Friday, 6 December 2019

The Flirting is in the Footwork

So a particular area of geography has got me all giddy. The initial result is a lot of time on Google maps, and much wellie shod exploration.

First on the list was checking out those blocks I saw near llyn llagi..
They were both far away and small, so much for Father Ted. 

However, the altitude gained provided a unique viewpoint. All that was required was, firstly to work out where I was, and secondly,  how to get somewhere from wherever I was... 


Walls, the ML lifeblood, that and reentrants. 

More walls, and promisingly some rocks. 


  
Definitely promising. 

So armed with a pocketful of promises, the next adventure was, you guessed it, more Daddy time. Logan being this sorties padawan. 



Sunny! But chuffing cold. 

So we got some height, and were treated to visions of distant treasure 

Food for future sorties

We did find stuff though 

Some of it big... 

However, as this hoarefrost demonstrates, a little to chilly for father son bonding over Fa's. 

So this current geography is still teasing me, but maybe the next adventure will be the big one.. 

Watch this space 

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Big Grin Day

I've not been out much lately due to weather, work and family, so was sorely in need of a Big Grin outing; one of those expeditions that results in more than wet feet and disappointment. Following my treasure hunt with Ethan, I was keen to return to the wilds and look into the places I hadn't written off last time. Bit of a high risk strategy as there was low wow factor last time (although lots of good Dad time etc..)
The wilds in question were the surrounds of Moel Meirch, hostile lumps of bog and bush. However, they were fairly unexplored, and Dr Crook found them mentioned in a 1920's climbing guide, what could go wrong?
The View from the car abandoning place..

Choosing to veer away from the path and safety of Afon Llynedno, I started coming across lumps of good, if diminutive, rock.I sought out the lumps in turn, and above the central lump in the distance was this:

A humongous lump of nice slab! Just over 4m high, this long bluff had loads of potential. The downpours of the previous days had merely divided it into concise sections, giving clearer lines.
I set to it and managed 2 and a bit blocs, contained in the video below.

The first is Boulder Dismorphia somewhere on the cusp of 6A and took me too long to do as it felt a lot higher than it was due to the gently sloping top out. It goes up a nose of sorts into a droopy overlap, easy enough to start, and also easy to chicken out off left for the faint of heart.
The second was Grin Harvest; a low to mid 6 stating under an obvious edge/flake thing. Tricky to start as the feet are weird. The vid is the second accent, as I pressed photo rather than vid on my phone first time round...
The object of my failure is probably not too hard (especially if your a bit taller) but i was starting to lose skin and patience.

I'm quite keen to come back here, this was the first block I came too after a longish walk, however the rock was ace, and looking beyond, may have been the first of many..

I then wandered circumstantially to see if I missed something on the way up, and espied Graig Wen:
Looks pretty good, but better approached from the Llyn Llagi path.


Could be a new area to open up, let me know if you're keen (bring wellies)




Thursday, 31 October 2019

Renaissance of the hard move

Inspired by a thread on ukb, I was compelled by an old vid to return to an even older project.
I blogged about it at the time, and included a video still, but I was a bit cagey back then, and a little paranoid it may disappear to some musclebound wad. However, a few years have passed since Skadoosh found its way into North Wales Bouldering, and it still remains, snidely taking the piss. I even know of one rather talented fellow having a go, and not making any headway. Content, I allowed it to sit on the back burner for when I could apply time and effort to building power.

Having passed through a period where time and timing have frustrated my efforts, I thought I may as well just resort to flailing and trying. As this half term has been very trying with the kids, I found myself battered by the winds on the Clegir road, at 1630. Convicing myself of available light and conditions, I staggered down to Skadoosh.

It was Cold.

And Darkish.

In the failing light I pulled out my chalkbag and a brush and willed psyche into the holds. brushing the shine off, and making them more visible in the dusk.



Having flailed together a sort of sequence over the last 3 years I fondled and scratched at the holds in order

Orange for left hand, Green for right. Sometimes the process of analysis and working stuff out is the main meat of the journey. Especially when the finished product seems so elusive.
So Wellies never left my feet, But enough psyche was brewed to 'Walk through'.

This involved putting said wellies against the base of the overhanging wall and clinging my way through the sequence. Blow m if I didn't fall off, maybe next time I'll put boots on..


