Saturday, 17 December 2011

Giveaway project of the Month - December

As you may have inferred by the quietness of this blog, and the passing rumblings of brokeness, I'm a little out of action at the moment. Plus the weather hasn't been conducive to owt either. The new year will, however, hopefully bring wholeness, adventure and a bit more free time...
Right, back to the giveaway. This Christmas I thought this might be an appropriate little teaser:
Chwarel muriau gwynion mawr, in the fachwen section of  Llanberis slate, uphill quadrant of the hole (but still requires a sensitive approach).

20-30m of clean knife edge arete. some sun. not many holds.

enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - November

This rather beautiful and knife edge bow arête was a chanced upon whilst having a upper dinorwig scramble day. I squirrelled it away as a project for myself for when a moment presented itself.
However, enjoying as I am some freedom from pursuing projects, I am free to clear some clutter from my head space.
Its on the same level as pitch 4 of Big Thursday. I originally thought trad, considering its position. But a sport route in this position with this approach appeals to my sense of perversity. and avoids the top out.

Go enjoy

Monday, 21 November 2011

Red Right Hand

Got out with Wolf this Saturday, a quick hit on the slate was called for as I had to be home before sundown..

My shoulder had been playing up from a particularly brutal boulder setting day at the Beacon, and I was a bit nervous how I would fare. However, after seconding the first route I deemed it serviceable enough for now.

We'd hit Railtrack and it was in the sun, and despite a few avoidable wet streaks it was in pretty good nick. I'd not been down here since the ack ack of new router's and so the guidebook came out. Red throated diver seemed to have changed with all the footholds through the crux being plenty roomy- not what I'd remembered at all. That's popularity for a friable slate venue I guess, a fair bit softer anyway.

Crazy Train was as good as I'd heard, and despite a few razors left, a pleasant experience.

We had a wander round, and ended up on the Rognon catching the last of the sun. This meant I could clean up a niggle in my mind and lead a variation of Abbatoir Blues I'd top roped some time before. The Red Right Hand Variation traverses right when the 2nd bolt is just below your knees to gain the red groove, which is taken to the top. I climbed up to the 3rd bolt first, for added security, probably giving an overall E2 6a, those with more to prove can clip the 3rd bolt later from the groove to get the E4 tick. The groove is soft and wood like, a hold did detach near the top, so the name does seem apt.

We used the Australian to escape back to the car. However the access bolt at the base of MIL arete has been vanished, and Wolf belayed me up off a braced stance (he's a strong boy). I hadn't noticed this and proceeded to get him to tie me off on his plate so I could stand on the edge and haul up the bags... Boys outing indeed.

I was late and had to face the wrath of Sam, and also both Haston sisters. Fear did occur. However, I got off lightly with babysitting while Sam had a girls night out.

Happy Days

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bonza's Blocked

After seeing a thread on UKC Regarding Lost world and access to Bonza crack I took a trip up to see what the fuss was about, See exactly how blocked / shored up it was etc.

Here's the tunnel

What I found inside...
Basically it aint how I left it last time I was here! a slight collape from the roof before the tunnel mouth means although light still comes through and a wriggler could wriggle, they'd likely be squashed like a bug. Here's a shot I took before the fall from outside:
And here is yesterday:
You'll notice the outer skin is unchanged, however the floor of the tunnel is definitely raisedand the block on the left behind the outer skin has dropped down. I'd guess that although you could abseil in to start it, while the move may be the same, the stability of the outer skin might be questionable on a macro scale.

Coincidently, a diagonal fault on the wall between Harold Void and the ladders has got a couple of inches wider too. If there is a big freeze this winter I expect there will be some geology in action!

Unlike most Guidebooks, Llanberis Slate suffers not only from New router's putting it out of date, but the actions of the quarry itself. (Nant Peris quarry lost 90% of its routes to rockfall while the guide was at the printers)

Unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking..

Went Well last night, although the fact that the kids got me up at 6 this morning meant I wasn't as erudite as I would have liked to be. Also people were asking some very interesting questions that I'd wished I could have spent more time on, however, I over ran as it was.
Looking back there was a different slide show I could have done, that would have answered people in a more satisfying way.
I thought I'd have another stab on here at some of the questions asked.

-Climbing loose and scary stuff again and again, what drives you back?
A route consists of a line through space. Quality lies in the aesthetics of the feature, the experience of movement, and the overall effect of the process. For me the quality of the journey of the is a culmination of these things, and is found in the questing rather than always in the finished product. An outward journey can be mirrored by an inner one.

-Aren't you afraid of killing yourself?
Without risk adventure is meaning less, but to get meaning out you have to survive. So minimising risk is key. My personal strategies are three fold:
Immerse yourself in the language of the environment. Learn the character and moods of the rock, converse and insinuate into its flow. This required regular contact, and for a time I was fluent in slate choss, but like any skill, lack of practice causes rustiness, hence recent failure.
Secondly, Listen to the inner voice. I'm a Christian and I believe that we're given enough freedom to take risks and enough advice to prevent calamity. As a dad, I also know what having a risk-taking kid is like, and I don't want to take any of this for granted. Times and seasons and all that.
Thirdly, always have an exit strategy, always see the avenues of retreat, and see that failure is always valuable.

Friday, 4 November 2011

For One Night Only....

I'm Headlining!

Its the launch evening for Llanberis Slate; the Ground Up guide I've given myself to for the last n years.
It should be a fun night with climbing superstar and co author Pete Robins, and champion of accessible slate Colin Goodey both giving stellar presentations. Martin Crook may be beaming in from Kalymnos too..
Those of you who have suffered my LLAMFF talks in the past may recognise a few slides, but hopefully there will be some new abuse from the audience...

