Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no google, then how would I have found those lyrics, without listen to the song or finding someone with the album. I was one of the many people who was caught out by Google going down. With the return message coming up on all searches that clicking this link may harm your computer, meant that I was stuck, wondering whether either A. I had a virus or B. Google was infected/effected!

My computer being corrupted seemed the more likely but UKC came to my aid and calmed me down from the worry of having to buy a new computer showing that the problems was a wider than just me. I wonder whether it will make the news, after all Google seems to be a integral part of most peoples life now, I use it to shop and research so many things it’s untrue!

Anyway seems the cyberquake, that took out the essential online infrastructure was short lived today!

Revelations by Jerry Moffat

Jerry Moffat has been a climbing hero for several generations of climbers, when I started climbing he was into hard bouldering, and making iconic films link one summer, stick it, stone love, buoux 8c and the real thing. Often with his strong man sidekick Ben Moon, this pair have set climbing a light over the years. So it was great to here that Jerry had finally penned a biography, Revelations.

Now I have never meet Jerry, but a good friend of mine who when i was at college used to sit down and watch obsessively all the films mentioned above, is now a good friend of Jerry’s. They meet at Tom’s home break of solva, just outside Saint David’s, and Tom informs me that despite not really climbing that much anymore he can still crank it out, but is just as into catching the perfect wave.

Now whilst I haven’t started reading his book yet, my house mate brought and finished it yesterday, and kept me informed about Jerry’s progress through climbing. From his start at St David’s College in Llandudno, a school that is still famed for its Outdoor Education programme, through to making the first ascents of routes like Master’s Wall, Liquid Amber as well as many others, along with early repeats of previous desperate route.

One of the themes missing from this book seems to be the lack of any mention of the word work through most of it. Which when my housemate brought it up half way through the book I remember a TV programme, that might shed light on the question of how Jerry funded his lifestyle.

I had gone into have my tyres change, I probably had a MOT the next day! Whilst I sat and waited for the work to be carried out I heard a voice eminate from the TV that I recognised from somewhere. Turning around I realise that it was Jerry and his partner on some property ladder programme, there was some mention of there portfolio, which lets just say was reasonable impressive for a rock climber. So Jerry seems to be a property tycoon, whether the cash came from family who knows? May be I’ll find out in the book of Revelations!

Although I have yet to read the book, the response and the sheer depth and breadth of his climbing, make it a book I look forward to reading, although I still have to battle through Andy Kirkpatricks book first. Jerry is, after all many climbers hero and a legend in his own life time.

Team Cymru

Fading into the background, Pete Robins (out of focus) whilst James McHaffie takes the limelight after climbing Strawberries in 2007.

Whilst we don’t have a terrible large community, for instance the general population of the whole of North Wales is probably less than a large city like Manchester or Sheffield, but what we do have is a small, close and vibrant scene, that still manages to knock out product on a level that meets if not exceeds what the rest of the UK and at time the world manage. This week has been particularly good for North Wales, firstly news on UKC that Floppy has got a Font 8b+ ticked in some obscure European bouldering haunt, along with Nodder who also managed to knock out an 8b.

These guys aren’t cutting edge full timers professional climber, but the type of obsessive amateur that I had the privilege film a few years back and capture there lifestyles at the time in the Amateur Hardcore. Now Dave still works in the same climbing wall, where he trains a fair amount and still gets out on his days off. Whilst Chris currently works for Outlook Expeditions, where he oversees oversea expeditions on a 9 to 5 basis and fore fills his father role to his kids the rest of the day and still manages to get out and knock out Stella lines. Is it the kind of power they are born with or can it be trained? Who knows, my guess is that in between the climbing they’ve probably drank more than there share of alcohol, and had a proper good time!

Floppy attempting Pools of Bethesda a while ago now!

If that bouldering news wasn’t enough I was told by his bubbling girlfriend tonight at the wall that Pete Robins has had one of the days of his life on the Grit. Now I have heard of and witnessed Pete’s fitness on Grit and other rock mediums and it is truly inspirational. So to hear that he has had one of the climbing days of his life, really made me wonder what he had done. I knew he was heading over to try a problem he had spied several years ago, but gave up on when he moved to Wales, handing it over to Adam Long, who showed it to James McHaffie who nearly climbed it early this week.

So I wasn’t surprised to hear Pete had made a quick ascent of this, however another hard problem was mentioned that I can’t remember the name of along with an ascent of Renegade Master, no doubt done ground up, and a onsight of End of the Affair. Now I expect that some statement will follow saying that due to have seen a film of someone climbing it Pete is not claiming the true on-sight, but as style goes that is fantastic.

