Performance Climbing Clinic

A Climber on Seams the Same

I spent today at Plas Y Brenin working on a Performance Climbing Clinic with James McHaffie, who had just come back from the Alps having climbed one of the hardest routes out there on the Grand Capucin with Ben Bransby and Adam Long. So whilst half the course was staff by rock climbing super hero, the other half had to put up with me.

We headed to the slate and we started on Equinox and Solstice, getting them to look at gear and tactics for leading on a top rope. We then climbed Gnat Attack to give them some belief that they can climb on tiny footholds, before moving onto Never Neverland to climb the first arete pitch of something like 364, a nice F5b pitch, which my guys led, before climbing what has since been called Fresh Air Crack, but was previously an unbolted route called Nuremburg. Which they dispatched with style.
We then nipped up Seam the Same to finish the day off. I then managed to blag a participant from the staff at PYB for my study in trade for dinner and some knowledge on how to deliver a teaching people to teach navigation.
Anyway a great day out in the sun, i just hope that tomorrow brings some more sun, although it is currently raining outside again!!!

Busy Day

I started off Saturday with more data collection at the beacon climbing centre. I am just into double figures and given that I need ideally 48 people I have a way to go. I have to thank a few of the readers of this blog who have volunteered to be participants, if you climb V2 boulder problems indoors or above then please get in contact with me, as I am still desperate for more participants.

I got back and then decided to go for a run in the nice weather, its the first run since I was ill, so was harder than I was expecting, but I managed over and hour and a fairly sizable hill. No sooner had I returned and the pager was going. Lots of team standby by then having read through the waiting list of message, I was about to have a shower when the pager went again, ‘team to nant‘.
Spent the afternoon chasing what was in my opinion a non-job, we had already had call outs for grazed heads which we didn’t respond to, but the job I was sent out on was a ‘blister’ on the Llanberis Path. I mean a blister, whilst the helicopter was sent out for a more serious report of a broken leg, it seemed a waste of my taxes to have it involved in a ‘blister’ incident.
We were lucky, as we had a very enthusiastic Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue Team assist us (carry the stretcher up and down), who were amazed that they had come across three jobs in one day. Trying to explain to them that this is common, and that I think our record was 8 jobs in  a day, made them realise that the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team is the busiest in the UK. We are now at over 122 call outs for the year, passing our previous annual record and we still have the rest of the year.
There are various thoughts on why we are so busy this year, but the credit crunch is one theory where the number of people holidaying at home has increased, meaning that the sheer volume of people on the mountain is just ludicrous. My friend took some family friends up yesterday, and was shocked at the numbers of people on the hill. 
My personal opinion, is that at present the volume of call outs is getting out of hand for a part-time voluntary team. Whilst the voluntary model has worked across the UK for many years when Mountain Rescue was conceived one single team wasn’t having what will probably be approaching 150+ rescues a year (3 a week!). So whilst government might well not want to be involved in funding a national mountain rescue service there is perhaps a growing case for a small number of individual teams.
The pressure on Llanberis Team is growing and having spoken candidly to a few active members, there is growing feeling that time individuals dedicate to the team is on the increase and I for one with commitments to work and my MSc studies have found it hard to attend every call out and haven’t made it to a training session in over 6 months.
If you would like to support the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, then myself and fellow team member Brian are running the Llanberis Marathon (Click to give) to try and raise much needed funds, we are after all a self funded and essential 999 service.

Pub Chat and Bully

Ball Pyramid from Pete Fullagar.

I went out to the Gallt y Glyn last night briefly, I had been there the night before for HoseyB’s birthday. However there was a few characters there last night, I instantly was acosted by the Ginger prince, who was raving about the Dark Half, he was made up, best route in the world ever apparently. If you know Dave then you will also know to take that statement with a pinch of salt. I tried to deflate him by saying that we were downgrading the route to F7c in the new guide, he didn’t bite though.

I then had a good rant with a couple of the rescue team, about the pressures that are on Llanberis Team at the moment. Whilst it is voluntary the amount of time required just through rescues this year has been immense, I mused that I simply haven’t been able to attend any training because I am really busy with school and work. It seems like a similar story across the team, life commitments like work, family and general social life often prevent us from being available all the time, and given the sheer number of call outs this year is putting an extra strain on at least myself, although my thesis is probably the bigger pressure. Earlier today there was a call out but having just arrange to meet someone for my study, and they were heading over from near tremadog. I obviously couldn’t let them down.

