Saturday, 29 August 2015

Young And Easy And Under The Apple Boughs.

A surprisingly pleasant "breather", this line is not as crumbly as it appears, and is outside of the day's mould, remaining unseen amongst the creations of it's grand neighbours. Left as an oddity and ungrabbed by attention, it seemed to "spring in" when ready, and rang with the pleasure of those promising, blissful days of May.

This John Redhead is a cunt

There is a certain pleasure in doing a route that has, even to a small degree, a mark of the man. A Dawes grit route, a Pritchard Gogarth wobble-fest, a Smith roof or crack (or usually both), a Crocker sea-cliff line, a Fowler chossheap, a Bob Smith heinous highball... Of course I am far too bumbly for almost all of these, but occasionally something "outside of the day's mould" slips through the net of truly big numbers and is accessible to the masses. YAEAUTAB (jeez!) is one of a solitary handful of routes in ...And One For The Crow that I am actually capable of, the second one I have done, and an inspiration that was solely due to the book and photo. It definitely felt outside of the day's mould for slate, being a very trad experience with committing climbing above spaced gear - no bolts, crimps nor rockovers in sight.

Something else very much outside of the day's mould is this (although given the quality and accessibility of the crag, it shouldn't be!):

(photo: Terry Taylor)

Diamond Eliminate, at Bird Rock. One of the finest truly roadside adventures in the whole of Wales. If you can cope with the 1 minute uphill walk in, the Diamond face of The Bastion towers over you, gently overhanging for 45m. Steady juggy bold-ish E2 5b climbing neatly sandwiches a committing E4 5c crux on slopers past a definitive "cluster of bollox" gear selection, and leads to a fine summit experience at the apex. Typically for me this was an 8 year inspiration, following a showery recce in 2007, and typically it turned out to be a highly enjoyable experience under the watchful eye of local guru TT  - alas not one of his routes though, but I'm sure I'll do more of those soon.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Shock Of The New

...again. A trip to Wales without going to Rhinnogs is like a curry without a Cobra, a cappucino without an extra coffee shot - something essential is missing. And I don't mean Rhinnogs in the miserly token-gesture bandwagon-jumping Rockfax micro-coverage. Admittedly Lechau Mawr and Y Grisau are superb crags, but such limited plum-picking and honey-potting is quite contrary to the spirit of exploration in the area as well as a disservice to those developing and documenting it.

The days out I've had recently have been proper Rhinnogs days - hosted by the foremost developer and documentor, the legendary Terry Taylor, and accompanied by fellow enthusiast The Pylon Kunt....and naturally such days include new routing as well as second ascents. The lengths have been short, in keeping with the gritstone stature, but the quality has been high and the potential, around the Cwm Nantcol area, highly impressive. I've ended up doing two of the best new routes I've done:

The Bilberry Hunter E4 6a ** 10m
A good climb with a bold start and bouldery finish, and good cams in-between. Spring onto the first rail just right of (E4 5c), carefully gain the first break and then the second break on satisfying holds. A thoughtful crux on layaways leads to the finishing jug.
(named after the third man, who was easily distracted by local flora)

TT has numerous E5-ish projects at this short steep crag, but hadn't even spotted this line properly until he abbed down while I was repeating a neat new E2. He had a quick play on a top-rope but there were too many sidepulls for his tweaky elbow. I decided to have a quick look, quickly realised it was rather cool, gave it a good scrub, got the top dialled, and shot up it in a flurry of headpoint gaylordness. Not a style I'm familiar so it's hard to judge the grade, but the quality and balance of the pitch were still obvious.

Whillans Crack "HVS 5b" ***
Precisely named, with a grade as traditional as the line. The magnificent cleft delivers everything it promises, small cams and large nuts protect.

