I felt like I was really out of practice. I had barely climbed the previous year. I had to look up how often I had actually climbed, and it turns out to have been three times. More than I thought it would be! Once at Craig Caseg Ffraith, once in Penmaenbach and once in the Gwydr Forest. But then before that had, of course, been in summer 2019. So I really WAS out of practice! And the regular Monday evening outdoor climbing (weather permitting) seems to not have happened. There was some activity in messenger on a regular basis, but that always involved indoor climbing, and that doesn't sufficiently float my boat. And Charlotte explained to me why all of that was, and had indicated that there might be some outdoor climbing either on the Monday or on an arbitrary evening coming up. And she was right! But I had to pass on several occasions because I had already been booked for other activities. But then one week there was a call for Tuesday climbing. And I was available! I let her know I was keen. And she would pick me up.
That day I would be in the office. And I had a meeting in the afternoon. I wasn't sure if I would get home before the meeting afterwards, but it wasn't intended to be a particularly long meeting (I'm sure everyone sees what's coming) so I should manage to make it. But then the intended end time of that meeting approached and we were clearly not anywhere near finishing. I was starting to get nervous.
I wondered about how I could sort this. Then I thought that maybe, I could hitch a ride home. Going by car is a lot quicker than by bicycle! And I had a look at the other people in the meeting. Martin was in it! So I surreptitiously sent him a text during the meeting; would he be willing to give me a lift home if that would mean I would be on time for climbing? And he said yes. So now I had to hope that it didn't overrun that much that even when travelling by fast car I wouldn't make it.
The meeting overran by some 75 minutes. Assuming this was done I verified Martin was ready to go home, threw my belongings into my bags, left the bike and got to his car. And not much time later I was home. So I got into the house, threw the bags in the corner, fed the cat, threw my climbing kit into my bag, grabbed something really quick to eat, chucked in a leftover sandwich and two litres of water, changed from a shirt into a T-shirt, and then just managed one mug of tea before Charlotte appeared in my street. Success!
At the nearest gas station we picked up Cat, a climber I didn't know yet. And then we were ready to go to the venue. But it wasn't that easy. When we were leaving the forecourt we almost collided with a woman who was driving into the forecourt via the exit! What a bad idea.
Fortunately, from there we reached our destination (Castle Inn Quarry) without incident. And then we needed find a route we were happy with and that was available. None of us wanted to start heavy! And I forgot what are first route was called, but it was indeed the sort of route that you do as the first one in an entire season. We walked around and fixed a top rope. And we were go! And it was a beautiful evening. I myself was a bit distracted by the amazing fossils in the limestone….
|The first rope has been thrown down from the top anchor! Ready to climb…|
|Selfie with bright sun and Carboniferous limestone|
|Charlotte belaying Cat from the top|
After me and Cat had climbed it, Charlotte noticed that a route a bit further on became available. We quickly grabbed our stuff and went! She had had her eye on that one. There were several routes quite close together; Charlotte lead the first, I and Cat followed, and then we rethreaded the rope to the top of the next route along, and climbed that one too. In the meantime, swallows were zipping around us.
|Me in action; pic by Cat|
At some point when Cat was belaying Charlotte, I decided I could spend my time well by doing my physiotherapy exercises. And one of them involves hopping on one leg. It looks a bit daft! But the ladies were facing the other way. Cat, however, heard me behind her, turned around, show me doing my daft exercise, and then gave me a look that made me burst into laughter. Charlotte, who was leading a client, obviously had no idea what was going on, and she might have still been a little bit shaky from the incident with the woman going the wrong way. I was afraid she thought I was laughing at her, which I most definitely wasn't.
By the time we had all climbed all three routes we decided it was enough for the night. It wasn't very late, but we still had to get home! So we drove back, through a glorious sunset.
Stupidly enough, on a roundabout just before the A55, another nutcase tried to come to harm by throwing themselves in front of Charlotte’s wheel. This time it was a motorcyclist cutting her off. What were people thinking that evening!
|Bad pic of beautiful sunset!|
With all these people behaving like idiots in traffic, I can't imagine this was a particularly relaxing night for Charlotte. But otherwise I think it was a success! I think we all got sufficient climbing done, and it just was a lovely sunny evening with good company. I hope we can do it again soon!