Friday, 24 July 2015

God loves a Trier

Summer holidays are upon us, and my little windows of climbing have become sparse and infrequent (rather like the Welsh summer sun). Yesterday was my second outing this month, my first being on what was to become Burning Bush, and apart from one routing session at the wall was I've managed in terms of Training. My personal perspective on training is anything I've put enough effort into in an area to risk failure, but have learnt enough and performed enough to actually improve.
I'm not doing enough folks..
In a month where I had hoped to get some progression, I was lacking the fuel of training to make the gains. Could I progress without training?
Yesterday I was given a window of opportunity from my patient wife to find out.
As is often the case when presented with such an opportunity I took myself to Dyffryn Mymbyr, my bouldering equivalent of a well lived in study, or family Dojo.
As is often the case when presented with such an opportunity it started to drizzle.
Undeterred I pushed on up the hill (I love wellies) to the Quack Crack bloc, which provided shelter and dry rock. However, the warm ups were wet or too hard and I found its teaching a bit stern.. too hard a task master to start today's lessons. So I hoofed up to Bari Island:

Once under its sweeping prow (although the weather was sorting itself out) I warmed up on the up bit of Big Bad Bari, and the up bit of the Miss Boo Boo project. The later was a bit hard really, but with rests and a bit of general hold fondling I was ready to throw myself at Trixibelle (also still a project, but practically a family friend..)

Progression without training is merely an act of refinement, and I have sorted some of my sequence and have some further clues for the way ahead. So maybe this was progress? or was this in itself an act of training? I certainly need to increase the training frequency to succeed, but I don't see that happening easily in the next couple of months.
I turned my attention to the start of Miss Boo Boo
As you can see I'm not boring you with a video this time as I barely made it of the deck. My core and limbs were so punished by the attempts on Trixibelle, that I couldn't generate the contact strength in the foot lock to plank up to the roof. All needed to stretch to the backhand fingerlock in the crack above. Poor show. I followed this with an attempt on the start of Big Bad Bari to confirm my suspicions. Couldn't get of the deck. Tiny training equals tiny tank of reserves to play with.

Trudging back down the hill I accepted that the big boulder ticks are going to keep fending me off until there is enough slack in the system to allow training time. Now the Haston in my head says there's always time to train, but the beer in my hand says be kind to yourself. I'm not dead yet, these things will pass. 
Also, trudging down the hill I found new treasure, or rather, pretty things to spur me on to completely drain my tank.
First up was the cool scoop in the right hand side of the Man Like Me boulder.
I'd nicknamed this feature the Egg, as it seemed like someone had half smashed open a giant easter egg. I'd sort of written it off as I couldn't find a decent start to it. Today I just thought "why not just start squatting on the ledge at the back"

It proved to be a really interesting problem, this version is Egg Exit Left, and is about 6A+. it took a hell of a lot of head scratching, and Egg Exit Right is going to be way cool, possibly even Tubular.

Buoyed up with this I returned to the start of things at Quack Crack Bloc. Here to try the last remaining up line. At least the only one that followed a strong feature.

This is Teal Appeal, and is probably 6B. I tried Quack crack shortly after this and couldn't pull on, and happy that my tank was drained, I pootled home to help with bedtimes.

The next day out with the kids, I embarrassed myself by not being able to do the monkey bars, my arms were that wasted. Ethan showed me how a pro does it:

I intend to spend the rest of the Summer having fun and not being too pushy with myself.

Hope the sun comes back...

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mad Dogs and Gingermen

So as I said, I abbed into Twll Mawr at the end of June..

I had this gnawing from after the Baron, the panad with Mr Brown had had a significant effect. The efforts he had made to push new ground in Twll Mawr, the big pushes and forced retreats, covered far more ground than the legacy of 5 routes implies. The Antiquarian, Twll Love and The Baron follow 3 such forays, a forth lies under Long in  the Twll... But there was a Fifth.
The back wall is rift by a series of slanting faultlines, most except Hamadryad are disguised by a deceptive topography of angular butresses, hidden until a sideways glance pops it up like a magic eye painting. One such rift rises just right of The Razor's Edge, and Joe sought to utilise this as a finish to RE..
He was turned back by this roof!

I'd seen this roof before on my travels as it lies above the belay at the end of the limbo pitch of Taith Mawr. Although, at the time I was mainly just trying to get Jon and myself back in one piece. It was fun dropping back through this territory, dwelling on the glories of past. I also discovered this!

