Wild Welsh Adventure: BMC International Summer Climbing Meet 2019

Posted by Becky McGovern on 11/07/2019
By John Bunney

Our International Meets are week-long gatherings of climbers from all over the world, with the aim to showcase the uniqueness of British climbing and connect climbers from across the globe. Find out a bit more about them from local hosts and international attendees below!

The BMC International Summer Climbing Meet took place in North Wales 12 to 19 May 2019. The event was based at the Climbers’ Club hut in the magnificent Llanberis Pass and saw 50 people from 20 different countries united by Welsh trad climbing.

Countries included Albania, Belgium, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden. For many international climbers this was their first visit to the UK.

During the days each of our international guests were paired with a UK host climber and teams headed out to enjoy all that Welsh trad climbing has on offer. Amazingly the weather played ball and high pressure was in charge for the week. Game on! A plethora of crags were visited including Gogarth, the slate quarries, the Cromlech, Clogwyn y Grochan, Dinas Mot, Rhoscolyn, Cloggy, Carreg Wastad, Tremadog and Cryn Las. An abundance of routes were climbed from V Diff to E6 and much fun was had.

WATCH: Cromlech classics from BMC International Meet 2019 on BMC TV

Several presentations were given during the week. Teodor Iliev (South Africa) shared his wild African exploits of bold alpine solos, wild elephants, Maasai warriors and epic rope swings.  Natasa Petrin and Marko Buljan (Croatia) tempted us with stunning shots of the incredible climbing on offer in Croatia. Kirill Belotserkovskiy (Kazakhstan) inspired with his off the beaten track escapades, and trad master Emma Twyford (UK) entertained with her latest Welsh adventures.

The celebration party on the final evening was a fitting end to a great week. Local band Banda Bacana and DJ James Williams pulled a blinder by getting everyone dancing.

The BMC would like to thank all the climbers; DMM for providing free factory tours; Caban Café for doing an amazing job of feeding everyone; Banada Bacana; DJ James Williams and the Climbers’ Club.

Here’s what some of the climbers from the week had to say:

Tjebbe Zwart (Netherlands)
My favourite moment on the meet was climbing the top section of Resurrection. I didn't have much trad climbing experience before I came to the meet, so I found it hard to commit and to trust the gear. The whole upper part of Resurrection felt scary and I didn't trust the gear. But when I started the crux at the top I didn't worry about falling any more. For the first time in the week I could push myself on trad without being scared and just enjoy the climbing. For me this was the moment when the trad climber in me was born. It was the last route of the week, so it really motivated me to get out and do more of the stuff!

Geoff Bennett (UK)
In Tremadog on Saturday, Hilary Lawrenson (UK) spied Eric Jones outside his eponymous cafe, "Hi Eric, can I introduce another Everest summiter, Debraj Dutta from India? He's been on the BMC International meet all week." Eric, polite and modest as ever replied, "Delighted to meet you Debraj, but I never made it to the summit of Everest." Debraj responded quick as a flash "Ah no sir, you went even higher than the summit."

Tim Oliver (UK)
Tough one coming up with a favourite moment, but it was hard to beat two amazing days up on Cloggy. A stunning location with some of the best climbing I've ever done. Watching Teo (South Africa) take some monster whippers off Great Wall, ripping his clothes apart and breaking his helmet in the process, but still determined to carry on climbing was also a moment I won't forget for some time!

Ian Bryan (UK)
Every day was a winner! It was particularly rewarding to have my partners thank me each day for having such an awesome time. I got some great routes ticked and it was a true pleasure to show folks our outstanding trad climbing. The food at Caban was great too and I particularly liked the positive lack of elitism about the meet, hopefully everyone felt it was inclusive as I certainly did.  Thanks again, I'm looking forward to the next one already!

Steve McClure (UK)
The fun thing about the international meet is it’s a bit like a box of chocolates – you never quite know what you are going to get. Climbers come from all around the world, with a mix of experience and ability, but all psyched for a taste of the true British experience. I was teamed up with Tadej from Slovenia. On paper he looked like a wad, with 8b redpoints and a ton of mountain experience. Meeting him confirmed he was truly a hard man of the hills; solid! I pointed up to the Cromlech and suggested we thin our kit as it’s a big hike; “No need, I take your bag. This walk is nothing for me”. True enough I struggled up behind as he set the pace, and I asked questions that needed a lot of talking because I was out of breath and couldn’t speak without collapsing. He filled me in with his vast amount of experience of all things gnarly in the mountains, with trips all over the world in dicey situations that I imagine barely made him flinch. But setting off up Resurrection, the ultra classic E4 6a on the Left wall of The Cromlech I could see he was thinking. A true British experience; a wire here, a thread over there. A cam in a crozzly pocket and a thread over a spike. I could tell he was loving it. The smile on his face confirmed it; “Brilliant. So different to anything else. Just brilliant”. Sometimes it takes a different perspective to realise that actually, we do have some truly amazing climbing on our little island.

WATCH: Steve McClure climb trad with Niall Grimes on BMC TV

Mike Pycroft (UK)
Climbing resolution direct on Gogart with Kyle (Ireland) on Tuesday morning, no one else on the criag.  Wednesday was a special day with Luis (Portugal) on Wen Slab no one else around lovely temperature climbing Concret Chimney & Quartz Icicle.  After which we sat at the top enjoying the solitude.

George North (UK)
My favourite bit was the first day when we went to the upper tier at Craig Pant Ifan. it was a beautiful sunny day and Steve and Eveline from Malta did their first proper trad leads (without clipping bolts as back-up!). The progress they made through the rest of the week was really great to see!

Sophie Whyte (UK)
I climbed with Peter Jan  from Belgium at the Cromlech on the first day of the meet. We climbed the corner, Left wall, and Resurrection.  Peter Jan was then very motivated to climb Right Wall. Despite it being a bit wet and unchalked he looked super steady but afterwards he said it was the most terrifying route he had ever climbed!

Peter Kis (Hungary)
I had a wonderful time in wales, one of my best climbing trips ever! The completely traditional style of climbing was something new for me, and opened my eyes for new possibilities. It was a great opportunity for me to try it with the guidance of a professional and learn in the safest way and get a sample of the British climbing. It was also interesting to meet with climbers from all around the world, and exchange information.


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