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Monday, 29 August 2011

Megalopa 2nd Ascent

Pete Robins, king of banging your head against a brick wall finally repeated Megalopa on LPT today. He started trying it in May with Dyer but Neil bagged the FA three weeks ago. Pete ventured on, he'd put too much time in to give up and finally he started to get close falling off the last moves. He went backwards once or twice but finally topped out to his sheer relief. Pete becomes the first man to tick the LPT 8c+ trilogy which is quite an achievement especially as they're all so different. Sea of Tranquility is a boulder problem in the middle of the wall (about font 8a). Liquid Ambar is steep power endurance and Megalopa is longer with a hard middle boulder, a shake out and then leaning falloffable headwall. All mega routes! After 3 years of seiging LPT every summer you should probably txt someone else if you're looking for a partner down there!
I was back down the Diamond yesterday and managed to finish off The Waiting Game, i stuck with my big slap last move and it was touch and go on the link but i managed to hang on in there. I think this was the 2nd ascent, it looks ace now its chalked again. Barrows did a Jordan i.e, should of flashed it and then didn't redpoint it. So this little soft 8a has taken two 8c scalps in as many days! Bet you're psyched Jonny boy. Here is a vid of Barrows blowing the flash, look how long he shakes out i think he thinks he's still in Spain!:

The big moment of the day for me though was i finally got round to doing Rub a Dub Dub. This is the warm up 7a on the left and it encapsulates all that is good about Diamond climbing into a long wall climb. It didn't dissapoint and i thoroughly enjoyed it. Think Pete is giving it 6c+ in the guide. There's no hard moves to be fair. For two seasons i just tried the Brute, warming up on it and redpointing. Now i've done 3 routes at the crag and i'm keen for more. The climbing is so good! Apparently Steve Mayers the old Diamond master went down for a look today, legend. I was trying my hole project inland. I did a good link and got into the hole again feeling stronger. Hopefully it won't be long. Tommy tried my recently upgraded 8a and got the beta sorted out. He confirmed that it is very good indeed. I'm still collecting footage for the film and every day i'm getting new ideas in my head. What started out as a little idea is becoming ever bigger. Nice to have something to work on, i only used to make films about holidays and now i don't go on holiday anymore the camera hasn't been out much.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Diamond Science

Pete Harrison has been employing some scientific theory in order to work out Diamond conditions on a given day. The Diamond is extremely fickle and hard to predict, a sunny day can end up a gopfest and a rainy day mint and vice versa. Yesterday it rained all morning, very heavy showers, it seemed like it would be a write off but we went with Pete's theory and it was actually pretty good. Pete reckons that a difference of 8 degrees or more between air temp and dew point means good conditions. The relevant information can be found here I went down yesterday with Jordan and Naomi Buys and Jon and Becky. Jordan had tried The Brute the previous day and was keen for another go. He worked it some more and had a couple of redpoints. I got on Jonnny boy's route from last year The Waiting Game. I was intrigued to try this as i had spent so long watching Jon on it and it looked such fun. I got it worked out after a few go's and was on redpoint. I fell off the last move into the Hysteria jugs on my best go which i was satisfied with. It's definitely a mini classic and one of the sweetest little 8as in Wales. The last sequence is so good. I was doing it a long man's way which involved keeping my hands low and just springing up to the final jug. Jordan got to the last move on the flash. He was totally cruising but opted for my beta which proved a bit long. Anyway we didn't manage it and the 2nd ascent awaits. Its bottom end for 8a, i'd probably rate it as a tad harder than Follow The Prof down Pigeons which is hard 7c+ in my book. I did a lot of training this week and in my last session finally hit the strength levels that i had pre-injury. This was really pleasing and encouraging for my projects. My two biggies now both involve hard moves so strength is the priority.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

More Big Bang Footage

Here is a short film i made for Wil Country about Big Bang. Enjoy!:

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Crack of Dawn

Pete Robins cleaned up an old project line down Pigeon's today. The nice looking but permanently wet line left of The Fanatic now goes at 7c apparently. I think the line was equipped by Kristian Klemmow in the 90s but hasn't seen much attention as it is always flippin wet. Pete found it in a climbable state today and finished it off. I'm surprised at the grade, Pete said it was pretty burly and harder than Koo Koo. I can't see it becoming too popular as its only climbable 4 days a year but its good for crag completeness. The name is Crack of Dawn. And if you're reading Dawn your pants are still under the route.

