BBC - Weather Centre - Forecast for Llandudno, United Kingdom

Friday, 28 December 2012

Mid Winter Blues

The mid winter blues have really kicked in - this really is the worst time to live in North Wales! Summer was extremely wet but this time of year is even worse, it's so grey and dreary. I miss climbing routes and the buzz of the sport scene. Everyone is hibernating and the hustle and bustle of the Orme scene is a distant memory. I've been fantasizing about warm afternoons down LPT just as the crag is coming into the shade. Ahhh.... I miss the endorphins and to add insult to injury i'm very heavy and so pulling down is now too hard. In truth i've lost my zest but need to think for the future and get training. It's good to have some down time in the year and i certainly don't need to be a beast in December. I went down Pigeon's last week. The pebbles are quite low and we climbed some great roof problems on the ladder wall. These deserve recording IMO, the two we did were like the left wall of Angel Bay but better. Mule repeated Fourteen Years Later and Limehouse, 7c:

I've uploaded a few more of my old films to Vimeo.
This one's from Hueco in 2007:

Best of the Westies from Chris Doyle on Vimeo.

It's ever so slightly racy but no where near as bad as my first effort from 2003, Stonedlove. If anyone thinks they can handle this i will give them the password but i warn you it's not for the easily offended and is very immature indeed. We were young though :).

Thursday, 20 December 2012

West Coast Gimps

After finishing uni in 2004 i embarked on a epic climbing trip to the US with some fellow loons. The following 3 months were unforgettable, of course there was lots of quality climbing and amazing ascents but there were also lots of epics along the way. I managed to capture a fair few ascents (and epics) on my little camera. On my return i was living with Some Climbers hard gritter Dan Honneyman and he let me use his PC to put together the film. I got some covers printed out and managed to flog a few on UKB. It went down pretty well and they kept trickling out to across Britain and beyond for a few years to come. It was especially nice sending them abroad. These days i don't watch it much but whenever i do it makes me smile. It was the kind of trip that won't happen again. Everyone's too old, with girlfriends, jobs etc.. Anyway it crossed my mind that i should get it online to keep it alive. I considered a torrent but i preferred to have it more easily accessible so i upgraded my Vimeo account so i could upload it. It's pretty long, is very immature but hopefully people will still enjoy it 7 years later. It the greatest achievement of my amateur film career! Enjoy:

West Coast Gimps from Chris Doyle on Vimeo.

Some other bits. A relic of North Wales bouldering that is actually dead. I don't think Mr P's intro in the old Northern Soul coastal crags pamphlet can be beat:
A strange place to climb you might think; so close to a busy road, so devoid of traditional ambience; so fucking hardcore. The initial assault on your senses might send you scampering back to the mountains and pretty views. that is, if you fail to notice just how perfect this crag is. Believe me once you've gotten stuck into one of the many superb redpoint links you'll be so absorbed that you won't even notice the passing of the world beyond the confines of this magic little garden.

Another from the archive, Irish Si doing Gaia:

And a nice 7a down Pigeons beach:

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Back to The Training Board

Every winter i tell myself that i'm going to train like a beast and come out in Spring and blitz the sport routes. For several reasons it never quite happens and i always find myself lamenting another missed opportunity. The main reason is that to train properly you have to curtail your outdoor sessions a bit and i find that hard to do. I love climbing on a board but i love climbing outside a lot more. I find it hard to do any training when i get in from the crag and i don't like feeling tired when i'm on the crag. Last winter i pottered about outside (only climbed 7c), did little training and was still ok in spring. I feel like my recent ticks have set me free in a way. I managed 4 years of bouldering ticks in 6 weeks, plus the FA i really wanted so don't feel so guilty about going inside now. Plus i'm definitely out of my purple patch now (probably due to an expanding winter waistline) so don't feel like i can keep crushing in the 8's. Every time i see one of those wads training videos i feel a tinge of guilt. I'm trying to achieve my potential at a sport with minimal proper effort. I know climbing is training but know how much i could benefit from a few pull ups and a deadhang regime. I figure if i can climb F8b/+ and 8a boulders by pottering about outside i could improve with some effort. I'm a lazy twat though so these grandiose plans may come to nothing.
I have been out to Ogwen a few times. I managed to do Pit Traverse, a classy 7c that i've always fancied. I failed on Pit and the Pendulum 7b though, seemed nails. Yesterday i was up at Lily Savage, it was too cold and a bit seepy. I tried a project up there and failed to repeat Paul o Grady (punter!). Hosey B style proj giveaway, right of Lily Savage:

Vid of Alex despatching Paul o Grady:

The best 7b in North Wales fo sho!

Then i played on The Spawn 7c+, i'd never even seen this Katz problem and was suitably impressed. I can't believe it's had so few ascents actually as it's one of the better hard problems if you ask me, very Swiss-esque. The start is super steep and there's plenty of beta options. I'm definitely keen to try this again to see if i can work out a sequence.
Jordan made a flying visit to repeat Tramps which he did with minimal bother. I think it's going to end up as 7c+ which is ironic to me as i've never been so sure about the grade of an FA. On the other hand for once i don't actually care, i'm still relieved that i managed it after all that effort.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hatch Life High

Pete Robins did the obvious connection of Hatch Life into Left Wall High today. This really needed doing and gives 3 nice starts for LWH-In Heaven (8a+), HLH (hard 8a) and The Highlife (7c+??). The Hatch start still goes fine without the undercut and Pete dug it out a bit with a shovel, how glamorous! Earlier on Pete did the second ascent of Tramp's Tea Party using some different beta. Although he admitted it suited him i could tell he thought it was alright. Let's see what others say about the grade. Caff even said it was 3 stars but we managed to knock him down to 2. Not bad praise though from someone who's just come back from Yosemite. Pete also did a new 8a in the Ogwen yesterday up at Gallt-yr-Ogof. I expect news of this will be on NWB next week.

Vid of the Cave link:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Tramps Tea Party

I did a project on the Orme today that i've been playing on all year. Up past Elephants Cave is an old eliminate wall known as the Sugar Lump. This place was quite popular with the North Wales bouldering mafia in the 90s and it even featured in the 97 Rockfax in the bouldering section. It is pretty terrible in modern terms but there is one line on the big block just beneath. I'd been up there a few times but it wasn't until Craig 'Ducko' Davies took me up there that i got keen for the line. The one downside was that the local rough eggs had lit a fire under it and made it black. I was not deterred however and started scrubbing it to bring it back to life. To start with the slopey grips were greasy but soon it was grease free and it was often windy up there so quite good for conditions. I got nowhere to start with, i had hoped it would be about 7c but it soon became apparent it was much harder. I could only do the last few moves and the start seemed particularly hard. I left it as route season came but still had the occasional session. A turning point occurred when i took Neil Dyer up there. Not only did he help me with some beta but he got excited about moving a massive block that was wedged into the apex. The block did detract from the problem somewhat and it was hard not to dab it. I went back up a few weeks later and i couldn't believe my eyes when i saw it had been moved! It could only be one man! I still don't know how he did it, he must have rigged up some chain blocks on a tree or something. I knew that Neil had no designs on the problem himself, he just liked the challenge and wanted to help a mate. What a guy! Pritch standing on the block:

Anyway the problem was now much improved and armed with two 5.10 kneepads the beta for the middle started to come together. I'd never been on a climb like it, it seemed that every session i went i found some new trick. Despite the end of the climb coming together the start still alluded me and i genuinely didn't know if i could do it. I'd actually done the hand moves but couldn't link the positions with my feet. It got wet after the Autumn deluge and my form went through the roof. I went back to it optimistic and i was now strong enough and although i felt great on the end i still couldn't do the bloody start. Last Saturday the breakthrough came and i got through the move. I climbed all the way to the end and fell off the last tricky move to a jug. Whoop, it was on and i was ecstatic that all my efforts were going to have the desired outcome. I went back on Monday really hopeful but my body seemed to have a dip and just felt knackered for no real reason. This happened a few weeks ago, everything just ached and i just didn't have enough zing in my arms for the end. I didn't feel much better today but thought i might have a chance if i got it in a few goes. I sat down at the start and a really good feeling came over me. I soon found myself staring at the jug pocket, it was one of those 50/50 moments. I'd been there many times before and managed to finish it. I was extremely satisfied, meaty new problems like this on the limestone are very rare indeed and it was nice to do something independent (none link up) in a different area. I normally prefer climbing with other people as it motivates me more but i had a great time up there on my own just beavering away on the problem. Despite the broken glass etc.. it is a good spot to climb. The problem took 14 sessions but only 3 of those were spent redpointing. It felt like hard 8a when i was working it but i think if you went there with the beta it would feel easier. I don't even think the start is that bad now, once i did it once i could do it every go. It's just one of the things you encounter on FA's. I think what makes it is that is starts on a really obvious jug and it finishes on a juggy ledge. I'm half tempted not to post the video as i know everyone will go an piss it with the beta i spent days and days working out but that's bad spirit so here it is:


Once again, cheers Ding Dong!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Dan Knight Destroys The Gop

Dan Knight returned to his favourite Welsh crag yesterday and left with 3 FAs. By his own admission the Gop suits Dan's climbing down to a tee. On his first visit he did both the 8a's in not very many goes and he also did the FA of a hard project which became Paper Birds 8a+ after half a dozen sessions. Yesterday he started off by climbing Mule's old project, the sit start to the crag classic Push The Button. Push The Button is a soft 8a and Dan reckoned although the low start added 3 or 4 moves it didn't warrant an extra grade and was likely hard 8a. Mule reckoned it would be 8a+ but he had a harder sequence on PTB (as per usual). He was feeling good so he moved onto the low start to Smoke a Bloke. Smoke a Bloke is a wicked, nails one move 7b+ (or more likely 7c!!). Danny used to try the direct low start and it looked nails. Dan managed it from the Blokesmoker Low start (just to the right) much to his surprise, he had pencilled it in as a long term project. Then he capped his day by doing the direct low start! Trying to get a grade estimation out of him was like trying to get blood out of a stone, he meekly replied 8a to me. Top British boulderer Ned Feehally visited the Gop last week and tried the Blokesmoker start. He reckoned it was pretty tough, maybe even 8b so it seems unlikely that it's 8a. Ned also tried Paper Birds but couldn't do the nails first move. Dan admitted that he felt he had reached the next level and he has climbed 8b before so its likely that these problems are pretty damn tricky! Nice one la

Lankmaster Barrows returned to the Orme this weekend. Check out the footage of him resting his way up Directors from last time:

Some attempts on Director's Cut (8a+?) in Parisella's, also footage of Broken Heart (7c+) from Alex Barrows on Vimeo.

Watching him in the Cave makes me feel 50% sickened and 50% impressed. It's a shame to see such historical hardcore pieces of climbing devalued in a way but on the other hand the technical knees are definitely pretty cool. I'm just glad the vast majority will never be able to get them. He did The Wire this weekend, shaking out where i'm in bulk. I normally get slagged off for lanking stuff but this guy gives me short mans syndrome! I can get through the hard Broken Heart moves most goes but power out on the hard moves before the jugs. If your left leg fits you can shake off your right knee and then stick the left in and move to the jugs. Oh well, i'll just need to get a bit fitter. Today he managed Drink Driving - on the two crux moves he could keep his feet really low on good holds rather than having to put them in the break like everyone else. Unsurprisingly he thought it was 8a like this (it is bottom end anyway). It seems we have two options, either downgrade nearly every 8a and 8a+ on the Orme for giants with good knee skills or we can just write a separate guide for Barrows. I'd go for the latter.

Good Orme 7a:

Sunday, 11 November 2012

First Kneebarred Ascent of Directors Cut

I feel sick typing a blog about Alex Barrows but i have to be unbiased as Orme reporter and despite the fact that he cheated and all the problems are no more than 7c with his trickery here goes... The lanky cunt made short work of the hardcore Cave classic Directors Cut utilizing the kneebars and a swanky kneepad. Directors in its original form has always been in the thick end of 8b. As i previously mentioned the kneebars make the crux moves of Trigger pretty solid so it was always a matter of time before someone tall did Directors with them. To add insult to injury Barrows worked out a no hands rest at the end of Lou Ferrino. All this brings the problem down to soft 8a+ although i'm not sure many will be able to get his Lou Ferrino rest. He got the problem in 2 sessions of redpoints but last weekend did Halfway and Daisy From Concrete. He also did Greenheart with a new sequence, similar to the one Pete Robins uses when he tried Pilgrimage. This involves rolling over to the Trigger Cut starting hold and slapping down and right with another knee. He reckoned this was worth 8a with his rest. To cap his weekend he did Broken Trigger, it seems he's finally found a bouldering outlet for his sport fitness! Nice work!

I had a good sesh at Tremeirchion with the dog. A few weeks ago i had a breakthrough on the sitter to 36 Chambers, i finally got a sequence for the sitter moves and climbed into the stand. Yesterday i was keen for some redpoints but struggled with one move on the stand. It was piss off the ladder but tricky from the deck. We both did 22 Chambers which goes from the same sit start and is mega. This is a tough 7c like 36. Amazing problems and lime. Some footage:

The crux move of 22 Chambers:

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Lightweight 2nd ascent

Me and Dan went up to Craig Pont-y-Pant (aka Rhiw Goch) yesterday for some steep board style action. I was trying Mules sitter to Ride the Wild Smurf which goes at 7c+. The crux is the first move which is a nails violent slap into a backhand off a sharp crimp. I've got a sequence on the rest of it but the first move is desperate and i didn't manage it. Back to linking 'tricky moves' for me i think. Hard moves still feel hard! Dan was trying Lightweight which is a 8a variation on Poppy's Move. Lightweight was actually done after Poppy's and in truth is the true line as it's the easiest way to climb it. It utilises a small sharp crimp which Floppy missed when he did Poppy's. Poppy's is essentially an eliminate now. Despite the good forecast the showers kept stopping play frustratingly but Dan kept psyched and finally hit the right bit of the lip and held the swing. The topout was wet and slimey but he flopped onto the top.


Barrows did Halfway House and Daisy From Concrete in the Cave. We both reckon Halfway could be 7c+ now with paddage. I believe Nodder also thinks that might be the case.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ty Newydd Seasonal Restrictions

Somewhat predictably the farmer at Ty Newydd has asked for the Friday/Saturday ban at Ty Newydd to extend to every day from 1st October to 31st January. More at theBMC. It's not a disaster to lose access in winter. Spread the word.

I've not been quite as psyched as i was but had nice day in the Pass trying Love Pie and the Lotus. Vid of Jee doing Love Pie:

I managed to do the Hatch start into Cave Life, was nice to go that way across the arch again after all these years. The jurys still out on whether Rocka has been done before from that start but its unlikely Cave Life has. It's still 8a anyway but feels a little less brutal to me than finishing up RA. My arms were melted on Left Wall so it'll take a good day to do it into the high. Ducko pulled a bit of the starting undercut off making it slightly harder.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Dream Week

After Pilgrim i was feeling good and keen to get something else hard done. You can never tell if you're just having a freak day sometimes when you do something. Little did i know i was about to embark on my best week of hard climbing ever! It all started on Sunday, Me and Matt got rained off the hills and the Orme so we had a session on his board. I had a set a problem a year ago up some wooden pinches. We named it after Gary Speed who had just died. I couldn't really do the last move and it represented a big step up on his board for me, Den 7b+. I had made it the goal for the Winter but i was having a good session so started trying the crux move. I managed to do it a few times and then from the start. Boom - Winter's training goal complete!

Broken Trigger went down 1st RP on Tuesday, brilliant - another long termer in the bag. I had a rest day and did Hatchatrocity 2nd go on Thursday. Friday i got the rope out and went to Dinbren with Pete Harrison, i felt knackered but managed to scrape up one of the best 8a's on the crag Elite Syncopations. I almost powered out on the easier climbing at the top. I'd been there a few times to do it this year but was wet/too hot.

Lovely day in Eglywsyg:

I didn't expect much yesterday 3rd day on but had planned to hit the hills with Dan Knight. We went to the Pass but couldn't park so quested on to Elephantitus. I thought it was going to be wet all the way there but it was suprisingly dry. After doing Elephantitus again (hard and sharp) we started trying Downset, a one move 8a:
It involves a big dyno to a good sloper on the lip and the feet make it hard to generate upward momentum. One move 8a isn't really my bag so i moved onto The Tusk which i couldn't really figure out (Cross Therapy is not 7c+ Nodder!!). We both had had enough so decided to try the Pass again to try the main objective for the day, Diesel Power. I'd done all the moves for the first time weeks ago and was ready to start redpoint's. After working it again we were ready to go from the start. Dan struggled with the first move for a bit and i had a really close go, slipping off the last tensiony move. I was psyched to top out before Dan as he's a 8b beast! Then Dan dropped the same move. It's horrific on the skin and mine was thin to start with. I swung about on the end but managed to top out. I looked at my thin tip and it was pissing with blood. Any other week and i would have slipped off that go and had to stop. But the stars were in alignment this week and it finished on a high. Dan got it next go (in a session) and we went home happy. I found myself wondering what had caused such an upturn in form. I hadn't done any special training or diet. In fact I'd put weight on! I think it's just culmination of trying hard all year. If you bang your head against a wall long enough a few bricks will crumble eventually i guess. Diesel is only my 3rd 'bloc' 8a, it's definitely the hardest as the other two were soft for the grade. It's problems like this I'm really keen to get better on. I know i can do PE climbing but to get better on the hard sport routes round here i need to be better on hard moves. Five bits of 8a climbing in a week was pretty sweet and I'll savour it for a long time. Time for work, rest and wondering when I'll turn shit again.

