Some recent climbing and belaying

Caff working the Meltdown Project in Twll Mawr

I have managed a few days out this week. A brief evening on the Cromlech Boulder, although my elbow isn’t up for too much of that at the moment. So it was only a short session. I then managed to meet up with Llion for a trip to the slimestone. Pen Trwyn was shut for a triathlon, so we headed to Penmean Head. We did about 5 routes before it started to spit so we headed back.

The next day I got a call from Caff for some belaying duties in the quarries. Which was almost as epic as the last time I belayed him. Mainly due to the approach, which involves a knarly exposed traverse to get to the alcove, before you abseil into Twll Mawr and traverse along and up to a belay below the Meltdown.

This route is a long standing project in the quarries and was first tried by Johnny Dawes a long time ago and partially abandoned because a hold fell off making it near impossible. There was talk of johnny recasting the hold out of bronze and returning the route to how it was. Fortunately the logistics of casting a bronze hold meant that the project remained unclimbed.

Caff had been on the route a few times and had found a sequence to do all the moves, making it possible but almost impossibly hard. Sunday he had a few goes on a long hard link on the part of the route that was dry before getting psych to return as soon as possible in the hope that it dries.

Anyway there are two pictures one from Penmean and the other from the Meltdown. I have tried to be arty with it. Not sure it works well, but I think it was the best effect I could have got with the lighting that day.

Yesterday I spent most of the day and evening in the Lagoons on Llyn Padarn cooking a whole lamb for my birthday. Had a good few freinds out for a feast that evening, was great to catch up with so many people, thanks if you came or sorry if you couldn’t make it.

Modern Hero’s: Alan Turin

If you are reading this blog, then you and me are greatly indebt to one great mind of the 20th Century. Why? Well as transistor technology improved the move from telephones, wireless and other electronic device turn to see if those transistors that powered those machines could be used to compute data.

One man set out and formulate a theory for a computing machine, this Turing Machine was named after its inventor. Alan Turing would later take the computor and apply it to code breaking in the war. He and his team were successful, and some historians believe they shortened the war by anything between 2 and 4 years.

The very computor architecture that makes any computor work today is based on the system that he developed during the 1930. Albeit todays computors are 10000 times smaller, millions of times more powerful and require the power of a lightbulb rather than that of a locomotive.

Turing was homosexual, which at the end of the war was illegal, and despite saving the world from more conflict. He was tried and found guilty, where he opted for a form of chemical castration. This is reported to have broken his spirit, and he subsequently killed himself.

He was so influencial that if you check google today you’ll see a new logo in honor of his 100th birthday. It shows how his ‘computor’ worked. I just thought I share the story of the one of the great minds of humanity. This story and others like it are featured in a book I am working on on the science, history and culture of Rock Climbing. Which should be available as a eBook later in the year.

The New …. Beacon Wall

The new main climbing area at the Beacon! At its hihest point it is 17m and overhangs 7m.

Well, after nearly twenty years of the beacon being upo the hill at Ceunant the beacon is rapidally approaching D-Day. Where it is going to move into a new building based on the Cibyn industrial estate, just outside Cearnarfon. They have had the building a few months now and have been rapidally turning it from a TV studio to a state of the art climbing wall.

Last week I ran into Steve at Tremadog and he suggested that I drop in and take a look. So on my way back from the bank today I dropped in, and my jaw soon hit the floor. This wall is going to be awesome, I imagine for many climbers it may be a game changer. At full height it is 17 metres and overhangs around 7m. It has a IFSC spec speed climbing wall, and simply loads of climbing for the dedicated climber.

However that is just the start of it, there is a two tier bouldering area, which has yet to started, but imagine a few more bouldering areas like the old school room, and I am sure you won’t be too wrong. There is also a crazy climb area for school groups, which features unique and innovative climbing aimed at taster session and kids parties. They also plan to eventually develop an indoor caving area, which sounds awsome.

On top of that the cafe is look great and there are two balconies that overlook the main climbing area. They also have a large lecture theatre which looks like it will seat around 80 people, as well a classroom or two.

