I spent yesterday route setting at the Beacon, putting up a couple of F6b’s on the lead wall.So it was another day of jumaring and hanging about in a harness for me. I also had to place two large volumes on the wall. Which was like a series of rescue scenarios where I had to haul and position them on a rope before screwing them to the wall. Hopefully they have added to the varied nature of the climbing.
One has a nice mantelshelf at the top, where the other has a thin move that if you use the volume you feel that you can actually take a hand off. Hopefully they will be enjoyed by the customers there.
When out climbing this evening I had the joy of using Katies rack of DMM Phantom Quickdraws. It was rather surreal, as I barely noticed when I was load to the hilt with them. (I had over ten on my harness)
The clipped as well as any carabiner I have tried, I am not into the idea that one type, style or make of carabiner is any harder or easier to clip. There was certainly no hassle. What I was shocked by though was their weight. To the extent that one day I will have to replace all my quickdraws with a set of these. On a big sport or trad route, these would make you even light, and if your me probably make you take extra ones as you have don’t think your rack weighs enough!
I’ve had a great few days, Thursday a short climb, a quick evening hit on Friday, a day at Tremadog on saturday ticking meshach, grim wall direct and to the cave on Vector. I then spent a bit of the evening watch Chopper Brian, unfortunately I had to leave before he went onto win it. God we’ll never here the last of it! I have to say I wasn’t surprised, he is very driven individual.
I got a phone call on Saturday, so had to go work today, although I did get out in the evening after spending the day getting some scramblers tied up in knots. We headed up to the top of Australia and climbed a few of the new routes there. Noel and team climbed a nice F6b on the Men at Work Slab, whilst I tried Glasgow Kiss an F7a+. It was a nice route although I failed on the crux and finished up the awesome arete of See You Bruce instead. Although on reasonable rock the crux looked ‘improved’ to make almost possible, although I am not sure it has the Redhead touch.
Llion did the light version of The Gorbals, basically having the first bolt clipped and leading the rest. It would be a good E5 still if you were going to climb up the bolt, although the sane people will go lite! This route is hidden gem and well worth the easy walk in from the garret road.
I then climbed a F6c slab on the right of the slab. it is this that made me utter the immortal words, its like climbing a building site after my boots kept getting covered in the dust that is left over from the clean. Which was just adequate, in places and over done in others. The crux had small holds that seemed to crumble under my feet, I wouldn’t be surprised if the grade changes. The amount of rock that had been cleaned of the top and the bottom was really truly a testamony to enthusiasm over quality.
The top clean may have loosen the top flake on The Gorbals, mainly because I don’t think the top was that loose when I climbed it, but both Llion and Katie mentioned it. I guess the harsh winter may have helped as well.
I have over the years struggled to find the love for LPT and any steep limestone for that matter. Mainly because I am a dedicated trad ledge shuffler, as such i am not too hot on the frantic grab and pull of limestone climbing. However I have recently started to get it.
Tuesday was very much one of those days, typical for me in that i failed to reach the lower off even on the hard routes I had previously flashed! A pretty bad day for most, you would think, but I realised that’s what hard sports climbing is about, and whilst i might not have enjoyed it, I certain accepted it. What I did like was the social atmosphere.
There were lots of people down there with ropes up many hard routes, and more importantly quickdraws that i won’t have to sweat my arse of dogging my way to the top in order to recover them at the end of the day. One of those routes was La Boheme a classic F7b that Kate had nearly onsighted, blowing it on the final move totally pumped out of her mind.
I have put some of the pictures of her onsight attempt here, Kate went onto fail on her first redpoint after a foothold exploded. Ejecting her in spectacular fashion, still next time she’ll get it. As for me, I couldn’t get near the early crux. Anyway it was an awesome piece of climbing to watch.
My housemates Climber Magazine came whilst he was away at the BMC sea cliff meet. So I opened it up, and managed to flick through in a matter of minutes, however I was intrigued about one article by Martin Kocsis who writes the BMC feature the Sharp End in the mag. He had been researching about the fixed gear debate on UKC, and I was interested to see what he had made of the debate.
Now I like Martin, he is often seen around the village, and he does a lot of great work for the BMC. However I felt that this latest piece was whilst well thought out, actually didn’t reflect the arguments he got from many people on the forums, and for that matter it did not reflect my thoughts or the thoughts of many people I climb with either.
So I have decided to get on my slightly smaller and less well distributed soapbox. Now Martin argues about a lower off in some grit quarry being poor. Which to be honest sounds pretty bad, but here’s the thing, I don’t care because I don’t know enough about the actual lower off to offer an opinion. However why not replace them with new pegs, rather than go down Martin’s suggestion of a bolt belay.