Some decent footage of Diesel from Kieran King:

Diesel Power 8a from Kieran King on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cave Life

Well what can you say about Parisella's Cave! What makes some drive for hours for a day trip to sample its delights while others wouldn't piss on it if it was on fire? I think it's simple really, whereas the doubters may pour scorn on the rock quality and aesthetics the enlightened revel in the unique qualities of this grotty hole in the ground. There are a lot of hard problems in the Cave but it is the way they all connect is such a sustained fashion that make it a unique venue. Didn't Jamie Cassidy call it world class climbing "if you keep your eyes shut". And it's so true, the power endurance nature of the problems and the fantastic moves and largely friendly holds all combine to make it rather special. Throw into the mix the fact that more or less you can climb here all year and there is nearly always some dry rock to be had. The place has evolved beyond recognition from the days when Rockatrocity was a sit start from a big mound of earth.
A Brief History of Trigger Cut Trigger Cut is one of the most sought after testpieces in the Cave. It's the next rite of passage after Rockatrocity and Lou Ferrino. The problem was originally written up as Stuart's Problem (V12) in the early Northern Soul Fanzines. No one knew much about the line but the rumour was that the Scottish powerhouse Stuart Cameron had climbed something here. That fat tatooed broken fingered original Cave boy Chris Davies cornered Cameron along with Mr Panton at the Stick It launch party in Sheffield to see if he could remember what he did. He couldn't and Floppy eventually climbed the line and named it Trigger Cut and gave it V13. The problem came down to V12 with repeats from Steve Dunning and Rich Simpson. After a few years some keen boys (namely Neil Dyer, Malcolm Smith and Jamie Cassidy) got involved and worked out some easier beta and the dam began to break. A high right foot, an undercut and a left hand finish brought the problem down to 7c+/8a and the ascents started to mount up. This new beta would prove crucial for Jamie as he started trying the line from Lou Ferrino as a new Cave super link. He lived on inspiration while he was trying it and his problem (Director's Cut) showed what was possible for the strong and talented. For us casual observers we hadn't witnessed such impressive steep climbing waddageness on our own turf. Neil Dyer would eventually extend Director's to give Silk Cut and Halfway House (Trigger Cut from the Lou Ferrino ramp) became a popular problem in it's own right. One day a certain handsome weakling who was weighed down with a rather weighty schlong decided the move to the shothole was a bit tricky so he pushed his knee down from the right foothold and hey presto le statique! That was me and i would be forever remembered as the man who ruined Trigger Cut. A few years later another man wedged his knee down a move sooner and more recently the biggest weakling of all David Noden completed the kneebar rout by sticking it in straight away. What followed was much debate about what to do with the grade of TC and the links. With the knee you do the 3 hard moves with your leg and merely hold on with your arm. It was blatantly a lot easier. The Five Ten kneepad has made the knees even more bomber but the fair thing to do seemed to be to offer 2 grades as the knee were so specific not many people could use them. Trigger feels 7b+ to me now, 2 grades easier than without pads but strangely the links feel more like a grade less. Directors hasn't been done with pads yet but you're looking at probably mid-hard 8a+. Nodder did the first kneebarred FA, Broken Trigger which weighed in at 8a+ (or 8a with Knees). I repeated it yesterday, it was a bit of a long time nemesis for me but using the knee to get the crimp and the 5.10 pad helped me to finish it. Although not an obvious line (or obvious start) it's perhaps the best climbing i've done in there. So funky and interesting. Whether you knee or arm it Trigger Cut remains a classic Cave problem.

The Rest
Grading the Cave is probably Mr P's biggest headache with the guide. Despite the masses who go regularly opinion varies on a lot of problems. New holds by the arch seem to have brought The Highlife down to 7c+. It was definitely a bit harder when i did the FA. Another FA of mine Broken Sam has also been beta'd out but i'm not sure if it brings it a whole grade down, opinion varies. The standard for PE 8a is 7b+ into 7c (or 7c into 7b+). Cave Life and Pit of Hell are two typical 8as. Pilgrim weighs in at soft 8a+ IMO (7c into 7c). In Hell is probably smack bang in the middle of 8a+ though Ed Hamer and Dave Redpath actually found it easier than Pilgrim. In Life is probably soft 8a+ and In Heaven is still top of the grade. Greenheart remains one of the toughest 8a+s but a few slightly easier sequences do exist now from Pete and Nodder. The Wire is likely soft 8a+. Opinion seems to be divided on Bonnie (8a or 8a+). I'm too shit on it to comment but think it would get more ascents if it was 8a. Clyde seems a touch harder so 8a+. The 8b's seem pretty spot on, Silk Cut is no longer regarded as 8b+ (7a after 8b = 8b). East Coker is unrepeated, Daisy from Concrete is 8a (knees), 8a+ (without). And there you have it, why do people find grading so hard. It's actually piss :)

Video of Broken Trigger:

Mike Hart has climbed a worthwhile new low Rockatrocity link. Beneath the wobbly block are some slopey holds and its likely that RA has been done from here before. Mike found a nice start right on the back wall that gives it a logical start. There is a undercut and a big sidepull. It's cool in that it comes out in a straight line. I expect the difficulty is similar to Pit of, perhaps a little easier. Nice one! an attempt:

The dog in the background is known as Hatch and the link is called Hatchatrocity!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Big Numbers Descend on The Diamond

Pete Robins has ticked his Diamond project just in the nick of time! After battling with day after day of bad conditions he pulled through onto the juggy ground today to give the route a logical first belay. Pete had bolted the route to the top of the crag - a 30 metre monster. However the crag got wet after the deluge and never really recovered. I got this rather happy txt of the man of the moment: " Skin of my teeth!!! So good to have dry holds! So so relieved. Top was dripping unfortunately but not really bothered. Is this really happening?". Quite happy then it seems. The line in question does the first boulder problem of the Brute straight off the deck and then a big leftwards dyno leads to slots and tiny crimps. The first 6 bolts are so intense, Pete likened this section to doing a long Font 8a. After this a reasonable (?) shakeout is gained before more hard bouldering which leads to lots of jugs (but still on steep ground). From here the extension turns into a stam fest and blasts to the top on mainly good holds. Pete's route finishes slightly higher than the Brute belay.
Pete has been cranking in the area since 2009 climbing most the hard routes including the LPT 8c+ trilogy. He's done a couple of good FAs (Stiff Upper Lip Extension is probably the best) but he definitely had a reputation amongst us locals as being a bit bolt shy. It's more that we were imagining what we would bolt up if we had his ability. Pete Harrison put it to Pete early on in Diamond season and he explained that he didn't want to take a few days off climbing to bolt something as he was worried he'd lose fitness (obviously absurd). Pete's probing seemed to spur him on however and he was soon bolting his way down the Diamond to create an amazing project all of his own. I was quite shocked when i saw he'd pulled his finger out but he didn't mess about and his project was blatantly one of the best hard routes in Britain. Many sessions of effort and beta tweaking followed. Also as the best conditions started to become less regular he had to be patient and resolve himself to climbing on it when it was less than perfect. On the day i went to film him he used a block of chalk trying to dry the holds out. The man wanted it! Pete says his route (as yet unnamed) is likely 8c+ and that it will be half a grade harder to take it to the top for whoever fancies that. It is a great moment for the Diamond. It seems absurd given the steepness and obvious amount of hard lines but until last year the hardest route there was 8a+. The 8cs - 9as were staring us in the face but we needed someone good to get keen. I think this is just the start for this amazing crag, i'd love to see the topo in ten years! Despite it's obvious downsides the quality and inspiring nature of the routes means it should be a forcing ground for years to come.
Some video stills.
Nails first section:

2nd hard section:

It would seem that 8b and 8c+ are the hard grades to go for in North Wales. Come on beasts we need more 8b+/8cs!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bouldering Season!