Finally Wraith joined us, and the talk got back to climbing, he has been out hitting the cliffs a lot recently. He asked me about the Lotus Flower Tower which I climbed several years back, and I think I have convinced him, well given him the focus and idea to apply for a grant to go out there and ‘warm up’ on LFT and then climb a new route. I need to remember to get some images for him of potential lines.

The bully soon turned to my ambitions, and The Nose (A realistic one) right through to Cerro Torre (more of a dream). Wraith has similar ambitions to myself as he has a thrist for adventure at a reasonable grade. He then told me the best kept climbing secret I had never heard of, Bull’s Pyramid. So now I have a new dream ambition a 500+ metre sea stack.

Truly Minging

Well it is truly minging outside. I have just ventured over to the slate museum with llion and Co. I am now drying myself out, as even just a short trip outside left us soaked to the skin. There is a great value £1 a kid craft session on all month in the Museum which itself is free to go in. Been a reasonably busy day starring at Excel and trying to make it do what I want it to hopefully I have succeeded. It appear like I have but who knows.

Off to the wall this even for more participants, hopefully I will carry on getting the same numbers through, which might mean that I get a decent sample size to carry out the statistical analysis’. So please if you can spare a couple of hours then please get in contact with me.

Just thinking I am glad that I was on Tryfan yesterday and not today. Hopefully nobody is stupid enough to walk up Snowdon today, so the team will be quiet. Although the day ain’t over yet.

Bochlwyd Horseshoe

Another Day on Tryfan, if only the weather was like this.

I was out working today, with a teacher and a lecture from down south. They wanted to climb Tryfan and then possibly head on to Bristly ridge. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t with us, as the wind was a little stronger than the 30mph predicted. It was a solid 40mph with a few gusts.

We met early, and were on the hill by 8am, totally unheard of in the realm of centre work, but working for myself I just fit in with the clients wishes. We manage to stay out of the wind by taking the diversion around the north tower and then following the path to finish by scrambling straight to Adam and Eve. They did suggest that I make the ‘jump’, I declined their kind offer.

We then had to fight down the south ridge with the wind in our face. By the col one of the Party had decided that they had enough excitement for one day so choose to descend straight back to the Youth Hostel, a misnomer if ever there was one. By the looks of the guest stay that I saw this morning it was more like a self catering B&B.

So with my one client I headed up over Glyder Fawr, where I earnt my money navigating across in pea soup and down Y Gribin before heading back to the van. The weather slowly improved and the wind dropped unlike the predicted worsening forecast. Anyway I am home now, ready to head out to do some more data collection.

More Vivian Photos!!

I nipped out today after failing to find anyone free to do my thesis study. I am really starting to worry about not getting enough people to do the study, so had to email my supervisor in a bit of a flap. Having resigned to the fact that there was nowt I could do I went across to Vivian where my house mate was climbing Sun Chaser Wall.

Anyway I managed to get a couple of snaps before I head back to the house to try and set up an excel spreadsheeet for the data I am accumulating. It was frustrating to say the least, but it is almost finish, and when it is it shouldn’t take too long to enter all 6 data sets I have collected of the 48 needed.

Anyway it was nice to have a distraction from the worry, and even nicer to feel like I am bouncing back from the swine.

New CLIMB Mag format

Well I staggered into Spar today to get some Ice Cream, lets just say I needed some comfort food for my sickness. 2 tubs for £4 at the moment if your interested and passing Llanberis. Anyway whilst in there I saw the all new singing and dancing CLIMB magazine, with it swanky layout and new paper.

Now whilst I haven’t had a good look, the quality seems like it is there, and if it is more environmentally friendly because it is more recyclable then all the better. My only problem with was the smell, now other magazine might well smell like this but there was something stronger in the air when I picked up CLIMB. Now before anyone thinks I trying to make an underhand comment about the shit you usually find in it, I am not. It just had a odd smell to it.

Anyone agree with me?

