Chewing the Fat

So I have work four days on a How to Climb Harder course this week with two great clients up from London town. We have been blessed with excellent weather. So good that I have mainly been focused on what crags were in the shade for the longest hottest part of the day.

We have visited Milestone Buttress, Bochlliwedd, Idwal Slabs and Pant Ifan. My clients have lead routes from Diff up through to severe and today one lead a pitch that would get HS 4b. So they have made pretty good progress, and seem to be climbing calmer and weigh more confidence and with a better tactical approach.

Anyway after work today I drove through Llanberis and had a lovely half hour chatting with the The Evans and the Newt. Sat on the wall outside V12 Outdoors putting the world to rights. It so good hanging out with these guys as they have been around a fair amount and climb with some of the best climber of their generations.

What that means is loads of great stories from the 80s, 90s and naughties. During the conversation we chatted about Derek Hersey, a ex-Pat Brit who shook up climbing in the US with his outrageous free soloing. Like so many people who make a name for themselves soloing he died soloing. There is a mini tribute below.

Climbing is quite a brutal sport that way. I am not sure if my Dave and Andy knew that it has been ten years since a good friend Will left us. Will touch so many peoples lives and his leaving us was a wake up call to reality for many of us lost boys and girls.

Spice Up that Business Meeting

So today I was out with a guy who had to come to North Wales for a Business meeting. He drove up yesterday and did the meeting and work associated with last night. Creating in the process some well earned free time.

He thought ahead and hire me for a day to guide him around a few classic routes and belay him on a few pitches. All whilst his boss was content with the idea that he was slowly making his way back down to the office in London town.

I have had a few people who have done this, one who flew to a business meeting in London and arranged a couple of days ‘down time’ between meetings and came up to Wales where I guided him up Dream of White Horses.

Today we were in the Pass, the weather was scorch. We started on Direct route, where my client led the third hand traverse pitch. We then did Gardd to get a second rock type before ‘business emails’ were dispatch at lunchtime where we did a couple of boulder problems before head to Bella Lugosi Slab where he climbed Horse Latitudes and I climbed a very greasy Bella Lugusi Is Dead.

If you have a business meeting or maybe you’ve come up on holiday with family or friends who don’t climb and would like to grab a day on the best crags in North Wales then get in touch. Over on my Snowdonia Mountain Guides I offer guided rock climbing or scrambling where we can focus on route you have dreamt of climbing but maybe never thought possible.

Word of the Day: Vertiginous

So I was out today scrambling with a client and son. It turned out they were a journalist and a bit of a wordsmith. Considering that I write about climbing, I don’t think I have ever used the word Vertiginous to describe anything although I am regularly in places that are vertiginous.

We had a lovely day heading up the North Ridge of Tryfan and then back down Little and North Gullies. He used the word of the day to describe several places and loved the way that we gained height so quickly as we left the road.


Schools’ Out….. but maybe Schools In?

So within days gridlock will descend across the nations rural areas as everyman and his dog and 2.4 kids comes on holiday. School is out as they say. However over at my day job School is most definitely in, the School of Rock.

If you are one of the many teachers who want to escape the classroom for a week or two then why not come up to Wales and enjoy some of the best rock climbing in the UK. We have a whole host of rock climbing course we offer and can adapt them specifically to your needs.

So if you needs to get the marking and mayhem of the school year out of your head then maybe think about some extracurricular activity in the form of one of these courses:


The Craig List: MIA resource

So I was asked to list a load of route I use for work over the phone, hopefully this will give the idea of why doing so was rather tricky. As I produce a more expansive list for MIA and Trainees looking to consolidate their climbing ready for an assessment on North Wales.

Hopefully it will help people focus their efforts on what I call ‘work routes’. The Craig list (Craig is welsh for crag) can be found on Snowdonia Mountain Guides Resource pages. When I wrote North Wales Climbs with Rockfax, one thing I set out to do was include all these routes, so it makes a perfect companion to this list.

Types of People found in Mountain Villages

So I have to commend teton gravity research for this, however their list is too ski oriented. So I decided to give it the mountaineering twist.

#1 The Non Outdoor Type

They turned up to one summer and the weather was good the week they arrived. When the bus came to take them home they sacked it off to work as something totally unrelated to the outdoors. They insist that one day they will climb ‘the mountain’ but you know they get vertigo standing on a chair. Since it started to rain and the view disappeared eight months ago they are really beginning to question their life choices and have since started to work on becoming the Alcoholic.