I haev to say that I can’t wait to get route setting on this wall. Although I’d imagine it might involve some epic sessions in a harness, unless they are going to keep the cherry pickers. To keep up to date with progress visit Beacon Climbing and I recommend their Facebook page.

Main Wall left, double decker bouldering wall near side right, crazy climbing far right side.
The imaginative toddler/creche section
Attention to detail, climber's/artists painting the creche.

Outdoor learning

Well for the last few days I have been out with a couple of school groups where there was an emphasis on learning outside the classroom. Whilst on the Saturday we did a low level walk round aber falls. Focusing on various plants and stories that link science to the outdoors. Today I was with a school group who wanted a educational walk around cwm idwal.

Faced with a challenge to try and engage the group with the outdoors, I choose to focus the day on the environment and glaciation. Having a new iPad I decided to try and utilise it, and managed to teach myself how to download videos from YouTube. I had w couple of great time lapses of retreating glaciers to help illustrate that glaciers are not static things but move.

The of course allowed me to explain the difference between natural global warming and human influenced global warming. I think the group really enjoyed the day, and it was interesting to try and use tech in my outdoor work. Although I think the group will remember sundew and butterwort or the dragons tongue as they were insect eaters, something the small kids seem to find more interesting that the links from soft rush aka pig wick grass and Charles dickens.

Anyway nice day out, and interesting to do more base level outdoor education, rather than trying to either teach or assess NGB awards.

Tech, Tech and More Tech!!!

Having worked for 12 days in a row, and being paid well for my efforts has had two major effects. Firstly I was so knackered that i did very little for the next two days, and today it has rained sooo hard I have been concerned that the windows might cave in under the deluge.

It also meant for the first time in a long time there was an ‘excess’ of funds in my bank and true to form it was burning a hole in my pocket, so yesterday went out and brought Apple TV and an iPad. So now I am rocking nearly the full compliment of Apple products. They are both of use to my work as well.

First I have been working on a iBook on the Coaching Process for Climber’s, this has been specifically design for use on the iPad and it is great to get a hands on experience as how it works on the platform. The Apple TV also turns my TV into a second monitor wirelessly when the new os X mountain lion comes out next month.

More importantly for my housemate, she can now watch Deadender’s on iPlayer through the Apple TV by mirroring my ipads display. I also watched the first Alien film yesterday, which made me appreciate Prometheus more. Although I have heard calls that it is not an Alien prequel, having watch Alien, I can’t say I agree, as it is definitely a prequel. Albeit the technology in Prometheus is more a vision of where todays technology might go. Whereas the Alien film made in 1979, shows how they used computors back then to make the set look futuristic.

Anyway I have a work to do, and need to get ready for a few more days out on the hill this weekend.

Climbing Refresher Courses?

Over the years I have reintroduced many people back to the sport of Rock Climbing and Mountaineering. In fact it seems so popular, I think I am going to start a new course with that name, as an introduction or intermediate courses don’t seem to fit the description of what some of my clients are after.

Typically the people I have on some of my climbing courses are best decsribed as people who for a period of their life the commitment to family and work interfered with their climbing. A few years down the line and the desire to climb returns, as children become less time consuming and the work/life balance re-introduces ‘free time’.

For the last couple of days I have been working with toni, who loosely fits this description. Although he has still climbed indoors but struggled to get outdoors for various reasons. So I have been getting him used to the rock again over the last couple of days. Yesterday we played a wild card given the weather and managed to find dry rock all day at Holyhead Mountain. We climbed about 4 routes in the Alcove, then the Ramp by the Sump and a gully to the left of the Alcove. A great day out made better when we arrived back at the cafe only to have the heavens open!

Today we did more of the same, but at Tremadog. Despite wrapping up warm in thermals I found myself reomving more layers with each route. We climbed Obleron, Christmas Curry and the first pitch of Grim Wall. Again Tony did great, and we enjoyed the sunny conditions and warm rock. Although given its proximity to the recent floods, you could see that Tremadog had taken a hammering from the weather over the last few days!

Not sure of the venue for tomorrow, I need to see the weather. However I also ran into Steve from the Beacon and a Caro who I used to work with at the Brenin many years ago. Steve informed me that the D day for the New Beacon is 23rd July. I might try and head down for a look before then. If I do I will try and blog a few sneaky photos. The wall sounds awesome. It has about 5 metres additional height to the current wall, and will overhang 7 metres at this point!

