Monday, 30 May 2011

Rock Climbing Course at Tremadog, North Wales

This weekend I was working on a Lead and Multipitch rock climbing course for the Rock Climbing Company. I took John, Eddie and Colin to Tremadog for both days to get the best of the weather. The team had done some leading outdoor on single pitch sport routes but had never done any trad climbing. By the end of the weekend they had led 2 multi pitch routes! A great effort. We finished Sunday off with a cheeky pint in the newly refurbished Heights in Llanberis, which is looking great and well worth a visit!

Colin leading the second pitch of Boo Boo

The team after climbing Oberon

Colin enjoying a Hard Severe on Tremadog Upper Tier

Eddie climbing a Hard Severe

Rory keeping a watchful eye on the team!

John enjoying Boo Boo

John leading the final steep crack of Oberon

Eddie belaying John on Fallen Block Crack

Friday, 27 May 2011

Lead Rock Climbing Course

Today I finished up a rock climbing course by taking Alex and Ger to Tremadog. We started by climbing Yogi by the tree start which has some beautiful climbing up a crystal filled crack. Alex and Ger then abseiled off, this time without a safety rope, using a prussik knot as a back up. After lunch they got on the sharp end and led a route called Oberon. A nice sunny and warm day for a change. This week I have been working for Plas y Brenin.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Snowdonia Slateman

I've been a bit slack with the blogging in the past few weeks - mainly because the weather has been so bad so I've no nice photos to post. Yesterday I took part in the Llanberis Slateman Triathlon as a team with good mate Matt Barlow and brother Hamish. It was a great event - really well organised and there was a great buzz around Llanberis. Thankfully the weather improved from Saturday so despite strong winds we had a mainly dry day! Hamish (doing is first iron man this year) gave us a great start and was first into transition. However Matt and myself couldn't quite live up to this high standard but managed to drag ourselves round the bike and run sections in a reasonable time!

Puutting in some pain in the quarries!

Jen also took part and unlike Matt and I she had the courage to do the whole thing - an awesome effort for her first Triathlon, especially as she hates the cold and the water temperature for the swim was less than 11 degrees!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Helen's Rock Climbing Coaching Weekend

Last weekend client and good friend Helen came up from down South with the aim of having a weekend of rock climbing that would challenge her technique and hopefully increase her confidence and ability. With the forecast looking a bit ropey we headed into the slate quarries to work on her slab technique. The ability to move confidently over slabby terrain and trust your feet is essential for progressing through the grades. Many people will focus on trying to climb steeper routes on indoor walls and while this does get you stronger it will not improve your ability to climb a HVS slate slab!

We started at Bus Stop quarry and Helen warmed up by seconding Solstice VS. I got her to start thinking about placing her feet as accurately as possible and maintaining good body position. Helen then down climbed the route - an excellent way to get people to think a little more about their climbing! Being a hard task master I then got her to climb up it for a 2nd time asking Helen to get into a position where she could take both hands off the rock after every move!

Helen on Fresh Air 6a
We then walked up to the Sidings Level in Australia and had a play on a couple of the grade 5c sport routes there. We really focused on the 'rock over' move which is the standard move on harder slate slabs. Helen even managed to top rope one of the 5c's one handed demonstrating the importance of trusting your feet and using momentum to shift your centre of gravity.

Unfortunately the threatening clouds fulfilled their promise of rain so we scarpered off to the Beacon Climbing Centre for a couple of hours to focus on bridging techniques.

Helen approaching the tricky move on Looning the Tube
The rain cleared through quickly so we decided to head back into the quarries to grab a couple of routes before we finished up for the day. We climbed Fresh Air - a really nice sport climb at 6a and the classic Looning the Tube HVS/E1. A great way to end the day.

Near the top of Looning the Tube
Unfortunately in rained very hard all night and into the morning so we decided to just go for a fun climb at The Beacon and rearrange another day in June when hopefully we will get some better weather!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

North Wales Crack Climbing

There is something uniquely satisfying about pure crack climbing... a combination of brutality combined with technicality and that need to just keep on questing! I got into crack climbing in Indian Creek Utah... where like most Brits we took a bit of a spanking. Here in the UK we don't have that many pure crack climbs - especially ones which go on for 40 meters with no deviation in the width of the crack or face holds to rest on! I remember the first crack I got on was graded the equivalent of HVS and by 8 meters I had placed nearly all the cams I had and was pumped out of my mind. I managed to finish it after a couple of rests though! Jon, an 8b sport climbe,r managed to get defeated by a VS crack called chocolate corner so I didn't feel too bad!