However I got very upset with martin over the Castell Helen abseil point, and will continue to defend the current situation. Yes it might be an ‘Ugly’ collection of pegs and tat. But it is totally functional, and if you have half an once of climbing knowledge you can add to that insitu situation with one or two wires.
Sure two bolts might be a cleaner solution, but the tat is only visible by people who are actually abseiling. More importantly though Gogarth is pretty much a bolt free area, certainly in the modern idiom. It is a crag that represents adventure climbing, not just trad climbing. A point that I think Martin misses, the add adventure comes from you having to manage your own safety in one way or another, if you don’t have the skills to keep yourself safe, then maybe you shouldn’t be there.
Now Martin argues that this is Elitism, from the E7 climbers, well unfortunately, I feel it is actually elitism not from E7+ climbers but from those of us with the experience to make judgements on anchors, and the skills to make an appropriate belay. Whereas elitism through grade can be seen as limiting factor that unfairly discriminates against those that will never reach those grades. I would argue that the experience elitism, is not an unclimable hill, but one that takes time and a little thought to overcome.
Just because people can move rapidly through the grades nowadays thanks to training, coaching and instruction. Suggesting that we change things to cater for lack of real experience is cutting our nose off to spite our face. I and many of my friends love adventure, it is why I climb. If people can’t be bothered to build up their experience to manage their safety in a climbing environment then so be it. I don’t think it is a reason to bolt belays at Castell Helen.
If you are a Total Wipeout fan then you will know that there has been a new series on the TV recently. What you may not know is one of the competitors was a member of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, and an RAF helicoptor pilot. “Chopper Brian” as he is known in the programme has become a bit of a local Z list celebrity.
I had dinner with him and a few friends last night, and he is totally loving the fame, however he won’t tell whether that also includes fortune as well. As he is in the champions show this saturday at 5.30. His war call is “Ginger Pride”, and he loves it if you shout it down the street at him.
Anyway if you visit the BBC website then they are using a picture of Chopper Brian being ejected off the the balls. It looks like he didn’t make it all the way across. Anyway set the Sky+ to record this, and shout for “Chopper Brian”
No not the golden shower, but this did crop up in conversation this weekend on the Big Walling course at Plas Y Brenin. During which I was jumaring again, something which I have seemed to be doing too much of recently. It is probably been my most used piece of equipment in the last month at work, after my harness.
I was teaching leading to University Students from the Undergrad BSc in Sport Scientist at Bangor, on friday. A nice day at holyhead mountain,enjoying the sun. Then it was onto Plas Y Brenin for a weekend big walling course with the head of rock climbing for the centre Tim “The Big Man” Neil.
Another great course, that the clients seemed to get loads out of. Unfortunately I seem to have taught so many people how to big wall this year that I am worried that if they are all in Yosemite at the same time as me, and they all want to climb the Nose, then I might be stuck behind all my ex-students as I try to tick the route. Let alone all the people that will be there anyway trying to climb the route!
Anyway I suspect that I will have been attach to a jumar for longer than even the most hardened Rope Access Jockey by the end of the year.
I will try and get some images from a simulated aiding session from the weekend before too long.
Well, its has probably been at least a year since I last climbed Dream of White Horses, I do try and make it at least an annual outing, as the route is so classic a rock climb that every time I cross the immaculate zawn I can’t help but be impressed by the quality of the climbing. In the past couple of years I have guided several visiting american teams across this amazing traverse.
Many of these Americans had there imagination captured by the classic photo of the Ed Drummond on the route, with big seas crashing up the cliff. Giving the white horses that Dream is famous for. The route is a master of cunning, as the territory it takes in is enough to curl the toes of even the most adventurous of climbers.
Don’t expect a walk over, despite Dream of White Horses being a HVS, and actually only VS climbing, but in a totally unescapable situation. On tuesday I opted for the best route combination on the Wen Slab. That of Concrete Chimney into the last and most spectacular pitch of Dream.
Concrete chimey as a long first pitch makes the route a real HVS adventure, and much steeper than the wen slab original line up the flake. The route traverse out to an arete where exposed and tenuously steep slabs lead to a crasy plethora of bubbly jugs. Eventually leading to the aptly named Concrete Chimney, a shoot of creations leftovers poured into a rift and forgotten about for years. The true line of this feature is a very hard E6 called Rubble.
After I climbed the first Pitch I sent Moony across the final traverse of Dream of White Horses, as leading this pitch is easier than seconding it. Something that I had forgotten about as I haven’t seconded this pitch in years!
Anyway the photos are from our day out, which was rather cold, as the sun really failed to stay out for more than five minutes at a time. However the route was still as good as ever. A route that any climber should aim to climb at some point in their life.
If you would like to be guided across then I am more than happy to talk to you about it, and if I feel you have the necessary experience more than happy to climb this route again and again.