Two years ago I attended the BMC international Meet at Plas-y-Brenin, and at the end of the week vowed that, wherever I was in the world, I would be back for the next one. Basically, you just get to go climbing for a whole week in North Wales with a variety of foreign visitors, with the goal of showing them what traditional (i.e. no fixed bolts) climbing is all about. Needless to say this is bloody good fun, as you make loads of friends and get to go climbing all week. It's great. The 'Summer' meets occur every two years, with Winter meets, which are equivalent but held in Scotland and focus on winter mountaineering, happening in the intervening years. Last week was the date for the Summer meet 2008, and as per the promise I made to myself, there I was again.
North Wales is a pretty unique climbing venue. While it lacks any truly big walls, it makes up for it in the sheer variation of climbing available. Within a 45 minute-drive radius from Llanberis you can climb on several different rock types, ranging from various volcanic rhyolites and tuffs, to dolerite, quartzite, limestone, gabbro, slate and (if you're a bit crazy) mudstone and shale. Each different rock type requires a different style of climbing, from steep overhanging limestone that is well-endowed with pockets and holds, to featureless slate slabs that require pulling and balancing on razor thin edges. Very few other places in the world have such a variation in such a small area.
The meets traditionally always luck out with the weather, and this one was no exception. Snowdonia was basking in 25 degree sunshine for almost the whole week, which essentially guaranteed the success of the event. There were 44 guests from 24 countries, and an equal number of British climbers to show them around. I climbed with a Belgian, a Pole, a Portuguese guy and Ferran (who I met at the last meet, and who I climb with a lot over hear in Catalunya). They were all great people and good fun to climb with. I was also particularly chuffed to onsight my first E5, Flashdance (see snap above), but a bit miffed to fall off the last move of the classic E4, Resurrection; though I'm glad I gave it a go, and managed to get to the top after giving my tired forearms a bit of a rest.
All in all it was a superb week and I am already looking forward to the next one in two years time...!