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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dulas Big Numbers

A few months ago i blogged about the big link project up at Llanddulas. I had a few more sessions but never made much progress and the greasy slots prevented much linkage. My attempts to stop the water by filling the back with resin made one of them smaller so i had to drill it back out to return it to its former depth. I've lost count of the number of days i've spent hanging in this roof on my own doing little 'jobs'. There always seems to be something that needs doing. Climbers can be a miserable bunch, as the masses rejoice in the hot weather the sport climbers and boulderers grumble about humidity and conditions. Options are limited for hard climbing when it is so bloody warm. The main cave at Dulas is pretty much heatproof and so a great option in the stifling temps. I was lowering down from Zoidberg in the Cave when i spotted a couple of holds between the finish of Temple and Last Crusade. I got a rope down the line and there was indeed another potential finish- there looked to be enough holds. I bolted it up and got on it, straight away a crucial hold fell off so i had to come back with glue. After using some shitty old resin that didn't set i finally got the hold sorted and returned with Pete Robins. I worked out some of the moves and he sorted some good foot beta for the crux. The finish comes straight out the roof from the kneebar on the link project and you could start up either Temple or Last Crusade.
Pete working out the heel/toehook combination for the powerful crux:

I've had about 4 sessions working the end now and it still feels pretty tough. It's fiddly to sort your feet out coming out of the shit kneebar and then the powerful crux feels desperate. I had a nice sequence with a wide undercut pinch but the rock is so slick and smooth by the time i've pulled up on it i'm greasing off so i had to figure out another way using a heel on a small spike. This finish is about fb7C and starting up Temple is about f8a/+ to get there. It feels like a really hard sequence to have at the end of a big roof. Hopefully i'll link the end soon but the thought of linking it all seems unfeasible for now. The moves aren't as hard as the link project but you've done much more to get there. Still it's nearly always decent conditions and is 10 minutes from my house so i have to look at the positives! If i get to having good redpoints this year i think i'll be satisfied. This style suits me but my best ascents in Parisella's were years in the making and to transfer that level to a new bit of rock and having to clip bolts is going to take some doing. Everything is magnified when you get a rope on, it's a much harder proposition than bouldering just off the deck. It's cool that the Dulas has a few potential big numbers now. Doing the new finish from Last Crusade could be 8c+, who would have thought it! And there's still the main aid line out the front if Ondra ever pops in (highly unlikely).

I thought i'd better give potential belayers another reason to go there so i bolted up an obvious alternative start to Zoidberg traversing into the end of Temple. It proved to be a fun addition with a crux slap to the black boss at the end of Temple before climbing to the ledge and finishing up the 6c. It's called Catch the Pigeon and is 7b.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The One That Got Away

Most link ups are just an excuse to keep climbing on a bit of rock that you like. Sometimes they appeal because they present a hard physical challenge that has always seemed beyond your abilities. On the Pill Box the last link up has been staring me in the face for the last 6 years, something that should be attainable but at the same time feels like the next level. Straight after the crux of Drink Driving is a 4 move 7B+ up line with a crux last move off a wee crimper. I've never really felt in good enough shape to seige this link, in 2012 when i did the finish up Last Orders i had a few goes at finishing up Last Rites but never even managed the first move off a wide pinch. Fast forward to April this year and i was on a bit of ticking spree, i knew had to go and try the link. Sure enough i got through DD first go and for the first time managed the first move of Last Rites. I fell off tickling the crimp in amazement, this meant it was possible. For a couple more sessions i still had the magic on it, on my best day i greased off the last move and told myself i'd come back after a rest. I returned and just didn't feel as good and never have again since. For this thing i need to feel like a feather, it isn't a problem that's going to succomb to my usual siege tactic, if i feel really good i can get through DD but i need to feel amazing to have a chance on the whole link. So now i know it's possible but need to wait for another window of elevated form, pretty frustrating but i've learned one thing - always have another go!

Vid of my best attempt:

One that did go down, The Wire (great climbing):

A couple of other problems on the Box:

Sunday, 11 May 2014

More Gop Goodness

I love the Gop! In a world of technical wizadry, kneebars, cheeky heels and toes there is something refreshing about this hardcore little cave where tension and fingers are king. There's no getting around these problems, if your feet can't stick to the slopey feet and your fingers can't handle the small slopey crimps then move on! The occasional minimal toe hook is the only aid in progressing through this roof. Back in 2012 Dan Knight gave the crag its hardest problem. Paper Birds (8A+) was a hybrid line but with 3 nails moves it repelled all would be repeaters - until yesterday! Tom Newman had made a few recent visits and on his best attempts dropped the last hard move. Danny Cattell had also dropped this move a few times so it seemed like a repeat was finally on the cards. Tom returned yesterday to finish it off then a few hours later i went up with Danny and he did it too. The boys reckoned hard 8A+ for this beast. I'd recently spotted a few projects and i pointed Danny at the one on the right. This had a obvious start right on the back wall and came out through almost the widest part of the roof. He quickly worked out some beta and then much to our surprise he managed to pull it out the bag. He was a bit unsure about the grade but he was obviously having a strong day and was growling a fair bit so reckoned it was probably 8A. The name is Ken Masters (another streefighter reference) and is the Gops 6th grade 8. I did the moves on the other project, a low start to E Honda but both starting undercuts pulled off so that was that, gutted. The left hand undercut was also the starting toe hook on Blokesmoker Low. It makes it slightly more tensiony for tall people but adds a fair bit for shorties. Still no luck for me on Push the Button sit despite doing the original 3 times yesterday. I just can't do the crux climbing into it. E Honda 7B is excellent and well worth doing. The 7B to the right Streetfighter has lost holds so is an unknown quantity now. Long live the Gop!

Film of Paper Birds, ken Masters and others:

Some old news from Trem - Ned Feehally linked Enter the Dragon into 36 sitter. Enter the Chamber is still 8A+ because you get a resting kneebar on the starting tufa of 36. He also climbed into 22 Chambers from the sit position of Iron Flag to give 7th Chamber 7C+.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Last Proj's

Warmer times have arrived and it's all steam ahead on the sport crags. I don't think there will be as many new routes as previous years this time around but there are still plums out there for the lucky ones. I've been lucky enough over the last few years to do every route i've bolted bar two. The Big Crunch will quite possibly be the hardest route in Wales so i see that one more as my gift to the Orme rather than something i'd have chance on. Pete Robins is making good progress however and with a bit of luck he might get it this year. My other project is a link up at Llanddulas that i bolted in 2011. It is a link up of Last Crusade and Temple of Gloom but the hard bit is a new section in the middle of the roof of about 7/8 moves. I'd figured out the first hard move but couldn't suss the rest and only had a couple of attempts over the next few years. My seige of Parisellas culminated in In Hell and In Heaven, the two hardest bits of climbing i'd done so it seemed like a good time to get back on the roof. I started to figure out a sequence and was it definitely felt more feasible this year. It was still damn hard however and i still couldn't link the crux moves. One day i'd had a quick go on Liquid Ambar in the morning then headed to the proj with Tommy and Sausage. I may have had a sequence but i still couldn't do it. Liquid Ambar genuinely felt like a more feasible proposition. I was on the verge of giving up again. I couldn't link the new section on it's own and it was in the middle of the roof with the redpoint crux of Temple still to come at the end. Pete Robins asked to have a go and i thought it would be a good idea to get some help with it. Pete came up with some wacky contorted sequence which he reckoned was Font 7C+. It lit my fire a bit and i returned with fresh ideas and motivation. The next few sessions i made great progress. I found a crucial kneebar rest before Temple which would mean the fitness aspect was not quite as obscene. It's a bomber knee with a pad but your toe is on a smear in the roof so it's quite intense and you can't chill for as long as you'd like. The crucial moment came when i tried some madcap beta for the crux and hey presto it worked. It amazes me how often this happens on a new bit or rock. You think you've tried everything, can't find a nice way to do it then some amazing method that fits you well comes from nowhere. Now i could link from the first hard move after Last Crusade through to the kneebar. This was getting exciting! The obvious thing to do would be to do that link to the end of the route so i sussed out the end of Temple again and found more efficient beta than 4 years ago when i did the FA. This is a perfect hard project for me- my style, 10 minutes from home, an FA, all but for one little detail which has really dampened my sprits. Two of the slots on Temple seem to be perma-wet these days. I know it's only April but i have little optimism about their drying prospects as they were wet in July last year when Tommy did Temple. They are greasy, minging little bastards and they're really spoiling my fun at the moment. Add to that the fact that two more holds have become weirdly greasy and i'm struggling to know what to do for the best. I can only hope things improve as i'm going to need a lot of sessions to have a chance on this thing this year and i can't hold wet grips. Despite the adversity i'm obsessed my this thing, it's fuckin meaty and amazing. I love looking back from Temple at this cool groove line dissecting the big roof.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Spray 2nd Ascent

3 years ago Sam Cattell developed a little area on the West Shore side of the Orme down on the beach. He put up some decent problems but by far the best and most significant was a burly roof affair which he christened The Spray. The Spray is a really pure hard bloc and has received little attention since the FA. Globetrotter Dave Mason is keen on seeking out the esoteric gems as well as crushing global classics and this problem had long been on his radar. On his first day in Wales he popped to Craig Pont-y-Pant (aka Rhiw Goch) and made a casual flash of Lightweight(8A) and Badgers in The Mist(7C). It's worth noting that Ride the Wild Smurf is at least the same grade as Lightweight if not harder so probably deserves 8A too. He then dashed over to Maes Newyddion and did the first flash of Roof of a Baby Buddha (7C+). Next day we headed down to West Shore to try The Spray. Floppy Chris had been down recently and reckoned the starting holds may have suffered some storm damage. It certainly wasn't how I remembered it and Mule's right hand first sequence seemed unfeasible. We won't know for sure unless the man himself goes down for a look. Anyway for Dave it was obvious that going left hand first would be the way. After some huffing and puffing to even get off the ground he started slapping for a slopey edge just before the jug. He busted it out eventually and kept it together on the next tricky moves and topped out. He reckoned 8a+ for pure burl factor and I think he's on the money. Just getting off the ground is desperate.