Since my Pigeons project got wet i haven't been back on a rope. I'm too dismayed so unless by some miracle it dries i'll probably put the rope back in the gimp dungeon til next year. I've been trying a boulder project that i've played on a bit this year. It's coming together and i'm hoping it won't turn into an epic. I was also keen to finish off Pilgrim which i've also tried quite a few times this year. The thing is with the Cave is that it's hard just to dip in and out and make progress. Even with sustained effort i'd get to the flake on RA one day and not even get across the arch a few days later. This kind of thing just makes a siege hard work. Every backwards day acts as a razor to the scrotum. I've wanted to do this link since i first did Rocka 10 years ago. It seems like one of the most obvious ones in there and is so sustained. I used to try the arch so many times, long before it was a popular recognised link. I could never figure out a sequence but it's got easier as people have got better with there heels and you don't even need to heel these days if you don't want as there is a new foothold under RA jug. I finally started to get into RA but this was only half the battle. 9 sustained moves of tough 7c followed but the good thing with this kind of thing is that you do gain the specific fitness and you will improve if you put the time in. The first major crux is hitting the flake from the start, this is definitely a stopping point and if you get it you may well get to the last moves. Most people fall off the end on the RA links, the last move is a bit of a heartbreaker. I got back into Llandudno from work at about 5.30, i was looking forward to chilling out after working a nightshift last night and a afternoon today but i gave myself a kick up the arse (well i squeezed my nuts) and convinced myself to go and give it a redpoint. Owen Scouse was there with his rabbit savaging beast and his meaty lights. I warmed up complaining about not feeling great. I said to Owen that if i ever got past my highpoint and got the heel on at the end i might have a chance - i didn't really believe it. I sat down at the start of Left Wall, climbed across the arch perfectly and embarked on RA. It felt different this time, i was solid, i didn't cut loose and was soon at the tensiony end which marked my highpoint. I got my feet onto the ramp this time and the end wasn't really an issue. I screamed in pure surprise, i couldn't believe it. Where were the sessions dropping that last move? it doesn't normally happen like this! It's my first non Pill Box 8a+ but it's 25 moves so more like a hard F8b+.

A good attempt a few weeks ago:

So cool in the night!:

Friday, 5 October 2012


I often think what my life's focus would have been if I hadn't have got hooked on climbing when i was younger. For me as much as i love the process of climbing up bits of rock, the athletic side of it and having great days out with fellow psyched people in cool places i tend to think of it in terms of inspiration. I think if you can draw inspiration from something in life you've got it cracked. To stay driven and motivated through all of life's ups and downs isn't easy. Everyone faces adversity at one point or another and that's why i think it's so damn useful to have something that will always motivate you and keep you positive. Of course most people aren't lucky enough to stumble upon something that gives them such focus and motivation. It's not something you can force and to get obsessed about something is an organic process. You can lay the seeds but they may never grow. Whether it be making a million, sailing round the world in a bathtub or just collecting stamps i genuinely believe those with the inspiration are onto a winner and will be the most fulfilled when its time to stomp up to the pearly gates. I hope you're one of the lucky ones.

(Jeez that was almost like one of the old Sunday Sermons!)

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Back to The Brute

It was only a week and a bit ago that i was walking round with a spring in my step. I was falling off the end of an amazing, inspiring project. I convinced myself that there would be a few more dry days as that's all i needed to finish it. Just when you need a bit of luck the deluge began. Three days of constant rain, 4 inches in a day and a half. Dry crags like The Diamond and LPT were destroyed so little old Pigeons had no chance. It's pretty unlikely that it will dry again and i doubt i'll do much more sport climbing this year.
Yesterday i fancied a bit of Diamond scene so went down with Tommy and Dave R. Sam and Bransby were already on the Brute. I had planned to get on Boat of Fools but i felt no inspiration for an 8a link up. I didn't even get on The Brute last year and i really felt the urge to climb on it again. I spent 2 seasons seiging the route and it all felt very familiar as soon as i got back on. The boys had worked out a less sapping way of doing the crux and i was soon kicking myself as i did the move using there hold. Even more dismay set in when i grabbed an intermediate on that top redpoint crux which used to stop me in my tracks. I'd felt it years ago but this time it felt more positive and essentially halved the big move. I'm sure this could have been enough for me on my best redpoints on the route. I may have done it or i might have pumped out on the last moves but it's fairly annoying that i missed the hold. I really need to finish it next year, it's definitely the best sport route in Wales. Ben did a big link then pissed it next go for the 6th ascent. I don't think i'll ever get over the way he drags small crimps on hard moves, it's ridiculous! Unfortunately for him his project extension was wet but i'm sure he'll be back. Sam was doing some good links and looking rather enthused. The route has had 6 ascents now but i've been waiting for some mortals to get on it to hopefully have an epic and make me feel better about spending 25 days on a 8b. The guys who have done it have all been 8c+/9a strong which quite frankly is cheating. It's settled at hard 8b but i do wonder if it might have been different if more 8b/+ climbers had tried it. Dave Redpath certainly expressed dismay that it was only 8b. I still rank it harder than Melanchollie which is top end. Damn those beasts!

Sam on the slippy flatties halfway up:
Setting up for redpoint crux:

The long redpoint crux:

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tony the Tiger Conquers

Tony Shelmerdine has climbed his longstanding project on the Tower at Llanddulas. When we first started visiting the crag Tony was the first man over the top. He was immediately inspired by a crimpy steep headwall and stuck a lower off in. Tony returned to clean his line and finish bolting it. I bolted up Vegas Nights, Tony had considered a swap but decided to persevere with his project. He soon regretted his decision as elbow tendonitis thwarted his efforts and he hardly tried the route again. Roll on a year and a half and Tony was climbing well again and feeling strong and he started working his route. He got the two sections but didn't think he had the stamina to link it. He was proved wrong however and bagged the route in good style. The as yet unnamed line shares the first few moves with Resist the Race then busts out left and straight up to the top. The difficulties are about 7bish. Nice one Tone!
Pic by Mike Doyle:

We have had a ridiculous amount of rain in the last two days and Pigeons will be a dripping mess. I'm going to persevere though and climb it in the wet at 8c+.

Footage of Dave Redpath dropping last move of Skip (go before he did it):

Friday, 21 September 2012


I've had 4 days of redpoints on my pigeons route now. It's been going pretty well and i got the last hold before the top on my best go. I've definitely got fitter and stronger on it. It's no hardship trying the route as the top sequence is so brilliant. I still buzz off the crux sequence, it's not your average limestone route. Conditions have been great but alas the route was wet when i went down today. My only worry about getting this done is the seepage and next week doesn't look too great either. All i can do is keep strong and get on it when i can.
Yesterday i walked into the Diamond at 8am with Pete R and Tommy. I was keen to get some footage of Pete on his mega project by the Brute. It was predictably greasy with it being so early but Pete meticulously chalked up the holds and started redpoints. It really is a incredible, intense piece of climbing. Halfway up the jugs arrive but it's a long way to the top. I got a rope up The Brute extension (another amazing project- best 8b in Britain with another one on top). I was hanging out quite far filming Pete at the bottom so had to prod the crag horizontally with my clipstick to stop me swinging round continuously. We got stuck on the ledges at high tide for what seemed like an eternity. Dave Redpath had joined us, he dropped the last move of Skip on his first redpoint but bagged it just before dark. Tommy was figuring out Robinson Cruiser and Pete had some more redpoints. A long day at the crag and i daresay probably the only time i'll walk in and walk out 12 hours later! Pete Harrison rebolted The Sting 7c+ a few weeks ago and its reportedly excellent.
Tommy on Robinson 8a:

Pete with his proj behind him:

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Brute Flashed!!!!

Chris Webb Parsons made a historic flash of The Brute (8b) on The Diamond yesterday. 8b flash might not be considered historic in most sport climbing areas of the globe but in the context of our little scene and given the route in question it most certainly is. Pete Harrison was our man on the ground and takes up the story: "He rested up it, clipped every bolt including dogging clips and didn't use all the best holds. Formula 1 compared to British touring cars. He hadn't even done any climbing before pulling on, this was literally his warm up". This is the first 8b flash in Wales, Mcclure and Malc got reasonably close to Melanchollie years ago. Despite being a tough one locally i always knew the The Brute would be a good contender for Euro Wads/World beasts. It's a euro style resistance route with no real hard moves so a good contender for the top boys. Chris also got close to linking Waiting Game into the top crack project and left his clips in so hopefully he'll return for it! Inspiring!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Proj Psyche

After watching this video i was taken back by the effort Ondra puts into every attempt. None of us will ever be able to get anywhere close to his physical ability but surely tuning your mind to give it everything can be achieved. "Try harder" - it sounds easy, it should be easy, but putting this effort in and channeling it so it doesn't just throw you off the rock is pretty hard. So many times on Walking Mussel this summer i fell off through sheer ineptitude and just not trying hard enough. There was something in my head stopping me squeeze that pinch as hard as i needed too. I'm not alone either i've seen loads of people redpointing at their limit who just seem to drop off. Surely if you're on for your dream route, at your limit, you need to give it everything you have. I don't know what it is in our heads that stop many of us on so many redpoints but i'd like to get to the bottom of it!