The lost Bolt belay of Razor's Edge

I'd gone hunting for this when in the thick of the rebolting boom in 2005 or 6. I waskeen to get RE spruced up as it seemed such a great adventure. I'd already done Hamadryad, and the aid bolts on that were now redundant with some solid cams, but RE depended on a fair bit of fixed gear. I ended up popping a couple of bolts somewhere between True Finish and RE as I couldn't find a useable belay for either. I figured as this section of cliff had a sizable cakewalk, this belay could be used for rescues or escapes (there's a abb bolt and wire on the top above this too). Confused by the Paul Williams description that had been dragged through successive guides, I also popped a bolt in what I thought was a belay bay of RE further down this faultline...

Jollying down Reeves' magic abb rope, I seemed to require very little cleaning, as the rock was in most parts solid, if devoid of gear. The roof at the top seemed impossible from the abb line, however the arete you crawled round on Taith Mawr almost touched the left edge of the roof, and had a bit of heather on it which might imply gear..

Fast forward to last Friday, and an 830 start had Calum racking up at the bottom of the fault. Steve Long came along for a jolly and to take pics. The sun was up but the rock was still cool, and Calum dispatched the first rib pitch with much gear of varying quality and general style. Much talking ensued and as I racked up for pitch two I must admit I got a bit distracted, the pitch was bold but steady, only E1 5a ish, but my distraction had left most of the quickdraws and cams back with Calum and Steve.. Much hilarity and boldness ensued, and I brought Cal up to rebuild the belay with some proper gear.

By this point the sun was well and truly in charge and Cal set of into the crux pitch a little sweaty, heat, slopers and worrying gear are a difficult mix, but Cal fought hard and retreated bravely to continue drawing breath.

Friday's highpoint Courtesy of Steve

we retreated that day, following Taith Mawr and up left of Bushmaster (Calum shunned the Campus move in favour of slopey lanking) and abbed the line to retrieve the slanting skyhook and 2kn micro wire that aided retreat. I dug around a bit more, but it only uncovered a couple more so-so rp placements.

So after work on Saturday I was gratified to receive a text for Cal. He'd returned and abbed in with his lovely and patient girlfriend Gabriel, and with no more ado, polished it off. The back wall of Twll Mawr now had its toughest route:

Burning Bush E7 5c, 5a, 6b 
P1. 30m ish. The route starts 10m right of the Chain of RE, at a rib just right of a big rusty pipe sticking out of the rubble. follow the rib as it rises leftwards until it reaches a corner. Surmount this and scramble up to the bolt and shothole belay in the bay above.
P2. 45m ish.  Climb fairly direct from the back of the bay, following the line of least resistance, until a juggy roof is tussled, spitting you onto the Taith Mawr belay.
P3. 30m ish. Gain the arete on the left, get what you can in the overlap, then shudder upwards utilising the slopey groove on the left side of the arete. Gain a slight saddle on the arete and wish the gear was better. Insinuate yourself forcibly through the notch in the left side of the roof to a hard won wire and hollow spike(crux), easier but thoughtful ground leads you to the top and a bolt and wire belay.
P1&2 (3/7/15) Calum Muskett, Mark Dicken, Steve Long. P3 (4/7/15) Calum Muskett, Gabriel Lees.

So I guess that leaves my Twll Mawr Trad urge satiated.
First tick mined out and complete. Still thirteen left, but I don't think I'll be slipping on a rack for a while.

Enjoy Twll Mawr.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Tick Report - June

So here we are, half way through the year. This month I have mainly been aspiring. That is I really want to climb stuff, but I am not yet up to scratch. Therefore its been training, reconnoitering, and cogitating.
Georges crack and Big Bari have been my training ground for advanced suffering, such as I would need for Tosheroon. After the first session on Georges, I had set up another date, with partners and every thing. But, then one of my Son's lost the school's dog (a stuffed one) and I had to bail to Pwllhelli Haven to see if they had found it. Returning with all the dogs paraphernalia (but no dog) I stopped in at Shale city to follow up on the point of interest raised while out with my brother.
This ended up with me down here with nothing but my rockboots and a smile...
No obviously this wasn't low tide, or high tide, but somewhere inbetween... 

Here's what it looks like on a pretty damn low tide. on this previous exploration I assumed this was the low tide norm....

The traversing around was fun, and I had hoped to coincide with enough low tide to explore at a wade. However, the water proved to be fairly deep.

The dark slash roof is the one of the first cave

almost shown in this pic...

