Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Why do toads cross the road?

Here is a toad on top of the Great Orme, there were hundreds of them that night everywhere I drove, thousands must have died, why? Apparently they are looking for sex, the poor bugger out on the town at twilight and he ends up getting flashed by me on the way back from the cave. Apart from that all quiet, cleaned up some lines last week, CJD has a leaning wall with a jump to a crimp, so hes excited. Trying not to climb for a week, on day 6 now its hard work.

This Weeks skin report,

mental note stop trying to climb out of holes that are too small.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


After an extreamly settled and dry couple of mounths, its started to rain quite a bit now. This is to remind us (me mainly) that occasionally it is worth making the effort to brave the ming and go try problems. If Jack hadn't have kept the faith and gone up the pass with 3/4 of an hour of light and rain falling then I not sure I would have sat out the rain the following day before going and doing my project.

Anyway here is a rainy day in Wales:

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Hall of the Mountain King...

The Hole.

Over the last few weeks a small hole in the Pass has been the aim. Always keeping back some skin and psyche for the twin lines on the back of a big lump of rhyolite in the Pass. This hole became rather grandly dubbed The hall of the mountain King by a fairly merry CJD during the LLAMF party. All days off were directed towards her, and most days ended with a visit.

To begin at the beginning about 12 years ago I needed a shit and went scrambling round the back of the barrel looking for a hole, instead I scrambled into a big steep cave. Because of the way it had landed (in Wales most of the steep rock seems to need support) you could conceivably climb the full height of about 25 feet with the floor (well another boulder) rising behind you. I enthusiastically tried pulling on in various places, to discover it was a bit crumbly and needed a good clean, I assume this is because it doesn't get the full force of the weather. Over the next few years I scrubbed it a few times and kept chalking up the left hand curving line, the hole kept shedding skin. Over the next few years I showed a few people and told some more, Dyer looked at it with a ladder but didn't get involved. CJD and Hock had a go at pulling on, but were basically pulling holds off faster than they were moving up. Pulling out the big guns I showed the line to Mickey and Leroy one night. They were keen but not here most of the time, looking back thank the lord they were too busy ticking to bother cleaning it up.

This year I caught the project bug badly, old lists of problems and places to check out appeared, I went up and got drunk in the hole, paying my dues and seeking the lines. If the stand up to the corner went then all the lines would work, they could join that to make an exit through the top hole. I spent the day scrubbing again and holds appeared and disappeared, the left line had what looked like a crucial undercut to pull on and reach a sloppy crimp with your left hand. It snapped, bugger, but fortunately a crimp down and right cleaned up and was usable, then the whole sloppy crimp broke leaving a finger jug, I carried on making progress to hold positions and stuff, without really trying the moves while the problem evolved.

At the beginning of February I was a bit stale on The Crest, so decided to take a spotter and try to climb the exit. This went down at about V6 it feels weird to climb as you have to lock in to do the moves or else you lie down on the block behind you, not ideal but it works. Ollie failed getting wigged out whenever a foothold snapped. It is a bit strange you look to your left on some of the moves and you can see the floor miles below and the slab behind you drops away on that side. All I can say is various things have snapped while I was on it and all that ever happened is I was on my arse 6 inches lower.

A couple more cleaning and playing sessions, and I seemed to have it all solid, some of the moves went others didn't. I recruited CJD as I knew I could say "please don't do that one" about the left line and he wouldn't. The other line was now the main focus, I sat back a bit, thinking the top would break him even if he did the bottom section first. After 5 sessions, I was sort of right, he did do the bottom section first and mentioned finishing on the jug. I told him that he could if he wanted to be superseded, next time through the hard start he was scrapping and locking as hard as he could, quite funny and a good effort. He called this line Stoned temple Pilots, and we think its bottom end of 8a+.

The Stoned Temple Pilots 2nd move

In the meantime while losing the showdown with him on that one he had been pushing me through moves and working pieces of the curve line. This one was my major inspiration of the cave. Eventually I had done all the moves in the middle section and started to link through from the finger jug to the throw for a crimp in my right hand. The first 2 moves were done on their own and seemed fine. I went up to the crimps by scrambling down from the top, getting on worried this section would be hard, I pulled through and made it first try to the sanctuary of the easy top. At this point I was regretting the decision to not eat, and felt very strange indeed. After a few red points and cigarettes, I bailed, knowing if I wanted to do it this week, and I really did, then I needed to save my skin and come up fresher.

The next day dawned rainy it had been pissing it down all night, this is where the waiting post yesterday came in. In the end sitting it out was the right call not only was it all dry but it was in very good condition with a good wind blowing in the valley. It took a couple of goes to link but after all the preparation seemed reasonably straightforward. I guess its the law of averages that If you keep trying projects occasionally you get the process right, In total it took 9 sessions of climbing on it in the last 6 weeks, loads more cleaning and looking at it over the last 12 years, and only 9 attempts to red point it. The grade is V12 I think, its very sustained for the first 7 moves then gets easier, its a bit crimpy for me really so maybe I am wrong. Time will tell, I think I am calling it The Tracks.