Climbing Scarface 5.11 Indian Creek
These past few weeks I've climbed a couple of good crack numbers in Snowdonia that are definitely worth seeking out. On Friday I headed into the quarries with Greg with the intention of taking on The Dinorwig Unconquerables. We climbed a few routes on the Skyline Buttress of Australia before slogging up to the top of The Lost World. A short abseil in takes you to the bottom of The Unconquerables - a 26 metre splitter crack. Its graded E3 which I think is a little generous if you know how to Jam and you have 5 size 2 friends!
I really enjoyed climbing it and as I started to get a little tired a few helpful foot holds appeared! Well worth its 3 stars.

Approaching the roof of The Dinorwig Unconquerables
So if you are inspired here is a little crack tick list to get stuck into:

Cobweb Crack VS - Dinas Cromlech. A few different jamming skills required here
Herfords Crack HVS - Clogwyn y Tarw. Beautiful hand jamming crack... if only it was 50 meters long!
The Grond E1 - Dinas Cromlech (more like E2!). Awesome and steep corner crack - thin hands to start
Ferdinand E2 - Clogwyn y Wenallt. Ring Locks and thin hands to better hand jams and a couple of face holds
The Dinorwg Unconquerables E3 - Lost World, Dinorwig Slate. Soft for the grade as long as you have enough cams! Awesome line.
Fear of Infection E4 - Llanberis Pass. An infamous man eating offwidth. I've not done this one yet....

Herfords Crack - awesome hand jamming!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Evening Sun on Comes The Dervish

Just back from an evening hit to Vivian Quarry. Its a great venue in the evening as its gets the sun and it is sheltered from the strong Easterly wind that is blowing hard through the mountains at the moment. I climbed one of my all time favourite routes - THE classic slate route Comes The Dervish E3 that follows a thin crack line up an immaculate slab. It has a reputation for a bold start but a couple of tiny rp's provide some comfort before the good slot is reached. From there excellent sustained and well protected climbing leads to a resting foothold beneath an overlap. This isn't as hard to surmount as you think it might be but the thin and bold slab above provides interest until the sanctuary of big holds and the top is reached. A must do for all extreme leaders and a good first E3 if you like slate slabs!!

The immaculate Dervish Slab

Chilling out on the resting foothold

What a line!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Day Off!!! - Rock Climbing in the Llanberis Pass

Just back from a great relaxed afternoon of climbing in the Llanberis Pass with Jen. The weather continues to be sunny although a strong wind from the East is just taking the edge of the temperatures. We decided to head to Craig Ddu - the black crag near Nant Peris which is wet for most of the year. After this spell of dry weather it is in good condition so we wanted to get some routes done there before the monsoon arrives!

We started up Orpheus E2, which has a deceptively steep and pumpy first pitch and linked this to the direct finish to Rift wall which is a sandbag at HVS!! This gives a good 3 pitch combo at 5b, 4c, 5b/c.

Next I went and sampled the awesome Sea Panther E1 - a great route on lovely warm, black rock. Get on it now before it gets wet again for another 10 months!!

Heaven - Llanberis Pass in the Spring

Jen enjoying the sun!

Kath and Linda's first rock climbing lead!!!

Yesterday I took Kath and Linda down to the Moelwyns to introduce them to some multi pitch climbing. They had both just passed their Climbing Wall Award (well done!!) and were keen to improve their outdoor climbing skills. We climbed the first 2 pitches of a severe called Block then joined onto the super classic Kirkus Direct for a bit more of a challenge. Linda and Kath built their own belays at the top of each pitch and belayed each other in preparation for lead climbing.

After lunch we decided that it was time for them to try their first trad lead climb - not a decision to be taken likely. Kath led the first pitch of a severe called Bent and, apart from a slightly exciting moment when she kicked out a runner, climbed it very well. Linda then took over for the second pitch and climbed confidently and smoothly to the belay. We then looked an abseil retreat from half way up the cliff - an essential skill for multipitch climbing.

Another fantastic day working in the sunshine of North Wales!! Kath had this to say about the day:

"Just to say a huge thanks for taking us out yesterday, we had an absolute blast and were as high as kites all the way home...We'll definitely head back that way, and be in touch again for another day as soon as our schedules match."

Kath and Linda on stance change over

Kath seconding the fine slab on Block

Kath abseiling off