Sunday, April 29, 2012

Energy Crisis

Before anyone gets too excited I didn't do Energy Crisis yesterday but I did expirence one!

Al low down on Park Lane/Doomsville.
After deciding Rhoscolyn would be too wet we all headed to the Upper Tier. Alex led Park Lane/Doomsville in one long pitch. I'd lead it 5 years previously on one of my first visits to Gogarth so wasn't fussed about leading it. Seconding I was impressed with my seventeen year old self, it would have been a big lead for me back then.

The Strand next. My lead. The Strand and I have a colourful history. I first tried it back in 2007 on the same day I did Park Lane/Doomsville. Pumped silly after that and an ascent of Central Park (a pumpy HVS) I got to a tricky move at two thirds height and ran out of juice.

My next attempt came in first year. I  got spat off after committing to a lay back sequence a mid height.

Understandably nervous I set off. Trying to get into the Burdakin mantra that it's just a bit of fun and nothing to serious. The climbing on the strand is never difficult, but it is steep and is sustained. Thankfully it is well protected by good cams and wires, but good rests a few and far between.

Tom Everett cruising past my high point on the Strand.
Slowly I climbed my way up. Placing gear, committing to sequences and trying not to get too pumped. It all seemed to be going to plan and I climbed past my previous high point eventually. By this point I was pretty pumped and I didn't have much left. I stood around for ages in this semi rest, pretty tired and pretty scared. I managed to fiddling in an okay Rock 1 above my head. I just couldn't fathom what to do next. I tried saying take but Al was having none of it so I continued upward in the knowledge I was near easy ground. I tried to talk myself into taking the fall by telling myself it would be fun, but my brain was having none of it. Two moves later my leaden arms managed to place a good nut. I grab this and screamed at Al to take in. All very undignified but a good learning expirence overall. Hopefully fourth time I won't have an Energy Crisis!

Al then cruised up the Strand on my gear, apparently it is a very good sport route, before wandering over to Energy Crisis. Al had been on this a couple of times before and been bamboozled by crux,  but had always down climbed to preserve his onsight. It took him a few good goes climbing up and back down the ground before he committed to the top. Good lead mate it was very impressive to watch.
Mason trying not to have an Energy Crisis.
Back at the bags we faffed around a bit trying to decide if to do another route. DMM Rob recommended Crowbar a one star E1 so headed for that with no expectations. We found an excellent corner climb, sustained, well protected and only a bit dusty: a poor man's Emulator. It's a pity it only get one star and isn't in the selected guides, it's well worth doing. Get on it!

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's Hardd climbng in the wet.

It was wet everywhere in Wales yesterday, but undeterred Burdy and I headed to Hylldrem. This venue isn't quite as permadry as some would make out, but it was the driest venue going so we got on with it.
Me just below the crux on Hardd.
Gwen and Livingbone had arrived just before use and had shotgunned Hardd the classic E2. While we waited for them Matt tried the Wildebeest. He gave it a good few goes climbing up and down before falling off. Thankfully by this point Gwen had reached the belay so I racked up for Hardd. The climbing was straightforward to begin with until a old peg is reached. I faffed around for ages trying to work out what to do next. Most of the key holds were dry and eventually I managed to get up to undercuts with a good cam by waist. From her perch Gwen was able to talk me across into a bridged position. I managed to rock my weight over, "where's the runner?" "Oh there isn't one yet." came the reply. Soon more gear and holds arrived. The climbing is steady away from this point but quite strenuous. Cheers for the beta and support Gwen!

The next pitch was piss wet and apparently 4b. It felt quite exciting! What a great route: fantastic climbing and a route finding masterpiece. The quintessential nineteen sixties lines of least resistance. Climbing the first ascent must have been outrageous.