The Swine

Well I have been of the grid for a few days, and in bed. Sadly not with the Swedish beach volley ball team, but with the swine I think. Although according to NHS recommendations I haven’t been to see the doctor, which lets face it is totally genius in terms of an attempt not to treat people. Your sick so lets not go see the doctor! Instead I diagnosed myself on NHS Direct, a website which must be a hot bed for hypercondriacts to research new ailment and symptoms.

I have about five of the Swine Fever symptoms with chronic tiredness being one of them. I have manage to sleep for almost 48 hours solid. Unfortunately I also have the shits which ain’t the nicest of the symptoms. It has totally levelled my plans for a long run for my marathon training, not too mention having to call in sick for work this weekend. Not good when as a freelance instructor I have basically lost over £200 of work this month!

I have had an interesting week, I have seen the proof pages for my US road trip article in the next climber. It looks good, there are of course some photos I wouldn’t have chosen from the selection as well as some that I would. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it when it comes out. They were talking about running the who 7000 words I originally wrote online as well. They haven’t used many of the topos I put together for them, so I will pop them on my blog at some point.

I did run into Ray Wood this week who informed me that all the pay and display meters that Gwynedd Council has recently put in around Llanberis and elsewhere have been vandalised. Such a shame! Also I have been looking into the legal side of erecting 2.5 metre high fences in the quarries, and not only do they need planning permission, so if you see a planning application around the quarries email and complain about it yourself as well. Interesting having spoken to Cadw the welsh version of English Heritage, the area is a scheduled momument, and they need to seek permission to perform work, I am hopefully getting a map of the area it includes, so hopefully Dali’s Hole will be included in that.

Hopefully I’ll be better next week and able to get back into my data collection for my thesis, so if anyone is available monday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday or sunday next week then please get in contact as I need more participants to come bouldering at the beacon.

The Tremadog Corner

Often I have to climb outside at work in the rain, no it is not too much fun, but bearable. Today after a morning in the wall putting another participant through my project I was psyched for some outdoor climbing. I ended up driving down, with the distant hills towards tremadog look slightly brighter. Then unlike the usual clearing as we approached the crag the clag got thicker and thicker, as the rain seemed to come up from the ground. I was fully hopeful as we had yet to turn the mystical tremadog corner where the world can often turn from wet to dry in feet.

The magic had gone and we ended up driving back to the wall for a short session. Totally gutting day, but life always throws a curve ball. May be one day I’ll get out and the sun will shine on me. At the moment the world is grey.

How Young’s Too Young?

I went up to the climbing wall today with a friends nephew’s to take them climbing, no whilst they weren’t the youngest kids I have ever taken my friends kids were, now after reading some of the responses to the UKC news item about Rock Climbing Related injury research, which I have yet to be able to find the ‘original’ paper to try and critique it. Anyway the youngest report ‘climbing’ accident in the US was 2 years old, which to me suggested the research is flawed as a two year old climbing is just stupid, or is it?

You would have thought by the responses that people thought the actual action of taken a 2 year old climbing was both irresponsible and dangerous, kind of playing with fire whilst juggling glass petrol cans, something dramatic could happen at any moment.

My friends two year old loved the wall, she ‘climbed’ as well, if climbing includes pulling onto a couple of holds and then asking to be lifted off. It is none the less climbing, she wasn’t forced into it she saw and copied, the classic ‘monkey see, monkey do’. Yesterday out on the rescue I was talking to someone whose 8 year old son was climbing at the cheeky monkey summer school at the Beacon Climbing Centre.

So where is the line? To me its about being realistic, I wouldn’t expect a two year old to ‘climb’ but I might expect them to ‘play’ at the wall. Similarly I wouldn’t be surprised if they clambered over rock outside. I would hate to see them forced into it though. I have taught very young kids to climb inside and typically, I have made some very big rope swings for them to get used to the harness and swinging about on the rope.

Now my friends daughter did have an accident at the wall, she was sat on a bench and started to look up at the climbers and over balanced and fell off the bench, with quite a thud followed by the screams of shock rather than pain. She came back into the main wall, and was energetically shouting encouragement at her older cousins. So hopefully she’ll eventually get into climbing, although I am sure she’ll play football, netball, run, skip, cycle, dance, paint, act, sculpt, gymnastic as well.

So whilst she’s too young to become a climber, she not too young to climb and enjoy the climbing wall, albeit under close supervision and for a limited time.