Too many surfers

Well the last couple of days I have been catching up with my surfing. Was barely waist high yesterday but was getting up to head high today. Was utter carnage in Cable Bay with about twenty people out. The surf really picked up and there was plenty of waves to go round. Especially as I was on my minimal and could get the edge on a few of the short boarders.

Only dropped in on one surfer, I bailed off the wave so didn’t see who it was as I careered face first into the wave. I had a couple of really good waves. Caught one bomb really early and managed a few changes of direction. I am going back tuesday and wednesday and I am hoping it will be quieter. As if it is that big again I might try and make a turn. I suspect I will fail a lot, but I am getting a little bored of ripping across the waves and you have to keep pushing yourself.

Anyway, I have also had one bid on my old macbook pro, which go for up to £450 on eBay. So I am hoping that I will be able to get a new surfboard in time for christmas with the proceeds. Tomorrow though, I am heading out rock climbing, outside and I am not getting paid for it. So I expect that to be interesting.



Too many quickdraws

Too Many Quickdraws?

I went into an outdoor shop today. Other than wonder when the last time I could afford something from one of these shops (There was a waterproof in the sale was over £300 quid and I saw a pair of ice axes for over £300 smackers, and ironically they were a set I know have a tendency to break and the manufacturer claim you were’t using them right when you return them!).

What amazed me was the wall of climbing gear, whilst to be honest it was not bigger than the last time I was in there, there was one section that was so big that I was slightly taken aback. I think I have mentioned this before about carabiners and the quest for the “lightest carabiner in the world”. For years this was actually the selling point of carabiners, with the advent of modern hot forging it allowed more and more shapes to be made as the metal could be squished to where it was needed.

Some of todays crabs are so small that they are virtually unusable or in some cases a bi-product of these lightweight carabiners is that rot at the sight of a sea cliff, so instead the focus has turned away from weight and to function. This was illustrate by a wall of quick draws, and one manufacturer had 12 different types of quick draws that all came in three different lengths, yes thats right 12 different type of quick draws.

So there are not only sport climbing quick draws but different levels of sport climbing draws. With a seemingly unending combination of different carabiners and sling combos which leads to 12 quick draws coming to market. In the same way that shaving grams off subsequent generations of carabiners lead to people being sold the idea that they should buy more draws ever couple of years. I suspect the diversification of the range to such a specialised extent goes some way to trying to convince us that we can’t sport climb without a sports draw and your trad climbing will suffer for dragging those fat sports draws with you.

The shop has also made up some quick draws from slings and biners from different companies so they can sell them cheap. However since a shop that sold the quick draws to whoever took Tito climbing is being taken to court in Italy. The UK shop I was in is now having to wait to get in the instructions for each carabiner and the sling, so each Quickdraw will come with three instructional booklets.

This is for tree surgery not rock climbing, although some RP aren’t that strong. I think for hold the cut of cord of a chainsaw?

Flipboard Magazine for Climbers

If you own a smartphone or tablet then you might well be aware of flipbroad, a new feed app that basically crunches your favourite main stream topics into an easy to browse magazine style format. Unfortunately it lacks a decent climbing feed. So much so I decided to code up a flipboard magazine a few months back and was quite successful.

However it meant you had to book ark the page to get it and what I really wanted was to get a news feed that worked on Flipboard as my own magazine. So I set up another blog that essentially scraps content off 150 climbing blog from around the world and I now use the feed from that site to power a magazine on Flipboard.

Now I have only tested it for a day and a few blogs don’t appear on it I think because their original feeds are well enough formed but enough do to mean you have a few new stories  everyday on average.

Before anyone gets there knickers in a twist about copyright, I have managed to implement the feed so when people click on the read more section they are taken to the original feeds homepage. So what happens in essence is we give a taster and if someone wants to read the content they click through to the content.

If you blog is included and you don’t want it to be I am more than happy to remove it. Similarly, if you want a blog included then contact me here and I can add it to the list of blogs we get the content from.

For now though is you use clipboard, click the red ribbon at the top and in the search box either search ‘vertical life’ and hopefully you’ll find the feed to the new flipboard magazine. If it doesn’t come up then please comment as I can post the blog feed.


The Phenomenon Point Break

An old friend who I used to hang out with years ago used to wax lyrical about the phenomenon, his name for a freak wave on the North Wales  coast. I of course ignore him because I was a climber. However having turned to the dark arts I ran into Sam, my old friend out the back at Rhiw Corner.

He reminded me of the Phenomenon, a great left point break that works in rare conditions. What he essential told me was you needed a low to track across the top of scotland, and a high to be over us. This pushed a swell down the irish sea towards the north coast and the wind that is westerly is essentially off shore. That is what it was like today. So I drove along the coast looking at blown out surf and mush.

When I arrived at the point it was fairly clean for the conditions and not too big and empty. So I headed in on my god and got an hour in before the tide turned and started pushing in towards the harbour. The tide had filled in the beach so the surf had also died so I went with the tide and paddle to Rhos harbour where I could get out, as the waves were breaking on rocks.

Really good couple of waves, and quite long rides for North Wales. I can imagine that this place can get really good at the right tide and probably slightly less breezy winds. So glad I made the journey.

