Thursday, 19 March 2020

Digging in

Worrying times. My place of work is closed, kids all at home, and a lot of fear is rolling over everything like the fog in, well, Stephen King's The Fog.
We're all hunkered down in a house we share with my parents, trying not to do anything that may bump 'em off. There's only so much Boss Baby a dad can endure, and I took an opportunity today to seek solitude up at my boulder at Marchlyn.

The fear is not overwhelming however, I had a nice friendly chat with a elderly (socially distant) lady who was walking her dogs as I set off, curious as to whether my pad stack was so I could stay up there indefinitely. Then a worker on the lower reservoir offered me a lift to the top! (I was wearing gloves, no one coughed).

My samaritan driving off. 

First time for everything and I actually had to do a bit of a warm up at the boulder rather than trying to cool down. At first I found the Connie's a bit slick, a mixture of temps, dampness and glassy skin. I fell off Tumbleweed once and took a few goes to get Ledgehammer. However the regular start to Seamus went promisingly, feeling pretty locked on the crimps. 
Seamus Low has been a project of mine for a couple of years, and it has been always tantalisingly close, with no cigar. 
Today I think I was just a bit more aggressive, and the simpler 'go big' beta I worked on last year meant a little grrr went a long way.
Success vid below(Andy Popp watch to the end) 

As always with this boulder I'm unsure of the grade. Conditions and Psyche seem just as important as fitness. It seemed easier than previous tries, but I'm having to spin on a one arm lock off... I've always thought it would go at F7A+ so I'll go with that. 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, in the words of Theodore Logan:
"Be Excellent to Each Other" 

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

The Hunt for the Baboon

Another month, another brief weather window allows an adventure. It has long been an ambition of mine to climb the Baboon, ever since its first mention on the North Wales Bouldering blog. It's inclusion in NWB2 and a friends successful adventure, has spurred my efforts, both with initial forays in 2018, and this month's hunt.
My approach was as usual non standard, as I was combining trips with further pebble scoping. Hence my unorthodox approach over Cwm Bleiddiaid.

This did, however, afford myself great veiws of what appeared massive boulders. 

On closer inspection these were a little disappointing, the rock was mainly pillow lava and covered in jugs. Chatting to learned friends I've also discovered that a rare fern resides hereabouts and loves the rock, so no gardening folks! 

Not all the rock was disappointing. This fine finger may please someone. I was without a mat, however, and not interested in such diversions, I was on a baboon hunt. 

Behind a steep boulder I made my incursion back into the forest. I had a Google map pin, location on, and a can do attitude. I soon also had wet feet, as my feet had discovered an insinuating rivulet. This was in fact a boon, being bordered by swamp willows (easier to fight through) and leading straight to the Baboon! 

Willows and an insinuating rivulet. 

The Baboon! 

As with all these things, the fun was in the hunt. The actual quarry (meaning prey, not stone extraction) was a little damp and slimy on the left, meaning I had to be fairly selective with my hold choice.
I was dimly aware it had been done from a sitter, but a combination of no mat, concern of an impending battle, and a massive jug just above my head, led to a standing approach.
The first attempt went badly as I hit some slimy holds. It felt quite high and I became jittery about the state of the top out. 
I descended and sort out the down climb so I could assess from above:

Having sat on the summit I could have left it as that. Especially as despite clocking a jug just below the lip, the top would certainly involve some sketchy Heather pulling.
I sort of pulled on one last time. I've left this unedited for the full giggle :

There you go, adventure is out there. For the prospective repeaters out there, here's the pin:
53.0098430, -4.1461270


Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Those Wile E Coyote moments...

There a definitely some openings for new words in the dictionary. The emotion uprising when  the mud has sucked off one  wellie, and the other starts to sink (soulsquelch?), or the feeling that you have fallen for more time then you had accounted for..
This was my experience during my last window of opportunity in Cwmffynnon (falling, not the wellies, I have the approach dialled).
It was an excellent morning with wintery sun, and inversions in the valleys.

I chose to warm up on Troubles Braids, I'd forgotten what good value it was at a highball 6a. No snappy holds, but certainly wakes you up and set me up for a highball day. 

Frank's Wild Years was next. Softer in grade at 5c, but a few fragile holds and unusual moves requires a steady highball head. 