So 11th of September 730pm at the Caban, Brynrefail. Come along and please refrain from throwing stuff 'cos I'll cry.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thursday's Lesson

Failure is a powerful stimulus. Retreat teaches humility, and rescue allows a second chance at not dying.
Things I've learned:

  1. I may not be the choss hound I once was.

  2. I can still make reasonable decisions.

  3. When the crack smells of fish, its time to back off.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hats On!

And its had a wash.

Winter is 3 weeks early

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Curse for a New Router

Is Contentment
Those of you waiting for an update on The Beast..
It may not be forthcoming this winter, as Wales is doing its thing, and it abides in the shade sporting a heather and bilberry headdress.
However, its not forgotten and it certainly would be a suitable coda for the present.

Bouldering, on the other hand, is another receptacle of seafood entirely, and Elidir is not far from my thoughts..

Friday, 21 October 2011

An Alternative List

After much digesting of the new Llanberis Slate guide, I'm on the cusp of some form of enlightenment:

  1. I have been far too busy looking for unclimbed rock when the climbed bits are quite good

  2. I may have a diferent view on what makes a good slate experience...

Traditional views on what makes a good slate route:

  1. Strong line

  2. Memorable moves

  3. Reliable protection

  4. Trustworthy rock

  5. Wanting to climb that route again

In my quests and foray's into the slate realm I've been drawn to a slightly skewed criteria:

  1. Memorable setting

  2. Magnetic line

  3. Guarenteed adventure

  4. An intimate psychological experience

  5. A Good Name

Therefore, here is my alternative slate list:

  1. Act Naturally (p77) Still my favorite VS.

  2. See you Bruce (p81) My first E3 lead (back when it only had 2 bolts).

  3. Big Thursday (p56) Inspected but not started yet (still toying with a solo like Buffer).

  4. The Serpent Vein (p97) A memorable belay duty.

  5. Dali Mirror (p102) Sandbag-tastic.

  6. California Arete (p119) best experienced in solitude.

  7. Fruit of the Gloom (p122) an equal balance of desire and revulsion.

  8. Taith Mawr (p172) (trumpet blowing alert) a proud moment.

  9. Bushmaster with the Scorpion finish (p172) all that is good about Joe Brown routes.

  10. Josy Puss (p181) the line! the line! (still lacking courage).

  11. Rainbow of Recalcitrance (p203) one day..

  12. Come inside (p225) again, a good solo experience.

  13. Liquid Armbar (p290) (trumpet blowing alert) distilled sweat in a jewel of an arena

  14. Bring me the head of Don Quixote (p299) (trumpet blowing alert) I didn't give it stars in the guide as it's specialist enjoyment, but a stout adventure in another surreal hole.

  15. Giddy Variations on a Theme (p304) less a line, more a desire.

Five left to do

A Host of Stars..

As the last post of geekery seemed favourably received, I thought I'd allow my self some more.
(that and the rain, and the fact I haven't climbed outside yet this month)
Three Star Routes by their areas!

Bus stop

  1. Fool's Gold

  2. Forsinain Motspur

  3. Geordie Warcry

  4. Scarlet Runner


  1. Looning the Tube

  2. Big Thursday

  3. Wish You were Here

  4. G'day Arete

  5. The Serpent vein


Holy Holy Holy


  1. California Arete

  2. Wedlock Holiday

  3. Spider Pants

  4. Central Sadness

  5. The Big Sur

  6. Waves of Inspiration

  7. Stairway to Silence


  1. Seamstress

  2. Seams the Same

  3. The Medium

  4. Heading the Shot

Never Never land

  1. Never Never Land

  2. Short Stories

Monkey Bar area


Twll Mawr

  1. Coeur de lion

  2. Blockhead

  3. The Quarryman (****)

  4. The Fire Escape

  5. The Wonderful world of Walt Disney

Lost World

  1. The Wall Within

  2. Dinorwig Unconquerable

Colossus Wall

  1. Shazalzabon

  2. Jack of Shadows

  3. Light and Darkness

  4. Big Wall Party

  5. Major Headstress

  6. Ride the Wild Surf

  7. Great Balls of Fire

  8. Colossus

Rainbow Slab

  1. Pull My Daisy

  2. Chewing the Cwd

  3. Released From Treatment

  4. Naked Before the Beast

  5. Rainbow of Recalcitrance

  6. Bungles Arete

  7. Poetry in Pink

  8. The Very Big and the Very Small

  9. Raped by Affection

  10. Cystitis by Proxy

  11. Splitstream

  12. Stiff Syd's Cap

  13. Prick up Ureas

  14. Cwms the Dogfish

Rainbow Walls

  1. Vermin on the Ridiculous

  2. Chitra

  3. The Untouchables

  4. The Mau Mau

  5. SilverShadow

  6. True Clip

  7. German School Girls

  8. Spong (is good for you)

  9. L'allumette

  10. Manatese

  11. The Dark Half

  12. Heatseeker


  1. Dawes of Perception

  2. Bobby's Groove

  3. Soap on a Rope

  4. Dope on a Rope

  5. Bathtime

  6. Gin Palace

  7. Comes the Dervish

  8. Flashdance

  9. Flashdance/Belldance

Glyn Rhonwy

The Bone People

This list includes:

  1. Only 2 routes younger than 15 years old

  2. Only 14 routes of E3/f7a or below

  3. Only 1 route with real objective danger

  4. Only 10 routes I've done (4 more I've failed at)

  5. 31 routes I really should do (without a risk of death, or requiring a hero transplant)

Looks like I'd better get cracking..

