Gear Review: Garmin GPS 60

I recent treated myself to a GPS, whilst it is something that as a qualified Mountaineering Instructor it is something that I have lived without and navigated successfully without since 1997. Times change and seeing that the retail price of GPS’s is down to around £80 for some Garmin models, their use is on the increase, and I am often asked to teach people how to use them effectively.

Now having used a few models before I choose the Garmin GPS 60 because until other GPS where the navigation through the various screens is done by less than a handful of buttons the Garmin GPS 60 has 10+ button to aid the user. In particular the mark and find buttons are priceless for using the GPS as a support for the map and compass.

In particular I often use my GPS to give direct and less questionable feedback to clients when it comes to walking on a bearing, whilst pacing. The joy of having the mark and find buttons make it very quick.

The unit has a better antenna than the earlier models that helps it stay on the ball when it valleys and apparently increase the speed of a ‘cold start’. Which in the pass could take in excess of 10 minutes for the GPS to be accurate, especially if the last altitude reading was out. Something to do with it trying to base its latest location on its last. This unit seemed to take just less than ten minutes.

What I am really looking forward to with this unit is programming in the most frequently needed attack points on Snowdon. For instance the position on the PYG track where it is possible to ascend to Blwch Coch and of course Blwch Coch. As on the rescue team trying to find these places quickly in zero visibility at night is not without error with just a map, or if your like me with just your memory to call on!

My House mate has the Garmin Oregon series, which is like having a map and GPS unit combined as you can upload 1:25000 maps into its memory. I am not sure that I can do that with my cheap version. However it does integrate very well with the mapping system that the rescue team uses for full on searches. I would have loved one of the Oregon series but at £250+ it was way out of my league, and besides it almost takes the fun out of navigation, besides as a Apple Mac user I can’t use the MapMemory that it integrates with!!!

I paid £105 for my GPS and so far it seems money well spent, even if it does spend most of its time switch off!

MLTUK Use Article on Coaching from my Blog

I got an email yesterday off the MLTUK (Mountain Leader Training UK) top man Steve Long asking if they could use an article i wrote a while back for this blog on Coaching the New Buzz Word, but what does it mean? They had re-edited slightly to remove reference to navigation and other non-climbing sports (England and Wales run by the BMC decided not to look down these pathways). Ironically Scotland and Ireland decided to follow all avenues in all sports, so it looks like if you what to become a navigation coach you’ll have to do a course in Scotland or Ireland.

Anyway I was quite touched that the MLTUK should use my work to help publicise the new future of coaching in rock climbing and mountaineering. Anyway the link to the edited article is here if you want to read something more officially sanctioned by the MLTUK.

Job Interview Nerves

Well I had the inevitable bad nights sleep last night, worrying about a job interview I have today. I haven’t had an interview for something like 5 years, instead I have survived as a freelance instructor. However after years of applying I have finally got an interview for a job I would really enjoy. My interview is at 2.15 this afternoon, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

I get very nervous at interviews, it is hard to know what people want to hear, so I concentrate on being myself. However i already have the sinking feeling in my stomach and the jitters from the adrenaline pumping, just like the nerves before a hard ascent. You think that as a climber you get used to it, and as a Masters Student in sport psychology I’d have developed strategies for coping under psychological pressure. However I find these alien situation like interviews or approaching a girl you fancy for the first time totally different from climbing. I am much more at home with standing below somewhere like the Rainbow Slab ready to commit to a bold route than I am in any of the above situations.

So pray for me, keep your fingers crossed, send me your mojo telepathically, basically do anything to send me positive vibes. I will let you know the verdict as soon as I can. Celebration or condolense drinks will have to wait until after the marathon on Saturday, as I don’t find out until friday.

Marathon Fund Raising

Since Jack was kind enough to link to my rant about the latest rescue on Snowdon I thought I would take advantage of the added traffic to raise awareness of my irresponsible bid to run the Snowdon Marathon. I am attempting to raise money for the Llanebris Mountain rescue team, my initial goal was to beat Bear Grylls online fundraising for his expensive antarctic expedition that cost the BMC insurance a pretty penny too, having reached that mini goal (£280 Bear didn’t raise that much online!). You can help out by supporting me, and of course Llanberis Rescue Team.

