Tuesday, 2 August 2016

My Left Foot

Yet again the blogs been pretty silent. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly its the summer holidays and I have 4 kids. Secondly 6 weeks ago to the day I fubar-ed my ankle with an ill judged dyno while boulder setting at work. I walked it off, and as I could weight bear and still climb a ladder with it I manned up like a neanderthal, strapped it, shoved an ice pack down my sock, and set the remaining 16 blocs and went home. It continued to a) look funny, and b) hurt A LOT when I twisted it. However, I could walk sans limp, proprioception wasn't impaired, and there appeared to be nothing impinged.

Damn soft(ish) tissue eh?

So Its still not right, but on the bright side it almost looks the same as the right one now, and while I still can't get in a tight rock shoe, ledge shuffling in something baggy should be on the cards.

The adventure never stops though, and this time the kids are being dragged along.

The circumnavigation of Llyn Idwal has finally been achieved without nakedness

Having survived the death scree, Ethan mounted the boiler and contemplated the flooded tunnel adventure that awaited..

Ethan likes Pirates
Coasteering. Never be without your spade.

Seren rubbing in the fact that she can climb.

The clan consuming marshmallows

The boys learning appropriate use of lighter fluid.

I.N.S.P.R.E will return when I can at least attempt something.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

I.N.S.P.R.E June 2016

It been over a month since I've had an opportunity to put finger to tablet for this blog. I've been busy busy busy with researching obscure classics patiently waiting for your ascents. I've been trying to find some science to locate boulders under forests, trying to find a new Mymbyr, and trying to be social. So far I'm not getting far with these, but we have had successful birthdays for the missus and Ethan and Dylan, and just as I'm looking at training I spannered my ankle bouldering indoors. However, its on the mend and has encouraged me to turn my attention to exploring, and even entertaining the notion of tying on and doing something conventional.

So back to I.N.S.P.R.E.
I've three doozies in the pipeline, from messr's Brown, Pritchard and Crook, but the deal is I want to at least try them first. Therefore, rather than produce some thing half baked, I thought I'd bring you the second of my own offerings....

Bring Me The Head of Don Quixote

Photo courtesy of Ray Wood (I'm sure he wont mind, I scribbled on it and everything)

This is myself on the second ascent, following my first ascent. As far as I'm aware it hasn't had a third ascent (despite being all written up in the guide and everything).

On the first ascent, I was being belayed by Chopper Charlie, an enthusiastic and unencumbered individual, who may have lacked some common sense back then. Hence when I asked him to tie off a rope so I could seesaw abb back down, he just wrapped it round the pinch between two large slate boulders. The ropes were half cut through by the time I was on the ground. Hence his nickname.

E2 5a is a strange and often off putting grade. However, anyone operating in adventurous territory at the E3 level shouldn't gibber. The gear at the pedestal is very good, and there's still reasonable microwires after that. Just build a solid belay out of wires on the ground to abb off...

Its pretty cool. Freestanding towers are pretty cool, reasonable name too.

Back to blowing other peoples trumpets next month.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Adventures in Editing

Ok, this is a bit geeky, but luddite as I am, I've managed to splice a couple of different takes together from different angles. I was going to hold back on posting on every little trip I made to Mymbyr, as it may get monotonous. This bloc, however, is dear to my heart.

Happy Feet is a F6B+ in the Feidr Fŵ cluster. Its fair to say its a marmite route (big G never even pulled on), and if it was another foot above the ground it'd be ace. Back dabs aside, its just big grin harmless fun, and really difficult to describe. Hence trying this vid.


Hopefully you get the idea. Shortly after this I tried hard-ish on the other prominent bloc of this cluster; The Heel Keel 6Cish and gave myself one of those flip top finger type f'lappers that ended play. Fortunately its half term next week, so no climbing anyway...

....And I may have spotted another obscure boulder field...


