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#975 fiendblogGlimmers Of Hope
July 07, 2021, 07:00:28 pm
Glimmers Of Hope


God knows it's been a very long time. The last time I felt I had a decent level of trad climbing confidence was in Autumn 2018, after a spring of digestive illness and depression and a summer crawling out of that via logistically-manageable but strength-maintaining sport climbing. I did pretty well back then and was very happy doing so. Since then....the diminishing but constant effects of my digestion, covid blanket-lockdowns-irrespective-of-risk, and injury ups and downs have held me back too much for comfort.

(Incidentally I estimate that my digestive issues have reduced my overall trad ability by a full grade - due to the increased depression/vulnerability and reduced energy that comes from those issues - but not affected my sport nor bouldering ability as short sharp bursts of non-emotionally-stressful activity are fine. Conversely, I expect my DVTs dropped my bouldering / sport ability by a grade due to the 10+kg weight gain due to difficulty with CV exercise, but did not affect my trad ability (walk-ins aside) as the power-to-weight reduction is less of an issue for easier trad moves (and there's little emotional component to the DVTs apart from occasional rage/grumps))

Anyway I've been doing exactly the same plan as I did last summer to get me right up to peak fitness (just before fucking my MCL and elbow and having a mediocre Autumn 2020) - doing plenty of sport climbing to regain fitness, strength, and roped confidence. Redpointing is training for sport onsighting is training for trad limestone is training for sea-cliff limestone... And it seems to be working a bit.

I had a trip down to Devon and despite trying to find trad partners being akin to trying to find a very small needle in a giant Shire-sized haystack, I managed to have one good trad day out and did my first challenging / satisfying trad lead for ages, Clotted Cream at Meadfoot Quarry:



This was with Madeline who had a lovely old boi dog, so have a picture of him too:


So CC intimidated me quite a bit despite being it being quite appealing and myself being quite well warmed-up. Thus I chose a mantra "7a....7a....7a" on the basis that it was well-protected, sport-ish style climbing, and having flashed multiple 7as in the previous month, surely that should be okay. Obviously as any pedant kno, it's nowhere near F7a, more like F6c, but the former was the level of effort I expected to put in. And it worked - cranking through the pump on the headwall above bomber cams felt scarcely different to doing so above bolts. A real morale boost, even if I left Devon with far more wishlist routes than ticklist routes.

(Incidentally the large block on the arete / niche, which features Pete Saunders merrily and needlessly swinging around on it in the guidebook, has parted company with the crag, despite how solid it felt when I was relaxing on it. It will leave less gear and holds but also a large niche that will also be in the VS slabby arete - I'm glad I got on it when I did!)

...

Then a bit later and by a bit of random chance, it was Holocaust at Dow Crag - a totally standard trade route. But for me, whilst it's not the most challenging route I've done since DVTs (not even top 30), nor the most challenging walk-in (Neckband just pips it) it IS the most challenging route I've done after a challenging walk-in (1.5 hours for a 1 hour walk-in, including 3 rests on the normal track and 4 rests on the death-scree - a long time to get intimidated and tired and not want to have to come back). Also possibly the most challenging routes since I moved to Manchester.

With the intimidation of the approach, this was a great reminder to myself that the potential is still there, that I can do okay even on one of my more logistically taxing inspirations, that I can and should take some positivity from this. And that if I ever drag myself up there again some other fucker can carry the rope.



As for the route itself - which I've wanted to do for 14 years, ever since doing it's adjacent and entirely contrasting sibling Tumble (are there any other routes of the same grade, on the same wall, so close to each other, with such different styles??) - it's a bit of a strange one. I did it, and I did it well tbh, but it still felt like a fair bit of luck getting the crux, which is slightly dissatisfying?? But I guess that's the entire nature of the route, and something so dynamically cruxy, and something at my limit. There have been enough times where the luck hasn't gone my way on such moves and this time it did. Also, pro-tip: the entire route can be well-protected with a half dozen small blue camalots (and a couple of wires for the belay). True story and it would save a lot of weight on the walk!

So that's a couple of happy scenarios I can hopefully build on...



Source: Glimmers Of Hope

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#976 Re:  fiendblog
July 07, 2021, 07:15:30 pm
Good words Fiend. Glad your summers starting well.

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#977 Re:  fiendblog
July 08, 2021, 09:24:27 am
Good Job Matt.

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#978 Re:  fiendblog
July 08, 2021, 09:43:40 pm
Good work Fiend.  Several years later and I’m still annoyed about falling off Clotted Cream with my hand on top of the crag …

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#979 Re:  fiendblog
July 09, 2021, 12:07:10 pm
Cheers! Yeah I can imagine that would be gutting, I was very aware of that possibility. OTOH I'm still annoyed errr mildly jealous that 90% of things I'm psyched for in that book have a photo of you on them already  ;)

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#980 fiendblogMini-Adventures #1 and #2
July 09, 2021, 01:00:09 pm
Mini-Adventures #1 and #2

 
A concept I coined when referring to the undeniable delights of The Range, and although it was partly dismissed by Wil in an interview in Cheque's authentic down-to-earth magnum opus THE SEASIDE , I stand by both the existence and inherent quality of the concept. 

