An Audience with…Paul Pritchard

Whilst advertised as a slide show by Paul Pritchard, last night turned out to be more like an evening with Paul and many of his close friends from his days in Llanberis. For those who don’t know Paul or have never heard of him then you really need to get Deep Play and Totem Pole, to of the best book on firstly climbing then on the recovering from a climbing injury I have ever read. Before these book came out his writing appeared in Climb Magazine, and as such inspired me to go to college in Bangor, and start living the dream.

I have been caught up in the nightmare ever since!

What we got was an incredibly personal account of all his major climbing feats pre-Totem Pole. A path that only a few of the the best climbers in the audience have been able to follow. Such is the testament to his climbing ability. However the show was more about what he has done since his accident and moving to Taz, a place that he now holds as dear as North Wales.

What followed was an amazing account of someone who through determination had fought his crippled body and made it do stuff that many ‘able’ bodied people would struggle with. From hiking up Kilimanjaro on an expedition with four disabled climbers, to climbing for the first time and eventually leading, albeit easier.

This was where slide show became extra special, as whilst it is impossibly hard to explain how impossibly hard it is to climb with one hand and one good leg and one bad leg, a short video shot by Dave ??? who I think use to be with Hot Aches, however the film was put together by some chicken leg inferno productions (both of these are wrong, but I can’t remember the names). The film seemed to capture how frustratingly difficult climbing must be to Paul, as he struggled to control his limbs, however he remains cool despite the shaking and fights his way to the top of the Rainbow Slab. Which is a fitting tribute, as this is where the slide show started, Paul talking about ‘the most amazing piece of rock in north wales’.

Now if you have never tried climbing at you limit one handed I suggest you give it a go, years ago Leo, Patch and Myself tried Poetry Pink one handed, Leo eventually lead it that way (its E6 6c if your interested), I managed all but one move. But it is so tenuous, often your only option is to slap for a hold as you are falling off, in the hope your hand gets to the hold before gravity overwhelms your body. This was captured in the film, as paul slaps his way across a ledge.

Many people were move by the film, I just hope it makes it onto a DVD or into LLAMFF. The whole night was amazing and as the film finish the room fell into an emotional silence as each person came to terms with what they had just seen.

My quote of the night though go out to all the people heading out to the Alps this summer, it comes from the Super Alpinism King that is Nick Bullock, who on being asked are you heading back over to the Alps this summer replied, ‘No, the alps in summer is way too dangerous!’.

Llanberis Sol-Run

I had planned to go hang out at the Cromlech Boulder to try and find a few climbers to test for a pilot study for my thesis, unfortunately all the parking spaces were full of Snowdon Walkers, if only they found there way to the proper park and ride down the road, we could get some afternoon cragging done.

What this resulted in was me having to park at the Craig Ddu end of the Valley. So rather than walk up to the boulders where surprisingly there weren’t any climbers I head out for a bit of a Sol-Run. I jogged up to Craig Ddu and soloed Rib and Slab; then headed to the Crouchan were I soloed Nea; then the Wastad and Crack Stone Rib before finishing up on Spiral Stairs on Dinas Cromlech.

What surprised me wasn’t the time it took (under two hours), or how hard the running, but i expected that the climbing would allow me to recover, however it just seemed to keep going at a similar level to the jogging. I tried this circuit as a prelude to possibly trying all the Classic Rock for in Snowdonia (not the tremadog Craig Dhu Wall and mid wales’ willo the wisp) in a day.

I met Libby Pete’s at the cromlech today, and having told her about my stupid idea, she sounded keen to come along so I might have company, and may even venture to take a rope as well.

Carnage on Half Dome

Photo Courtesy of Terry Parks

Having recently climbed Half Dome, where I took some shots of the people below me, I have been in email contact with those people, and sent them copies of the images I took. Terry who lives in striking distance of Yosemite showed a client some of the shout I took, and the client asked to be guided up there.

Unlike the day that we headed up, it was clear and there were no thunder storms. However the summit was little more popular than when we were there. I have to thank Terry for these images of Half Dome, hopefully he won’t mind me using them!

Photo Courtesy of Terry Parks

UKC News: Quarries Closure

I nipped out earlier on to go for a longer run than usual, i decided that I would do a loop of Llyn Padarn and Peris via the quarries, mainly to have a nose about whilst the film crew were starting to build the sets and lay the ground work. Whilst I was out Jack was trying to phone me to get permission to use a photo I took the other day. I got back and found he’d used it anyway, which was fine as he always links back to this humble blog.

