In my life I have been lucky enough to visit some amazing place from my first route in Wales top roping red, Yellow, ….. on Rainbow Slab in the snow, through trips to font during my University years. Then my first big trip to attempt Troll Wall which resulted ultimately in failure, but at the same time rescued by climbing many rock routes to stunning Alpine Peak.

I graduated and made my way via the US and Yosemite to India and Thailand, return for three consecutive years to yosemite, one starting in Squamish. I then looked at the most adventurous places to head I could find for alpine/big wall rock climbing. Making ascents of the most amazing route in the world the Lotus Flower Tower, and then a new route in the same complex of cirques and hanging valleys.

The next adventure took me to Alaska, and the remote Kichatna Spires, and that was 2004. My life to me anyways seems to have ground to a halt ever since when it comes to ‘Big Adventures’. My money dried up, and I was force to work. Mostly I would describe it as subsistence working. Living quite literally hand to mouth, worrying where the next months rent would come from, occasionally making enough to treat myself to a camera or a computer.

Last year though I had a two week holiday to America, it is a place that has captured me so much that I seem to be pulled there by a strange gravity. The place is so big and so empty in places that adventure actually feels real. In that two week holiday llion and I knocked out loads of routes across the great nation. and now we are looking to return to climb The Nose of El Cap, another two week holiday for Llion and Katie, but for me I feel the need to spend a little more time out there to explore.

My plans are only starting to form, but I am thinking of buying a car and travelling coast to coast, and trying to get a few more classic routes done either before or after the Yosemite mission. My question is what sort of price does the average American wreck cost? Or should I rent? Where should I go? Where should I start? Is there anyone out there keen to join me on a leg or two?

Glurp and other Slate Esoteria

Mark Reeves on Glurp
Mark Reeves on Glurp

Well, we did get out climbing last night. It took a bit of cunning to avoid the really strong winds, so we ended up in the bottom of Vivian Quarry, somewhere which is a popular destination for me and my friends. However it also means that I have pretty much climbed out all the routes.

Llion attempted Time Bandits, a hideous route, that makes you think you are doing really well, and gets something like F7b(+) in the new slate guide book due out soon, but don’t be mistaken it is only F6a to get to the final bolt, and a english 6c move guards the lower off. Think of that for a while a slate english 6c move, equals virtual impossibility. He failed, and I decided to have a go at Glurp, an alleged F6c.

The route climbs the slab/groove just right of Clap Please, and has been partially retro bolted. Although the second bolt is a rusty old bolt stud that has been bent probably by a falling rock, so it doesn’t quite take a wire hooked over it, and is a reach to hook in a place where a fall is going to result in a probable grounding!

Mark Reeves making another gripper Clipper from above the bolt
Mark Reeves making another gripper Clipper from above the bolt

Above you can arrange some suspect runners in the groove, before making another desperate reach to clip the next bolt, the gripper clippers continue all the way up, until you leave the last bolt and have to man up to make the final moves onto a ledge where the climbing eases to the top. I thought more top end E4 rather than F6c. Certainly harder than many of the E4’s I have been on recently, but not quite E5, and not worth a star.

I have also been on a couple of easy sports routes in Bus Stop, the first route on the left as you walk in. Called First Stop, is rather poor, and I was extremely suspect that the lower off was in solid rock. It looked like a block about 5 inches wide and two to three feet high. Personally i think it should be debolted, as my assessment is the lower off may actually fail.

more gripper clippers
more gripper clippers

The route to the right sept……..grian or something similar is a rather disapointing F5a. With poor rock nearly throughout, but no more some than on the ledge below the ‘headwall’.

Anyway, we headed back to the village after climbing, and Katie was heading over to a secret training camp based in the french pyrenees. She is bound to come back stronger than ever. I wonder what the cost of such a training camp would be, it sounds like it would be like a cross between Boot Camp and Kill Bill karate training.

Mark Reeves on Glurp
Mark Reeves on Glurp
Personally I fucking hate this, we aren't in main land europe FFS!
Personally I fucking hate this, we aren't in main land europe FFS! The route is only 4b as well!

