Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last day of trad for a while: Cloggy

It was scorching even at 6am, when I got up and tried to revise. It was futile, my heart just wasn't in it. In the exam room I scrawled down some answers and left. I wanted to be elsewhere. Dire Straights blaring I drove to The Heights and met Burrows. Both of us had to be back for 7 so we were cutting things fine going to Cloggy.

Tops off and groin vent open, Burrows powers up to Cloggy.
Do crags get better than this?
At the base of the crag it was starting to get busy. I racked up and quickly lead pitch one of Cloggy Corner, which was quite pokey. Burrows started up Silhouette. He was climbing slowly and constantly cursing so I new it must be difficult. To my left Dani Arnold (of Eiger North Face speed soloing fame) was pissing up Great Wall with a couple of guys from PYB. With only the final roof between him and easy ground Ollie girded his loins. With the Swiss Machine watching his ego gave him not choice but to pounce for the big hold! Good effort mate, I've never seen you try so hard before! I managed to second the route without too much difficulty, but reckon the lead would have been beyond me at the moment.
Ollie low down Silhouette
Dani Arnold cruising Great Wall.
Nearing the top of Great Wall
Burrow about to pounce for the top.

Ollie about to pounce for the top hold on Silhuette. Cheers to Martin Chester for the pic. 
We still had time for another route, so I lead the Left Edge on the Boulder in one long pitch. It's a good little route, bold with pokey kit. Thankfully the climbing is pretty obvious and never strenuous. We the grabbed our bags and ran back down to 'Beris for a well earned pint in The Heights. The perfect way to end my last day climbing in Wales.

Me on Left Edge.

This will be my last post for a while as on Monday Tom Livingstone and I are off to Alaska for five and a half weeks of cold and misery. Spending that amount of time at Cloggy would be much more fun. Have fun everyone and crush hard while I'm away.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


On Sunday I spent the day supporting my girlfriend, Nikki, who succeeded in completing her first triathlon: The Slateman. This grueling activity starts by swimming 750m across Llyn Padarn, followed by a 52km bike ride over the Pass, down Ogwen and then through Tregarth and back to Llanberis. In case you aren't tired by this point there is an 11km run around the Slate Quarries to finish you off.

Gritting her teeth at the top of the Pass.
I spent the morning racing round back roads to try and stay ahead of Nikki as much as possible. I managed to catch her twice on the cycle, once on the run and managed to get back just in time to see her finish.

Zooming past me in Ogwen.
Tired now and there is still a big hill to go.
Her total time was 3:46, which splits as: 18mins on the swim, 2 hours 3 on the bike and 1 hour 18 on the run. All in all a pretty good effort for a first triathlon. Nice one Nikki I'm really proud of you.

Sprinting for the finish...

Nikki at the finish - I don't think it's quite sunk in yet!
The secret's out: Why Nikki really runs triathlons!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mainly about Tremadog.

I haven't blogged for a while, because I seem to have spent much of my time in the library attempting to revise for my exams, but mainly procrastinating. I'm off on a climbing holiday to Alaska two days after my last exam next Friday. This is great and I'm really psyched about the trip, except it has created a lot of legitimate procrastination that is preventing me from getting as much revision in as I probably should.

Surprise, surprise, I've also managed to get out climbing a little bit. Last week Livingstone  and I headed to Tremadog for an evening hit. We arrived to find the crag completely dripping. Undeterred we set off up Vector. The first 8m were soaking wet and quite exiting, but the headwall above keeps the rest of pitch one and all of pitch two dry. Tom strung them together and I managed to follow them without too much issue. We then abseiled off into the downpour and got soaked to the skin and very muddy on the two minute walk back to the car!

King Psyche himself mad for it and about to squirm his way up Vector!

The sun was shinning on Saturday so Nikki and I headed back to Tremadog to tick some of the easy classics she'd not done before. We did Hale Bebe, Christmas Curry with the Micah Finish, Valerie's Rib and One Step in the Clouds. We swung leads all day and Nikki did really well leading the crux of One Step. Gareth and Ollie then arrived. Nikki teamed up with Ollie and they did the Weaver - Good lead Ollie! - whilst Gareth and I did Vector.

I quickly ran up the first pitch, leaving Gareth (who'd not climbed it before) to do the Ochre Slab. He climbed it well apart from one minor mishap when his foot popped towards the top of the Ochre Slab, but crimping for Wales he managed to cling on! Nice one on your first E2 Big G! I then set off up the last pith, which I haven't lead in it's entirety before.  It's quite bold, but thankfully easy until the final crux groove, by which point you are well out of sight your belayed so it feels like you're going to go miles if you come off! Thankfully I could remember how to climb the brilliant top groove (Do sequences get any better than this?).

On  Thursday Ollie and I headed to Pant Ifan with the idea of having a mega day, unfortunately not everything went to plan. After soloing the easy access pitch I set of up Integral without having read the guide book properly. I got up to the junction with Integral Direct and got thoroughly confused, because I couldn't find the belay, after much faffing around I lowered off and had a good look at the guide. Eventually I figured out where to go and climbed back up, thankfully having the foresight to remove most of my runners, which I needed higher up.

