BBC - Weather Centre - Forecast for Llandudno, United Kingdom

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Xmas Bouldering

The weather has been pretty terrible in these parts. You make big plans to boulder all winter but of course it rains all winter! So it's a case of grabbing those nice days and getting out when you can. Myself and Pete Harrison went on probably the most optimistic mission ever on Boxing Day as we drove through the wet hills to check out the new Craig-y-Lyn boulders. The left hand side of the face was wet but we managed to dry the holds so we could dispatch Voie Normale. This is a really cool powerful 7a+:

I got close on Abnormale which is a 7b+ variant but had to stop due to skin:

It is very similar in style and grade to Jack Daniels Connection on the box. I guess that probably is 7b+ after all. It was quite shocking how my skin was peeling off on both problems. I guess that's what you get for climbing outdoors twice in 6 weeks. The next day i hit Tremeirchion with a crew (Mr P, Pete R, Pete H and Owen). Everyone was suitably impressed and got stuck in. Pete R ticked 36 Chambers and got close on 22 Chambers (7c to the right):

This has a tricky finish using a shit pocket with an annoying twig in it and the low moves are really powerful. Probably a hard 7c which Pete didn't have enough steam to complete. Both really classic 7c's. Mr P did a traverse of the top wall at about 7a which was pretty cool:

Yesterday Danny C took me out to check out a sweet little project he's found. It is indeed pretty classic and there's another one to the left. Surely it's time for a comeback DC!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Best New Routes of the Year

It's been perhaps the most frenzied year for new route activity on the North Wales Limestone for the best part of 20 years. From show stopping high 8's to diddy 5's there's been a lot going on throughout the region. The A55 guide has almost doubled in size, Lee Proctor and friends have been busy at Pantymywn and Ruthin and the Ormes have continued to provide routes as good as any in the UK. There were 11 new grade 8's on the coast, i don't think this has ever happened before in a year! Anyway here are my top ten, argue away at will, they're not in order of quality. couldn't be ringed with that! When i told Pete Robins and Pete Harrison i was doing the list i jokingly said 9 out of the 10 routes were my routes. It is probably indicative of how vain and deluded people think i am as they actually believed me!

Megalopa,8c+, LPT, Neil Dyer
The most significant Welsh line of the year! This incredible route was a surprise to many who hadn't even spotted the potential for a direct finish to Walking Mussel up that gleaming white headwall. Pete Robins and Neil bolted it together and tried it together. Initial forays soon accelerated into full blown redpoints and a race to the top ensued that provided much excitement and entertainment for the regular LPT goers. We hadn't seen a situation like this before (had Britain on anything near this hard??!), both climbers had a long way to go. It was a case of placing your bets, popping on you 3D specs, pulling out a deck chair and watching the action. Neil was the darhorse but despite him not having done the Walking Mussel he took the early advantage being more consistent on that middle crux sequence. We thought he had it in him but did he? Pete was the current king of the crag but was not up to full speed yet and he would have to get used to breathing in Dyer's Miura dust. Dyer soon made it through the first crux on the headwall. Pete had made it to the move but was in bulk and not close. Everyone expected a quick conclusion but it wasn't to be as Dyer came up short on the next big move. Weeks passed and Robins started to gather momentum. How would Dyer cope with this new situation. He wanted it, he felt he deserved it but would he get it! The prospect of Robin's latching that first crux and then shooting to the top like a rat up a drainpipe was omnipresent. He kept it chill, he continued not to warm up and one day in mid August he stuck that twatting move. I watched with baited breath from the Over The Moon crack as he negotiated the finishing moves. Nervously but solidly he topped out and shrieked: "Is it happening" (wait for the footage to hear this delightful quip). A brilliant well deserved achievement and a fantastic route that will hopefully receive the attention it deserves. To his credit Pete kept plugging away and a few weeks later got his topout to assure his place as an LPT great and becoming the first to tick the 8c+ trilogy.

Red Meat,7b,Craig Pen Gogarth,Pete Harrison
Pete Harrison must have racked up the most ab time yet again this year. Exploring the Orme researching for the bolt fund guide helped him unearth a few plum lines. The most significant of these was Red Meat on the leaning wall opposite 'Dave Lyon' crag. This 30 metre line took much effort to bolt and clean and was pretty unique for the area. The first 2/3 or so was relatively steady with pumpy climbing but some good rests. This let to a sustained finishing crux sequence where decison making was of the essence as your forearms waned. The route became a popular tick with many intrigued parties heading down for the new Orme pump experience.

The Madness Reigns,8a,Dyserth Waterfall, Chris Doyle
Probably the best new route on a excellent new sector. Worthy of inclusion for the crux sequence along which features some pathetic grips. Good fun. The two 7c's are also excellent and the 8b will float some people's boats.
Pic: Ray Wood:

Release The Hounds,7c,Craigiau Gigfran,Gav Foster
Finally Gav got round to climbing his project (hence the name)! This curving overhanging prow above Penmaenmawr was one of the worst kept secrets in North Wales. Gav realised the time had come and put a few sessions in in order to bag it. The first half of the route is the prow feature. It is climbed with compression and heels, you really feel like you're fighting to stop yourself slipping off the frictionless rock. After the crux better holds and easier climbing are waiting and a nervy romp to the top via some excellent wall climbing. Release the Hounds became an instant classic and propelled itself to near the top of the 7c quality list. For me it was brilliant to do something unique for the area that wasn't just another overhanging piece of limestone.

