Sunday, 21 June 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - Once More Awaiting Vizzini

Slowly finding my feet and gaining ground once again. Trips to Marchlyn have increased my drive, and I'm genuinely excited by all the born again esoterrorists charging off into the wilds of clegir and facwen. There has been a reported 80+new problems on clegir alone, and that has drawn me to reflect on my past dalliance there.
The twins had just been born, and I had 3 kids under 2 years old. I was running to stay still basically, and my mindset was on the microadventure; short trips with maximum adventure, and looking back I was also very selective of what projects I took on.
I only had 1.5 mats so many things were rushed past as for another time or person.
With the bonanza on clegir I decided to dredge the muddy memory banks and see if any of my discoveries were worth a punt before others swooped in.
Also I had temporarily ground to a halt at Marchlyn as I reached my grade ceiling, and a lack of progress triggers an automated response in me:

"Go back to the beginning and wait for Vizzini. "

In this case that meant revisiting Craig Ddaear Drwg. No one else had bothered in the last 9 years, and looking at the landings you can see why:

However, the past 9 years had taught me a lot about patios and mat placement, so I chose a few choice lines that could be calmed by a single construct and set to work:

2 hours in.. 

End of second session - complete! 

Sooo, the lines we high, but I now had 2 DMM highball pads, and more importantly generous friends. The day before fathers day was lovely and breezy, and my beautiful wife kicked me out to play. After a fair bit cleaning 4 ascents were made:

Encroachment 6A+! 
This dolerite pillar took a bit of cleaning as it was at the back of a sort of bay. Despite being a little daunted, the rock was ace and gave me confidence to commit to the moves and get it first go. 

Waiting for Vizzini 6C! 
Due to the stepped patio this gave me a little concern, but a sea of mats soon solved that. It took very little cleaning but I was unnerved enough to have a try on a grigri before committing. The bottom took a bit of figuring out

Shawshank 5.8 (r) 
The squeezes I cleaned by abseiling down with a towel and giving a good rubbing. This was the narrower and dirtier of the squeezes, hence the name. 

McClane 5.8 (r) 
The left hand squeeze was quite tricky to start. Both squeezes gave flutter moments at the top, but the offwidth grades look weird with a ! So I went with the traditional r rating. You could protect them by someone shoving a mat in sideways once you were high enough. However I was on my own. Both flash ascents. 

There's still a few gifts at Craig Ddaear Drwg, notably the overhanging fin left of McClane. All landings will unfortunately require any would be ascentionist to put the time in. (please refrain from disassembling existing patios). 

Stay safe and good hunting! 

Monday, 1 June 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - Hide and Seek

So with all and sundry visiting my esoteric backwaters, I've started wandering in new places, local but perhaps overlooked on previous occasions. As always I have been blessed by the tip off's of friends, in this case the ever reliable G.
This is the Burger. Maybe a 90's creation of G and Tony. The game is traversing the break, the top being out of bounds. Being a 90's creation the landing is rubbish. However, a spotter would be all that is required to keep it friendly. It's somewhere in the 6B region and starts at the nose on the right, at a widening in the break.. 

Having located this hidden gem, my eyes were drawn to the arete just below it. 

Made from the same high quality grit as the Burger, it sinuously swerves through a variety of angles and curves. 
Dead sexy. 

As it was also fairly high with a substandard landing I chose to come back another day with two mats. You can see that there is work to be done in this picture. 

Patio built. 

Mats level. All that was required was a scamper up the back, and de-fluff the top holds. This also allowed me to see how small my mats looked 

Everything is on a slope, even the camera sorry. Amazing climbing, and not too hard. I named it Personal Space Rocket, it was about 6A. The name links into the last lockdown diary, the main effect all this is having on me is a thinning of my emotional shields. My requirement for alone time has shot up, and I'm struggling to share my obscurities with others. However, I'm super proud and impressed by their efforts, and who knows esoterica may go mainstream. My wife is also super supportive and I'm getting out for an adventure every 4 day's. We have 4 kids. She's an angel! 

I wanted to get a proper picture of myself on the bloc with the moon in the background, but my phone only has a 10s timer. This resulted in a series of sprint and dynos to get into position. 

Things we do.. 
There's still treasure everywhere, stay safe. 

Sunday, 24 May 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - Encroachment

How's everyone doing? How's the id? The hope? The mental equilibrium?

I have been very aware of the delicate balance going on inside my head as lockdown continues. Its as if it wears away the protective shielding and the emotional stuff is a little sensitive and amplified. In practice I have had some amazing times with the kids, and some frankly dog dirt encounters on social media..

