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)

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Renaissance of the hard move

Inspired by a thread on ukb, I was compelled by an old vid to return to an even older project.
I blogged about it at the time, and included a video still, but I was a bit cagey back then, and a little paranoid it may disappear to some musclebound wad. However, a few years have passed since Skadoosh found its way into North Wales Bouldering, and it still remains, snidely taking the piss. I even know of one rather talented fellow having a go, and not making any headway. Content, I allowed it to sit on the back burner for when I could apply time and effort to building power.

Having passed through a period where time and timing have frustrated my efforts, I thought I may as well just resort to flailing and trying. As this half term has been very trying with the kids, I found myself battered by the winds on the Clegir road, at 1630. Convicing myself of available light and conditions, I staggered down to Skadoosh.

It was Cold.

And Darkish.

In the failing light I pulled out my chalkbag and a brush and willed psyche into the holds. brushing the shine off, and making them more visible in the dusk.

Having flailed together a sort of sequence over the last 3 years I fondled and scratched at the holds in order

Orange for left hand, Green for right. Sometimes the process of analysis and working stuff out is the main meat of the journey. Especially when the finished product seems so elusive.
So Wellies never left my feet, But enough psyche was brewed to 'Walk through'.

This involved putting said wellies against the base of the overhanging wall and clinging my way through the sequence. Blow m if I didn't fall off, maybe next time I'll put boots on..

It was so dark that I've had to try and filter this vid into visibility. Hopefully it'll make you smile as much as I did.

Here's to trying hard

Friday, 11 October 2019

We're going on a Bloc Hunt..

Wednesday was a window of free time, slightly problematic due to a child off school, and a non ideal weather forecast.  Undeterred,  Ethan and I headed off into the wilderness looking for treasure.
Ethan identifying our first piece of booty ; hazelnuts! 
This was to be a serious mission.  The geology was sounds,  it was a foray to confirm correct topography. 
First signs were good.. 

However,  the going underfoot was less so..

For Ethan at least, first strike gave some fun bloc's. I was looking for something a little bigger and cohesive to get a circuit together. 

One boulder so far,  may not have found the pot of gold this trip. However,  I saw a few outliers that warrant attention when not restricted by little legs.

Lunch with a view. 

Ethan found an erratic fork and proceeded to do Martin Crook impressions. 

Ethan declared the day seized, and broke trail back to civilisation and Sponge Bob Squarepants.

I'm currently waiting for nicer weather to allow some outside climbing in my little freedom windows.  Hopefully the scrabbling around I'm doing indoors will stand me in good stead.

Keep exploring.