Friday, 15 May 2015

Testing, Training and Trixibelle

So I got my shoes back from Llanberis Resoles:

Really nice job, the new edge is crisp and an integral part of the front of the shoe, rather than an added piece, and the new knuckle patches, don't change the fit or crush my toes. I was keen to put them through their paces, so I stomped up to Big Bad Bari..

So it did take a while to get there, I'm not going to lie. Some fitness is going to be required one of these days, but this trip has certainly whetted my appetite. I warmed up by climbing Bari from the chockstone, then got stuck in from the start.

I ended up throwing 3 laps on it, Just great climbing, and the knuckle patches may have made it a bit easier, or I'm just awesome... Anyway it was great training.

I then moved onto Trixibelle who is Tick no. 9. This project is based around the great keel of Bari Island, starting off the lowest chalked up holds

This section is an exercise in body tension, slopers, and a lot of center of gravity stuff (not throwing myself into the bushes). Needless to say I threw myself into the bushes a lot. I'm finding that the problems that excite me up here really expose my weaknesses; core and flexibility will have to be worked to continue here.

As to where Trixibelle will go, I'm moving away from ideas of busting for the lip direct, as that seems about E8. Instead if I continue questing below the lip I can stay above mats and in reach of non IRATA spotters. There is also a direct version close to the finish of BBB, but the big journey currently appeals more.

Continuing to work my weaknesses, I turned my attention to the thin crack on the right. I'd been annoyed that the block underneath means you can only really access the front 3 feet or so. But then I got the crazy idea of trying to link into it from BBB:
Continuing in the tradition of naming projects here after boats eaten by Big Bad Bari, this one is henceforth known as Miss Boo Boo. Kicking off my account I managed to top from starting with my left hand on the pinch immediately below the lip. My right hand was in the fingerlock in the crack at the terminus of the crimp rail diverging from BBB.
I tried a lower start with my left hand on a crimp above the fingerlock, but although I could hold it static, I couldn't move off it. The reasons for this lie a little bit to finger strength, but mainly arm and core. I finished myself off by starting with a heel toe in BBB, left hand on the crimp rail and yarding into the fingerlock. My core is almost up to this, but my tight forearms made getting into the backhand fingerlock awkward, requiring a flatter body.

All in all, the very things I require for future projects can be honed here: slopers, core, strength and flexibility. Furthermore, the hurdles are small and the goals attainable (reaching for apples, not the moon).

I think Mymbyr season is well and truly open.

A Caterpillar just below Bari Island, so grass, heather, reeds or bilberries for you then..

 The Mighty Quack Crack Bloc, might play here too as things improve..

Friday, 8 May 2015

Happiness is found at 600m

After the events of the last couple of weeks, I've sorely needed a visit to my happy place. With the forecast being a tad dour, I sent my boots off to Llanberis Resoles for some TLC and some offwidth cheating upgrades, and got out my Scooter.

Marchlyn Mawr seemed an obvious choice, let me try to explain....

I have in my "Marks Boring Rocks" folder on the family computer a file called "tick list". This little campaign strategy table contains the 14 ticks for this year as well as staged goals, conditions requirements, and special kit needed etc. It seems to be getting a lot of red on it (ticking off the accomplishments), but it has also acquired two new columns; Am I Finished with this, and Can I be Arsed.

With two ticks on the Had Enough list, the motivation assessor has only 5 ticks approaching the Red Setter mark.

The sitter into Tumbleweed is one of them.

The Goal

The walk up to the Dam took 32 minutes (scooter and v. light bag, a couple of photo's and a quick chat on way) and the tide was well out already (1030 no less) but that probably could be blamed on the election..

The excuse for coming up was to apply a bit of science to the problem. Mainly this meant identifying a sequence, The issue being that there was two possibilities; go out left to some opposing sidepulls, or slap up right up the arete. Going left seemed unfeasibly hard to start, then relenting into the realms of merely trying very hard. I could slap to the arete (and did last visit) but making progress into the stand would require these.

An impossible start or impossible finish? I decided to only attempt the possible bits, and then try to yard between them... slap into the arete and then connive to throw back left into the sidepulls. Who knows? it may work!
A sloper

So back to the science

Issue 1:
I need to improve on slopers
Actually use a Beastmaker

Issue 2:
Most of the movement initiation is from Foot clamp derivitives
Increase core and Practice practice practice

Issue 3:
The sidepulls are well crimpy
In reality I probably only need a 20% increase in finger strength so just climb more!

