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.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Sloughing off the Winter Inertia

So it turns out sacking off January was a good thing. The welsh winter mizzled on without much breaks for a busy bouldering dad. It felt like last year was full of exploring, but not many actual climbs go produced. I'm keen to do a lot of re visiting this year and get some scalps!

To give an Idea this is a typical screenshot of my phone album....

So How to kick start this year? fortunately global warming was at hand to shake off the apathy of winter (at least for a bit). This sent me to the nearest "shed" I could slump to to assess my assets and benchmark my behind.

It never fails to expose my weaknesses. Before Christmas it pointed to my lack of bounce, which I diligently worked on in my meager training sessions. This Sunday it looked sidelong at my weak fingers, more things to work on...

Well today was a getting off my bum day, I had to buckle up, stop winging and walk up a big hill with two mats and a scooter.

Yep back to Marchlyn

As I've been in the slough of despond, my fitness was terrible. However, this gave me opportunity to ponder the possibilities of Elidir fach....

It was grrreat to get back to the project boulder, and conditions were mint. There was even a patch of snow above the Pillars of Elidir. While I felt ok going through my usual circuit (aided by a fancy pilates warm up) The Seamus low project still eludes me. However I was able to complete the last of the F6 lines that have cleaned up at the left of the boulder:

Bloody Stupid Johnson 

Bloody Stupid Johnson Right Hand

Fans of Terry Pratchett should know what I'm talking about. They're both in the mid to upper 6's

I Even reaaly enjoyed my scooter down. However, I had to walk the last little bit as I'd worn through another wheel..

So normal service resumed. I have a plan, and I intend to enjoy implementing it.

Come and Play

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Finishing off The Year

So that's pretty much 2018. I've almost managed one post a month,  I've climbed outside at least fifteen times or so, I'm fairly injury free and deep in the challenges of parenthood.
However, today was a break from that, I got to join the Scouser's chrimbo bouldering bash. Yes folk's,  I left Wales...
 The venue was Robin Hoods Stride, where Andre the giant was defeated in the Princess Bride.  It was mizzling profusely on the drive over and spirits were a little damp.  once out the car, the lack of rain and a smidgen of breeze, enticed a few optimists out to touch rock. It was damp.
Our fearless leader, stout of neck asked us to have faith, and we went on a pilgrimage for a dry hold. As we know,  from acorns mighty Oaks grow, and one dry hold was soon linked into another.  Contorted warm ups ensued on these heinous links, and the day rolled on gathering hope like moss.

Soon whole problems were dry..
 Look Right was an ace lowball compression that secumbed to a sit start at 6C
Razor Roof also dried and siege was laid, eventually giving in to a high heel

By the end of the day the square block was dry and some did battle with Ben's wall, I like Slasher above was content with Spine Lefthand at a more attainable 6B.

So the lesson is keep the faith,  struggle on, keep your mates close,  and accept small numbers in poor connies. 

I'm intending to take January off the blog, but I'm hoping to return to form in February.  Here's to a full 2019, full of adventure and friends. 

As Luke Cage says..

"Forward Always"

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Return to Rockaway Beach

Every two years or so, I get a yearning to walk down a steep hill,  and scare the excrement out of myself at Porth Howel.

In 2014 you could do the Rail without a mat.
In 2016 sit starts were now the thing.

 The beach in 2016

 However, the beach this year looks a little different..

In 2016...
Well in 2018, Richie Crouch and myself discovered sand, an extra metre of climbing, and even some roofs. We'd planned the trip well in advance due to the favourable tides. All we needed was the weather, which was looking dodgy. Day by day the forecast improved, until the day came, and despite overnight rains, dryness prevailed.

Well my first thoughts were did I pack enough underwear, could I reach the starting holds, and would Richie think I was sandbagging him. We warmed up on th eramp, and Up the Junction (bit crimpy with the new start), and then turned our attention with the next line along Rockaway Beach. All was going well (after another intense start) until we swerved left to the fierce crimp. What breeze there was was blowing over the top of the cove, and the wall was holding onto the residual dampness. Thus the crimp was well 'orrible. Rich Lanked, and I Backed off. 

The slight damp, and the added height sent us off on alternative missions..
Richie eyeing up the new roof at the end of the Wall. This became the sit start "What a Difference a Wave Makes" at 6Cish. back wall not in of course...

The Flail Rail gained some height also, and Richie pushed through the wet patch for a valiant ascent.

A little later on the wind there was had done its work. and the holds moved from light brown to a whiteish grey. The Wall of  Something Dead was dispatched with a little up and down and girding of loins (now pushing over 7m!). Blitzkrieg Bop gave the most fight;
Here Rich gains  the original start, which was still hard back then. I  got through to the crimps above a couple of times, but couldn't set up for the eponymous "Bop". Rich made this, but bottled the highness.

Tucking our Tails, we made for the shelter roof at the back of the bay. Even here the storms scouring had provided more playthings
The wall to the left of Rich is "Bat Country" 6A this homage refers to the FA were I foolishly topped it out, skating up the scree and mud above. It now offers a chance to down climb closer to the pads after hitting the jug rail on the other problems. The Niche to the right finally got a sit start off an undercut near the right wall at the back (hint - the dry one). "The Idiot Kings" 6C is so named for the battle I had with the wet undercuts above ( I also couldn't find the kneebar again). Worth mentioning is the wall to the right with the crack, think I climbed this last time, but didn't top out, a little looseness and lots of Fire Brats!

The Arete was claimed by Richie via a low start. "O-Dogging" starts off a lefthand pinch and a righthand sharp undercut, and weighs in at 7A+. 

Rich trying the obvious sit start challenge to O-Dogging, as long as the pebbles don't rise once more...

Porth Howel is a Top venue and worthy of more attention. who knows, maybe next time I attend (2020?) we'll take a team!

There's Treasure Everywhere!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Find a Rock, Climb a Rock

The urge to find new rock is slowly taking control of my sensibilities, and providing pure pleasure. Using the new bouldering guide as a launch point, I've delved into google maps to shine a light on dark spaces..
Case in point: Beddgelert forest, home to the Baboon. This lost highball pillar is now encased in dense pine forest. A friend Glyn managed to find it using Googlemaps (the coordinates in NWB are a bit out, its 53.009843, 4.146127). Inspired by this I started looking at other rocky stubbs buried in the forest. One wet day I turned on location on my phone, booted up the map (delve a lot in a  wifi area, and it keeps a cache once once your out of signal) and dived into the forest!
Looks path-ish

bit small

bit big!

Slopey landing, but enough to warrant a return visit with a patio team!

My random map searches has also led me off down the hill walkers paths, it may be a slog in, but a mountain bike is totally feasible if I find things to work on

Looking toward Bwlch Cwm Llan

Sunny dolerite crag..

..One realistic thing to play on

See a rock, climb a rock..

Much wandering later found me a roof crack! 
Abet an awkward mix of tight and baggy fingers, with nothing in between, tape was required

Pinky Campus..

Heading back to the car I found this much bigger roof:

the rock is a bit tut, but it gives some very strong climbing. Its certainly something I'd consider returning to

Tut roof

Finally, My new Muira's have arrived!

There's treasure everywhere..