Friday, 18 July 2014

Open Project of the Month - July

This Month we visit a project that has been very close to my heart; it was the very first Giveaway of the Month back in 2009, and a project I raved about back then. This was a period of time where I was relatively time rich (in between Logan and the Twins) but finger pulley injuries had set me on the path to crack addiction. It was whilst I was sampling the Big G's fine Running Jam that I glanced over and espied this massive roof, and what appeared to be a crackline through it. This turned out to be a ramp forming the Arête Superior of the SuperProw of Cwmffynnon:
This was obviously not a crack, or within my realm of optimism at that time. So I tried to sell it to all the great and good, but still the Super prow abides...
Fast forward 5 years, and I'm getting more and more blessed allocations of adventure time, and the whole year of open projects came about. This was always at the top of the list, I'm getting a bit less bold, but what a location for a bit of extreme top-roping!
The Mighty Cwmffynnon, a pleasant if out of the way site of adventure bouldering and extreme top-roping. Super Prow is in the middle of the rocky bit, amongst the heather band.
The approach from Pen y Pass took about an hour, although some of this was due to curiosity and incompetence. The final 100m or so are a bit tricky route-finding wise so this piccy might help:

Over the twin streams, up to the second boulder of Giveaway April 2012, then up again over a craglet, to drop down the far side of the prow.

Setting up the Top rope

Testing the Swing

A quick play on the Arête Superior, showed it was a little out of our league (I could pull on the massive starting hold, but movement was improbable. We then moved onto the Arete Inferior; a sort of direct bypassing all the uber-territory and launching into the realms of possibility. This also starts off a clearly defined hold. This is my first attempt:

Many, many attempts later, I got a working sequence, but I was too boxed to link it to the top of the prow. I pulled up the rope to play on the finish:

Here you can see the Arête Superior in all its glory; the starting hold is just right of the slanting hairline fault on the left. Between this and the junction with A. Inferior, there are 2 incut holds and a whole bunch of slopers. A. Superior seems in the upper 7's into 8's range and A. Inferior is somewhere in the low 7's. I'm really keen to return, but I think some mileage is required first.

Could they be Highballed? sort of... The ground slopes away alarmingly, It would be best to be roped and "guided" onto a raft of mats. I'd be more inclined to think in terms of an E grade, despite its diminutive size. You could pre place some RPs that might hold...

Top Rope Bouldering; Could it catch on? Unlikely, too much testosterone in the world. I, for one, will be back with my rig (25m static, 4 screwgates, 2 large nuts, plus the TR) and looking forward to the king swing!


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Lunchtime Bogtrot

Had a couple of hours between school drop offs to check out the more direct route to Craig yr Haul. Within four steps I had entered a pond (note best to use the 3rd layby after the chicane for direct approach rather than the 2nd...).
Once I'd wrung myself out and re-calibrated next to the major riverlet, and surprise surprise a fence (no wonders I got my wires crossed conversing with messr Peck), it was easy navigation up to the now obvious Sun-y-Haul boulder.

Its a nice find, with many also-rans in the vicinity, though nothing to waste too much effort or patio time over. I was able to make sense of the righthand start (the only large hold) and sussed some of the swing in.

Really good effort by Tim for interpreting the line, the patio work, and just projecting up on this hill side.

I ferreted around a bit before the fell run back to the car for the School pick up. I'm not totally sold on the Direct route. The hillside is a mine field of crisscrossing streams and unhelpful vegetation. It also is fairly lumpy with hillocks and craglets to negotiate. I personally would recommend sticking to the Mymbyr approach to the wall, and using the path inside the wall to traverse to where the riverlet breaches the wall:

From here a scramble down gains Sun-y-haul

And a wander up gains the Craig y Haul boulders

Think I'm still on the hunt for that F7A+ project tho'


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Wander to Craig yr Haul

Had a blessed opportunity today to perform a quick sprint up to explore J and K on the Mymbyr topo .

It was a fact finding mission, so rather than pads and shoes, I took my adventure hat, mobile phone, and Logan's 1 litre Spiderman water bottle...

