BBC - Weather Centre - Forecast for Llandudno, United Kingdom

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Time Off

Been loving having some time off with the bank holidays. Last week i was cursing the heat though. After spending the winter complaining about the cold and wet i should have been pleased to have some nice weather but i was greasing off so complained instead. Ridiculous for April! Been to the Mill a few times and even managed a 7a+ so things are looking up. Been doing some nice easier routes on the new crags and trying the projects. Making progress but i've finally hit big 8 land with a few of them so more effort is going to be needed. One of them is a big roof with a solitary hole in the middle of it. Every move is a burlfest, must be the burliest 8a-8b in wales. Definitely a cool style but i can't do all the moves yet. I met up with the Sellars clan who were over from Sheffield for Easter. I showed them Llanddulas and some nice routes were bagged. Nic was one of the UKs top sport climbers in the 90s so i picked his brain about fitness training. I tried my roof project and after some experimentation i thought i had cracked the hard start. That was until the hold fell off, doh! Nic did a good onsight of Mudjekeewis. He cocked up the crux first go but hung on in there and did it. I went back to the roof another day and glued the hold back on, hopefully it will stay put. I had a prolific day yesterday bagging 4 new routes! 3 were shorties that i bolted in winter but they were all fairly pleasant with nice rough rock. One was quite a peculiar route. Its 6a+ to the last move which is a english 6b/c move off quite a small crimp. Quite unbalanced but a bit different. Really hard to grade something like this though. 7a or 7a+ probably. I called it Off With Their Heads cos i don't believe in hereditary priviledge. Then i did a route i bolted up on Monday. It was a right effort bolting and cleaning it as its 17 metres and the crag is very loose in its natural state. It turned out to be another cracker. The first bulge is the crux but its still tricky until you reach a really good rest before some more fairly tenuous moves above. Its either 7b+ or 7c and the name is Big Kohoona Burger. I wish i'd bolted it better, its fine for a redpoint but a bit shit for the onsight, oops. Development on this crag is almost complete and i think people will enjoy it as its a good length and nice routes. I asked Norm the other day why he didn't develop LPT earlier back in the day. He said everytime he went there the tide was in so for years he didn't realise it actually went out. Thought that was pretty classic!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Ormesmen of the Week- Gary Gibson, new route fanatic

During the new route boom on Pen Trwyn during the 1980s it was inevitable that the country's leading new routers would be attracted to the area. Gary Gibson must be the most prolific new router in Britain ever with thousands of new routes to his name and he wasted no time in leaving his mark on the Orme. Although he sometimes courted controversy his contribution to new routing is undeniable. Gary's first new route was The Violater, a now banned E3 up the left side of Mayfair wall. Gary then turned his attention to Black Wall and completed most of the lines there. These routes were properly bolted in the 90s which caused one young man to write in to the mags: "take care lads because the time for agreement is over. As far as i am concerned your licence to bolt has been revoked!" 1984 saw perhaps Gibsons most classic Pen Trwyn addition. Homesapien 7a+ is a great thin technical testpiece. Gary left his mark on many of the sectors on Pee Trwyn establishing three easier classics down LPT which were destined to be popular. Other significant ascents included Plagued by Fools, Capturing the Coelacanth, Barking up the Wrong Tree and Two Ton Cainman.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Something for the Yorkshire Hombres

Some footage from 2003 of Pascal trying Zoolook at Malham, looks nails!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Praise the Beastmaker

I had 3 fingerboard sessions last week in work and felt much better at the weekend. No more arms turning to jelly after 5 minutes. Saturday i went out with Danny C. Danny has hardly climbed for a few years now which pains me as i used to love watching him beasting it. Its not that he's completely lost interest in climbing. Its more the case that he's so flippin laid back he just doesn't get around to it and get organised. Anyway he was 30 minutes late at our old pick up point and wasn't answering his landline or mobile so i drove to Denbigh, crept up to his room and poured a cup of water over his face as he slept. That taught the little shit a lesson. I took him to one of my crags and i got on my last bolted line there. A nice line with flowing moves through a hanging corner system and a very cool headwall. Danny puked into the river as i set off on redpoint. I didn't do it but was close. Danny tried my diagonal groove 7b but failed after spending 5 minutes trying to jam his arm in a crack. Was very entertaining to watch. Sunday i went to the mill despite the beautiful weather, beautiful weather doesn't make you strong! Was expecting the worst after hardly being able to pull on last time i went but was pleasantly surprised to do 3 7as first go. 7a isn't hard but it does require pulling with your fingers and arms. I was happy as i'm 12 stone and haven't been training much. Need to keep going back now, such a good facility. Finished off my project from Saturday, yesterday. Its called Strawberries Man after a 5b chubby fella who once told me he'd toproped Strawberries. I didn't believe him. The grade is 7c, vid here: (usual boring tripod scene)