It's basically sea-cliffs (usually, although not always) with lovely settings, gentle approaches, amenable access, mostly single pitch, and nothing epic surrounding the routes - but routes that whilst shorter, have a good feeling of adventure and commitment once on them, with intriguing lines up strong architecture, interesting rock, exciting terrain, and a feeling of being away from the conventional big ticks. The essence of hidden gems in fact.

And of course I bloody love it. Who wouldn't?? Even when my trad confidence hasn't been great in recent years, I've still managed to potter on with this sort of exploration, and it has nourished my soul when my mind is injured and my body is weak (or is it the other way around??). 2018 it was stuff like Lovely Day Mr Thomas at The Range and Dr Livingstone I Exhume at Trearddur Bay, 2019 it was more Range in the form of The Blue Buoy and Surfant, and also Jacuzzi Dive on the Lleyn, 2020 it was essential knee and elbow therapy on the bonkers Emmenthal Wall at the Range. 

2021 I'm starting a bit early - partly to get some cool stuff "out of the way" (an incongruous phrase for something that is so inherently pleasurable in the moment) before the South Stack and Lleyn bird-bans are off in August and grander adventures are opened up (the magnificent Rapture Of The Deep and Mantrap being highlights of previous years). And partly because I'm psyched for such pure fun. So far it's been....

#1 - Trwyn Maen Melyn:

Yes, that crag. A firm favourite to the extent I'm likely to tick the crag apart from the E7. Still the most bewilderingly semi-solid rock around too. 



I kicked things off with an amnesia-point retro-flash of The Incredible Surplus Head, which I'd kicked things off 14 years ago i.e. kicked a small block off and then panicked and slumped onto gear and failed (also worth noting it finishes slightly left of the line in my updated topo). It's well past my 10 year moratorium, so I went back with the lone bit of vague recollection that a red camalot was useful somewhere. Thus I saved my red camalot right until the final alarmingly steep section where it rattled around in a perfect yellow camalot slot like your pencil-dick rattles around in a whore's gapehole, but somehow I still hauled myself over the lip.

Then it was on to the main event....




Queer Bar! The first time I've visited one to be honest, and it lived up to my "greasy dark hole" desires... I'd tried this in 2016 with good dry conditions but without a crucial giant cam, and again in 2019 with a good giant cam but without crucial dry conditions. This time I had both and it was brilliant. Proper improvised squirming towards the light and rebirth - when I reached the lip I was cackling to myself as it was just such ridiculous fun. 

#2 - Porthllechog & Trwyn Wylfa:

Some even more quintessential mini-adventures here...



Faller At The First - there was very nearly a faller (me) at the first route which was done as a warm-up as it was in the sun on a fresh blustery day, and turned out to pack quite a punch for a 12m route. Steep, sustained, and really very good.



Cerys / Porpoise Delight - a disputed first ascent claim, but I'll take the slightly higher grade and star rating of the latter, as this has quite a sketchy start, sustained interest, and a perfectly photogenic position that belies it's "small crag" impressions - anything that traverses a sea-cave always makes the list. By pure chance we went down to this wall slightly frustrated about the lack of mobile signal to check the updates on the Dump , and there was an older team at the crag that turned out to be one of the recent developers of the crag and knew it all off by heart (well, apart from the previous claim on this line, maybe). A stroke of luck.

The next day involved backing off a Pat Littlejohn MXS 5b at Trwyn Wylfa (which was described as needing a "gentle touch"). I couldn't even commit to the first 5a pitch and upon abbing for gear I'm glad I didn't as the ""5b"" pitches looked too much.....it's good to know when to back off. So this was the consolation prize...



Stranger On The Shore, a real gem on mostly properly weathered solid black rock. This had delightful climbing with a daunting central groove that seemed slopey and holdless until gentle udging revealed all it's amenable joys (jugs). 

Hopefully I will be updating with parts #3, #4, #5 etc etc sooner rather than later!!


Source: Mini-Adventures #1 and #2

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#981 fiendblogCreative Urges
July 12, 2021, 01:00:04 pm
Creative Urges


Here's something I did recently (although I've been wanting to do it for years...a decade?)



A semi-mix / segued selection of 30 classic dark drum'n'bass / techstep tracks from the mid-late 1990s, the era between Origin Unknown's Valley Of The Shadows creating the darkside, and until Bad Company's The Nine took it to the next rave level. Especially 96-98-ish when early Ed Rush, Nico, Optical, Doc Scott, Ray Keith, Trace etc were creating a maelstorm of stomping 2-step beats, furious amen breaks, deep reese bass and haunting sci-fi atmospheres. 

