Friday, 9 August 2019

Cornish interlude

So Stuff happened at the beginning of July and I was all"gotta get the pics..." However, the pics aren't here yet so its now August... Summer holidays have kicked in and the kids are running free, so not much climbing.

That said we went to Cornwall! There's been a lot of chatter on UKBouldering about the bouldering possibilities of West Penwith and Bosigran in particular. So I was quite chuffed to find our holiday home was only 4 miles from that bastion of trad, where I had spent many weekends in the nineties. First and foremost though this was a family holiday, so that meant beaches.

Quite excited to get close to choughs down here, I got a lot closer than this, but this was my only pic. The north Wales choughs are a lot more wary.

Portheras Beach. Some cool blocs, but would require quite a lot of pads.
We had a couple of visits here, the waves could be quite gnarly, but there was this freshwater pool for the 3yr old, and I just kept counting the others....

A colder blustery day meant a walk around Bozigran head. I was keen to show the kids where I used to play, and look out for any bouldering possibilities.

Dylan, his monkey, and some possible blocs around commando ridge. Soon after the moaning started so we curtailed wandering and went back for grub.

Once the weather cleared I was able to get an hour to explore the Carn above Bosullow.

My Hidden stash of boots and chalkbag....

Cornish blessing (I think) on the stile to the carn. My poor translation appears to be "Love the good saints held within". I certainly loved the bouldering.

Just the right height, and a couple of the lines had flat grassy landings. Essential as there was no room for a pad. Too hot for the best line (I kept greasing off) but did a few as the vid below shows.

Be Interested to know who else has climbed here. As it was I found an interesting stash under a boulder..
Any ideas what links Mark's gospel and the Matrix?

Next window of opportunity was an evening to revisit bosigran on my todd. For me this meant ssoloing Black Slab, an awesome diff, and something I did every trip here (nearly 20 years ago..)

Immaculate crater pulling..

Porthmoina Island (I've sat on that many moons ago in my youth) with the ridge in the background (ditto)

Following topping out I was presented with a proper looking boulder!

Unfortunately, the heat was once more against me. Further up, above Kafoosalem I think was an easier proposition with an ok landing, as shown in this vid:

So, all in all, a special interlude, with some happy kids and a happy dad

Monday, 1 July 2019

Approaching Official Operating Speed

June was a good month, so good in fact, its had to wait until July to Blog about it. Not only that, but I considered delaying further to include shenanigans scheduled for the end of the week.. However, that will have to wait.
Following May's deep recon, and the investigation of Craig y Ecs, I was left a bit frustrated. This was due to events left out of the annals of last month, at the fore mentioned Ecs. Following our great successes on the highball blocs, we went down to a steep boulder near the bottom of the slope. Here I stitched together something rather hard. We were against the clock as we had to punch in at work, and as the last grains of sand were trickling down, I did it! If you could ignore the mighty dab that is...
Crestfallen and with work calling, I had to leave my prize undefended, until the next window of opportunity. What if SteMac caught wind of it?

Fortunately, two weeks later I was able to stomp up and find it still pristine. Following a short pilates warm up and some crimp wrestling I dove in:

The result was "Dutch Trance" named after a Ballboy track that was earworming me at the time. The above vid is split as I tacked on a repeat of the top section for you to see as it isn't all over after the crux.
Particularly memorable was the point mid crux that all pinkies bar one popped off the gaston and I had to dig deep and power through the crux off a mono. Even without this poor beta, its probably F7A.

Good fight that.

Craig yr Ecs continues to provide sport, hence its cheesy nom-de-plume, Here's a highball F5 called Billy crack (another Ballboy Track)

Not content with this honeypot of hits, more recon ensued
Here's Y Fedw, Tremadog's answer to the Lleyn:

Heres a steep highballish lump of it..

Proper dolerite on the hills behind, but a bit small and grubby

More ventures around the borders of Craig y Ecs

Following a lot of extreme walking, Fathers day occurred and Ethan took me to visit an old nemesis, namely the Tosheroon. I hadn't been here for a couple of years due to fear and flaccidity. I couldn't quite remember what made this project so special. However, it had been the wallpaper for my phone for at least five years, and Ethan (who has caught the climbing bug despite my poor parenting) had decided as it was the one that has evaded me the longest that A) it must be hard, and therefore he should beat me to it, and B) as it was Fathers day and everybody else was on their tablets we should go. I should state at this point it had nothing to do with the tides being perfect and my climbing partner having to let me down due to latent zombie-ism.

Ethan Almost giving the secret location away...

The pebble level felt about a foot higher than my 2015 visit, This made it feel almost welcoming. We ventured further in , and fount the pebbles didn't ramp up too much, in fact the starting point (a Chckstone 40ft into the depths) still had the same small boulder below.

The crux section I've yet to breach

The jams through the crux are always wet and therefore dependant on what little constrictions you can find amongst the flareness.

I remembered why It ensnared me so, the technicality and novel nature of the climbing. If offwidth climbing involves Scarpelli's "Intelligent Brutality" Then imagine a wet one covered in crumbly barnacles!