Livingstone going for it on his attempt on Wildebeest.
Back on the ground Livingstone was having a burn on Wildebeest. He got a bit higher than Burdy before taking a whipper onto a 'booming' flake with a cam either side. Thankfully it held.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chichicapac Film

Hamish has just finished editing a great little film on our expedition to Peru last summer. It's not too long and give a good flavor of what the climbing was like on the first ascent of the S Face of Chichicapac. Enjoy...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cleaning Tremadog, talking, bouldering and Big G...

Three assignments, crappy weather and the arrival of Felicity (my new road bike) have prevented me from getting out over the last couple of weeks. Friday came and went and at last my last assignment of the year was handed in.

On Saturday Duncan, Gwen, Ollie and me drove to Tremadog to take part in the BMC clean up festival. The weather was pretty crappy when we arrived, but undeterred Duncan and I donned full waterproofs and head up the start of Christmas Curry towards Grotto. As I reached the bottom of the route of the route drizzle turned to rain and the crag into a waterfall. I decided that ground up cleaning Grotto in these condition would be a bit much so headed up the original finish to Christmas Curry, which was interesting in the conditions. Thankfully as I topped out the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Dunc seconded and did a bit of gardening to the top pitch. He lowered me down Grotto which need a good clean. I then top roped back up it. It will be a nice climb when a few rains have washed all the dirt away.

Dunc training for Alpinism on Christmas Curry.
Extreme gardening on The Neb.
The sun had been out for a few hours now and the crag was drying up nicely. Duncan and I were keen for the Neb/Broken Edge combo. However a shower of rocks indicated that it was still being cleaned do we decided to look elsewhere. We were a bit flummoxed of what to do and were heading towards Vector (which we’d both done) when I remembered Daddy Cool/The Sting, which neither of us had done. I nipped up the easy first pitch. Duncan then set despatched the tricky second pitch, which has an interesting move through a roof, without difficulty. I then scampered across the 5a traverse pitch to the base of Sting corner, Duncan found this surprisingly difficult on second.

Duncan getting perplexed by pitch 3 of Daddy Cool/The Sting.
The Sting corner was my lead. It looked hard and I was sorely tempted to whizz up the perfect hand jams on Reinetta instead, but if you don’t try these things you’ll never get up them. At this point a voice shouted up from the road that we had half an hour until the raffle started. I up climbed and down climbed the strenuous, but safe corner a couple of times, before cocking up my foot work and slipping off. With the clock ticking I swallowed my pride and aided my way out. Dunc seconded it clean and reckoned nearly 6a.

I’d be asked to do an evening talk about my BMC sponsored trip to Peru last year. Having never given a lecture before I was pretty nervous about it. I’d run through it a few times and had a good idea of what I was going to say. The talk seemed to well received and even the joke I made about the time I found a dead body went down okayish.

We spent the rest of the evening getting pissed on free beer and watching Miles say progressively more horrendous things before crashing out in the bunk house. The next morning we woke to rain so after breakfast at Eric’s we headed home. Back in Bangor the sun came out so we headed to Braichmelyn boulder for a bit of light entertainment. I flashed the V1 and V2, but could get anywhere on Central Wall (I reckon if would go at A3 of C4!) At least Ollie couldn’t get anywhere on it either! Duncan crushed it after a few goes before dispatching the sit start first go!

All those scriptures and self flagellation prevents Ogwen Cottage's resident monk from sending Central Wall...
The domain of heroes...
Gwen said she was mad keen for the Assassin so on Monday afternoon we headed to the Main Cliff with Matt and Polly. I gave the burly first pitch a good few goes before admitting defeat to the steep holdless crack. Gwen walked up it without issue! I seconded the pitch ok but had to frig it a bit to get the runners out. At the base of the crux it was clear that there was no way I’d be leading that one so I handed over the lead to Gwen, who cruised the pitch. I'd not climbed at Gogarth for a while but sitting on the belay looking out to sea I remembered what I love about the place so much. I managed to seconded it without too much trouble but I definitely don’t have the composure to deal with the scary run outs at the moment. Good lead Gwen but put more gear in next time!

