Last minute climbing courses dot com

Snowdonia Mountain Guides - Coaching, Instruction and guiding courses in Rock Climbing, Hillwalking, Scrambling and Mountaineering
Snowdonia Mountain Guides - New last minute deals section.

I have recently been trying to think of ways to fill what is my dead time with work. If you read this blog you will know that in the main that includes learning to program a computor in server and client side web development. This has lead to vertical life dynamic climbing magazine that is updated hourly from over 150 blogs around the world, a mobile site for Snowdonia Mountain Guides and the whole iCoach and iCoach mobile app.

My latest coding was to make a way I could offer the courses that I offer on Snowdonia Mountain Guides at a discount. So I put some code together today to find all the courses with spaces left on that scheduled for the next two weeks. I am also offering a discount for private guiding and instruction if booked within two week of the date of the coaching.

All these last minute climbing courses are found on the new look home page of snowdonia mountain guides. The courses automatically change, however they are based on availability and to avoid disappoint I do advise that you book in advance.

Tooled Up for Tomb Raider: DMM Rebel Axe

I was minding my own business the other night, watching some random TV. The sort of Tv that is really only serving as chewing gum for the eyes. Too early to go to bed but too late to start doing anything productive, so Chill time. When up popped an advert for the new Tomb Raider game released soon or already out, I don’t know as I prefer my adventurers to be more visceral.

Whilst half watching I saw the new look Lara Croft causing havoc with an Ice Axe, not any ice axe but a DMM rebel rendered in CGI for your gaming pleasure. A quick search and people are already making moulds to make ‘game replicas’. I guess you’d get told off for weilding a real ice axe in the street.

This got me thinking about violence, Tv and computor games. Why, well its not the first time DMM ice axes have been used in the main stream media, as a Predator it appeared as a weapon in a main stream movie thriller shortly after it came to market. Whilst not a predator the brother of  premiere league footballer murdered Athony Walker in a unprovoked racist attack with an ice axe in 2005. Although it is not the most prominent ice axe attack as back in 1940 Leon Trotsky was apparently killed by an Ice Axe in Mexico City. The reasons were it was a weapon of opportunity for his killer who found it in Trotsky’ fortified house.

So look out for geeks wielding Plastic DMM rebels.

Here’s how to make a fake one!

Heres how to make a real rebel.

A selection of Beginner Rock Climbing Article on SMG site

I have been busy trying to put more content on Snowdonia Mountain Guides website in the form of articles that I think will be of help to climbers. I have started off with a variety of basic articles on trad climbing which are available on the resources pages of the site.

These now include:

Buying Your First Climbing Rack

Rock Climbing in Snowdonia

Beginners Rock Climbing Article: Placing Wires

Beginners Rock Climbing Article: Placing Hexes

Beginners Rock Climbing Article: Placing Camming Devices

I have also redesigned North Wales Rock, the idea is to offer links to courses from providers other than myself. I haven’t finished it but at the moment the site also links to all the courses I offer on Snowdonia Mountain Guides. If you run a coaching or climbing business in North Wales and would like to have some links to your site then contact via here. I am charging £50 a year for as many courses as you wish to advertise and I will be adding a banner advertisement as well. Your money will be spent on me adding more content on North Wales Rock Climbing destinations to help boost the site and help your SEO ranking in the process.



Sport Climbing Course

Sport Climbing at Penmean Head, one of the new sport climbing venues in North Wales that was developed around four years ago.

I was out working yesterday with the Bangor Uni ODA students. They had the option of a scrambling day or a sport climbing day. Some of the students had sport climbed before whilst others had only done a limited amount leading indoors. So I choose to head over to Castle Inn and as  I was about to leave the centre I remembered there had been some access issue there so texted Elfyn, as we could always head elsewhere.

The wind was from the South East, and this meant that unlike normal in Llandudno where it gets drier instead it was claggier. We managed to get about three route done before it rained. So we top roped those lines working on technique whilst waiting for it to dry up. After about an hour we gave up with the idea of doing some rope work at the centres climbing wall.

However driving back the weather brightened up so we made a bee line for Bus Stop quarry and we managed another couple of routes before we ran out of time. I sometimes forget that since a boom in easy sport climbing routes, that there are more and more places we can go.

With about three decent easy sports venues in the Slate quarries, a good couple of venues on North Wales limestone suited to beginners, plus the harder sports climbing routes both here and on anglesey now. North Wales has some great places to make the transisition from indoor leading to outdoor sport climbing.

