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

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Cut Throat World of Esoteric Bouldering

Its a harsh reality that I dwell in an area where esoteric boulderists are rife. Throw a rock into any boggy, pebble-strewn hillside in North Wales and your bound to hit one, flagrantly prospecting....

So when I heard a rumour that Noel "The Doctor" Craine and Mark "Daisy" Lynden were running sorties into My current stomping Ground of Cwmfynnon, I was compelled to action!

Sort of...

Obviously there's treasure everywhere, and I have been known to brazenly fling the hard one fruits of my own prospecting to the masses like a bride with her bouquet. However I had found something special last winter and was keen to head the rustlers off at the pass.

Ben Ryle, my medium to long term partner in adventuring was recruited and we headed off today high into the bowels of Cwm Fynnon. High, because the boulders in question were at the same altitude (contour even) as the Mallory Boulder. Luckily Ben has his ML so I let him lead.
Height gained we quested inward

This turned out to not be the boulder we were looking for, However, it was quite close.

This is the Boulder!

We chose the left side slab as our warm up, It proved to be trixome and a little snappy under foot. much plopping off ensued. Ben Is just about to plummet in this pic...

I eventually bagged the summit. Here is the FA vid of "Pop 'til you Drop" 6A+ish

After that it was onto the main event. I Dragged Ben up because I really wanted to do this overhanging blue collar offwidth. It started at fists and flared to 7 inches. it was tall, and it was scary.
Here is the FA Vid:

There Will Be Blood 6Cish with a ! for Fear!

The widening of the crack coupled with the gentle overhang meant that I was whitey-ing in seconds. A climbing robot would have inverted early, stacked, and spun back round into a knee lock at  around 4m. I swam, laybacked, compressed and threw a calf lock in, all of which just convinced me I had to top out or face calamity. Fair to say it was emotional.

After that I had a bit of a lie down, and left Ben to bag the rest of the FA's

Here he is on Conventional Acrobatics 6B ish, complete with comedy tripod collapse:


And here I am bravely repeating it, despite still being pumped and jiggidy from There Will Be Blood. You can see the angle of the wall (and the offwidth) in this pic.

After this we popped down a level and Ben got his own Highball done in the form of this fairy pretty slab "The Slab That House Built" 6B! ish:

The name cam from the tunes pumping out his phone during the Attempt.

I was spent by this point, and only half heartedly attempted the slab. Retreat was called for, However, our path down took us past Big G's Running Jam, and I couldn't resist talking Ben into us having a play. Much fun ensued, as can only be had by tired hill walkers, physically spent battling scary boulders, attempting to jam horizontally over a bog:


I feel the need for a more conventional outing.. Just not yet.

(Anyone wishing to repeat these unconventional delights, quest up to the Mallory Boulder, then contour into the bowl of Cwmfynnon. After 250m they should be just above you.)

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ain't Nothin But a G Thang

February's Boulder of the Month dropped into my life like a Mentos into a bottle of Coke. I'd been looking for an A-frame boulder choke to get my offwidth on ever since I'd found Happy feet at Feidr Fw almost a decade ago. Now not only had G found one, but he'd made it public, open even. Frantic texts confirmed it was still unclimbed, although Martin Crook had slithered West to East in a child's wetsuit to create "The Chubby Behemoth". It was the journey East to West; rising through the flare, That had both G and I excited.

Two days later Messrs Crook, Smith and Loxton rolled into the wall and the jostling began, My expressed interest was met by wry grins and sucking of teeth. George was keen to compare it to the hallowed 90's desperates of technicality and strain, and Bet me a Quid I wouldn't do it.

I started stretching.

Crook was keen for the crack and Invited Action Pic Legend Glen Robbins along for the ride. Wednesday (15th March, I've been waiting for Glenn's pics) was decided on as it may not rain... (This is Wales).

I gave up stretching, what would 3 days of stretching do?

See? Glenn Robins is so good he can even make me look purty. All pics are his, ask him before you rob them.

Wednesday came and the sun shone. Martin was dismissive of the need for wellies for the approach, and trusting his experience I left them in the car. 5 minutes later, I was bouncing between diminutive pebbles bobbing in the muck, wobbling islands of cleanliness. Mental note, if this was going to be a siege, bring wellies.

Tucked away in the scree below Craig y Gesail the boulder poked into view, Tighter and deeper than I'd imagined from the pics, Damn wide angled lens. Crawling through I saw what my have stopped Big G, as the clearance was a bit on the low side. fortunately my torso was an altogether shorter package, and he could dig it out after I've snatched it right?

With a quid at stake, I set about brushing and analyzing, visualizing and scheming. I knew it was going to be an awkward invert, and although I had some ideas how to pivot for the exit, I saw I was going to have to fight.

First go got me into the invert, and shortly onto my head. A swift talk to myself, and a leaf through the mental toolbox of cloven hoof technique saw me set off of take two. Man I shuffled hard! trying to pull the slopers into a chicken wing I felt both Quads cramp and snarl. Head plant no. 2.

It was a pretty attractive area. Ideal for lingering in and licking wounds. Martin and Glenn were perfect to shoot the breeze with, and in between shooting said breeze, I mused on the exit. Encouraged by Martin, I hand standed into my highpoint to play with some pivot ideas. Dropping one hoof I lunged for the arete, and almost got it too, before my shoe crept off my heel and I plopped out once more.

Well it was a good spot for a siege, but I knew it was possible... Rest. Breeze must be shot.

Quid's a quid, Lets Do it.