An Audience with ….the Pritch

Years ago now, back in the early 1990s I was just getting into rock climbing. I lived in  Bournemouth and had to order in to my local newsagents a copy of On The Edge, High and Bumbler and stumbler. Thats right there were three magazines at the time, and the internet was in its infancy so no UKC.

It was OTE that always caught my eye it was young, fresh and slightly more edgy than the other magazines. One regular columnist was Paul Pritchard, whose writings on the Slate quarries, gogarth and big walling truly inspired me to climb. When it came to choose a university I knew where I wanted to go, Bangor, North Wales.

Whilst there I too started on the path to become the climber I am today, which whilst never as world class as Paul or other climbers. I have still managed to find new routes on Slate, Gogarth and on Big Walls. His first book Deep Play is made up of a few of those early stories from OTE plus a few others. If you haven’t read it I suggest you go buy a copy as it was re-released by Vertabrate Publishing this year.

Last night Paul gave a talk at the Heights which has changed drastically since he was last climbing here. In those early days I was in Llanberis the fabled lock ins happened, you’d come out wrecking of smoke, quite literally blind drunk and emerge onto the high street in the wee small hours of the morning. A million miles from the near London priced, smoke free watering hole it is today.

It is always good to see the Pritch talk on what can only be described as home soil, although he has spent a lot of time living away since his accident. As there are usually several people who remember the stories and correct his wanton bravado. As such if you grew up in the 1990s then the back room of the heights was a who’ who of 80/90 Llanberis rock climbing culture.

The room was packed and Paul gave a great and inspiring talk on life prior to and post traumatic brain injury. As well as showing a film about his latest adventure to cycle across the Himalayas past Everest Base camp. Not a bad effort for someone who suffers from hemiplegia. The talk hopefully raised some money for LMRT.

Anyway for me it is always interesting to see some of the climbers who inspired me when I was starting out climbing. It also makes me think about the next generation. Those who have Leo, Caff, Callum, Bullock, Finlay and others to look to for inspiration. There certainly seems to be more focus on training and athleticism than Paul’s writing ever suggested! Whether thats a good or bad thing I will guess we will have to wait and see.


Route Setting at the Beacon

I was in the beacon again yesterday setting some more problems for the aggregate. There were only three of us and then the cafe worker phones in sick so it was essentially down to 2.5. I was still in pain from my ribs/intercostal muscle injury so make that 2. The injury has really effected my scoring in the aggregate, as I think I will be down from my 4th last month, as the few extra problems I could have done were injuring me more, although I was extremely close to about four of the remaining problems.

Fortunately the powers that be decided that they would have us set 25 problems rather than 40. This meant we had much more time to check the problems. Hopefully people will like them, complaints can to the same email as questions about grades in NWC.

In the end Alex had to check the harder problems as by the end of the day I could hardly lift my right arm above my head for fear of searing pain. To be honest Alex was also goosed and had to drive to Northampton to set tomorrow and is back at the indy later in the week.

Anyway I think the Centre is going to set more problems next week, as I get the impression that people were turning up in the first week and only coming back once or twice in the month as there was only one set a month, rather than last years once a week and on going aggregate. I know I came on less than usual although injury might be to blame. Hopefully this will get people to come in more often.

I guess it is unexpected consequence, as having essentially one aggregate every month you’d think people would be in more often competing for monthly prises. It reminds me of the classic experiment where they took parents at a kindergarden and looked at late pick ups. They thought that by charging for late picks it would reduce the number of people being late. However the payment acted as a way to offset the guilt the parent had for being late and instead late picks up sky rocketed. Psychology of human behaviour is nothing if not complex!

Leo talk at the Galeri

I have to admit I hadn’t really remember that this was on, and slideshow’s aren’t something that I have gone to recently. Mainly as I am to tight to spend money on watching someone talk about something I’d rather be doing. A friend ask whether I was going and I said no, but thought to myself I should really make an effort. So I email Leo whom many years ago I used to climb a lot with, he is one of the many talented climbers I have belayed on some pretty hard routes in Wales.

To be honest it had been a long time since I saw or spoke to Leo, I don’t even know if he knew I had been unwell over the years, and probably one of the reason I lost touch with him. I allowed him and out by saying I wont be offended if he said no. He replied pretty promptly and said he would get us a ticket. So I manage to blag my way in to the theatre. Whilst I have known what Leo had been up to as I had chatted to Chris about various trips briefly at some point. It was Great to hear his stories.

I am not going To mention them here as it might spoil it for you, but Leo has started to transcend rock climbing and moved well in the world of adventurer. His slide show liberally interspersed with clips from Alastair lee amazing films is more than a little inspiring. Whilst I prefer the epic of the amazon I also saw the Antarctic expedition as possibly one of the most outrageous projects of my generation of climbers. I am looking forward to seeing the films at some point.

I cannot recommend highly enough going to see this talk if he is passing your way. For me it was a reminder of a life many years ago now. I first met Leo when he was 17, nearly twenty years ago and had been on quite a few adventures with him. He has since gone onto become one of the worlds foremost big wall climber.