Nodder cleaning it up last year:

Colin Goodey has been busy this year developing some low grade routes on some new walls at Castle Inn. He's also done another cracker up at Gigfran which he reckons is his last new route, legend!:

Sunday, 21 August 2011

End of the Dream

Two years ago Pete Harrison installed the handline into the Diamond and i started seriously trying The Brute project. I spent 25 days trying the line over the 2009 and 2010 season getting about 6 moves from the top and always failing on a long redpoint crux. Last winter i gave up hope of climbing it and after a very slow start to the year after a lay off i knew i was miles off the form required to climb it. An upsurge in form gave me some hope and i planned to start training endurance circuits. I was on course to give it another bash but injury curtailed these plans and a month off in the middle of summer was no help. At Malham the other day and as Diamond season was approaching i knew the game was up. Neil Dyer had re-equipped the line with me in 2006 and i knew he was keen to climb it so i passed the baton onto him. It broke my heart a bit as this line had been a big inspiration for me in recent years but the harsh reality was it was a bit much for my fitness levels. Last year i would have done it on my best goes with perhaps 3% extra but it wasn't to be. Neil climbed the Brute today after about 6/7 redpoints spread over 3 days. He romped up it locking every move and never looked in danger of falling. As some small consolation i got the FA on camera. We both think the grade is hard 8b. The old project name remains in tribute to Steve Mayers and co who had the vision all those years ago. I'd like to think i can climb 8b in 25 days but i guess i just came up a bit short fitness wise on this one. The route is amazing, pure power endurance up a bulging overhang. The moves and holds are perfect, it is a very special route. I can't think of a better 8b in Britain. Everyone who climbs around that grade should come give it a bash, you won't be disapointed.
Video stills:

Today we abbed in at high tide off the top of the Orme, it was quite exciting. Neil and Pete H have been all over the upper walls checking them out. Hard proj:

Me arriving:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Last Crusade

I completed my Llanddulas roof project today. I bolted the line off Tony Shelmerdines ladder back in February. I had eyed the line up last year when i was trying Temple but unlike Temple this line had not been looked at or bolted. I hung on the bolts occasionally trying to find a way through a sea of funky climbing and downwards facing holds. The start and the end were the hard bits but as it cleaned up a jug appeared at the start which made it easier. I slowly got a decent sequence on the end and was soon on redpoint. The route features brilliant climbing. I think it has better moves than Temple of Gloom though it is perhaps not quite as meaty a line as the wall comes in close at the end. It is a power endurance route, about 20 moves with no shaking out or chalking (for me anyway). I got close in June but i tore my oblique warming up on one of the moves and that resulted in a month off. The line remained in my mind and i was desperate to return and complete it. Immediately i was getting to the end again wrestling up that final sequence on slopey sidepulls and heel hooks. Yesterday i did the last tricky move but was totally powered out and fell grabbing a jug undercut. I have to skip the last two bolts as i can't clip them and there is a ledge that comes into the fall zone. I fell and swooped right down skimming my bouldering mat. It was quite exciting and i knew it would be bad news to fall from the next moves. Danger is not something that usually comes into sport climbing! Today i went back with Danny Cattell who had belayed the day i hurt myself. I got past the move i fell off last time but the plan for the last moves soon went out of the window. My feet were in different places than i had planned and i couldn't pull the last moves even though they are on jugs. I couldn't slap or move so i improvised and pushed my knee against a small corner. By some miracle it wedged enough to allow me to keep moving up and i topped out on the ledge. Unlike Temple this one doesn't top out as i didn't fancy back and footing up the cave above. I was really pleased to have my two babies side by side. Two quality but different roof climbs. The grade is 8a+, it is a slightly easier proposition as the start is easier on The Last Crusade. Whereas Temple has a font 7a+ the start to this route is more like 6c+. I managed to get it on film- more footage for the film. I have 3 more new routes in the 8's i'd like to do this year. I'm going to concentrate on them a bit more and stop homming around on routes that i could do anytime and tiring myself. Next up is the hole project for which i need to power up.
Pics from Mike Doyle:

Danny quotes of the day: "there's not been much going on in the routes scene has there, theres been nothing on North Wales bouldering" and "What's Dans Finish". What a guy!

Later on i went down the Diamond. It was so good, no grease, no seepage and everything lit up in golden light. This place is so inspiring when its like that. The potential of the place really dawns on you when you see that massive virgin wall all lit up. Incredible. Some pics:
Boat People and Skip of Fools:

Big black wall:

Jim figuring out Skip of Fools 8a+:

Monday, 15 August 2011

Dip Week

Last week started off really well, i had a meaty session on my Dulas proj. I fell off the penultimate move again. I got this far the day i hurt myself. I felt really good flowing through the steep moves and wrestling at the end. Tommy was working the sections. He used a non hold on the last move that was a bit worse but was closer so easier to grab. I had a exploratory look and it was very unobvious but superior beta. Nice one mate! Next go i grabbed the hold and dropped the last hard move, it was my 4th redpoint so i was a bit goosed. Next time! After that day i just felt fucked all week. I worked out the crack on Over the Moon and got into it on redpoint but just felt tired. I had that overtraining strained feeling in my arms. Tried to go back to Dulas on Thursday with Dyer but it was gopping so we went to one of my new crags. Neil tried a 7c+ of mine. I was anticipating a flash ascent but it wasn't to be, he found the crux sequence quite hard and didn't even get it first redpoint. It sounds bad but i was quite pleased. I thought it probably was 8a when i did it but didn't want to overgrade anything else and wasn't confident in my abilities. Next time Ding Dong! I tried my hole project and didn't feel any worse on it. I just need to get to the hole consistently and i'll have a chance. Such a physical beast i love it! Saturday morning me, Caff and Jimmy Big Guns went to Malham. It was quite wet but we got stuck in to some dry routes. Jimmy put the clips in Connect 4 so i had a do on that. I worked it out but it felt a bit hard for the weekend. Its not the most inspiring route at Malham either. Caff was trying Rainshadow:

He had tried it once before and tried it both days this weekend. Considering he'd only had 3 days on it he was looking really good. He worked out some important beta on the crux bulge and by the end he was looking very solid on the upper wall. Best moment of the weekend was Caff in the steepness shouting down that there was 5c moves on it! He was serious. The upper section was touted as 8a+ but Caff declared it 7c+ by the end of his tries. I don't think he understands that the more you do something the easier it gets. Ha ha, total legend! He's so psyched at the moment and has really pushed onto the next level. British sport climbing is in good shape. His new nickname is The Feather! Me and Jimmy tried Toadall Recall. Jimmy struggled with the reachy moves. I fell off the crux, my skin was not coping well with Malham and my shoes were too smeary. I had forgotten how hard it is. I tried to tick Chiselling The Dragon at the end but alas my skin could take no more. So the week ended a bit shitly, i felt pretty average. Back to Wales for overhangs and footholds, my finances have meant that i've been stuck there for two years with hardly any holiday and now i just want to stay. I would have chastised someone with this sad attitude years ago! Don't forget folks, Diamond season starts today, make the most of it and take some gloves for the last part of the handline!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

LPT White Headwall Project Goes Down!!!!

Back in late May, Neil Dyer and Pete Robins bolted the much eyed but never tried white headwall above the Walking Mussel down LPT. Ben Pritch has stuck a couple of studs in it years ago but no one ever put any serious effort in. Pete had been eyeing it up and checking it out from Over the Moon. After bolting the route the boys could try it properly and it was immediately apparent that it was a special route. The top headwall was immaculate. The holds were perfect and took no cleaning, it was made to be climbed. The moves went fairly quickly with a probable Font 7b+ ish sequence after the shakeout on Walking Mussel. A big move to a flat crimp in the middle of the wall seemed the first stopping point but some more big moves on very tenuous footholds were waiting at the end. Pete and Neil went to work and soon both were on redpoint. Pete had the initial advantage of having done Walking Mussel before but Neil was immediately strong on the boulder problem crux and was more consistent than Pete in getting to the top headwall. I started filming up on a rope hoping to get the first ascent on camera for a film project. Dyer steamed ahead and soon made the initial crux move to the flat hold. It seemed like the end was near. Pete was getting more consistent on Walking Mussel but wasn't close to latching the flat hold. Weeks and weeks passed and it was clear that it was only going to go down after a proper seige. Both climbers coped well with the extra pressure of being in a race for the FA and they tried it together getting down whenever they could. Neil was soon latching the flat crimp almost every go. He was in pole position but there was always something not quite right whether it be conditions or his feet popping on the last moves. He knew that Pete might well top it out if he could get through that move so the pressure was kept on. Dyer was tantalisingly close but Pete was utilising the persistence that has got him up so many hard climbs in recent years. I asked him if he was getting fed up with it and he replied "well i've got nothing else to do!". Me, Neil and Pete went down there today. After the recent shit conditions we were pleased to find it fresh and breezy. Pete had probabaly his best ever go but still failed to grab the hold. I was working the crack on Over The Moon and so clipped into a bolt to give the lads a redpoint. Dyer set off and soon got to the familar shakeout. It was the first time i had been filming on a rope on the route since June. He latched the hold then latched the next big pop out right. This was it, i was praying he wouldn't slip off the top out. He maintained composure and topped it out much to everyones excitement. It really is a amazing route and is a great achievement for Neil to add one of his own thats so good after so long climbing in the area. Its also nice to finally see him do a hard route. He'd never climbed harder than 8b in Britain until this which was quite frankly underachieveing as he's such a monster! As for the grade after the intitial inspection everyone seemed to think it would weigh in at 8c. Months later and with Pete still not even getting through the first crux it seems more like 8c+ and indeed Pete said its harder than Liquid Ambar and Sea of Tranquility for him, its certainly taking more effort. All we need now is for Neil to come up with a good name. Any ideas are welcome. I'm trying to put together a film about the new routes so keep an eye out for the footage.