It was quite hard to concentrate as there were loads of kids screaming and shouting in the river. Kids only seem to be able to speak with the volume on max. I forgave them when one said i was cooler than the climber he'd seen yesterday. Was good to know. Almost finished bolting the last two lines here which is very exciting as i think they'll both go. One is a big roof with a hole in the middle of it leading to a hard lip encounter and the other is the line of the crag. A traverse across a steep break, funky roof exit, hard lip then nice headwall. Can't wait to try them properly. Read an interesting article by Malc in a old mag about dieting. He says crash dieting can be counter productive and that its better to reduce your weekly calories gradually in order to make weight loss sustainable. Shocking the body isn't necessarily a good thing as it is likely to go into defence mode and you could lose equal amounts of muscle as well as fat.
One of the first appearances in a mag for the Ormes:

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Ormesmen of the Week-Andy Pollitt, Prestatyn Conquerer

Andy grew up in Prestatyn and began climbing with his teacher Andy Boorman. Andy takes up the early story:
When he was 14 and just started climbing he used to work for a cake delivery company. Sell-by dates had just been invented - this was great for Andy: all out-of-date cakes came his way! Perhaps that explains his legendary stamina or possibly it's all those hours he spent on the brick-edges of the original Prestatyn Climbing Wall in the late 1970s?

Andy's first two real rock climbs were with myself on a school trip to Craig y Forwyn on 20th June 1978. He seconded Y Chimney H.V. Diff and a pleasant Severe called Softly, Softly. A few weeks later he was taking leader falls on Scalar VS!

In April 1981 Andy P joined a strong team for a trip to Buoux and the Verdon Gorge. There will be a star prize for the blog reader who can identify all the climbers (some well known, some well weak) in the group photo which was taken by Pete Bailey!

Great routes were climbed on that trip, but not without incident: ask Pete Bailey to recount his tale of the Verdon Gorge Luna Bong abseil, where they discovered that the rope Chris Lyon had sold Andy as a 150 feet length turned out to be only 40 metres, or around 130 feet. Pete arrived in space 3 metres out from and 3 metres above the first abseil tree, 250 metres minimum above the deck, to find that only one of the ropes reached (no knots in the ends). Andy was perched in the tree:
"How did you get there?" Pete enquired. "I jumped" said Andy!

Witnesses still have a clear vision of Pete and Andy's shrunken faces sporting manic protruding eyes as they rolled into camp late evening after an ascent of the 320 metre off-width Voie Ula on a very hot day with a very small water-bottle.

These were some of the experiences that formed Andy's early years and gave him the confidence and vision to realise that routes such as Mayfair could go free and that Chain Gang could be climbed as a trad E5 up an unlikely looking wall on a bitter November day in 1982.

Andy Pollitt is a true, talented and very special Ormesman!!

Andy also sent through a pic of Andy P on Midnight Blues in December 1980. I can think of nothing worse than hanging on a belay on the Little Orme in December:

As Andy started to progress through the grades in the 80s he to leave his mark on the Ormes and bagged some classic routes on many of the crags. The history in Andy's own 1987 guide chronicles some of the great ascents and epics. Andy produced two guidebooks, the first one coming out in 1981. This brought many climbers to the area in search of new lines. Andy's legacy of routes is fantastic. Wall of Evening Light was re equipped last year so get on it in August people! Night Glue has become one of the mega classics in the area and Over the Moon is testament to Andy's ability as it is now regarded as the hardest 8a on LPT. Someone once told me that the top crack was originally protected by wires and so the jams felt a bit better as often fingers were sitting on the wires. Don't know if its true or not. One of the greatest Ormesmen ever!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Sandstone of the South

I'm currently working down in Kent on a old skool windmill. Tim the boss was keen to get some pics of Southern Sandstone so we went to check it out one afternoon. We walked up to the entrance of High Rocks where we were met by this:

This was followed by lots of laughter from the lads and lots of cursing from Tim as he was paying! Back to the van he said and we headed to Bowles. Luckily it was the hottest day of the year and Bowles was in the sun which was perfect for sandstone. We dicked about a bit doing a bit of soloing and some quite nice boulder problems up to font 6c. Bob Elliot rolling back the years:

It was hot and sweaty but a laugh. We only had one little flat bouldering pad which didn't inspire pascal as he tried to ground up this 6c roof with a potential uncontrolled fall:

The crux involved lunging to some jams at the lip. Must have been tricky as he didn't do it Back to the car our grand leader commanded and we headed back to High Rocks. This time he forked out and in we went. The fun began on a ace 6a arete that would be a highball with decent paddage. Pascal went first, bit hesitant on the top. Pete had let us know how straightforward the top was from the comfort of the ground. Little Bob shot up it only to come unstuck on the top, all of a sudden it looked quite high and the drop off not to appealing! He had to get dragged over the top in the end. Then up steps big daddy bear Peter Hurley, not climbing for 5 months wasn't going to stop this guy and he shoots up it barefoot. He hits the same place as Bob but surprisingly his toes don't work too well on the final smear and he starts to panic. Pete has got a back full of metal after hitting the ground from a long way up in Cheedale a few years and capers like this are not recommended. It seems his legendary stamina of 10 years ago has dried up, funny that! He looks down, the fear in his face is evident as the consequences of a nasty fall flash through all our minds. Bob runs to the top but doesn't hit the ascent path first go. Petes got nothing left and down he comes, collapsing as his 12.5 stone mass hits the ground. He lies there for a while with a worried look on his face but all is ok. Pascal then drops the top of the Honeycomb wall to the left, he's having a shocker. Then we move down the crag and engage in some traditional top roping with waist belays and no harnesses:

A couple of routes are done then its my turn to provide the entertainment. I set off up a 5c hand jamming crack called Coronation Crack. I soon remember that i can't hand jam (memories of climbing The File using the holds on the face flash through my mind). I try to jam but soon realise i can't do it and revert to heel hooks and powerful laybacking. Soon enough i'm off much to the hilarity of everyone. My spirits are soon raised as Pascal drops a damp 6a crack and mauls his hands in the process:

I walk down to look at Chimaera, nice feature, then return just in time to see Pascal dropping the top of the classic Krait Arete,he's flipping boxed and everyone is cracking up. Shocking day!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Old Shizzle

Tony gave me a load of old mags as he's moving house. I love old mags and anything to do with climbing history and how things have evolved. There are gems of information that most people would never know like Neil Carson went from climbing 8a to doing Cry Freedom 8b+ in a massive leap! I keep seeing Liquid Ambar written up as a stamina route! This just goes to show that the hard routes back then involved bouldery moves and were short and nasty. These days LA would be regarded as a boulder problem. Under 30 metres is short! And of course these days you may find a Font 8b+ on a 50 metre route! Zippy wrote a good article in OTE 18 about state of the art routes. Cry Freedom was Britains first 8c but Mark Leach did it with a duff sequence which JB Tribout eliminated on the 2nd ascent. Agincourt has five 7a moves in a row! There was an interesting piece in high about a old project above La Plage in Buoux that Ben Moon checked out. It was originally Marc le Menestrel's project but he only managed 70% of the moves. Moony took measurements and impressions of the crux holds with string and foil and when he returned home his sponsor Bendcrete helped him build a replica of the roof section so Moony could train on it. Sounds like this route was a 9 and i don't think theres a 9 at Buoux so i'm guessing its still a project. Would be cool if someone finished off such an old project. Come on Ondra get yourself to Buoux!

Climb Article

Raymondo has a nice north Wales limestone article in Climb.There is a pic of me on my Diamond project and caption says 8c/8c+"one of the showpiece hard sport routes of the u k when finally redpointed". Well its nice to see the Diamond getting hyped up but as anyone who's ever seen me climb will tell you I wouldn't be getting that far up a 8c/+! It's only 8b! I hope nice pics of the Diamond in the mag will inspire more people to open their horizons a bit and tear themselves away from LPT! Today in work I kept thinking about the route. I haven't really thought about it all winter as I was fairly sure I wouldn't get on it again. I wasn't interested in going through it all again.I went from thinking I was going to do it to falling off the first move in the space 2 and a half weeks. I decided I would only get on it this year if I was absolutely climbing out of my skin. Last year I had planned to train like a madman but in reality my training was not structured and intense enough. I was climbing ok but needed another 4% percent to reach the lower off. Today I couldn't help but think that I would probably do it if I put some real effort in. I m keen to get in good shape again whatever so I guess i ll just go with the flow and see where I am in august.there are lots of ifs and buts.its going to be hard getting to this level working away and if i did get a local job I would only get one day a week to get there which isn't enough. I guess I ll just see what happens.I know what jerry would do....

