|There is some bouldering in those hills.|
Lists play an important role in Bouldering: tick lists in guides, lists of personal projects, lists of grades and grading systems, lists of problems completed so far this season etc etc. Lists give climbing a faint wiff of competitive conformity; grades and the aroma of quantification open the door to the influence of Sports Science, training regimes, resistance, reps and rests. It's an intoxicating scent; one that promotes motivation, knuckling down and progress. Steps up the ladder of your grading system of choice can be hastened by applying a little logic. There's no magic here, the equation is simple:
Perspiration = Gratification (if grade-based progress is what you seek)
Lists have played an important role in my efforts to scratch a path up steeper and steeper sweeps of rock over the years. Lists have informed my training. Wish lists have been written and re-written in an attempt to motivate; lists of desert island climbs or boulders I would like to have in my garden have been seriously discussed, at length, deep into the early hours, thus rendering the chance of climbing a problem that features on a list in the cold morning light next to impossible. Lists have also been used to entertain. My favourite climbing lists were the ones that Showtime Farley would create on the twilight drives back from The Peak in autumns past. On these long drives the excitement of the day would fade to browns, oranges and yellows as our overworked adrenal glands stemmed their flow, the car's collective blood sugar bottomed out and strange shadows were cast by Tom "Fat-hand" Sugden lolling deep in slumber, held up by the tension of his seatbelt alone. A hush would descend despite the million decibels of bass shaking the fatigued bones of those incarcerated in the car. At this point Ben would banish the twilight chill of early winter by demanding the 'Best' from us all: best problem, best move, best hold. Excitment, enthusiasm, and in Tom's case basic motor functions, would return. In the pantheon of climbing lists, "Best" lists are definitely the best.
|Why does climbing seem better when there's snow on the horizon|
Best Move - above Pwllglass near Ruthin sits Butterfly Buttress. The steep front-face of this crag is adorned with a myriad of positive holds that make this an ideal link-up venue. One link moves from left to right through the steepness, it's called "Lead Rain" and my best move sits halfway along its sinuous path. The move involves kicking up a high heel onto a shelf in front of you allowing you to bump from a tiny hold to a thank-god sidepull. This slight of heel gets you through the steepest part of the problem efficiently saving energy for the brutal moves ahead.
Best Problem - I had been to Rhiw Coch before and done a circuit of easy problems. I had a look at Poppy's Move and the other problems in that particular cluster and discounted them as being too hard for my skinny arms. I went back this year with the test pages of the new North Wales Bouldering Guide, and I noticed the problem Moria. A 7b with two stars, I gave it a go and the rewards were exponentially greater than the grade given to the problem. The line may not be the most asthetic but the moves are stellar- you just can't quantify this quality; go try this problem it really is magic.
|Moria in all of its glory|
Best Area - without doubt it's North Wales. Words can not capture the feeling of moving across rough, dolerite slopers with a chill in the air and a dusting of snow on the mountains. It feels such a privilege to be climbing in this environment when the conditions are good and the sky is powder blue. When you're high up on the pass, away from the sound of the traffic, looking across at Dinas Cromlech, clouds casting shadows on the valley bottom as they drift lazily by, you feel like you're sitting in an alternate reality, a simpler one, one that makes sense, one that's almost - well mystical.
|Moves like these help to generate Bests for everyones lists.|