Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Lockdown Diaries: Dusting the corners

 So with travel restrictions relaxing and the awesome new guidebook is sending everybody out on their own personal SparkleHunt's for all this new shiny treasure. This has left me with the opportunity to poke around some old corners, those briefly mentioned and and dimly lit, and revel in their obscurities. 

First though, was a visit to quack crack, as there were a couple of lines I still desired. With the relocation of a block at the end of the crag, a bunch of sits that I've been coveting the last decade became available. 

First off (pre kerfuffle) was the Niche Problem at about 5B:

The remaining two lines had to wait until things quietened down. Ball's Groove was a stand I did way back when, and was a standard bit of my warm up here. Unfortunately the right hand starting hold broke off, which meant that you either had to start too high, or too similar to the adjacent problems. The route was lost until the new sds gave it a clear line into the original. 

Here is the all new Ball's Groove 6C+:

The last one up at Quack Crack is the Love Battery sds, its about 7A and I'm very happy with it :

So back I scurried to that dustiest of corners, and star of last posts SparkleHunt; The Clegir Crackhouse. 

Having realised I couldn't follow the footsteps of my youth, I put some effort into repeating some of these Esoteric blocks. If you wish to do the same it's mentioned on page 89 of North Wales Bouldering : Mountain Crags. 

It's the localist of venues, and due its strong lines all packed in on each other, it has few proper "use everything" lines. It's strength is in the vast amount of options and eliminates it provides. 

First thing we initially couldn't get off the ground is Shed Party 6B fairly non eliminate as long as you don't resort to chimneying:

Opposite Shed party is an ace eliminates wall that I gave a spring clean to, should stay clean ish till next winter. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of eliminates that you can do :

The entrance to the "shed" is one of the highest blocks here. Doorway 5C! uses all aretes, face holds and chimney-able surfaces to struggle to the top. More elegant eliminates are possible, but the pure thin slab still awaits an ascent. 

The purest line is that of its offwidth Barred to the Bone 6B+

I did do an eliminate up the right wall which was quite hard, however it was also a bit contrived. 

The keel of the crackhouse boasts its hardest current line. I originally gave the central sds Toe Bar 6B.  At the time I was doing a lot of inverted offwidth; either Happy Feet at Feidr Fw (p.444 in NWB3. 1) or working on Big Bad Bari or George's crack. Consequently, I had overdeveloped ankles and literally levered myself through the first move (hence the name). It's probably 7B in reality, and I haven't been able to repeat it. (luckily Simon Panton witnessed a repeat for a news article at the time). Here's the stand at 6A+ish:

All this journeying down memory lane gave me a new appreciation of the place, and with a little more landscaping, a new line was unearthed :

Exhausted 6B takes the left arete and gives some nicely squeezed slopers. Like Toe Bar it uses the break below the boulder for feet to get off the deck, unlike Toe Bar it may be possible without. Something to work on.

There's Treasure Everywhere!

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Lockdown Diaries: SparkleHunt

 This has been a good week. While this lockdown has been generally rubbish, this week has provided gifts of happiness; those given (NWB Mountain blocs is out!) as well as those actively sought and captured.

I have come to the conclusion through all this that rather than waiting for good things in these dreak times, I need to be actively mining out positivity like an oletimer panning for specks of gold is the way.

For every base unit of fun (joie?) we can scrape together, our life has to be enriched. Every nanojoie generated contributes to our reserves, building towards gigajoie goals..

The week started with an visit to an old project, one I thought was at risk of discovery with the arrival of the new guide. This has unfortunately added to my distant circling pack of black hounds, so it was important for me to draw a line under it, as it were.

I'm sure I will report further at a later date, but suffice to say I succeeded by trying very hard, and was now happy, sore and creaky.

Tuesday marked the arrival of the new guide. It is truly a work of great love. For myself personally I was so proud of of how the author delved into the zeitgeist, as well as embracing the distant and wilderness venues, which while always out of fashion, are forever bursting with passion for me (a megajoie top up guaranteed). The guide is also dedicated to making bouldering accessible, with clear directions, GPS coordinates and really helpful lists and comparison charts to steer your choices. It's giving me loads of Psyche to visit even the classic areas with new eyes.

Wednesday I dragged myself out to hang out with an old friend. Mark and I met years ago in Llanberis and have both worked in the climbing world for almost two decades. We were both having a low energy day, and were keen for an easy day away from the socially distanced crowds. I elected to take us on a tour of the more obscure venues from Clegir's already Esoteric selection.

Judicious use of my new loppers cleared a path to the Crackhouse (coords in the new guide). This was a spot I tinkered in when the twins were little. A bit of a playhouse, it has few strong lines but loads of options to muck about with eliminates.

Today I was nowhere near matching the performance of my younger self, but enjoyed being schooled by these fun problems (and by Mark whose footwork was much better than mine that day).

I was particularly chastised by Barred to the Bone, a blue collar offwidth I could hardly start. Something to come back to for a rematch. 

Having tired ourselves in the crackhouse I thought I'd show Mark an easy slab I'd discovered about the same time as I was hiding from the kids in the crackhouse. 

Indeed, you can see it from the Crackhouse, just down hill. I hadn't even rock boots when I found it, and fooled by its easy angle, woke up near its top in my trainers. An inelegant lunge secured the day, and I reckoned our return visit in rockshoes should be a relaxing jaunt.

Still got scared..

But it's highly recommended

A Friction Romance 4+!

On our way back we stopped at the Bunker, another "shed" venue (coords in the guide). Rock is variable, but the right prow (huggy bear) is good value and a mid 6ish. For those slight enough, the through trip behind it is coolio (however I got temporarily stuck this time..)

All in all, much fun was had, and this week has certainly recharged me (although I feel a little battered) I'm looking forward to some more fun mining out some fun from these gems of obscurity. Enjoying the play, rather than trying to produce any product.

On that note I really enjoyed Jude Spancken's interview on Jam Crack. A proper breath of fresh air and a reminder as to why we all do this.

Finally, it has not escaped my notice that the blog has been getting a few more visitors than usual of late. Whether this is just robots, people searching for obscure places to play, or just relieving lockdown boredom, you're all very welcome. 

There's treasure everywhere!