As such we covered those skills that are important, first off I got the group to use the clip stick reach the first bolt. Whilst not essential, a clip stick can make reaching hte first bolt a less nerve wracking thing. We also showed them how to pull the ropes but leave the first bolt clipped for the next leader.

We also go the group to brush up on re-threading lower-off. Whilst this isn’t really needed that much at Castle Inn as the routes have crabs in the lower offs. I was needed at Bus Stop and two of the group had a go a threading real lower offs under my watchful eye.

It was a great day out and makes you realise that North Wales is no longer just a trad climbing destination, but a great place to learn to sport climb. If you are stuck indoors and would like to make the transition to outdoor sport climbing, then Snowdonia Mountains Guides offer a great Sport Climbing Course for just this reason.

A few articles on SMG Site

I have put together a few articles and will slowly try and add to them over the coming months. They are mainly there to add a bit more content to the site. It does allow me to write slightly longer article that aren’t totally climbing orientated.

The articles include:

A Beginners Guide to Climbing Snowdonia – An introduction to the main footpaths up Snowdon.

Buying your first Climbing Rack – A guide to buying all the equipment you’ll need for trad climbing.

Rock Climbing in Snowdonia – An overview of the main areas to climb in and around Snowdonia and North Wales. I will probably expand this to other articles on each area at some point.

Once around the sun

It takes 365 and just over one quarter days for our planet to make one lap around the sun. During that orbit the hemispheres take their time to warm themselves by tilting towards the sun. Like an intricate clock made by the blind watchermaker, the seasons come and go in perpetual motion.

The inevitability of those seasons is like the ebb and flow of the tide, you can stand like King Canute and try and order them to stop but like it or not you only have a few months before the winter returns. I have tried to kid myself that that I am a polymath when it comes to climbing, but rock climbing is what drives me. Whilst scratching around during the winter months helps feed my desire to find life up there between the land and sky, but nothing comes close to the feeling I get from rock climbing.

Like the seasons my climbing has a spring, autumn, summer and winter, although on our great isle that should probably now be pre and post monsoon season and winter. The weather is of course a perennial British talking topic, if it is not too hot, cold, wet or windy then one of these weather options is close enough on either horizon to warrant a discussion.

Winter for me means the wall in the main and whilst others may bulk at climbing inside. The social nature of indoor climbing, sharing beta and working problems is something that helps me maintain some form of focus as the days draw into a point when daylight is a rare commodity. Waking up for work in dark and returning after light has long since dipped below the edge of the world makes for gloomy days. Ones where I am glad that at least I don’t work in an office.

Somewhere amongst the hours of indoor training the snow and ice returns. Out of storage boxes comes my aging winter kit. It seems pointless to invest another £600 for new axes, boots and crampons when all they see is 5 routes a year. Alpine starts, sweaty approaches, freezing belays and rattling around on metal points start to lose their appeal as quickly as the enthusiasm built as you remember the suffering.

Nestled amongst those winter epics though are those few precious days, days that I enjoy far more than attacking a frozen icicle with various weaponry. Those perfectly clear, dry and sunny spells that mark the first shoots of spring. The axes are hopefully hung up for another year, rock boots are dusted off, the winterised rack is re-summerised, cams are oiled in ready for action and rock climbing guidebooks are pulled off the shelf.

Despite the sun the weather is cold and careful consideration needs to be made when it comes to route choice. It is now the encyclopaedic knowledge of crags pays off. What crags are in the sun and at what time, which of those offer shelter from a biting northerly or easterly wind.

Vivian Quarry offers afternoon sun and shelter from the wind, Rainbow Slab gets the morning sun although is more exposed, Tremadog is south facing although parts go into the shade at about lunchtime and the freezing breeze at the top makes those last pitches a race against time for the second. Gogarth is good early season, but not Main Cliff as it doesn’t come into the sun till around lunchtime and Wen Slab is freezing as it only gets the last weak rays of sun this time of year. It is possible to climb in the Pass but there is often a cold wind, the best shelter is around Cenotaph Corner. The Lleyn is good but a little too adventurous and loose for the first few days back on rock.

By the time you have added in time constraints, wind, distance to the crag and personal preference. This list of crags is short and the routes you want to climb again even shorter, but despite having climbed the all classics many times before the fact still remains they are classic and its is early doors when it comes to trad climbing.