Issue 4:
It a bit overwhelming
Staged goals- Tiny ones! and hoover up some satellite problems to keep the happy coming while you're at it.

After that it was a bit of cleaning, a few more rocks to the patio, and off to scoot!
Just as the rain started.
The patio is getting well gucci

10 minutes 50 seconds to descend, hindered by one crash due to the action of rain on the breaking system*, and some wimpy attempts at preventing a second crash by reducing general velocity.

Happy (and not too sore)

*wet cold wheels mean no/reduced breaking, as they get hot the water evaporates and you get lots of breaking. In reality this meant shit shit shit LOCK, a bit of fishtail and a running dismount. Constant gentle breaking seems to be the way to get wet wheels dry and breaking in a less laxative fashion.

PS. I was trawling through the stats on this blog, and it seems the "Baron and the Bolt Fairy" was a popular choice of referral for a number of Russian porn sites. I guess I should be a bit more careful with my title choice.....

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Baron and the Bolt Fairy

Today, Calum Muskett and myself climbed "The Baron" E4 5c,5a,6b,- in Twll Mawr. This line was one that Joe Brown attempted, and a line he still remembers to this day, one that got away.
He was thwarted in part by this death block, threatening to take out the entire party:
 .. Which I booted out on abb when cleaning the line in October. I'd been psyched for this line ever since Mr Brown had pointed it out during the slate guide research, and now that it was clean, I was just biding my time until weather, drainage, and a Monday or Friday morning aligned.

I will confess to dragging Calum along, as I didn't fancy a siege, and the top pitch did look a bit spicy.. I was however, going to give everything on the offwidth pitch.

This proved to be everything that I was hoping for, and as I arrived at Joe's high point I felt humbled; both by his efforts, and the gaping maw above.
Joe's Highpoint (hopefully to remain insitu)

Getting stuck in

This was my first lead since Twll love, and I felt fully out of my depth. Calum talked me out of cheating, and with the Camalot #5 pushed as far as it would go, I committed to a series of jams, heel hooks and expletives (in my head). This resulted in a scraping rockover full of rope drag, lifting me out of the maw into the sun above. I was Chuffed.
The drag was a bit too much to push on, so I belayed there and brought Calum up, who pushed on through instead.
The Baron follows a seam that slices the full height of the back wall in a clean direct line,

As I seconded the amusing "bramble crevasse" pitch (no bridge present, so you have to jump across) I noticed Calum was belayed at the Twll Love belay. The poor one.

I joked across about how many RP's he had in.

He replied "None, I'm clipped into these Bolts".

Deep in Bat Country, the Bolt Fairy had visited. It didn't stop there, the sharp arete immediately left of The True Finish now had a line of shiny 12mm's. Now this arete was the right wall of the seam we were following, the seam with abundant cam placements. The seam in a historically adventure trad area.

I didn't cry. I did moan. I knew this pitch well as I'd already cleaned it, and two things were clear to me at this point, Calum was going to have to lead this pitch as I was knackered, and this trad route was going to be spoilt a bit by bolts.

It was, but that shouldn't detract from Calum's efforts, the route follows the crack until a wild leap catches the arete, truly cool move. Once on the arete, its thin and unbalanced until you arrive back at the crack at the end of the steepness. trad gear then returns, but the bolts don't stop here. To my great sadness they continued up the line I'd cleaned, even up the easy and protectable dolerite finish.
Calum resisted clipping the first bolt he came too, but as things got spicy, he wasn't foolish enough to pass on some 12mm steel, and 2 bolts got clipped.

So there we go. A great line eyed for generations, spoilt by a sport route in the sky, I shudder to think what they were thinking.
However, as there was also a line of drilled holes and an insitu rope over by Long in the Twll, the pessimist in me concocts a worst case scenario of a line of bolts right across Hamadryad continuing through the crux of Twll Love.

Calum reckoned this pitch would have been E6 boltless.

Being nice
The sport pitch does look great, we did climb half of it anyway. its follows a great feature, one eyed by many and tackled in part by The Direct Finish. If only it was bolted a bit more sparingly and sympathetically with area and with its history, it would be a great, safe, and a sporting E4.

The Twll Love belay has made Twll love a lot safer, without removing much of its seriousness.