So for any of you who weren’t here last week when I took the photo there was a bit of a story about capturing that simple and lets be honest far from my greatest work. Anyway the story is here, feel free to browse, kick you shoes off, throw your jackets on the couch and have nosey round.

For those that have not mange to kick the habit of hanging out hear, then the latest info from my quarry run was they are starting to rig in Dali’s hole mainly barriers and electricity cables at present, and a similar thing is happen in and around the base of NeverneverLand. There is even a crane in-situ at present! I will have to get some batteries for my small camera as I am no way running with my SLR, it weighs a tonne!

I wasn’t escorted of the site like the last time, probably because none of the security guards could have kept up, mind you if they did catch you, you would have to hope they didn’t sit on you!

Busy Weekend

Martin Chester running up Last Tango in Paris

As ever my weekend was taken up with working, as is way of the freelancer. However I have managed to squeeze the life out of this weekend. Since i last posted, I spent Friday morning Babysitting two sub 3 year old kids. Fortunately I had some support from the Wilson’s in the form of their trampoline. I thought it interesting on the TV a few weeks back that something like 80% of accidents on trampolines are caused by combining them with adults and alcohol. I have to say that I respect any mum or child minder, even well behaved kids kept running loops round me.

A brief rest in the afternoon, and I meet Martin Chester, straight off his live thread on UKClimbing. Llion was meant to come along with us, but his centre was four instructors down, so had to sack off the climbing till later in the evening. So Martin and I head to the slate quarries and climbed the first few pitches to the Sun Chaser Wall link in Vivian, before climbing Last Tango in Paris and then Comes the Dervish. I was a lovely even as the sun came out. (More photos of sun chaser wall link up)

Martin Lead the Turkey Chant pitch and was blown away that he hadn’t climbed this classic E2 pitch before. Similarly having not lead the Dervish for at least two months. I got to run up it. I absolutely love this climb, easily one of my favourites. I think it is not only the climb but the position. I love watching the sun set from the belay, looking back across lyyn Padarn and down onto Llanberis. Occasionally you can make out friends on the route from the village. In this way I think there is an added sense of a potential for narcissistic enhancement, a kind of showing off the the crowd.

Llion met us just before we climbed the Dervish, and we quickly decided, or the outbreak of the daily midge cloud decided for us, that it was pub o’clock. So we went to the pub, where I remember that the youths that I had pretty much barged in front of were actually Ryan pasquill and Katie Whittaker, who had been trying to red point Time Bandit a hideous E3 6c, they Katy later went on and climbed Bathtime, which was an amazing effort, although I guess she is a world apart from most climbers you get hanging out on slate!

Three beers was enough considering I forgot to eat before I went cragging!

The weekend was spent teaching climbing to the Christian Rock and Mountaineering Club with Andy Newton. We got wet on the Saturday teaching intro leading on Tryfan Bach and then we did a wall session on the Sunday.

The Saturday night was a hoot, as some friends cooked a Birthday meal for me and a few friends. Which until they asked me what I was doing on Saturday night on the Thursday, I had no idea that it was under a week till my birthday. I had been so busy doing stuff. So if your about on Thursday night I am going to the GYG for PnP.

The Busiest Team gets Busier

For several years the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, has been the busiest single mountain rescue team in the UK. Usually having around 100 rescues a year. However this year it is still June and the team has responded to 78 call outs. That is three a week. My friend is a fireman and he doesn’t leave the station that many times a week! So what has gone wrong?

There are various thoughts on what is the cause of the rise in the number of accidents, one is that a deepening recession has lead more and more people to holiday at home. Which whilst fantastic for the local economy, that is totally dependent on tourism, meaning that the area seems to be more recession proof than say London or other banking or manufacturing based economies. So one potential cause is an increase in the absolute number of people walking up Snowdon.

However even if that is the case the figures have been increasing steadily anyway. Many people within the Mountain rescue community attribute this to the use of mobile phones, where many years ago the rescues were often more search based, as people were reported late back, rather than phoning through to the police from the side of a hill to shout “I am a celebrity get me out of here”. As such they get a lot of call outs that are describe as CDD (Welsh for Kick up the Arse), basically people who really needed someone to hold there hand on the way down.

