Putting the “Royal” into Air Force

It has been announced that Prince William is to be based at RAF Valley, as part of the crew of Rescue Seaking 122. Which means that in the near future not only might I be flown into the hill by the RAF, but by the heir to the thrown of the UK.

Whilst it might seem exciting, it does remind me of an old interview that I saw with Prince Charles just after the Falklands War in which he served as a Wessex Helicoptor Pilot. The interview asked him whether the troops had treated him differently. To which he replied that whenever he came into pick up troops his helicoptor had been the most popular.

Asking one soldier why everyone wanted to get in his the ‘Royal’ helicoptor, the soldier didn’t reply to meet the prince, but simply that being the prince’s helicoptor it must be better maintain than the rest of the fleet.

So I have my finger crossed that the servicing of the Seakings at Valley become the RAF’s top priority ;-). Who knows I might even meet the Prince, although I wonder if I am being security checked as we speak, and put on the Rescue Team ‘Black List’?

I wonder if people will start to call out the rescue team in the hope of meeting the HRH, as his RAF title stands P Off Wales.

Big Walling Course

I have spent the weekend running a ‘How to Big Wall’ course for myself and four great people in North Wales we covered virtually all the skills you would need to get up the Nose or similar route in Yosemite. From aid climbing, french freeing, jumar and hauling.

On Saturday we stayed indoors despite the great weather to cover as much as possible in an environment that was easily adaptable for our various needs, before heading outside on the sunday to look at making big wall belays and hauling. We finished with an exercise in putting up a portaledge whilst hanging just off the ground.

I have to admit that I really wanted them to see just how hard and ackward rigging a ledge can be. I wasn’t disapointed and one of the group videoed two people trying to put up my portaledge. They have already put it on Youtube. It is rather funny, but that might be because you had to be there!

Anyway here’s the link. I will get some images up from the weekend tomorrow, as I have only just got back from Bus Stop after some evening cragging, I got on Forsinain on the redpoint, but felt totally wasted after working so much. I flailed miserably, but now know the lob isn’t too bad!

More Climbing

I have spent the last couple of days climbing, why break a habit of a lifetime! I was on the slate on Thursday during the day, as well as spending a while taking photos for my book. I then went for Ice Cream, before heading up to Never Never Land.

Where I climbed Kubla Khan, and Llion cruised Short Stories. In total I managed about 7 pitches of climbing that day.

Today I went to tremadog teaching 2 year Outdoor Activity Sport Science Students from Bangor University how to Lead Climb. They led Yogi and Rio. Under more blue skies. The weather was lust as it has been for over two weeks now!

Tomorrow, I might have to avoid the sun unfortunately. Should still be climbing though! I’ll post some pictures up after Ashes to Ashes.

Have We Shot Ourselves in the Foot

There are many turns of phrase I could use, like cutting off ones nose to spite ones face, which aptly describes the current access situation at Dali’s Hole. On the surface of it and inpartiular based on UKC reporting, it is a great piece of local action to help the access situation in the quarries. The fact still remains that First Hydro still won’t allow access and unless the law changes with regards to the Mines and Quarries, and probably never will.

What actually seems to have happen is that one self appointed guardian of the quarries has come along and stripped out all the bolts in Dali’s Hole to protect us from ourselves. No discussion other than that on UKC, no coming along to the next BMC meeting, just an action that seems to have been taken without thinking a situation through.

Whilst the culprit might well be on first name terms with Tony Thomas the first hydro’s security boss, and have relatives that dug the quarries. Unfortunately the rest of us aren’t. In fact despite giving assurances that the security would only patrol Dali’s Hole, Slate climbing legend John Redhead was accosted by First Hydro Personnel in Australia and asked to leave. From what I was told he didn’t leave quietly.

So whilst removing bolts might well be a ‘Short-term’ solution it certainly isn’t one that I see as doing us any favour’s. Ian has basically achieved what First Hydro would like without actually having to do it themselves. Personally I would like to see the bolts go back, and a little community action to prevail. Maybe a mass trepass with some media coverage to highlight the issues on both sides, and the way that First Hydro are tied to the law, yet it comes into conflict with open access and recreation for so many local people and visitors alike.

Removing the bolts is exactly what First Hydro want, and it hasn’t changed a thing, just given the sercurity guard more time to patrol other areas, like Australia.

Incidentally, there were still a family climbing there when I past the other day, although instead of nice solid bolts they were belayed to a single rotten telegraph pole.

Picture from the edge

All these photos were taken over the last week, a few when I was working on various rock courses.
Topping out on Oberon
Topping out on Oberon
Llion running up Pull My Daisy E2 Rainbow Slab
Llion running up Pull My Daisy E2 Rainbow Slab
Hanging out at Castell Helen
Hanging out at Castell Helen
Dave Torrington stepping up on Blanco, Castell Helen
Dave Torrington stepping up on Blanco, Castell Helen
One Step in the Clouds
One Step in the Clouds
Climbing the Groove on Pel, Castall Helen
Climbing the Groove on Pel, Castall Helen

Slate Day

Well, I finally got my phone back working again, by up grading to a blackberry. Who knows I might figure out how to update this blog from it one day!

After that essential admin/spending spree, i headed up to Rainbow Walls and climbed what looked like a dry Colossus E3, however the crux was rather damp, and made it a little more challenging than usual. At one point I was climbing what appeared to be brown snot. I managed to battle through.

We went onto climb Drowning Man F6b and German School Girl E2, and then we looked at Paradise Lost, a cracking E2 that deserves a couple of stars. The route climbs an arete left of The Dark Half.

The weather was awesome again, and helped me further develop my farmer tan.

What’s in a Name?

I took my Intro Rock Course to Castell Helen today, other than a silence that you could cut with a knife as we prepared for the 60m abseil in. One of the group asked where the name came from, so I guessed it was named after Ellen’s Tower at the top and been bastardised to Castell Helen, as it looks like a tiny white castle. Surely its thats simple.

Although my favourite name for a crag at gogarth is Llawder, which whilst looking like a name steeped in the welsh language is actually just red walls backwards!

What is funnier at our crag of choice today is the two route we combined Pel and Rap, which when reversed make rappel, and unsurprising take the line of the abseil in.

After the Pel/Rap combination, we climbed the awesome Lighthouse Arete Direct. A great day out on the crag, and after the initial knee trembler of the first rappel in. The group loved the crag, and the atmosphere of there first sea cliff climbing. Not bad considering that two of the group had only been climbing for 4 days!

The crag was busy with other climbers and a steady stream of climber went up lighthouse arete. As well collectively enjoyed the blue skies and glowing sun. It felt like spring has finally arrived, thanks to the large high pressure that’s sat over the UK.