20ft x 20ft Graffiti in the Slate Quarries…. Please urge Artist to stop!

I saw this post from the BMC on Facebook. If you see it, please visit the site and post a comment urging him not to paint/spray a 20ft by 20ft mural in the slate quarries. His art is poorest looking excuse for a graffiti I have seen in a while and is painted on a Sidings Classic.

Better Never than Late is where the blog piece came from and the artist is Jack Murray.

Hollywood comes to Bangor…

My job is nothing if diverse, especially recently, where there has been a large increase in the amount of work I am getting. I don’t know if that is because I have done something right with search engine optomisation, or its a sign that people have started to believe in the government that the recession is easing, if not totally over.

This weekend reflects this perfectly. I spent saturday in th sun teaching a sport climber to trad climber course. We did a little rigging at the top of a very busy Upper Tier, there were 4 groups plus some other climbers, then I got Rense to lead a couple of routes.

Yesterday I got a call at lunchtime asking if I was free for some rigging work on a film that afternoon. I said of course and headed over to find out what they wanted and spent the afternoon and evening hoisting actors up and lowering them down for a scifi film. It was a low budget Hollywood film being filmed in the area.

It is always interesting as I had only a little time and very few resources to rig a safe and functional hoist. A few of the crew commented that it seemed to work very well and were impressed with the work I did for them. Who knows it may lead to more work in the future.

Then today I was back in the beacon teaching a one to one session with a young lad who climbs really well. I had him leading and I got him to take a couple of clip drops to build his confidence.

Go Team Wales!

Seeing as it is now in the public domain, I thought I would spare a thought about all the going ons in Yosemite over the last few weeks. Especially the ascents partly managed by team wales. Of course everyone has heard thanks to UKC about James McHaffie, Hazel Findlays and Neil Dyers second ascent of the Pre-Muit a massive 33 pitch E8 free route. Whilst Hazel doesn’t fit into the team Wales it is still amazing effort for her, however I want to focus on the Welsh connections.

After all Caff has spent a lot of time in Wales recently and probably repeated more hard trad and sport routes than almost anyone. However he too like myself is more of a incomer. However Neil Dyer the strongest man most people have never heard of is something of a legend in Wales.

The first time I remember meeting Neil was at LPT. He turned up and had a pair of resoled boreal ballet golds and a DMM apline harness with some gear loops he had stitched onto it. My initial thoughts was he must be a punter like myself, however he quick dispatched Meloncoly (sic) a F8b. So don’t judge a book by its cover. More recently he went move fo move in a protracted battle for the first ascent of a F8b+ route down at LPT with Pete Robins.┬áNeil was a good friend of the other North Wales wad, Patch Hammond, who sadly seems to have given up climbing for Poker, but Patch too headed to Yosemite back in 1998 with a young Leo Houlding and they shocked the world when they repeated El Nino.

There have been tow other locals out in Yosemite Callum Muskett and Dan McMannus. Callum is a product of a wall breed climber who went mad for real rock as soon as he managed to find anyone to take him. Within weeks he was climbing Slate E5, with an apparently lack of respect, as he could barely place a wire. His ability basically meant he just won’t fall. Callum binned the idea of going onto college, in hope of pursuing his passion for rock. An excellent year off seems to have been the result, with him and Dan repeating Golden Gate another El Capitan mega free route and only a month of so ago he climbed Devine Providence on Mont Blanc.

Dan on the other hand is a quiet and unassuming guy whose folks live down near the Llyn Peninsular, cricceth seems familar. I am not sure if he was brought up in Wales though. He too is one of the silent wads that shy away from the limelight. However I hope that he gets the recognition he deserves for freeing golden gate along with Callum.

I did hear a rumour that Dan might well be back on Golden Gate with Caff, to see whether James can get a second free route in his short stay in Yosemite. Although given that everybody else seems to managed a Facebook update or a blog when they are away, Caff’s page is quiet, so who knows.

Anyway, out of five of these British Climbers who have free El Cap this fall, three are from North Wales. Given we are in general a quiet backwater what does that say to the climbers hereabouts.

Anyway, great news for all those climbers. Fantastic ascents on what is surely one of the crucibles of world climbing. Hopefully it might make a few climbers from around the UK or even the world sit up and ask just what the climbing is like in Wales. It certainly seems to help prepare you for the Big Stone.


Another Slate Day

I headed out today with Si for a quick Slate hit. I could only really take half a day, as my book doesn’t seem to be able to write itself. So we decided to head to teh Railtrack Slab, an area which a few years ago I was involved with the re-equipping of. After that others have come along and filled in some of the blank places.

So today we climbed, The Fat Controller F6a, Scarface Claw F6a+ and Between Here to Stay and Gone Tomorrow E5 5c. After that I attempted Psychodelicate an E5 6c, it had a bit of a gripper clipper, and then a very hard move that I failed on, so I backed off. Although I think I know what to do, as essentially is a bit of a dyno to a sidepull off a razor edge for a foot hold.

We then finished on Crazy Train a great F6b+. After that I had to come back to do some work on teh computor before I head to the wall later to meet up with one of my evneing coaching groups. I’ll put some pictures up on Snowdonia Mountain Guides facebook page.

A great day, although a little cold and now my tips are sore. Not bad for a three hour session.

Slate Hit

Simon Lake on The Madness, E1 Vivian Quarry

I spent the mornign rework the first part of one of the last chapter in my book and found some great stuff to add to it. However the weather was improving so I decided to head out onto the slate with Simon Lake and Owen Samuel. We decided on Vivian as it was shelter and would get any of the sun for as long as possible.