Monday, 17 October 2011


I'm right chuffed with the new guide. It seems like a lifetime ago that a pint in the Gallt y Glyn brought me into the Ground up fold. Not only is it a thing of beauty, it gives me an opertunity to be extremly nerdy. Yes I'm a geek and like nothing more than some qualitative analysis of random trivia; in this case the Star ratings on the new guide.
Star ratings are initially arbitrarity applied be the authors (Pete, Simon and I) in relation to some control specimen (in this case the Dervish ***). this subjective round of applause is then glanced at by a crack cadre of nitpickers (the proof reading/ soundboarding team) who may dissagree / notice them.
So how to present my findings? Tables! (wrong data for graphs)
Ok lists, I'm not blog literate enough.
Basically I was wanting to see who saw and delivered the good routes, whose quests were of quality rather than cack.
Up first the Top ten of Slateheads with routes of three stars (or more)

Rank ][ Slate Head ][ No. of *** Routes
1 J Dawes 10
2 D Towse / J Redhead 8
3 P Williams 7
4 G Smith 5
4 N Harms 5
6 S Haston 4
7 C Phillips 3
7 M Crook 3
7 P Pritchard 3
7 J Sylvester 3

As you can see I've put Towse and Redhead together, as in the quarries they were joined at the hip anyway....

The next list is a biggy; The top 20 starred slate heads based on total stars awarded.
After the quantity of stars I've added in brackets this figure divided by the total no. of routes in the quarries that they've sired - a sort of average star rating....

Rank ][ Slatehead ][ Total no. of Stars (average star rating)
1 J Dawes 42 (2)
2 I Lloyd Jones 41 (0.64)
3 N Harms 39 (1.63)
4 D Towse / J Redhead 36 (2.77)
5 S Haston 35 (1.17)
5 P Pritchard 35 (1.59)
7 P Williams 28 (2)
8 M Crook 26 (1.3)
9 G Smith 25 (1.47)
10 M Raine 22 (1.38)
11 C Dale 20 (1.18)
12 C Phillips 18 (0.43)
13 C Parkin 16 (1.07)
14 C Davies 14 (0.82)
14 J Ratcliffe 14 (1.75)
16 B Wayman 13 (1.08)
16 P Hawkins 13 (1.08)
18 R Drury 12 (1.2)
18 J Sylvester 12 (2)
18 M Dicken 12 (0.5)

Rankings in italics are tied. Please note that all data collection and proccessing was fueled either by insomnia or coffee, so may contain some errors.

Make of it what you will....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Things that have made my Day

Taking two of my boys out for a ride through the slate quarries, and not only was it full of people clutching the new guide..

Tim and Nick were on Hamadryad. First time I've ever seen someone on the back wall of Twll mawr who wasn't tied to me on a rope...

Seems like they were having Fun, and the Bastard Bush of Twll Mawr was living up to its name. No real seapage on the back wall at the mo' so its all up for grabs.

Giveaway Project of the Month - October

Yipee! Llanberis slate has now been in the shops (although the first batch may have sold out by now - awaiting the slow boat from China) So expect the next few Giveaway's to be slate centric (not much change there) With Page References!

This slightly naff picture is looking at the bottom of Braich, namely the East wall and Vilcabamba (pages 96-97)
The Fin of rock that boasts Where Green ants Dream and is skirted around to gain Buffer in a Crackhouse is seporate from the adjoining level. various spills of slate debris, probably even from working times have dropped in the gap, forming a roof of sorts.
This giveaway is a through trip; I attempted it on several occasions as a single man of limited ties, and each attempt was thwarted by a drastic need for fresh underwear.
All my attempts were from the Buffer side, as the "Floor" of the chamber is higher at this end, thus removing the need to ascend on matter of unknown actuality.
"Floor" is a poor descriptor; more of a mezzanine or catwalk. The protracted tinkling under your feet soon actuates active bridging and allows some further entrance. It was the point where this elevator shuffling requires descent that I chose to retreat for more fragrant delicates.

One for a keen explorer

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - Belated September

Had mega busy week setting for the beginning of this Winter's Bouldering Aggregate for the Beacon, So a bit behind despite wandering round with the pic on my stick for the last couple of weeks...

Ho Hum, Behold Craig Ddaear Drwg:
The rocks in front are a minor distraction, but there's highballs a plenty with a host of arêtes to test yourself on. Some terracing required.

To Find; Drive up the Clegir road from Llanberis and park in the second square cut bay on the right after Filmset. Follow the public footpath for 10m to a left fork, follow this for similar distance over the hill and try not to fall down Craig Ddaear Drwg.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Boom! Back in my happy place!

Basically there's few things that can balance me out quite like completing a project.

Wolf came with me today on a rush mission before Wales started to dissolve..

This is Craig y Giat; a crag I named and developed in 2003. On the map its Bwlch y Dinas but there are a variety of scrappy crags in this trough, and this one is a bit alright (and has a gate).

Direct up the middle to the hanging crack is Desire is Repressed Fire which I originally led with a friend 2 in the pocket to the right at E2 6a, but makes a good V2 highball. Above the rock on the right is Sharks Patrol these Waters, again led at E3 6a but V3 in pad speak, as long as a spotter's perched on the rock. The crag is bound on the left by Chemistry Crack, given VS by us but always soloed without pads, and involving some nifty arm bar work.
The area to the right of Chemistry Crack, between the dark patch and the ledge is now Its not the Years, Its the Mileage an 8m V6. I first pulled on in 2003, having glimpsed the glimmer of a line, a gosamer of possibility threading up the wall from an obvious side pull just in from the arete. The problem was, although it definately existed, grasping it was like capturing a golden snitch made of razor blades. After a clean, ground up efforts were applied, tips ripped, and hair pulled out. Basically back then my fingers were strong, but my core was flaccid, and my feet were therefore not being effective enough at taking the weight off my skin, hence the rippage.

