Climbing on Holyhead
This weekend saw me climbing on Holyhead in great weather with Sarah and Alex. This was my first couple of days building on the skills I learnt on my MIA training. I did the training back in April and I was energised by the course to get out and climb. I also wanted to start consolidating before I forgot too much.
Sarah and I arranged the trip weeks ago, she wanted to get back leading Severe and I wanted to help support her. Alex, I had recently met, he had had his first taste of trad lead climbing and he was keen for more. Holyhead mountain seemed like a great option, plenty of Severe and Vdiff climbing for a weekend, friendly and accessible single pitch but also the added bonus of the sea cliffs near by if they wanted me to take them on something a bit more exciting.
As the weekend approached I continually checked the weather, keeping my fingers crossed it would at least be dry. While there was scattered showers forecast for the mountains, Holyhead looked good to go.
On Saturday we were greeted by plenty of sun. We were so eager to get climbing that we reached the bottom of the crag before the sun found its way onto the rock. The South Westerly wind however made its presence felt!
I rigged fixed lines so I could hang around, guide and support as Sarah and Alex proceeded to climb their way along the mountain. We started on Ramp C, moved onto D and finished on E. Jumaring is something that at the end of the day, I felt I had plenty of practice in, my arms agreed! Sarah and Alex got in 3 leads each and quite a few abseils.
Sarah did so well, right from the get go she jumped on Severe graded climbs. Each time she lead up there was a noticable difference in her confidence as she tackled the climbs. On her final lead, New Boots and Panties, I said barely a word as she comfortably climbed to the top.
Alex made my life easy, he had clearly listened well and taken in a lot from the people that taught him only a few weeks ago. As he climbed, all that was need from me was just advice and tweaking of gear placements. By the end of the day he was building good belays without much input from me and I taught him how to abseil with a prussic.
Sunday saw more sun and slightly less wind, for some reason we chose once again to reach the crag while it was still in the shadows. This time we were starting at Castell Helen, a multi-pitch sea cliff crag. On arrival I rigged the abseil, got us stacked up and ready to go and then down we went to the first belay just above the sea.
This was Alexs' biggest and most commiting abseil yet and he clearly loved it, once he conquered the fear of going over edge at the top. The abseil takes you into an atmospheric place where you are stood on a small ledge and the sea only a few short meters away. Once all 3 of us were down, it wasn't long before I was leading the way out up Light House Arret.
The first pitch steps out onto an exposed traverse that slowly rises higher above the sea.
After this, on the start of the second pitch we were greeted by the beautifull aroma of sea bird droppings. If you were really lucky you ended up with some on your hands as a souvenir. Urgh.
The second pitch also contains the crux of the route, which Sarah and Alex completed with little difficulty. From here the 3rd pitch was farily simple and we were all keen to complete it before our hands and feet went completely numb!
In my haste to the sun I forgot I would be out of sight and out of hear shot at the top of the third pitch and I left without giving any instructions. Thankfully I have climbed with Sarah many times and she knew exactly what to do, keep paying out the rope until it goes tight, if I keeps pulling after that, start climbing. Definetly a learning point for me.
Once in the sun and able to feel our hands and feet, we decided to eat our first meal of the day in the RSPB cafe at the car park. After that we had just enough time to get Alex one more climb on Holyhead mountain before he needed to head home.
This time Alex was going to lead solo. I would be above, ready to swoop in if assistance was required, but of course I did not have to. I watched as Alex cruised up D'Elephant and then built a solid belay to bring Sarah up on.
So there you have it, climbing on Holyhead. A massive thank you to Sarah and Alex for allowing me to practice my teaching skills on you. Great company and great weather, what more could you want from a weekend climbing!
Super keen to get out more this summer!