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!




Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Its Been a While...

So at the beginning of the year I had set myself three goals; Short term to get my body injury free and in some shape to climb sustainably, Medium term to climb my Tosheroon project, and Long Term to climb my Marchlyn project.

Well... Getting injury free is going pretty well apart from myself spannering my ankle, as I'm identifying the root problems of my back and core issues (Weak Buttocks). Head knowledge wise this tick is almost in the bag, implementation may take longer.
Tosheroon has Identified itself as more of a Long term goal (it requires fitness), and the Marchlyn project may be easier (or harder) than I thought.

Last night I bit the bullet and decided to put my foot through some highly scientific testing. I walked up to the dam (no scooter as was too windy / silly with my ankle) and jolly well went bouldering.


Must have been a good telly night as the tide was well out (Hydroelectric scheme)

The boulder on the right is Livesey's Love Child, so called as I was reminded of some hideous slopey top out that Bransby was photoed on. The FA was done without a mat, and there was an awkward moment when my trousers velcroed to the lip. a couple of pads and a spotter would make it more nonchalant.

The lower 2 boulders are exposed in this piccy. I've not played on them yet as they either have weird landings or are under water most of the time.

It was great to be up here again, although it certainly exposed my fitness (especially the walk in). Erodeo felt especially hard for F6Aish and I ended up donning my solutions in an effort to climb with less thrashing (the muira heels weren't cutting it). This was another breakthrough as I couldn't wear tight shoes previously. Sufficiently warmed up I spent some time dissecting the moves from my designated project start into Tumbleweed. Its great to work things went you're really weak as its much less likely for you to get distracted with interesting technicality as you cant do it. Pulling, lunging and thrashing I eradicated the impossible and extracted the easiest path between the two. Basically 4 big thuggish moves into the erodeo starting holds. The most technical it got was a toe hook ( another victory as it was my left foot). So get back to fitness and there it goes. 



It was a bit dark when I finished, and getting off of Elidir on to the tarmac was a little sketchy, especially when the wind gusted.

So goals wise; What I didn't factor in was my family life. The addition of one extra shouldn'y be a biggy as there's three already, but I'd forgotten the extra issues of babies, and how a few sleepless nights could impact on the rest of the family dynamic, as well as the extra restriction of my time.

Fitness will have to weight, but posture correction, and strength gains can be slotted in, turning the order of my goals topsy turvy. I'm still confident to tick one or two out of the three by new year.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

My Left Foot

Yet again the blogs been pretty silent. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly its the summer holidays and I have 4 kids. Secondly 6 weeks ago to the day I fubar-ed my ankle with an ill judged dyno while boulder setting at work. I walked it off, and as I could weight bear and still climb a ladder with it I manned up like a neanderthal, strapped it, shoved an ice pack down my sock, and set the remaining 16 blocs and went home. It continued to a) look funny, and b) hurt A LOT when I twisted it. However, I could walk sans limp, proprioception wasn't impaired, and there appeared to be nothing impinged.

Damn soft(ish) tissue eh?

So Its still not right, but on the bright side it almost looks the same as the right one now, and while I still can't get in a tight rock shoe, ledge shuffling in something baggy should be on the cards.

The adventure never stops though, and this time the kids are being dragged along.


The circumnavigation of Llyn Idwal has finally been achieved without nakedness

Having survived the death scree, Ethan mounted the boiler and contemplated the flooded tunnel adventure that awaited..

Ethan likes Pirates
Coasteering. Never be without your spade.

Seren rubbing in the fact that she can climb.

The clan consuming marshmallows

The boys learning appropriate use of lighter fluid.


I.N.S.P.R.E will return when I can at least attempt something.



Thursday, 30 June 2016

I.N.S.P.R.E June 2016

It been over a month since I've had an opportunity to put finger to tablet for this blog. I've been busy busy busy with researching obscure classics patiently waiting for your ascents. I've been trying to find some science to locate boulders under forests, trying to find a new Mymbyr, and trying to be social. So far I'm not getting far with these, but we have had successful birthdays for the missus and Ethan and Dylan, and just as I'm looking at training I spannered my ankle bouldering indoors. However, its on the mend and has encouraged me to turn my attention to exploring, and even entertaining the notion of tying on and doing something conventional.

So back to I.N.S.P.R.E.
I've three doozies in the pipeline, from messr's Brown, Pritchard and Crook, but the deal is I want to at least try them first. Therefore, rather than produce some thing half baked, I thought I'd bring you the second of my own offerings....


Bring Me The Head of Don Quixote

Photo courtesy of Ray Wood (I'm sure he wont mind, I scribbled on it and everything)

This is myself on the second ascent, following my first ascent. As far as I'm aware it hasn't had a third ascent (despite being all written up in the guide and everything).

On the first ascent, I was being belayed by Chopper Charlie, an enthusiastic and unencumbered individual, who may have lacked some common sense back then. Hence when I asked him to tie off a rope so I could seesaw abb back down, he just wrapped it round the pinch between two large slate boulders. The ropes were half cut through by the time I was on the ground. Hence his nickname.

