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. 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Kicking off my Marchlyn Season

So Seren had her 4th birthday party,  with able support / interference from her brothers.  It was hot and windy, and not a little stressful. So when set free, I had to do something..
However all the crags would be sweaty, unless I slogged in the wind and heat up to Marchlyn!
After all this talk of Foolery,  it certainly fitted,  as I was knackered and weak, but rather than settling for a bit of benchmarking on a random rock. I was keen for my first slog up the hill. I always hate it, but, the boulder was soo good,  and maybe I'll get some progress.  I left the scooter at home as I was having brake issues (I melted my wellies)  and the wind may make it dangerous.
It certainly made it arduous.  Being blown this way and that, a QL workout,  and rarely in the right direction.

A 50 minute slog took me into the shade and presented me with lots of very dry and windy rock!
My usual warm up circuit took place and the friction was ace. However,  fingers were found wanting a little,  and I struggled to drop into Tumbleweed.  It turned out I was trying to drop into the start holds of the stand(which is nails) rather than the correct sloper. That completed I moved onto Edgehammer which rather than requiring fine tuning,  went down without a whimper. 
Taking this as a good sign, Seamus was dispatched and I turned my attention (for the nth time)to the low start project. 

Crispy dry footholds! 

Some time away has somehow allowed me some detachment,  and I felt able to play with the sequence skipping moves to try going big and playing with the energy budget. 
This resulted in a much more workable high percentage sequence.  Not only that but I could quantify my deficiencies and see how to nullify them.
Game on!

It may be a tedious poo of a slog, but it's lovely up here. 
Let's see what winter brings..

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Quixote and the Art of Foolery

So as is by now par for the course, My first day I can have an adventure and the drizzle flobs on in. Rather than get depressed and do some house work I decided to follow my own advice and wait for Vizzini, Think what my younger self would do, go back to those activities undertook before age pissed on my fire somewhat.
To summarise, I decided to go and clean an old highball of mine. At the top of a hill. In the Rain.
Perfectly normal thing to do, if you can climb, prepare something for climbing. In the Rain.
I may have also decided to try and find a route up there that wouldn't require wellies, and I didn't think to pack waterproof trousers.
I got wet.

The highball in question was "Its not the Years, Its the Mileage". Star of I.N.S.P.R.E. Jan 2016 and while first tried in 2003, was eventually first climbed in 2011 after learning the importance of core fitness. I gave it 7A!, however, its never been repeated, and knowing how I was going back then, it might be a little harder. I would love to clarify this, but its at the back of the head of the Bint of Nant Peris (below) and the walk in  is somewhat steep.

The Bint is supposed to be a sleeping witch, in the drizzle it looked more like the mummy returns..

The journey up to the crag has been the subject of a "locals" fell race and they've got there and back in 30mins. I take longer. I was please to find that the approach has been effectively drained, and wellies are no longer necessary. However, the sedge and bracken ensured my legs were soon dripping. The three hawthorns that mark the end of basic slog and the start of the hidden sheep path drew swiftly (hah) into view.

Once in line with them, the crag came into view

Pen Dinas (Craig y Giat is my name for the bit in the foreground)

The first bit of rock was even dry (never climbed this bit)

The gate that gave the block its name has gone walkies, it used to be between these posts.

Not climbed this bit either.

40 mins after leaving the car, I was below The Years. It looked a little higher, blanker, and scarier than I remembered. Once there I quickly up ended my bag and got the kit out. The sooner I got working, the sooner I could retreat. The top is a clump of stone bosses, so its easy to secure the abb rope. I was surprised to find all the important holds, and with minimal digging. Although the top was mossy, and the lichen obviously is well provided for, it cleaned pretty easy. As I slithered down (I'd forgotten how scary abbing on wet ropes with a grigri was) I photoed the hold as I dropped. This was mainly to help myself psyche for a future repeat,but I realise it may give you lot a little beta and fire to come and grade it for me. If you want to onsight look no further. However, I forgot to photo the starting holds so here's an ancient pic:

Left hand a flake sidepull that was smaller than I remember, right hand a nubbiny flake that wasn't.

Next set up on the "Biro" hold

rock out to the finger stack ledge

Foot up and throw for the monoflake

Sorry. Horribly slanted photo that I couldn't fix. Rope should be vert. Right hand circle is the monoflake, lefthand the rest ledge edge.

Behold the rest ledge edge!

This hidden puppy is the flake you then use with the R.L.E. to gain some small stuff and go up

Up here to thank God hold No.1

From there a scary lank gains Thank God hold No. 2 and the ledge system of escape.