Moves 1 and 3 on The Tracks

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Weather is very on off at the moment, CJD did one of the lines I have had on the go, a fair steal as we had been working it only on days when we could both get up there. It was good to see the line done, even funnier to see him dealing with a strange top out... Its called Stoned temple Pilots, other details are being held back while I try the other line. I am one move from the end of the hard climbing on this, fell there 3 or 4 times did the ending a couple of times, the exit moves were slightly easier than I thought which is handy. Its all set go I will be back for the redpoint ASAP, today was supposed to be good early start and all that, at my folks on Anglesey now weather watching the hills. Back to the wall tomorrow for 4 days so hopeing the weather is breaking a bit, been raining all morning we shall see later. Quite inspired by Jaconbury doing The Sting in adverse weather after work last night, the ascent without a tarp is an ascent without dignity. So there we go I am well keen, now see if the window opens.

Jack and Jim keeping up with the Canes. Kat keeping it dry, not sure anyone was keeping it real. Fighting the good fight on the Sting.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

This Week

Mostly been sat in a cave projecting this week, the weather is still holding out and I think its probably been the best sustained period of conditions since I started bouldering. If only Wales had this weather for 2 months every year....

Apart from my projects I have also been trying to re climb a lot of the fingery nasty problems that I avoid. One that falls firmly in this category is the Sting a small but full on wall near the Roadside face. I have only ever done it once before about 9 years ago so I was pleased to do it in a handful of throws.

Short Video of Pass:

Other than that there is not a lot to say really split a tip on the last throw on my project and went to the Orme to go sport climbing. This was a waste of time too much standing around for me, waiting and watching. I can see how it could be good if you are a keen pair but as a mincer day tagging along with others its pointless.

This weeks skin report:

Monday, 8 March 2010


Friday, 5 March 2010

Junkyards and Barrels

First up this week is the hidden bloc at Rhiwlas, previously JK had climbed a 7a+ slab here on Carreg y Gath, (means Cat Rock or something similar) CJD and I had been told of this line by Matt Smith of the Pebble (on Utopia) fame. Drunk in The Vaynol Arms he told us there was a fingery slap on a boulder within half a mile. He then refused to tell us anymore, people love doing this, I think its because they know we will then troll round the countryside looking at scrappy bits of rock forever unsure if it is A, a classic or B, a wind up, or C shit.

This time it seemed to be true and we spent a few days pocking round stream beds and old quarry's in surrounding fields. In the end we gave up and decided to try and ask him again. A few months later this time in the Fricsan we got some directions out of him for a beer and went to see it on the way to the pub one summer evening last year. We found it and instantly planned to return with mats and shoes to do it estimating the grade at 7b ish. Then we forgot about it.

About a month ago I found an old list of projects and thought it would be a nice afternoon out to go and finish it off. Only problem was I had agreed not to visit without Chris in return for his agreement not to go without me. This meant reminding CJD, so I decided to wait for a bit. Unfortunately he was reminded by a report on North Wales bouldering, and admitted to thinking about snaking me and going alone. In the interest of fairness we set a day and went to crush...

After a few wrong turns and a deliberate attempt to steal an advantage through spiking my cigarette we made it to the crag and got spanked on the JK slab. (we did have very thin skin though... honest) Setting up mats under the problem we started one on one off, the first move is a harsh pull on a right hand spike and left hand splayed crimp thing, far more his style then mine. Fortunately for me it also required a heel toe and toe scum, far more my style than his. After some goes we started to catch the first hold and fell off the top move a big slappy lock to a jug, made awkward by the lack of footholds. Thinking I was being a punter and not wanting to waste a go working the top sequence I carried on doing the first move and failing, by this point CJD was eyeing up a different sequence at the top. In the end we stopped being fools and both did the top out. Summoning up a competitive urge to beat CJD I scrapped up it by the skin of my teeth, as soon as the FA was gone Chris decided he had had enough and packed it in. We had been out for a big day in the pass the day before and skin was thin and energy was in short supply, it felt nails that day, a solid 7c+, I am guessing that was because we were screwed though and its probably more like 7c.

The Barrel what a venue, everything on it is class. I managed to climb the Groove this week, part of my go back to problems I did years ago and try to do them again scheme. It was 2001 the first and only time I had done this. Ollie put in a strong shout for the strongest punter award by footlessing the crux in the old eliminate style of not using the big edge above the slopers and failing to climb the problem. I also had a session on Breathe at the Cromlech, finding it hard but I think I can do it with a radical sequence change. Yesterday was definitely the best conditions I have ever had in the Pass.

It seems that my grading maybe even worse than I thought, Katz has put in a retro claim for Dolly Rocker saying he campused it at about 7c/+, before he defected to Yorkshire. I think I will buy Simon a few beers at the LLAMF party this weekend to strengthen my claim!

This Weeks skin report time for a rest day...