It was so dark that I've had to try and filter this vid into visibility. Hopefully it'll make you smile as much as I did.

Here's to trying hard


Friday, 11 October 2019

We're going on a Bloc Hunt..

Wednesday was a window of free time, slightly problematic due to a child off school, and a non ideal weather forecast.  Undeterred,  Ethan and I headed off into the wilderness looking for treasure.
Ethan identifying our first piece of booty ; hazelnuts! 
This was to be a serious mission.  The geology was sounds,  it was a foray to confirm correct topography. 
First signs were good.. 


However,  the going underfoot was less so..

For Ethan at least, first strike gave some fun bloc's. I was looking for something a little bigger and cohesive to get a circuit together. 

One boulder so far,  may not have found the pot of gold this trip. However,  I saw a few outliers that warrant attention when not restricted by little legs.

Lunch with a view. 

Ethan found an erratic fork and proceeded to do Martin Crook impressions. 

Ethan declared the day seized, and broke trail back to civilisation and Sponge Bob Squarepants.

I'm currently waiting for nicer weather to allow some outside climbing in my little freedom windows.  Hopefully the scrabbling around I'm doing indoors will stand me in good stead.

Keep exploring. 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Kicking off my Marchlyn Season

So Seren had her 4th birthday party,  with able support / interference from her brothers.  It was hot and windy, and not a little stressful. So when set free, I had to do something..
However all the crags would be sweaty, unless I slogged in the wind and heat up to Marchlyn!
After all this talk of Foolery,  it certainly fitted,  as I was knackered and weak, but rather than settling for a bit of benchmarking on a random rock. I was keen for my first slog up the hill. I always hate it, but, the boulder was soo good,  and maybe I'll get some progress.  I left the scooter at home as I was having brake issues (I melted my wellies)  and the wind may make it dangerous.
It certainly made it arduous.  Being blown this way and that, a QL workout,  and rarely in the right direction.

A 50 minute slog took me into the shade and presented me with lots of very dry and windy rock!
My usual warm up circuit took place and the friction was ace. However,  fingers were found wanting a little,  and I struggled to drop into Tumbleweed.  It turned out I was trying to drop into the start holds of the stand(which is nails) rather than the correct sloper. That completed I moved onto Edgehammer which rather than requiring fine tuning,  went down without a whimper. 
Taking this as a good sign, Seamus was dispatched and I turned my attention (for the nth time)to the low start project. 

Crispy dry footholds! 

Some time away has somehow allowed me some detachment,  and I felt able to play with the sequence skipping moves to try going big and playing with the energy budget. 
This resulted in a much more workable high percentage sequence.  Not only that but I could quantify my deficiencies and see how to nullify them.
Game on!


It may be a tedious poo of a slog, but it's lovely up here. 
Let's see what winter brings..

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Quixote and the Art of Foolery

So as is by now par for the course, My first day I can have an adventure and the drizzle flobs on in. Rather than get depressed and do some house work I decided to follow my own advice and wait for Vizzini, Think what my younger self would do, go back to those activities undertook before age pissed on my fire somewhat.
To summarise, I decided to go and clean an old highball of mine. At the top of a hill. In the Rain.
Perfectly normal thing to do, if you can climb, prepare something for climbing. In the Rain.
I may have also decided to try and find a route up there that wouldn't require wellies, and I didn't think to pack waterproof trousers.
I got wet.

The highball in question was "Its not the Years, Its the Mileage". Star of I.N.S.P.R.E. Jan 2016 and while first tried in 2003, was eventually first climbed in 2011 after learning the importance of core fitness. I gave it 7A!, however, its never been repeated, and knowing how I was going back then, it might be a little harder. I would love to clarify this, but its at the back of the head of the Bint of Nant Peris (below) and the walk in  is somewhat steep.

The Bint is supposed to be a sleeping witch, in the drizzle it looked more like the mummy returns..

The journey up to the crag has been the subject of a "locals" fell race and they've got there and back in 30mins. I take longer. I was please to find that the approach has been effectively drained, and wellies are no longer necessary. However, the sedge and bracken ensured my legs were soon dripping. The three hawthorns that mark the end of basic slog and the start of the hidden sheep path drew swiftly (hah) into view.


