Back on Training Form!

Well after the flu last week i have been struggling to re find my form for training, in fact it had been a while since I got out running or climbing. However in the last couple of days I have managed two loops of the lake, and a couple of climbing wall session, as well as lots of cerebral training in the form of writing my research proposal.

Today i seemed to be back on form, and after running round the lake in the opposite direction and setting a new PB of 44 minutes, I then went to the climbing wall with Dave, who has just return from slapping around Scotland for two months. It was a great session, and Dave is as keen as ever to get fit and strong. I showed him some of my bouldering circuits unfortunately after the run and climbing 10 easy routes and a F7a on the lead wall, the oak had gone from my shoulders.

Anyway I have to eat something soon, otherwise I’ll starve!

Is this Misleading Marketing?

Now I have no problem with marketing climbing, I myself regularly promote climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering to those that I introduce. I have mentioned before that I found some business/marketing claims in outdoor instruction provision to be a little OTT. “Best Outdoor course provider in North Wales” by a company I had never heard of was just stunning. However there is much subjective debate in a service industry as to who is best.

Not so with carabiners, as this adverts makes out that they have the lightest ‘keylock’ screwgate carabiner in the world ever at 43 grammes. I have mentioned this lightest carabiner issue before, but given that some time has passed, and they are still using the same market I felt I should mention it again. However I am sure that wild country are more than aware that their competitors DMM have recently launched a ‘keylock’ screwgate carabiner that weighs in at only 41 grammes. Now I am no scientist but when I was a young lad 41 grammes was less weight than 43! Now there is no ambiguity here, both are keylock, both have a screwgate, yet one weighs less than the other. Now there is no abiguity here it is pretty cut and dry, one is lighter than the other.

It just seems wrong to me that Wild Country are misleading potential customers, climbers are pretty shrewd, and will remember things like that. Why they don’t change the advert slightly I’ll never know, trust goes two ways, and I know it is a competitive time in every industry with the economy, but please treat your customers with the respect they deserve.

Sunday Boast!

Well just finished another day teaching scrambling on a PYB Discover Scrambling, I was a bit scrambled out by the end of the four days working on two different courses. However today was a nice adventure up Seniors ridge and down Y Gribin (please don’t call it Y Gribin Ridge, as that translates to The ridge ridge).

Anyway got back today, and remembered that it was Mother’s Day, why, oh why, do I consistently forget this day? Are men genetically programmed to forget important dates? Why waste millions on researching the human G-Nome, and not look into why man are useless with dates, or is it just me. I managed to get a phone call in late in the day, however I am sure that she wouldn’t have wanted to hear gale force winds on the summit of Glyder Fawr today.

I was having the usual mother son chat and got talking about Potatoes, and why is it that some potatoes, can be roasted for hours on gas mark one million and never brown. Yet some will crisp up real easy. Now I instantly advised my mum to the Maris Piper in the king of the roasting potatoes, but apparently regardless of potato type there is still occasionally the issue of non-browning potatoes.

Given that I was invited round to a friends for a Sunday roast after a climbing session this even it seemed appropriate that I blog on the art of prefect roasties. Some people prefer the parboil first others, myself included go for the straight in the oven approach. Of course the oil has to be pre-heat first or its just not cricket.

Tryfan, Again!!!!

Well, its bad isn’t it when you get up in the morning, and have to instruct people in the art of scrambling up the North Ridge of Tryfan, for the second time in three days. A lesser man would bemoan the work. However it was another lovely day until just before the summit, after that I really didn’t see that much until we got back to the road, after the hill fog came in.

Another one of those days that you’d like to shove the Snowdonia MetOffice Forecast up the arse of the guy who wrote it, and call him a liar! Brightening throughout the day my arse. 

One thing I did see today was the rock scar from the block that fell down Little and North gully’s over the winter. The block looks like it was the size of a family car, and having been down the gully yesterday and seen the debris it has left. I can only say that I hope nobody was in the gully at the time, as they wouldn’t have had a chance.

Best Scrambles in the UK: Crib Coch Traverse

The Long Slog up the east Ridge of Crib Coch

Well, working on a scrambling course it seemed only fitting that after climbing the classic scramble up Tryfan, that we do one of the finest mountain journey’s in the UK. The traverse of Crib Coch. For many this is the must-do route in Wales. For me it brings about mixed emotions. It however the Best alpine style Knife Edge ridge in the UK. It can out class anything that Scotland has to offer at the grade, and as for the Lake District, well it really for the red sock brigade.

