Thursday, September 13, 2012


Duncan figuring out the line of Aura/Pinnacliissima.
Nikki dropped Dunc and I at the end of the road and we started the long slog up to Craig yr Ysfa. We reached the top and abseiled down to base of the Lower Amphitheatre Wall. Aura looked steep. I felt apprehensive. I racked up and gave it a go. The holds were there, the gear was there. My head wasn't. I had a rest, tried to sort myself out and continued. Every time I moved away from gear I got irrationally scared. I lowered off and let Duncan lead it. He cruised it and I had no problems on second. I need to sort my head out!

Me on Aura.
I set of up Pinnaclissima's first pitch, a dirty looking corner with surprisingly good climbing. The crux involved committing all of one's weight to a foothold, with poor handholds. After a few goes up-climbing and down-climbing I managed to figure it out. Duncan set of up the next pitch, a thin looking corner with minimal gear. The back of corner was damp and with no micro cams to protect it we scuttled away. 

The next evening Burrows and I headed to the Grochan, arriving just in time to watch DC cruise Murial. Ollie lead Wind and then lowered off so I could sport climb it on his gear. I quickly lead it, grateful for his move by move beta. Ollie then lead Karwendel Wall, which was very good and probably the most tricksome of the three Grochan hard Hard VSs. I finished with Brant Direct, which I'd seconed a few times before but never lead. Remembering it to be hard I was pleasantly surprised.

Can you guess what we do?
Ollie and I had work in the Lakes at the weekend, but managed to squeeze in an after work ascent of Copenhagen on Hardknott Crag. This was one of my first E2 lead and it was a joy to re-lead it on Ollie gear in the evening sunshine. It's a brilliant pitch, with one move that is desperate for the short (thankfully I'm not!). Unfortunately Hardknott Crag is pretty dirty at present. Apart from Powerglide and Copenhagen all the other routes are caked in moss. Someone local should do the climbing community a favour and abseil down them all with a brush. The other routes I've done there are all excellent and it's a real shame that a roadside crag that catches the evening sun is hardly climbed on.

This is about as roadside as they get and it's filthy dirty: Come on Lakes climbers sort it out!
Burrow low down on Copenhagen.
Me re-leading Copenhagen.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hard HVS's, getting rescued, Pembroke and other stories...

I've not blogged for a while, mainly because I've not really climbed anything of interest or had much spare time. Below is a round up of the routes I've done over the last few weeks.

Carreg Althrem: Gareth and I headed down to this delightfully situated little crag and ticked of Laveredo and Flatricide Wall, which were both excellent. I fancied a go and Panminean Groove, but it was covered with lichen and I didn't have any big gear.

Dinas Cromlech. The next day I slogged up to Dinas Cromlech and held Graeth's ropes on Left Wall. He crushed it without issue. Unfortunately I didn't have the balls to have a go. I then had a go at a rather steepy and snappy E1 called Curfew, but got scared and escaped up an easier route.

Gareth cruising Left Wall.
Duncan and I had a final weekend of work in the Lakes. We cocked up on the climbing front. We drove round to Thrang Crag, a rather esoteric venue with a couple of good sounding routes. I'd been there once before in 2008 and it was overgrown then. Sadly I don't think anyone has climbed there since and the routes are now unclimbable. We also spent an evening at Carrock Fell and I spent most of my time watching Duncan flail on Rouse's Wall. (In a strange coincidence I sold a cup of tea to a nice chap who knew Al Rouse the next day!)

Back in Wales: Garerth and I had a good day at Tremadog. We started with Leg Slip, which I'd done before. I then had a go Pretzl Logic, but couldn't figure out the technical move through the roof. Gareth managed to pull through it. I then lead the excellent second pitch of Venom, which is brilliant long E1 5b pitch in a fantistic position. Gareth lead the final overhanging crack, which is very good but probably not 5c. We finished the day with G String a hard Hard VS to the right of Striptease that I'd not done before. It was good fun apart for the heinous move through the overhang that I got pumped silly on!

A few days later I headed up to the Grochan with Gareth. I lead Kaisergebirge Wall, which I'd done before but built a belay beneath the crux. I managed it fine this time, but was rather distracted by the pair of teenage girls, who thought it would be a good idea to yell at me as I gibbered my way through the crux.

Clare and I headed out to do a quick route on Friday evening. Clare had to be at work by ten, but as it gets dark at nine so we had no worries. Initially we drove into the Pass, but it was too windy so we sacked it off and headed to Gideon Quarries, which I'd not been to before. Two abseils later we're at the bottom of the crag. I led an easy pitch and brought Clare up to a loose stance beneath a blank slab. The slab is pretty easy, but there isn't much gear. After fifteen metres I get a goodish Rock 3 and keep climbing. Twenty metres later and I'm stood in a very precarious position with no more runners. I can't quiet work out what to do and the pitch description doesn't make sense. Eventually I make a scary down climbing move and traverse along a thin crack and up to a belay about 5 metres from the top of the crag.