Dave finished off his trip with Sway On (8A), Mr Fantastic (8A) and 14 Years Later and Fish Pie (both 7C+). Not a bad few days work!

I've had a productive couple of weeks ticking some good boulders and opening my routes account with Simon Says (8a) and Meaty Madness (8a+). Meaty Madness at Dyserth Waterfall is a link up but it's a bloody brilliant bit of climbing. The first roof on Meatsville Arizona is harder and even better since the juggy break fell off. I also managed In Hell which is my hardest bouldering tick, definitely harder than In Life. Hard 7C+ into hard 7C with no breather. Some vids of other stuff:


Lizard King, a gem of the Llanberis Pass:

Friday, 14 March 2014

New Robins Routes and a bit of Gop

Pete Robins has hit the ground running this year with a couple of tasty new routes on the Little Orme. First he climbed a new 8a+ at the Allotment just before the bird ban kicked in. This crag has some impressive projects but is bird banned March til August and then most head to the Diamond. On Craig-y-Don Upper he climbed a new line through the impressive roof at 8b. "Funky, cruxy with great holds and moves" was his assessment. Bit gutted I didn't check that one out myself.
Some photos by Paula Roberts:

I had a good sesh at the Gop with Danny C. He's looking on top form at the mo. He despatched the 2nd ascent of Dan Knights nails 8A link from Blokesmoker SS into Smoke a Bloke. You won't see many harder 8As than this. He very nearly did Dan's other nails testpiece Paper Birds 8A+ but had to rush off to work. The crag classic Push the Button is considered 7C+ these days but you can still get an 8A tick by doing it from a sitter.

Harder Gop problems:

Paper Birds 8A+ (Dan Knight)
Blokesmoker SS/Smoke a Bloke 8A (Dan Knight)
Smoke a Bloke SS 8A (Dan Knight)
Blokesmoker SS 8A (Danny Cattell)
Push the Button SS 8A (Dan Knight)
Danny's Smoke a Bloke Eliminate 7C+ (Danny Cattell)
Push the Button 7C+ (Mule Cattell)
Smoke a Bloke 7B+ (Danny Cattell)

Friday, 28 February 2014

Enter The Sweetcorn

2014 has pretty much been an abject washout so far. I had plans to get into the hills bouldering but record levels of precipitation put pay to that. All is not lost in these times in North Wales however. The much maligned Parisella's Cave really comes into its own in wet periods (whilst the naysayers are stuck indoors). It wasn't perfect, i couldn't try The Wire which i thought would be my next project in there. Instead i was forced right into the back trying In Hell/Life start which I'd never had much luck on in the past. With not much else going on i stuck with it and eventually started to make progress. It's 7c+/8a just to get to the Rocka jug and then you have a choice of 7c's- Rockatrocity or the Cave Life arch. On one magic go i finally got through the start and fell kicking onto left wall. This happened one more time before I went back after a bit of a rest and despatched. It's probably my hardest problem, vid here:

The weather has been on the up and it's starting to feel nice enough to get the rope out. I went out to Dyserth Waterfall to do some easy's and ended up playing on the arete between Rhubarb Wall and Strawberries Man. The crux round the base of the arete climbed really well and the top arete was easy but nice. It looks a bit squeezed in but climbs independently as Rhubarb Wall climbs to the left of the bolts and you're locked in on the arete anyway. I went back the next day to bolt it then went back again today to lead it. I forgot how new routes can make you feel excited, it doesn't need to be a major line. The name is Sweetcorn Man (some people will know what this refers too) and i reckon 7b+ish. Waterfall is a great crag if the temps are a bit low as it is sheltered and gets the sun.

I then went on to Tremeirchion to film Danny C on his lastest project. I had spotted the potential for a right hand sitter to 22 Chambers and tipped Danny off. He worked it out and had about 5 sessions redpointing on it. The crux is a slap out left to the flatty on 22 but then you're straight into the two crux moves of 22. I knew he had been close and so was hoping to capture it on camera. After one go to get him going Danny grabbed the crux move and stretched his fingers into the backhand. The horrendous 'piano match' followed and a sketchy top out to a high jug on the arete. The problem is called Enter the Dragon(8a+) and is a great companion to 36 Sit. It's cool to think of all the stuff that's been going on on the Lleyn and comparing it to stuff like this. I think diversity is what makes North Wales bouldering special. Hurry up with that guide Panton!