applied ample chalk, needlessly cool French blow and sent enough chalk down the pass and across to Anglesey, where they probably thought it was snowing! Then a little chuckle to myself - ah Steve (Findlay of the clean hand brigade) would be proud! Leaving the ledge, ooh! spicy start, a heart flutter - I wasn’t expecting that. Ah ha! Always expect the unexpected. I reach up and right, gratefully plugging into a perfect jam, ahh relief a good hold then more or these delightful voids kept coming and I found myself thinking about Steph Davies soloing some nails hand jam crack in a Masters of Stone video, chirping, ‘A hand jam’s as good as a belay! I mantled onto the top of the best view down the Pass onto Anglesey and Holyhead. I paused and pondered for a while before the down climb, when I reached my pile of gear, I didn’t know what to do with myself, but I wasn’t climbed out, so without procrastination, I trudged over to Cwm Glas Bach.
The walk nearly killed me as lately I haven’t been doing much apart from eating cakes. Good cakes though so it was worth it. A little sit down before any more activity recharges those aerobic batteries I remind myself. Waking up from what was meant to be a little rest in between routes is something of a surprise but soon I found myself pulling up on the beautiful quartz crimps high up on the Stebbing, the last vestiges of sleep lifting from my mind, I wasn’t thinking about anything apart from where my foot was going to go and if the next hold would be a nice as the last one, joyfully immersed in a little two meter bubble where all you need to think about is what lies half a metre in front of your face. Bizarre how special such singularity of thought is! All that is important is right there in front of your face!
Plodding back over to my van, I was thinking how good flip flops are and why more people don’t use them to approach the crags there’s no need to avoid bogs you just walk right through them, ok, you occasionally stub your toe but suck it up princess! At least you didn’t spend 10 minutes walking around in circles trying to avoid the bog like those other people, ha! My smugness fades as I’ve just walked through a massive pile of cow sh+*e sweet old instant karma, yep, there she is, keeping me grounded!
Now at the van, looking at the bigger pebbles I’ve just been up and realising that I have never done any of today’s routes before - what a treat. I had just had one of my best days climbing in a long time. I felt set free by fluid movement, more able to appreciate the surroundings, the solitude of high places - rope free. Bliss.
by Matty Rawlinson