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Ormesman of the Week - George Smith,hard FA crusher

Tony is of the opinion that some of my Ormesmen of the week don't actually qulify for the title as a true Ormesman has "climbed on every crag and done most the routes". I guess i agree with him, a few show stopping ascents doesn't make a true Ormesman but i'm widening the scope of Ormesmanship in order to make a more entertaining series!
George Smith is more well known for his trad antics at Gogarth and elsewhere than for his efforts on the Ormes. He does have some impressive first ascents to his name and spent a considerable amount of time climbing in the area. George was one of the early pioneers of the Diamond and must have braved that epic abseil off the top of the Little Orme trying to find his way through the mass of overhanging rock. Amazingly his Skip of Fools 8a+ is the hardest thing there (if you've seen this crag you'll understand this comment!). Never Get Out of the Boat has had several ascents since the Diamond renaissance with common opinion rating it as one of the best 8a's on the Ormes. I find the efforts of the early Diamondsmen very impressive as equipping the routes must have taken a lot of effort not to mention the small detail of getting in there. It's a stressful enough crag as it is now with the handline access! George also stamped his mark on Pigeons Cave with 3 first ascents. Until recent times this has been another place that has been left to rot. There is still 3 routes to re-equip down there. George's Stiff Upper Lip is a fantastic roof climb unlike anything else on the Ormes. Big burly moves lead you to a jug before a droppable last move. Pete Robins made the first ascent of this for a long time last year. Apparently George spent days and days trying to get to his belay before he realised he wasn't going to do it and dropped it a metre or so. The extension is a great project. George is also responsible for Wild Understatement, Parasite and Fair Sized Fish down on LPT. Wild Understatement was upgraded to 8a+ in the recent LPT boom years. Its like Statement only much harder (and thats hard enough!). Parasite is a route that was always looked down upon as a result of its proximity to Mussel Beach. The fact is though if Parasite has been done first Mussel beach would be the parasite! Its great climbing and is now justifiably popular. The top blue headwall must be sampled. On top of the Little Orme the esoteric Magic Flute 7c is another George creation and well worth seeking out. George is a North Wales legend, respect!

Watch out Ondra

If you haven't seen it already this video of Ondra onsighting Mind Control at Oliana is a must watch. Aswell as being well filmed and put together this vid shows the incredible level that Ondra is performing at. Since the early 90s there hasn't really been a clear 'best climber in the world'. We've had many hard routes put up but no one really breaking away from the pack. At this moment Ondra is breaking away from the current crop with every climbing day. I always thought that if onsighting got up to 8c/+ level then the climbers would need a large element of luck, perfect conditions and also would have to slap there way vigoruously up a route looking like they could fall on any move. With Ondra on this route we see him hanging out and shuffling on holds and taking time to make decisions. You really have no feel for how hard the moves that he is doing are. It really is remarkable. The fact that the route is flippin wet also makes it even more impressive and indicates that this isn't actually his limit. Truly historic footage!

BD athlete Adam Ondra onsights Mind Control (8c+), Oliana, Spain from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

In sharp contrast my arms felt tired warming up on a 3 bolt 6b yesterday! I went to check out some new stuff Lee Proctor has been doing in the Clwyd. He's done some good stuff. Me and spidey did a short 7a+ that was immaculate and contained probably the best move i've done on a route of this grade, a big dynamic slap where your hand travels miles. Very morpho! Then we went to a little craglet Spidey has developed. He has done 2 6's there and last year Danny C did a 7b/+. Spidey has a project there which he has been trying and falling off the last move for 2 years. I had a quick go, its a very Frankenjuraesque route with a crux involving a pocket and a heel hook.