Side view:

Fast forward to my birthday this year and I finally got past this:The Biro hold is rather like holding the pointy end of a biro and using your thumb to gaston off the ball. This obvious masochism is eased by the equvilent of tape jamming gloves:

The Tape Thimble

This didn't work in 2003 (or 2004, 2005...) but something has happened... I may have got better.

Roll on the Beast

Big thanks to Wolf and Cinder the woof, who trudged all the way up this near vertical sea of sedge grass and got to pull on only once before the heavens opened... I owe you a crack at something out the shed

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Beast in me

The beast in me

Is caged by frail and fragile bars
Restless by day
And by night rants and rages at the stars
God help the beast in me

The beast in me
Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye
Might have to be restrained
God help the beast in me

Sometimes it tries to kid me
That it's just a teddy bear
And even somehow manage to vanish in the air
And that is when I must beware
Of the beast in me that everybody knows
They've seen him out dressed in my clothes
Patently unclear
If it's New York or New Year
God help the beast in me

I am currently defeated without ever returning to the Beast project. Its got into my mind "too hard... too hard" and I'm at a loss to disagree. This could be because the kids have limited my sleep to 5 hours a night for the last 4-5 days. It could be my cold. It could be the fact that I only get to climb outside once or twice a month despite living by the best climbing in Gods own country.

What would Mark Twight say?

Better still, what would Johnny say?

I'll be back, and I will climb it.
....but I won't let it own me

Monday, 22 August 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - August

Big Trad one this month, and a good appetite whetter for the arrival of Llanberis slate.
Whilst route checking for the aforementioned guide, I happened to spend rather a lot of time and 160m of static on the back wall of Twll Mawr.
This mighty crucible of adventure was pioneered by Joe Brown himself.
Any hoo, here's a snap shot:

My abb rope cuts across the steps of the Razors edge, the grey slab of the true finish is to the far left, and Taith Mawr skips beneath the overhangs in the top right. You may have noticed the overhanging dolerite arete just left of centre..
Here sweeping up the centre of the pic...
The green arrows are bolt belays placed by myself as means of assisting escape or rescue (and preserving my neck while exploring on abb). They rather lend themselves to a 3 pitches and a scramble direct up the back wall. Pitch one would seem possible between Bushmaster and Razors Edge. Pitch two is a 4c formality. Pitch three would be amazing... and appears to have sufficent weakenesses to allow the climbing (if not my belays) to be trad and bolt free.

I have held onto this rather, but the truth is its out of my league. try not to soil it.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Birthday Session

To celebrate getting older I revisited an old project thats been on the go pretty much since I moved to North Wales

Its highball, but its also quite hard which was the main reason its holding out so long. That and its a bit of a pain to get to, hence I haven't visited for about 6 years.

How did I compare to my younger self?

Previous high point: 3 hand moves

Birthday highpoint: 5 hand moves. Crucially past all the eng6 moves and only 4 eng5 to the easy ground above.

Young skin only took 3 goes to get to this point too..

However, that was probably my weakness and inaccuracy. This time I got over 10 proper goes out the old pads. The Key advantage to my older frame is a proper core which just made things feel Easier.

I should have topped it that day, but suprise at finding myself so high, the solitary pad, and a mindblank on what my feet should be doing thwarted me.

Once the finger pads return and I can Find a spotter willing to drag an extra crashpad Its going to go down!

Its alright this getting older business.

Monday, 8 August 2011

New Shoes, Old Memories

Saturday I got out climbing with Wolf, the joys of August meaning
- It was my birthday at some point, so I was allowed more climbing time
- The aforementioned birthday meant I had some new rock shoes to christen
- It was August, so only Tremadog was dry.

Weeks of not doing much outside, and my wide week making me feel so out of shape I decided to give myself a slap and we stormed off to Zukator buttress to try the Zukator-Grasper connection. I don't know if it was the new boots or just the fatherhood drive kicking in, but I hadn't led E3 at Tremadog before, in fact my only clean E2 was Vector. However, I thought I should stop ducking and diving and take it on the chin.

It was similar on my first grit E3, Smear test at the roaches. Success came when I stopped mucking about and accepted the fall. I seriously thought it was too hard, but my mate had a camera, so I committed to the possibility of airtime and just flipping did it. No fall. In the bag. Done.

History had found me on the Zukator-Grasper connection before. Back in 2004, I was out with a couple I knew, the lad was pretty handy and he led the 1st Zukator pitch. I remember thinking this was quite hard and quite bold, I opted to lead the Grasper 2nd pitch and subsequently fell off. All in all I was Quite knackered, and My intimidation by Tremadog extremes was untarnished. On the way home the couple had an almighty barney and I was Left in the car With the Young lady... The Gentleman off to solo at the cromlech. I took her to the quarries for a route to distract her, and Promptly cratered and got airlifted off.

So Yes this route seemed a good place to get some grit and take on some character.
It went okay actually, starting proper technical, but with gear. Then followed some burl, less gear, then a rest. Gear.
The hard bits above made me think. As did the lack of gear.
Back to the Smear Test. Accepting what you can't change, accepting the consequences of your own actions. Take the step and move.
I didn't remember much of the actual climbing from before, and now its still a mash of hold positions and tight focus on gear slots. But I succeeded. My First Tremadog E3 pitch. I didn't fall off seconding the Grasper pitch either.