To me I see this first forays onto rock after a winter as like shaking hands with old friends, some of which have been with me for over 18 years. Comes the Dervish is a prime example, I have in the past climbed it three times in one week. Some may say that is sad, but the route is that good that I just can’t help it. In know when to reach out from the crack to find those hidden holds, what wire I place and most importantly a feeling of how hard it should be. In essence it is a benchmark by which I can judge my current level of climbing. Too easy and it can be scary as I know I need to push a little harder, too hard and my confidence takes a knock. Like any with any good friend at least I know where I stand after some time apart.

In the space of a week of good weather this February I had met about twenty of my old friends. Like any close friend they offer advice on life, each helping put me back on track for trad climbing. Whether it is getting my eye back in for wires, for reading real rock or getting back used to running it out a little. Those bolts are so close together indoors that getting a microwire a good way below your feet and committing to crux can feel alien but at the same time invigorates the soul. Doing this on routes I know and love removes part of the fear and allows me to know that whilst I am running it out I am doing so to reach a good hold or wire.

Familiarity can of course breed contempt, one year on my annual early season shake down I was climbing Monster Kitten in Vivian and cruised the flake and was set up for the long step across to a good foothold. All too causally I step right with just a fraction too little conviction and relaxing thinking it was all over. I missed the hold and plummeted down the slab much to the belayer bemusement. It keeps you on your toes though and another lesson is learnt.

I guess what I am trying to say is that as the winter season draws to a close and the sun starts to do it magic that we should be out getting used to the rock again. For most the feeling of rock under foot and hand is something of a distance memory, getting back into the swing of things by going over old ground you can do two things. First off you get to enjoy the routes you love again and secondly you dust of the rock climbing part your brain that over the winter has slowly been filed further and further back and become dusty. By climbing routes you know, you eliminate surprise and gain confidence as you will measure your current performance against that of the past.

So as spring and summer arrive dust off you rack, dip into your guidebooks and go visit you favourite crag and climb the routes you know and love. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face, like catching up with old friends.

BETA Release of iCoach Climbing Mobile Logbook App

I have over the last few weeks been hammering away at creating a offline app for iCoach Climbing so users can log the routes they climb on their phone and then upload them to the iCoach Climbing online services. It was a steep learning curve, however the system seems to work fine with my iPhone. Sadly I don’t have the development budget to try it on an android phone unless someone has an old one they can give me for this purpose.

The service is currently free of charge, although I have been trying to monetise the site slowly and this may well be one of the ways I do it. By providing core services for free and charging for add on like this simple app. If I do I will give prior notice and probably only charge a maximum of £2 which is about the cost of a coffee. Which if you are using the site I don’t think is a bad price to pay for extra functionality and convenience.

I have also added an Amazon Store, some google adverts and links to buy the eBooks and Book I have released in the last few years.

There are several reasons for monetising the site, the least of which I will blog about later. My friends know what I have done and it is very, very exciting and a whole new phase of my life!!

Cutting the BS

I guess over the years I have been involved in climbing I have in a way become quite jaded with what people say and spray about routes. As a consequence I have developed a fairly robust filter for BS. I have sometimes gotten into trouble for calling someones bluff who on paper has a much more to lose than me.

If the pen is mightier than the sword it is often because the truth hurts. So when you cut close to the bone people will find it painful. A prime example in the climbing news at the moment is the whole Dave MacLoed new mixed routes on the Ben. Many have argued that it is the thin end of the wedge, Dave has made his point. As for myself I don’t care enough about Scottish Winter climbing to give two hoots.

Hoar or no hoar I just don’t get it. I did a route this winter and I had to brush hoar frost off a few holds. So technically it was in winter condition, but practically it was barely a minor inconvenience, a few days later I did route that hand been climbed a few times that week, and whilst there was hoar frost off the climbing line, on it I was essentially dry tolling as five ascents prior had swept the route clean. Surely as long as it frozen it counts?

The fact remains that BS fills forums, blogs and the interweb as a whole and I’d love to have the power that Carl Pilkington wants as I would love to be BS Man.

What I do love is when someone other than me cuts through the crap and is bold enough to be honest. I just watched a video of James Pearson on the Elder Statesman, in it James seemed to talk candidly about hard climbing, bold versus hard and why he had ignored the hard in favour of the bold in his early years. On top of that the moves on this route look incredibly complex, climbing as art? Enjoy.