A Busy week

Well I have been so busy I can’t really remember when or what I last blogged about. However I thought I’d make a littel summary of the work I have done so far in my 12 day stint of work.

First up was a lead climb coaching course for two climbers from London. A great course, where we managed a day out at Tremadog including them leading Boo Boo and Rio. I also started them off by leading Obleron and finished the day by a rapid ascent of One Step…

The rain came down hard the next day so we concerntrated on skills in the beacon like further work on gear placement and belay methods, tying off the stitch plate and some movement coaching. The wall was as busy as I have ever seen it.

The final day of this course we managed to head out to the moelwyns where my team climbed the first two pitches of Bent, followed by the whole of Slick. After that we made an attempt of Kirkus direct, but midges and a slow team made us retreat hastily. A great course with two really interesting people. Miriam was on teh Cauldwell Extreme Everest Expedition which I quote bits of in a chapter of my new book called ‘Bad Altitide’. I have put the pictures in an album on my facebook page, I am starting to post more pictures on there to try and develop an audience, it is also easier to upload all photos, whereas here I try to make a edited highlight. So if you like the photos, me or Snowdonia Mountain Guides please like the FB page.

The follwoign day I had a one day sports climbing skills course for a friends husband, we hended up in the beacon again. Where I covered clipping quickdraws, thread lower off and other key sports climbing skills. Rich did really well, and is off to France as I type!

The next three days were an ML assessment expedition for Peak Mountain Training. Where due to teh weather I had to hastily rearrange the route to find shelter. Essentially we headed up the Cryn Las Ridge before traverse Crib Y Drysgl. It rain just before we topped out, and continued to do so till just before we reach camp by Llyn Glas. Luckily the weather held off during the night nav, and with a poor forecast for thursday night/friday morning. I made the plan to keep them out as long as possible that night to try and avoid a second night nav.

Fortunately they were all really good, and I managed to tick all the boxes I needed in the three and a half hours we were out for. We awoke to heavy rain, and packed up and headed over the summit and down into Cwm Clogwyn before traversing round to below Cloggy. The weather only let up whilst we had a quick coffee and lunch in the summit cafe. As soon as we were outside the rain came down again.

It continued throughout the rest of the walk into cloggy, and with teh final leg to the cwm. I was deciding whether or not it was a good idea to camp out for the second night. As having seen the forecast 70mph winds and heavy rain, it seemed foolish. I had also seen all that I needed to see from the team, who were amongst the strongest asessment group I have worked with. In the end I made the call to walk out that evening.

Typically it stopped raining as soon as we reach the village and I started to second guess my decision. Given the weather later that evening and today though, I think it was a good decision.

I am busy resting up for the rest of today having met the group and given them the good news with course director Phil Dothwaite. Tomorrow another five days coaching climbing and stuff.

Feast and Famine

The outdoor industry is a strange thing, you are either sat about twiddling your thumbs or flat out. I have over the last 6 months mainly been sat about, although doing a variety of things that are best described as tactically moving pieces into place for long-term projects. It has been a bit like a gardener sowing the seeds and keeping the garden tidy in readiness to reap the rewards.

These projects have included writing a book on the History and Technology of rock climbing, another book on the Coaching Process for Climbing Coaches and the two chapters I am working on for RockFax North Wales Guidebook. I between that I have spent evenings programming my iCoach site, hopefully I will get it finished for September when the indoor training season starts. In the mean time, work still continues in the backgroud for the next iPhone and Andriod update for North Wales Rock guidebook. So whilst the paid work has been thin on the ground, I certainly haven’t sat about twiddling my thumbs.

However, today I am twiddling my thumbs having a rest day prior to starting a 12 day stint of work. This includes a 3 day private climbing course for Snowdonia Mountain Guides and a one day sport climbing course. Followed by a 3 day ML Assessment Expedition for Peak Mountain Training and then a 5 day climbing course for SMG again.

Don’t think I have had to work that hard in a long time, but really looking forward to it.