Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Enjoy the Silence

Life can get too busy. I've come to treasure the small moments of calm, even better when they coincide with a lack of rain..

The morning mist gave way to warm autumn sun, a nod from the wife and I was released back up to Marchlyn. The blog title song has become synonymous with this place for me. It was even a working title for The Big Project. However, I'm beginning to be worn down by that. If I get very strong, I can envisage myself making most of the individual moves, but linking them together seems another step up altogether. I also may have to admit my arms are too short, there is a big span I can make with my face pressed against the rock, but it would involve a massive throw to gain this.

Ouch.

Instead on dwelling on fading dreams, this visit was to try and nail the properly feasible projects. My opening up of the left side of the boulder, had exposed a whole new line, and made controlling the swing on the low start to Seamus less crucial. Upon arrival, I found the early morning fog, the blazing sun, and lack of breeze, had reduced the boulders friction somewhat. It was the worst conditions I had encountered up here to be honest, the usual spiky velcro friction reduced to the consistency of a drowned mouse. Chalk and lots of brushing removed some of the summers green, but the conditions made my warm ups proper battles. I'm looking forward to return here once the winter bites a bit more.

Still. I continued to enjoy the silence, a protracted and pant filling battle saw me topping out on the original Seamus in preparation for an attempt on the low start. However, it was all a bit touch and go, and when the mat was in position for the low start, the top was unprotected. That and I couldn't get off the deck.

Not wanting to leave empty handed I turned my attention to the unclimbed sitter to the left. This depended on two poor holds reached from a sitter. the first being a directional curved crimp held in a gaston, the second a hand position dependent pinch (fingers needing to be in a blind rail). unfortunately, the feet meant the slap into the pinch was a bit all or nothing.

The Cutter was about 6B+/C


video

I really need some company up here next time, just someone not too chatty..

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Territorial Husbandry

Thought it best I get another blog out, as I try to get back into the swing of things now schools back in. However it appears September is not playing ball. Rather than an indian summer, we seem to be getting a soggy one.

However, if you turn back at the first sign of defeat, you'll never get anywhere... And there is always something to do in North Wales.


"If You Settle for Nothing Now..."

So off I Headed into The Mizzle.


The Plan was to tidy up my Marchlyn projects so that I can Start actually ascending some. They got a brief mention in NWB, and this has spurred me into action to get the two lines I've emotionally invested in done. Okay, it should be noted that I do bang on about projects, included these fairly publicly on this blog (and at work, the pub, bus queues etc.), But seeing it in printed on the page has got me jittery..

So back to slogging through the mizzle..

It stopped, which allowed me to admire the view, and play candy crush, which took my mind off the slogging. Usefully, my slight vulnerability to addictive behavior, seems only to apply to  boring things like rocks, comics and kids games, rather than heroin.


I even got a rainbow...


Once at appropriate Altitude, I was pleased to discover a new alternative approach to my bloc (always learning), and settled down to two hours of moving things from one place to another.

The Result!

The Patio is now higher more level, and well on its way to being wider too. I've also opened out the left side of  the boulder, which has presented exciting new opportunities. My main focus is now the sit start on Seamus (the vertical seam in the foreground). It will start off the flake in the steepness below. Its merely quit hard, whereas the true sit into the Tumbleweed stand is still feeling beyond feasibility. However, whilst lugging rocks on this trip I concocted a mishmash sequence based loosely on my original fantastical plan, with just enough bits of my cop out beta to market it to my cynical creaky self.

It may even work, but I need a pilgrimage to Feidr Fw to get a training montage on. Historically this is where I beat myself fit, as I've yet to keep myself off the ouchy stuff indoors enough to sustain a serious unbroken montage.

Meanwhile...  There's nothing to see here...

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Summer Luvin' Part Two

Almost got to this before September...

As I Type, The gorgeous wifey has escaped to the climbing wall to prevent herself murdering our  tribe (or me).
The boys have had a spirited bedtime with much throwing of toys out of the proverbial pram..
All is now silent as the first week of the school term takes its toll.