Bolt do have their place on this part of the back wall, Just Not Sport Routes.

Being cross
Don't people talk any more!! Don't people respect an area so steeped in adventure history, and fairly abundant in gear, that they think they can bolt anywhere they like.
Both previous bolting expeditions up the back wall have been characterised by active consultation, consideration and respect for the area. This seemed more like smash and grab.
Its not the first time; Igam Ogam, the Weetabix Connection... yes the routes they spoilt were already established, but the attitudes the same. Selfishness.
Just because its the quarries isn't a carte blanche to do what you like, regardless of what's gone before, and its potential for the future.

The Baron E4 5c,5a,6b,- 125m

1. 40m 5c. Follow Razor's Edge to the first bolt (best to run these first two pitches together now for RE as the belay tree has been dead for many years). Continue straight up to the offwidth bomb-bay chimney (Cam #5). Pull out left to a slab and belay above on a ledge. Thread and cam belay.

2.20m 5a. Follow the seam up to the Twll Love belay, via an amusing hop left over the seam, and a pit of brambles.

3. 45m 6b. Go up the crack until on top of the pedestal, where gear and some tecky fingertip jams allow a lurch onto the jug on the right arete, follow the arete to where it rejoins the crack, gear, and continue up the dolerite band above to belay on a ledge. Once on the arete you have the choice of clipping many bolts.

4. 20m -. Scramble off as for True Finish.

Calum Muskett, Mark Dicken 1/5/15

...So there it is Tick 1 complete.

Tick Report - April

This month, as ever, the focus has mainly been on bouldering. this is mainly a time consideration, however it also means (along with exploration) I don't have to be too honed. Llugwy has been a real eye opener, exploration wise, with acres and acres of crap boulders, I seem to have found some alright ones, The 600m bouldering club is going strong, and may give a substantial tick, given time, replacing Tick 14, which was rubbish.

April also heralded the long awaited return to Cae Dafydd. I was able to bring along Mike Goldthorp, who's a bit strong at the moment, and he liked the place. Although the Koyamada boulder apparently has too few footholds... Or has it.

Llugwy has also given me some more scootering fun. my own scooter now has one of Logan's old fairly decent wheels on the back and I'm keen to see if I can melt that too...

Physio is moving forward, I can lift my legs to 60 degrees whilst lying on my back, and 9 times out of 10 in the morning I can stand on one leg to get dressed. Increased flexibility has meant that the real buggers, the tight little minor muscles, are being exposed so progress but the backs not pain free yet.

However, training is now back on the cards, I've had about 3 months off climbing other than my Monday and Friday morning jaunts, and core training was suspended until we progressed more with my back. Last Monday evening at work I had two sets of clients that wanted to work on upper body and core, this meant 2 sessions of Rings, jumbo campus, and knee-bar sit-ups. Suffice to say Tuesday and Wednesday were achey tummy days...

Enough text, here are some pictures. After my last visit to The Tosheroon (and before core training was resumed) I got an evening pass to visit with the old Team; a broken Ben on spotting duties (bad knee) and Charlotte once again on the camera. Its definitely a "one spotter & no mat" set up, and this worked well enough on this day. Unfortunately once more their were no victory drinks, as I was simply not match fit, maybe one for June. It didn't help that my assessment last visit that the crux was a couple of moves to easy ground was erroneous, The crux section is more like 2m which in offwidth terms is 10 times that many... Must try harder:
Taping up, headtorch and old jacket already deployed

The starting moves. My left hand is still jammed on the chockstone that takes you off the deck, my feet following the juggy initial rail

First jam, first squeeze, first knees. Bens still at the start, no need to spot yet.

Squeeze entered, double knee-bars, and thrutching fists

Turning through the squeeze

Through and getting upright

Time to face the other way...

Mid switch

And rest.... Theres a crux coming!
 I've already covered 4m or so.

Misunderstanding the length of the crux section I kick through

Fail! note the high squirm rail, and the lower flare of the cave, this keeps the climbing up in the rafters

Second attempt, and this is mre like it. Horizontal and leading with jams. However I needed to utilise foot jams more and my core wasn't good enough to hip scum onto the squirm rail. This may be the Key.

Nothing Left
(Me, or Ben it seems)

Next Month, Twll Mawr (today actually), and Llugwy, I think. Although I'd like to get to the Cube if I can get a posse.