Monday, 1 June 2015

Tick Report - May

So its been a weird Month....

The Bads
My psyched-for trad project got a dusting of someone else's bolts
My back, or more specifically my pelvis is still killing me periodically
My elbows have flared up at inopportune moments
My Work life has got unhelpfully stressful
I'm Feeling Weak

The Goods
I have some cool boulder projects where I am making progress
My Tribe is going to be joined by my first daughter (4th child)
I'm making progress on my journey towards Development coach
Sam and I had our first mini-break away from the kids in 6 years
I'm getting regular free physio (thanks NHS)
Our house is having a bit of a posh make over.

So there we go.
As a result of all the mess in Twll Mawr, and with Little Miss Dicken due in September, I've sacked off the trad for this year. That's not to say I might have the odd jolly, but I've given away my projects, and will be leaving Twll Mawr alone for a bit. The fact is that with the imminent arrival of Little Miss, I'm bordering on contentment, at least my perspectives have been altered.
I am also trying to get some consensus on ethics for Twll Mawr, and will be raising it at the next BMC Cymru meeting. My views on Twll Mawr, specifically the Back wall, have be documented on this blog many times (eg here and here). I'm aware that the new sport routes have proved popular, and I know pretty much all the ascentionists of the trad routes personally, and could probably get them all into a quite small room. However, the climbing is unique and special, and historically routed in the ethics and mindset of climbing in North Wales.
Currently the Back Wall looks something like this:
Cue the scrappy topo..
The Routes
1 Taith Mawr (2008) Trad
2 Long in the Twll/ the North will rise Again (March 2015) Sport
3 Tân y Ddraig (4th May 2015) Sport
4 Hamadryad (1971) Trad
5 Desolation of Smaug (April 2014) Sport
6 Antiquarian Direct (September 2014) Trad
7 Twll Love (September 2014) Trad
8 The Baron (1st May 2015) Trad
9 The Razors Edge (1971) Trad
10 The True Finish (1989) Trad
11 Bushmaster (1982) Trad
12 Scorpion (1981) Trad

A= Retro bolted belay first used for True finish
B = Retro bolted belay first used for Twll Love

When Smaug appeared, I was concerned that it might effect existing routes, and to some extent it did, although not so much as to harm their character. I was also saddened that it removed some of the risk for subsequent new routes, and that it was in an area that was pushed heavily into in a ground up ethic. The result was Antiquarian Direct, and Twll Love.
It must be said, however, that the reduction of risk may have prevented catastrophe on the 2nd pitch of Twll Love (or prevented an awesome display of onsighting and my hardest route to date, we'll never know).
Smaug also opened the bottle. I chatted to the first ascentionist at the time about what it meant for the future, and expressed my opinion that all right of smaug should be left of future trad. At the time I thought this view was shared. When the Long Twll team starting their bolting mission, They sent me many long emails, agonising over how existing trad routes could be avoided, and encouragingly, also how potential trad lines could be given space too. On the whole this worked too.
But the lure of the longest sport route in the UK was obviously too much.
Maybe also the lure of the arete too, many people had tried to get to it via traditional means over the years, with True Finish coming closest.

Enough maudlin mumbling, if all those existing trad line weren't enough to tempt you, here's an unadulterated version to spot the blanks, and the actual lines I scribbled over..
I've deliberately kept these picture files big so you can search around, The lines on the back wall are all strong, but hidden by perspective tricks. This is the best angle I'e found so far to reveal them. There's a strong line on the right that Mr brown got within half a pitch of the top, for instance...

Next Month
Get up something
Stop aching
Stop moaning


  1. Mark,
    If you carry on blogging / stirring on the internet about me and commenting negatively about my routes in Twll Mawr the outcome will be more bolted routes on the back wall, your choice.
    Ian Lloyd-Jones

    1. Hi Ian, I'm sorry that you feel threatened by my opinions here on my blog. I don't advocate anything more negative then the promotion of discussion and hopefully a group consensus within the local community. Just one person taking matters into their own hands seems a terrible idea to me (my personal opinion is that once a bolt is in, to try to remove it is just as bad, as scars never really heal). Smaug is a really enjoyable route and possibly saved my life when on Twll love. Whats done is done, I just want to secure a future for a place I love.

  2. I can assure you that I don't feel threatened by either you or your opinions, I am however tired of your constant slating (no pun intended) of me and my routes. This has been going on for too many years now with both comments on your blog and elsewhere on the internet and also plenty said behind my back (which I've had passed on to me from fellow climbers). IAN LL-J

    1. Hi Ian, I can only apologise if anything I have said or done has caused you personal offence. As far as I am aware, apart from Tan y Ddraig, I have never stated anything negative about the routes themselves (as I said, I enjoyed Smaug) on my blog. I have expressed opinions, good and bad, to friends about routes I have climbed, and some of them were yours. However, that is the perogative of any climber. If I got upset about every comment made about myself or my routes, I'd probably be locked up by now. Climbers have strong opinions, and anyone climbing (or creating) new routes will inevitably become the focus of attention. I hope you feel able to join the discussion for a way forward, or at least pass on your own valuable opinions.