So the sideways shuffling not only gave crap pics, but didn't give me access to the suspected bouldering... Yes I ended up swimming, but even though my phone claims to be waterproof, I was too chicken to take it with me. What I saw was that the suspected bouldering was another mirage, but this cave system may give some cool DWS, although with it being Shale city, the top out may be a little interesting...

Exciting enough to inspire this Ebay purchase (£28)

First it was the scooter, now a rubber dingy, Is this the normal actions of a 40 year old man? probably..

Talking of being old, or at least feeling it, more progress with the physio this month. Having done my 20 min physio exercise routine twice a day for a fortnight, we discovered that it wasn't really cutting the mustard, so I've been bumped up once more through the NHS ranks to the next level of specialist staff. All I want to do is not be afraid of coughing my back out in the morning.... 
On a plus side, I'm back setting at the wall, and it seems I still enjoy it, and am not damaging myself further. I also can lead 6c+ in a laden Navaho harness unclipping the static on the way, so what training I'm doing is obviously sticking.
Although I think its pinch gripping the towel I use for 5 minutes of hamstring stretches twice a day that's having the real effect.

Following climbing the Baron, I've sort of got disenchanted with dealing with Twll Mawr. There's been a lot of argy bargy, and opinions flying about. I'm hoping that the next BMC Cymru meeting on the 16th of July will be a chance to settle things down. On the plus side Ian Lloyd-Jones has put up an ace looking trad crack pitch on the south side of Twll Mawr; Lost in the Echo. Its a line I've often admired in the past, and would link very nicely into Tales of the Golden Monkey.

The other thing all this stirring of the pot has brought up was a desire to see one last Joe Brown foray turn into a route. So I got out Reeve's magic Abb rope again

And as if by magic, it reached the ground (just) clearly a bit longer than 100m...
Watch this space.

So half way through.
I started with 14 projects, and none of them have been mined out. One however was returned to the dealer for another card. I've had three(ish) successes, and a fair bit of milage, but I'm finding my original psyche for the projects ebbs and flows. Especially with the dues i'm having to pay to get them done, be it ground work, training, battling the tides, or simply being arsed. My windows of opportunity are slimming down, so those more time heavy ticks are slipping somewhat.

I chose to get some science on the list:

...So The List now in order of Personal Psyche

1. Tosheroon
What more could you wan't? pain, suffering, technical difficulty, a narrow tide window and its also quite burly. Got to get Georges crack done first as its a good benchmark (topical) for this sort of suffering, and it isn't tidal.

2. Marchlyn Mawr.
This could be my first proper hard new boulder problem. Training is ongoing, and I'm keen for a social visit to get some extra opinions, and introduce others to the pretty good circuit that's developing

3. Trixibelle
Never thought I'd take this seriously, but it works my weaknesses so well, whats not to like?

4. Nant Gwrtheyrn
Bring on warmer sea temperatures! a proper ready made playground. I've been advised that DWS on your own is a bit stupid, so I'll be recruiting some mates.

5. Trefor DWS
Bit more serious this. However, once I've found a way of barnacle proofing the boat (I'm considering a rubble sack) and I've got some knackered wires and old tat to rig the caves, it could be a right giggle.

6. The Cube.
Boss line, rubbish landing. will need a team, or a proper snow drop.

(Top Six are all Whoop Whoop! what follows are the Hmmmmmm's)

7. Twll Mawr Trad.

8. Llugwy Bouldering
Interesting one this, as the walk in make it time heavy, and the ride out is tire heavy. However, there could be a cool little circuit up there..

9. The Super Prow
Extreme top roping with an hour walk in, and a chunk of cleaning required. Again, a Boss line.

10. Skdoosh.
Surprised how I felt about this slight line one James' Boulder. I'm way off the bounce required to visit yet.

11. Porth Howel
Let others hoover it up, however, I'll certainly visit again

12. The Whale.
The Whale abides... will probably get done on a whim.

13. Neverfall
Again surprised how low this came out, but the remaining line are proper hard, and I haven't the time to give to them (surprisingly I'm not that awesome at slabs)

14. Cae Dafydd
Got at least one line I may return to, but having done a bit, and the landings are.... inventive. I think I've done my time on the ground works crew..

So there we go. If I mine out the top 6 ticks I'll be well made up. However, as I have a Daughter arriving mid September, I'll be well made up anyways.

(I haven't bothered back linking the ticks, as you either already know about them, don't care, or need no further encouragement to nick 'em)

Here's to a progressive July.