Thought it wise to skip the quarries afterward tho'

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Collective Exhale..

Its Gone to the Printers!

Available mid September - Slate Season!!!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

(personally) Significant Repeats!

Liquid Armbar got its 2nd and 3rd Ascent this week from Mssrs Randall and Whittaker who both led, and confirmed its grade and quality. This brings the number of my routes that (to my knowledge) have had more than 1 repeat up to 5!

First a giveaway being taken up and then this within the same month!

Heady times indeed

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - July

Flushed with the success of a project being taken to completion, This month see's some thing a bit different.

You see most of these giveaways are surplus bounty, that would require a divorce and a gratis boarding school for me to complete in their entirity.

This month its something I'm quite keen (and Able) to do

Some of my more dangerous stalkers may remember this

Now The last winter has done its work and the Offwidth in question is prime for a quick abb, lever, brush and garden..

...then it would be ready.

Now I'm focussing on the Beast, I'm quite happy for it to go to a loving home.

Back left of the bay on the far right, once clean (or go au natural for the XS tick) approach by the Liquid Armbar Abb. At the Belay continue abbing to the base of the gully on the left looking in. Belay here. From here it will be 10m of easy slab and crack, followed by 30m of vert to overhanging snaking 7inches to body swallower.

Maybe if you were in the area Filming?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Gestation of an Elephant..

I have just had the chance to give a final read through to a full paper copy of the Llanberis Slate Guide.
Once more dilligent and awake fellows have done the same.....

The Printers Beckons!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Repeatedly banging your head against a wall..

..Occaisionally knocks through at least a small hole!
The First of My Giveaway Projects has been completed.. Sort of.

Yes Black Hole Sun climbs the left arete rather than the Groove, as part of a bigger route.

But after a flurry of texts regarding the influence of the Giveaway, I received the text:

"Hmm go on then. Ian says thanks for the inspiration"

Nuff Said

Get on the Giveaways
Every one a winner... Sort of.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tales of the Golden Monkey

Last evening was at last a chance to mainline some adventure. Adventure, like fire needs 3 main ingredients: A suitable band of adventurers, Suitable weather, and a suitable target.

The weather was warm and dry, Fraser Ball; father to wads, and cracker of obscene jokes was on hand to hold the ropes and destroy my belays, and at last I was revisiting Here.

With Fraser along I could approach the right Eye direct this time (this line was a bit damp last visit) and once through the tunnel we could tackle this:

This was another one of my "probably HVS" projects (the last one was Taith Mawr) that I thought would be a suitable jolly for me and Fraser. It turned out (as usual) to be a bit exciting and tricky. Proper good value, all in all. The sort of thinky, scary, body achey climbing I enjoy. Unlike the Midges that the humid evening invited out to eat us, reppellant left in the bags.....

Ho Hum, Here's the full Description of sorts:

Tales of the Golden Monkey E2 4c, 5c. 20m, 30m.

Named after This, But My memory prefered the cadence of golden to gold.

1. 20m 4c. Start Golgotha side right of the mouth of the skull. Scramble then climb dirct in to the right eye socket.

Follow the tunnel to the Twll Mawr side.

2. 30m 5c. Exit left looking out to find the groove round the corner. Climb this on small to diddy gear with much head scratching and muttering to a ledge, where a continuation groove above (staggered right) spits you out onto the tourist path.

Mark Dicken, Fraser Ball (13/7/11)

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Beast Abides - Diary of annoyance

Sunday - My Climbing partner bails, as in his enthusiasm he forgot he hadn't checked in with the missus since 3 weeks of glastonbury odd jobs. Last minute trip to the cromlech boulders for the company, and pulled on a weekends worth of smeggy chalk.

Monday - Bought the kids a new ball which is less sqidgy. One hand on one hand off is harder, but both hands on is easier. Beginning to be able to hop.

Tuesday - Got the block down to 1 min 45 secs. Still feel weak so must move on to something else..

Wednesday - inverted squats. The Wyde boys are due for a tour and my foot is still niggling. The Offwidth volume at work is put to good use as an venue for foot jam physio / torture.

Thursday - Logan woke at five, next door's building work during the day prevented much cat napping, and tea to keep me from killing the kids, and their teething meant a 1am finish.

Friday - Set some nice boulders at the wall, Saw Ian's been busy in Twll Mawr. Excited to try it but feeling a bit territorial. It doesn't take much to make a tired 36 yr old act like a todddler.
Good on him, hope he gets the grooves to the right done too.. and maybe leaves me some trad..

Here's to dry days and the time to enjoy them

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Block Talk

Finally go round to doing the block again, as I must admit lack of motivation has made me ignore it for a couple of months.
Managed 2 mins 15 secs, which is 26 secs off my best, and 19 secs off what I consider acceptable, so I'll attack them again once a week. Sportacus press ups are going well and assisted roof beam pinch pull ups are continuing...

Best of all I've been lent 2 more Rock'n rollers!

The Beast Abides...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

My New Coach

Watching TV with Logan the other day I came across this:

I thought "they look cool" and later on that evening had a go..
It might be because Logan's postman pat football is a tad squidgy, but these turned out to be a bit tricky, and have now been incorporated into my daily routine.

Forget Mark Twight - I have Sporticus!

Monday, 20 June 2011

An Initial Tickle

Had my first foray on the Beast last night. My good friend the esteemed Mr Walters QC (also known as Matt) was visiting after a couple of years in a bunker in Afghanistan drinking Gin. So he was quite up for a bit of a scramble and general mickey taking. He also took a picture or two, which may appear here.