Crib Coch or the Red Ridge as it translates in english, is a despite its popularity a serious place, on average 2-3 people die a year on this traverse. Where one trip can lead to dire consequences. Having seen the mess left behind, I can’t warn enough against waiting until you have the experience and the weather conditions (preferable a still and fine day).

The route, follows the PYG (named after the Pen Y Gwryd Hotel) to the first major col. Where a signpost point what to most people will be the obvious hard way up Snowdon, Crib Coch. From here the going starts to get tougher, and small buttress warm you up, until eventually you reach the first of two rock bands. Passing the first of these is the physical crux, however it is a long slog up to reach the start of ridge proper.

We sat at the start of this ridge and soaked in the atmosphere of being on a footpath in the sky, and had quick elevensies. The ridge it not technically hard, however it has the habit of testing people emotionally. A sport psychologist would suggest that the anxiety that it produces can turn a competent walker basically into a 4 year old kid still trying to find their feet. Its called conscious processing, and so anxious are people not to slip they overthink walking and basically become bambi on ice. So be warned, this is no place for amatuer. My phone regularly beeps, and says “Team to Nant, Crag Fast crib coch”. So unless you want to be a LLMRT statistic or worse, then make sure you know what you are doing.

The pinnacles that follow the ridge are no sweet shop either, the number of ‘options’ means that no one way seems clear. If you get over them then Crib Y Drysgyl lead to Carnedd Ugain and then onto Snowdon Fortess! Today we descent down the top of the watkin path and then down Y Cribau, although you can descend down the PYG/Miners or go for the whole horseshoe by carrying on over Llewedd.

The Summit of Crib Coch (foreground) and Snowdon (background)

The Knife Egded Ridge of Crib Coch

One Man and his Dog on Crib Coch!

Know your sock types: Red Socks

No, not the Boston Red Soxs, but Red Socks, that “Fashion” accessory that many bimberly rambler wear. I would say that it is a form of neo-socialist/communist statement, or a badge of honour for all ramblers club members, either way it is sad, although communism is looking favourable in the current economic climate. Whatever the reason for wearing red sock round town, there is no excuse on the hill.

You’re not some latter day member of the mass Trespass of kinder scout, as back then I can only assume socks came in wool colour or red (Rationing after the war!), your only choice was what stitch your mum knitted them in. You are a sad person, who must have searched high and low for a pair of socks the colour of the devil, you are evil, or at the very least very naughty.

Be warned, it is this season fashion faux pas!

Snowdon Summit – Station, Cafe or fortress?

Snowdon Summit Fortress 

It has been many months since I have visited the summit of Snowdon. Last time was before the winter set in, and it was essentially a building site. Today I venture up there on a scrambling course more of that in a later post. What alarmed me now all the scaffolding is down, and the stone work is essentially complete is that rather than a summit station and cafe we have the highest Pill Box in the UK. I mean the place looks like a fortress from the outside. As towering stone walls dominate the front of the building, and to be honest the summit of Snowdon.

I remember many years ago now going to the public enquiry in the Victoria Hotel, and some architect say that the angle of the roof will mean that from the summit very little will be seen because the view will be along it. Well I can categorically say that either the architect needs to measure again or the builder thought, yeah, whatever, we’ll build it like this instead.

Whilst before the old porta-cabin of the summit was described as the highest slum in Britain by prince Charles, I am left with several miss givings over this new summit fortress. In fact I would love him to pass his judgement and sum up this monstrosity in a sentence. If Armageddon happens this building looks like it would hold up to a nuclear blast or two. 

The dressed stone that adorns not only the building but the garden wall and country house steps that lead up to the summit, are set as a desperate juxtaposition with the ‘natural’ stone that has every available angle other than a right angle. Sadly its designers feel that a natural building material equals a natural look. Sadly they are wrong, there are simple too many straight lines and right angles in this building for it to ‘blend in’.

Lesson learnt? Even award winning architects are shit at designing summit cafe/stations on the snowdon. Mind you it was probably designed by committee, which given the lesson learned by millennium dome which was famously filled with attraction designed by committee, perhaps we should have expected it to look awful and be as functional as a chocolate tea pot. Still next time we need to waste £9 million we can have it rebuilt!