Burrows doing the last hard moves on Integral - I think that's his sex face...
Back at my high point and still couldn't work out where to belay but eventually I worked out where pitch two went. I laced the thin crack with wires, before making a precarious rock over. From here I got a sinker wire. The good hold mentioned in the guide loomed above me, just out of reach. It looked good. I climbed up and slapped for it, it was good. Demonstrating very poor technique I monkeyed rightwards, feet peddling, to a good spike. The rest of the pitch was comparatively straightforward, but rope drag made it problematic. Cheers to Ollie for belaying me for so long, while I faffed around. Ollie lead through and had a hard time fighting his way up the overgrown top pitch, it could definitely do with a good Napalming! Back at the bags it was half raining and the midges were out so we ran away! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Moon, The Main Cliff and Castle Rock

I picked Gwen up with no real plans. She suggested The Moon so we drove to the Promised Land. Gwen offered me the crux, I was tempted, but politely declined. I racked up and we abseiled into the "dirty rotten chaos" that is Yellow Walls. After some deliberation we located the start and set off. Steep juggy moves off the deck, led to a good spike, which I slung and continued climbing. The next thing I new I was barndooring, I lunged for a jug to a no avail. A foothold had exploded.  I ended up upside down, not far from the deck. Thankfully there was no damage done apart from a broken helmet and bruised ego. Cheers for the catch Gwen. A little shaken up I climbed back up and finished the pitch.

Gwen setting of on The Moon Pitch 2.
Gwen set off on the second (crux) pitch. It looked tricky, but she did really well before disappearing out of sight. Some time passed before I heard her shout safe. The ropes went tight and apprehensively I started climbing. At well went to plan until I made tricky moves up the steep wall. I managed to do these okay but unable to find a rest got pumped and had a rest on a rope. To my horror I could now see Gwen at the belay at least ten horizontal metres away. I'd been here before when I did Creeping Lima with Rob Greenwood. Paralyzed by fear I stood for an eternity. Trying to think of a way out. the only solution my frazzled brain could come up with was to abseil off the single runner, I was clutching, into the sea below! Thankfully Rob talked me out of this madness and I manned up and seconded the pitch. Interestingly he hasn't asked to go climbing with me since!

Gwen on the crux.
It went more smoothly this time and after de-pumping I traversed the thin band to the peg above the belay, where I had another rest before continued down the belay. I racked up and started off up the last pitch, but my head wasn't in the right place so I handed the lead over to Gwen, who cruised it. I managed to second it clean, but it's a hard pitch that doesn't let up.

Gwen on the final pitch.
 The next day Dunc and I headed back to Gogarth. We started with Aardvark, which Duncan cruised. The climbing is tricky, with lots of small gear. I'm not sure of the grade, but I was pleased to second it clean. I then had a look at Fail Safe, but lack of gear and sore arms from the day before put paid to that, so we headed for Cordon Bleau, which neither of us had done before. The routes not that great, but climbs through some impressive terrain. It does however have an excellent and quite tricky crux, which I was pleased to lead.

Duncan leading Aardvark
Jon Ratcliffe climbing out of the chimney on Rat Race pitch 2.
We then headed to Holyhead Mountain. Dunc had his eyes on Snakebite Wall. He put in a really good effort, giving it everything, before getting spat off when the route joins Penny. I then lead King Bee Crack, which I'd dogged late last year. I managed it clean this time, but not without a fight. It's a proper battle.

Duncan bitten by the snake.
Ollie and I were working in the Lakes this weekend, but managed a couple of routes at Castle Rock in the evening. The North Crag is currently banned due instability on the left hand side of the crag, but I don't see the harm in climbing on the right hand side. We did Harlot Face, which offered brilliant face climbing, with a scary first pitch. On the second evening with did Final Giggle. I tried it before getting pumped silly by the pegs. I'm not very good at trusting pegs and with no other gear in sight I handed the ropes to Burrows, who dispatched it without issue. I got up it fine on second, but it's a sandbag at E1. Looking at Ted Chesby abseiling off reminded me that they don't give E grades out like sweeties in the Lakes!

Ollie on the crux of Harlot Face.

Ollie bridging above the pegs on the crux of Final Giggle.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pant Ifan

Burdy and I headed to Pant Ifan but stupidly managed to forget the guidebook. Thankfully I've spent far too much time at Tremadog and can remember where most of the routes go.  I wanted to do Mangoletsi Direct Start, which I'd tried late last year Burrow, but unable to commit wimped out and escaped up the normal start. It went okay this time and I manned up above the RP and committed to a cool sequence on some of the roughest rock going.

Matt on the super sticky rock at the top of Mangoletsi Direct Start.
Matt finished up Mangoletsi but with no guide I unintentionally sandbagged Matt onto Mangoletsi Superdirect (E5 6b). He got up to the old peg before realizing the next moves definitely weren't 6a and came back down.  We managed to work out where the route actually went and Matt dispatched it with style.

Matt pulling over the crux roof.
The route is very well protected with a fierce and hard pull through to top roof (I wasn't good enough so after a couple of goes I stood in a sling). Above that it's okay, with more good gear, if you can hold it all together. The climbing is very high quality and deserves more attention, pity it isn't in North Wales Rock. It's clean at the moment so get on it!

Better luck next time Big Balls - Nice shades by the way...
As we abseiled down Barbarian we heard the unmistakable boom of Ben Alsford arriving at the crag. So we sandbagged him into leading Mangoletsi, which he couldn't do! Matt set of the first pitch of Itch E2 6a and took a couple of falls, trying to do the one desperate move, before pulling up on the runner. I tried to free it but ended up doing the same. I then lead the excellent top slab, which I'd done before.

Matt trying the heinous move on Itch pitch 1.

Me leading between the trees.
We finished off with a combination of Quakerman and Monkey Puzzle, which was very enjoyable on very rough rock. I was going to finish up Harvey Proctor's Spanking Slab but I ran out of quickdraws and, with out the guide, wasn't too sure where it actually went.

We then collected a load dead wood from bellow the crag, bought some beers, tin foil and fish and head to a beautiful sandy cover near Porthmadog, where we had a big fire and cooked dinner in the embers. Why would you want to live anywhere else?

Why would you want to live anywhere else?
Yum yum!