My initial action was to try and weight a Camalot 5 which I had brought along to test. Good News, it pulled straight out so I don't need to waste energy lugging those things back up...

Next was an actual attempt, this provided loads of useful information.

-Rock'n Rollers are old skool cool, but a bugger to get out after you fall on them.

-Its safe if I've enough Diddy cams.

-If I want to get past the 3m mark I have to get a lot stronger...

Entering the jaws is ok, but to succeed I have to then face the other way. It is here, at the start, where there is at least one single real hold (a wide finger-and-thumb-tip pinch) that appears to be the only place to do it.

So this brings me to

-I don't need to revisit until I'm a lot stronger.

There. All pretty positive really, I'll test my core and upper strength soon to see if I can improve significantly there, and other than that Its just getting on some classics and classic offwidths and getting some battle strength up.

all good

Friday, 17 June 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - June

This is now getting a bit tricky really..

I'm now getting to get out a bit which means I'm getting keen to do new stuff again. I've rationed myself to new boulders, and one route a year to prevent obsession getting in the way of family life (the Beast is already causing some serious daydreaming..)
All hunky dory, but I'm not quite getting out enough to refill the reservoir of unclimbed rocks in my head. This means I'm now getting down to stuff I've a real attachment to.
No Worries, once the Slate guide is out of my hair, I can start drawing people's attention to a couple of sweet blank spaces, and maybe I'll get out more...

This month there's a small but perfectly formed blank space, on a little ledge above Prometheus Unbound in Lost world:

The ledge is in the upper right corner, and is reached from the level you must now attain to drop down to the ladders to Kyber pass (since the railway got a little too exciting).

At its end is a lovely steep and economically featured wall with a glaciated top out, keeping it exciting to the end. Would suit bolts, and has a touch of seepage, but very pretty none the less.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Getting Beasted

Well its been an eventful few weeks, I've tied on and been climbing in the real world (Wolf the wad instigated a trip to Llandulas, I wasn't totally weak either...) and my ankle is a bit weak on high stepping foot crimps...

The big news is I was able to clean this years new route project at the weekend
Codename:the Beast in me

Well it was an after work jobby, and with one thing or another I didn't yomp to position until 8.30, This provided me with certain information:
-Walking uphill for protracted periods with heavy bags is quite tiring
-Kiddie tunes buzzing round your head may be debilitating but at least they help you keep pace.

This being a responsible Daddy adventure, the belay involved 4 rope protectors and I was abbing with a shunt line. Very dope on a rope.
The top 5m of the Beast is a little bit scary with a couple of metres of runout, and a smattering of rp's:
THe brownish ledge you can see is the rest before this and the site of the last good cams. You can just about work out the v groove snaking away below this into the dark..

Those familiar with the more exciting parts of the quarries will recognise the fluffy green powder on the walls pre brushing..

This tends to form in the slate crevases and dark dry corners, and indicates the groove stays pretty dry which is good news on the conditions / massive freeze fracture catastrophe front..

Looking down through the main roof:

All I need now is a few more of these:

Micro Cams! or sliders, or any active protection for a parallel slot averaging 7-10mm.

Once I've enough pro, off I'll go!

Watch this space..

(got home at 1am)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Another Crack..

Another trip to the crack house and Receding hair line went down, see here in all its chalked up glory:

(note the clash stunt pad half over the mat and slope, 2 normal mats abutted should be fine..)

A better foot sequence and the belief my fingers were stronger seemed to do the trick. Start off the undercut inside Barred to the Bone and the flatty seen on the arete and follow the seam to glory. You dont use the foot block or cam the crack, but it feels a pretty natural, non eliminaty problem. V5/6 maybe, no Idea..

On to Toe bar, and got offthe ground a couple of times, but its still hard from here. I started thinking, esoteric technique or not, this was still quite hard, then Crack!

Mid Allez, my foot made the same noise my wrist did when I trashed it on a sloper, basically it gave in and noisily let go of its own accord, the Wuss!

Bit sore today but seems to still do what I want it to, might leave Toe Bar tho' as I can't be bothered to enter a specific training bout.

Should be climbing with a rope at the weekend! happy joy joy

Friday, 20 May 2011

Reality Check

Well its been a year since developing my little bits of Clegir. Thursday Provided an opportunity to have a boulder and after a quick Moose Session, I ambled up to The Crack House.
After my Bunker session I was keen to try the test peices of the venue; namely Shed party, the Rake, Toe Bar and Receding Hairline. I knew a lot had changed for me with the arrival of the twins, dodgy wrists and general lack of excercise, and although I'd trained a bit and regained some fitness, I was keen for a comparision. Also I'm currently questioning my ability to grade, even back then, and this meant I was fairly curious how they'd feel.
First up was Shed Party which I'd given V4. Initial impressions was I was certainly bolder before the twins, as the landing was definitely 2 mats and a spotter territory. Not a mortality thing I think, just not wanting to injure myself and therefore missing the few opportunities I do get to climb (and affect my ability to earn..)
Got it done and I think V4 is about right, compared to say Heelhook traverse at the cromlech.
Next up The Rake, again V3 was about right, Its only one move, but a big one.
Tried Receding Hairline next. I'd given it V4/5 and to be honest thats way off. In 4-5 goes I only managed to get 2-3 moves in, and its pretty sustained. Again one mat wasn't enough as it covers some ground laterally. The Issue was my finger strength as I couldn't hold the Hairline seam. If WireBrush crack is a good V5 and the Edge Problem is currently thought V6, Its certainly closer to Edge Problem hardeness.
Toe Bar was a non Starter as I couldn't Pull on. I gave it V4 which is a joke. the hardest move is the initial pull which is mainly driven by the ankles by a double heel-toe. I'd obviously developed this strength lots with my invert bouldering at Feidr Fw, and so with this esoteric skill set it felt easy and therefore V4. I eventually conceeded to a standing start which i got 2nd time.
The Plan is to work both RH and Toebar and its alternate finishes. This will hopefully give some enjoyment as well as buff me up again..

