Thursday, January 31, 2013

2 left shoes and melting routes...

January has been frustrating. By and large it has either been raining or melting when I've been free, or I've been revising whilst winter conditions have been stellar (or as stellar as they ever get in North Wales).

I had a fun day at Pant Ifan with Mason, apart from slimey  starts the routes were in great condition and the sun was shinning. I lead up to the tree at the base of the route. Alex followed up in his trainers, to keep his shoes clean for the main event. Upon reaching the tree Mason reached into his jacket to find two left shoes. Oh shit, I though he's going to make me lead it. Undeterred Mason jammed a left shoe onto his right foot and, clipping his right trainer to his harness - in case it all got too much, set off. He spent a while figuring out the desperate moves under and over the roof, before cruising the glorious upper slab. I followed, a combinations of numb toes, numb fingers and the first time on rock since November meant a few cheeky pulls were required to get me over the roof.

Two left feet...

Fun climbing low down on the chimney.
Mason pulling round the roof.
 A couple of days later, Led Zepplin booming out of the car stereo Ben Alsford and I zoomed to Ogwen Cottage. We'd heard conditions on Clogwyn Ddu were good. The walk in was a bit of a kick up the arse and reminded me to do more running. For various stupid reasons we ended up on an out of condition and melting Left Hand Branch, rather than Mankini our original objective. I lead the first easy pitch and Ben set off on the second harder pitch and inexplicably belayed on some insitu bail gear right below the crux. By the time I got there the whole thing was melting and it was a right clusterfuck to climb past an insitu Balsford, so we bashed in another peg bailed.

Lock up your daughters...

"Well my Dad was shagging Delia Smith..."

Here's Johnny

Stellar conditions...
Condition next week were probably the best since 2010. Unfortuantley three exams kept me stuck in the library, bouncing off the walls with a severe case of FOMO (the fear of missing out - for those not in the know.)

MWIS was being unusually optimistic about Saturday's weather, whilst all other forecasts were predicting massive thaw. Burrows and I slogged back up to Clogwyn Ddu. Arriving at the crag it looked in but the temprature was hovering around zero. With this in mind, we sacked off anything turfy and headed up Pillar Chimney, working on the theory that it is never out of condition. I lead the easy access pitch, allowing Burrows to lead the chimney, which I had lead a couple of times before. He made a right faff of it and I pissed myself laughing listening to his orgasmic grunting. I followed the chimney silently and got to the top to find the water running behind the very thin top pitch. I went for a tentative look at the wild and turfy Lampard-Brewer finish and decieded the best option was to down climb into Left Hand Branch and finish up that.

Me beneath the cleft of orgasmic doom...
Silent thrutching...

 There were two teams on Left Hand Branch, over taking each other and generally cluster fucking around. I down climbed and belayed. By this time it was actually raining. Ollie joined me and we decided that going down was the sensible option. The other party had conveniently placed to bombed wires and extended with long slings, so we unclipped them, equalised them and abseiled off. Cheers whoever you were! We slogged home via the Devil's Kitchen, by which point it was properly raining. Scarily people were still trying to kill themselves by climbing the semi-frozen mush.

"Oh look, two wires we can abseil off them." At least we didn't nick them!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Two Thousand and Twelve

2012 has been a fine year. I didn't do everything I wanted, but I climbed some cool routes, in some cool places with some cool people.

Here is photographic evidence of the high points, the low points, and the utterly hilarious points with the occasional bit of waffle thrown in for good measure.

A weekend hit to Lochnagar: driving through the night from Wales. L to R: Livingstone, Monypenny, Burrow and Me.

Livingstone dispatching the rather awkward flared crux of Parallel Buttress, which I conveniently built a stance below.

Welsh winter - Livingstone chilling on Manx Wall.

Duncan after having just snapped the rope on the bridge swing...

An unproductive day at Porth Ysgo...

Climbing on a bone dry Lliwedd in a tee shirt in March... WTF?

Tall Mark climbing the utterly brilliant Jelly Roll on Cloggy, also in March, also WTF?

Duncan climbing the hidden gem Hiddenite at the unsung Iron Crag.

Leading my first Extreme Rock route Grey Panther with Dunc and Jimmy.

Duncan passed his driving test, god knows how!

Watching Gwen float up the Assassin - this would be a three star route on other crag.

Getting dragged gibbering and shaking across the "dirty rotten chaos" of the Moon by Gwen.

After 'work' cragging with Ollie at Castle Rock.

Climbing Silhouette on Cloggy with Ollie the afternoon after my last exam.

Supporting Nikki on the Slateman, her first triathlon.

Making a two day ascent of the Cassin Ridge on Denali with Livingstone.
Totally wasted descending the West Buttress after the Cassin.
Getting back from Alaska and remembering rock climbing is way more fun: running across Dream of White Horses with Ollie.

The first rule of climbing with your girl friend: do not have epics when climbing with your girl friend. It started to rain three quarters of the way up a bold HVS slab route in the stunningly beautiful, but rather wet and cold Lofoten Islands. We got back to the car soaked to the skin at 1am.
Low point: Being rescued after getting benighted in Gideon Quarry when it rained and got dark simultaneously. A big thanks to Llanberis Mountain Rescue for hauling us out.

This photo doesn't do the route justice. hauling my way up some improbably steep rock on some of the world's biggest holds: Rock Idol.

Vector with Ben: I climbed this route three times in 2012 and it never disappoints.

Ollie off to 'work' - this sure beats stacking shelves at a well known green super market...

Skiing in Les Arc with Nikki and my family over Christmas - a great way to finish the year.
Thank you to everyone who made it such a brilliant year. I've got a few trips up my sleeve that should make this next one just as brilliant. Watch this space...