Once in line with them, the crag came into view

Pen Dinas (Craig y Giat is my name for the bit in the foreground)

The first bit of rock was even dry (never climbed this bit)

The gate that gave the block its name has gone walkies, it used to be between these posts.

Not climbed this bit either.

40 mins after leaving the car, I was below The Years. It looked a little higher, blanker, and scarier than I remembered. Once there I quickly up ended my bag and got the kit out. The sooner I got working, the sooner I could retreat. The top is a clump of stone bosses, so its easy to secure the abb rope. I was surprised to find all the important holds, and with minimal digging. Although the top was mossy, and the lichen obviously is well provided for, it cleaned pretty easy. As I slithered down (I'd forgotten how scary abbing on wet ropes with a grigri was) I photoed the hold as I dropped. This was mainly to help myself psyche for a future repeat,but I realise it may give you lot a little beta and fire to come and grade it for me. If you want to onsight look no further. However, I forgot to photo the starting holds so here's an ancient pic:

Left hand a flake sidepull that was smaller than I remember, right hand a nubbiny flake that wasn't.




Next set up on the "Biro" hold

rock out to the finger stack ledge

Foot up and throw for the monoflake

Sorry. Horribly slanted photo that I couldn't fix. Rope should be vert. Right hand circle is the monoflake, lefthand the rest ledge edge.

Behold the rest ledge edge!

This hidden puppy is the flake you then use with the R.L.E. to gain some small stuff and go up

Up here to thank God hold No.1

From there a scary lank gains Thank God hold No. 2 and the ledge system of escape.

Here's roughly where they all are.

There you go, Lets Repeat it!


I also cleaned "Desire is Repressed Fire" a 6A! so you have a warm up.

The slither down was slithery, and as I stripped to my underpants in the Vaynol Car Park I had a big grin on my face. The reason we did these frankly silly, and potentially pointless adventures was inexplicable to the many. However I'm sure there are a few kindred souls out there chuckling quietly to themselves reminiscing about their own ventures in foolery. For myself I've made a mental note to try at least one foolish thing a month. That way my giggle-tank will remain full, and I'll remember why took up this daft sport in the first place.

Whats next, I wonder...


Monday, 19 August 2019

Grinding to the Finish line

So at the beginning of last month a window of opportunity opened on the Tosheroon, following my visit with Ethan. I had not only a spotter, but a very talented photographer (Charlotte Milner) keen to document my lunacy. I'll say straight up that I didn't do it this time, however like Turbo the snail I'm achingly close and I'm not giving up. First burn was fairly short, as expected, but spun me into a whirl of technicalities and beta choices..


Previously at this point I'd switched about face on kneebars to tackle the next section facing left. However, the play with Ethan had shown me that removing this tiring and so far fruitless switch didn't stop me getting any further. (both ways still ended with me flumping a meter further in. So with this in mind I tried the easier of the styles to adopt from this position:
Feet First.


Unfortunately, the leg work was not giving me any forward propulsion. Hands stuttered, and once again I Flumped. Ben, my Man-at-Arms, somewhat darkhorse, and fellow lunatic then bravely stepped forward for his go...


Ben did some impressive hip jams and faught bravely to match my flump spot.


Convinced that staying facing right was the way, I moved to a head first approach. This meant an awkward squeeze as the crack narrowed above me head (well chest actually) and flared widely below my kneebars. Once switched from feet first to head, I had to commit to a series of high kneebars for my left leg. This meant I felt like I could fall on my head, but allowed me to establish some tenuous fist jams to drag myself forward. The first on these is the picture above, opposing mounds in the crack wall gave a couple of sweet pots for me to establish, share and move off to the next. This resulted in a new highpoint, and the end of the constrictions. The flare below gave little to work with, but the fist we good enough for a pivot. I cut loose and stabbed a kneebar above my head....

Missing the crucial pocket to drive my heel into, I couldn't stick this. If I had, I may have thrown to what appears to be the handjam at the end of the fierceness...

There now remains three and a half feet of unclimbed Tosheroon, as I've down climbed into the maw in 2015. The psyche is high, but the windows are few, and the summer holidays of fun and family have sucked away my fitness. There is another window early September, but I may not feel fit for the fight. The last weekend in September may give the last warm window this year, Therefore I must get prepared!

Watch this Space.