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cylch Session

Got Out for the first time During Logans pre-school class. This miracle of community services means that Monday to Thursday between the hours of 12 and 1430 Logan is entertained and the Twins are asleep. Sam and I can "Do our thing". This meant that Sam did her exercise DVD and I went to Moose's Wall. The top out was promisingly dry, but the lower wall was distinctly Oozy.

Not wanting to waste time, I high tailed it to Clegir as it was in the breeze, and more importantly had phone reception and was near the car in case of Nappy Duties for Logan.

I hung out at the Bunker, which I haven't been to since here.

Since all that Clegir has got quite popular with pebble seekers and these lines have kind of got neglected. Shame really as Huggy Bear and The Wedge gave me a really good session. Even a couple of wet squalls didn't affect it as they were steep enough and sheltered. The Breeze even maintained dryness on the top out slabs and I bagged some thing New. Hug Avoidance starts as for Huggy Bear but after the first throw utilises a toe hook to gain crimps on the slab and rock out right.

So For Harassed Dad's with a spare hour The Bunkers a hit with three worthwhile puzzles to ponder and pull on.

Happy Days

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - May

This is Calum on Rhinoplasty on Suncharm ledge, Its his boulder problem, but my suggested name. This is because A) it climbs the 'nose' of the arete, and B) he called his last problem sunshine swing..

We couldn't touch the true arete, that is the right hand side, as both the left hand side version (the aforementioned swing) and the cheval, depend on a big jug on the left hand side (in Calum's left hand in the pic). This is out of reach on the right hand side.

Tackling the pure arete and slab on the right is going to be hard, awesome and very thin, like Reed Richards on maximum stretch.

Go to it, there's no seepage and it dries lightening fast, just don't expect it to be easier than V6....

Oh, yes we may have got some of the other grades wrong there, as on last visit I generally couldn't get off the ground (!)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Another Erratic Quickie

the Dry spell between 3 and 4 today was utilies and the Rampline was Sent!
"The Science of the Sword" is somewhere between V5-7 and starts sds on the left on two paralell slanty slopey crimps (10 past 8 O'clock) and follows the swirl through the bulge to the top.

Also bagged the direct sds line up the middle. "Lessons from a Rainstorm" is pretty dynamic and possibly V4

Grading is a bit confusing at the mo'

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Erratic Quickie

Popped up to the quartz block after work for a bit of shower dodging. Managed the SDS on the right arete. Ghostpoet is about V5 and starts L hand sidepull R hand mono.
I spent the rest of my time getting very excited about the rampline project, and even got off the ground before a rainbow stopped play.
watch this space.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Moose's Wall is Open for Business

I've had a couple of evenings free over the last month, 40 minutes here, 90 minutes there, not enough to go mad or anything. I've used it to decipher G's instructions and get about cleaning the Fabled lost wall of Moose; First discovered by Mike Thomas, Matt Anthoine and other hero's.
Last night was the last of these gardening missions and what a pleasant one it was too..

The wall is high, sphincter tighteningly so, but does have a cowards wall on the right. Very nice it is too, as long as you're au fait with old skool crozzly crimps and enjoy thin thin climbing, its mega absorbing.
I must admit this wall was the last thing I turned too as I'm not that good at this sort of thing. I turned to the cracks which required nut keys, lapis brushes, secateurs and a penknife to return to their former 80's glory. The shorter (less high) crack was seiged first, and was quite friendly until the slightly font top out.

The Biggun was unjustifiable for a punter on his own with only one mat. Unfortunately it also has the pulling power of an ultraviolet exterminator, and I found myself wedging my toes far too high up whilst far too high up.
Fortunately for a family man such as myself it all went swimmingly and I beached over the top.

So there it is, go to it. I've left a pirate's rope in place for swinging about and brushing holds, and three of the problems are chalked up. I haven't found out from Moose whether anything has names. The Biggun is no harder than V5, The Right Craic is no harder than V3, and the Coward's Wall is maybe V5 from a stand up, with a sitter feasible. Moose's main wall probably needs more brushing (and a bigger capacity for bravery) and there is a seam leading into the biggun from the right. More maybe unearthed but these are the good stuff.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Somewhat Erratic

I have achieved the circumnavigation of the quartz pebble of Braich y Foel. (SH569593)

Taking 5ish sessions, a lot of head scratching, swearing and resulting in the loss of a small chunk of my knee; "Somewhat Erratic" is best graded on the Haston scale as HVM. this is mainlt because I'm not sure if its V3 or V6. Probably somewhere in between. Sit start in the cave visible in the piccy (blurred, part of a twighlight boulder sesh) pull out left and keep goin round until above the cave, then saunter to the summit. The traverse follows a fairly obvious line, with hands remaining around head height (thats when standing on the ground clearly).

There are a couple of sitter straight ups; here modelled by Rory, currently projects.On the approach path is this esoteric gem, again modelled by Rory (used flash this time)

Whirligig is sort of V3/4 and Vsmall (3 sessions to eliminate dabs). However the bloc is so undercut, most types should be able to swing their pegs around without dabbing. Right to left, pull on by the flake, then lip traverse until you can pull out with the bore strike.