J I had visited before, I had heard that Dr Crane and Associates had visited there, and at the time I was only looking for cracks anyway (pulley injuries led me to the true calling) It looks an impressive collection from the road, but there are only two properly useful blocs:

Upper cluster..

Lower Boulder

As you can see, Logans water bottle proved invaluable in providing scale and the vertical axis. I also have discovered that its a pain in the arse to traverse this hillside, this area is best approached from the Cube, as slogging up is infinitely easier then sideways travel.

My understanding of the area K; the main Craig yr Haul boulders was done on hearsay, squinting and looking at a map. I knew that Ug (Matt Perrier) had been up there and they were good, but that just made me think Ug probably did all the cool stuff, and I had plenty to play with in Feidr Fw. Hence I never went up there.

Big Mistake.

Lots of large boulders, many with flat grassy landings, often with a strong line. Obscurist's heaven.

My reason for finally making it up here was Tim Peck's Vid on vimeo, not only showing a nice Font7A+ in the neighbourhood,  but extolling the area as replete in the 3 to 6B range. I didn't find his Sun-y-haul, I think this is because he didn't approach from the same layby as me. In fact I reckon trips up here are better made from the next layby towards Capel, following the stream up. This would mean less traversing and more likely to find this Bloc.
That'll be my next trip, as Its part of this years plan to climb a Font and French 7a+ where I wasn't the FA, and this looks pretty.

Please visit

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Getting out and Taking stock

This year, I have mainly been going Bouldering..

I've tried a bit of sport, trad, and solo, but it takes time, which is in short supply, and I'm route weak, and probably a bit scared. There I said it.
Bouldering's easy. Strap it on, try a few moves, go home. The lack of immersion has also meant I can keep up my new territory fix without becoming a gibbering ball of obsession.
Tuesday I wandered back up to my favourite place. No not the quarries, but Dyffryn Mymbyr:
This bit of tranquil hillside has a enough bouldering to keep me happy; new and old, fondly remembered and waiting to be rediscovered. Its all a bit hidden and spread out, which explains why I still have to revisit the Craig yr Haul boulders having only wandered the lower cluster once when searching fot the next Georges crack and climbed nothing.. Boring boulders look great and amazing boulders can look dull, until you actually get over and give them a feel, very deceptive place.
I noted that others have visited the Haul fields recently, I wonder if they played elsewhere (do tell..)

 My visit was due to kids having a taste of full time school, as I ended up lonesome I wasn't happy to gleam the cube, so I played with some old friends at Feidr Fw:
Last visit was around the time of Minnesota Loon, and I couldn't do the harder problems then. This visit Heel Keel and Happy Feet were sent which made me warm and fuzzy.
Heel Keel is the overhanging arete by the highball pad, and has many poor holds in its lower regions, choice and a well placed heel-toe in the crack to its right is the key. Back it the day I was trying this sans heel, very butch.
Happy Feet is not an aesthetic problem, in fact the Big G stomped up here, peered, and wandered back down again. Maybe it was some thing to do with the start being in the cave underneath the chockstone bottom right, or the fact that your back is rarely more than inches off the ground, or that if your chest is more than 40 inches or so you might bottom out...
Never mind, the moves are ace and the struggle taught me to invert without the risk of severe neck injury.. My core is certainly weak compared to those days, my training started tonight.

So How, I hear you ask, are the open projects going...
January - Neverfall
2 more trips and I'll have to arrange a grand opening.... I foresee many, many mats...
February - The Tosheroon
Not been back, but very keen, good painful fun!
March - James' Boulder
The cognoscenti have been sniffing around, I need much, much more conditioning before my elbows will handle it
April - The Old Pier monolith
The last nail for my elbows (ok now tho') bit like above really, one for a hot day, and then I can go swimming...
May - The Marchlyn grit Mimic
Ready for a pad, not feeling the psyche for the cycle, fully expect someone to snatch it.
June - The Cube
the most reasonable I reckon, just needs a pad team, watch this space.

Been a good year really.

Enjoy, and drop me a line (here or UKB) if you have tried any of the open projects.. We will Succeed!