Check out this video of Pete Robins 8b in Ogwen. A few people have said to me it looked good in one pic but not as cool in another. I think the vid shows its a pretty sweet line and a proper boulder problem. Get to it all you 8b climbing hommes.

I've had a bit more opportunity to climb recently and have been trying Pilgrim in Parisella's a bit. My downfall with the Cave is that i go, but don't go back soon enough to capitalise on it. Pilgrim inspires at it's pure power endurance and to me one of the best looking links in there. Its 25ish moves so basically a route and i can't really stop anywhere on it. It's frustrating though as i find every few sessions i have a backwards session and that's hard to take mentally. I got to the flake then a few days later my heel kept slipping off before Rockatrocity. I'm hoping this time i'll persevere with it and not get distracted by everything else.
I finally got to try my Pigeons proj yesterday, this was the one that got away out of all the routes i bolted last year. I've played around on it but yesterday felt like my first proper session. It seeps so has been wet all year. The top half of the route contains one of the coolest crux sequences i've done on a route. It all depends on a very specific kneebar that most won't be able to get. Yesterday was the first time i tried it with the 5.10 pad and it felt better. I also found a kneebar on another hard move which really helped but it's on the other leg so i'm going to have to borrow another pad. I managed to get from the ground through the first kneebar into the hard climbing but i need more power endurance. I've had a picture of the route on my desktop all year to keep me psyched. I really love it but doing it is dependent on the weather, work and belayers.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Paper Birds

Dan Knight has climbed a project line at the ferocious limestone cave the Gop, a stones throw from Dyserth. Dan lives near Chester now so the Gop was a relatively close hit and being a lover of hard moves he got into the place. A few years ago i worked out a new hybrid line in between Push the Button and Smoke a Bloke. It used holds on both problems but climbed really well and felt independent and very worthwhile. I went there with some beasts and Ned Feehally got keen for it and worked out the shouldery, body tensiony moves. Footage of his attempts here:

Ned didn't manage it that session and it was left until Dan got stuck in recently. Despite climbing the two 8a's in under 5 tries each the project took 7 sessions. He broke the first hold a bit and had to spend another session just trying that move again. Anyway he completed it and reckoned 8a+ was fair. This seems more than reasonable judging by the speed he did the 8as! The problem is called Paper Birds. The Gop is in my old mans guide. In my view Push the Button, Smoke a Bloke, Bloesmoker Low and this are good hard problems but the others aren't really worth travelling for so if you're weak i wouldn't bother (hence why i never go).

Paper Birds:

Last week down on the Diamond Ally Smith climbed Boat People into Skip Extension to give an amazing 8a link up.
I went down to Devon this weekend for Unclesomebodys wedding (remember him!). I managed to get down to Ansteys Cove on Sunday despite being sleep deprived. It was dry so i got back on Cider Soak. I fell off this route a few years ago with the top of the crag in my hand. I fell just short of the top this time which was a bit frustrating. It really is a route of two halfs for me. The first half is amazing moves and holds and then you hit these jugs and its awkward, painful, thrutchy climbing to the top. I hate that finish, i'll give it a go in another two years.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New Dinbren 8b From The Dog

My old mucker Sam (mule) Cattell finally completed his project at Dinbren today. This route has been Mules main goal for a year or so but constant injury and a temporary exodus to Sheffield stopped him in his tracks. Mule got involved again recently but the tricky conditions at the crag didn't help matters. Despite this he remained focused and trained specifically for the route. The route is a bit of a power endurance affair but expect some burly ass moves. Mule has given it 8b but has yet to come up with a name (i bet its a sandbag too). The route is located on the far left hand side of the crag, basically the last route. It's a great reward for a man/animal who has been plagued for injuries over the years and because of this hasn't managed to fulfil his potential despite being a complete monster. Dinbren now has 4 8b's:

Insomnia - Pete Chadwick
El Zapazitas - Rob Mirfin
Binary Finary - Rob Mirfin
? - Sam Cattell

Monday, 27 August 2012

Back on It

I've been trying to get back into the climbing groove this week. The body is starting to wake up, today i headed down the Diamond with Tommy and Pascal. It's been frustrating hearing about people lapping it up down there. Everyones been trying Skip of Fools and Pete Robins has been checking out proj's. Goddamit the place has so much potential. I'd love everything to be done for the next guide so i can look at the page full of meat with high 8's. Hopefully a few will get completed. Pete text me today that he feels "like Edlinger at Ceuse in the 80s". It's a great quote and there are lines here that wouldn't be out of place at such a crag. Today was shitty weather but the rock was just about ok. The rain was blowing in after a bit but we were on the crag so couldn't complain too much. We all climbed on Skip, Tommy has been trying it a bit and dispensed the beta. It felt like a different route this time and i really enjoyed working it out with a bit more knowledge. It's fuckin brilliant climbing, ace sidepulls, pinches and guppys. Pascal got it sorted and despatched and me and Tommy did some linkage. The Robins extension incorporates one more hard move after the original belay but i think it's the only way to go now. It would leave a hollow feeling stopping at that nowhere belay now knowing that one more move leads to easy ground at the same grade. Having said that the last move will be a heartbreaker i'm sure! Despite sport climbing all year i haven't done much endurance climbing so its feels like a nice change. The Brute defo feels like a bit more than a grade harder to me though.
Pascal on The Brute last time:

I feel so much better after getting out. I literally depend on the climbing buzz to live a happy life these days. Everything just feels so much better after being out on the crag. I like my missus more, i like my tea more, i like my bed more. I love getting in starving and feeling worked and then chilling out and planning the next hit. I'm a addict- fuck i better not get injured.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Skip of Extended

Pete Robin's has kicked off Diamond season by giving Skip of Fools a logical extended finish to the first belay of Boat People. For some reason Skip finishes in a rather random place a few moves from the easier ground above. Pete's finish gives a few more tricky moves bumping the grade a bit higher up the 8a+ grade. He also added an alternative direct start.
Today Pete rattled off the 4th ascent of the Brute confirming it's super duper quality.

I haven't climbed much since I did Walking Mussel. This has not been through choice, indeed i wanted to climb some more stuff while i was climbing well but other things have got in the way. I miss the endorphins and that feeling of being on a mission though. Today i popped into the Cave after 3 glutonous days in Italy and unsuprisingly i felt rather shit. I've also picked up a bad shoulder from somewhere which doesn't help matters. I ran down to Pigeons on my way home. My project there is my main route goal really but alas it was not dry. It hasn't been dry for more than a few days all summer and it looks like it's going to stay that way. No more being a fat tourist rubbing shoulders with annoying yanks, its all about the crush.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Three Day Event

Pete Harrison has climbed a fine companion route to his neo-classic Red Meat on Craig Pen Gogarth. Pete reckons his new route is 3 stars and like Red Meat it takes the full length of the crag. Three Day Event goes at 7b+/7c. For a more detailed report check the V12 news item. Pete is on a mission at the moment, expect more cool ascents soon!

Rodney God Reclimbed

Pete Robins has reclimbed Rodney God and the Oral Twins at the Cutaway after the loss of a crucial hold. The route was a soft 8a that had a glued on square crimp. I think it was John Maskell who pulled it off and the route has been in limbo ever since. Pete worked out an intense new sequence at the top and bagged it in a couple of sessions at 8b.
Pete also did a new DWS on The Little Orme:
"Then we went questing around the little orme in Tommys boat with Neil too. Well good fun, 'E' looks amazing! We spied a great little routeat the right end of the ledge, to the left of the finish of Heel HookLook (which was wet). It goes up the wall to an overlap and jugs abovethen over a bulge past a pocket and 'fang' hold near the top. Wemoored up on the ledge and Neil committed first, went wrong way andfell in! I didn't want to fall in. I found an easier way at start thenheld it together for the exciting finish. Its perfect quality (2stars), above deep water at high tide, not too high, and around 7a+ or 7b. Felt 7b to me but i was scared! def not climbing at Diablo on myown in sept! Call it 'Ledgend'."