Here's roughly where they all are.

There you go, Lets Repeat it!

I also cleaned "Desire is Repressed Fire" a 6A! so you have a warm up.

The slither down was slithery, and as I stripped to my underpants in the Vaynol Car Park I had a big grin on my face. The reason we did these frankly silly, and potentially pointless adventures was inexplicable to the many. However I'm sure there are a few kindred souls out there chuckling quietly to themselves reminiscing about their own ventures in foolery. For myself I've made a mental note to try at least one foolish thing a month. That way my giggle-tank will remain full, and I'll remember why took up this daft sport in the first place.

Whats next, I wonder...

Monday, 19 August 2019

Grinding to the Finish line

So at the beginning of last month a window of opportunity opened on the Tosheroon, following my visit with Ethan. I had not only a spotter, but a very talented photographer (Charlotte Milner) keen to document my lunacy. I'll say straight up that I didn't do it this time, however like Turbo the snail I'm achingly close and I'm not giving up. First burn was fairly short, as expected, but spun me into a whirl of technicalities and beta choices..

Previously at this point I'd switched about face on kneebars to tackle the next section facing left. However, the play with Ethan had shown me that removing this tiring and so far fruitless switch didn't stop me getting any further. (both ways still ended with me flumping a meter further in. So with this in mind I tried the easier of the styles to adopt from this position:
Feet First.

Unfortunately, the leg work was not giving me any forward propulsion. Hands stuttered, and once again I Flumped. Ben, my Man-at-Arms, somewhat darkhorse, and fellow lunatic then bravely stepped forward for his go...

Ben did some impressive hip jams and faught bravely to match my flump spot.

Convinced that staying facing right was the way, I moved to a head first approach. This meant an awkward squeeze as the crack narrowed above me head (well chest actually) and flared widely below my kneebars. Once switched from feet first to head, I had to commit to a series of high kneebars for my left leg. This meant I felt like I could fall on my head, but allowed me to establish some tenuous fist jams to drag myself forward. The first on these is the picture above, opposing mounds in the crack wall gave a couple of sweet pots for me to establish, share and move off to the next. This resulted in a new highpoint, and the end of the constrictions. The flare below gave little to work with, but the fist we good enough for a pivot. I cut loose and stabbed a kneebar above my head....

Missing the crucial pocket to drive my heel into, I couldn't stick this. If I had, I may have thrown to what appears to be the handjam at the end of the fierceness...

There now remains three and a half feet of unclimbed Tosheroon, as I've down climbed into the maw in 2015. The psyche is high, but the windows are few, and the summer holidays of fun and family have sucked away my fitness. There is another window early September, but I may not feel fit for the fight. The last weekend in September may give the last warm window this year, Therefore I must get prepared!

Watch this Space.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Cornish interlude

So Stuff happened at the beginning of July and I was all"gotta get the pics..." However, the pics aren't here yet so its now August... Summer holidays have kicked in and the kids are running free, so not much climbing.

That said we went to Cornwall! There's been a lot of chatter on UKBouldering about the bouldering possibilities of West Penwith and Bosigran in particular. So I was quite chuffed to find our holiday home was only 4 miles from that bastion of trad, where I had spent many weekends in the nineties. First and foremost though this was a family holiday, so that meant beaches.

Quite excited to get close to choughs down here, I got a lot closer than this, but this was my only pic. The north Wales choughs are a lot more wary.

Portheras Beach. Some cool blocs, but would require quite a lot of pads.
We had a couple of visits here, the waves could be quite gnarly, but there was this freshwater pool for the 3yr old, and I just kept counting the others....

A colder blustery day meant a walk around Bozigran head. I was keen to show the kids where I used to play, and look out for any bouldering possibilities.

Dylan, his monkey, and some possible blocs around commando ridge. Soon after the moaning started so we curtailed wandering and went back for grub.

Once the weather cleared I was able to get an hour to explore the Carn above Bosullow.

My Hidden stash of boots and chalkbag....

Cornish blessing (I think) on the stile to the carn. My poor translation appears to be "Love the good saints held within". I certainly loved the bouldering.

Just the right height, and a couple of the lines had flat grassy landings. Essential as there was no room for a pad. Too hot for the best line (I kept greasing off) but did a few as the vid below shows.

Be Interested to know who else has climbed here. As it was I found an interesting stash under a boulder..
Any ideas what links Mark's gospel and the Matrix?

Next window of opportunity was an evening to revisit bosigran on my todd. For me this meant ssoloing Black Slab, an awesome diff, and something I did every trip here (nearly 20 years ago..)

Immaculate crater pulling..

