The light at the end of the library.

Cherry_header5 Finally we have surfaced again, having held our breath through a storm of coursework, presentations and exams. Bursting through the other side of our Final year Exhibitions, desperate for some time to climb on real rock (after a considerable amount of beer and sleep). The next couple of months in Nottingham with no uni work should leave us with some time to train for the upcoming Norway trip.

Not to say that we haven’t been training all year in some respects – as the training for this trip is quite different from our last. For one thing, we aren’t planning on having to do any multi-day routes. This means (hopefully) no hauling or need for a port-a-ledge on this trip. Even if we do get on multi-day routes, we’ll more likely climb them ‘alpine style’.

Additionally, we’ve been concentrating much more on things like hard bouldering and trad climbing. Whilst we’ve retained the aiding and big walling skills learnt in Yosemite, on this trip we’re hoping to do much more free-climbing, perhaps with the goal of developing some new routes and boulders of our own. This has meant a much greater emphasis on physical training as not only do we need to be physically fit again, but we’re going to have to be as ready as possible for the kind of free-climbing that Norway offers!

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Basecamp on wheels! Complete with slick alloys and top-of-the-range sound system.

Yes, the Van is here – a beautiful rattling lump of off-white metal that is the key to a successful trip. Stefan has been trialing it already, taking it on short trips to the peak, and less short trips to North Wales. It has yet to be properly panelled and kitted out, but that will all happen in the weeks to come.

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Stefan on the powerful ‘Pit and Pendulum’ a V8+ in the Ogwen Valley, North Wales.

Stefan has been utilising his newly acquired transport to get stuff done! Freshly released from exams, he’s been pushing himself on ever more powerful boulder problems and difficult trad routes.

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Cherry making the big move on ‘Deliverance’, a V8+ Dyno in the Peak District.

I on the other hand, have been pansy-ing about on technical slabs and walls. Finally doing ‘Deliverance’ at Stanage plantation felt like a big deal for me. I’d had a fair few sessions on it yielding no success, and the feeling of pushing it closer and closer and closer until I finally latched that edge and topped out the problem was fantastic – I felt it got me really motivated to stick with hard projects and see them through.

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James Salisbury sporting a gorgeous blonde toupe, on the desperately thin slab ‘The Snivelling Shit’, an E5 6a at Millstone Edge.

I was also pretty psyched to flash (on top rope!) The Snivelling Shit (E5 6a). This low angle blank slab is very similar to the sort of climbing we could be doing on big face routes in Lofoten. Funnily enough, it felt incredibly similar to the sort of climbing we were doing on the Apron, in Yosemite. Only that was graded 5.10 R, and this was graded E5 6a. And this felt easier….

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Cherry using some fairly insecure thin hand jams, to flail his way up ‘The Gates of Mordor’ an E3 6a at Millstone Edge.

My experience on The Gates of Mordor (E3 6a) perfectly captured the training that I want to be doing. Not being scared of taking falls on gear, trying really hard on real rock, and using my route climbing in the UK as a learning experience, to become a better climber! Trying this was route was not just about doing it, but also learning how to do it. What to expect? More of the same. Thin slabs, steep cracks, powerful boulders, and bad driving. It’s good to be back!

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