The Empire State,8a,The Diamond,Tommy Chamings
Diamond season really captured the imagination this year. Pete Harrison and Neil Dyer were all over the massive walls in exploration mode. There were ropes hanging everywhere. More curious visitors landed on the beach and more quality routes went up. One of the coolest lines was Tommy's project from 2009 which followed a yellow streak of rough grease free Diamond rock. The first 2 bolts featured desperate bouldery climbing but from there the route was 8a and went right to the top of the crag. It had jugs, shakeouts and runouts and was unlike most of the 8's in the area. With this route and Pete Robin's excellent The Black Pearl just to the right it made sense to start them initially with aid starts from the jugs. Why deny ourselves 25 metres of 3 star climbing for the sake of a boulder problem! If it's good enough for Ceuse! Anyway Tommy satched it up quicktime and Dyer did the deed on the flash. Supersmashinggreat
Pic by Mark Reeves:

The Brute,8b,The Diamond,Neil Dyer
The Diamond super route of the year and right near the top of the best of it's grade in the country. For me it isn't the amazing line, movement and rock that make this route so special-it's the style. Bouldery routes are too short, stamina routes are too long. Power endurance is the most interesting style for me and this route epitomises the best of it even though it is a lot of moves for PE. From leaving the amazing juggy flake at the 2nd bolt it's a weaving, sustained, hold onto your hats sprint to the top with barely a chance to catch breath. In 32 moves you only really stop once and it's not a good rest as the right hand is on a sloper. You cling to the barrelled steepness trying to execute each move as well as possible to preserve strength. Speed is important but not to the detriment of precision. Basically it just flows like perfection and the difficulties are largely dispersed on amazing holds. The climbing let's up a bit towards the chain but you need to keep crimping when the crimp is fading. A 20 year old project; props to Steve Mayers for his early efforts and to Neil for making it a reality. Jordan and Caff nipped in for repeats and seemed to agree with the hard 8b tag. Mega

The Last Crusade,8a+,Llanddulas Cave,Chris Doyle
Last year when i was redpointing on what would become Temple of Gloom i spent a lot of time staring at this line trying to imagine what you would pull on and how it climbed. Unlike Temple it had never been inspected before. Early this year i pestered Tony to lug his ladder up there and we got the thing bolted. Sessions of hanging on the bolts trying to figure out shapes, positions and moves followed. On both those roof routes i have been amazed how steady the sections have become after a bit of time playing around. I soon had the sections wired enough to try some redpoints although it was a bit of a memory test on the complex sea of slopey sidepulls at the end. Just as i was about to seal the deal i tore my oblique warming up on it resulting in a month out and severe pain when sneezing. I was soon back in the groove and pulled out a memorable ascent with a near skipping bolts deck out scene. If you like PE and you like roof climbing get on it!

Alberta Rose, 7c,Detritus Wall,Pete Harrison
Pete's little community project for the year was installing a handline across the top of Detritus Wall on the Little Orme to allow safe access to classic but neglected routes like Ocean of Emotion. These routes were glorified in the guidebooks but the carrot was still a little untempting. Pete's handline was a brilliant piece of craftsmanship and he regarded it as his biggest achievement in the area. As word started to get out he knew he had to strike quick on what Dave Lyon had tipped him off as being 'the line of the Orme'. He started working out the line to the left of Ocean on top rope and soon had it bolted and prepped for a redpoint. With the seasons fitness slightly on the wane all was not a formality but he topped out quicktime much to his delight. His belayer Calum Muskett got the 2nd ascent confirming the grade and quality. The route is equal in quality to its neighbour Ocean. When i checked the place out to get some footage i thought it was reminiscent of Ceuse's famous sector Demi Lune with Orange rock and amazing wall climbing. Unfortunately the season ran out before the masses could descend but it should be high on everyones list having some of th e best routes of their grade in the UK.

Stff Upper Lip Extension,8b,Pigeons Cave,Pete Robins
Pete brought George Smith's original vision of this line to its inevitable concluson by giving it the top out and a proper finish. The original route is amazing but the but the finish was somewhat abitary and unsatisfactory. Above an awkward clip off a man made slot was a superb boulder problem on amazing pinches and edges. This gave access to the top of the crag and was the full line. Pete found himself in a bit of a race for the FA with Lancashireman Jordan Buys. Pete got there but Jordan was hot on his heels for the 2nd ascent. SUPE is certainly one of the best 8b's in the area. I would rank it in the top 3 with The Brute and Melanchollie. The jury's still out on whether the original is 7c+ or 8a (its 7c+).

Dumpster Divers,8a+,The Diamond,Neil Dyer
Another old project that many a beast must have gazed at in the Rockfax. It wasn't going to hold out this year with man on a mission Neil Dyer on the warpath. Worthy of inclusion for the crux alone which is a massive dyno. This section of wall is not quite as awe inspiring as the meat to the right but it is still pretty damn impressive and like all the Diamond routes the climbing is sustained and amazing. Pete got the 2nd ascent shortly afterwards. Roll on next year!