I asked Ethan he minded loitering while I had a quick go , and he offered to be cameraman (good lad).

Heres a little video which may explain why this project is ace:

I left without the tick, but I reached my previous highpoint. I was impressed that I reached this point without entering the Heart of Darkness like last time. I'm certainly not fitter, so I can only put it down to the last 3 years of pilates giving me a more efficient core and lower body for extended knee barring

The sum total of my owies.

This month has definitely seen a return to form for myself in terms of simply being me. I'm getting out, climbing random stuff with some respectable difficulty, and also this month I've seen some of my giveaways bearing fruit. I'd nagged Dan McManus about Nant Gwrtheyrn's DWS potential and Finally he must have got fed up because he dragged Pete Robins along and they bagged it all.
7a ish

another 7a ish

This ones apparently 7b+. However, the last DWS Dan put up at this grade (well he originally said 7b) was White Lightning at Rhoscolyn, and I remember seeing Caff fall off that. The Picture is of Pete in his underpants. He fell off snapping a foothold shortly afterward.

Part of this return to form is having a surplus of projects. So here's one at Clogwyn Melyn, 10 minutes above the Watkin Path, 15 minutes from Caffi Gwynant's fine cakes.
There's a couple of scrappy bluffs which the Crook may have beaten you to, but there's one or two boulders too.

Tuck in. 

As I looked out towards Moel Meirch I am content Knowing...

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Deep Recon on the A487

So May coincided with the purchase of a second hand copy of the Cwm Silyn guide. Knowing Jenks the author was a keen boulderer, I set about scouring the text for tip off's and titbits. First stop was Craig y Llan:
This is the second buttress with apparently no routes 

This is the third buttress with the Captains missing E3 on. Plenty of room for more.

This is a boulder.  I searched for more, however the pickings were slim. I saw much on the horizon,  and once back in the real world I dove once more into Googlemaps.  

This led to some Daddy Logan time walking around Llyn Cwmystradlyn. 

Lo, we discovered bog..

Beyond the bog and bluebells some rocks appeared.

This collection of dolerite dominoes could probably provide some real challenge provided enough mats materialised.

Pressing on into the back of the bowl more lumps arose in the distance.  However,  Logan was keen for CafĂ© Tyddyn Mawr and cake. They maybe good, something for another day.

Another day, and in the wastelands beyond Pant Glas, I dragged a familiar victim out in search of treasure.. 

Good old Phil, ever patient, came away with a tasty FA this time. The video below shows his valiant ascent of "Lank it or Lump it". He said it was F6B! but I was too scared to find out as my T Rex arms couldn't follow his sequence.
I also would like to point out that the poor quality audio my phonecam provides has robbed you of the insight into Phil's psyche as he mutters "Oh god, oh god.. ".
If my memory serves me right Ben uttered similar mutterings when mid crux on Bertleman's Slide.
It appears that climbing in my company may lead to spiritual contemplation. 

Back at Craig yr Ecs, I turned my attention to back the hitherto unmentioned left hand side of the arete.
The first video shows my earlier aborted attempt :

The presence of a rather large boulder below the arete on that side had worried me somewhat.  It was set back, but the arete did lean slightly,  and our two mats only really covered the immediate floor space. I had wrote it off for a later pad heavy visit.  Then Phil bagged his ascent and his courage spurred me on. I may have also felt a little competitive. 

The result was named "Crawl it home" after an encouraging comment I offered as Phil completed his swift repeat shortly afterwards.  Footage of which I deleted by accident like a punter. Needless to say there was Lank involved (and crawling).  It's the harder of the two according to Phil (even with lanking)  so F6C ish.

Following this Blissful and bountiful day the weather refused to play ball, deluging on any subsequent moment of freedom. So it is left to June to provide more Treasure.

Slightly Psyched!

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Questing Time

April has come and gone, however, it has not past without significance, as I have been for this year first proper reccy. The life of the off piste boulderer is a lonely one, and involves long walks in wellies to find rocks that looked bigger and steeper on Googlemaps 3D.
This first reccy was a little different; Phil came along for the adventure!

Loyal followers will remember Phil from when he dropped me in a pool at the Tubes. Shortly after that adventure he stepped out with Emma, the other adventurer on that trip(the sly dog). Emma wasn't available for this foray, and would have probably fell in a bog anyway as is her predilection. She left orders that something new was named after her.

The walk in was long and surprisingly unboggy, apart from the sections that weren't. The venue not popping into view until the last minute, and looked like this:

Phil modelling the boulder field.

Due to a coincidental crossover of the paths of roving off piste-ers. The venue must remain shrouded in mystery. The Godfather of offpiste; "Don" George (El Big) happened upon this same site independently of myself during the same spell of dry weather last year. To prevent finding a sheep's head in my bed, I capitulated in keeping off his Preciouses and keeping the area "Off Radar".

What Fun!