E2 5a is a strange and often off putting grade. However, anyone operating in adventurous territory at the E3 level shouldn't gibber. The gear at the pedestal is very good, and there's still reasonable microwires after that. Just build a solid belay out of wires on the ground to abb off...


Its pretty cool. Freestanding towers are pretty cool, reasonable name too.



Back to blowing other peoples trumpets next month.




Thursday, 26 May 2016

Adventures in Editing

Ok, this is a bit geeky, but luddite as I am, I've managed to splice a couple of different takes together from different angles. I was going to hold back on posting on every little trip I made to Mymbyr, as it may get monotonous. This bloc, however, is dear to my heart.

Happy Feet is a F6B+ in the Feidr Fŵ cluster. Its fair to say its a marmite route (big G never even pulled on), and if it was another foot above the ground it'd be ace. Back dabs aside, its just big grin harmless fun, and really difficult to describe. Hence trying this vid.


video


Hopefully you get the idea. Shortly after this I tried hard-ish on the other prominent bloc of this cluster; The Heel Keel 6Cish and gave myself one of those flip top finger type f'lappers that ended play. Fortunately its half term next week, so no climbing anyway...

....And I may have spotted another obscure boulder field...

Laters

Friday, 20 May 2016

Business Time

The initial thing that drew my eye when scoping out Dyffryn Mymbyr from the road that first time was this big towering thumb of rock. That turned out to be rubbish, however, the second thing was this big white slab...

This turned out to be very high and quite thin with a lovely texture. I knew Julian Lines had been exploring up here with Paul Higginson, so in my mind it became the Lines' slab (or should that be the Slab of Lines').

The Slab in the background, with Higg's wonderful 30ft slopey traverse in the foreground


10 years later and loads of fun down the line I finally took it upon myself to pull my socks up (Business Socks) an get it done. Comedy ensued as my highball abbing rope, while long enough for any sensible height highball, wasn't quite long enough when the only belay was miles up the hillside. So with the top half cleaned and played upon, I plopped off the end onto the mats to have a stare at the bottom half.

Fortunately for my nerves it went 1st go:
video
My guess is that its about 6B! with the crux in the 1st third. A really nice highball, and one for any slab fanatic.

My Second point of business was the Mighty 'Tashe Traverse. my name for the boulder, but Higg's problem. I'd climbed it from a sit in the middle, but the first half always bamboozled me. This time armed with Solutions, I managed as far as the first big move, but weakness crept in like damp. I switched to trying the sit from the middle again:

video
three bleeding moves from the end... Damn it, there's always something to come back for at Mymbyr...

See! I tried hard(ish)

Come and play.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I.N.S.P.R.E. May 2016

Like many, I was inspired by this pic on northwalesbouldering.com:
Bingo Wings (V7)
mystery crag?
(contact for details)

Sometime later Big G spilt the beans in this BOTM, it was over on the darkside of Mymbyr..

I should clear up the Darkside thing, its not that this side gets less sun than the other, its just it misuses the force, its full of bogs, and hides all its worthwhile boulders. I digress...

The issue Bingo wings had, was that at the time (pre CROW) it was a little bit tricky to access. couple this with the land owner enjoying a peaceful life, being based on a hill in the middle of the valley and always in earshot... Lets just say it was decided to let things lie.


Time moves on, CROW happens, Ioan Doyle shears the landowners sheep, and the frenzy of virgin boulder hunting has died down. By the time I started poking around on this side of the valley he was quite happy for me to pop through his farm (on foot) to go for a wander. This is the view from the last of his gates:

And this is the best way to get to the Bart Stone...


It keep off the worst of the bog, avoids this:


And wanders past this attractive slopey traverse



The Bart Stone rears into view..


Artists impression....


The next three are a selection of warm ups...




So I'd come all this way (all of 20 mins from the car no less) to visit this ill frequented purported classic. I've just had 2 months off resting my shoulder until I was sure it wasn't buggered, just before that I'd climbed my hardest outdoor bloc, also 7A+. So naturally I assumed it would be a goer.

What I found was a massive slightly overhanging block of dolerity sandstoney stuff. the problem broke down into a dyno for a pinch (from a hanging start off an obvious jug), a big rockover, and a lurch for the top.

So a layoff followed by trying to equal your highpoint with a power based ( short intensive) bloc. This was always going to end well, wasn't it?


video
The two sections I managed

Powerful, simple and elegant moves, what's not to love? I needed to change to my solutions for the rockover, but my power is still a way off returning, and when it does, I will return also.

Approach- So park near RAC boulders and walk through Garth farm ( the one with the campsite). Please ask permission to do so as you meet them, they are really nice people who don't want hassle, so be polite and always shut the gates. They're not keen on crowds so small posse's I reckon. Follow the track, round the right, past the weather station and down the other side to the last gate. The piccy at the top should now make sense.

Wellies are a must for the above approach...


Enjoy! (not too loudly)