A lot of a climbers spend their Winter hibernating in climbing walls, training for Spring and Summer, when the rock dries, the sun is out and the projects are in condition! Unfortunately, this is exactly what I did this Winter, but fortunately it paid off!
At the start of this year, I managed to climb my first 8c, The Death Star! A short, powerful and technical route at The Remnant in Cheddar Gorge, near Bristol.
I chose to start trying The Death Star as I wanted a local project to keep me occupied during the long, wet Winter months, as Cheddar is only 40 mins from Bristol, Death Star turned out to be the perfect one. The line itself is not exceptionally inspiring, I am fully aware that there are many more beautiful 8c's in the UK and world, but this was quite convenient and really hard! I think it would break down to 8a+, then a 7B+/C boulder and then some tricky climbing to the top. Death Star is really sustained, there are not a lot of rests on it (unless you use a kneebar, which I didn't) and the clips are hard too, and unsurprisingly for Cheddar the feet are pretty poor, it's a real power-endurance route to the top, the moves are actually really cool- lots of high steps and subtle body positions, that if you don't get just perfect means you will come flying off the wall! The crux involves matching a finger-lock jam about 3/4 the way up the route, so you can imagine my annoyance at climbing all the way up there to fall off and having to do it all again!
To climb this grade was a definite goal of mine this year, so I was VERY happy to finish this route, I had been trying it on/ off for a few months now and the whole redpointing process was tiring me out a bit- going to the crag to try the same moves on the same route every week gets a bit boring and tedious, especially with there being so many other great routes to try. It is also nice to see that all the training over the last few months has paid off!
Just before doing this route I was in Ticino, Switzerland on a bouldering trip. IIn between the rain and getting the flu I managed to drag myself up a few boulders, the highlight was completing Teamwork, 8A in Chironico. Here is a little video my friend made if you have a spare few minutes...
I think it is important to set goals at the start of the year, it really keeps me motivated throughout my training (which is often boring and monotonous). I can't wait to do lots more climbing this Summer around the UK- if the weather stays as good as it was last year!
If you haven't visited Cheddar Gorge, then you definitely should, there is something for everyone at every grade and so much of it. Here is a list of recommended routes at every grade:
Off the Wall, Arch Rock, 6b
Stepping Back, Stepped Wall, 6c
Raw Deal, The Wave, 7a
It's a Kind of Magic, The Remnant, 7a+
House Burning Down, Arch Rock, 7b+
Valley of the Blind, Lion Rock, 7c
Circus Finale, Lion Rock, 7c+
Lion Sleeps Tonight or Lions Pride, Lion Rock, 8a
Shadow Walker, Lions Rock, 8a+
Galacticus, Space Hunter, 8b