The Retrospective Future of it

Old DMM Advert
Old DMM Advert

I have been knocking about to day round the house and at the publishers not to mention wandering round the village, trying to achieve life’s small but important tasks. During that time I had a brew in Pete’s and scanned through one of there old mags, well it beat the newspapers telling me more about the election!

I saw this image of an old magazine advert for DMM, looks seriously scarey, given the cable has now fallen to the depths of the quarry. I also read a letter by good ole Ken Wilson, who was ranting about bolts and how they will be the end of trad climbing, and how they will appear everywhere from grit to granite. An interesting read, when you consider that 20 years on his apocolyptic vision of climbings futures simply hasn’t paid out.

Although with easy sport venues he probably see’s his prediction as true. However the modern outlook seems to accept these area for what they are and allow the ‘trad’ climbers to do there thing and ‘sports’ climbers another. I beat he didn’t envisage the fall of the cold war between the two camps, the advent of bouldering as a climbing activity in its own right or any of the other sub sports of climbing that make up the broad church of worshipers to the rock gods.

What is funny to me anyway is that I beat he still holds those old views, a bit like my grandads at time blatant, out dated and out moded belief of ethic minorities in the UK.

I find it interesting that in the not too distant future we shall be in an era when the ‘traditional’ Stalwarts will no long be with use, like the death recently of the last surviving veteran of the first world war. We are all now much more liberal and open to the views of others, however reading UKC on bolting debates, they can still polarise an audience. I guess that whilst it is best that ‘least we forget’, I do wonder what the next generation of climbers bred on steep plastic, training and competitions, and then unleashed on unsuspecting rock will have use do next?

My guess is they will still enjoy the greatest trad climbing in the world, some will become Alpinist, and others the greatest redpointers of there times.

I wonder what DMM will make as there latest and greatest technological advancement in climbing technology?

Anyway I am off out climbing now, to enjoy and evening cragging in the strong winds on the rock of my age. When I can forget all my thining, it gets me no where!

Is Scram-packing to Blame?

Last year I wrote a post after I met Andy Kirkpatrick in Yosemite, he had been writing an article on combining scrambling and multi-day backpacking in Wales. When I heard the route. I thought that it would probably end in tears for someone. Anyway last weekend I think I may have met some of the unfortunate people when they were winch off Lliwedd, when lost high on Bilberry Terrace.

I didn’t ask them whether they had read Andy’s Article, but both Andy and I found it amusing that Trail Magazine has a policy that no ropes can be shown on the cover, because it will scare the readers, and put them off buying the magazine. So Andy was photoed trying to hide the rope whilst on Bilberry terrace, the irony is that most sane mountaineers would really appreciate a rope up there, as well as more than a passing interest on just how it works.

I did wonder whether these guys stuck on Lliwedd had read andy’s article, of course they could have read the Ashton scrambles guide. Anyway they all got down safely thanks to the RAF, which was nice, as I had appeared to have pulled the shortest straw for being lowered down the cliff to rescue them if plan A – The Whirly Death Machine Failed!

Mountain Leader Training: Mountain Day

I spent sunday in Ogwen, delivering a Mountain Day for some candiates on their Mountain Leader Training. The day looked at both the security on steep ground, leadership and the environment. It is a great day to run, as it requires a variety of terrain, and input from me. No two days will be the same as weather, the seasons and venue will bring out different aspects.

However, there are core elements that we have to look at like the practical side of assessing how to manage a group on steep ground, and the environmental elements of the syllabus. Interesting I always seem to end up recommending Mike Raine’s “The Nature of Snowdonia”. A veritable handbook for ML environmental knowledge, and of course a great book for anyone who enjoys the the natural environment of Snowdonia.

I have been spending today looking at PDF’s of both my How to climb harder book and the Slate Guide, as well as catching up on some much needed washing!

Mountain Leader Training Lose Tribunal

I am sure that many locals will have read the reports in the Daily Post and other papers with interest over the employment tribunal between the Mountain leader training boards, in particular Mountain Leader Training England and an ex-employee who claimed she was dismissed unfairly.

I have sat on this story for a while, as to publish what I knew may have gotten me into trouble with people I work for, however as it is all in the public domain, and the case is over, I will hopefully be able to present the facts as well as my opinion on the whole affair.