I ventured down The Diamond with Pete Harrison, Pascal, Smitton and Gus. It was fantastic to be back at the most inspiring sport crag in North Wales. It felt tropical, a warm wind was hitting the crag and the rock was really dry (if a little warm). We stayed down at high tide, it wasn't a high one and everything from the Brute leftwards was fine. Me and Pete got on Skip of Fools, the George Smith 8a+ left of Boat People. It was inspiring watching Jimmy Big Guns screaming his way up it last year. It looked brilliant! First go up i was a bit baffled. There are so many potential holds and on this bit of wall i was struggling to find the best ones. The first 3 bolts contain the hardest moves, this bit is really fingery. Then you get to perhaps the only shakeout on the route (and its not a great one) before a sustained romp to the belay. The majority of the holds are pinches (and often quite slopey ones). It really took a bit to get my head round it. Pete sussed some cool beta and sequences on the top and i got a sequence on the start. It's the kind of route that should feel easier every go up as you get it more dialled but jesus it will be a beast to link it all. It's one of the purest power endurance routes i've been on, it hardly lets up at all. Brilliant moves all the way. It's a great contrast to Walking Mussel and i'm psyched to get fitter. Pascal and Smit warmed up on Boat People then Pascal got on The Brute and Smit got on Never Get Out of The Boat. Ry was obviously inspired by The Brute and he was really impressive on it considering he's not been psyched recently. He got to the high redpoint crux 2nd redpoint and will have a good chance of nailing it next time. Smit did NGOOTB and Gus was psyched to be there in good conditions for once and nailed Boat People. This crag is so fucking awesome, its crazy that its banned for the period of year when it's most mint. The main bit of crag has no birds, there is a nest up by Rub a Dub Dub and the rest are up and right of The Brute. Surely we can have partial restrictions on this cliff like they do at so many. It's criminal that it's so out of reach

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Imminent Departees

Pete Harrison has climbed a new E7 at Craig y Forwyn. I went to along to take some pics, it looks a great piece of rock. Pete took the lob while i was there but got it next go.

It's been nice not to have to stress about LPT and seiging that route. As is always the case though in climbing your mind soon starts top think about the next challenge. Once the joy has faded you're left with a lasting satisfaction but also a desire for that feeling of clipping the lower off of a hard route. The good thing is i can chill out now and enjoy myself. I've got a couple of FA's i'd love to do. The Pigeons route depends on a long term shift in the weather though. If things carry on like they have been it probably won't happen. I went to Dyserth Waterfall with Spidey and the Cattells yesterday. Mule's on the comeback trail again. He's always blighted by injury but is so strong he's soon back on it. He tried The Hole Truth and blitzed the start but struggled with reach at the lip. There's not many options for feet if you're short. It seems that the start which i struggled on so much is actually ok if you're strong, ah to be a beast! I tried Pete's link Meaty Madness which links Meatsville Arizona into Madness Reigns. I didn't bother with this last year as it would have been the same grade as Madness and i was sick of going there. Losing the break on Meatsville means it's definitely harder and pretty damn awesome! The first roof is hard now. It's brilliant physical climbing and i'm well keen to try it again when i feel a bit fresher. Damn that crag's good!

Monday, 30 July 2012


I ended my LPT 2012 seige today by finally sketching my way up The Walking Mussel. I started trying the route in March and made quick progress. It didn't seem like it was going to be too much of an epic - how wrong i was! A combination of the worst summer for a very long time and the fact that the two crux moves were so droppable resulted in my biggest route siege yet (apart from The Brute which still eludes me). Most years you would never have to contend with seepage on the route but this was no normal year. A inch wide section of water right where i had to stand caused me much frustration. Throughout the whole thing i never lost sight that the end would come if i kept going. It's pretty handy being an experienced seiger in these situations. Redpointing at your limit is so hard, after 10 days it's full on mind warfare. 5 weeks ago i was really close but i didn't manage to get back down there. Today i went down with Tommy, the chalk on the crag was glowing white and it was cold and fresh so i knew it would be pretty good. The wet hold wasn't dry but it was better than last time. First redpoint i dropped the move to the undercut when i really should't have. It's so frustrating when it's execution that lets you down, i always think: 'a good climber would have done that move then'. Next go i was determind to do the move. I knew i was strong on the next undercut match so i might have a chance if i got there. Sure enough i got the undercut and stuffed my fingers up it. I matched really strong and sorted my feet out nicely. I was dreading the next tricky move, i'd only got here once before. But this time everything stuck and i was soon at the first reasonable shakout. It's a weird feeling to break onto new ground when you've been stuck in one place for so long. I knew a good climber wouldn't drop the end but i needed to get some strength back. I shook furiously and screamed expletives to get me psyched up. I knew i could top out even if it took everything i had. I quested on up to the undercuts before the crack but didn't feel the need to stay there long. I knew i had enough strength left and didn't want to pump out trying to recover (this is a problem when you've no stamina). The crack went well apart from a almost fatal foot fumble. Soon i was shaking out after the hard bit but i knew i was in- i felt ok. I wacked in the final handjam, grabbed the good finishing holds and stood on top as the sun shined down on my chest. Thank fuck for that! The main emotion was that i was free and i didn't have to go up there again. After investing so many days into it it had became the main priority of the year, work and everything else had to stand in line. Dyer had told Robins he reckoned i'd fall off the crack so i'm glad to prove him wrong. Although it's a number up i don't feel like i've reached the next level as i've done a couple of routes that aren't much easier. It was the biggest epic though and i'm just going to enjoy myself for a bit now. I finished off on Bad Boy and went home for a tuna dinner. I can't believe i've done my hardest boulder and hardest route in the same week! Me and Tommy went down Pigeon's for a look on the way home. It was pretty dry and i'm keen for my project there. At least i don't have to feel guilty when i go to the Diamond in a few weeks now!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Badger Badger Badger

Ally Smith has completed an old project on the Dive Dive Dive sector on the Upper Drive. His route Badger Badger Badger (8a+) is essentially a direct start to the classic 7b, Dive Dive Dive. The route features a hard and reachy boulder problem passing the 2nd bolt, Ally estimated this section to be about font 7b. 6 more long moves then lead to DDD up which the route finishes. Ally reckoned it was comparable in difficulty and style to Energy Vampire (8a+) at Malham. The route is very morpho so it will be interesting to see how shorties get on. Nice one Ally, great to have another hard route above the road. It doesn't look like we're going to break last years record of 13 new grade 8's though. The weather and lack of new lines has seen to that. I counted 4 so far.

Since my big tick on Pill Box i've been back a couple of times to try the Last Rites link. I've got through Drink Driving again both times but the harder finish is a different ball game and it feels some way off. If you can get through DD every now and again on Last Drink it should just be a matter of time. On this link significantly more PE is needed. I've been playing about on Last Rites trying to suss easier beta. I don't think there is a easier method for me and my beta is quick fro the link. I'm not convinced it's 7b though, the first hard move off the shit pinch is a bitch on the link. I'm still adjusting to the fact that i can lap something that has represented my limit for so long - it's a bizarre feeling. I've had moments like this when i've had a freak day or lost weight but i'm experiencing an elevated level at the moment! It seems i've just got stronger! I'd definitely be considering downgrading DD if Ed and Dan hadn't of confirmed the grade. Hopefully if i can keep doing DD i'll make progress on it soon. I always regarded this one as a pipe dream for me, i thought Ed Hamer would be the man for the job. So i'm delighted that it's a realistic proposition.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Last Orders pics

Some pics of Last Orders from the camera of Mr P.
Undercut to pinch first move, Mr P:

Me on the long crux move to the good hold:

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Last Drink

Reality has bitten in the last week. I'm in the middle of a 16 day in a row work stint so climbing has taken a back foot. It's not too bad as the job isn't tiring and i'm only 45 minutes from home but the early starts get to you eventually. I've been getting out a bit since that surprising day on the box with Smitton and Dylan. After that day i started to wonder about the link into Last Orders. It seemed like it might be feasible as long as that day wasn't a one off fluke. It would give Drink Driving a great finish and would undoubtedly be a better problem with more tricky climbing tagged onto the end (without a rest) as opposed to a nothing piss finish. The crux of Last Orders is a long stretch and we all know big moves are hard when you're tired so i knew it would be a bastard on the link. I returned again but failed to do as well. Drink Driving is essentially all about two moves. It's 10 sustained crimpy moves to get there and then the difficulty lies in reversing the crux moves of Millenium Drive when you're tired. I used to be so low percentage on them both when i was first seiging the problem. In my recent sessions i had been quite consistent on the first move - an accurate span to the MD pinch. After a couple more duff sessions i hit the pinch again this week. This time i squeezed it so hard and with every ounce of effort that i could muster i shook my way into the good undercut that marks the end of the hard climbing. However it is still steep and you can't really rest. When i did Drink Driving for the first time i shook my way across this finishing section and was so close to falling. Where Drink Driving drops down to Font 5 territory you grab a undercut with your left and launch straight into Last Orders. This was new territory for me and i knew i needed to fight. Almost dropping every move i got to the big crux on Last Orders but my arm melted on the pinch and that was it. I fell but was chuffed to bits, it was definitely possible. I returned again with Mr Panton but it started raining so things weren't ideal and i only had one go (on a seperate note go do Where's My Hippo - best 7a on Orme?). I knew if i could do Drink Driving every go the link wouldn't take long. This was unrealistic however as although i was a lot better on it, it was still hard! The main thing that was i knew i needed to try as hard as i could when i was crossing under to the pinch.
Today i left work a bit earlier and planned to go down LPT with Pete Harrison. I got a txt when i was sitting at the Cave saying he had some car issues so i resorted to plan B - the box! I didn't really want to be there and wasn't feeling psyched but knew i needed to keep ticking over. I warmed up and messed about, not really taking things seriously. Interestingly i worked another sequence for the start of Drink Driving. It seemed strange to be playing around with it after so many years but the new way involved less crimping and more powerful, bigger holds. Maybe it could give me the edge. I only had 2 pads so i stuck them both under Last Orders as the landing isn't so great. I sat on my jumper (i really hate starting a boulder problem without a pad, it feels uncivilised) and set off wizzing along to the business section. I felt good and hit the pinch, when you get it you need to move fast before the left hand powers out. Like the last time i did the move it was all out getting the undercut but once i had something felt different from the last attempt. I felt stronger and more composed and even managed a few shakes of each arm. I couldn't believe it, i knew i had a chance. As i started up Last Orders the surpise grew as i still had some strength and i realised it was on. I got to the crux and sucked in and stretched and grabbed the good hold. I matched the finishing crimps above and stepped off onto the box screaming. It felt amazing! I knew this new link was a great improvement and one of the hardest things i've done. It could well be harder than Jack the Drunk. Jack the Drunk has a hard start but you're fresh. For this link you need to climb Drink Driving with a bit in the tank and this gave me more satisfaction than anything. Through all the dismay that this year has brought, the abysmal weather and wet crags, the frustration trying one route and the lack of ticks i have managed to keep myself from getting too pissed off. And that is because i know i have improved at this game. I climb better and my base level is so much better. These days i seem to be able to maintain a much higher level rather than the odd flash in the pan of times gone by.
There is one more link to do on the box and i can't help but wonder if it's a goer. The link into Last Rites would be significantly harder again but it's a great challenge and i'll never tire of going to the box. The new link is called Last Drink, i was saving this name for DD/Last Rites but Pete R suggested 'One for the Road' for that and i think it fits. Back to work for me, hopefully i won't have to wait as long for another such moment.

Friday, 13 July 2012


We had two sunny days in a row in Wales which is unprecedented for this year. It's raining again now obviously. Yesterday the Orme had recovered in a big way. The Cave looked very dry and LPT was good too. Pete Robins managed a mega new 8a+ link downstairs. Paratrooper does all the hard climbing on Parasite to the rest at the flat break before moving up and right into Battle of the Little Big Orme up which it finishes. It's pretty cool because you end up climbing Battle with the original left hand sequence which no one ever does now. Battle was 8a+ when first done by Chris Plant in 1990.

There was only one 8a+ in the 97 Rockfax but there will be no less than 7 in the new guide:
Pas De Deux - Direct finish to Bad Boy, hard 8a+.
Melancopout - Training link. Melanchollie to the undercuts then step right and finish up Bad Boy. Likely done years ago.
Bad Melons - Another training link starting up Bad Boy and finishing up Melanchollie. Also likely done years ago.
Melon Beach - Great link climbing the first hard section of Melanchollie, then up Bad Boy and finishing up Mussel Beach (or even better up Parasite).
Moonwalk - Neglected FA by Tommy taking a direct line into Over the Moon Direct. Get on it people.
Paratrooper - See above
Wild Understatement - An upgrade from the last guide. First climbed by George Smith in 89 but ridiculous for 8a (makes Statement look piss).

I was back on Walking Mussel after a enforced 10 day lay off and god it was a battle. I felt bored and had no zest which basically made it impossible to try hard (which is essential). I'm going to have to dig deep if i'm going to climb this route, it's well passed the 'fun' stage and i've had enough. I linked the crux on my 3rd day, it's essentially a boulder problem route and yet here i am still falling. I'm pretty sure i know what the answer is, i need to get down to my fighting weight and just blow it out the water. This is problematic as i'm enjoying grub right now and my missus will definitely kick off if i get any skinnier. I just keep thinking about the battle on Hole Truth last year and then how easy it was when i lost weight. One things for sure, i need a conclusion to this epic!

Shauna was back in the Cave and climbing more very hard things with minimal effort. This time In Hell, a solid 8a+ coming from the back wall into Rockatrocity. She said she's only got 2 weeks left in the country this year. It's alright for some, watch out hard blocs of the world!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


After the big news coming from the slate quarries this week i thought i needed to show Caff who's boss and overshadow his poxy slab. As i stepped outside today it was fresh, dry and windy which felt quite surreal. I've been playing around on a little project at Llanddulas recently. I'd noticed the potential for starting up Mudjekeewis and finishing up Wirral Whip a few times over the years but didn't really think that it worked/was worth it. I was up high on Wirral Whip a few weeks ago taking pictures of Mawson on Mudjekeewis and the holds on the connecting section looked really cool and i got keen to try it. I returned with Lee Proctor and stuck one bolt in the new section and started trying it. It was very cool and seemed about 7c. I was on redpoint when the decent hold on the route exploded off when i was clipping. At first i was gutted but then is started trying it without the hold and it seemed like it would go so i decided to stick with it without the hold. It was quite a bit harder and i got excited. The holds were slippy and slopey and the footholds were hard to use and tensiony. I sorted the moves and left it for another day. On my return i found an easier sequence for the end but kept falling on a hard deadpoint to a slopey pinch. The route does the first hard move on Mudjekeewis and then 5 new, independent moves to gain the jug tufa on Wirral Whip which it finishes up. Certainly one of the better pieces of climbing on the wall despite not being an entirely new line. Today i returned with the Cattells- Danny and Mule. The conditions were good and i felt stronger and soon hit the slopey pod which was the hardest move. I kept falling afterwards though and tickled the tufa on Wirral. This move is amazing, you can really launch at the hold and it's really satisfying when you catch it. With time running out i despatched and topped out. I've spent so much time falling off this year with my attempts on Walking Mussel that the few times i've got up something it's been a shock. Mudjekeewis is a spirit from African mythology and the eldest brother to Nanabozho (which is what i've called the route). It was quite easy to grade as it's a grade harder than Wirral Whip and so 8a. It certainly felt pretty tough and took much longer than the other 8's i've done this year.

Danny would have got the FA on camera but he didn't press record so here is my best effort falling on the last move slapping the tufa. Danny is a muppet:

Monday, 9 July 2012

Rolling Back the Years

I've lost my buzz, the weather has finally beat it out of me. I've hardly thought about Walking Mussel in the last week. I planned to go down to LPT Thursday evening but after looking over the wall it was apparent that it was actually fucked. Seepage from above and dark greasy rock below. Usually the climbing struggle is in your own hands (well kind of) but at the moment it's in the hands of the elements and i'm starting to think i'll do nothing this year. The problem is by the time it improves i'll be hanging by a noose with my limp penis getting pecked at by grateful seagulls. Anyway every cloud has a silver lining and i went back to Pill Box (which incidentally is one of the most reliable crags round here conditions wise). I've repeated a lot of stuff on Pill Box recently but there are two more new links for me to aim for. Drink Driving into Last Orders and/or Last Rites would be very cool and very sustained. The Last Rites link is probably beyond me but i'm keen to have the Last Orders one as a goal and if nothing else it's a reason to go there. Last Orders is a 7a up line just by the edge of the Box.
I first visited the box in 2002 armed with the Northern Soul: Coastal Crags pamphlet. It's funny to see how far Mr P's topo making abilities have come on in ten years. It is the topo making equivalent of jumping from 7a to 9a!

