Meet report by Nick
A favourable weather forecast, an early summer weekend and a shortish journey should have had a welcomed all the climbing members of the MMC to the cliffs of the Wye Valley but for some reason the stars did not align that way and so a smallish group turned out for the meet. After a stilted struggle through the London traffic and then a breeze along the M4 into the setting sun Nick and potential members Paolo and Jasmine loomed into the crepuscular Beeches campsite.
The Beeches is one of the most delightful campsites in the Kingdom. It is elegantly contoured with beautiful views across the Wye into Wales. The facilities are adequate but with a slightly Spartan feel to remind people why they are camping and the owners are reasonable and helpful types. Furthermore it is sufficiently remote from any pub so that people tend to cook dinner in the site in an atmosphere of convivial sociability around the obligatory campfire.
Eventually Sarah’s G & W turned up along with Jules and as they had organised an early start the next morning everyone retired in good time.
On Saturday morning Sarah, Sarah, Jules, Paolo and Jasmine had organised a canoeing trip so everyone was up early for their 8.30 departure. The canoe trip was apparently extremely placid, more Delivering Ambience than Deliverance with not so much as a involuntary dunking to report let alone being set upon by one eyed, leering local inbreds.
This left Nick alone in the campsite who struck a slightly forlorn figure wondering if and when Rick or the Dees would show up to go climbing. He tried contacting them by phone, text, email and eventually a coded message in the personal adverts section of the Western Daily Mail but with no success so he cruised into Chepstow for a cup of coffee. Eventually a flurry of electronic communication erupted and he went back to the campsite to be united with the Dees on a trip to Shorncliff. Back at the site the Dees had turned up and managed to locate Anna who had been at the site all along but in a different section to the others. She was enjoying the sun with her friends but slightly stuck for a lack of guidebook. She managed to get a copy of the Ban-y-Gor topo and took her team off to clip some bolts.
So Nick and the Dees trickled off to Shorncliff which is a pleasant 15 minute stroll through the woods from the site whence they were eventually joined by Rick and his team. A lot of mid grade classics were competently climbed by all with no great drama apart from Nick leaving his helmet at the top of the crag when abseiling down (it was eventually retrieved) and David suffering a sandbagging on the appropriately named Loss of Innocence.
And so back to the campsite in the gathering gloaming where the Special Boat Squadron had returned from their mission and had fire going. Then followed a relaxed and pleasant evening with everyone contributing something to a meal of grilled sausages, salad, pasta and ratatouille. All very satisfactory and bucolic.
On Sunday the climbers went off to Wintours Leap to climb some of the multi pitch classics. Nick teamed up with Paolo who had not climbed trad before. He efficiently seconded Nick up Niebelheim, Joe’s Route and Symplex and was initiated into the joys of gear retrieval, multi pitch climbing and abseiling. He also saw the elegant and precise way the experienced Nick could place his gear. The crags of the Wye valley lend themselves to wires, which should be he backbone of any climbers rack, and eschew the parvenu camming devices. Paolo could only marvel at the particular accumulation of skill, experience and imagination whereupon Nick could light upon a suitable feature and then with the dexterity of a conjurer and the resolve of a sniper immediately slot in a wire without needing to check its size. Not to be seen was the fumbling and flustering of the tyro or the nervous. Each move in climbing was elegant, confident and efficient and the hands placing the darted with the accuracy of a striking viper.
The last thing they saw as they abbed off Symplex was Rick having an inner turmoil on Erda (E1), rumour control has it that he eventually went off onto another route. All was done in good efficient style with no cock ups, stuck gear, tangled abseils or irretrievable ropes. David and Alix also climbed Joe’s Route and some others of a similar ilk.
Eventually Nick and Paolo returned to the campsite to rendezvous with the walking women who had been wandering around Symond’s Yat and thence back to London.
All in all it was an excellent weekend with good climbing, good weather and good company.