Getting to do more bed times.. 

I find myself, like many climbers getting obsessed about the little tastes and simulcrums of climbing, seeking out random walks skirting unknown and potentially pebbly territory, as well as an unhealthy amount of time on Google earth.

Yey we can go climbing again!

Sort of..

The demands of Welsh lockdown means keeping out the national park and keeping ep near your house. When most of the climbers live in the same valley keeping cool stuff for yourself is rather tricky.
Already during the Lockdown I was seeing a rise of page views on my blog, particularly the local Esoterica.
Most of the clegir blocs were getting hits, and I found out one local star has almost sent my Old Man Logan project on the Skadoosh boulder. Good on him.

In fact Skadoosh has now had more ascents by other people than by me! Everybody by necessity has become an esoterrorist (I believe that is the term) and they're in my territory!

More eggs lobbed onto the scales of mental health, fear of losing projects to better climbers with nothing better to do. Fear of upsetting better climbers by wittering on about some obscurity that's now their secret(pah) project.

Add to that a distant but life enriching mate lost his bar brawl with Cancer.. And in the words of Ian Drury I'm needing "reasons to be cheerful"

Here are a few:

Stay safe. Find a safe mate and talk to them. There's treasure everywhere.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - I've got 99 projects..

And I can't climb one.
That has been the situation in sunny Wales. I made a moral choice to respect the BMC's request that we pause climbing for now. This was due to feeling a bit unjust when there was the masses who couldn't walk to their boulders, and not wanting to make the BMC's position harder.
Can't touch this 

Well actually I think climbers being climbers, especially in the North Wales scene, I think they have. To be honest I can't blame them. Lowball esoteric lumps barely gazed at by man abound in this area, my blog is littered with them. Judging by the viewing stats, it appears that people have cottoned on to this too. So with my backwater projects preyed on by bloc hungry freedom fighter's what's a man to do? 

I started with what I was allowed to do. I noticed that the national park had moved their no play zone back south to Nant Peris. This meant I could wander from my house to the mysteries of Fronllwyd. 

And have a gander into Penrhyn

Even gaze into the Carneddau (which has always remained open, lucky Bethesdarites) 

The road ahead is uneven and frustrating. Tonight our prime minister has allowed Englanders to drive to their "unlimited" exercise. This week gone, the BMC's advocated bouldering and top roping as phase 1 appropriate.
The stable door is open to the masses, and keeping my bouldering mat locked away won't save any lives. Obviously I don't want to go anywhere anybody else is (I never do really). Also the science is beginning to indicate that if someone gave my boulder cooties, it wasn't likely to give it to me. Certainly less likely than the trolley at Tescos. 
Controlled and polite rebellion may save minds as well as lives. 
Stay safe. 

Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - Painting

As the Rolling Stones sang; "Time is on my side.."
What this means for me is that I've been able to really get back into painting. This is something that I used to do passionately alongside my climbing. However, it's time intensive, and my wife was far more interesting, and then the kids etc.
I'd recently restarted, dabbling in my lunchbreaks at work as an alternative to candy crush.
Lockdown and crag ban has meant its been a useful tool for focusing my random energy.
I'm quite a comic geek, and my painting is heavily influenced by the inking an colouring styles of the comics and graphic novels. I'm not a natural drawer type person and accepting of the fact that I'll probably never be arsed to get better. Therfore I employ a projection technique I appropriated from a art student back when I was living in Farnham. This means I can sketch / trace the bits I want from an image I've captured.
I thought I'd use my last painting as a case study to explain the process.

This is the wall outside our kitchen. 

Having projected an traced the interesting bits I proceed with inking the shadows. 

Inking complete 

I then start playing with colour. I'm not really a realist, but I tend to build a palate from the subject and muck about a bit. Also, I like to think about the close up little things and the colours hidden and inside and unseen.. 

Hence I end up with a mess like this (this is at work) 

I then try an fix it.. 

And re ink as I go along 

Eventually it starts to work and I try to balance the 'movement' and sharpen the impression of detail. 

Sort of almost finished (bar minor tarting and rewrites) 

This is my latest subject. A well weathered post stump in between Caffi Gwynant (best caff in Wales) and the start of the Watkin path. 

The projection stage. 

The end of the sketching (beer o'clock) 

So one sort of finished and a new one underway. Wholesome distractions until the plague passes.. 

Stay safe

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - The Wishing Jar

The Wishing jar was an ideas my wife picked up to help the kids cope with lockdown. By looking forward to the future, and naming those things you want to do. The kids wrote these things down and popped them into the jar. After all this is over we're going to open the jar and work through the list. 
It's been a moody moo week and I haven't been psyched to train or interact that much with the outside world. I realised I have yet to put anything in the jar! 

