Cheddar Gorge Ascents

Recently my focus has been purely on training for an upcoming trip to Rodellar this summer. I’ve added a lot more structure to my training and have been doing a fair bit of strength, mainly on the campus board as well as some fingerboarding and now I’m into an endurance phase where I’m doing loads of different drills to mix things up and keep things fresh. The training has been pretty intense, I’ve been trying to get to the Quay around 4 times per week as well as doing some fingerboarding at Charlottes and adding in a bit of running occasionally too. I really enjoy training and pushing myself hard but I’m always keen to get outdoors and this keeps me motivated, especially when seeing gains.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at Cheddar Gorge and trying to do some quick redpoints and onsights. I also had a day of bouldering which was pretty successful. The day started at the dirty eliminate cave of Gollums Cave in the Avon Gorge. Here I managed 9 boulders between V9 and V12 including many second go ascents and my first V11 flash. We then headed over to Sand Point where I managed to flash James Squires V9, The Prow and then did The Barrel in a few goes which is also given V9.

Sunset over Cheddar village

Sunset over Cheddar village

I’ve had  some fun days out at Cheddar where I’ve mainly focussed on volume, some of more notable achievements however have been the first ascent of Fallingwater, 8c, my first couple of 8a onsights in the UK and my first proper headpoint ascent where I climbed Heaven-sent Direct, a scary and run out E7 6b.

Fallingwater was probably my favourite ascent. It has been a project for 9 years but having recently found out that it’s no longer locked and gaining permission from the person whom bolted it, Ally Smith, I decided to get on it and see what it was like. On my first session I did it with a left start which I originally thought was something like 8a+/b but I soon found better beta which bought it down to something around 8a. I then started trying the proper start which eliminates holds on the left to create a really hard project. I thought the line would take a lot of work as I found the starting boulder problem really hard! It starts with a distant cross over move to a pocket with a thumb catch so you can pinch it then come into a crimp nearby and then you make a really hard move out to another pinch before another hard bouldery sequence before you get an okay shake-out which I struggled to recover on and then a technical ~7b+ to the top from there onwards. When I came back for the second session I felt much stronger and managed to make some good links before deciding to start properly redpointing. Luckily the crux is right at the start which means that you can have loads of attempts at the starting boulder in a single session whereas normally I’d only have three each session on a route around 8c. I had a lot of attempts at the start and made it through three times but dropped the second boulder section twice before making it through and then climbing to the top. I was pretty lucky to get through the top section as I’d completely forgotten what to do! I was urged on by the huge crowd of public spectators which had no gathered by the road to watch and I topped out!

Fallingwater Sent!

Fallingwater Sent!

I named the route Fallingwater after a famous structure which overhangs a waterfall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930’s. The route reminded me a little of this building as it is so steep and there is often water running at the near the bottom of the route after rainfall. It’s a really cool bouldery route and I’m really pleased to get this new Cheddar test piece done.

Heaven-sent was another fun experience which I’ve recently had in the Gorge. I’d wanted to do this Cheddar classic for a while but wasn’t sure I’d ever get on it. However I suddenly became really psyched to try it decided to work it a little first as all the gear is so spaced, I lowered down it and worked out some sequences and found a couple of wire placements. I top roped it first go and then I knew I just needed to keep my head together to go for the lead! The route is scary from the start, it starts off of a ledge so any fall at the first section which also felt like the crux for me would be pretty bad and the consequences wouldn’t be too nice. You then clip a peg, move out right to place some wires which I actually think were really good and then its jut some technical run out climbing to the top from there. I did it first try… luckily… and I’m really excited to get on some more traditional routes now. I’ve always wanted to try Meshuga and Gaia at Black Rocks so I could be interested to get up there in the winter! Charlotte and I have some new Totem cams on the way so we’ll be getting with those as soon as they arrive.

For now though its back to the training and trying to get stronger and fitter!

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