Porthmoina Island (I've sat on that many moons ago in my youth) with the ridge in the background (ditto)

Following topping out I was presented with a proper looking boulder!

Unfortunately, the heat was once more against me. Further up, above Kafoosalem I think was an easier proposition with an ok landing, as shown in this vid:

So, all in all, a special interlude, with some happy kids and a happy dad

Monday, 1 July 2019

Approaching Official Operating Speed

June was a good month, so good in fact, its had to wait until July to Blog about it. Not only that, but I considered delaying further to include shenanigans scheduled for the end of the week.. However, that will have to wait.
Following May's deep recon, and the investigation of Craig y Ecs, I was left a bit frustrated. This was due to events left out of the annals of last month, at the fore mentioned Ecs. Following our great successes on the highball blocs, we went down to a steep boulder near the bottom of the slope. Here I stitched together something rather hard. We were against the clock as we had to punch in at work, and as the last grains of sand were trickling down, I did it! If you could ignore the mighty dab that is...
Crestfallen and with work calling, I had to leave my prize undefended, until the next window of opportunity. What if SteMac caught wind of it?

Fortunately, two weeks later I was able to stomp up and find it still pristine. Following a short pilates warm up and some crimp wrestling I dove in:

The result was "Dutch Trance" named after a Ballboy track that was earworming me at the time. The above vid is split as I tacked on a repeat of the top section for you to see as it isn't all over after the crux.
Particularly memorable was the point mid crux that all pinkies bar one popped off the gaston and I had to dig deep and power through the crux off a mono. Even without this poor beta, its probably F7A.

Good fight that.

Craig yr Ecs continues to provide sport, hence its cheesy nom-de-plume, Here's a highball F5 called Billy crack (another Ballboy Track)

Not content with this honeypot of hits, more recon ensued
Here's Y Fedw, Tremadog's answer to the Lleyn:

Heres a steep highballish lump of it..

Proper dolerite on the hills behind, but a bit small and grubby

More ventures around the borders of Craig y Ecs

Following a lot of extreme walking, Fathers day occurred and Ethan took me to visit an old nemesis, namely the Tosheroon. I hadn't been here for a couple of years due to fear and flaccidity. I couldn't quite remember what made this project so special. However, it had been the wallpaper for my phone for at least five years, and Ethan (who has caught the climbing bug despite my poor parenting) had decided as it was the one that has evaded me the longest that A) it must be hard, and therefore he should beat me to it, and B) as it was Fathers day and everybody else was on their tablets we should go. I should state at this point it had nothing to do with the tides being perfect and my climbing partner having to let me down due to latent zombie-ism.

Ethan Almost giving the secret location away...

The pebble level felt about a foot higher than my 2015 visit, This made it feel almost welcoming. We ventured further in , and fount the pebbles didn't ramp up too much, in fact the starting point (a Chckstone 40ft into the depths) still had the same small boulder below.

The crux section I've yet to breach

The jams through the crux are always wet and therefore dependant on what little constrictions you can find amongst the flareness.

I remembered why It ensnared me so, the technicality and novel nature of the climbing. If offwidth climbing involves Scarpelli's "Intelligent Brutality" Then imagine a wet one covered in crumbly barnacles!

I asked Ethan he minded loitering while I had a quick go , and he offered to be cameraman (good lad).

Heres a little video which may explain why this project is ace:

I left without the tick, but I reached my previous highpoint. I was impressed that I reached this point without entering the Heart of Darkness like last time. I'm certainly not fitter, so I can only put it down to the last 3 years of pilates giving me a more efficient core and lower body for extended knee barring

The sum total of my owies.

This month has definitely seen a return to form for myself in terms of simply being me. I'm getting out, climbing random stuff with some respectable difficulty, and also this month I've seen some of my giveaways bearing fruit. I'd nagged Dan McManus about Nant Gwrtheyrn's DWS potential and Finally he must have got fed up because he dragged Pete Robins along and they bagged it all.
7a ish

another 7a ish

This ones apparently 7b+. However, the last DWS Dan put up at this grade (well he originally said 7b) was White Lightning at Rhoscolyn, and I remember seeing Caff fall off that. The Picture is of Pete in his underpants. He fell off snapping a foothold shortly afterward.

Part of this return to form is having a surplus of projects. So here's one at Clogwyn Melyn, 10 minutes above the Watkin Path, 15 minutes from Caffi Gwynant's fine cakes.
There's a couple of scrappy bluffs which the Crook may have beaten you to, but there's one or two boulders too.

Tuck in. 

As I looked out towards Moel Meirch I am content Knowing...