Sunday, 24 October 2010

Scrambling Adventures

North Gully

Using the rope in Little Gully

Summit shot

View from Tryfan South Ridge

This weekend I was working for the Rock Climbing Company and took brothers Joe and Jamie for an Intro to Scrambling course. The forecast for Saturday was not great so we opted for some low level scrambling around Cwm Idwal. We played around on Gribin Facet and and looked at the use of emergency rope work, scrambling movement and route finding decisions. We braved the hail showers and made our way up the False Gribin Ridge before running away! Definitely a touch of winter in the air.

Sunday dawned clear and crisp and Joe and Jamie made their way, under my guidance, to the start of Little and North Gullies on Tryfan. This is an awesome and challenging grade 1 scramble that takes an improbable line up the east face of Tryfan. The guys climbed it well, resorting to using a rope for one tricky section and we made it to the summit for lunch. A leisurely descent of the South Ridge and Cwm Tryfan took us back to the road. A great day.

A Day at the Roaches

Phil on the delicate slab of Track of the Cat E5

Dave seconding The Swan E3

On my favourite boulder problem - Three Pocket Slab V3

With a good cold and crisp forecast I couldn't resist the lure of the grit so on Friday Phil, Dave and I made the trip to the Roaches on the western edge of the Peak District. The Roaches is my favourite of all the Gritstone crags as it has such variety, great rock, a beautiful outlook over the Cheshire and Staffordshire plain and it was where I first started to climb outdoors as a teenager.

Gritstone is an amazing medium to climb on. For those not use to its subtle nuances (thats me) it can at times feel desperate and frustrating but when it all comes together it gives an amazing climbing experience. The key with gritstone is the friction - its amazingly grippy, especially when its cold. Climbs are often insecure with few positive holds so faith in the friction is paramount - if you don't believe you feet will stick to the rock then they wont!

I climbed the classic Elegy E2, a route which I have aspired to climb since I first visited the crag. It features a run out up a holdless slab at the top of the climb - if you keep you head and keep the faith you will be rewarded with one of gritstone most elegant routes, if you don't then prepare yourself for a 10m cheese grating slide back down then slab! Brilliant

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Steep fun at Pigeons Cave

Jim lowering off the stupidly steep Stiff Upper Lip (8a)

Chris Doyle pulling out the drop knee move on Stark (8a)

One of my climbing goals is to climb an 8a sport route so today I had my first proper session on an 8a - Stark at Pigeons Cave on the Great Orme. The most important thing I have learnt during recent sport climbing days is to try as hard as I can and not be worried in the slightest about falling off. This has been tricky for me as coming from a trad climbing background the emphasis has always been not to fall off. It takes awhile to make that progression to being able to crank out hard moves when your pumped and tired knowing full well that you are going to fall off. For me getting my head around that psychological barrier has been a big step forward. I managed some good links on the route and with a few more sessions I think I would have it in the bag. However it is likely to be next year now till I get back on it as I've a busy week of work over half term then its off to Spain. I'll just have to climb 8a out there!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Winter is on its way...

The weather is on the turn in Snowdonia - snow is forecast to fall on the tops over the next couple of days. Up in Scotland it looks like the Cairngorms might receive a good dump of the white stuff... but its not quite time to sharpen the crampons yet, as my Spanish trip is only two weeks off. Training for it is going well despite a lack of skin on my finger tips... I just can't wait to get out of the wall and on to some sun kissed limestone!

I'm also in the process of sorting out a trip to Chamonix in December for some skiing and climbing! Can't wait.

Last week I enjoyed training up Therfield School for their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. They spent 4 days hiking over and through the hills of Snowdonia in preparation for their qualifying expedition in the Brecon Beacons next year. It always amazes me to see the determination these young people put into completing the award. Well done team.

View from Capel Curig to the Snowdon Horseshoe taken whilst waiting for my DofE group to reach the checkpoint!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My Office...

The Indian Summer rolls on - got slightly sunburnt today and in a base layer at 600m!!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Diamond Times

What a cracking afternoon at the Diamond - although frustrating for me as my lack of skin meant I did only 4 moves before calling it a day. Its such a nice place to hang out - especially as the late evening sun creeps round and then sets behind the Great Orme. I went down with Jim from V12 Outdoor and we were joined by a good local team.

Jim quickly fired off Never Get Out of the Boat, a tough 8a, on his second attempt and onsighted a 7b. Jon fell of the last move of his new 8a project and Doylo had a good burn on his project 8b?

The Diamond is an awesome spot for hard sport climbing but also a frustrating place to have a hard project. Its tidal and access is by a via ferrata from above 3hrs either side of low tide. Its also a tough place to get good conditions as it is often covered in a tidal grease that can take a long time to dissapear.