The run or walk as it might be for me, as I injured my knee a month ago and have been resting and stretching ever since, is this Saturday. I am quite gripped as I am not sure if my knee will flare up again, my aim is to simply complete this epic course with around 2000ft of ascent in its 26.2 miles. If you can help the link is just to the side here. If you want to wait an see I will post as soon as I can, if/when I finish the course.

Thanks again for any support.

What a bunch of W?@$*!!!!’s

I am sorry to rant about Moutnain Rescue again, but this weekend I was working, and got a call out when I was gainfully employed so didn’t respond. I therefore didn’t know what had gone on, but I saw on the BBC website what the rescue was, and was so appalled that I just had to vent. I haven’t chatted to any member of the team, about this, as I feel it unfair to use there testemony when I am about to slag them off, which as I have been told time and time again isn’t the job of the Mountain Rescue Team, but seeing as I am only an observer here, I feel that I should highlight the gross misjudgement and neglect that a group showed to a fellow member f there team.

It transpires that a disabled person in a wheelchair was assisted by a team of six people up the hill, unable to get them up the Allt Moses, a step section in the Llanberis Path, just above where the approach to cloggy branches off. Rather than descend and get everyone back to safety have had an adventure and probably pushed themselves to the very limits in terms of physical achievement they decided to leave the disabled person there and continue without the excess baggage to the summit, a good hour of ascent for most people from there, before returning, when they decided that they were too tired to get the disabled member of the team down.

Now I have no problem with trying to get a wheelchair with a disbabled person to the summit, but you sure as hell need to make sound decisions and not get totally committed, as there is no way out. To push on regardless shows a lack of respect for the hill, a total lack of respect to the dignity of the disabled person and having to summon help from the rescue team in such a situation seems just as disrespectful to them.

It is not just them I see it all too regularly a sort of death or glory, summit or bust approach to people attempting to climb snowdon for charity, as if because they are raising money they are immune to weather, fatigue and sound mountain judgement. This incident just leave me livid that people can be so selfish as to essentially risk the safety of someone whose safety is totally in the control of the people that put them in that situation. Totally disgusting behaviour.

Hitting the Wall

Well it has been a while since my last confession, this is main due to the busy work load that school is putting on me since my last post. Whilst i have been climbing that much I have been very busy with other stuff, so as well as number crunching for the thesis, I have been shopping at Cotswolds as I spent my Mountain Rescue allowance. This was reasonably hard as I do seem to have most equipment and outdoor gear, however I am now a proud owner of a GPS amongst other smaller items.

After that i spent friday afternoon at pesda press going through some detail for the book, I saw the first draft of the layout with all the pictures in place. So it actually looked like a book, a very exciting time. Unfortunately it won’t be out for christmas.

I then spent the weekend Hitting the Wall at Plas Y brenin, introducing people who have never climbed before to indoor climbing. It was a great weekend and the three guys I was teaching seem to be fired up to carry on indoor climbing. The sunday I managed to escape the brenin and go to the beacon. There jaws dropped when they went inside the main room, and they suddenly realised that the Brenin wall, whilst although good was small in comparison.

If 7 hours in the wall wasn’t enough I went back there in the evening for a short session. Anyway back to number crunching again.


Yet another beacon session,this time sampling the delights of Dave Noden’s problem that were set Monday, a few tough propositions, Meaning I now have two whites and two orange to complete a clean sweep of the aggregate so far. There wasn’t much in the way for the lesser man or woman set this week. I am sure that someone will be bending the managers ear, because they haven’t been able to climb anything.

It was a nice session, with Llion and team H. I had coffee with grandpa H today, which was interesting. He seems to share my opinion of the UK climbing press. Which is that it tends to repeat what we have already come to know weeks before on the internet, and often already seen a video of said ascent.

That or a article on Beeston Quarry (wherever the hell that is?), I have to say that it looked far from inspirational, but then again I live in the heart of Snowdonia and have more than a handful of classic crags within five minutes drive of my house, so why I would like to know about some obscure quarry or esoteric grit crag is beyond me. It seems that whilst climbing mags seem to have inspirational article and aspirational articles they lack those that are both inspirational and aspirational at the same time.