On top:

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Gwynt Cherry Popped

The smeggy weather didn't stop Caff doing Big Bang again! Unbelievable, how many people can just repeat their hardest redpoint like this. I reckon he could pip Ondra to 9b+. I've tried to climb down Pigeon's a few times but you might as well not bother unless its a fresh day. One day me and Pete H bailed to the mighty Castell-y-Gwynt. Much to my shame i had never climbed down there. Lee Roberts was hanging on the main crag replacing some of the threads on Psychic Threshold a very meaty E5 6b:

I was keen to give Hidden Sign 7b a bash. This was put up in the 90s by UKB baron Simon Lee. This is a great continental style route, probably 22 metres with a wicked first part on lovely tufa holds. There is no warm up there so i felt flash pumped after this section. Luckily there is a no hands rest before the top crux. I knew it was fairly sequency and tricky as Ally Smith had told me he dropped it there. Its always heartbreaking dropping the top of a long route but luckily i read it right and climbed to the chain. A great route and definitely recommended. Cruella Deville 7b to the right looked good too. I belayed Pete on the Long Goodbye 7b+ which looked cool. Its all good basically!
Pete on Long Goodbye and climber on Psychic Threshold:

Yesterday i did some bouldering on the Orme with Nodder. Nodder has locked himself in the Mill for 4 months and has hardly been outside at all. The hard work seemed to be paying off the other day when he did Dans Finish. Check out his cazy beta on the crux:

We floundered a bit in the Cave but it was good. I didn't feel too bad and managed to get to the shothole twice on Trigger Cut. Not bad for a chuffer. I tempted Nodder to go to Pill Box telling him i would show him the way to do his nemesis Mr Whippy. This went out the window when we got there and i couldn't even do it. I couldn't do anything as it happened. Verdict- ok power but weak fingers, must address. Easily sorted with a bit of deadhanging.
Back down Pigeon's today with Pete again. We were both keen to finish Follow the Prof 7c+. I should have done it the day i did Stiff Upper Lip slipping off the top of the crag. I hadn't had much luck with grease since then. After a few frustrating redpoints i finally found myself shaking out beneath the last move. I sagged but i grabbed and it was done. Pete did it next go too.

It must be the best 7c+ on the Great Orme as there aren't many contenders. The last move is up there with the last move of Bad Boy quality wise, it felt like tough 7c+ to me and harder than Stiff Upper Lip. Ally was trying Stiff Upper Lip extension but didn't manage it. I can't wait to have a proper session on that final boulder problem now. So good! I read an old OTE with Stiff Upper written up in the Welsh report and George stating that he was leaving the final 2 moves for a 'younger man'. I think its nearly time, back to the Dulas!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Red Meat

The weather has been turd around here recently. Every day is cloudy and still with no wind and high humidity. Lord only knows how Caff did Big Bang in this weather. While he was beasting 9a i was greasing off Follow The Prof. Tricky little number this one, its becoming a bit of a bogey route. I think its as hard as Stiff Upper Lip personally. Pigeons is a very fickle place and often the rock feels like butter. A fresh day is almost essential for mint conditions. I still can't believe how we neglected it and let it rot for all those years. When all is done the grade spread wil be something like - 7b+.7c,7c+,8b,7c+,7b,7c,8a,8a+,8a+,8b+. Quite a meaty place! We sacked it off and went to belay Pete Harrison on a new route that he had spent 5 days bolting and preparing. Pete has been all over the Orme checking stuff for the forthcoming guide and inevitably has spotted some gaps. He unearthed this little beauty a few months ago and then went to work on a big steep wall left of Dave Lyon's big routes at Craig Pen Gogarth. Pete was buzzing about the line and we were keen to check it out. It is indeed a big wall. The route is about 30 metres so pretty big for the Orme. Pete put the clips in on abseil then led his project. He reckoned it was about 7a+, Me and Mule both fell off it and reckoned 7b and 2 stars. It will certainly feel 7b for the onsight, it was almost intimidating setting off on a long route. Its been a while! I think Pete has settled on the name Red Meat, very appropriate. Pics:

I always defend conditions on LPT to people saying that if common sense is applied you will rarely find it terrible down there. I.e. don't go down when its been raining and feels humid and minging. Yesterday i failed to take my own advice and went down with Tommy. I almost decked on the start of Over the Moon and we bailed. Dick. I've been back at Gorgy's and the strength is returning. Should be cranking 7b again soon. All i need now is that beautiful psyche i had pre injury to return!
Caff was back down LPT behaving like a 9a beast the other day. He put to bed Melanchollie first redpoint and warmed down on Statement putting the clips in. Not surprising but good to see a man on form.