BRMC meets the CKK (Christiansand Klattreklub)
A year ago, I was lucky enough to be selected as a host on a BMC international meet based at Glenmore Lodge in Scotland. I was paired up with a couple of Norwegian climbers, Anne Kari and Siw, who despite being experienced ice climbers had done hardly any climbing on rock with traditional protection.
It was a pleasure to be able to invite them and their club back to the BMRC hut, to experience the great climbing that we have just yards from our back door. Together with two other members from their climbing club, Marianne and Christian, Siw and Anne Kari flew over from Norway to Liverpool and then made the drive to Tremadog to get stuck in over the bank holiday weekend. Their club is about ten times bigger than ours with four hundred members, and they had recently published a beautiful looking guidebook to the climbing in their area of Norway, which they very kindly presented to me as a gift and with an invitation to our club to come and climb with them in Norway in the future.
Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I was unable to meet them in person at the hut on Thursday as I had originally planned, but they wasted no time in letting themselves into the hut and making themselves comfortable before making the most of the glorious Tremadog weather and ticking off Hail Bebe (V Diff) and Christmas Curry (Severe) with no apparent difficulty.
On Friday it was raining, so after a bit of text advice and guidance from me, they set off on an ascent of Snowdon from Bethania up the Watkin path. It seems to have been an eventful day for them, they were surprised to be the centre of attention at the summit as they were the only group who had brought a map with them, and were quickly surrounded by British hillwalkers who despite the cloudy summits, rain and wind had not thought to take this simple precaution for themselves. It all sounded a bit depressingly familiar.
I finally managed to get to the hut to meet them on Friday evening, and once they had dried themselves off by the woodburner, we had a beer or two and toddled off down to the Golden Fleece for some supper. The previous night the Fleece had run out of local beer, but they had restocked on Friday so the Purple Moose flowed and we had a great meal catching up and talking about the climbing around the South of Norway where they live.
While we were out, Helen Rea and her daughter Hope arrived at the hut, but they were fast asleep by the time we got back in!
Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and we wasted no time in doing a bit more hut DIY – putting up the fire exit signs – and then getting over to Eric’s for some breakfast. The weather was warm enough to sit outside on his benches while we planned the day’s activities. Helen and Hope were going to climb Moel Siabod, and the rest of us chose to stay at Tremadog and have a day’s cragging. Anne Kari, Marianne and I chose to start on Christmas Curry, and Siw and Christian tackled the classic One Step In The Clouds (VS). Climbing as a three, I was quite happy to be led by Anne Kari and just enjoy the climbing, take in the scenery and offer the occasional word of encouragement and direction as we made our way up the crag. The rock was warm and dry, the birds were singing, and the clear air gave us fantastic views over the Porthmadog estuary – a beautiful day to go climbing!
At the top we met Siw and Christian who had just finished on ‘One Step’ and headed back to the hut for some lunch. The hut is amazing now – the new Velux windows in the kitchen roof let in loads of light and the whole place has a lighter more welcoming feel to it.
In the afternoon we headed to the far right hand of the crag, wanting to climb Merlin (VS) and Oberon (S), but they were busy when we got to the base of them, so we chose some fillers-in while we waited. Marianne and Anne Kari climbed Tro (HS) and Siw and Christian dispatched Yogi (VS).
Returning to the Merlin Buttress, the über-classic Merlin had become free, so Siw and Christian set off on that, and Anne Kari, Marianne and myself did a slightly harder variation of Oberon, allowing us to pass a slower party who were climbing the main route. The weather remained sunny and warm throughout, and topping out we were rewarded with the fantastic view over the Moelwyns and The Cnicht, perhaps as clear as I have ever seen them.
In the evening we drove over to Plas Y Brenin and ate in the bar there so that all could enjoy the spectacular view of the Snowdon horseshoe. We met up with another friend of mine, Adam Booth, who was also on the BMC international meet with me and had met the Norwegian ladies before. Being the designated driver, there was no beer for me, but as always, I was reminded what a great facility PYB is, even if you’re not going on a course there.
Sunday morning broke drizzly and overcast, so there was nothing for it but to do some more hut DIY. Helen, Hope and I painted the stairwell before we all headed over to Eric’s for some brekkie. Eric was in an ebullient mood, recounting his time when he met a Norwegian in Patagonia in 1977, and then telling stories of all the times he nearly died in avalanches. His escape on Nanga Parbat sounded especially hairy when he and the filmmaker Leo Dickinson were blown off their feet and nearly off a ridge by the blast wave from an avalanche happening two miles away. Eric’s got an autobiography coming out in about 4 weeks, and I can’t wait to read it.
As the weather was slowly lifting we decided to go to Llanberis for the morning to get some climbing supplies and a coffee, and then to climb in the Pass in the afternoon if it had dried out enough. Helen and Hope were heading off to the Cnicht. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the Pass remained wringing wet, but by the time we were back in Tremadog, the sun was blazing again and we headed off to Craig Y Castell.
Creag Dhu Wall (HS) is a must for any visitor to Tremadog – steep for the grade but well protected, and with two, err, ‘thought provoking’ traverses. Anne Kari led it all very well, with Marianne and I following up. Siw and Christian climbed Mensor (VS) after a false start (my fault – I pointed out the wrong start to the climb to them – oops!).
I had to drive back home that night, so I had to say goodbye on the Sunday evening to my Norwegian friends. We’d packed quite a bit in to a couple of day’s climbing, and I hope I managed to give them a flavour of British trad climbing on the cliffs around Tremadog. They seemed very happy with the standard of the hut accommodation, and I think this bodes well for the future with other clubs coming to visit with us. I’m looking forward to going to climb in Norway in the future – if anyone is interested in coming too, give me a shout…