Monday, 27 February 2017

Taking a Bite

You know in the movies when the hero confronts the bully in the car, and the bully gets out of the car, well unfolds his giant frame out of the, frankly small, car. One of those bitten off a bit much moments...

I went in to abseil the Shard last Friday, on the dry day of the latter half of February.
My highball mat seemed very small, and the rope dangled far out from the bottom. 6m high, and about 50cm overhanging at its furthest point maybe. Good solid, rough rock. Not many holds..

By the time I'd found all the useful holds and got them chalked, I was certainly questioning how quickly I could get this done. My calculations soon indicated a need for many more mats and a spotter for proper injury prevention. I'll need at least 4 mats, with a bit of shuffling. I also need to get much more stronger. There's a mono pocket undercut for flip sake...

To console myself I checked out this other block I'd spotted on the last visit. Nothing like a quick send to boost the spirits..

This wonderfully faked footage shows the length of the initial dyno I'd need to make. From there  is another huge chuck to the top. Poor feet throughout. I went and repeated The Goodie to cheer myself up, and then ran of to work (literally, at least as far as the car..)

The View from the top of the Shard. The Right hand circle is the Super prow (this years Patio Project), and the left is a boulder field that I found a photo of from a previous visit recently, some steep rock there.


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Stepping off Once Again

So after a few forays round the slate quarries, and maybe a resurgence of psyche for slippery sharp adventure, I decided that I needed a new plaything in the Mountains. Something new to be afraid of and drawn to in equal measure.

Behold the Shard:
Nicely Highball. Suitably Difficult too, however there was some doubt as to whether it would allow ascent or try to crush me like a bug. First mission was to climb to the top round the back and give it a kick. This proved to be adventurous... 

It did survive the kick test though, so I started finding out what was keeping it up. The shard is in front of this big block,

It is lapped in place by the big block...

And the big block is sort of tied in...

So first tests are proving positive, next the landing.. 
Massive surf board. Enter the Jack!

Landing sorted. Now I just have to try it. It is safe to say I am rather excited, and a little crapping it. The landing is still bumpy but not a patio candidate for many reasons:
 1) It'd look rubbish
2) The lumps are only mat depth, so 3 mats should sort it.
3) We are in bog land, no material, and it'd stand out like a turd in a punch bowl.

Still lots in Cwmffynnon

There's Treasure Everywhere

Friday, 10 February 2017

New Friends, Old Friends, and the European Enclave of Mordor

Took another wander today to look at Harold's new routes in the top of Lost World, a tad frosty, this morning, and hoar frosted slate scree certainly made some of the scrambling quite exciting

 Some of the rocks scars left in Lost world do not seem as settled as I first thought...
 I was also tickled to see the European flag flying over the Kyber Pass. Beyond on the Willow plain, JCB's are creating an impressive grid of track ways and buildings. The plan seems to be to stabilise Yr Ceiliog (Trango Tower) so it stops falling on First Hydro's office roof. I doubt its been that busy down there since Willow itself was filmed.

The main aim of the morning was to check out how The Beast in Me was fairing. Its been 2 years or so since I put this baby to bed, and as it has had no suitors in the meantime, I was keen to check it wasn't returning to nature too badly, or indeed falling down. It turned out the rope I had bought with me was too short, however, in the hut above was the rope I had used to access it back in 2014. The hut was dry and as it was on top of a pinnacle, goat free. 
 After checking it for mouse chews, I popped over the edge.

The moss managed to avoid all the holds you actually use! I was also please to find the rock all in one piece. Its impressively non flaky for this part of the quarry.

Even more impressively the crux off width was squeaky clean! This may have had something to do with its overhanging, sheltered nature, or maybe something to do with this:

Heartily recommended if you want to keep your slate project slime free for seemingly years...

Other routes have not fared so well. Ticks Groove and Prometheus Unbound have spilled their guts.

So there it is, if you want to repeat a hardish route in Mordor, The Beast in Me (HVM) is cleanish and not in any immediate danger of falling down. There's even an abb rope (a little green and stiff...)


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Back in the blood

Training is going slow and frequently derailed, not quite enough obsession kicking round to drive me on. Sometimes its too much fun just being Dad, and bouldering requires me to actually be good, at least for the things on my radar.

Luckily I may have stumbled on a solution, with mizzle and other complications I've been stuck for mini adventure Ideas, for when I only have a short window of quixote time. I've therefore set myself a challenge to compile notes for all the changes and additions that have birthed since the Slate guide got published.

This, started as an act of whimsy, has now reached 20 pages and has resulted in some fine stomps. A bizarre side effect has been that I'm actually getting some psyche back for playing in the quarries. After all things Twll Mawr, I kind of felt I'd drawn that chapter to a close, but the jaunts have reinfected me somewhat. Some examples:
Harlod Walmsey's Routes high up in Heavens Cutting. These will be a good adventure for the low grade sport aficionado, providing they don't shed too many holds. However on the opposite side of the cutting are a load of clean highball aretes and slabs with flat landings. Food for thought 

Who bolted this buttress, curious and curiouser

The buttress in question is  in the centre of the pic, above the sadly collapse Alice Springs, a route put up by my dearly departed mate Dave. If I ever bolted again, I'd like to follow that hanging slab left over the void.