What was the funniest thing with grandpa H was he really believes that anyone who can only climb VS should commit ritual suicide, mainly through the embarrassment they should feel, and being unable to climb the stairs. Whilst not so militant in my views after all I take good money trying to help VS climbers improve on a regular basis. Grandpa’s point was that if 16 year olds are climbing 3 F9a in a week, then what the hell are we all doing wrong, when even a girl can climb a multipitch route with a couple of F8b pitches to warm up for the F8c+ final pitch.

I am crap as I can’t even climb F7c (the cavers grade apparently) let alone break into the F8 grades (The climbers grades), so my plan is to train, train, train, diet, train, diet and try harder than I have ever tried in my life, and hope to get a few redpoint ascents under my belt.

Anyway one of the best coffee afternoons I have ever been to!

When I first started this blog I made a post that linked to all my films that I had uploaded on Vimeo, it was only last night when someone messaged me on face book that i realised that I might well have a few more follwoers now that might have never seen my climbing films. I decided a while back that selling these was just too much trouble, instead I put them online for free.

Between The Rain from mark reeves on Vimeo.

Beacon Session

I went to the beacon tonight and made my two pound donation to the North Wales Bolt Fund for my aggregate score card. I had done a fair few of the problem whilst I was setting, so manage to tick a lot with having to leave the ground tonight. However there were loads to go at, and I managed to climb nearly all of the problems.

I still have my Orange, which is just a long jump, or maybe a high heel rockover (No, not a Drunk girl falling arse over tit on a night out, move). I was too powered out by the end to get it, although I touched the finishing hold, I just need an extra 4 inchs, but what grown man doesn’t! A white problem also looked a bit beyond me, again too knackered by the end to try it seriously. Although I got the beta on the second move that was perplexing me.

The only other problem is a traverse of the entire wall bouldering and leading wall. It was my first really bouldering session in a while. It was good to know that my strength is coming back after the summer watching people climb doing my study. Which is looking like it is coming to an end as I have analysed the data over the last couple of days. I think I might turn into a mixed model ANOVA if I spend anymore time on SPSS.

Crag of the week: Penmean Head

Penmean head from Colwyn Bay Prom.

Penmean Head is a crag that thousands of climbers every year will have driven passed, probbaly think that looks like a pile of overgrown choss. However on closer inspection no all the rock has the look of what you see from the road. It took a team of locals several months of jungle clearence, cleaning, bolting and finally climbing to develop this crag.

Whilst many of the routes are possible best left to the locals, and certain limestone jenga towers avoided there are a handful of really good routes at this crag. I had almost forgotten about it after the gold rush nearly two years ago when everyone was there. At present there is still no guidebook to the area, however the deevlopment team are planning an A55 corridor guide. It was part of that reason that made me remember that I had taken some notes and photos when I went there.

Richie Pullen of Flowstone Shuffle F6b+***

At about four minutes from the A55, and a mere 30 seconds down hill from the car this crag is an excellent option if you have escape the weather in the mountains and are heading home early only to find the rain shadow around llandudno shining on you. I have provided topos for the best routes, as well as three not so good ones, they were however all that I climbed when I went there. There are in excess of 40 sports routes here now so a bit of investigation might well yeild some other ‘classic’ lines. What i offer is a taster.

Whilst the hardcore climber are raping the Diamond of all its projects, this crag is more sedate, and despite the proximity of the A55, you can barely hear it. What this crag offer at this time of year is the milder coastal weather. So perhaps it is time you got there or reacquainted yourself with the venue. It is even reasonably accessible to those people in Manchester, Chester and Liverpool

Unknown Climber on Go with the Flow F6a***

Getting there: Drive along the A55 and take the turning into Old Colwyn (North Wales Police HQ). Turn left at mini roundabout by the Police HQ along the old high street. The shops soon run out and you enter a wide road lined with residential building and hotels. An obvious fork off rights leads up towards Castle Inn, don’t turn off carrying up the hill for approximately 1/2 mile. At the top of the hill is a new estate and large layby with a public footpath marked down some steps. Park up and take these steps down to the crag which is immediately on your right.

1. Steak Slice F5 (needed a wire at the top a year ago). 2. Another One Bites the Dust F6c (hideous groundfall potential a year ago). 3. Scared Shipless F6a+ (again rather run out a year ago) NB These route may well have addition bolts and therefore nicer/safer now

4. Helyg Crack F6a(+?) ** 5. Flashenburste Crack F6a(+?)*

6. Flowstone Shuffle F6b+ *** 7. Go with the Flow F6a ***.