For those who have noticed that this list is a bit elitist well it is but there were some excellent 6's put up also. Check out Chilly T 6c (Ty Newydd, Tony Shelmerdine), Vegas Nights 6c+ (The Tower,Dulas, Chris Doyle) and The Hunt 6c/+ (Craigiau Gigfran, Jon Ratcliffe)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Winter is Wank

I've just been reminded today of how Winter is an abysmal time of year. You can't get your fingers warm, it's so rainy and wet, it snows - stopping you going places, it gets dark at 3 o clock, its so flippin muddy. It is just generally shite. For the stuff i like to climb it doesn't need to be -10 so it's no use to me. I've been ill this week, i even thought i might have meningitis at one point. I don't luckily but still feel wonky. Being a sensible person i sacked off recuperation indoors and went on top of the freezing Little Orme for 2 days to piss about. Mr P, Robins and Dan came up yesterday. We were huddled under Cave wall trying to warm up. Dan and Pete were both trying Caveman Low 7c+. Neither managed it and Mr P bailed on Caveman too. I went back with Dan today and he romped it. He then started trying Mule's '7c+' Batman to the right. Now if most people would have done this problem they would have thought to themselves 'well Caveman Low is soft 7c+ and this is 2 grades harder so i should probably give it hard 8a'. Mule's line of thinking was 'it can't be 8a, 8a is a grade reserved for the God's and even though i can do one armer's on pinches and am insanely strong i will give it 7c+ to be on the safe side'. I asked Mule and he said 'it's quite a bit harder than the low start but i'm scared to give things 8a'. Those boys, those boys! Dan said it would get 8a+ in Hueco. We walked round to bulging wall and the heavens opened, grim grim grim. I had a play on Weirdo when it stopped but it remains my ultimate Nemesis. I couldn't re-warm my fingers at all so sacked it. Sack.
Pete trying Caveman Low:

DK on Batman 8a:

Dan repeated the variant start to Drink Driving, Jack the Drunk last week.
Last night i had a dream that Vechio Lione in Brione was made of limestone and that the 3rd hold had snapped off and been replaced with a ugly resin edge. Weird.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Norm Rescued by Future King

Norman Clacher caned himself at a new crag x yesterday. My old king was belaying and tells the tale
He had just started up a new route and was pulling over the initial overhang pulled off 2 large slabs of rock one on top of the other. I couldn't believe it - they were'nt jutting out so you could get some leverage on them but on a flat ledge and the whole thing seemed to defy the laws of physics. Norm and the slabs were coming towards me and I nearly crapped myself. I ducked under the overhang, locked off the rope but Norm seemed to hit the deck at the same time as the blocks. The edge of one landed on his pelvis and he was in a lot of pain. He got choppered out and I went down to casualty at Glan Clwyd. He has a fractured pelvic socket. Lucky as hell - it so easily could have been curtains for both of us.

I reckon Prince William was flying the chopper. Get well soon Norm and easy on those nurses!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Back to The Craft

Unbelievably it's been 9 years since those first bouldering forays at Craftnant and the FA's of Wonderwall, Cruella and Grasswind (think the latter two were in 2003). The crag has reached maturity in recent times and has been in vogue this year. I went up yesterday with Dan to give Nodder's neo classic Special K a blast. Time conspired against us and we got distracted so didn't get on it. I will be back! It was a bit dampy on arrival but just about climbable. We warmed up pissing about on Katzy's Cruella. It's funny as at the time we didn't think much about this problem but now i'm of the opinion that it's brilliant. The moves are really cool and the holds are so lush. Really nice rough mountain slopes. Dan got it quickstyle, i found myself having a bit of a battle in the end as i kept homming it up. I manned up in the end and finished it. Dan was checking out Floppy's 8b to the right. I remember taking Chris up there, when he first spotted the line i disregarded his interest. Fair play it's a cracker and one of the better hard problem's in North Wales. Really pure, short and hard. Dude's got the vision! Dan's quite keen for it, would be cool for it to get repeated. He's got decent pedigree, he did 8b in Rocklands this year and has climbed numerous 8a+'s around the place including a 30 minute ascent of Jim Holloways Trice 8a+ at Flagstaff, Colorado. With fading light we jumped ship to DC's 7c Grasswind which has had a few ascent's this year. I really didn't think this one was for me but i perservered. I tried to get the heel to work for ages but it just wasn't having it so i abandoned all finesse and got the move laying one on. This was actually ok and the set up was easier. It was getting dark however so i needed to act fast. Dan ticked it with a mad toe hook power screaming his way through. I got the good hold on the lip from the start but my foot slipped off matching. I gritted my teeth, got into the 'board' mentality and satched it up. Mega, a fantastic problem, as good as Cruella with also a beautiful visual line. These problems are some of the better ones of their grade in NWales. Consensus seems to be soft 7c for Grasswind but i didn't find Cruella to be 2 grades easier so perhaps that is 7b+. I still think Wonderwall's too brutal for 7b especially now it's lost a hold. When i was trying to make the cruxes of these problem's i found myself thinking back to how hard i try and how ferocious i get on the board. Why is it so hard to replicate this effort outside! I do stuff inside that seconds before i thought i had no chance on by conjuring up pure psyche from within and just forcing myself to do a move that feels improbable. I need to tap into this on rock and i'll pull stuff out the bag a lot quicker.
Top Craftnant tips
- take wellies or get piss wet feet ( slid down the hill all the way on my arse getting soaked)
- don't park on muddy downwards slopes. The fucking car got stuck and we had to piss about sticking pebbles and bracken under the wheels. Slightly epic.

Old pic of Floppy on Grasswind:

Now i'm off to this magnificent place!:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I got the book!

I picked up a copy of the A55 2nd edition today from the old king. It is twice as big as the first edition and looks really good. Nice one to Mikey and to Pesda Press, the world's fastest climbing guide publisher (unbelievable). I'm really excited to see my babies and the new stuff documented. There's quite a few pics of me but before anyone starts throwing charges of nepotism just remember you can choose your friends.....