However the second half of the hols was still ace!
Taking the boys to RAC boulders, Logan actually wanted to climb this with no prompting from his old man, he did some sensible climbs too. Ethan however was more into making  camps with bouldering mats.

I even got to tie a rope on. Around my birthday, Wolf dragged me out and  we went slate climbing. Its been a while, and  we settled on doing a classic neither of us had tried yet; Central Sadness. Strangely, I had no mojo to lead, its been far too long since I've lead trad, certainly since anything remotely challenging anyway, and I had no desire to get scared. Wolf cruised it, although I did get to introduce him to ballnuts and how to secure slings with tensioned skyhooks...

Next Adventure was camping at Rhoscolyn!
I can't recommend the campsite at Outdoor Alternative highly enough. All the mod cons, and once there, all the family adventure you could need just a walk away. (There's even B-Active on site if you want some new outdoor experiences, or forgot your gear...)

Mini crags to conquor

Marshmallows by the campfire

Seren admiring the Sea

Proper Bo, as Fatneck Might Say..

Most of our time was spent doing things in a wetsuit, so I hadn't taken piccies. Lots of Coasteering, getting dad nerves as my 8 yr old jumps off cliffs I wussed out of...
Also a lot of rockpooling. Theres a large pool that drains slowly as the tide falls, and for the second year a row I found it complete with a swirling shoal of hundreds of tiny blue fish. Proper special.

After recovering from this active week, I picked up My copy of the new bouldering guide. I'm certainly very chuffed at the volume of my boulders to have made the cut. I promptly photoed some pages and sped off to Pacman Boulders, which I had yet to visit. he directions made sense, although as usual I doubted and reinterpreted them on my approach attempt and ended up scrabbling a bit (I'll behave next time). I was pleasently suprised to get a few 6C's second go, and generally enjoyed myself.

All bodes well for this winter.


We even walked the boys a way up Elidir.. (looking at our tiny house)

Major event. We Bought Chickens!
Although not this mini one (yet..)

Will's Chickens is on Anglesey, and has hundreds of varieties. Will has 7 kids himself, so was happy to let our lot loose to hug a chicken.

Our 5 Girls exploring our garden.

So there you go, Summer holidays survived, all I need now is the rain to stop so I can start my Autumn Campaign!


Watch  this space.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Summer Luvin' part one

Summer holidays are upon us, and between the build up to the holidays (where my tribe of chaos monkeys become overly tired and excited at the same time), and the actual kids holidays, I ain't been very active.

The following is a summary of the last month:

Micro adventure number one!
Must try harder, or rather, try to try harder. Hence I cycled up to the Marchlyn dam to see if  the little bit of extra training I've been doing has made the sit projects anymore possible. The answer is possibly yes... The little puppy in the vid is Seamus 6Cish:

video
Of all the sit projects this one gave a little ground this trip. As in I got more than 1 move off the ground on it. 2 mats, or a spotter would certainly make it easier to commit.

While I was up there I also took the time to repeat Livesey's Love Child 6B for the vid:

video

First time with a mat and yes, it did feel easier / less deadly this time...

Away Trip!

Yep I left Wales! This was an opportunity to meet up with a friend Andy "Ex-Ex Climber" Farnell who I hadn't climbed with for 25 years or so, as well as hooking up with Simon "Fatneck" Huthwaite and their friend Caleb "'King" Ainsworth. Fun was had bouldering at Blackstone edge in Lancs, yes that was fun, bouldering , and Lancs all in one sentance. Twice for the pedants.


"'King" Caleb throwing shapes on Trig Arete

Posers

Not doing the 7A.

I has a great time shooting the breeze and hustling the rather warm 6A+'s. I even got accused of schooling them when I hadn't been on Peak grit for 4 years or so....

However, I omitted to mention all the Welsh grit out the back of my house

Marchlyn Bach's petite boulder field. 

One of the few nice-ish blocs. It was here I spent Micro Adventure Number Two!


