Thursday, 28 December 2017

Brewing Next Years Psyche 2017

Things have come to a head.  I realise now that for the foreseeable future I'm primarily a blochead,  a pebble helm,  a kieselspanker. Sure I might tie on occasionally,  but this is my lot. I'm alright with this:
This was a key moment.  I'd snatched some free time and thought I'd test my fingers over on the Skadoosh boulder. This is the first independent move on the hard project I've held, and my face says it all really.  Baby steps,  but I'm keen to keep going with this one. 
Another big mass drawing me in is the Marchlyn boulder.  I'm really driven to get the Seamus low start in the bag before the fictious hoards descend. So I decided to try today:
Bit snowy, which meant no scooter,  but I was having to drag an extra pad up, so at least the weights exchanged well.
Ok not been up here when it's this wintery...
Bum. Connies stopped play, much of the rock was mint, but the freeze thaw of the last days wasn't the right kind, and soggy snow sat on the ledges above equalled yucky seepage.
However,  psyche brewed, I carried on completing the patio. Once this wing is raised level with the rest, it will be mega friendly.  
Job done. I'm psyched to train, pick off some treasure,  and enjoy all the fruits of North Wales Bouldering.

Have an awesome 2018!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Mates Matter

Monday saw blue skies and cool temps. It was also a day I wasn't working,  I hadn't family ties, and a friend was available.

Get in!
Ben has been my partner in crime for many years now. He's been adventuring without me for the past year or so,  off in foreign climes. So it was ace to step out once more. Even though we had played in mymbyr before,  he'd never been to The Cube before.  Also with it making it into NWB2 I was keen to observe the crowds. 

The weeks previous rain, coupled with low winds meant today was going to be tough to get good connies.  However, the mymbyr boulders on this side have the altitude and the sunny aspect from early doors so I was pretty optimistic. 
Ben actually took some waterproof footwear this time so we could take a fairly direct approach.  I selected the groove for a warm up, and the 6A! Soon had me testing the least comfortable crash out, clipping my knee in the process. Clearly some more drastic crag dressing was required,  especially as Ben was raising an eyebrow by this point.  Out came my micro abb rope and the bloc was well brushed and chalked. 
This time the groove went smoothly and Ben soon followed wondering what all the fuss was about.  Next onto Bertlemans slide, and in the intervening years I'd forgotten the sequence.  Back on the rope, and I thought I I'd found all the holds, and also got distracted by the remaining project up the middle ("Gleaming the Cube "); slopers won't go in these connies,  that and I'm too weak to pull on the stacked mono. 
I decided to give Bertleman's a tickle. Hi on the lip the wheels came off as I seemed to lack the flexibility to hoik my foot up. I threw into lambasting the upper arete, and Ben uttered "Oh God..." 
It was one of those moments, as Ben later commented,  like when Ghandi realised he was shot.  I realised that I needed to climb less like a spanner and more like someone who intends to walk away afterwards. A bit of body tension and a better stab at being flexible, coupled with an iron will not to fall off saw me through. Ben however chose to forego his attempt as I'd provided enough adrenaline for both of us. Maybe I can see why Richie Crouch recommended the guide bumps it to 6C!.
Next was a go at Frontside arete, which Richie walked away from, and gave 6C+/7A! A quick brush,  and my initial tickle saw my hands on the slab with numpty footwork skating my hooves here and there.  A bit of self talk saw me pull together some better coordination and I made my way more respectably to the top.Ben saw my less shambolic ascent as a good sign that this was more for him. A few strong pulls and he was holding the jug on the slab. Unfortunately, at this point the fickle foothold he had chosen parted company and he span towards me from height.  Fortunately although he partially missed the mats, it wasn't a crucial part. 
Still regardless of our efforts,  we both had our adventure fix, and more importantly got to climb in company. I'm realising more and more nowadays that mates are more important than I give credit or time to. I'm certainly going to try to remedy this in the new year.  
Merry Christmas xxx

The key crimps chalked on Frontside Arete. 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Its Been Wet...

So its been well over a month since my last post. The rain has only stopped while I've been at work it seems, that and family life is as busy as ever. Having challenged myself to give more attention to the classics, Small windows of opportunity in October led to a visit to Pacman and Harris' Arete. I will admit this action was prompted by the rather wonderful brick that is NWB2. That and being rather jded with my own projects at the moment. Pacman was fun, and I managed a good tour of the ticks, with quick ascents of Pacman Arete and Karma Sutra, I found it too hot for G Spotting though. My other window in October, led me back to Harris' Arete. Last visit I'd failed to get the regular ascent, confusing it with the right hand version which requires more flexibility than I have (Still). Armed with all the Gen from NWB2, I Got it this Time! This month I've also discovered Windows Movie Maker:

The last day of October was the final window, and that was spent with the tribe. We headed off for a proper stomp round Nant Gwrtheyrn.
Seren loved collecting rocks..

Whereas Logan used them to squash his brother..

At the end of the beach we forged up a path of sorts, and quested through the fields to regain the big loop path..

The Tribe at the viewing bench

In an effort not to waste all the height gained,we cut through the quarries for the last bit

Different scree, same treasures

November saw the start of more promising weather, getting colder and drier.  Work has got more physical, with route and boulder setting for the winter aggregates, and I was keen to test my progress. Another funny thing about the arrival of NWB2 was that you found out about what all the other esoteric boulderists have been up to. Turns out a lot of my cwmfynnon exploits had been visited, and my work mate Max had a pad party at the Shard Project, not knowing about my previous efforts. The boys did good too, making it to the big ledge, choking only on the committing top out. I felt obligated to have another go at getting the FA, and quizzed max about the difficulties to the ledge. Reassured it was only about 6C to there with a dynamic approach, I packed two pads and my abb kit, and stomped back into the bowl.

Needless to say the Shard project won't be a 6C... after some despondent thrashing around on a grigri, I decided to cut my losses and visit pacman instead for another go at G spotting. Packing up the ropes on top, I observed a promising rock further up the slope. Convinced it would turn out to be disappointing, I trudged up to confirm this. It was, and rather than trashing back the way I came, I sought a different struggle back. Promptly staggering into a hidden pit.

...And in the pit was this beauty:

Just goes to show there's treasure everywhere; perfect dragon hide dolerite, suitably steep, suitably high. I left the block more content than I've felt in a long time. I'm still intending to lay siege to some classics this winter, but its good to know there's still a few FA's left in me yet. Not the shard though, I've given that to Max.

Good Hunting.

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.


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

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:

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:

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


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.

The central line eng. 5c

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


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:

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:

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
7A+ to 7B to the second bolt
7A+ to 7B to the lower off

Ok that didn't help.
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