The story started a few years back when the employee discovered some very unsavoury porn on her line managers Andy Say’s computer, and reported it to his boss. Being a small organisation mainly based in one building in Capel Curig Andy Say was challenged and admitted downloading the offensive material whilst at work.

Unfortunately for the MLT they appear to have totally mismanaged the situation that lead to the whistle blower being essentially bullied out of her job, as she was forced to take time off work through stress relate illness associated with her treatment by her line manager Andy Say. She eventually told her partner about the whole situation despite being told to keep the matter confidential.

Now given that she was ill because of the situation and missing work, it seems totally reasonable to me for her to mention the matter to her then partner and now husband. Something that the tribunal agreed with, and awarded her a payout for unfair dismissal.

A real victory for the little person, and a rather poor show for the organisation that represents the national governing body awards for mountaineering. Whilst the person dismissed has won a long and arduous fight to clear her name and get a fraction of the emotional and financial cost losing her job would have caused, the line manage Andy Say still sits in his office, where’s the justice in that?

A Party Policitical Broadcast for the ….

…labour party. Mainly because so far that is all that has been bothered to call round the house whilst I have been in. Inparticular, it was Alun Pugh who knocked on my door. So I hit him with a few questions.

What has he done for Mountaineers?

Apparently he was involved in getting the Snowdonia Muntain forecast published for free, he also helped fund the North Wales Outdoor Partnership that helps local kids become involved in outdoor pursuits, he is also keen to develop strong links with the BMC, because he is a mountaineer. Although he did admit to falling off central trinity seconding, which is like falling of a staircase, but at least he actually gets out there.

What would you do for Mountain Rescue, specifically the funding?

Here is was a little cagey, although he did know the arguments of many Mountain rescue personnel not wanting to be paid, instead remain a voluntary organisation. He did however seem like he would be interested in finding some money from somewhere to help with the on going running costs. Although he was door to door canvasing at the time, so being the cynic that I am I guess he could say just about anything.

On a general note though it would be interesting to see which party might be best to ‘get into bed with’, as regards to mountaineering and rock climbing (maybe an article for UKC jack?). I should have asked him what he thought about the Mine’s and Quarries Act!

The Infamous Book

If I had a pound everytime someone asked how my book was going, or the Slate Guide for that matter, I’d have enough money to buy….. well a pint or two that’s for sure! My answer has always been somewhat cagey, as I really didn’t know when it was going to come out.

However a recent flurry of emails, additions, edits and phone calls later and I have been told that it will be released sometime in August this year. I spent today writing another short additional section on double rope techniques, as well as sort through photos.

A trip to the publishers and the final draft is looking totally amazing, its quite surreal thinking that my images, diagrams and words have been transformed by the publisher and designer into what it is. Nearly three years of work are coming to an end, and I can’t tell you how much relief actually being able to see the finishing line means to me.

The publishers website has the info up, and is starting to send out the pre-launch information to get shops interested in stocking, and Cordee the distributor ready to help push the new product.

You can read all about it here. I will update you as an when I get more information.

Bloody Vandals!

The trundled Flake, the route is still HVS
The trundled Flake, the route is still HVS

Well, over the weekend the slate has been busy, in particular there was a couple fo spots of vandalism. The first was by someone on Friday afternoon in broad daylight, as someone has cut a hole through the two fences at Dali’s Hole. Despite the local climbers putting the feelers out as to ‘Who Dunnit’, there is current know idea as to who.

Many locals don’t suspect a climber, as doing such a thing in broad daylight is something that not even a local climber would do. Especially as 20 yards to the right you could walk round said fence! I am sure there will be fall out from that for climbers at some point!

The second bit of vandalism was by me, I climbed the HVS equinox or solitice, can’t remember what it is called. The one which used to have a really big tombstone flake, I say used to, because after climbing a few times this year the flake seemed to be getting looser, so rather than wait for it to be pull off as some poor bastard mantelshelved it I quick dispatched it with a easy push. I suspect it was loosen this winter by the extreme cold conditions.

I also saw this great advert for BA at the weekend. Seemed like a waste of paper under the current flying conditions. However interesting that they are using a climber to advertise BA!