Pete Robins Training at ‘The Mill’

Now Pete isn’t a full time climber either, Dr Robins is a extremely talented mathematician who creates dynamic models of coastal environments to show the effects of global warming. Working four days a week, 9 to 5 in an office, seems to allow him to develop a massive amount of psyche and determination to get out there and climb it. Climbing is in his blood his father is manager of the Edge in Sheffield and Pete cut his teeth on the gritstone edge’s before moving to Wales to attend university where he’s been burning us all off every since.

One of the ‘things’ that seems to be important in Wales is the style you climb a route, to the extent that a couple of days ago in the pub, I mentioned that I wanted to climb a route that was probably too hard for me but I’ll accept a dogged ascent. The route was Conan the Librarian and I expected the likes of Pete and Jack Geldard to have climbed it, hoping for some beta or a offer of pay back from numerous belaying duties for Pete, it turned out that neither of them had climbed it because they all what to try and on-sight the first pitch. So whilst Caff has climbed it three times, the rest of Wales ‘big guns’ and the overambitious me are in a kind of Mexican stand off waiting for someone to back down on climbing the first pitch.

Anyway North Wales is great, as are the climbers who pretty much made Al Lee’s film ‘Onsight’, although I was lucky enough to film a few of those characters in my film from a few years back Between the Rain. When I am sat on my arse typing I often wonder at the community in which I live.


I have just come back from being sat in the famous climbing pilgrimage site of Pete’s Eat, you’ll be glad to know I didn’t eat the food (I am in training!). Now whilst there I observed two things the first was that only one person I know seems to have been brave enough to climb outside today, and on a north facing Dinas Mot, in the wind tunnel known as Llanberis Pass. He looked cold, very very cold in fact. 

Other than this outrageous behaviour, I also noticed that for the first time since pete’s eats was extended that notice board appears to have been cleared up. Meaning that there is now lots of space to put up a few flyers for you guiding business. So looking to get ahead of the pack I have done a little market research, on many of the advertisers on this wall. The majority of which proclaim to be be local, yet I have never heard of, that are selling themselves as the ‘Best outdoor activity provider in North Wales’, I still haven’t finished laughing at that one.
Who in there right mind looks at a advert blatantly knock together on a PC, and thinks that this must be the premiere provider of outdoor activities in North Wales. A bold statement for any centre or business to make given the volume of the industry in North Wales. By the adverts on the wall in Petes there are at least three companies claiming to be the best something in North Wales, me thinks it might be “Bull@£$%ter’s”.
So it got me thinking that I might design a poster on my PC, with the most outrageous slogans on so here is what I came up with, I do warn you I got a little silly towards the end.
“The best provider of Outdoor Activities on Earth”
“The most recommended courses on in Wales”
“I’d recommend his courses to anyone (If he paid me too!)”
“Amazing he’s still alive”
“Only killed four clients … but negligence was never proved!”
“Shit climber, rubbish businessman and annoying to be with”
“Misadventure for everyone!”
“A least we are Cheap”
Whilst I might be a little facetious there, the fact still remains that not everyone with a piece of paper are equally qualified to instruct. Sure they have the same qualification, but looking at the Mountain Instructor Award which simply assesses a persons ability to climb to VS in standard, rescue someone from that terrain, provide a safe and structured day of teaching rock climbing, take people up grade II/III scrambles and navigate above the level of an ML.
Beyond that there are various level of both competence and experience. For instance if you want to be guided up a VS and your instructor has an MIA there is no reason to say that they can still climb that grade. Or if they can whether they are going to spend all day on one route. I have worked at Plas Y Brenin, where all the staff pretty much have a grade or four in hand on VS, so you’ll easily get the mileage in. However other than by asking fairly probing questions you aren’t going to find out what grade you guide claims to climb!
The second major variable is that of coaching, very little time is spent covering this on the MIA training/assessment. Even then the assessor might only have his own experience to call on rather than a formal theoretical background. In climbing there are only just moves a foot to develop a coaching structure in addition to teaching of the more traditional rope work and safety. Whilst forms of coaching do exist, none have been formally taught.
To equip myself better I went back to university and studied applied sport science and effective coaching at Master’s Level, but there is very little I can do to help stand out from a very large crowd of MIA holders. Similarly people like Katherine Schumacher have a strong background in coaching, and worked backwards to get her MIA, one of the only ‘celebrity’ climbing coaches to do so.
It doesn’t mean that the other celebrity coaches aren’t safe, they have truck loads of experience, that they use to keep there clients safe. Many of them work to very high levels of best practice, however there is no ‘official’ rubber stamping for them, so whilst you might think they are keeping your safety as a priority no body has given their actions a once over to check that they actually are!
My point is that often what stands us apart is the market that we attach to our brochures, websites and flyers and even that is often a bunch of lies. As small independent instructor dot coms pop up everywhere how do clients truly know what they are getting without relying on word of mouth?
If you’d like to visit then please do, I offer the best courses in north wales, llanberis, goodman street or none of the above?

Fifty Classic Climbs of North American

There is an old book that until this year I had heard of and only seen the list of routes it contains, a kind of classic/hard/extreme rock on acid for the North American Continent. I am lucky enough to rent a room in a house where as well as all the above books, there is also a copy of Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.

Now for a while I have realised that this is perhaps the ultimate in tick list for an American let alone a Brit, who lives in Wales. However I have for many years wished to start ticking in a Munroist kind of fashion all the routes in this most select of selective guides. So far I have managed to tick The Lost Arrow Spire, Half Dome regular NW Face, Salathe Wall and The Lotus Flower Tower. I am planning this year in re-visiting this list however as climbing standards have developed and the fashion of ascent have change I am starting to realise that the ‘list’, as historic as it might be is actually very dated in its content.

So rather than concentrate on ticking this guide I am working on deciding on a list of newer modern routes that capture the age and the style of the modern idiom. With a plan of flying into Denver and head west, trying to tick as many classic rock routes as possible. For instance the Black Canyon of Gunnison isn’t in the fifty classic routes, however what route to choose if you are going to only spend a day there before moving on. I have been recommended the Scenic Cruise there, but have no idea of what route to climb at Eldorado Canyon.

Whilst the Titan, the Diamond and Castle rock made it into Roper’s and Steck’s 50 classic climbs, the route choice however, despite being historic, aren’t necessarily the routes you’d do in a day of free climbing! So if you doing a neighbouring harder route would you get the tick?Similarly routes like Epinephrine in Red Rocks don’t make it onto the list because they were not climbed before the guidebook came out.

As such I am in the process of creating the ultimate holiday tick list, which is a great way to get psyched. I just need to save up for the flights now!

School Work

View from my Campus
Despite being a little old for little school, I am a rather ageing student at that big school most people call university. To say that I came here by mistake is a little of an understatement, I was bored two years ago, and had such a small amount of work on I figured that I could fit a post graduate part-time MSc in Applied Sport Science in between my work.
To a certain extent I have proved myself right, however it wasn’t all that easy, but I guess most people my age make sacrifices to their families or loved one. The joys of being single is the sheer selfishness you can indulge in, shall I stay out till the early hours, hell yes!
Anyway back to my point because believe or not there was one, and it was about the lack of any blogging activity over the last few days. It is all down to school work I am afraid, having passed all but the units to do with my thesis, means that I only go to school to see my supervisor, which is where I was on  Tuesday morning, discussing my impending deadline to produce a prequel to my thesis, an independent study.
So I have been flat out writing up a research proposal based on the title, ‘The Interactive effect of Pre-Imagery Activation State and Individual Differences on the Efficacy of Imagery on Bouldering Task’.

Repairing Split Tips

Split tips are a small but very annoying injury that can end a day out climbing for all but the most hardcore climbers. There are ways to help aid the repair of a split tip as well as prevent them happening in the first place; and although you wouldn’t think it even the gnarliest of boulderers has more hand care products than Paris Hilton.

First a split tip, isn’t a cut or graze to the tip, but a weakness in the skin cause often through excessive climbing on small crimps and sharp holds. This tear in the skin to the sub-dermal layer, is both painful and bloody; and once you fingers have split, they often split again and again in the same place. To avoid this happening in the first place you can sand all the skin down on the finger pad after each session you stop any line of weakness occurring.

As well as sanding you need to get a good hand cream, so something with Aloe Vera, vitamin A and E, anything aimed at repairing and moisturising skin. Many climber have there own preferred brand, however Climb on Cream/Bars are a good start if you don’t fancy braving the hand care section of Boots.

In the event of a tip splitting there are several remedy’s, the first is to get some super glue, and glue it back together, this ‘patching up’ will often allow the day to be extended. I know many people will think I am crazy, but super glue was apparently designed for emergency surgery in Vietnam, as such it can easily stick skin together.

In order to cure it as quickly as possible, try avoiding really fingery problems for a while, but also really go to town on the sanding down the pad, it is extremely painful, but unless you get the whole finger pad down to the level of the split then the weakness will stay there. Again skin care products in association with this are critical. It will often take several days of sanding and moisturising to repair.

By the end of it your friends will be looking at you filling away at your finger tips thinking you’ve gone mad. However the damage we cause our hands through tiny holds and the drying effect of chalk, you’ll need to start looking after your hands if they are to do us justice.

BBC: High Altitude and Explore series

I Don’t know how many of you guys caught High Altitude and Explore last night, these two new BBC series both seem like they are aimed at the emerging extreme travel markets. Which despite the fact that climbers and other extreme sports men and women having engaged with this type of activity for years, it is only now that it appears to be going more ‘mainstream’ and turning up on the BBC.