Friday, 20 May 2016

Business Time

The initial thing that drew my eye when scoping out Dyffryn Mymbyr from the road that first time was this big towering thumb of rock. That turned out to be rubbish, however, the second thing was this big white slab...

This turned out to be very high and quite thin with a lovely texture. I knew Julian Lines had been exploring up here with Paul Higginson, so in my mind it became the Lines' slab (or should that be the Slab of Lines').

The Slab in the background, with Higg's wonderful 30ft slopey traverse in the foreground

10 years later and loads of fun down the line I finally took it upon myself to pull my socks up (Business Socks) an get it done. Comedy ensued as my highball abbing rope, while long enough for any sensible height highball, wasn't quite long enough when the only belay was miles up the hillside. So with the top half cleaned and played upon, I plopped off the end onto the mats to have a stare at the bottom half.

Fortunately for my nerves it went 1st go:
My guess is that its about 6B! with the crux in the 1st third. A really nice highball, and one for any slab fanatic.

My Second point of business was the Mighty 'Tashe Traverse. my name for the boulder, but Higg's problem. I'd climbed it from a sit in the middle, but the first half always bamboozled me. This time armed with Solutions, I managed as far as the first big move, but weakness crept in like damp. I switched to trying the sit from the middle again:

three bleeding moves from the end... Damn it, there's always something to come back for at Mymbyr...

See! I tried hard(ish)

Come and play.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I.N.S.P.R.E. May 2016

Like many, I was inspired by this pic on northwalesbouldering.com:
Bingo Wings (V7)
mystery crag?
(contact for details)

Sometime later Big G spilt the beans in this BOTM, it was over on the darkside of Mymbyr..

I should clear up the Darkside thing, its not that this side gets less sun than the other, its just it misuses the force, its full of bogs, and hides all its worthwhile boulders. I digress...

The issue Bingo wings had, was that at the time (pre CROW) it was a little bit tricky to access. couple this with the land owner enjoying a peaceful life, being based on a hill in the middle of the valley and always in earshot... Lets just say it was decided to let things lie.

Time moves on, CROW happens, Ioan Doyle shears the landowners sheep, and the frenzy of virgin boulder hunting has died down. By the time I started poking around on this side of the valley he was quite happy for me to pop through his farm (on foot) to go for a wander. This is the view from the last of his gates:

And this is the best way to get to the Bart Stone...

It keep off the worst of the bog, avoids this:

And wanders past this attractive slopey traverse

The Bart Stone rears into view..

Artists impression....

The next three are a selection of warm ups...

So I'd come all this way (all of 20 mins from the car no less) to visit this ill frequented purported classic. I've just had 2 months off resting my shoulder until I was sure it wasn't buggered, just before that I'd climbed my hardest outdoor bloc, also 7A+. So naturally I assumed it would be a goer.

What I found was a massive slightly overhanging block of dolerity sandstoney stuff. the problem broke down into a dyno for a pinch (from a hanging start off an obvious jug), a big rockover, and a lurch for the top.

So a layoff followed by trying to equal your highpoint with a power based ( short intensive) bloc. This was always going to end well, wasn't it?

The two sections I managed

Powerful, simple and elegant moves, what's not to love? I needed to change to my solutions for the rockover, but my power is still a way off returning, and when it does, I will return also.

Approach- So park near RAC boulders and walk through Garth farm ( the one with the campsite). Please ask permission to do so as you meet them, they are really nice people who don't want hassle, so be polite and always shut the gates. They're not keen on crowds so small posse's I reckon. Follow the track, round the right, past the weather station and down the other side to the last gate. The piccy at the top should now make sense.

Wellies are a must for the above approach...

Enjoy! (not too loudly)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Je Suis un Cubist

Today was supposed to be just a shunting day, however, after considering a few pad placement options, I'd talked myself into dragging up both highball pads once more.