Well we wandered about a bit and poked stuff, eventually warming up on some massive crystally bits and some dolerite wrinkles. First proper "lets 'Av it" moment was the discovery of a rather large dolerite slab. Not having planned on such things I had no ropes or highball cheating kit with me. Nevertheless, I was compelled, you can watch the result below:

The resulting highball was christened the "Hairy Scary Slab" (There you go Em), and was repeated much more succinctly by Phil as the holds were coloured in. Its about F5, or E1 in old money.

After that bit of excitement, I was aware our time was running out before family life beckoned once more. We decamped to the boulder cluster that had attracted me here in the first place. I set about trying to circumnavigate a huge flying saucer of a boulder. It was so left heel intensive, that when I tried to switch at the exit and pull out on my right heel I immediately got cramp. Much stretching later I went again with alternative beta, seen below:

This journey was ordained "Mars Attacks" and was about F6A+ and jolly good fun.

All that was left was taking on the hard looking one. A jump start saw me at the top with much insitu cleaning and gardening, basically lots of fun. This method was about F6A, but the steepness below had obvious and very real holds. Just not in any form of abundance or size (or in the case of footholds, helpfulness). The pic below shows myself willing and optimistic in setting up for the first move. Many such attempts followed with many other sequences. My Optimism waned, one for next time methinks (probably only F7A)

So First Foray well and truly bagged, many more planned to many other secret (for now) locations.

Rather excited.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Hail to Shale!

So.. Those more familiar to this blog will know Mick fowler has been a role model of sorts to me, certainly in the formative years of climbing scrapes and Japes. More eagle-eyed visitors may recognise the title reference..
 Knowing I'd never do something as hazardous as Breakaway, my eyes have nevertheless been drawn to adventurous challenges of that ilk. North Wales has a whole host of such adventures on the Lleyn, and indeed a whole "Shale City". It was inevitable I'd be drawn here.

Unfortunately, it is mainly various shades of death, or wad fodder of course. There was one route that Intrigued me; The Aguille Merlot Traverse AD+. 3 pitches,Ray Kay, Tech 4... all the right buttons. Once the description mentioned a tent peg belay I was sold.

All I had to do was rustle up a partner, That's why Ben is reliable; he's special like me. 

Unfortunately, or first visit coincided with rain, just as we arrived...

However, 2 years later (last Tuesday) Our second visit was Dry!!

The Aguille Merlot Traverse (Plonk Fin) comprises of a 100m thin wafer of mainly rock jutting out of the cliff into a secluded bay. Access is scrambley or tidal, and quite adventurous. Also unlike most other such adventures hereabouts, it isn't bird banned.

Our welcoming committee

Starting off on the route, The shallow angle of this section had led me to believe a stroll in trainers would be sufficient... How wrong I was.
The general feel underfoot was one of  tightly packed, but disassembled lego. Combined with a healthy crop of thrift, it made progress a little delicate, I got a nut in a little further on from this point, the solitary gear of Pitch one.
Arriving at the first belay, a substantial, if wobbly spike.

Ben led the middle pitch, and was very excited to place his first Warthog. He was giggling quietly as he did so. He said it was because the world was vibrating.. It also steepened at this point, which made me glad that I'd changed into my rock shoes on the belay. The second belay consisted of a substantial amount of rope drappage, and another warthog (such fun!).
Pitch Three. a significant amount of sponginess under knee, hence crawling.. 

Contemplating leaving the picnic field and descending to the fangs below. Confidence is a well driven Warthog.

Here you can see the descent/ fang notch, and the ice axe/ rabbit hole belay. Great Route! a must for any discerning connoisseur. Any more difficult and it may have stopped being silly, any more solid and it would have been boring..

Following such a extravagant experience, we chose to cross the A499 for a very different world. Sport climbing comes to the Lleyn folks. Tyddyn Hywel quarry (next door to the trad Gyrn Ddu Quarry) was equipped last year (info on the North Wales Route Dump) and I was intrigued to see how it all fitted in. That, and after the Plonk Fin I was keen for a bolt. The parking and walk in were both discrete, subtle and aesthetically pleasing (if a little steep)/

However look at these steps!

Awesome views from this crag. There is a 5c, 6a, 6b, and then a string of 6c's, all feeling quite traddy. This is in part to the architecture of the rock, and partly to do with the humour (genius?) of the equipper. The bolts are good, well placed, but not always where you think they should be (a few long quickdraws help). Nothing feels dangerous, however the routes still have a spicy aurora that fits in perfectly with the Lleyn Aesthetic.

The 6b, I'm not too short, however I did have to lay one on round the first roof..

The Optimist 6c. Some proper wiggy moments and I got a little lost amongst the variations at the top. However, it was flipping brilliant! like a Tremadog E4 with bolts. I wouldn't like to be a climber caught in an unforeseen downpour though. Crux one, around the roof was intense as I had to clip mid sequence, then it ran out to the Arete, which was as good as any I've been on at Tremadog. I dithered for ages, squeezing the lichen off the holds and searching for anything foot-worthy. Once committed it was a fairly out of body experience...

Dithering again at the second roof. Not shorty friendly.

Happy at the end of the day. Best roped day I've had  in ages. Roll on Summer.