Folded uncomfortably into the front seats of Dan’s van, the eight hour journey to north Wales seemed even longer than usual.
We had two objectives; Buster and Dan were to learn the basics of multi-pitch trad climbing and I would attend a CPD workshop.
The rain clouds, which had threatened us throughout the trip, failed to materialise and we were able to pitch our tents in the dry.
The downpor started during the night and continued throughout Tuesday making it an easy decision to go and do our shopping.
Wednesday was a lot more promising and an early start got us to the Idwall Slabs before the hordes. We jumped on Hope, the classic of the crag, a three star V Diff (Very Difficult). By the time we had kitted up several groups from Plas y Brenin arrived. And, after exchanging greetings and briefly chatting with six of the instructors I knew, we were off.
Made glassy smooth by the passage of thousands of climbers, the friction was further diminished by the water, which, after the previous days deluge, continued to flow down the rock. This was my first trad climb of the year and as there would be no opportunity to place protection until I was at least 15 metres up the climb, I took extra care.
I soon began to relax and the long first pitch was soon over. I built a high belay and brought Buster up. When he arrived I got him to build a belay himself and then bring up Dan.
We continued like this for some time and when I was satisfied with their gear placements Dan and Buster took turns at the sharp end.
At the end of the route we decided that we still had time to do some more climbing. Conveniently, towering above us was a route called Lazarus. A much shorter multi-pitch and a grade harder at Severe. This was great fun and only left the long climb and walk down and back to the van. A great start to the climbing week.
The next day, after an abortive search for climbs in a rarely frequented (and as we discovered, with good reason) area we decided to head to the Milestone Buttress on the west flank of mighty Tryfan. We had a great time and finished up with an abseil down Little Gully/Waterfall.
Friday was the day we had to split up.
As part of its commitment to maintaining high standards AMI requires its members to engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD). These workshops provide CPD credits. So I was off to Plas y Brenin to meet the people I would be doing the workshop with. Meanwhile Dan and Buster
had decided that they would tackle a classic climb on the East Face of Tryfan.
I was back at Milestone and spent the day going through various techniques for teaching climbing. The first half of the day concentrated on climbing in parallel and after lunch we went through various techniques of climbing alongside a client while giving them instruction. These workshops are a great way to keep up with best practice within the industry.
Buster and Dan soon decided that the low cloud and poor visibility meant that their climb would not be safe so they decided to go for a scramble instead. They ended up on the summit of Tryfan and both succeeded in doing the notorious jump between the twin obelisks of Adam and Eve and thus conferring upon themselves the freedom of the mountain.
All in all a very successful trip. All that remained was the journey back. Groan.