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.



video
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.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Into the Wild

After getting my psyche back with a visit to the Super Prow, I was keen to explore the back of Cwmffynnon some more. The chance arose today, and I must admit I felt like a fox in a hen house, so much interesting rock, just on the horizon. I restrained myself, however, as I knew the cwm is a large place, and I had to get back for work later....

My love for this stretch of the valley is unfailing, and I have spent far too much time ferreting away in Dyffryn Mymbyr. It falls into a series of distinct tracts, stretching back towards Pen y pass from the RAC boulders; There's Craig y Haul - the high altitude meadow, Mymbyr - the area I spent so many years pottering, The Mallory strip - neither Mymbyr or Cwmffynnon and Cymffynnon Proper.

It was over the ridge that marks Cwmffynnon proper that I found this coolio highball slab (visible on the walk into Super Prow):


I got all excited, set up my phone, and got playing...

Trouble's Braids. The rock was so clean and attractive, There was no cleaning or pre inspection, I just pulled on and enjoyed the ride. Hence it took so long... Sorry



Frank's Wild Years. (yes there was a certain CD playing in the car) THis was higher and a bit weird, with a funky runnel to lay off. Hence I took even longer.... Please fast forward.

The Goodie. This was on the walk back and actually in the Mallory Strip (which is also home to the Big G's Running Jam). I'd forgotten my tripod, hence the long shot. I actually start from a sit in a dip off a proper starting hold. the arete is 90 degrees and slightly overhanging, and once again superbly rough Mymbyr rock. This was also the hardest of the three, but I'm loathe to grade as they were all onsight, and I'm hardly getting much mileage at the moment. Suffice to say they're all 6's.

I'm extremely excited to have a new playground to explore, and with a walking pole and wellies its easy enough to navigate around, and almost as accessible as Mymbyr was. Watch this space... 








Into the Wild

After getting my psyche back with a visit to the Super Prow, I was keen to explore the back of Cwmffynnon some more. The chance arose today, and I must admit I felt like a fox in a hen house, so much interesting rock, just on the horizon. I restrained myself, however, as I knew the cwm is a large place, and I had to get back for work later....

My love for this stretch of the valley is unfailing, and I have spent far too much time ferreting away in Dyffryn Mymbyr. It falls into a series of distinct tracts, stretching back towards Pen y pass from the RAC boulders; There's Craig y Haul - the high altitude meadow, Mymbyr - the area I spent so many years pottering, The Mallory strip - neither Mymbyr or Cwmffynnon and Cymffynnon Proper.

It was over the ridge that marks Cwmffynnon proper that I found this coolio highball slab (visible on the walk into Super Prow):


I got all excited, set up my phone, and got playing...


Trouble's Braids. The rock was so clean and attractive, There was no cleaning or pre inspection, I just pulled on and enjoyed the ride. Hence it took so long... Sorry




Frank's Wild Years. (yes there was a certain CD playing in the car) This was higher and a bit weird, with a funky runnel to lay off. Hence I took even longer.... Please fast forward.

The Goodie. This was on the walk back and actually in the Mallory Strip (which is also home to the Big G's Running Jam). I'd forgotten my tripod, hence the long shot. I actually start from a sit in a dip off a proper starting hold. the arete is 90 degrees and slightly overhanging, and once again superbly rough Mymbyr rock. This was also the hardest of the three, but I'm loathe to grade as they were all onsight, and I'm hardly getting much mileage at the moment. Suffice to say they're all 6's.

I'm extremely excited to have a new playground to explore, and with a walking pole and wellies its easy enough to navigate around, and almost as accessible as Mymbyr was. Watch this space... 








Friday, 7 October 2016

Brewing next Years Psyche 2016

So with a chapter closing in Mymbyr, I must admit to losing motivation, My drive had stalled, my get up and go had snuggled under the duvet....

Action was required. The Lleyn weekender reminded me of how much I enjoy getting stuck into projects. Getting up 53rd & 3rd, reminded me why I do these things in the first place; the ignition of adventure, like the crack of Indiana Jones' whip. It also reminded me how many silly projects I had littering the proverbial cutting room floor. I felt it was time to pick out the most ludicrous example, dust it off, and see if I could at least tilt at some windmills..

The Super Prow of Cwm Ffynnon!
Not only the very first giveaway, back in 2009, but also revisited as an Open Project in 2014.


Now this may have something to do with its location, or potential for you to fall 100m of a 7m highball, but it always bugged me that someone didn't get it done. My main issue was that to approach from pen y pass required a summers evening, and it still took an hour to walk in.

With all this bubbling, I spent some time with some maps and worked out that to walk in from roman camp, would only be 2k with 300m of ascent. Compared to the 4k and 500m of ascent I regularly took up to the Marchlyn project. Admittedly, tarmac is nicer then welsh bog and briar, but it just might work... A plan was hatched.


I packed a bag with some cleaning kit and a small rope and parked up in Free Conwy. 


The walk in initially followed the beta approach for Running Jam (INSPRE Feb 16)
but instead of busting up ther hillside from the bend in the river, I pushed on into the cwm




Random boulder I spotted on the Satellite images, thought It would make a good waymarker. The Issue was that I hadn't been to the Super Prow for 2 years and never from this direction, and the hills were full of rocks...