I think he'll do it soon. Come on Spidey!
Lee repeated Danny's route thinking 7b:

I'm going to eat loads of salad this week and hopefully get on the fingerboard. The trouble is pascal doesn't finish training til 8.30 and i really can't be arsed by then. Everytime i go climbing its as so my arms don't know what i'm doing to them. They should, i've been at it 15 years!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mediocre Excellence

My routine Sunday afternoon jaunt was almost curtailed by rain today. Still i needed to climb so pressed on to a steep crag that i thought would be dry. Sure enough it was and i bagged a new 7a/+ that was very good. My climbing life is strange at the moment. I'm weak as piss, unfit and overweight and my arms feel like jelly after being on the rock for 5 minutes. Despite this i've had the most enjoyable start to a year ever and have done ten new routes. I've enjoyed all of them, they've all been interesting and challenging in there own way and i'm grateful that the old boys of North Wales left them for me. Things should be slowing down soon and i'll be re-aquainted with the long hard slog again. I've got 3 diddy newbies to do which should be fine and a good harder one then the last two i'm going to have to get a lot stronger for. Love it! Lee Proctor repeated Tony Stud and What Man Would? at Dulas. Thankfully for my grading insecurities he confirmed them at 7b and said he and his mate thought Tony Stud could be 7b+. Good to hear as i'd started to convince myself it was 7a+. They thought it was excellent too. One of my other favourites Black Wednesday has been touted at 7a+ instead of 7b but me and Lee still think soft 7b. Time will tell!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Ormesman of the Week: Jerry Moffatt - Orme Star Takes on the World

Jerry Moffatt is an Ormesman who went on to make a big splash on the global scene. Jerry became one of the best climbers (maybe the best!) in the world but his climbing career started in the Llandudno area as he attended St Davids boarding school. This weeks research was easy as i have a copy of Jerry's autbiography, Revelations. If you haven't read it yet you should as its quite an inspiring read. You can order it here. Jerry started to get the bug on a trip to nearby Craig-y-Forwyn. It was there he met up with Andy Pollitt who was the same age. The two youngsters were very keen and soon they ventured onto the Great Orme. Andy wanted to try and free the aid route Mayfair. Jerry describes his thoughts in Revelations:
The line was blanker and steeper than anything either of us had tried before, by a long way. It just felt like a waste of time, as i really couldn't see any way it could be climbed, and felt a bit miffed at Andy's over-optimism.

They bagged the first free ascent, a trend which would continue through the 80s.
In 1983 things really began to take off on Pen Trwyn with many of the top British climbers heading there regularly. Jerry was right in the centre of this scene. Jerry describes sunny days on the Orme in his book. It sounds like not much has changed, music coming form the pier organ and the hustle and bustle of Llandudno. Jerry and pals slept in the Cave and enjoyed a simplistic life. Jerry first met Ben Moon on the Orme and the pair would hone their skills there. Jerry left his mark with two hard first ascents. Oyster was the first to go down. Back then it was a mere E6, these days its regarded as 8a! Jerry then climbed Masterclass as Wofgang Gullich looked on. It was 1983 and this was the hardest route in the country at 7c+ (although it would have been regarded as E7 then). No one knows if the route has undergone any significant changes (lost holds?) since Jerry did it but compared with the rest of the routes in the area this route is certainly worth 8a these days. Did Jerry crack 8a in 83, i guess we'll never know! In 1987 Jerry began his most significant Orme journey. He had noticed the line that would become Liquid Ambar after climbing Statement in 1984 and in 1987 he placed the first bolts in it:
Abseling down the line, i placed some bolts and confirmed my thoughts. It would be extremely hard, but there did look to be just about enough holds to make it climbable. It looked amazing, right up my street and i began to work on it. It took a lot of time to sort the moves out and i spent a good few days on it that year. It was extremely tough, much harder than anything else i had ever done and my attempts carried on into the following year

Jerry's attempts were curtailed by a motorcycle accident but he returned in 1990 and completed the ascent. In Jerry's book it is clear that this ascent meant more to him than almost any other. He had climbed Britains first 8c, a real cutting edge route of great quality. Liquid Ambar has only seen 3 ascents since 1990 which i bet Jerry would not have believed at the time if someone had told him. It is a bit of a shame it doesn't get more attention as it is a historical classic and one of the best hard routes in the country. It seems to be regarded by most as 8c+ these days. This route hasn't changed since the first ascent so grading it 8c+ has significant historical ramifications as it would have pipped Hubble to the post as the worlds first 8c+. I don't know whether this is right or not but i can guess what Jerry and Moony think about this! I came across Jerry a few times when i moved to Sheffield. I remember one occasion in the nightclub, Bed (now Sainsbury's). Jerry was walking down the stairs next to me and in shock i shouted at him: "You're Jerry Moffatt". He looked at me and a big cheeky grin came on his face:"thats right i am" he replied I was starstruck and spent most of the rest of the night hanging out by the mens bogs to get another glimpse of the legend. Last night i dreamt that Ondra tried to onsight LA, he got through the first hard section and the cocked up on the crux. Now there's a show i'd like to see!