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Tower and Golf Ball Wall

I reported a new mini sector at Llanddulas in the summer. Further on from KO Wall two other sectors have been developed. The Tower/Turret is quite a significant new crag. Most people driving along the A55 will have spotted the tower on the wooded hillside before Colwyn Bay. Myself, Tony and Norman put up 9 routes there this year. The crag must be 18 metres or so and the climbing is very good on most the routes. Norman did a 6b+ and a couple of 7a's. Tony put up a 6a+ and a 6c+ and bolted a project (which he will be doing next year, stay off please. I put up a 7c, 7b and the route of the crag Vegas Nights which goes at 6c+. It is a nice line and is nice and sustained all the way without a noticeable crux section. The crag was quite loose when we first abbed it and hasn't had much traffic yet so take care.
Me on vegas Nights:

Spidey high on Vegas:

Between the Main cave and the Turret is a little craglet above the path hidden in the trees. I found the crag and myself and Tony gave it a quick blitz to give 9 short but pleasant routes. The routes are all in the 6's apart from one 7a+ of mine. It won't be denting Ceuse's popularity next summer but i'm sure people will go there.
We called the crag Golf Ball Wall after the finding driving range gold balls all over the hillside in strange positions. Must be the crows!

Spidey on Off With Their Heads 7a+:

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Drink Driving 3rd Ascent

We have a new beast living on the coast. Dan Knight has moved over from Yorkshire and he's already made the 3rd ascent of Drink Driving confirming mine and Ed Hamer's assessment of bottom end 8a+. A few beasts have been snooty about the grade of this problem over the years without even trying it. Tommy told me Mick Adams downgraded it with his eyes which isn't a bad effort. I guess it doesn't look that hard and the moves are ok on their own but that's not the problem is it. He played around on Jack the Drunk too which he reckoned was higher up the grade. Dan thought it was really good and comparable to 8a+s he'd encountered on his travels. I haven't had chance to get on rock as i've been engaging in the strange practice of work. It's a bit of a shock really. It's too dark to go out after work and it rains all weekend so you're a bit stuffed really. I popped into Tremeirchion the other day to play on Danny's low start to 36 Chambers. I'm surprised this hasn't really seen much attention by the people who've done the stand. In my mind its one of the best hard problems in these parts. The limestone is really good, it starts on a massive blob tufa, is sustained and has great moves and is a good length, about 13 moves. I think maybe the low is slightly unobvious as there are only a couple of holds and they're quite spaced. Apparently some folk thought the sitter went from the left which wouldn't be anything special. Anyway i still felt ok on the stand if a little heavier (8 pounds to be precise!). I figured out a sequence on the low moves but didn't quite manage them. It is a pretty hard link for 7c+, it could potentially be 8a, time will tell. It must be 7b+ or so just to get into the stand up and then that would be a real battle. Awesome! Training's been going better than i expected, i've got up to top form on the board in 6/7 sessions despite being a fat cunt. I don't mind one bit being heavy, there's no point being a stick insect all year. So much of my top end climbing relies on that weight loss impact and the bigger the impact the better next June! If i can get den 7b+ like this i should be crusing.
The board:

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dyserth Castle Slab (aka Ghost Canyon)

The final part of the Dyserth jigsaw is the big slab above the Dyserth-Prestatyn walkway. This has been messed about on for years by locals but my old king took it upon himself to bolt the place up this year to give a fine new crag that is pretty unique for the area. There aren't many big limestone slabs around here! The slab took a lot of cleaning but is now in pretty good shape. There are 6 routes with the hardest and best being an old Andy Pollitt route Genesis which went at E3 with a old bolt or two. It's is now a excellent 6b+. The crag gets mucho sun and is close to the car park. So Dyserth now has 3 great crags. The Waterfall with its easy walls and meaty roof routes. Ty Newydd, longer more technical challenges and some shorties and the sunny slab to keep the punts happy. The gop bouldering cave is also up the road and Meliden Quarry has a few old sport routes and a neat little bouldering wall. Both these places will feature in the guide.

Mikey D at work:

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ty Newydd

Perhaps the best new crag in my dad's guide is Ty Newydd in Dyserth. It is one of those crags that makes you doubt yourself on the approach as you can't imagine that a cliff is about to appear. It is situated in a wooded valley in some fields and from spring onwards the air is pungent with the smell of wild garlic. The main section of crag is deceiving. It consists of sections of steep wall and slabbier sections. The holds are often hidden and sloping making onsighting reasonably tricky and the rock is a flinty type of limestone. The crag is on a farmer's private land and thus far he has been very accomodating with regard to access. However this will not be the case if people ignore the strict access arrangements. The most important of these is that there is no access to the crag from 1st October to 31 January on Friday and Saturdays. It is very important that this is adhered to.
There are some great longer routes like Chilly Tea 6c and Ivan the Responsible 6b+. Black Wednesday is a great 7a+ and Three Degrees of Levitation is a cool 7c. Dreambadger 7c+ is a super steep boulder problem on a rope. Wouldn't mind a grade opinion on this. And finally Pete Robins First Round, First Second provides some real beef at 8a+. All info in the guide!

Chill Tea:

Mule on Black Wednesday:

Friday, 25 November 2011

A55 Second Edition on way!