Same valley, same guru, different day, different crag....very different climb. Somewhat tired and somewhat midged to death (I'd got complacent about the relatively tame Welsh midges and left the repellant behind), TT had already retreated, PK was soaking in the atmosphere, but I couldn't resist this fantastic fissure. What one route would Brown and Whillans done if they'd visited? Exactly. I topped out giggling with my left arm covered in cuts and grazes. Hosey, your time!

Also quite a cool line but not in the same class:

Word Of Pain E3 5c **
Likely to be uttered if you fall off. The right side of the sharp arete is serious but steady after a tricky start. From blocks place high tiny RPs, pull onto the arete and make difficult extended moves to good holds up right. More RPs possible, then climb gracefully up the positive arete with no further gear.

This is the right hand side of PK's Dark Orgasm pillar (itself an undeniable classic, visible from literally miles away). Great line, slightly unbalanced climbing, a cool hard crux with 1 HB zero next to your face and a jagged block below. Above that, delightful and easy. Unfortunately the camera decided to stop taking shots and missed the funky final reach with the last proper gear being just above my hand, and only a poor taped on skyhook above.

Incidentally before this we revisited the site of my Careless Orc mini-classic that I'm still bemused why it wasn't considered worthy of a North Wales Bouldering mention, and I'm pleased to say it 1. Hasn't fallen over and 2. Still looks really cool and inspiring.

Finally, here's a second ascent of a TT E4 6a, very much the spiritual twin of The Bilberry Hunter (similar height, similar steepness, also crux at the top, also on the lowest tier of a 3 tier crag system in the Nantcol pass...quite uncanny). Had to fight at the top of this which was nice:
The wall to the right has 3 E2-ish things in a row up obvious flakes, then 2 VS-ish things at the far end. There's another half a dozen routes to the left, a comfy bilberry base, and nice clean tops.

And the Lleyn looks like this from Cwm Nantcol...

Friday, 14 August 2015

Slate Of The Art.

 The next day's target, taken from Cwm Glas Bach.

 Making some Tentative Decisions like "Shall I decide to do this move and risk falling off, ripping 5 bits of shit gear I've got pretty boxed placing, and take a 10m lob past the lone bolt??"


 Wanna fuck with these goats?? Nah, didn't think so.

 You talking to me, motherfucker?!

Keeping busy whilst Coel is threading lower-offs...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Snowdon Shower-dodging.

I've decided to spend a longer period in North / Mid Wales to try to do some of the many and varied climbs that inspire me down there. This has exactly coincided with a longer period of utterly dire weather and one of the worst "summers" the region has seen.  So for the moment the deeper desires of The Pass, The Rhinnogs, The Moelwyns, and Arennig Fawr have been put on a very reluctant hold, in favour of the mostly inferior but mercifully extensive wet weather options of The Slate, The Lime, and hopefully The Quartzite and The Lleyn. I hadn't fully warmed up for the latter so haven't actually tackled  Rhoscolyn nor South Stack nor Craig Doris yet, but have had a few fun days out and even a couple of hours bouldering squeezed onto the tail end of a showery snowdonia shitfest:

 The classic Dali's Hole hut, as surreal as ever. The room I'm renting in Bangor is a bit more upmarket than this, but only a little bit... This was after a very nice afternoon on the Railtrack Slab, with a total of 183 crimps and 57 rockovers used.

 Bouldering at Drws Y Coed after it had showered most of the day and we'd escaped to some minor sport climbing on Anglesey. After this neat problem I hooned over to Ogwen and just managed to squeeze in Bombshell at the Milestone Boulders, see below.

Sunset from Hornby Crags on the Great Orme. A fairly newly revamped sport sector with a lot of good 6s in an atmospheric and secluded location. We did 6 in an evening which was good mileage.

Video of bouldering:

 Pleased to get Bombshell done as on first acquaintance it seemed I wouldn't be able to do the move to the lip, nor the crux span from the back, and even if I hyopthetically did, I would need more pads and spotters given the weird landing. A bit of dicking around later and I had it all worked out, including using my beanie to plug up a seepage line.