After that it was off to the days objective. A highball crack I'd spied on the walk last month. 
Unfortunately the crack was still wet from last nights rain. However, I was drawn to the wall to the left. Vertical with a slight scoop around halfway, the top edge was looming at around 5 and a bit meters. There were a couple of edges, but the majority of the climbing was on harder mineral slivers jutting out of the volcanic tuff. Ace when they're bomber, but the odd one occasionally goes bang. Certainly exciting for a highball. With trepidation I sussed out the first few moves, and spied out some form of line. The climbing was tensiony and surprisingly powerful, and this urgency of movement delivered me 3/4 up the wall to a good pinch an no real recollection of how I got there. 
My sequence to this point came in from the left and I realised I had no knowledge of the various nubbins being offered as footholds for the last moves to the top. Slowly getting horribly pumped I poked each nubbin in turn with my boot. Hey ho. I had to commit.. 
Unlike Mr Coyote, I didn't hover in the air as the pebble ejected from the wall. It was a moment mid flight that my moment came, as I sort of assumed I would have landed by now.. Although I did soon enough. 
Slightly giggley and no worse for wear I contemplated my situation. I could call it a day. However, I was so close and if I left it there was an infinitesimal chance some other nutter may do it first..
I'm pleased I persevered, as the moment I blindly slapped for the top sloper is now burned into my psyche, fond memories. 
I named it after a blog post I made on a similar topic; "The Cutthroat World of Esoteric Bouldering" and I guess it's between F6c+ and 7a. I certainly had to dig deep. 
Hope you enjoy the video (I included the fall) and I'm sure there's more to come. 
I'm getting rather overtly keen actually. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Building Steam

So after my boxing day post the weather has sadly refused to play ball. However, this has given me more time to cogitate on the future pathways my adventures will take me.
As an example, and despite the weather, it took me into the lost bogs of Nant Gwynant.
I was looking for an alternative approach to the wilds of Moel Meirch (previous blog) and saw a footpath on the OS map. Once again, Geograph's OS pop up came up trumps with detailed close up maps, and I scribbled on a screen shot to get me in the right direction..

It turned drizzly as I set off and the navigation through bogs and dead rhododendron was engrossing. 

The mist then descended. However there was still the odd titbit to entice me on

So I eventually made it up to the ridgeline (the brighter of you out there would have already concluded this wasn't to be the quicker route in..)

The blocks I previously saw were, as to be expected, Tiddly.

However, as visibility dropped I discovered that Googlemaps had updated to allow a local offline map, and Location is pretty good for navigation..

On the way down some more scoping occured

Although very high the rock is sadly flakey..

The next lightbulb moment was a convoluted chain of events that led me back to Sheep pen after a hiatus of a decade or more. Meaning to link up with Wolf, I ended up climbing at main block with a whole bunch of nice people, with lots and lots of mats.
It was refreshing and exhausting, and something I'd like to try again.


Brewing future Psyche?

A large part of my life in North Wales has been given to the documentation of those obscure rugosities that were sadly out of favour, The Slate quarries were a start, and were followed with collaboration in a guide. The blog has been a big part of this, as was the Bouldering Guide.
Well the old one is almost out of print, and as the old machine clunks back into life, I've realised vast areas I've dabbled in have remained so. Areas on pause because no one knows about them, apart from the few of you that read this. This has got me a little psyched..
Quite a lot really.
Therefore last Saturday I took a wet walk in Cwm Ffynnon, reminiscing and getting things put in order.

Peach arete area

Misty lumps without ascents

A lump climbed by someone else!?!

What has changed is that I've got a little more tech savvy. Remember Google maps and their offline map? well now I have a shareable record of where all the little conquests and projects are, complete with notes
Not only that, I've got way marker points logged, so you needn't go through all that "oops I'm lost waist deep in a bog" inconvenience. My hope is that I'll get the area oven ready, and that I'll do some of that social bouldering so that I can get some action shots..

Basically it looks like I've got the next bit mapped out.
Enjoy the adventure.
There's treasure everywhere!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Building Psyche for the next Decade

So it's come to my notice that with the end of 2019 we start a new decade. One that will eventually see me in my fifties.
Sobering stuff!
With that in mind, I recognise I need to get a bit of a run up and point the damn bobsled in the right direction.
No point in slowing down, and if I get too safe I'll run the risk of suffocating in mediocrity. However, I do acknowledge that the course of this old pirate ship needs to be properly navigated to prevent my enthusiasm wrecking me on the rocks.
Heavy stuff.
I'm also acknowledging it's getting harder to get the results I'm desiring, be it power or flexibility. I'm either going to have to dig deep, or reset my focus. I do feel I sometimes put too much pressure on myself. There is definitely a desire to leave some sort of mark on this scene I love.
I think I have an Inkling of what course to plot, and it mainly seems to involve wandering around in wellies looking for blocs.
Yesterday was a case in point.
In need of an outlet for festive angst, I headed once more to wilds of the gwynant. My initial thoughts were to actually go bouldering, however, once more Welsh connies were against me. Nonetheless, the wild didn't disappoint.

Freed from the pressure of actually finding something to climb, I relished the hunt. In classical Welsh tease fashion, there was a lot of nearly not quite; too small, too easy, too death a landing. There was enough to keep me keen.. 

So I have a lot of following up to do. I feel like taking company up here, hopefully there is enough to tempt my jaded friends. 

I even feel like there might be something in dragging a rope here.

Nadolig Llawen and all that. 

I feel there is something special just over the horizon. 

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)