There were 9 problems with the hardest being Kristian Klemmow's, Millenium Drive at V10. I got keen for the place and managed the 2nd ascent of Millenium Drive (Mule downgraded it on the 3rd ascent). My first new problems were Jack Daniels Connection and Chris' Link, both 7b+. I kept going back to my favourite crag and after 40 days managed Drink Driving in 2007. I gave it 8a+ as it had taken 4 times longer than the 8a's i'd done. I managed the harder start in 2009 (Jack the Drunk).
On Thusday i felt mutant warming up, i instantly recognised it was one of those rare days and i was cursing the fact i wasn't trying to climb Walking Mussel. Smitton and Dylan were there racing up E5's. Smit on More Genius:
There was only one thing for it, i sat down in that very familiar position and crabbed leftwards like i had so many times before. It felt like i was shaking hands with an old friend. I got to the two hard redpoint moves and crimped hard. I got the first pinch, a move i must have fallen off 100s of times and almost managed the cross under which marks the end of the hard climbing. It was a real buzz to almost repeat it, i felt like a better climber and the acres of extra flab weren't stopping me. Maybe the finishing links would be possible after all. I went back on Saturday and fell off the same move although i wasn't as strong. Pete Robins has never really got stuck into the box but he's started to get tick his way through the easier problems armed with a printed out ticklist. I'm sure he'll have everything ticked off in another few days. He's unrelenting that boy!
Pete attempting The Malteser, 7c:

It seems like Last Rites could be 7b now as easier beta has emerged. I'll be a bit gutted if the 8a link from Malteser comes down. The new crimp that people have started using on Jack Daniels has basically made it pointless as it's so close to Original Problem so i'm going to have to declare it a historical eliminate i.e, the crimp is out. An eliminate it may be but the original 7b+ seqeuence and the 7b sequence are brilliant so it's still worthwhile. I don't care about Jack the Drunk losing significance as i know it was a hard thing that i did.
Old footage from Bamboo Productions:

Jack The Drunk - Chris Doyle from Bamboo Chicken Productions on Vimeo.

Pete Harrison is doing some re-equipping on Upper Empire. Last year Norman bolted Wild Blue Yonder at 6b. He soloed the first ascent of this, he's fucking nuts. It's filthy and loose. Pete bolted and led Man in Motion which is a bit more trad than sport. Can't see me going back but good effort Pete anyway.

Thursday, 5 July 2012


You can almost hear the collective sigh of UK rock climbers as each weeks forecast is mirrored time after time. I suppose i'm lucky in that i get opportunities to try my project even if it's far from ideal. I got through the crux twice at the weekend which was great but i fell before the rest. On my best go my wet foot popped off the smear. I have to give it a wipe mid crux now to try and stop it popping off above. It was good conditions on the dry stone and some 8's were getting dispatched. Mawson did Melon Beach and Parasite and Ben West knocked off a few 8a's in a day. I finished off on Libertango which criminally i'd never done. It was brilliant and sustained but very easy for a Orme 7b+, i think its getting 7b in the new guide. It's pretty cool there's routes this good i haven't done. I've never seen routes like Statement wet in summer before. Inspector checking out Infanticide 8c:

Shauna returned to the Cave and her continued progression is evident. She managed Pit of Hell (8a) and knocked out Halfway House which she took 8a for (most blokes take 8a+ without kneebars). She is a genuine beast that girl!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Waterfall Action

Pete Robins made the 3rd ascent of The Hole Truth (8b) at Dyserth Waterfall yesterday. He went to finish it the other day but the crag was dripping. He discovered some feet first beta on the finishing moves on the lip. He's only got 3 8bs to do in this part of North Wales. The Brute on the Diamond and two of Caff's routes on slate (i think). There's 3 8bs at Dinbren he needs to do to be a true completist however. Rob Mirfin's 2 8b's could do with a repeat. They're definitely nails. Pete also linked Meatsville Arizona into Madness Reigns at 8a/+ (Meaty Madness?). He got a kneebar in the base of the groove and then slapped across the lip into Madness. When i first did Meatsville i attempted to glue the big cracked break to preserve the jugs. In hindsight i should have pulled it all off as it was fairly unstable. Well the break is gone now and the original Meatsville is hard 7c+ now. Apparently it's more obvious to climb it on the left now at its original grade, 7c. It sounds like it could do with one bolt being placed. Pete Harrsion glued a loose block on Strawberries Man- a few people had mentioned this to me. He ticked the route as did Ducko (for his first 7c). Bonza!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bumpy boys hit Dulas

Just when you thought the conditions couldn't get any worse they did! As well as the rain and the seepage it's now disgustingly humid. You're not supposed to be able to see your breath when it's not cold- quite possibly the worst conditions for climbing. Last weekend the beasts descended on Llanddulas to try Temple of Gloom. I really do cherish my routes, they're like babies to me so it's amazing to watch strong climbers trying them. Temple has had no less than 6 8c climbers on it this year! Mawson and Pasquill turned up on the Saturday, Mawson is fit as a fiddle (as usual) and has just done a new 8c link at Malham. Pasquill has been in the Frankenjura, he didn't manage anything super hard as it was hot but one day he managed 3 8bs! Not bad by most people's standard. I was intrigued to see how Temple would hold out. Pete Robins has been taunting me saying it's 8a+ ever since he repeated it. Bob Hickish had been over a few times this year but not ticked it yet. The crag was in pretty good condition. Pascal soon had the route down to about 6 moves(!) and faired the best falling off after all the hard climbing (i fell off this move once too). He was so powered out he couldn't manage the jug to jug move. It was cool watching him climb on it. Vid:

Neil got it all sorted but wasn't feeling on top form so the redpoint eluded him. Jordan came down the next day for a burn too. I've got a new little project there which i'm pretty psyched about. It's only a link up with a few independent moves but i love the boulder problem on it. It's pretty tough with slopey grips.
Some pics:


Inspector warming up flashing Mudjekeewis 7b+:

Mick Lovatt trying Wirral Whip 7c+:

I had another 'could ave done it' moment on Walking Mussel. This time it was a wet foot rather than a wet hand that stopped me. I've got a different sequence to avoid the wet hold now but i still have the stand on it. The crag was the wettest yet. It's frustrating as i'm ready to finish it but i need it to be dry. Just got to be patient!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Over The Moon

The monsoon continues, hopes are raised by a couple of dry days before the crushing dismay of a forecast including 4 days of rain in a row. People go on about the weather being shit in Britain. I guess it is compared to most places but most summers are fine by me. I like it when it's mild and there's usually plenty of dry weather and dry rocks. What we're experiencing at the moment however is complete shite and i think everyone's struggling. We have plenty of rocks that don't seep here in Wales but it's not much use if it rains everyday. My wet hold on Walking Mussel doesn't make things any easier, in fact i'll go as far as to say it's a right pain in the ringpiece. I had a decent session at the start of the week but i ended up cutting my skin and had to stop. However, i have realised that i am a complete arsehole. I've been doing the crack such a hard way. I've been completely tunnel visioned into a blinkered sequence. Not standing on the god awful smear and using the shite slopey bankhand means it's now a lot easier. I couldn't try WM cos of skin last night so to put it to the test i got on Over The Moon, an 8a which also finishes up the crack. I got a bit carried away the first go and tried to do it putting all the middle clips in and not really knowing the moves. I was boxed stupid on the shakeout before the crack but was still really close to doing it. It felt great actually doing some decent climbing and getting pumped rather than falling off the same boulder problem. I really thought the effort had finished me for the day but i managed to get the route next go by climbing it more efficiently. It was the last 8a i had to do downstairs, here they are in order of difficulty, easiest first (IMO):

Mussel Beach - Low in the grade but 8a nevertheless and a great intro to the grade. Always popular.
Over the Moon Direct - Also popular. Hard moves in the middle lead to a decent shakeout before some very droppable moves through the last bulge.
Parasite - More meaty than it's neighbour Mussel B and longer with an excellent finishing headwall. The bit over the lip is hard if you're short and the rockover above is hard if you're tall.
Battle of The Little Big Orme - Prime! Superb rock and moves. One of the best. Helps if you can get a no hands kneebar halfway up.
Statement of Youth - The original classic is still a big draw. Takes in a lot of tricky old skool climbing and has a redpoint crux right at the end. Essential.
Over The Moon - From the shakeout on Over The Moon Direct move right and tackle the burly crack. Pumpy!

Pete was trying Big Bang. He says a lot of the difficulty of the route is tied up in skin issues as it's so savagely crimpy. He's a fat bastard compared to Caff of course. Weightwatcher's for Robins.

It doesn't look like i'll be down LPT for a bit cos of work which is gutting, just gotta keep in shape and get ready to strike when the times right.

Happy swimming people!