Since the A55 sport climbs book was released in 2010 my old king has continued to chronicle the developments in the area. In 18 months there have been 117 new routes, new sectors and even new crags. Three crags have been developed in Dyserth, Llanddulas has 3 new sectors, Penmaenhead has a new sector and Craig y Gigfran above Penmaenmawr was developed. Pesda Press are publishing the 2nd edition and it should be on the shelves a few weeks into December. The guide looks great, the new crags have really fleshed it out and the action shots are much better. There's even some hard routes now. Pesda have stuck a couple of quid onto the price as it's a bigger guide but it's great value at £13.99. I will give a run down on the new crags on this here blog.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Back to The Chase

Well i started training again and so far so good. My elbow still feels ok and i was pleasantly surprised not to be completely terrible. It must be because i was quite strong when i stopped so i didn't sink to the usual levels of crapness that i would have done normally. I was also pleased to be feeling motivated on the board. I half expected it to feel like a slog but i've really enjoyed it so far. You soon remember why you like doing it and why the sedate life will never be enough. I even missed brushing holds! Climbing has simplified from those last few months of summer where i wanted to climb FA's, existing routes, get ticks, go bouldering. Now i see a winter of training ahead of me (if my body can withstand it). I always had it in mind to focus on raising my game over this winter and the plan hasn't changed. I want to redpoint harder stuff than i've done which means doing it in North Wales which means power, power and more power. I know i need to be consistently stronger to have a chance on some of the hardies round here. During my usual elevated 3 weeks a year i'm capable of hard climbing but to actually do something i need to feel like that for months at a time. I couldn't believe how doable Liquid Ambar felt when i got on it that day but if it's gonna take 40/50 days then 2 weeks of beastliness won't cut it. I need to raise my game through months of hard training and actually raise my base level rather than relying on weight loss and the stars coming into alignment. So lots of board sessions and lots of bouldering. I'm still keen for all those problems i listed a few months ago and will start heading out when i hit den 7b again, hopefully shouldn't be long. I put on half on stone during my lay off so i'm not expecting too many fireworks for a while as i'm sure as hell not dieting again til next year. I'm keen to get on the campus board in the Mill at some point as this has always been a major weakness of mine. I remember when i was going pretty well in the School but couldn't do 147 when everyone else could cream it. I'm not sure exactly how much of a difference it will make to me but it's worth a shot. There is a great wooden symmetry board in the mill with great holds made by Nodder and i know this is great tool for getting those fingers strong. The crux of Liquid Ambar involves being strong and powerful on two slopey crap holds so this will be ideal for this. Might as well aim high and hopefully bag a few tricky 8's on the way back down to earth...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

End of Season

I've only climbed on average once a week for the last 5/6 weeks. It's the best time of year for a break and i needed to rest my elbow anyway. It's slowly improving but i've not thought too much about climbing in the last month. Considering how obsessed i am about climbing for the majority of the year it does surprise me how well i handle not climbing. I am pleased and relieved my life doesn't implode when i don't go. Of course i miss the buzz and excitement but a sedate life has plenty going for it too. I didn't climb for 2 weeks until yesterday. Me and Tommy went for a probable last blast down LPT. Tommy hommed around on 8a and i finished off Rompsville which i had tried briefly earlier in the year. I must say i was surprised with how good it is. I had always imagined it to be gnarly and sharp and nasty. It starts up Statement and then breaks right through 6c+/7a ground up to a decent rest. The crux is the slabby headwall which is very sequency and involves some cool sidepull holds and small feet. It's an excellent sequence and deserves more attention really. It did get upgraded to 7c from 7b+ but i'm inclined to keep these old skool slabby testpieces as their original grades. Routes like Cafe Libre, The Acid test and Rompsville do feel hard for the grade because most people these days are more adept at steep climbing and i thinks slabs traditionally feel stiff for the grade anyway. It's still warm enough to do routes round here but the feeling that the season is coming to an end is prevalent. It's not bad though when you can do routes for the majority of the year. After we went up to Pill Box where there was a healthy scene. The bangor boys were bouldering and doing routes and Pete Robins was checking out Carinthian Groove 8b, the hardest route on the upper drive. I put my boots on to try a few hard moves, i was dreading it as i haven't tried any hard moves for 5 weeks and i've put on half a stone. I needn't of worried as my old friend the Pill Box sorted me out and i managed Pill Bow Original, Mr Whippy, Chocolate Wall and Last Rites 7b+. I was quite surprised as i got spanked there in summer that day with Nodder when i had been climbing a lot. Don't write yourself off before you pull on! Time to start climbing again perhaps

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Alberta Rose

Pete Harrison has sent over some info about his new route:
I finished my most recent 'do something creative whilst the weather's shit' project - the Detritus Wall traverse which provides airy access to those intriguing routes out above the sea. Of all the things I've done over the last couple of years this is definitely the thing I'm most proud of. It's been so fulfilling to go out there by myself after work and do such a bizarre thing, trying not to think about the consequences of a mistake and the resulting 40 metre plummet to the sea with rope, drill, batteries, bolts, gear and god knows what other shit hanging off me dragging me down like a stone. Then getting back safely to the pub car park and seeing the fat fuckers doing their chain-pub thing makes me feel priveledged to be able to spend time in the hidden corners of the Ormes!
Anyway I thought it was a fitting use of the last of the DMM Eco bolts, which Dave Lyon gave to me last year after having been holding onto them for the last 15 years waiting for the next classic. What a great design they were.

Dave's efforts back in the day make mine look like childs' play. During 'a bit of a bad patch' he thought it'd be good to go out across Detritus Wall by himself with a single 9mm rope, a sky hoook, a drill and some ironmongery. It took him half a day to do what took me eight - to get to the top of what is now Ocean of Emotion. I found it quite harrowing at times and I had all the old kit ahead of me to aim for. Dave wouldn't have had any of that. Fucking loon.