#2 The Alcoholic

Most notable because they have lost their driving licence on one or more occasions. If they haven’t and you see them driving it they are invariably still drunk at the wheel and about to lose it again. It is not that they drink a lot , but it’s the time they dedicate to the pastime that is eye opening. These are not the woo people (see below), but those whose consumption of drink has them one step away from liver failure.

3# The Wooo People

These are the 24 hour party people of their generation. Often seen in teams of 4 or more necking shots and screaming wooo at every available opportunity. Out on the crags they use americanisms with a worrying regularity, like crush and smash (see this post on climberism).

4# The Trustifarian

Such a good americanism used to describe those who cash their cheques at the bank of mum and dad. Despite just graduating university they drive the best car in the village. On the hill they are something of a ‘all the gear and no idea’ and are often overheard hoorahing their friends over glasses of wine.

5# The Pro

These are the sponsored heroes although calling them ‘pros’ is something of an oxymoron. As whilst they do sell their bodies, they rarely do it for money. Instead most pro’s are rewarded with free equipment for which they risk life and limb to get. They eke out a living doing anything from working in cafes, shops, climbing walls or outdoor centre in order to try and fund their endless summer or if they are really perverted winters.

6# The local

They turned up last year, and never left. They proclaim to know everyone and will bull on in the pub or social media of where is in condition and what routes are in nick. This will generally be repeating what they read on others blogs, Facebook status’ or overheard a pro saying in the car park. They saw themselves as becoming a ‘BIG DEAL!’, only to realise they had neither the ability nor personality to succeed.

7# The Real Local

Often the love child of a pro and another real local. They were delivered on the matting of the local bouldering wall, where they instantly sent their first V6. They have known every body in the village longer than you have lived. They know what is in condition just by sniffing the air, they know the easiest approaches and have climbed every route on your wish list at least twice. They will never be seen with a map or a guidebook as the terrain is hard wired into their DNA.

#8 The Shitter

This person is something of a mytha-maniac, they don’t seem to do it deliberately but the truth is something they were never destined to say. At first you will think they are just trying to impress, however you’ll soon wonder if they are alright in the head as their lies come back to haunt them. Anything they climb will never be film, photographed and usually done solo. If a belayer was there, you will have never seen or heard of them. Occasionally they graduate to become a ‘pro shitter’.

#9 The Two Shits

If you’ve had a shit they’ve had two! Whatever you do this person will never be impressed by anything you do, they will alway have climbed harder and in a better style than you. Get them on the crags and they can’t climb for love nor money, and will just say they are having a ‘bad day’. Not to be confused with the shitter, as the two shits lies are about oneupmanship.

#10 The Peter Pan

Most of the men in the village and there are a lot will have this syndrome to a greater or lesser extent. There is usually one that keeps the act up too long. They are best identified by their use of male hair dying products and are extreme vague about their actual age. Some claim to have seen their passport but even their ex’s have no idea how old they actually are. The real locals have known them since birth but no one actually knows how long they have been in the village. They could be 35 but it is more likely they are well into their 50’s.

#11 The Hottest Girl in the Village

There is usually only one and they are hot. Although by national standards they may only be of average looks, but the gene pool is so small that they look like a model in comparison. The role is only fulfilled for a few years where upon they are ousted by a new fittest girl in the village. It seems this handing over of power is often associated with excessive weight gain as they morph into their mother who serves in the local shop, pub or cafe.

#12 The Stud

The veritable ‘cock of the valley’, with gritty good looks, perfect skin and body that looks like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Every girl goes giddy at the knees just looking at him. You tell yourself you would have gotten a girlfriend by now to make a ‘real local’ if it wasn’t for the stud and the 5 to 1 ratio at every sausage fest of a party you have ever been to.

#14 The Girl who burns you off

Try as hard as you want there is not only someone who climbs harder than you, but yes that person is also a girl. They have smaller arms, train less and still take you to the cleaners. They were climbing before you even knew it was a pastime, she has dated more hard climbers than you can name and nearly all have failed to keep up with her. So don’t kid yourself that you’ll be any different!