Gwen ready to assassinate...
Gwen starting up the bold crux of the Assassin.
Gwen at the top of the crux pitch of the Assassin. You don't want to fall off here!
We finished the route and wandered back down to bags. I was pretty easy, but Burdy was mad keen for another route so we all ran down. Burdy dispatched Stimulator in style, while I cruised my way up Emulator. I had seconded it a couple of times before and always found tricky so I was pretty chuffed to lead it. The day finished in the dark, which always the sign of a good days climbing.

Me using my big legs to their full advantage on Emulator!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kilt Rock and Diabaig

Amazingly I managed to convince my mother to lend her car for a week. Even more amazingly she agreed that I could drive it to Skye. So on Monday morning after a weekend of hard work Duncan and I set off North. We stopped in Glasgow to collect Jimmy the Greek and kept on going. The roads got smaller and smaller and after what seemed like an eternity arrived at Glenbrittle. It was raining.

Road tripping!
Duncan reads the guide book whilst Jimmy fantasizes about sharing a portaledge with Hazel Fitty...
I've been winter climbing Scotland plenty of times, but I've only ever done two rock routes north of the border so I was mad keen for anything. The weather was set to clear at 4am so optimistically we stayed put hoping that we'd still be able to send the Cuillin Ridge. Unfortunately it didn't and after a very wild night we awoke to snow on the ground.

Snow stops play on the Cuillin.
It had now stopped raining but was very windy. I managed to persuade a reluctant Duncan and Fingers that Kilt Rock might be worth a look. We arrived to find it in the sunshine, but it was still incredibly windy. Undeterred we donned all our clothes and abseiled in.

Kilt Rock - Grey Panther climbs the groove up the centre of the crag.
Our chosen route was Grey Panther a classic E1 and one of the easiest routes in Extreme Rock to boot. I was really psyched to lead Grey Panther as I'd seconded and fallen off quite a few routes in the book, but had never lead one clean.

Nervously I set of up the route. It's a big 40 metre pitch of sustained bridging and jamming on perfect rough rock. Thankfully blessed with good rests and with more runners you can shake a stick at (I placed 20!). Thankfully the pitch went smoothly and I was soon belaying Duncan and Fingers up. We then headed to Portree to warm up and escape the wind.

Dunc and Jimmy on Grey Panther.
Dunc near the top.
My mum wasn't pleased when I returned the car in this state.
The snow on ridge hadn't cleared so we decided to leave that for another day. We got back in the Car and zoomed off to Diabiag. This tiny coastal hamlet is one of the beautiful places I've ever been. We found somewhere to doss and spent a chilly night spooning together in our summer sleeping bags!

Diabaig in all her glory - The Pillar takes the prominent slab.
The next day we Duncan lead the Classic E2 The Pillar. A perfect 45metre long slab pitch with good but small and spaced gear. A good lead in the freezing conditions!
Cold rock and cold hands - Dunc on the Pillar.
We then headed rounded to the Main Crag where Jimmy lead the brilliant HVS Route 2. I then had a go at Northumberland Wall the crag's other classic E2. I couldn't work out how to climb through the overlap and wasn't prepared to commit to collection of crappy wires I had placed.

Jimmy leading Route 2.
Me on Northumberland Wall just before I backed off.
I then climbed Route 3 (E1 5b) as compensation. It wasn't great to be honest - a one move wonder with a reachy crux. The top 5a pitch was good fun though with a few moves of steep jamming.

Beautiful people in a beautiful place.
I had to be in Edinburgh the next day to collect some skis we're borrowing for Alaska (Thanks a million Anatom!) so we drove East. The plan was to do a couple of routes at Creag Dubh, however arriving in Aviemore there was snow on the ground so we enured another cold night before heading back to Glasgow the next day.

In short Scotland and Scottish rock climbing is amazing and I can't wait to go back for more!