French climber Caroline Ciavaldini has just made two very impressive ascents in Wales with ascents of the Pembroke classic Chupacabra, E8 6c, in Huntsman's Leap and Chicama, E9 6c, at Trearddur Bay in North Wales.
Caroline headed to the UK straight from a recent trip to her home of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean feeling tired, both mentally and physically, however after a brief training stint in Zillertal her boyfriend, James Pearson, picked up a finger injury, making Caroline the focus of the trip.
First up, the pair went to Pembroke. After a day of cragging, Caroline decided to have a more chilled day and dropped a rope down Chupacabra in Huntsman's Leap. First climbed by Ben Bransby, who gave it E9 6c, the route has seen three repeats before Caroline's from Steve McClure, Nic Sellers and Neil Mawson who downgraded it to E8.
However, Caroline did not necessarily have the chilled day she wanted, commenting on her blog: "I really dislike working moves on a static. Stupid, but I always fear the rope is going to get cut, or the belay gear won't lock". Despite Caroline's sport climbing prowess, it took her 4 sessions to complete the route and even had to talk to Ben Bransby to get the sequence for the low crux.
Finally, Caroline decided that she was ready for the lead, having talked through the reliability of the gear with James. First go up, Caroline surprised herself by getting through the first crux, surprising herself again by falling through the upper crux which she described as "ok".
Caroline described the mental battle she had with the route and whether she would do it again, saying: "First I thought I wouldn't go again… and it took only five minutes for me to know that I would go again… I had to win this mental battle."
After a rest day, Caroline tied on again managing to climb the route first go this session, commenting on her ascent, she said: "For sure I climbed better, I was more inside my movements. Still, I just about made it though the low crux, and had to use a little trick James and I use for the high crux: I convinced myself that I had fallen, and was just trying to link the top section. That took off the pressure, and I made my way to the very top. Just about."
Next, Caroline and James headed to North Wales as James wanted to get some beta on Chicama, Tim Emmett's E9 6c that was recently repeated by Hazel Findlay (UKC News Report) and James McHaffie. James abbed the route, clippng in to the pegs that Pete Graham had placed for Hazel, whilst Caroline abbed and looked at the moves. Caroline then had a top-rope go, cleaned the gear and led the route at low-tide on her first go, finding the route a lot easier than Chupacabra. Commenting on the route, Caroline said "With all the new pegs that Hazel's boyfriend replaced/added (as I understood from her blog), this very overhanging wall isn't too much of a faff, and I could happily chalk the holds, try the moves. I was ready to lead it, it didn't scare me so much".