#15 The Guide

Often seen lording it around the crags thinking they are ‘the stud’, usually quite literally dragging unsuspecting clients around like Moe Farrar taking his dog for a run. They have a whole host of badges just like the scouts and this usually gives them a licence to thrill or kill or both. Down the pub they discuss the pros and cons of knots and gear, which is the mountain village equivalent to train spotting. They often think they are good climbers but most struggle up VS.

#16 The Psycho

If we were all well rounded human beings then none of us would climb. Hidden amongst all the above is the closet psycho. They aren’t going to kill anybody, other than probably themselves as their risk aversion is low. They can even be Pro Psycho!

So which one are you and can you think of anymore? If so make a comment and I’ll add them.

This Game of Ghosts

I read Caff piece the other week about his 100 project in the Lakes. In it he mentions being asked a question about whether he felt alone when soloing and his comment was that the routes and crags all brought back memories. The same is true for me of Wales and I find more and more often I am reminded of the first time I went to the crag or did a route.

Today was no exception, when I headed up to Criag Ddu in Llanberis pass to climb the classic Mabanogion. A short and rather intense route that Si had never climbed so I sent him up it. As I seconded I was reminded of the first time I had climbed here.

It was on the recommendation of Will, he had also said it was a great ‘highball’ problem. I should have known that it was going to be something of a sandbag. Will had once climbed and E6 and removed the only protection peg before recommending it to a friend. He was kind of an arse like that, but it was hard to stay mad at him.

Seconding the climb today I remember the horror I had soloing the route for the first time, the crack past fairly easily, as did the technical crux where you move left out of the crack to well placed jugs, even here the ground is close enough that you think you could ‘stick’ the landing. However the move up was rewarded by less and less positive holds as I grovelled my way onto the ledge, for the first time I am a little too high to think that falling would be a good idea.

The climbing is easier but your heart is in your mouth and when you get stood on the ledge you are met by another impasse, a boulder problem on high, with a ledge that slopes outwards. There is no falling off here. This is where my solo effort ended, unable to go up I managed to scramble off the ledge to the left.

I came back a year or so later to lead the route and take the proper finish. Like today the memories of what seem like a lifetime ago are still reasonable clear when ‘in the moment’. So my memory was of Will, in a couple of weeks a few friends have a plan to celebrate his life, a young man that burnt so bright that he burnt out too young. The plan is fireworks in one of his favourite places, a place where I saw climb one of the most ridiculous route ever, a route that I doubt will ever be repeated, Fruit of the Gloom looks truly horrific.

PS – I should add I don’t recommend soling this route! As a good friend once said to me before my first expedition to the Cirque of the Unclimbables, “Don’t do anything I won’t do and probably don’t do some of the things I would!”.

Climbing Back

I guess one of the reasons I got into coaching climbing was that I wanted to be able to apply it to my own climbing to reach a level I was happy at. I topped out at about E5 with the very occasional route that warranted E6. I never really had a training plan, but I could with a little work get to that level year on year.

Having spent so much time and effort on the North Wales Climbs book, I actually felt a little ‘climbed out’. So I focused my energy this winter elsewhere, trying occasionally to keep ticking over with rock climbing for my work. This work entails me climbing up to E1/2, although generally of routes I know very well. I also have to do them and look vague in control of the situation.

That is the level I have been ticking over at for some time, however know a little about coaching means I can focus my efforts fairly quickly if I want to and try and push myself a little, although I do enjoy repeating the classics up to E2 year on year.

Earlier this week, I went up to the Dervish slab after work and lead it for the first time this year. This is quite shocking for me as usually by now I have lead it 3 times and seconded it as many. My taking it easy meant I avoid it early in the year.

I bought some new 5.10 Anasazi Pinks, the other day and thought I’d break them in on the Dervish. This proved something of an error as they probably needed at least of couple of routes to reach their prime. As it was they suffice, it was however the hardest I have found the Dervish in a couple of years. I was never really close to falling, but there were a couple of ‘moments’. One where I wrong handed myself on the crux and another higher up trying to rock over on to a high hold than I usually use.

It was a pretty steady ascent compared to some, and who can be upset from climbing such a great route. I guess working Cockblock on a rope last week, has helped me to believe in my own ability to climb hard. This ‘head game’ is why I did a master degree in Applied sports science. As I know how to leverage my confidence when needed.