Similarly a lot more people with minor injuries who in the past might have gotten themselves off the hill now phone for what in a Car would be call AA Roadside assistance. However in the mountains you don’t have to pay for insurance cover so instead the rescue teams get called out and hundreds of hours of voluntary service are donated by the member to assist those in trouble.

Some people might blame the weather, however other than this winter when we had a spate of fatalities because the weather had been so cold for so long, meaning that the for the first time in several years we had real winter conditions. Which could arguably have meant that the people heading up Snowdon just really weren’t prepare and ready for the conditions they found.

Whatever the reasons behind the busiest team have just gotten a whole lot busier!

On the Blog: Rocktrails

Now for some people it is a pseudo religious experience reading on the bog. To me I can take it or leave it. However my landlord always seems to have a book du jour. Recently it has been Rock trails: Lakeland by pesda press. Now funnily enough both me and my landlord have written books that are currently under construction for the publishers of the rock trails series Pesda Press.

Now before I am accused of shameless promotion I should point out that these book came out a while ago, and I basically had flick through them thought that’s interesting, but essentially I know enough to educate people on ML training courses. However when the book appeared in the the toilet this week I did pick it up, and start to flick a bit deeper.

My first impression was that the books were just as series of walks or rock trails, but not so there are several chapter all dedicated like geological time to describing what form the rock, what shaped the land, and how man alter it again, along with some more historical background. All of which is beautifully illustrated.

Only then does the book describe several different route that help your explore and see the natural evidence that the first part of the book explains. As such it is not a book for creationists, but those people with a grasp on reality will love it. I can’t recommend Paul Gammon’s Rock trail Snowdonia or Lakeland highly enough. If you an instructor they will give you a deeper understanding of the area, and if you a recreational walker they will help you to understand the beautiful environment that you enjoy interacting with.

Anyway we will see what on the Blog next week.

Between the Rain

Last night I attempted to go climbing the darkness had been upon us for most of the afternoon, and despite threatening loudly to rain, I figured it was all talk and no trousers. So after bathtime, one of the modern barriers to climbing is that of the childrens bath, at about 7.30 we headed over to Vivian Quarry, not very original I know but given the wall or a few rotues you’ve done a thousand times, I’d choose the wall normally.

Llion got up Mentil Lentils, before I realised I had forgot my rock boots, so started seconding in trainers, if you have smelt llion feet you might know my reason for not borrowing his spare pair. Anyway we got down off that as another party arrive for a quick evening tick, so we headed to the other olde faithful Psychotherapy. Despite getting even darker with cloud, I sent Llion up with a ‘you’ll be fine’, ‘…of course your be down before it rains’.

So off Llion went and clipped the first bolt before breezing through the crux, just in time for the heavens to literally open. The rock was wet before I could say jump off, and even before the words reach him llion had done just that. We ran for tea and medals at my house.

I had an early night as I had the biggest responibility of my life to date. Now given they make you get all sorts of qualifications to take someone out climbing, but anyone can look after children. It was a shock that anyone could be me. I had said yes when drunk, and forgotten about it until El phone Llion up when we were out climbing to remind me that I was babysitting all friday morning.

So I manage to keep two under 3’s entertained, safe and happy from breakfast till dinner time. Although I did rope in outside help in the form of the Wilson-Haston’s and there trampoline, and there toys, and there children. Other than that I was on my own. I even managed to sing a lullaby to get the youngest to sleep. I am sure they must have webcammed the house so they could have a laugh at my singing.

Babysitting duties are over, just got to entertain llion and Martin of the crag this evening if it doesn’t rain. So fingers crossed!

Photobox Book

I have had a photobox account for a while, but never got round to uploading any photos because i wanted a commercial website where you could choose to buy photos direct from. Giving me some profit and at the same time not having to be involved with the developing and posting of images, as it is just hassle, and eats up so much time that it makes selling images relatively cheaply just impossible.

However Photobox now have the pro galleries option where they take 10% of any sale, which seems better for a very small operator like myself than having to pay a yearly subscription for the benefits of an online shop. So I currently have a selection of slate images that I have put up on UKC, as well as photobox book of the Slate Collection. I don’t expect too many sales but, just thought I would try it to see how it does.

Other than the price, it would be good to have your feedback. I am thinking of doing a few of these eventually. Not sure about the themes yet, probably one on classic routes in wales, and another on the states trip.