I've known about this bloc for a couple of years, but never dragged a pad there. I didn't this time either, as I was only out for a walk and scooter. However, I'd packed my boots just in case, and decided to venture onward old school. The following vids are second ascents, as my first attempts and ascents were somewhat trepidatious and took forever.

video
The central line eng. 5c


video
The right hand seam, somewhat more eng. 5c


Micro Adventure Number Three!
Exercising the Monkeys of Chaos. Finally built up the courage to take them on some ladders in the quarries.


Dylan and Ethan in Indy's minecart

Logan Ethan and Dylan all attempting to smile for the camera.. Honest

Old Quarry rules, mainly broken

Dylan brought the roof down..

Playing the Oil Drum Glacier Gong Harp

Logan discovering the magic brown crystals


Being a safe dad and employing a rope...

The Cowboy was the reason for Ethan's Choice of outfit.

Fortunate given the alternatives..


So Plenty weeks more fun to come. I'm sure I'll report in before September...

Have fun Y'all

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Scurryfunging

To Scurryfunge is an old English verb, meaning to rush around cleaning when company is on their way. The North Wales Bouldering Guide is imminent, and guess what? some of my playthings have made the cut. This got me thinking about the fun I've had, and whether I'd left any low hanging fruit. I was keen to revisit Moose's wall, an ex BOTM, and one of my first major makeover efforts back in 2011 (trying to bring it back to its 90's glory).

I visited this spring and gave it a prune and scrub, the abseil sapling is now a study young tree, and I soon cleaned up the plumb lines of The Biggun 6B! and Something, Something Darkside 7a!. The other lines to the right are rather extravegantly over grown, and I haven't excavated them yet (even back then I hadn't bothered digging out the crack to the left of the Biggun).


This days actual climbing was somewhat hampered by the previous nights pilates session. My upper body was operating tiptop, however I had rather a lot of difficulty connecting it to my lower half. Technical finger jams are rather unforgiving on popping feet....


Returning in June and Summer has sprung. Father's Day allowed a return visit, and I found the bracken to be flourishing. I experimented with a rolling road of bouldering pads, that did the trick.


I also borrowed a little yankee knowhow to protect against technical finger play..


Any finger jams that depend more on the middle two fingers tend to spread the load in part on the other wrigglers. Its only the outer two that have to suffer alone sometimes.

Armed with determination and tape, I got up The Biggun once more. Its a totally satisfying exercise, versed in a variety of jamming techniques and well worth seeking out. Hers a vid of how it went:


video

Following this success I had a go at linking the start of Something Something Darkside into The Biggun. The midges descended as I made it across the new ground, and beans deserted me as The Biggun loomed. More unfinished business.

With rain forecast, I chanced my arm last night with an adventure with Ben to finish things off. Despite high humidity and looming midge storms we bravely set off on my old Lower Clegir Circuit.

Starting with Z Boys Arete 6A+! (also in the new guide I understand)

A balancey trixsome affair, hampered by midges. However, both ascended and we hoped to escape down to Moose's wall, which may get the breeze off the lake.

The midges Abade..

Despite these little drill sergeants, the link was made. The Name "Something Big" felt Apt and it felt  6B+/C! ish. it was only a couple of moves more in the end, but a more intense start made the Biggun's crux more explicit. The Video is worth watching for Ben's Midge Dance as he spotted:

video

Ben had a go, but after I abseiled onto his head, the midges had us in retreat. I persuaded him that the Crack House (the next station of the circuit) would be in the breeze and midge free, so we set off once more.


I forgot about the Flourishing Bracken...

Foolishly I forgot to take any photo's of our antics once the bushwhacking ceased, however, here's my good self accidentally photographing myself  there this spring.


And here is a 7 year old photo of myself climbing Shed Party which back then I gave 6B+. One of the highlights of this visit was trying to repeat it, with hazy knowledge of what I'd actually done, and a conviction that the hands had to stay on the Arete (unlike in the photo). I managed this by the skin of my teeth, and it probably wasn't 6B+. It was good though, and as the crack house isn't in the new guide as far as I'm aware, I guess this is the new line of Shed Party.


Walking out via Ben's impressive swathe of destruction.