Conditions were mint (no sleet) and after sufficiently recovering from the uphill bog slog, I set about my 10 min pilates warm up (the joys of solitude). This was followed by the three easier lines on The Cube, which I filmed as only one had been documented before:

Manly Groove F6A+/B
So called as, even now with the patio, its still a bit of a chute of pads. That and I may be about as butch as Jack Whitehall..

Aerial Assault F5+
 Previously known as the warm up slab. Play the vid nice and loud to enjoy with me the experience of RAF pilots "showing off".

Backside Arete F5.
A Companion to Frontside Arete, and the easiest line. This was the FA, hence the frequent pauses to grind away the lichen. The names refer to board riding styles.

All this prevarication gave way to a bit of faffing with mats. I found that if I ignored the first section of climbing, I could protect the rest by turning the mats sideways. More discoveries followed as I abbed in to clean and chalk. Basically, there was an easier sequence, provided I was willing to trust friction and body tension. That and the mats needed to move across another 20cm.

I flicked the rope out the way, moved the camera, had a word with myself, and did the deed:

The Bertlemann Slide F6C!
I had considered other names (Callibarial for instance) but this trick was sufficiently old school for my taste.

Half way through the crux. First you have to hop your foot up using the arete and this crimp:

Then suck it in and stretch over to guppy the arete. simples.

Following this I tried to get up the Frontside Arete again. However, either I was too bushed, or its a bit harder than I thought(or graded). Basically it needs some traffic. Here's a topo:
Red: Frontside Arete F6C+/7A!
Orange: Gleaming The Cube (still a project)
Yellow: The Bertlemann Slide F6C!
Purple: Manly Groove 6A+/B!
Blue: Backside Arete F5
Green: Aerial Attack F5+

I'm not sure if Mymbyr will make it into the forthcoming bouldering guide, but I've been coming here for a decade now, and it continues to give me pleasure. I'm also surprised how few others have ventured up here. Please visit and correct my grading.


Thursday, 28 April 2016


So The Cube has been a source of psyche and frustration for a number of years now. Recently, with irritating shoulder problems forcing a bit of a lay off, I turned my energies to improving the landing...
Well it couldn't be much worse could it? Apart from crocodiles and punji sticks

Less a landing, more of a series of collisions

I've got quite into dry stone platforming; the patioing of  boulder landing sites can often result unsightly jumbles. However, if done right, they can blend into the landscape, and even be quite pretty (or rather, handsome). The Cube's patio took 6 sessions. I built up a retaining wall, backfilled, knitted in the next level of retaining wall, backfilled, levelled off with a spirit level app on my phone (strapped to a laser pen), and finally tarted it a bit..

The initial retaining wall

The next lot are the finished product..

And here's the patio geek himself.

My pilates sessions have been going well, and Eirian has encouraged me to return to climbing with lots and lots of warming up. Last time I climbed at The Cube the landing looked like this:

What a difference 6 cubic meters of stone makes.

Incidentally all the stone was taken from adjacent piles of stones on the hillside. Its rather like Crafnant, and not a place to drop your keys. I don't advocate patioing in natural areas which require more than just moving things around. Spadework might be okay in the quarries, but not out on the hill.

Needless to say, that once I'd dragged two pads, the abb and climbing gear up the hill, it started to snow. After sitting it out 10 minutes under the roof, I set up and dropped in regardless.

I'm going to need more pads. Spotters would be nice too... and being warmer.... and less sleet.

I think the next game will be some cheeky shunting. I've had almost 2 months off, so I've a fair bit of form to recapture. The platform feels quite narrow from to top, but I think this has more to do with the slant of the top slab, and the very far away-ness of the pads. Anyway, any extensions will require a fair bit more stone, and might overwhelm the environment.  I had a good feel around on the rope (before my hands froze), and the sequence I was using on the snow day seem to be the way forward. However, I'll need some gains in hip flexion, core and fingers to latch the next 2 finger micro crimp.

Time for some new distractions..

Until next time..