Pete has called his route Alberta Rose. He has provided some more in depth info about the area:
Detritus and Atlanta Walls
Access to the these walls is actually simple - no harder than accessing Gogarth uper tier and easier than The Diamond. You can walk straight to the abseil point for all the routes on Atlanta Wall and the first three routes on Detritus Wall. A simple 30m abseil reaches good non-tidal ledges with bolt belays on the Detritus Wall routes, or a thread-belay for the Atlanta Wall routes. All the routes have good bolts - stainless though-bolts on Dave Lyon's Detritus Wall and Atlanta Wall routes, stainless 'petzl long-lifes' on a couple of the left-hand Atlanta Wall routes, resins on Alberta Rose.
Atlanta Wall gets sun from 2pm in August / 3.30pm in October. Detritus Wall gets the sun from 2.30pm in August / 4pm in October. Both walls are more exposed to the wind and get more sun than The Diamond so are more reliable for good conditions. Climbing here on a sunny afternoon is pretty hard to beat. Stormy October/November may be memorable for less pleasant reasons, but yesterday was primo climbing conditions and weather. Atalanta wall faces due West, Detritus Wall faces NW.

The in-situ handline across Detritus Wall is very airy but well bolted. 'E' is reached by abbing down to a non-tidal ledge from the first set of double rings about one-thirds way along the traverse. Ocean of Emotion and Alberta Rose are reached by abbing to a non-tidal ledge from the end of the traverse.
You can gear up for the routes on Detritus Wall at the start of the traverse, but I find it better to take the packs in to the end of the traverse for Ocean of Emotion/Alberta Rose and leave them hanging from the line - careful with the wallet and car keys!

Either take an ab rope or a lighter option is to take a clip stick as a fail-safe for getting out. If go with the clip stick you'll need to know how to rig a single line retrivable abseil if abbing in on gri-gri's, or bring a normal belay plate.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Acid Test and Mega New 7c on Little Orme!

The Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test is one of the iconic Pen Trwyn routes. It was first climbed by Ron Fawcett at E5 6c in 1983 and was one of the most technical challenges at the time. I have always thought it would be cool to do it. It was on the front of the Pollitt 87 guide and was one of the significant testpieces of the 80s boom. Ben and Jerry even met under it for the first time. The difficulties are fairly short, easy plodding leads to a pristine scooped headwall where everything blanks out. I was out with Tommy today. We started up at Mumbo Jumbo doing a few warm ups and Tommy did the FA of a new line that Tony had bolted on the left hand side of the crag. We then headed up to the Acid Test area and both did Quicksilver (really good 7a) to get a top rope on it. I had been on it briefly before and remember struggling to understand it! This time i spent the first 30 minutes trying to identify holds and trying to execute funky positions and palming manouveres. I couldn't believe i was on a 7b+!! Eventually i worked out a sequence that involved crimpy pulls on crozzly holds. It was just pulling really and not overly technical in the end. It went pretty easily first redpoint and i was left wondering what all the fuss had been about. It must be one of the hardest 7b+ onsights in the country when it's unchalked though. Stevie Haston managed it onsight back in the 80s which was a great effort. I don't think many would onsight it now (get on it N Waleans). Satisfying! We then went and hommed around on some 7a's and i did two old routes that have recently been bolted up. Big is Best is now roughly 6b and Adequate Compensation 6b+ish. I think they're both destined to be quite popular.
France? Spain? No, the Orme in October!:

I spotted this project for the Wideboys today for when they return:

Last week me and Tommy headed down to Detritus wall on the Little Orme with Pete Harrison. Pete has spent 8 days putting a handline in across the top of the wall from the grassy ledge above Atlanta Wall all the way across the wall to the Ocean of Emotion belay. Pete rates this new handline as his best achievement in the area. He had some pretty hairy moments sticking it in and most of it he was self belaying holding on to terrible loose rock while sticking in the bolts. Dave Lyon had tipped Pete off about a line to the left of Ocean which he reckoned would probably be just as good. Pete thought this would be a good reward for his efforts and soon had the line bolted an worked. Today he redpointed it at 7c stating it was one of the best of it's grade around. It is a great wall in an amazing position and now it's not even an epic to access it. I got some pics of Pete working the line. Ocean of Emotion looked immaculate too. It takes a orange streak through pristine rock and wall climbing. It looks like a route from Demi Lune sector, Ceuse stuck to the Orme. The last bit of the routes are a bit shitty to the handline. Pete was struggling to get a belayer so he drove to the hills to pick Calum Muskett up who repaid him by working out the top. Calum also bagged the 2nd ascent.
Bird shit tufas:


Top roping the proj:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Wizard is Oz