Randy Roof is easier than Georges Crack, and Comparable or maybe a touch harder than Big Bad Bari. Its named after my recent inspiration from Randy Leavitt; Offwidth legend and recently kicking some serious butt crack on Instagram. Cruising wide aged 55 or so. Still time for me then...

Turns out The flurry of chalk attracted other would be contenders. While hardly a trade route it pleased me to find this link to Mid Wales' Wad Mike Allday bagging the second ascent, and demonstrates how strong  he is by facing the other way...

I'm a Happy Bunny.

Thursday, 30 March 2017


Sooo I only went and sent my Clegir project!

Only 4 weeks ago that I reported I was applying a little psyche to this long term project ( a mere 3 years not as long as Some). This mainly involved repeated watching of my link attempts vid, plenty of boulder setting at the wall, and replacing the Slivers with The Slivers mk2.

Once again I think that success came down in part to improved core. However, trying really hard was also a big factor. Skadoosh is basically a 3 move bloc. Hold the starting holds and weight the foot dink off to the left, Dyno to the crux hold of the Filling, bring your left up to the adjacent slopey crimp, then dyno for the finish of the Filling. All of these elements brought their own challenges.

The day of success was Monday. Dry and sunny, not much wind, but pretty low humidity. It was an unexpected trip out as I thought I was on baby duty, but got a last minute pass. Upon arriving at the boulder I was keen to try some further links on the project, but discovered I'd failed to bring my tripod to gather some footage (data folks!) or my brushes to squeak the holds. 

Resigned to a bit of a slap about I started my warm up on the 6B+ James' Sit Down, and lapped it a few times. I then moved onto the 6C the Filling which shared some ground with the project. Got this a couple of times and then chalkballed rubbed and bashed the project.

First plan was to link to the end from after the crux dyno. I got this second go I think, and ditched shoes for a rest, hydration and a wee(weight loss you see).

I was feeling quite good about the top, and thought I should really go for it from the bottom, as if I didn't really believe I can do it, why was I there?

First few slaps were ineffectual as I wasn't getting the foot/ body position right. This started to come together and I was getting a confident launch. Next slap was short, but almost on target. I then slapped the hold! didn't hold it but that was a case of more belief, surely.

Rest,  boots off, fiddle with the camera wedged in the tree. Check data.

Slap! Hold! boom! fell on my bum. This was a good sign, if I wasn't committing I'd land on my feet so giving proper guns.

Slap! Hold! Match! Step through! Launch!


Still a good sign, I just needed to land the initial slap precisely to give a good enough hold for the final launch. My Biceps were still fresh as daisies, it was my contact that was preventing proper power. Some goes I even was able to readjust on the hold, my left giving good transfer; power maintaining contact.

I'd texted the missus to say sorry but I was Really Really Really close to success and was staying out a bit longer. Pressure was building with a few dabs sapping my confidence, and causing me to thin out the landing, only to drop between mats next attempt.

20-30 attempts down the line, I resigned myself to getting it next visit, and at least I had some good data to peruse. Unfortunately I then went to peruse said footage and accidentally deleted it.

Sore of skin and fingers, mentally a little battered too, I was a bit put out.

I talked myself into giving it one last good go, so I could take away at last some footage. I wedged the camera in the tree again and stepped up to the plate....

Skadoosh 7A+

Looking back, the removal of the pressure of succeeding may have tipped the balance, either that or the rock just got bored of shrugging me off.

Well chuffed. On top of this, 2 weeks ago I managed to send one of Big G's open offwidth projects that he put on the latest Boulder of the Month. More when I get the piccies back off a mate.

Keep trying hard!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

New Toys, New Ploys

Wednesday I got out for a wander. No ordinary wander, this was a wander in wellies to ascertain how much of a ball ache it really is to slog up to the Super prow from Pen y Grwyd. I have nominally nominated the Super Prow to be the recipient of this years patioing efforts. The reasons for this is that now one will ever go beyond a top rope on this thing without the landing being sorted a bit. That, and its such a ridiculously monumental task, I'd really have to try hard to top it afterwards...

"Oh yes, I thought I'd spend my precious free time in 2017, moving 2 tonne of boulders around at 650m altitude, a mere 2km or so from sensible things like roads.."

after half an hour of bog slogging, our objective is sighted...

This trip was also the first outing for my new camera. For years now I've relied on my camera phone to record the monumental delights I've encountered. On the whole its been great, but avid followers may have noted the old phone is occasionally corrupting some of the masterpieces lately, and as I've just moved to a sim only contract, I ain't getting an upgrade anytime soon. Cue a trawl of ebay and 20 quid later I now own a Pentax Optio P80 ; 12.1 mega pixels in my pocket now, with a x4 optical zoom too. All in a tiny package easy to slip in my pocket.

All this is distracting from the fact I was now sweating buckets and had lost the cup off the end of my walking pole. Still the objective was now tangibly close.

Behold the Super Prow

I neither took this approach or used it to egress. However, I had a nightmare on both, so this might be a better Idea.

The start of a patio...

The Idea of slogging up here for a bit of neolithic engineering was seeming more and more daft. Especially as if your feet came off out of control you'd probably swing off down the valley without some form of leash on...

lying on the lip of the patio, looking at the sky..

It had taken me 70mins to reach the patio site. this left me 20mins to shuffle rocks before the sprint to work had to commence.
The prow and the car. I made it between these points in 45mins.

A couple of shots (using the zoom) of a potentially fruitful craglet cluster

(from higher up)

I'll leave you with a shot of the Troubles Braids area. Still lots to do even here...

Come and play (bring Wellies)