All in all I'm rather happy, and I hope you'll enjoy visiting these little tributaries of the New Bouldering guide. Remember; there's treasure everywhere.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Somewhat Monsieur Mangetout

So Here I am, ostensibly a boulderer, looking for bouldering projects, abet often highball ones. Alright I also like a bit of adventure, a bit of wild trad, some thrutch and totter.

... But a Sport Climber?

For the first time since the Beast in Me, I've got the drill out. It was supposed to be a highball project, but I soon decided that the difficulty at height that it presented was too much like Yves Klein.

So the little highball project became a little bolty proj. A little plaything.


Actually its a Monster.

Its only 6-7 meters, but it overhangs by just under a meter and only has about 3 horizontal crimps on it. I placed two bolts for runners, and a lower off bolt. It was around this point I realised It was pointlessly hard. I mean, surely a project is something you can play on, enjoy, and get done in a reasonable time frame?
I've had two sessions on it now, I filmed the first, waste of time that was. I ended up chopping a few stills out (below) and ditching the footage. I wasn't climbing, I was clawing. 
Second visit was on a windy day as midge season is upon us. Unfortunately the bay is sheltered, and the midges descended like 1000 Tom Randall's demanding "One More Rep!"
Driven by these micro drill sergeants I grappled once more. Surely its too hard? I should give it away... But everyone needs a challenge.
Rather than drown under the immensity of eating a Cessna 150 Airplane, I endeavored to break the scale of the task into bite size pieces:
It seems..
7A+ to 7B to the first bolt
then
7A+ to 7B to the second bolt
then
7A+ to 7B to the lower off

Ok that didn't help.
Right
Individual body positions in each section.
first is 9, I've held one so Far
Second is 11, I've held three so Far
Third is 15, I've held nine so Far

Total Hand Moves is 17
I've managed:
0 in first section
1 in Second section
4 in third section

Something to work on then Once the Midges subside.
I feel rather like a prisoner of war who's stolen a Spoon
All quite Fun
Project: "Swamp Thing" is on








Midgy bitesies


Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Cut Throat World of Esoteric Bouldering

Its a harsh reality that I dwell in an area where esoteric boulderists are rife. Throw a rock into any boggy, pebble-strewn hillside in North Wales and your bound to hit one, flagrantly prospecting....


So when I heard a rumour that Noel "The Doctor" Craine and Mark "Daisy" Lynden were running sorties into My current stomping Ground of Cwmfynnon, I was compelled to action!

Sort of...

Obviously there's treasure everywhere, and I have been known to brazenly fling the hard one fruits of my own prospecting to the masses like a bride with her bouquet. However I had found something special last winter and was keen to head the rustlers off at the pass.

Ben Ryle, my medium to long term partner in adventuring was recruited and we headed off today high into the bowels of Cwm Fynnon. High, because the boulders in question were at the same altitude (contour even) as the Mallory Boulder. Luckily Ben has his ML so I let him lead.
Height gained we quested inward

This turned out to not be the boulder we were looking for, However, it was quite close.


This is the Boulder!

We chose the left side slab as our warm up, It proved to be trixome and a little snappy under foot. much plopping off ensued. Ben Is just about to plummet in this pic...

I eventually bagged the summit. Here is the FA vid of "Pop 'til you Drop" 6A+ish
video

After that it was onto the main event. I Dragged Ben up because I really wanted to do this overhanging blue collar offwidth. It started at fists and flared to 7 inches. it was tall, and it was scary.
Here is the FA Vid:
video

There Will Be Blood 6Cish with a ! for Fear!

The widening of the crack coupled with the gentle overhang meant that I was whitey-ing in seconds. A climbing robot would have inverted early, stacked, and spun back round into a knee lock at  around 4m. I swam, laybacked, compressed and threw a calf lock in, all of which just convinced me I had to top out or face calamity. Fair to say it was emotional.

After that I had a bit of a lie down, and left Ben to bag the rest of the FA's

Here he is on Conventional Acrobatics 6B ish, complete with comedy tripod collapse:


video


And here I am bravely repeating it, despite still being pumped and jiggidy from There Will Be Blood. You can see the angle of the wall (and the offwidth) in this pic.