Clare follows up and I set off to the top off the crag. It's now about 8:45 and very close to dark. The rocks loose and I can't really see what I'm standing on. Then it starts to pour with rain and all friction disappears. I reverse back to the belay. It's now pitch black. We climb off the belay ledge and start scrambling leftwards, hoping we can find away up back to our bags. However the top of the crag is guarded by steep wall of wet slate. We're trapped.

Luckily Clare has her phone in her pocket, but has hardly any battery (mine is conveniently located in bag along with my head torch). I ring Nikki who is out on the piss in Bangor. Can she get someone who lives in the Llanberis to throw me a rope. Then the phone runs out of battery.

Claire and me waiting to get rescued...
Clare and I sit and wait, exchanging stories about various stupid things we've done. Eventually the very bright lights of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team arrive. Nikki couldn't get hold of any of my mates so rang the rescue team, who kindly came and hauled us both out. A big thank you to the guys and girls in the MRT for giving up their time to haul a pair of idiots out. I'll remember to take my head torch next time it's close to dark.
The bright lights of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team.
My Dad came to visit for the weekend. We manage a quick route on Easter Island Gully. I dogged my way up Phagocyte, an overhang jamming crack with poor footholds that had ideas way above its' station! The top pitch was a bold and slightly snappy affair, but thankfully not as strenuous as the first.
Me on the first pitch of Phagocyte - definitely an HVS that thinks it's E1!
Gareth and I headed down  to Pembroke. I'd only done one route there previously and was keen to sample more. Day one we went to Mowing Word. I warmed up on Snozwagner, which was excellent but slightly pumpy. We then did the Heart of Darkeness/New Morning combo, which was also superb. The first pitch is outrageous for the grade. I then abseiled down for Sealhunt and made the schoolboy error of getting hit by a wave. Soaking wet I escaped up a fun VS called The Curver. We finished the day with Lucky Strike, which I really wanted to lead. We abseiled down in fading light and big seas. I set off, but quickly retreated back to the belay psyched out by the massive sea. Gareth cruised it. 

Gareth at the top of Snozwagner.
Gareth on the outrageous Heart of Darkness.
Day two: The weather was really annoying. It was really windy, which made climbing unpleasant, but because it wasn't raining we couldn't allow ourselves not to go climbing. We head down to Manzuko but ran away to Ma Weston's (a bit like visiting a senile relative who you don't really like!) when it started to hail. Returning a couple of hours later there were people on it so I lead Hercules a cool HVS. We then faffed around trying to find a less windy crag. We abseiled down to St Govan's which was pretty calm. Garerth lead Vice is Nice, but took a few hangs because the wind psyched him out. By the time it was my turn to climb it was pouring down so I hauled my way up and we ran away fast!

Day 3: Mother Carey's Kitchen. I lead Rock Idol, which intimidating and excellent. Gareth then lead Herod, which was also excellent, but not quite as intimidating. We then abseiled in to Deep Space, which climbs through some outrageous terrain and is also excellent. Gareth lead this as I was far too scared to lead the roof! We then ran away for an ice cream. We finished the day with Riders on a Storm, which was underwhelming to say the least. 

Deep Space is steep!
Day 4: We did Suprise Attack at Mewsford. It was very good, but I couldn't quite figure out the crux so took a hang. Two grey brass offsets would be handy. Proabley not E2, but the first pitch is harder than 5a. I was then feeling pretty rubbish but Gareth wanted to do one more route. We finished the day with the Arrow. I managed to cock the first moves and get wrong handed (I can see why lots of people hurt themselves on this) and jumped off, but managed to miss the ledge! After that I managed to second it without issue. We stayed that night as Gareth's parents before driving back the next day via Tremadog. We climbed The Neb with the Broken Edge finish. The first pitch is excellent and the second pitch a fun little boulder problem in the sky. Gareth got psyched out by the wind so I lead both pitches.

Surprise Attack at Mewsford.
I wanted a rest the next day, but Gareth was still psyched to climb. We headed to Rhoscolyn. I started up Savage Sunbird, which the guidebook makes out to be a soft E2. I climbed up to a ledge, from, which steep moves on big holds reached a ledge on the right. At this point the holds ran out. and with the gear below my feet and a ledge below that I wasn't too keen to fall off. After three good attempts I gave in and gave Big G the ropes. He cruised it. I did the move fine on second, but it still felt precarious. I finished the day by seconding Gareth up the Sun - his first E3. Good effort!