May 25, 2009 George Foster

The Olive Seller

That’s me just back from an aweosme week’s climbing in North Wales.

Headed over on the train on Tuesday morning, accompanied by a wierd and wonderful mix of commuting types covering the whole social spectrum, pink-clad-tracksuit-chavs to tramps sporting fine examples of beards and SHORT shorts and back again via Worksop! I would well recommend this form of transport as a way to get into Wales, it’s a definite experience!!

Got there in the afternoon and headed up the Pass in search of some dry rock…..didn’t find much….got wet feet…..boosted over to the Orme, a whopper limestone plug over by Llandudno. Crackin’! Met some of G-units buddy’s…all thoroughly tip-top and sound as they come. Fannyed about on some sprad (sport and trad….see what i did there?!?), whipped off a lovely little E4 called Pen Trwyn Patrol, which was nice. It was nice to be back on good ol’British polished lime, not any of that shitty Spanish stuff.

Went over to Gogarth on the Wednesday to check out North Stack Wall. Wild!! The most impressive wall i’ve seen i reckon (i’ve probably said that at least 59 times this year alone at other crags BUT this one really is incredible) not necessarily in terms of stature but just for the history and nature of it. A welcome home to those bold technicians amongst you! Unfortunately on this day the weather got the better of us for no soner had we abbed in the heavens opened and we had to escape back out again, which proved pretty fun actually, the escape route being an ace little E1 called Green Gilbert……yummers! Sacked it over to the slate quarries and did some stuff up at Vivian before the rain caught up with us again. Tried Gin Palace a truly disgusting E6 crimpy face climb… ‘truly disgusting’ i actually mean awesomely fun…and by ‘crimpy face climb’ i of course mean thrutchy offwidth chimney! On slate that does mean it’s something special. A rare beauty it must be said! Needless to say no luck with that one but it was the only thing that was dry….so whaddayagonnado?!?

Managed to convince Davey Gill to come down with the promise of amazing weather (ahem) and so we again made plans for North Stack Wall on the Thursday. Someone loves us cos it was bloody gorgeous when we got up! Stayed on Anglesey with Matt, a mate of George’s, the previous night so it was only a short hop to the cliff. The early bird gets the worm and so it was with the amount of people at the top of the cliff….it seemed we were going to be feeding off the regurgitated scraps – bugger! All was not lost however as it transpired they were just a bunch of poncey abseilers so once again we had the cliff to ourselves. Hurrah! To put it simply……SHIT WENT DOWN. The Boy George started with a casual as you like onsight of The Long Run complete with the touch harder direct finish, as spicy an E5 as you’re likely to find. Looks like one to go back to fo’shiz and it’s tippedy top of my hit-list for next time. He followed this up with an even more casual onsight of The Clown (E7 in old money, or new money, or French money, or indeed any currency you can think of) – yikes – see the Gill’s pics below! My attempts at a second were…umm…woeful (is that the word?!?). Ah well i was just saving my energy for the line a couple to the right of it. Yes lady and man i FINALLY onsighted an E4!! Hoo-mothertruckin’animalpluckin’lollypopsuckin’-rah (contrary to the photo lower down this doesn’t yet qualify me for ‘crusher’ status)! The route was Blue Peter a potentially dicey E4 5c job up a thin flakey groove. Not actually too bad to be honest but i’ll take the tick! Shickading.

The day after was a washout……EVERYWHERE was wet – even the Orme!!!! We sacked it over to the Indy Wall, a cool indoor bouldering place just over the water on Anglesey. To drown our sorrows at not getting out to climb that day we decided to sample some of Bangors nightlife. This involved getting banned for life from a club called Rakubah (a shame cos it’s honestly excellent!) for sneaking in through the fire doors at the back and being frog-marched out about 20 minutes later by the minciest-looking bouncers i’ve ever seen – oh the indignity!! Having had double bad luck that day the only option left to us was throwing ourselves off the nearest bridge. Luckily this is actually a common past-time in Bangor and so it was that we found ourselves watching the sunrise over the Menai Straits at 4 in the morning having just swung off a rope 40m above the water. Woke up with a suspiciously stiff back and having checked that one of those mincey bouncers hadn’t spiked our drinks and come back home with us it transpired the pain was from the slight whiplash i suffered from a little too much freefall on the way down off the bridge. Ouchey-wowchey!

We got up far too early on Saturday and hit up the Rainbow on the slate. It started well, did a nice E3/Fr6b arete and an awesome E2 called Pull My Daisy, run-out high-stepping above an inconveniently placed lassooed pipe with massive sack-tapping potential! Unfortunatley Davey didn’t have a great time on Bella Lugosi (she is dead after all) and the Ullrich, after a typically ballsy effort, had a ‘tactical retreat’ off Rainbow of Recaliterance via lowered rope. Can’t blame up cos that shit looked pretty exciting! I tried to follow up on my previous good luck by giving Poetry Pink a bash but again the rain came in just as i was looking to move off past the first bolt and that was that. Ball ache! Another one high on the list to go back to though.

My quest to find a curry that matches up to those lovingly created at the Avon Spice, Stratford-upon-Avon again came to nothing as the local effort from a restuarant that it’s only fair to keep nameless was an horrific blend of the hottest ingredients yet discovered by man and the dullest chicken that ever stumbled around its cage on mangled, flea-bitten legs. Simply – shite! Dave realised it was his bro’s birthday the next day so embarked on an insane trek back up north at 11pm after 2 long days punctuated by 4 hours sleep. Mega!

Me, George and Sam arranged to check out the main cliff at Gogarth on the Sunday. WAAAAAAAAAAHH!! That is a scary-ass place. Inspite of my pretty much passenger-like status we managed a couple of ace routes in the form of The Rat Race (a 6-pitch E3 with an AMAZING 20m overhanging crumbling chimney pitch – the wildest pitch i’ve ever done!!) and Syringe (a 3-pitch E4 over by The Assassin). Once i got used to the fat pinches and crumbly nature of the rock it was incredible. One of the best days climbing i’ve ever had i’d say. Just super-chilled, great weather, high jinx and plenty of jappery! Ahoy!!

The main event of the trip actually happened this very morning up on the short crag above the Cromlech. Monsieur Ullrich got star-spotted by a dude who’d just topped out on Cenotaph Corner……”Is your name George?”, “Eh? Err yeah….”, “You were in ‘Call It What You Want’ weren’t you?”, “Haha ah yeah…” and so on. The dizzy heights of widespread fame now await! That wasn’t exactly the main event to be honest. Immediately prior to the celebrity stalker (i feel bad making out that the dude was a wierdo….he was actually a really nice, cool guy) moment G had taken a rather large whipper off a Steve Mayers route called Overlord (old-school E7, new-school E8 – it’s got a rusty downward pointing peg to protect the top crux for poops sake) which had only had one repeat since it was put up over 15 years ago. Wild. Second go on and there were no mistakes as a rather relieved young gentleman topped out for the 3rd ascent. I tried seconding the bastard. Shit the bed!! I managed to hold all the holds. Thats as far as it went pretty much as the stalker plus one watched on i flailed miserably and all hopes of being the ‘understated cool guy’ (much like the Ullrich) evaporated. It’s brick hard. Honestly. B.R.I.C.K. Next level stuff. Fair play (picatureees courtesy of Senor Sam Farnsworth)

Got told of a job in the pub the night before by a cat named Giles. Seems dodgy though cos the guy’s an olive seller who’s just bought a rather nice BMW-type ‘off-roader’. “He’s probably just very good at selling olives…”. Classic!

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