I did my 24th new route of the year today at Penmaenhead. I had wondered about the wall right of Clogau Gold years ago but had never checked it out. Recently Tommy mentioned he had looked at it and it looked good. I abbed down it and it did look very cool so i bolted it up. The route took no cleaning and there were no loose holds at all which is rare for a virgin route of this height. The rock is really nice and rough. The route follows the first two bolts of Clogau Cold on easy terrain then breaks right onto the ledge. From here blast straight up the headwall. The first section is reasonably steady up to a small overlap and a jug. Then you tackle the crux sequence which is a really nice tenuous couple of moves with some more nice moves above on bad feet. I've called it The Wizard is Oz. Oz is the 6 ft 6 Ghambian doorman at The Barrel in Rhyl, a very handsome man. I've given it 7b+, it's quite hard to grade as the hard section is very shortlived but it seems too thin for 7b and it's a bit easier than a hard 7b+ like Rompsville. All in all a very satisfying experience and if it's my last new route this year it's a good one to end on. I'm chuffed to have the hardest route as Dyserth, Dulas and Penmaenhead. I was a bit snooty about Penmaenhead years ago when i was doing the first new routes there. Fair play to the old king though it is a very handy crag. It's a convenient ticking venue but the quality is actually very good and with over 60 routes there's loads to go at. I onsighted Clogau Gold 7a after my FA and found it quite tough for 7a. I think it's because it was unchalked and i've just been following the dots this year. Nice big wall anyway.
I went to Dulas with Pete Robin's the other day. Pete did the 2nd ascent of The Last Crusade, he managed it first redpoint which is a good effort as it's quite a complex route and hard to remember straight off. I guess it doesn't matter when you're four grades beneath your limit. He confirmed the grade but said he found it as hard as Temple which he found really easy. I still think he beasted Temple and 8c wad Bob Hickish has a couple of sessions on it recently and reckoned it was tricky. I had a play on the link up i bolted. The new section was really good and it seemed like the moves would go ok with some time. It's definitely doable but i'm going to have to be climbing well. It'll be quite pumpy with Last Crusade start, then hard 8 move or so middle sequence then the redpoint crux of Temple. Look's like i'll be seiging in that roof for the 3rd year in a row. We then went down LPT, pete was keen for a look on The Big Crunch project that i bolted a year or two ago. The first crux is nails and it's yet to be worked out. The middle section is excellent and doable and then there's a really hard lip encounter. Pete reckoned it could be 9a! I had a go at the middle bit and did the moves, LPT LGP! Footage of Tommy crushing Simon Says 8a in Split Infinity:

Finally some bellend kids have set fire to the two gym mats in the Cave. Tommy put it out and no real harm is done but i think it's worth keeping the place free from such detritus as it is definitely tempting for some nob who's a bit trigger happy with his lighter. It could have been a lot worse!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

New Proj

I'm feeling increasingly refreshed after having a break from pulling hard. The elbow hasn't really improved so it's been an enforced rest. I've had to sack off my Font trip which was dissapointing but you can't go there with a bad elbow. Tony 'knackered elbows' Shelmerdine says it's not tennis elbow as it is in the centre on the outside. Anyone any ideas? I've been doing some easier routes and have bolted a couple of projects. One is a line i'm very excited about at Dulas, a link up of my two roofs that Ben Heason spotted when he tried Temple. The new section of climbing looks really good and hard. The whole route will certainly be harder than Temple, time will tell if it qualifies for the next grade or not. I'd quite like it too as long as it's doable, i like going up there!
Aiding in the roof:

Something to play on next year anyway. Early Bird on the outside of the Cave has been bolted to give a fine 6b and Norman has done a route branching out right at about 6b+. Tony has been very active re-equipping on the Orme. He's re-equipped Hamburger Buttress. The routes got trad grades but relied on a lot of insitu gear. So we need the sport grades for these routes for the guides.
Tommy fingering his beast:

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Ferret

Pete Robins has climbed a very old project down LPT. It was known as the Angel Project and is a short bouldery affair left of Mellanchollie. This route has been strangely neglected over the years, despite being short it is a nice wall. It would certainly have been done if it were in the Peak and would be the best route on the right hand side of Raven Tor. I think it was bolted by Johnny Dawes back in the day and has seen attention off a few people. Steve Mcclure almost did it years ago but pulled a hold off the top. I belayed him on it again a few years later and he was all over it but split his tip. Matt Donnelly, Mark Katz and Danny Cattell all put some effort in over the years. Danny got through the crux but was pulled off by his belayer (Bob Hickish). Despite effort from all these beasts Pete reckons the difficulties are about font 7c and french 8b and he's called it The Ferret.

We re-equipped the line last winter. Pics:

By my calculations there have been 11 new grade 8's in the area this year. 3 8a's, 3 8a+s, 4 8b's, 1 8c+.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Pilgrimage vid

Jamie King found the old footage of Malc doing Pilgrimage and has stuck it on youtube. It's great to see it again, really inspiring (especially the celebration):

I am taking things easy now to let my tennis elbow sort itself out. I ignored it for a few weeks and kept pulling hard. It didn't get any worse but i'm very paranoid and want to nip it in the bud now. I'm pretty sure it's a consequence of the sudden strength increase that i underwent. Apparently tendons are 6 weeks or so behind muscles in strengthening. So lots of stretching and hot and cold for me and some easy climbing. Bit gutted as i was sposed to be going to Font next week!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Trwyn Ticking

My desire for hard climbing has diminished slightly so yesterday i was keen to go out and do some ticking on the Upper drive. Me and Tommy warmed up on Testament, a classic Orme 6c then moved on to the Cutaway as Tommy was keen to finish off John Paul and The Vatican 7(7c). I'd been up there a few days earlier with Jim having a play on the hideously horrible Rock Lobster 8a+. Tommy clipped up John Paul. I wanted to do it first go and i managed to pull it off which was good. Pretty gutting really though as i'd been on it once in 2003 and so i miss out on the flash tick. It would have been a PB in the UK too. I was satisfied with how i had climbed it however and it gave me confidence. Next up was Chain Gang Wall, i'd never done any of the hard routes despite them being some of the best on the Upper drive. Mr Olympia was the one i was keen for despite it getting a trad grade (E5 6b). It has a insitu thread and two bolts on it so feels like a sport route really (especially if you clipstick the thread- i did). The top is runout but is about french 6a. It was well chalked so i just joined the dots. It is great steep climb and my first E5 tick for quite a long time. Didn't feel like trad though. There are two other E5's on this wall that are proper trad and they look brilliant. When i've done Liquid Ambar i will get back into trad, i've pencilled in a new rack for 2022. Tommy managed to cock up the flash somehow, moment of madness on the last move. Then we headed to Black Wall which is a very nice little sector with pockety technical routes. We did Storm Warning 7a, and i cocked up The Lull (7b) on the onsight and we finshed off on Wet Dreams, a ace 7a slab which would be a very tricky onsight without chalk.
Pic by Mills:

On the bumpy boy scene Pete Robins has extended The Black Pearl to the top of the crag to make a harder 8a (i thought the original was hard enough!). He joined Tommy's route at the top so there are now two 8a mega pitches side by side. Caff and Dyer both made a rare repeat of Central Pillar on the Gwynt. Apparently its similar in difficulty and style to Masterclass and it took them 3 go's each. I'll give that a miss then!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

October Furnace

What a topsy turvy island this is! It's too hot to climb in late September. I went to the Cave today but it was warm and i had no growl. I sacked it to Pigeon's with Ducko to have a look, it was still a bit wet but my route was dry enough to have a quick look. It's all there but there's not much you can do if its wet or 30 degrees. I've lost a bit of spark this week but it's normal after a sustained psyche period and a big project. Ducko pointed out a nice clean little wall on the way down to Pigeon's. There were two potential problems that i doubt have been climbed before (the hard one defo hasn't). The left hand one was a cool sit start and followed some nice flowstone. I got it ticked when the sequence was worked out. It's worth checking out and is around 7a+. I've christened it October Furnace. The line to the right looks 8a/+ and is one for CJD i reckon when it cools down, come on fatty!

Come on Floppy!:

Dyer flashed The Empire State on The Diamond as a warm up like he does.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Empire State

Me and Tommy headed down The Diamond today. It was quite warm and still so we were expecting a bit of grease but the chalk was glowing as we approached and it was quite good. The crag's recent upsurge in popularity continues and there were people all over it. Tommy was keen for an old project line he re-equipped back in 2009. Right of Never get Out of The Boat is a amazing yellow streak. The start is a hard boulder sequence up to a long vertical jug and from here is a further 25 metres of amazing pumpy climbing to the top of the crag. Like The Black Pearl it makes for an unbalanced route with the first two bolts taking the grade up 3/4 grades and so the link from the jug to the top was an obvious challenge. The route has a hard sequence above the jug before it turns into a stamina fest. The rock has a rough shell so it's usually ok conditions when everything else is greasy. Tommy spent 6 days on it in 2009 and got involved again last Saturday and was soon on redpoint. Today he got the link first redpoint despite wet holds at the top. I'm glad he didn't drop the end as i doubt he would have got there again. We don't get much practice on 30 metre sport routes round here! He's called it The Empire State and has given it 8a but reckons it could be a tough one. Nice one mate. There are some pics on Mark Reeves blog.
I had another go on The Black Pearl, i still felt tired despite a rest day but had a redpoint and powered out on the top crux sequence. It's flippin sustained and the shake isn't that good as the holds are flat. I had a realisation that i really shouldn't be wasting myself on any more fitness routes this year. I need to make the most of feeling strong not wasting the window of opportunity getting boxed and tiring myself. It was a useful epiphany to have! I need to crush some stuff before mediocrity creeps back in. Jimmy Big Guns did Skip of Fools 8a+, ye! Later i had a look at the thing i bolted on hanging rock on the Orme. After one go i've christened it Hubble's Welsh cousin, its fuckin nails! Oh well, if i ever do Louis Armstrong i'll give it another go. Some nice weather coming up, need some wind to dry Pigeons!

New craglet near Ruthin

Two years ago my old mucker Ryan Mcconnell (aka Spidey) started developing a small roadside crag at Pwll Glass just outside of Ruthin on the A494. The crag yielded a 6a and a 6b on the right and a 7b through the central section which Danny Cattell bagged the first ascent of (name:Apple Crumble). Spidey had his sights set on a harder route on the left hand side. The route was a very nice little boulder problem passing the 3rd/4th clips involving some small crimps, a pocket and a high heel. Spidey tried the route sporadically but struggled with the tenuous bouldery crux, a long slap off the heel. This year he made the breakthrough and latched the move but got spat off the next move. He started getting through the crux more consistently recently but the last moves were still tenuous and hard for the feet and he kept dropping them. However he could tell the redpoint was close and desperate to bring closure to his seige he linked a few days in close succession and got the route ticked yesterday. It is the great thing about redpointing that we all go through the same tribulations on a long term project. The route is called Fraxinus Excelsior and is 7c or 7c+. The 7c's Spidey has done (including the LPT beast I've Been a Bad Bad Boy) have taken him considerably less effort than this route but he concedes that it may just not suit him. Time will tell but it is a very nice little route with a satisfying crux sequence. It's right by Ruthin escarpment which has been re-equipped by Lee Proctor and co so it's quite a handy micro venue. Spidey gets to jet off to Yosemite with his proj in the bag, nice one shag!

Lee Proctor on Apple Crumble:

An attempt earlier in the year:

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tigger Cut

Wandered into the cave and saw this beast on Trigger Cut:

I chilled for a bit after the Dyserth exploits then went down the Diamond with Pete. It was greasy on first arrival but it got good. I finished off NGOOTB. I felt good on it but climbed it mainly on strength rather on fitness. I did get a bit back on the shakeout. Without doubt a North Wales classic! Pete tried the start to The Black Pearl, awesome hard boulder problem. I had a bolt to bolt on the new 8a. It is steeper than the other low 8's and is a really good power endurance route. I was tired so didn't have a redpoint. Yesterday i had a meaty sesh in the Cave with the stags. Some more Waiting Game footage: