The Grindstone

Well, there’s nothing like work to keep you busy, and at the moment that’s just whats keeping me busy! After Friday with the Conway Centre teaching lead climbing to students, then a weekend teaching a Mountain Leader Refresher Course for PYB and now i have five days running a Rock Improver course for them, I am on day 5 of ten, so half way through the stint of work, and am having a ball really, working great courses with great people.

I am set to finish off the sessions of work with Steve Howe, helping him train some new RSPCA employees, in looking after themselves in the outdoors.

Today I was back at Craig Y Tonnau, teaching leading again. The weather was just as good as last time.

British Summer Time = Evening Cragging

Mike Raine capturing the first of the British Summer Time after work cragging tonight, on the uber classic Comes the Dervish E3

Well the clocks went forwards last night and whilst it gave a one less hour in bed if you were unlucky enough to have to go to work today, it did give enough light at the end of the day to allow after work cragging. I know a few keen types have been out after work already, but they are just too keen. Besides I need to wait for summer, which despite it now being the time of summer the weather struggle to follow suit, other than the sun of course, apart from that it was like a clears winters day, with snow on the hills and ice on a lot of the rock high up.

What’s in a Name?

I was thumbing through the latest addition of Summit, and saw a picture of Caff of The Unrideable Donkey, one of the instructors I work with said that it was him who named the route, or at least dreamt the name up. The story goes that the Spanish not well know for their animal rites had a couple of very sick practices that happened at what were village fetes/carnivals.

One was the Cat tests, where the a live cat was thrown of the church tower to see if it could land upright! Yes they all died a horrific death, a reason to avoid Spain, if the sheer number of Brit’s abroad isn’t enough to put you off. The other ritual was they got an extremely small donkey and put and extremely large person on the donkey who rode it till it collapsed. It was called the Unrideable Donkey.

Anyway this set Steve off on a trip down memory lane, and he got into the naming of a few other routes, in particular he climb Short Stories on Never Neverland, now for those who have done it recently the addition of the bolt, just before the top is a welcome friend. However this was never there on the first ascent, so the very tricky final moves had some potentially very long falls.

However the real story comes from the what the route was going to be called, given the adjacent routes being call Kubla Khan and Genghis Khan, the last of the Khan trilogy never got its name as the first ascentionist thought that the notorious member of the Caernarfon Khan Mafia that he was going to name the route after might not find it very funny. So Kenny Khan became Short Stories.

Another great story from the second ascent was Moose, who when he got to the final ledge, where a tricky 6a move leads to the top for the tall, and a near impossible move for the short. So to overcome this move Mike pulled up one rope and with it a piece of wood, and balancing it length ways up on the ledge to gain height, performing an act usually only seen in a circus. He reached the top with only one unusual point of aid!

The final route that is next to The Unrideable Donkey is the Mad Brown, which when Joe’s wife enquired about the boys climbing a new route named after her Joe, when it made it to the cover of High Magazine. The reply she got was that route wasn’t named after your husband it was named after your daughter, who was a well known and well liked fixture in the Llanberis party scene at the time.

Anyway a little of the History of the Llanberis new routing scene, I have to thank Steve for sharing those stories in the staff room of PYB this evening. Priceless. He also reminded me of the Boil all Irishmen, and Sex Lobster story, both routes named after a particularly nasty character in llanberis, he is still around from time to time, and when I was originally told the story of him being walked down the Easter Island gully descent by a local climber, to see if he could. I asked why he was hated so much. In my research I asked a few random Heights locals a few years back and whoever I ask about him the reaction of hatred was similar. The fact he used to rob to order said a lot about him? His nick name was the sex lobster so flushed was his face with the intake of alcohol, and so obsess with sex he was.

BMC Presidential Campaign!

Well, I was aware that the BMC was in the process of selecting a new President, after Charles Clarke comes to the end of his term, sitting on the National Council for the BMC I have seen with my own eyes the process that the council used to come up with a candidate, and Doug Scott’s name was on that list, however the National Council who represent all the geographic areas of the BMC felt that Rab had done such a good job as VP, and had appear ready, willing and able to get involved, and so after much deliberation it was voted that Rab would be the ‘official’ candidate.

I haven’t had much direct contact with Rab, but the few people we share as common friends and those few meetings have lead me to believe that Rab is an awesome and active all round climber, in that he boulders, climbs trad and sport climbs, and for a 60 year old he is burning me off. I like that about him, down to earth and never missing a trick. If you make sweeping generalisations like I do then I can almost guarantee that every National Council meeting I have been to he has brought me up on at least one of these brash statements. Rab full manifesto is here.

It was a few weeks ago that I heard of Doug Scott’s back to basics campaign, yet that was all I heard. Back to Basic, three words of political spin, if your going to steal a political slogan then I would have chosen one that wasn’t coined by the greyest and most boring man ever in the conservative party, John Major. Who famously lost that particular election, and any respect that the conservative party had at the time.

What really upset me with his back to basics campaign is his statement that he wishes to ensure that ‘Bolt Funds’ will fund the removal of bolts. What the hell does he think these funds are used for? The BMC has only supplied bolts, the individual bolt funds have to supply the drill, any equipment and of course the most important thing time. If he thinks some places need de-bolting then stand up and say which crags or route he disagrees with? From his statement he almost sounds like he thinks people get paid to ‘bolt’ crags, when in fact they are all volunteers. At the end of the day all you need to do to remove a bolt is make the effort to get to it, and often a spanner, failing that a hacksaw works alright. I am not sure whether Doug’s back to basics should be re-branded the Back to the Olden Days.

Anyway if you want the BMC to return to basics then sit at home, as I am sure that Doug has enough friends who will turn up to the BMC AGM to get him voted in as El President. If however you support Rab then please turn up or get a proxy voting form and vote at the AGM for Rab.

Anyway you can probably tell that I am not the BBC when it come to impartiality.

Doug Scott may well have achieved many fantastic climbing achievements in his life, however I really don’t think that he is the person for the job of President of the BMC. The figure head of our governing organisation I believe should be someone with current credentials, and I thinks Rab’s tick list last year says it all F8a at 60, if I can climb the stairs at that age I will be grateful.

Anyway there is more info in Summit Magazine, and on UKC

Crag X – Topo and Description

Well after I said that I wouldn’t reveal the location of the crag I went to today i decided that to hell with it, everybody will find out, so might as well help you to get there. It was a venue called Craig Y Tonnau, it is situated between betws-y-coed and bleaneau, just off the A470. As you drive from betws to bleaneau you’ll pass through a small village call Dolwydelan, just after the village you’ll pass the castle, then the road eventually passes over the river, a little further along is a turn signposted to one of the more remote and unused railway station (Roman Bridge).

Take this road and follow it passed one hairpin right and then a another less obvious one left, pass through a farmyard, and continue on past a gate, just past this is a open flat area in front of a house. Park here and follow the track into the forest, after 300metres is a line of telegraph poles, leading left into the forest, follow this along a feint path, until at the high point of the poles, after about 45m the path leads over a small ridge and down to the crag. Enjoy

Crag X, Y and Z

Well I have spent the day teaching four students lead climb at a secret crag in North Wales. I have photos, however I don’t really want to give the name of the crag because for a quality single pitch venue, it was notably devoid of any other climbers or groups. The routes range form VD to HVS with a large collection in the VD/severe range, so its an impeccable crag for people starting out, it is just nice that no one uses it. Looking at the upper tier at tremadog i simply wouldn’t want that to happen to this crag, as when it is busy with groups the upper tier is ridiculous.

It is so out of the way that most of the routes where developed from the 1990’s onwards. The rock has a beautiful gritty texture to the touch, and a series of undulating waves make it a like a miniature version of Altantic slab at the end of the ogwen valley. The the sun even came out. I would say it is possible the best single pitch lead climbing venue in North Wales.

Anyway I worked with a legend among instructors today, whilst I have run into him at crags and other places I haven’t work for him before. That man is Tim Jepson, who has help educate some of the most well qualified teachers of outdoor education in the UK, for many years. Tim has run a Post Graduate Certificate in Outdoor Education at Bangor University for many years, his course turns out around 12 teacher/instructors a year. After I chatted to the other instructor I was working with, it was funny because he said that was where Tim was going to suggest to us take them!

Anyway I am looking forward to next week when I am hoping to go back to this fantastic venue.

Fine Dining

Well, I discovered late last night that my phone whilst being on wasn’t actually receiving a signal, thankfully the person who had been trying to get hold of me had taken the trouble to walk round the house and make the request that I come to tea. It wasn’t that far out of his way as I can throw a ball from my front door to his. However the dinner invite was well received, as Huw is a professional chef.

In fact Huw started Pizza and Pint nights in the Gallt Y Glyn many years ago now, it was through all those nights eating pizzas that we realised that we had something in common, and that was drinking, although my stamina isn’t what it once was. We have also spent some time travelling and generally acting the fool. Huw once lent me and Llion a KTM 520cc motorbike. It was possibly the stupidest thing all three of us had ever done. The last time I had been on a bike was a 50cc twist and go that some kid had back when I did my GCSE’s some 15 years ago now. Anyway we all lived just, although I won the big air competition, which I achieve by mistake, who’d have thought hitting the top of a slate incline at 30mph would put you that high in the air!

Anyway, last night Huw taught me how to make a risotto, and filled me through of very nice food and wine. The menu was mushroom, chirzo, anchovy risotto starter, followed by undyed smoke haddock with a cheese and mustard sauce with carrot things, followed by a fantastic rhubarb and custard suflay (sic). Anyway I was pissed by the starter, so today I have been trying to finish my assignment and managed to get in handed in. (I should save getting really drunk until after I have handed in school work!)

Other than that today i have been trying to keep my food down, as that last glass of wine might well have pushed me over the edge!

Grants for Mountaineering Clubs?

The Vagabond Club Hut in Nant Peris that has recently been decorated, and is constantly worked on.

I was shown a thread on UKC asking for help raising funds for climbing hut repairs and renovations. This was a topic that was put through the BMC national council, and I for was dead set against it as I thought that the majority of participants at the BMC Cymru meetings would feel that spending their BMC membership money on renovating a club hut that is frequented mainly by club member rather than BMC members is simply a misuse of their membership fee’s.

I would hypothesise that first the majority of climbing clubs have a traditional representation of the higher echelons of the typical climber in terms socio-economic demographic (So they might have a £1 or 2 to spare?). They also get fee’s from members as well as hut fee’s which one must presume is to help fund the on going up keep of their facilities. I know the Climbers Club encourage its members to organise ‘works meets’ so that if their members are bored enough with home based DIY, they can come and bodge it and scarper on the Climbing Club properties.

Then of course there is the notion that many of these club huts were purchased many years ago, and there is a potentially vast amount of equity that could be ‘freed up’ to pay for a renovation or make over. Why a normal member of the BMC or other grant awarding body should pay out for what is essentially a ‘private members club’ I don’t know.

Classic Desert Climbs

Well after the wall last night I went to the pub, and in the process of getting home I jumped ship from Dave’s car to Tim’s pimp van. Apart from the vehicle looking ridiculous small, as I was surrounded by two giants among men. In front of me was a guidebook called ‘Classic Desert Climbs’. Having inadvertently stumbled across this book i have subsequently ‘borrowed’ it from Tim to plan the US road trip, as well as gotten some great thoughts on what routes we need to bag whilst we are out there.

Tim recommended Primrose Dihedral and the guide also includes the Cock screw summit, one of the most famously distinctive summits to these mud stone towers in the world. To me it seems like it should be a rite of passage for anyone passing through the area. We also have one of the Castleton towers routes on the list.

So that’s three routes already, to add to the list of things to do between Denver and LA, with the addition of Scenic Cruise-Black Canyon of Gunnison, Moonlight Buttress-Zion, Epinephrine-Red Rock that should keen us busy. It would be great to climb a route in Eldorado Canyon (naked Edge?!) and possibly a route on the Devil’s Tower but i have a feeling that it is too far off the beaten track.

I want to be here, NOW!!!!

Imagery Scripts: Bouldering Content

Well I introduced the concept of scripts for imagery a while back, and thought I’d elaborate the concept to allow you to develop a script for a boulder problem that you can climb in overlapping sections but not yet link. Meaning that basically you can do every move but need help in making the route climb as efficiently as possible. To do this we want to concentrate on the not only a sequence but a series of stimuli and desired responses that we might have when climbing it.

As well as a starting point of a script, which in the case of a boulder problem should be just before you start the problem, and include you focusing and psyching up for the route. As well as the most important if not all the aspects of the sequence. In addition to this movement information we are also going to try to include movement as a stimuli and add desired responses or more simply put thoughts, feeling and meaning to the problem.

So the starting paragraph to the story of the boulder problem might read.

Sitting below the boulder, you focus on the staring holds and channel my energy, you feel strong, and know the sequence. You are confident in your ability to climb to the best of your ability. Taking two last deep breathes you feel the energy fill your body. As you watch yourself (this is from an external perspective) grasp the first holds you imagine yourself as a machine, the holds feel bigger than ever and your muscles like pistons on a charging steam train…..

One the crux you might use.

…reaching the pinch at the start of the crux, it feels better than ever and your body feels confident that you will succeed on the crux. As you set up for the crux you see yourself drive with your legs and explode upwards towards the next hold and slap it, instantly you see your fingers hit the hold and hear the slap and feel them lock solidly onto the hold, as you watch your body swings wildly out you know you have stuck it, and as you wait for the body to swing back to place you feet back on the foothold you feel the excitement of success…..

At the top.

….reach for the last hold you feel tired, but know you have enough energy to make the final mantelshelf. Steadying yourself you hold back the excitement and wait for the moment that you stand up on the top of the boulder. You have trained hard for this moment and deserve this moment of personal glory.