In the last few weeks I have been climbing a lot more and also did a quick circuit of Bella Lugosi Slab after the dervish with friends. I then went and climbed three new routes at Gogarth on Sunday. Llion led two and I led one, they were all HVS and all reasonably good. Maybe even worth a star, although probably only a half a star or maybe a reasonable size moon.

Today I was working. This entailed guiding an American around North Wales. I had a plan in my mind to give him a whistle stop tour of some crags. He wanted to start on easy sport so we went to Bus Stop and climbed a couple of F5 and then I nipped up Gnat Attack because I wanted to show him what ‘real’ slate was like.

We then went to the Crouchan and climbed the classic Nea. Whilst there a young lad was on his MIA assessment. I remember him doing a learn to climb course years ago, and now he’s on his way to being an MIA. It then started raining so I tried to play the Tremadog card, which sadly failed, so I charged him for half a day and dropped him back at his hotel. I then managed a late afternoon surf, just managing to get a good hour when tide and swell played ball.


Climberism’s – Climbing talk for the modern-day rock hero

So I just read something on the inter web, I thought I would write a codex for people that don’t live their live fully submerged in climbing, especially around north wales. Some of the sayings I think are some Caffism’s, as I am sure I heard them come from him first. Although maybe he caught them from somewhere else. Anyway below are a few climberism’s from the modern lexicon of ascent. If you have anymore climberism’s please comment below and I’ll add them to the post.

Techers – pron. Tech-urs – A piece of climbing that is more technical then physically challenging.

Strennie – pron. Stre-knee – A section of or whole pitch of climbing that is strenuous and physical rather than techers.

Rinsed – How one feels after several strennie routes, like having all your strength wrung out of you muslces.

Smash it in – To successfully ascend a route or boulder problem. Similar to the old school term of ‘sending’ a route.

Crush – In order to smash a route you need to be able to crush. You crushing ability helps greatly with routes that are particularly strennie.

Lob – To fall off whilst climbing

Airtime – Not a media savvy climber making it onto the One show but a fall that last longer than an lob.

Air miles – Either a persistent lobber or someone racking up considerable airtime can be seen as collecting their air miles.

Ledge Shuffle – Either easy climbing or what generally happens at trad venues like Gogarth. e.g. Red Walls is a classic ledge shuffling venue.

Power Screach – Like a power scream but at a higher pitch, whilst often associated with the female climbers it is more often observed in males whose voices is part way through breaking.

Gritterly – Not as is commonly believed a way to say that the route is short and insignificant. But a gritty and crumbly hold often associated with poor rock.

Flash – Some kind of ascent below the on-sight, but still suitably quick and impressive. No one is quite sure what it is exactly and the definition can change both within and between regions. Alternatively  a well appointed climbing trustafarian.

Schmee – pron. – Sssh-meeee – A word often used by Martin Crook to describe something no one knows quite what it is but it is definitely something.

Choss – A route made up almost entirely of grittily holds, or similar in structure to Craig Dorys.

Retro-pinkpoint – An ascent that is not a flash or a red point but something else entirely less impressive. Often with gear in situ, clip chains and months of pre-practice, often done years after the climber first did the route, and all manner of underhand tactics are used in order to bring the route down to the climbers current level.



Climbers set to Grind the Internet to a halt

Video sharing websites Youtube and Vimeo, have said that unless climbers stop uploading videos of themselves on every boulder problem they have ever climb then we have only two years before all cloud storage is full to capacity and the internet will grind to a halt.

A representative from Google said that they had expected the internet to hit gridlock sometime in 2030, bringing the world to an end, or at least left wondering what grade Three Pebble Slab is and where the next LOL cat was coming from.

An average grade boulderer was seen filming themselves on every V0- in the Llanberis Pass, and complaining that the lack of 3G meant he would have to wait a few hours before getting the clips online so his friend can see how rad he was, despite the friend filming the clip.

Youtube spokesman said “it is these self-centre actions that will bring the internet down. We have had to start deleting the thousands of failed attempts and poorly shot films of Deliverance. A film-maker who wished to remain  anonymous was overheard saying “it is ridiculous, any idiot with an iPhone thinks they are Steven !@£@$ing Speilberg”.

A government spokesmans waded in saying “we have to guard against this behaviour to avoid a global information meltdown, so we are asking all climbers to refrain from uploading any problems below V9, we hope that if this advice is not followed we can avoid catastrophe. If this fails then legislation may have to be passed to put an absolute stop to endless unedited footage accompanied by techno.”