Some more of Harold's work. Some really strong looking lines in the middle of Upper Dinorwic in an area he's named Ayer's Rock. The right hand line Kata Tjuta Rib follows an old Giveaway Project of the Month.
The left hand wall of the bay looked familiar. Turns out I soloed through here 15 years ago, what became If you Kill People They Die. Nice to see its still standing.

Looking down into Australia from the adventurous mess that is Upper Diniorwic

Another new development is the Plateau slab. Ian Lloyd Jones secured access to this  area, which was previously banned under the Access agreement negotiated in the late 80's.

2 routes in this area previously left out of the guide were mentioned in the old black book, I was intrigued by Stay Big..

And here it is! This whole section looks ripe for some highballing, but the one pad I'd bought with me wasn't enough to persuade me to engage quite yet.

And so on to the main event! I had been invited to come and play for the morning, by my work mate Alex. What me? going to climb popular classics? I had great fun, leading Pull My Daisy (which I'd last led 20 years previously) and cleanly seconding Splitstream. I was particularly pleased with this as I feel pretty much fresh from the couch, and it also marks my first Redhead route!

So Slates back in the blood. Lets see what adventure awaits!

Friday, 6 January 2017

New Year, New Approach

Happy new year and all that. December was a month of Family, work, and thinking about what I want to do next. My ambitions are moving towards closing a number of harder projects, I realise I'm becoming more and more of a boulderer. However, I realise a) I'm getting older and more niggily, and b) my mind remembers being a lot stronger than I am now.

The last concerted effort towards training was for The Beast in Me. That was two years ago. I guess this was because of time pressures, and a series of old man aches, and the fact I don't really like training. A new approach is required.

Its not really training, that's my new approach. Its a series of challenges spaced in time by 2-3 days. Every couple of days I do some circuits, visit a boulder, or go for a stomp. A mix of conditioning and pushing myself in useful ways.
for example:
James boulder, an easily accessible source of good honest ass whipping, if a little limited in scope.
For more variety, and a good cardio work out, I'd take this rig up to 600m for a different set of things to fall off.

First attempt at this was met with mizzle and cloud. Made it up to the dam in 39 minutes and then limped down on the scooter, trying not to wipe out in the wet. a shocking 28 minutes. let down by this lack of action I decided for a second cardio hit and went off to the quarries to check out whats changed since the last guide..

Found this helpful bit of lash together level access...

This rather awesome wall is the result of the big fall in lost world, could make a great venue for high 7 sport routes

A week or two later I made it up to the dam in 36 minutes, beautiful sunny day And I chose to play in the shade. However, I was appropriately dressed, and had packed the hand warmers

Unfortunately, I was also incredibly week after a year of injuries and false starts, I managed the old problems, which are on the main standing starts, but the unclimbed sitters were another matter. I was unable to gain any training value from them as although I could lovingly chalk and brush the holds, I couldn't actually pull on any of them. I'll have to go away and get a bit stronger.

An example of the conditions, enough to pull on, not enough to hit with an axe..
Scooter decent was dry and 18 minutes ish, Need to leave off the brake a bit more to get down to previous records of 10/11 minutes.

LedgeHammer, 6B ish, one of the things I would eventually like to gain from a sitter.

As I write this I'm at home with a cold, so training's on hold a day or so. I've been enjoying using the Beacon too, as it can't all be outdoors, and I've set myself some pretty effective Power and Power Endurance workouts. slow and steady, that's 2017. That and hopefully some very silly adventures.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Off Piste not Piste Off..

So Since I last blogged, its been work work work, mixed in with a little illness, suspected Lymes (Tick got me in the blooming belly button, not flared up like that before so off for antibiotics) and mucking around with the family.

However, the return of a certain Benny boy got me hankering for company out in them thar hills. My old adventuring partner has spent the last year earning (some)money in foreign climes but has finally returned to his girlfriend Charlotte, meaning I can steal them away again together and show off (in) Cwmffynnon. (As usual, the best photo's are Charlotte's)

Back to the slab of Troubles Braids

Charlotte on Franks Wild Years

Topped out on Troubles Braids, only slightly highball (She's "petite")

Myself back on Troubles Braids, trying not to look a fool...

Ben on a nice crack (having already done the arete in the foreground)

Ben still alive after sitting on the mats rather than falling on them, and enjoying the slide off the tier..

Its good to be Jamming again.

Ben exploring yet another outcrop

Charlotte going first on what became her "Peach Arete"

Complex shadows in this light

The Slab of Tiny Pinches (left of Peach Arete)

Charlotte not taking a lob off of the top of The Slab of Tiny Pinches (this time)

Much fun was had. I was Late for work. we all pulled off the odd pebble, and all had things to come back for.

Wales is alright Y'all.
Come and play.