More pretty rocks


I had an Idea which bit of hill side it was going to be in and pushed on up.

here we go (wrong)

is that it? (nope)

Finally!

The bad boy from below


I couldn't help myself, and although I am only really considering this an exercise in extreme top roping, I figured out that a patio was conceivable, and got started.


The cleaning rope in place, dangling nicely over the start of next years patio project.

A tad steep, I anchored the end of the abb string at the base and positioned myself in on a tied off italian hitch (not just a pretty face)


The righthand start all clean and chalked up

a good go at getting the lefthand start chalked..

It took me 1hour 40mins to find it this time, however with the patioing and everything I caught myself out and had only 55 mins to pick up the kids from school. As the resultant mad scramble only took me 40 mins to get back to the car, I'm hoping the approach time can be significantly improved on.

That's where it is!
(I hope this may jog my memory next time..)

Lets dream big and get some stuff done in 2017! (but don't cock up the school run!)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Lleyn Weekender

My beautiful wife announced that I haven't had a weekend off in a while, and suggested I organised something. As luck would have it Fatneck and O-Dog were one their way over the very next weekend for a Friday / Saturday affair; the game was Afoot.

First I had to escape work on Friday, this was sidestepped by two thirty, and Aberdesach was passed at great speed. The drizzle of the mountains gave way to the sunshine of the Lleyn.

Day one was Porth Ty Mawr. this was a Giveaway of sorts back in 2009 that Fatneck picked up on, and O-dog sniffed out independently. Too far out for me in the 'three kids under two' era, but the boys have had a great time developing stuff here.

The landings are typical Lleyn, however the rock are rather nice quartzite, think blocky solid breakwater quarry rather than snappy holyhead mountain. The friction is quite isatis, although the slightest moisture and its slippy yuk. I climbed a few newbies, the sunny wall right of the arete on the block the boys are soaring on above, and a punchy 6C on the block to the right.


I also did the roof centre of shot which involved committing to a heel toe lock on my bad ankle. Its all progress and although its not completely better it is functional and usable. To finish off a brill day, Fatneck even landed a Sea Bass!


The next day We descended on my home turf; : Porth Howel. Literally Descending as its a fair plod down hill to the beach, the boys beat me to it:


The white rib centre frame is the ramp you slither down to the beach, its also the main highball wall

Fatneck scoping out the highballs as I descend...

This would be the first time I'd climb here with anybody else, so I was keen for their thoughts. I'd dug up an old topo and we set about reticking everything, with O-Dog keen as ever, adding sit starts all over the place. I also managed to scratch an itch and complete a line that had me in retreat last time due to wetness. 53rd and 3rd is a 6A!! starting at the pillar  right of Fatneck's head (below)and goes direct with a lot of worrying at the top. Fatneck filmed it so It may appear later. Quite pleased as along with every highball on this wall they were done ground up, with no massive lobs either. I chose this Ramones track as it describes the depths you sink to when feeding an addiction....


O-Dog on the start to The Wall of Something Dead 6A!

O-Dog doing the sit start to Rockaway Beach 6B+/6C!

video



Mid-day Tab Break for the boys

O-Dog accepting the challenge of the Giveaway project of the month from this time two years ago.

Fatneck's verdict was the succinct "It woz Boss" and Owen was keen for the return to his new project. 

Its never going to boast big numbers as it has too many holds, but lovers of granite crimps and slopers may like to check it out.

We caught the rain as we trudged back up the killer hill, but though damp I was we happy to have tried hard for two days in a row, and finally climb with some company too! I'm aching tonight though.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Benchmarking


So a mixture of summer holiday family time and the small matter of a bust ankle has caused unhelpful weakness to pervade my being. What causes more concern is that the imminent arrival of  the new bouldering guide has stirred feelings of loss...

I have nothing new to work on dammit! admittedly I did give away a whole load of stuff, Cae Dafydd, stuff in Aberglaslyn, all being worked now by local devotees.

In an effort to produce some psyche and lift the malaise, I had a two venue day yesterday. Firstly I went to the Caseg boulder for the first time. I thought that visiting what is widely though to be the finest 6C in Wales will help me get my own forays into perspective. The Caseg Groove was very useful to me, It expose large gaps in my game (open handed strength, core, power endurance) and I could see why it was admired; lovely position, good rock texture, just enough features to work. I did think it was a tad morpho though, and knowing the first ascentionist was somewhat taller than myself cushioned the blow that I couldn't get more than 1.5 moves in (for 40mins).

Following this I visited James' Boulder, this was due to there being a hard project there still to do, and being fairly minimalist, I knew I could compare today's progress to previous attempts.

First up was repeating the Filling to compare to Caseg Groove:


video


While very enjoyable, the venue lacked the aesthetics of Afon Caseg, and is probably 6B+ rather than 6C, it does suit me more than CG, but still. This would make James sit down 6A+/B

The Skdoosh project felt very uninspiring after Caseg, being neither stand nor sit, and very brutal in execution. I'm nowhere near, but managed a 1 second of controlled hanging on the starting holds.
Its a start.

The patio is one of the first I produced and is a bit ropey, If I can be bothered I may give it a make over and try to make the project more of a sitter...

I need fresh pastures!