Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fear and excitement

My exam timetable got released last week, which allowed me to book flights to Alaska for Tom Livingstone and me.

We're flying out on the 28th of May, which is later than I had hoped to leave. We'll have 5 weeks in the Central Alaska Range, before flying back on the 4th July.

Below are a couple photos, pinched from High Alaska, of routes we'd like to climb...

North West Face of Denali
The Cassin Ridge and Denali's South Face.
 Psyche is high!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A coward's introductuion to Craig Doris

Craig Doris in all her glory.
It was wet in Bangor, so Mason and Chris dropped out. Undeterred Owain and I drove down the the Lleyn in search of dry rock. At Pwllheli it was still raining. Blindly we kept driving to the end of the Lleyn and pulled up in the farm yard. It was now overcast and the road was dryish.

We walked round to the bottom of crag where we left our sacks beneath a tottering pile of terrifying, Stevie Haston, overhanging looseness. We scampered along to choose out a route.

I've done a reasonable amount of climbing on loose crags before but I've climbed nowhere like Craig Doris. It isn't just loose, it is falling down. In places you can brush the rock away with ease.

Owain demonstrating how loose the rock is!
We picked na E1 5a called Votes For Dogs. A leftward rising ramp/corner to the left of the classic Byzantium. Back at the bags we tossed for it and I won - or lost depending on your point of view. Every extra cam i added to my harness added to the anticipation. At the base of the route I saw it was wet. I wanted to hand over the lead to Owain then but my ego wouldn't allow it. Perched on the tiny ledge I uncoiled the ropes and put on my rockshoes whilst Owain invented a belay. 

Owain psyched for the lead after I back off!
I set of climbing, placing runners wherever I could, lobbing loose rock over my shoulder and trying not to panic. This went well enough until I got the wet section where I wussed out, climbed back down and gave Owain the lead. On the way down I pressed down on a large hold, which I had committed my weight to on the way up. It was about the size of my head and it came away. Spooked I left it there conscious that it would hurt Owain if it hit him, he was in the firing line and I'm not very good at throwing.

Owain overcoming the wet section that was too much for me.
Owain despatched the wet section quickly, but took his time on the steep top crack. Following this I wasn't surprised and I battled with wet arm jams and pleaded for a tighter rope.

Owain grappling with the steep, wet and not that loose top crack.
Next time I go to Craig Doris I think I'll go on a warm day with my trad head on!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Duncan and I have been for a wander up on the Glyders today. The little fella is off to Scotland for the first time this weekend so thought it was a good idea to suss out wearing crampons first. We roped up for two mini pitches before unroping and soloing to the top. We then walked across the plateau and headed down the Gribin Ridge back to the car.

A lot of snow has survived the rain and thaw and with recent cold and high pressure is now pretty hard neve. Turf is frozen down to valley level and there is a fair bit of ice around on tarns, streams and paths.

All we need is a bit more snow and then it will be really good.

Clogwyn Ddu looked good. There is quite a lot of Ice. Left Hand Branch looked in. The turf will now be a rock solid. All that is need is a light dusting and the crag with be stonkingly good.

I spoke to a guy who had soloed Hidden Gully and Tower Slabs. He said the ice good. He also said that two folk back of Left Hand Branch today.

DC learning to walk again on Bristly Ridge.
Tryfran, Duncan and the Carneddau.
Clogwyn Ddu today - very black but plenty of ice.
A close up of left hand branch. There also a appears to be plenty of build up on the outside of Pillar chimney and maybe enough on the ephemeral Spectral Wall.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A broard church...

I've got out quite a bit since I last posted and have been super busy so haven't managed to update.

Here goes...

Thursday night - Gareth and I headed out after work and did a moonlight ascent of Cneifion Arete. We did two short pitches before moving together for the top section. It's a good little outing and would be great introduction to mixed climbing.

Gareth on pitch one of Cneifion Arete.
Gareth leading pitch two.
 Saturday - Nikki and I got up early and met Gareth in Ogwen just before 7. It was super warm, but ever optimistic we walked up to try Arch Gully on Glyder Fach. It was very warm with no hoar when we got to the bottom so we sacked it off and headed for Bristly Ridge instead. Gareth made a slight navigational mishap, and ignored Nikki's protestations, whilst I shirked at the back. After a little detour we eventually arrived at the bottom of the route. Nikki's psyched was low by this point so she headed back the car. Gareth and I quickly soloed Bristly ridge, which I'd never done before and thoroughly enjoyed. Another good route to do as one's first mixed route.

Gareth and Nikki in the car park.
Thumbs down - Gareth below an out of nick Arch Gully.
Garth on Bristly Ridge.
Sunday - The send trained headed to Porth Ysgo for a spot of bouldering. It was minging and greasy when we arrived so we all pissed about and did the Ysgo Challenge. Top effort Ballsford for doing it one handed! Eventually it dried off and we did a few problems before heading back to Bangor and cooking a giant roast for everyone.

Nikki looking scary!
My girlfriend is really strong!
What really happened!

DC trying not to be a fag!
Didn't know I was this strong!
There can be only one and he's got itchy balls!

We did some bouldering too. Me on a V2.
Monday - Thaw so Ben, Livingstone, Burdy, Taylor and I went for a run. We parked at PYB and ran (well I walked) up Moel Siabod and along the fence over the Moelwyns. After a while it got a bit late and as we only had one head torch between us we decided to bail down the Nant Gwynant. A massive thanks to the total heroes who gave five smelly lads a lift back to PYB in the back of their Land Rover.

Ben, Taylor and Burdy running down from Moel Siabod.
Ben enjoying the snow and the sun.
Ben and Livingstone jammed in the back of the Landy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clogwyn Ddu

No lectures on Wednesdays so Livingstone and I headed to Clogwyn Ddu. It was beautiful day crisp, clear and very cold for Wales. We arrived at the crag just in time to see DMM Rob take a whipper from Travesty. He gave it another go and went even further, before calling it day "because he was late for work."

The crag was well hoared up, with quite a lot of ice and looks very wintery. However, whilst some of the turf is frozen lots of it isn't. With this in mind we headed for Manx Wall as it isn't turf dependent like the El Mancho, Mankini and Blenderhead. I've done Manx Wall before so was happy to let Tom leading it. It was in harder nick this time with an unhelpful layer of ice hiding most of the hooks and runners on the first pitch. I managed to get up it without falling off thankfully.

At the top of the crag we abseiled back to the terrace and I thrutched my way up Pillar Chimney. Livingstone sketched his way up to the top of thin ice. We got back to Ogwen a little after dark.

There is no ice worth mentioning in the Kitchen at the moment. 

Me on the slog up - Poles were very useful today.
The crag this morning
Rob Greenwood having it on Travesty.
Tom Livingstone on the first pitch of Manx Wall.
Livingstone leaving the belay on Manx Wall pitch two.
Livingstone chilling having made the god awful ledge move on El Mancho/Manx Wall.
Me squirming up through Pillar Chimney.
Two chummers.
Red sky at night shepherd's delight - Snowdon at sunset.