There was an argument about building it out of local slate, rather than imported slate. To be honest I didn’t seen any slate in the main structure, its all ugly fake looking rock. In fact looking back at the photos I realise than they have used rock that has no good reason to be on the summit of Snowdon, it is grey and boring. Snowdon rock is full of impurities that giving it hue and colour. 

Judge for yourself from the photos, and add a comment as to whether you think this building ‘blends in’ with the mountain?

The Roof of the Summit Cafe on Snowdon

Looking down on the Highest Eyesore in the UK 

Natural Stone clashing with the New Snowdon Summit Building

Warm and Homely? Not!

Best Scrambles in the UK: North Ridge of Tryfan

Cresting the North Tower on the North Ridge of Tryfan

Well, I have been out working today on arguably one of the best scrambles in the UK, Tryfan. A mountain in wales that is so steep it is often mused that you can’t climb it without using your hands. Today I taught a lovely couple to scramble by getting them to head up the Classic North Ridge of Tryfan. This route cuts an impressive line straight from the road and is on many walkers and mountaineers tick list, as a must-do route. When I first climbed this route up Tryfan years ago when on a school trip I knew that I wanted to be an outdoor instructor, twenty years on and I am living the dream.

Anyway, we went all the way up the North Ridge and didn’t take the chicken run round the side of the North Tower. The weather was more than favourable, it was perfect, sunny and virtually still weather. Instead we took the very intimidating line up the tower, which if you are an experienced at scrambling then this is the best line. The sustained nature of the route, the lack of any walking in, make this one of the best grade 1 scramble in the UK.

On the summit, there is a classic challenge that less and less people seem to do. In fact I haven’t done the jump from Adam to Eve for a good long while. The story goes that by making this jump you are granted the freedom of the mountain. Whilst when your up there its looks like a massive leap, it is in fact more of small step, over cook it and the result might not be very pleasant, as you are pretty much out there.

Anyway here are pictures of two people who gained the freedom of the mountain today! I apologise in advance for tomorrows blog on another of the Best Scrambles in the UK, and I also think I am on a Scrambling course at the weekend. So expect a few scrambling/stupid idiots trying to kill themselves at the the weekend, given the weather I put money on it turning into silly season!

Dave jumps from Adam to Eve on the Summit of Tryfan on his birthday

Another Birthday boy Ed leads the way from Adam to Eve on Tryfan

Pen Y Pass – MASH set!

Well as I went to work this morning and return this evening I passed Pen y Pass, and saw a Helicopter coming into land, which is quite rare. It reminded me of MASH, the cult TV show, I have embedded the theme tune from Youtube. I don’t know what they are doing but I am meant to be going up Crib Coch tomorrow, so might ask a Warden if I see one.

My guess is that they are doing some footpath repair, and were flying in the staff, although yesterday there was a helicoptor flying in the rocks, on the Llanberis Path side of the hill!

Test Drive Climb Online

Well, I have been not so much vocal but textual in my criticism of climbing magazines. Often each new month brings about more disappointment. However I just saw an advert saying that CLIMB have gone fully online, so I rocked over there for a look. Whilst i can’t really say there is an improvement in content, as it is still the same old content. I do like the forward thinking idea of having an interweb based option. In fact I really like it, in the words of neil dickinsons ‘its got legs’.

I am sure I have seen other magazines in this format before, just not climbing ones? (might be wrong there though!) What it seems to offer is a the opportunity for hyperlinking the adverts which must be beneficial for both us the reader, the publisher and the company advertising, as we can get straight to more info on a product and they can count the click through rate.

Whilst I am not convinced that a replica of there magazine what is required, it is a great improvement. My honest thought is that there might be a better way to display and allow users to browse the articles. I don’t know how these things work but some form of content management system, whereby you can search for articles by author, title, geographic area, would be a superb way of ‘archiving’ the old back issues, although I appreciate that generating a PDF file of each double page will be a lot easier.

With this and the back issues of the Mountain Info online at the CLIMB homepage it seems like they are stepping forward from Climber Magazine in there moves to future proof there business, by embracing the internet. All I ask is please don’t get a forum!

I wonder who the new boss at climber will be and whether they will follow suit?