After this we popped down a level and Ben got his own Highball done in the form of this fairy pretty slab "The Slab That House Built" 6B! ish:

video
The name cam from the tunes pumping out his phone during the Attempt.

I was spent by this point, and only half heartedly attempted the slab. Retreat was called for, However, our path down took us past Big G's Running Jam, and I couldn't resist talking Ben into us having a play. Much fun ensued, as can only be had by tired hill walkers, physically spent battling scary boulders, attempting to jam horizontally over a bog:


video


I feel the need for a more conventional outing.. Just not yet.

(Anyone wishing to repeat these unconventional delights, quest up to the Mallory Boulder, then contour into the bowl of Cwmfynnon. After 250m they should be just above you.)




Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ain't Nothin But a G Thang

February's Boulder of the Month dropped into my life like a Mentos into a bottle of Coke. I'd been looking for an A-frame boulder choke to get my offwidth on ever since I'd found Happy feet at Feidr Fw almost a decade ago. Now not only had G found one, but he'd made it public, open even. Frantic texts confirmed it was still unclimbed, although Martin Crook had slithered West to East in a child's wetsuit to create "The Chubby Behemoth". It was the journey East to West; rising through the flare, That had both G and I excited.

Two days later Messrs Crook, Smith and Loxton rolled into the wall and the jostling began, My expressed interest was met by wry grins and sucking of teeth. George was keen to compare it to the hallowed 90's desperates of technicality and strain, and Bet me a Quid I wouldn't do it.

I started stretching.

Crook was keen for the crack and Invited Action Pic Legend Glen Robbins along for the ride. Wednesday (15th March, I've been waiting for Glenn's pics) was decided on as it may not rain... (This is Wales).

I gave up stretching, what would 3 days of stretching do?

See? Glenn Robins is so good he can even make me look purty. All pics are his, ask him before you rob them.


Wednesday came and the sun shone. Martin was dismissive of the need for wellies for the approach, and trusting his experience I left them in the car. 5 minutes later, I was bouncing between diminutive pebbles bobbing in the muck, wobbling islands of cleanliness. Mental note, if this was going to be a siege, bring wellies.

Tucked away in the scree below Craig y Gesail the boulder poked into view, Tighter and deeper than I'd imagined from the pics, Damn wide angled lens. Crawling through I saw what my have stopped Big G, as the clearance was a bit on the low side. fortunately my torso was an altogether shorter package, and he could dig it out after I've snatched it right?

With a quid at stake, I set about brushing and analyzing, visualizing and scheming. I knew it was going to be an awkward invert, and although I had some ideas how to pivot for the exit, I saw I was going to have to fight.

First go got me into the invert, and shortly onto my head. A swift talk to myself, and a leaf through the mental toolbox of cloven hoof technique saw me set off of take two. Man I shuffled hard! trying to pull the slopers into a chicken wing I felt both Quads cramp and snarl. Head plant no. 2.




It was a pretty attractive area. Ideal for lingering in and licking wounds. Martin and Glenn were perfect to shoot the breeze with, and in between shooting said breeze, I mused on the exit. Encouraged by Martin, I hand standed into my highpoint to play with some pivot ideas. Dropping one hoof I lunged for the arete, and almost got it too, before my shoe crept off my heel and I plopped out once more.

Well it was a good spot for a siege, but I knew it was possible... Rest. Breeze must be shot.

Quid's a quid, Lets Do it.








Randy Roof is easier than Georges Crack, and Comparable or maybe a touch harder than Big Bad Bari. Its named after my recent inspiration from Randy Leavitt; Offwidth legend and recently kicking some serious butt crack on Instagram. Cruising wide aged 55 or so. Still time for me then...

Turns out The flurry of chalk attracted other would be contenders. While hardly a trade route it pleased me to find this link to Mid Wales' Wad Mike Allday bagging the second ascent, and demonstrates how strong  he is by facing the other way...

I'm a Happy Bunny.