Friday, 31 July 2020

The Lockdown Diaries; Home Schooling

So lockdown meant were were suddenly all supposed to elevate our abilities to teaching our own darlings. Nevermind this was not "life as normal" for them or us, and we'd been thrown into Confined quarters with them, let's have another thing to argue about. 
Fortunately, my lot were all still primary, and not really in the sausage factory yet. Throw in some smart alec-ness and a smattering of additional needs, and we felt it was best to follow "child led education".. 
Ethan wanted to go new routing! It just so happened I had the ideal venue. Short walk in, easy to escape from, good rock and all Ethan sized. 

Impressed maybe? Hard to tell with these cool types. 
First off was the left hand crack, and a quick lesson in jamming. He took to it, eventually.. 
He chose to name this first foray "JamRock" , and hence crag had a code name. 
We'd go once or twice a week, concentrating on a different line each time, picking off the low hanging fruit. 

This is Sequencer, the key turned out to be using the holds in the right order (who'd of thought?) 
One of my favourite named problems of Ethan's; Doper Sloper. 

This was the first line that slowed him, tenuous direction holds meant he had to think about his feet a bit. 
His first split tip! 
This route became "First Blood" and has a lovely selection of slopers at the top. 
Big brother paid a visit, however he's more into sport climbing and hurling himself into the sea.. 
This was his penultimate send. Lean n' mean was tricky for him as the leaning arete required some forceful footwork (hence it was mean). Two sessions and an exciting jettison into the bushes later it was in the bag. 

The last gap on the wall was a blank bit with a lovely pocket and a little slanting edge. There was only a little rock pimple in the place Ethan needed to plant his foot, and his stature meant he was a little stretched. Credit to him, three sessions smacking himself through the same move, watching the footage and seeing what worked, it had to go eventually.. 
Jurassic Dyno. 5C++ (Dad is tight as they had to have adult grades. 

Throughout all this Ethan assembled his topo (although the lazy tyke made me his secretary). Therefore, if any of you climbing parents want an off piste roadside venue for your own chaos monkeys you can plug (53.1284168, -4.1528944) into Google maps. 

The bloc is all his own work but as the traverse was a little reach, he kindly let me have a crack. 
Home Skoolin' 6B. No tops, and even Ethan ignored the foot block in the middle. 

The midgets descending, well it is Summer, and the car is 10m away. 

Enjoy if you visit. This is the last Lockdown Diary entry, as I should be back at work next week (yippee). 


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

The Lockdown Diaries: Fear

So lockdown is sidling into the background like an awkward troll.
Fear of coronavirus appears to be replaced by the fear of missing out. There were reportedly 500 cars illegally parked around pen y pass, such was the clamour to stomp up Yr Wyddfa. I just wanted to stomp up to cwmffynnon. Although to be fair this was another product of fear. I was trying to get projects done before the area was highlighted to all and sundry. For the guidebook gods were chuntering...
As I live behind Elidir, it seemed a good ldea to take the scenic route through Ogwen..

Only that was chokka too. 

However, I eventually arrived (and legally parked!) at my destination and slogged up to my little playground. I did pass an elderly couple, who I thought were being very sensible avoiding the crowds. Only they then asked how to cross the river, and it became apparent they were more (slightly lost) snowdon baggers. 

There was even a crowd at Smith's rock, and peeps at mallory,. No hiding place it seems. 

Eventually I arrived at my destination; F Hole crack area, home to The Cutthroat World of Esoteric Bouldering. 

A couple of shots looking up the aforementioned route. 

My previous visit had found the crack wet, and I was keen to climb this feature. I had suitable equipment to clean it this time and it was duly dispatched. 

F Hole Crack 5C! 

The name refers to the fret holes in violins that let the sound out. My adled brain sees a resemblance. Having done that I was drawn to the arete, which was peppered with lots of protruding shards mushrooming out of the Tuff. These attractive features are in reality a pain in the butt, as they provide an exercise in Russian roulette. Un daunted I saw this as a good opportunity to test my mental resilience and had a pop. One unexpected pop later I successfully managed to get to the top. 

Organ Stop Arete 6B!

The reference is the protruberences all over the rock, best not to pull them at random. 

I've always been fond of highballs. Coming into bouldering from an adventure trad background, they provide an element of that primal fear / danger/ risk that first set alight my climbing passion.

After these easy ticks, I approached the altar that was the Shard. This was one of the first things I found in cwmffynnon, and despite the firm intentions I'd chickened out of properly going for it. Whether it was fear of failure /injury, fear of not controlling the risk (I only had a couple of mats) or fear I couldn't persuade anyone to come help me get it safe and sorted. It was a way into the wilderness, not everyones into slogging through bracken. 

I had decided to see it I could do it with two (decent DMM highball) pads. I worked out the sequence off a rope, I believed I could do it, but once committed and at height, I got scared. Fear is the mind killer, and often leads to stupid things. I lost faith in my sequence and improvised into a blind alley. 


Strangely this left me quite excited. I was now 40 minutes from the road with an ankle that just went click. I rummaged in the bag and got inventive.. 

Now I know not everybody carries decorative gaffa tape, there was a reason for it. However it made an excellent splint! 
Fortunately, being an old man I already was carrying a walking pole, and 80 minutes later I shuffled into my car with all my kit. 

I was blessed that it was a minor (and weight bearing) sprain. With icing and wiggling and generally having to use it, I've made progress every day. 

40 hours later. 

So Fear. Important to help bring things into focus, important in that it provides us with something to overcome. I'm already planning the successful ascent of the Shard. This will involve me overcoming my fear of asking for help. I need a pad party. I need to trust my sequence, and trust my ability to prevail. 

Exciting times. 

This is the vid of the almost successful attempt :