Go upto the Marchlyn boulder and bag a few more lines
Just before lockdown I bagged the first of the harder lines up there. This turned my mind from can't to can and I've been mulling over the remaining projects. Got to keep training if I want a chance though.. 

An alternative veiw up to Marchlyn from one of the walks near the house. I've struggled with this as I don't really do conventional, however there are some weird spots near my home. 

Do all the coastal fist list blocs on the lleyn in a day
Through chats with other obsessives, I'd realised that although I'd almost completed all the inland bouldering cracks, I hadn't made a dent in the coastal's. The bloc's in question are sheep shelter, maneater, nefoedd wideboy and jellybowl crack. Only 2 are tidal and on opposite coasts, 2 hours between respective tides. All possible. 
A previous attempt on sheep shelter, I started in the wrong place. 

Climb George's Crack and Pinocchio Crack and The Tosheroon 
I'm embarrassed I haven't succeeded on George's yet, basically I'm not flexible enough. Pinnochio Crack is a Pritchard offwidth with (I think) only 2 ascents, for this I need more bravery, and maybe some more in my toolbox hence this:
Always something new to learn 

The Tosheroon is my jabberwocky and I'm keen to slay it once and for all. Its awkward because you can't work sections, every attempt is ground (or bowels) up. 

So there we go. Three things in the wishing jar, three things to train, get flexible, and get sneaky for. 

What's in your wish jar? 

Monday, 13 April 2020

Lockdown Diaries- Opening Entry

So the world is on fire with itty bitty flames and I'm fighting by staying at home with a 4yr old princess, the twin monkeys of CAMHS chaos, a bolshy pre teen, a (obviously) wonderful wife, 2 ducks 5 chickens and 3 rats.
It a been emotional folk's.
What's a man to do? I started like most fathers by tidying the shed:
 Following that I installed a pull up bar in the kids bedroom, as the ancient and Chalk free fingerboard in the kitchen is crap for actual pull ups :
Then I went crazy.
Being without climbing, especially outside, although with the wall where I work closing inside too, I was without means of release. Feeding the rat, blowing off steam, call it what you want. I have lived for the last 33 years with adventure on tap, and was now cold turkey. It isn't just a case of addiction, as addicts can get clean. This was a need. N Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs were engineered without the ability to produce lysine so they were dependent on their captors. Well like those plucky dino's I was determined to find a way around it. I made a decision to comply with the no climbing request from the BMC, despite my Esoteric tastes and such blocs being 40 minutes walk away. It would be sneaky, and even though nobody else would touch the same holds, there were thousands of us not so lucky, and we're all in this together aren't we? 
My first attempt to get past this was a pull up challenge. 100 a day for 5 days. As my 45yr old body protested, I included 100 press ups and squats to balance it all out. 
This didn't hit the spot though, if I enjoyed exercise I would have become a sport climber. 

Ethan, one of my chaos monkeys provided the solution. He wanted to search for a bomb crater from ww2 that was purportedly on the other side of the conifer plantation on the corner of our lane. He also decided that the best approach was through the plantation... 

This is not a well maintained plantation. Its about 400m square, or 16k hectares. 

I'm not as small as Ethan.. 

We went about 50m without touching the ground, indeed we we often a couple of meters off it. 

Sometimes we were quite close.. 

However, this mini adventure was just what we ( oth) needed. You can see Ethans grin, mainly because of the scratches and twigs in my hair.. 

A more open section, wandering over the pile of grubbed up tree roots. 

We did make it out eventually, even though actually finding the bomb crater is an adventure for another day.. 

Other dad jobs include making bows and teaching them not to stab their legs with knives.. 

Even surprised myself with a not totally rubbish flight for the arrows.. 

Another way for me to improve my serenity has been to start painting again. Before marriage and kids I did loads (even sold a couple) and it seemed to click with my climbing head space. I'd recently started again as I found an unfinished painting, and resolved to complete it in my lunch breaks at work. This was as an alternative to candy crush. That one completed, I started a fresh one of the stone wall outside my kitchen. Come lockdown I retrieved it from work.. 

Obviously with my house full of chaos, there wasn't going to be much painting time. My wife and I needed to a) not kill each other and b) have some down time. So we arranged that once a week, each of us could escape to a room for an evening and not deal with kids or each other. Tonight is my night (hence the blog) and I've taken a fresh pic of one of the stones.. 

It's getting there by baby steps.. 

I'll report next week whether I'm still keeping it together. 
Stay safe! And adventure will still be out there..