You may have noticed a dirth of posts about training, this is due to time and boredom. Training is impossible with out motivation. So I guess the next step is to clean the beast in me and see exactly how far I fall short, maybe that'll give me a kick up the arse.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - April

Going against the spirit of April, Here is a something real for the wads out there:Follow the wall past Carreg Bengam Bach (wellies advisable)

Take a team and a pad stack

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Exploring Happytude

This weekend I had two contrasting sessions on the smaller stones. The weather was mint and my glorious better half sent me off to play (both times phoning to tell me I could extend my sessions) Sunday I shot off up the pass, to crawl back down until a parking spot appeared at the Grochan.
I just missed the crew I was meeting up with and had to set my own agenda.
Not being much of a cromlech boy and lacking the Energy (too many nights of baby noise) to troupe up to the wavelength relaxitude, I turned my attention to Ynys etws and the established "classic" Roof's of Boyson and Crook.
Did Boyson with effort, and couldn't Suss the Crook.
A bit deflated I realised I could no longer Be Bothered and headed down to Fishskin wall as it was officially too hard for me but didn't feel it (Unlike Crook's which should have gone but wouldn't budge). Felt too hard again, but only just, and went exploring again instead, Trainering up a delightful V0 Highball slab that should be a classic but will merely remain a pulse-racing memory (I forgot to do up my shoes... Nuff said)

Contrast this with Monday.
A short cycle lead me to the Erratic (Logan had passed on the glory of first dibs, instead preferring Something Special instead). I have been attempting its circumnavigation, something which has seemed desperate in the past.
This being the first visit in more than a year I spent time re familiarising myself with its quirks, quartz being very quirky, and started re linking sections. The desperate sections started to feel simply hard, and I left having reduced it to two blocks (the climbing not the erratic).

So Sunday I was in catch up mode, turning an initial disappointment into something worthwhile. I was pitting myself against an established bar and coming short, and the best bit was being scared witless in the wilderness entering the unknown. Monday, I had no preconceived goals, just setting out for a Rubik's session, and every step was a success.

The lesson of the tale, seems to be; when your ego is fragile, new routing is always best!

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Giveaway project of the Month - February and March

February got a bit mad, with training being replaced by hard graft at work. To reward your patience, here are a couple of Piccies I was keeping to myself. Craig y Llam is the home of 2 routes, a lot of unclimbed rock, and one previous Giveaway. the downside is that the unclimbed rock is probably best approched by boatand has a summer bird ban. It has therefore been ignored in rock rich North Wales. The upside is that its solid, futuristic and extensive.

The obvious chimney line drew me here - A tip off from Martin Crook

This wall is smooth, steep, and has a platform at low tide.
There are loads more features and lines, mainly one pitch of rock to one of scrambling, but high adventure none the less.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Beating the block

40 press ups
20 pull ups in pike
1 minute 49 seconds

This all came a bit quick really. I guess I'm just hardening up to what my body remembers as liquid armbar fitness. Not sure how to carry this set of training on as I could try to double block, or 2 2min sets in under half an hour, but what do I actually need?

I when climbing outside with ropes and everything. My first chance since the beginning of November last year, and we were on E2's down at Trwyn Maen Melyn (home of the justifiably lauded Bardsley Ripple)own on the Lleyn.
The Gear is good, The crag is steep, and the holds are massive...
However I still got pumped, scared silly and shot off in search of a rest position without pausing to safeguard any mishap.
This was my first time in ten months climbing an E2, but head games aside- I need Stamina!

Therefore the plan is to keep blocking once a week to keep ticking over (maybe attempt a second block after ten minutes or so) but turn my attention to stamina..

The Aching continues..

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Fulfilling a long held ambition

Yesterday I took a trip to the Skull entrance to Twll mawr

Inside the skull

Artifacts from the Skull's last visitors

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Giveaway Project of the Month - January2011

Bit of a special one this Month, Start of the Year and all that. Its a whole undeveloped area:

The Crystal Chasm
This is situated high in the eaves of Australia Quarry and is best accessed from the top levels of Braich, a couple above Far out level, at a rail track dump. Distilling thefinest attributes of the Lleyn, this compact mainly solid vast wall of quartzy stuff is about 40m long by 30m high, and would give many exciting adventures. As well as this the level incudes some very steep dolerite bouldering
This one extends far deeper also
Think moel y gest or Fairhead. a bit of groundwork and a pad stack.

Go get it

Grandpa's Spade

Today a fortuitious alignment of free time and baby sitting allowed me to perform a task whose performance had eluded me for a while. I headed forthwith to filmset and decended the scramble in...
This was a bit wierd, as I'd done this loads of times (that view is from the bottom btw), but today I was imagining the added weight of fatherhood, combined with the light frost would make it a great psychological challenge. However, I still appear to be the same man I once was. This was a great revelation to me, as most people bang on how your perception of risk and danger is altered by parenthood. The risk is the same folks, you just avoid splatting a little harder.
This was my Goal
I first brought Grandpa's spade down into filmset quarry in 2007 with the intention of reopening the tunnel between gideon and filmset, which involved shifting a few square meters of slate scree which had slipped over the filmset exit. I succeded on new years day 2008, and due to a fair amount of affection for the place, left the spade in place for further adventure. For one, there was still a bit of scree coming down the shute, and also there were these amazing boulders..

Obviously I never got to platform them out, and 3 years or so after arriving down the hole, I went to retrieve my keepsake of a rather special man (To which he would probably say "Silly Boy...")
End of a chapter? maybe not, those boulders still look great and There's easy abseil / lowering access down Near Dark. Probably needs some corrogated iron tho'... Here I go again!
Entering the tunnel 1/1/2008

The hole stil visible with a bit of digging and imagination 19/1/2011