We were rewarded and managed three routes. The Madness a runout E1 as a warm up, Ritter Sport as the main event and then One Step Beyond which I had forgotten that I was on the first ascent of with Mike Raine. a great day out.

Owen Samuels on Ritter SportOwen Samuels on Ritter Sport, E3 5c Vivian Quarry.
Owen Samuels on Ritter Sport, E3 5c Vivian Quarry.

Beautiful Weekend Working in the Sun

It seems like I have spent most of the year dodging rain, so finding a weekend of stable sunny weather was like a breathe of fresh air. I spent Friday working with the Bangor ODA students teaching them how to tie into the top of the crag. Then it was an evening coaching session at the Beacon where my student flashedone of his hardest routes and boulder problems. Which is a great feeling for both him and me as the coach.

Saturday and Sunday I spent with a regular client Tony climbing at Tremodog in the sun. We climbed Hail Bebe, GillJo and a variation on Yogi. Before calling it a day. On the sunday we headed to Holyhead mountain and climbed Pigeon Hole Crack, Wandering Primrose, Wally’s FOlly, Stairs and Teenage Kicks. All again in the sun with a cooling breeze.

It is now clggay but not raining in Llanberis although the temperature is set to drop below freeze to 200m on snowdon this saturday. So I might have to dust of the winter kit soon!

A nice TEDx Talk on Outdoor Recreation and Conservation

I was put onto this by Pete Beal of Mountains and Water via facebook. Whilst Pete had some issue with it I thought it an interesting talk. Whilst US based many of the issues are as relevant over here especially the average age of conservation groups. Fortunately we have the BMC and the Access and Conservation team that are doing a great job to promote access and responsible use of climbing areas.

What I thought staggering was the $100 billion climbing industry in the US and 4.1 million people who went sport climbing last year in the US.

Felix The Falling Man

I really wanted to comment on this early and did so brief on facebook. But last sunday along with at least 8 million other people (there were 3 people watch the stream I was downloading) watched a man fall from the edge of space whilst bigging up Red Bull.

I have to say I watched with great interest and found the whole programming gripping. Now whilst at the very least a man falling 130000ft is going to be gripping. I found it more so probably because I have learnt a little bit about human survival at the limit of land which towers to just above 28000ft.

Room with a view! - Again thanks to Ian for the screen shots

We first learnt as a race about altitude by accidentally finding ourselves their. The ancient silk route travels across the himalayas and was known for inducing headaches. However only when we invented the hot air ballon were we to find out how deadly axtreme altitude could be when someone went as high as they dared and more than half the occupance perish, basically suffocating as the air was too thin.

I have already finish the chapter of my book that covers this in more detail so won’t go cover it hee but leave some stuff to surprise you if you buy the book. Essentially though if Felix’s air/oxygen supply stopped he would have been dead in minutes.

However I also suspect that at the altitude he reach the air was so thin that weird things may well have happened if his pressurised suit falled. This is because air pressure effects the boiling point of water, meaning that the water in his body, may well had boiled if his suit puntured. Any physicists out there that could confirm this theory?

Then of course as he prepare for the jump there was that moment where he stepped out on the ‘balcony’ and had to lean forward. “Item 30 parachute checked!” Then after some in comprehensible words he fell like the proverbial sack of spuds for just over 4 minutes. At first fairly out of control before thankfully he managed to regained a stable position and have the flight of his life as the world looked on.

It was disapointing that his visor steamed up as I am sure he had the height to make those final 20 seconds free fall to break that record as well. Although I doubt he’ll go back up there for a second go, and I am not sure they will be main contenders.

Gripping internet viewing and on Youtube alone he was the most watched live stream the internet has ever seen.



If summer was Autuminal what is Autumn

Well its been a busy few days and I have a short break before it starts again for a couple of days. So far this week I have been up the Clogwyn Y Person Arete, in the rain. Rock climbing in a scrambling ropework kind of way at Tremadog, in the rain. The today I was at Little Tryfan continuing the scrambling ropework course, in the rain. My two clients had a really good time and were surprised with what we managed to accomplish despite the poor weather.

Each night this week I have either been coaching at the beacon in the evening or there climbing for myself. I have to say that for the first time in a long time my arm seems to be bearing up as I have managed a few more hard boulder problems.

I seem to have a night off tonight and then back at the beacon tomorrow evening before meeting up with the client for the weekend. I am praying that the forecast stays the way it is as there was no rain on the menu for saturday.

It does beg the question though that if summer has been like autumn due to the amount of rain, then what is autumn. Given it got down to -8 in Brearmar last night I am glad I am not there, but does that mean we will have an early winter?

Advance Scrambling in Advance Rain

I have been teaching an advanced scrambling/intro climbign course over the last couple of days. The undecisive nature of teh course is due to the weather that has not let up. Despite the weather being forecast better today and the BBc telling me the rain had passed through. Instead it waited until I was at the base of Obleron until the the heavens opened and all hell broke loose.

I did battle teaching my guys how to belay up each other up in a scrambling stylee and onyl when we topped out did the rain stop. We eventually had some lunch and the weather improved so we did the same on Christmas Curry.

Today help them put together some of the techniques I showed them the day before on Clogwyn Y Person Arete. Again done in the rain until we topped out and the weather improved. I have put a panorama up of the Snowdon Horseshoe on my Facebook page. Search Snowdonia Moutnain Guiodes and like if you’d like to see them. I have been uploading a few extra photos up there as it is easier to get them online.

Not too sure whether we are going to head out tomorrow or friday, again weather dependant. Although the rain look biblical again tonight with flood warning in place.