The Explore programme was a different perspective on the ‘Travel Show’, no fake tan or the usual suspects flouncing around on a beach, just a few apparently well seasoned travellers taking you on some of the must see and do things of South America, I particularly liked the football match as it was a little ‘intense’, however they also take a look at the natural side of the countries like the glaciers and mountains.

I thought it was an excellent little programme, well worth catching if your about, if not then get on the BBC I-player. Similarly High Altitude has some potential to offer the ‘extreme’. This week it was failing to get up Mount Blanc and Sky Diving out of a helicopter down the North Face of the Eiger!

If I am honest, I am not sure where this programme will go or what it was going to say about anything, other than letting Graeme Bell former downhill skier and a series of famous co-presenters a well paid extreme trip to some place or another. Considering the dearth of this type of programme, it is still probably worth catching on I-player at the very least.

Fitzroy Ascent for North Wales Local

I was at the climbing wall tonight and ran into Louise Neil, the wife of local climbing guru and Plas Y Brenin head of rock climbing Tim Neil. She let slip that Tim is enjoying his five week holiday to Patagonia, having already climbed Poincenot, Fitzroy and another small peak. With a bit of time left over I am sure Tim and climbing partner Matt Stygall will be look towards the climber’s mountain of mountains Cerro Torre.

I wish them luck, and only someone as driven as Tim could be psyche for virtually ticking the must do routes in an area like Patagonia in just five weeks!

A Moroccan Adventure?

Llion Morris on a crack in Trafroute
UPDATE 2012 – For a Adventure Climbing Holiday visit Snowdonia Mountain Guides to see our exciting new winter sun rock trip.
With money tight this winter and the strong euro, skiing in Europe has become prohibitively expensive for many people. Travelling further a field also has some problems, however there is one destination that can offer some rather adventurous winter sun, for either the sport climbing, boulders or trad climber. So if you’d like a proper ‘travelling experience’, but haven’t got tonnes of cash then think closer to home than India or south America and think of Morocco. A few years ago now I headed out there with a few friends, but rather than fly direct to Marakesh, we went a round and about route to add to the adventure.

In the spirit of adventure I am only going to give you an overview of what we did, and how we got there. What I’d like to say now is that this trip was an absolute hoot, at the most there was eight of us, and the least 4. It was as good if not better than going to hampi, because not only was it significantly cheaper, but the bouldering has a similar adventurous feel (I went to hampi back in 1998 just before it became popular).

Anyway we got to our first destination Tafroute via an EasyJet flight to alacante, a train to the city then a bus to a nearby ferry port, a ferry to tangers a train from to Marakesh, and overnight stay in the large city of markesh to enjoy the night market (Samonella Central!) another bus journey to Agadiar (A classic surfing destination), followed by a grand taxi to Tafroute.

Tafroute is great for some granite bouldering, a limited amount of sport and trad climbing. We 8 of us stayed in two rooms and a balcony, sleeping under the stars on top of the roof. We stay here for a about two weeks, before moving onto Todra Gorge. Of particular note is the painted rocks, a piece of art from some crazy European whose thought that some a liberal coating of emulsion would spice up this sleepy back water. Similarly for climbers there is some metamorphasied Quartzite mountains, now for any gogarth devotee you’d know that these rock is Goagrth Rock, so there are some excellent Trad climbs around the village, many ascended by our very own Joe Brown. There is even a cicerone guide.

We opted to hire a drive and landrover to take us cross country via the Sahara dessert, a great choice because out driver was the Stig’s Africans Cousin. The one bit of the trip I have never been allowed to forget was stopping off in the middle of a barren sahara, I ran ahead to take some video of the landrover driving past.

Shoot in the can, the Land rover comes back to pick me up. Rushing to get my cameras back in their bag I quickly jump on board. A few minutes later I shout ‘Stop!!!, I have forgotten my glasses’. Jumping out I look across flat and barren hard baked mud, and see nothing. The driver turns round and drives right back to them!

The Painted Rocks

Anyway we then went onto spend a week in Tondra Gorge sport climbing up some of the best single and multipitch sports route I have ever come across. Although having never been on a sport climbing holiday that might not be much of a statement.

What I would say is if you are looking for an alternative for a cheap adventure climbing trip, maybe add morrocco to the list. Below are some images I found on a disk my friend gave me when I returned, it was pre digital so some of the images aren’t up to my normal standard (sorry!)

Chris Rayburn boulder Tafroute

Mark Reeves stopping the traffic on a F7b+ in Todra Gorge

Several Classic 10-12 pitch route from F6a+ to F6c climb this wall (wrong way up here!)

Mark reeves on top of the 10 pitch VS ridge of Tondra Gorge

The VS ridge of Todra Gorge

Tafroutes granite landscape

The road to Tafroute

A Classic if not painfully sharp hand crack

Easy Slab

Highball boulder problem

An Awesome F6a+, looking up Todra Gorge

Crag X somewhere in committee