This is something I had planned a very long time ago - I had a rough tracklist written down with reasons for each position, limited to 70-ish minutes to be hypothetically written to CD! It was partly inspired by this being my favourite era of drum and bass, despite still loving stuff right up to the present day (and future!), and partly by a few tracks and mixes, specifically: Shadow Boxing / Secrets in particular, John B's recent and fantastic Wormhole old skool techstep mix that has alas disappeared off Youtube, The Prototype Years album, and the Torque album (still a classic to this day even if I only included one track)

I'm bloody chuffed with this to be honest. Sure it's simple, but I've put lots of thought and inspiration into the tracklist and ordering, and if I found this online, it would be one of my favourite "mixes" ever, just for the track selection. Even after so many partial listens during hours of chopping away in Audacity, I still enjoy it - and feel like it is a creative venture overall, and one that I'm most proud of, along with my, which I view in a similar way. I guess I do other creative stuff like toy soldiers and sporadic game map design, bit there's something about the aforementioned edits that are special to me.

I say "semi-mix" because I'm not a DJ and can't really mix, but there are some aspects I think are close enough to mixing and work pretty well, here's a few thoughts from the process:

Segues / tracks of note:

Terrorist > Pulp Fiction
This was the first bit I ever tried, just having two Youtube videos playing side by side and quickly pausing one and playing the other to see if the drop worked, and it did! I couldn't get the original version of Terrorist but the updated revamp works fine I think.

Shadow Boxing remix > Your Sound remix 
The second bit I planned, I remember John Peel playing SB remix and commenting on the notorious "record fuck up" section, and I knew I had to do something with that, and it happens that YS remix also has a vaguely similar section, so it's almost like a rewind, -ish ;)

Sonar > Lost In New York
The worst / crudest segue of the lot I think. LINY had to go in and this seemed the best spot but the structure of the two tracks is so different there's little I could work out. I think LINY into Still works pretty well though.

DJ SS - Lost In New York - I never heard this in any mixes except one on a magazine cover CD, and I think it's brilliant, heavy and well crafted and highly atmospheric, it had to go in.

Edtrafienical > Secrets
I thought this would "mix" well given that both tracks have distinct and clear 2-step beats, but somehow the edits in Secrets made it really tricky to get the right bit. In the end I'm really pleased that it worked.

The Raven > Mute
Another bit I'm really pleased with, a simple "mix" but the 2 step beats from Mute just fit surprisingly well with the bassline of Raven

To Shape The Future > TSTF remix > TSTF amen mix
Surely one of the greatest things in the history of DnB?? 3 bloody brilliant and surprisingly diverse track versions. I bloody love the drop into the amen mix :D

Equinox - Some Kind Of Illusion - a bit more laid back for the era, early stripped back breakage, from the birth of Renegade Hardware.

Rob & Goldie - The Shadow (Process mix) - this was on a Moving Shadow special 100th release EP, and the full track is a 9 minute epic with a massive intro build-up. Amazingly it's a remix by Rick Smith from Underworld (I'm not a fan myself) and is proper classy.

Embee - Fractured Soul - another one I never heard in a mix but I really love the combination of playful, almost delicate beats and noises, with those occasional waves of absolutely apocalyptic amens.

Cybin - Roller - this featured on John B's Wormhole mix, but I've loved it for many years from an Emcee records Knowledge mix CD. Huge energy and ridiculous bass that I had to keep toning down after testing in the car.

Dom & Roland - Imagination - a bit cheeky as this is just outside the specified era but it captures and refines all the dark techstep facets of that era perfectly into one of my favourite tracks. So much so that instead of the very natural ending at the main breakdown, I had to let the whole the play out to earworm everyone to fuck :D.

Enjoy :)

Source: Creative Urges

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The Wedge Keeps Thickening...


...thickening like a fat greasy chode, which pretty much sums up the state of the climbing scene.

Yes. Ken was right after all. Bellowing like Canute at the ceaseless tide of crap new bolts surging towards his sandcastle, but he had a point. All the wedge-deniers - you're wrong. It is happening, it is here, the bolts are here. The wedge has thickened from additional sport climbs to re-equipping of sport climbs to sporadic retro-bolting of mostly fixed gear routes to straight out full on retro-bolting of good reasonably protected trad routes. 

I do fucking loads of sport climbing throughout the UK both as training for trad and for an inherently strong pleasure in it's own right. I thoroughly appreciate proper sport crags, proper re-equipping of shoddy old sport routes that are mostly run-outs on caving bolts and bits of coathanger, and sometimes obvious and justifiable retro-bolting of neglected trad routes that were full of fixed gear, never really offered a satisfactory trad experience (and indeed were closer to sport experiences when first put up before the fixed gear rotted).

I am profoundly less convinced when this bolting fervour sweeps onto good and protectable trad routes. And the more I explore around the lime, the more I see this happening all over... E.g.

Attermire
Almost completely retrobolted away from the main crag, including classic HVS/E1s that if not fully retroed have been compromised by bolts. 

High Stony Bank
Some good new sport additions, but stuff like Oedipus, which was on my list after seeing a photo, has been lost to bolts despite following an attractive flake crack system.

Lower Pen Trwyn
I took my rack down to do Jacuzzi Jive and Twisting By The Pool that I've always wanted to do (I've got them earmarked in North Wales Rock from a decade ago).... And they've been retroed too. As it happened I pretty much did Twisting By The Pool on trad, but caved in and clipped one bolt to back up the wire on the headwall crux, I'm dropping one E-grade off for that. Aside from that one move it is perfectly well protected with wires and a perfect waste having it as another F6b+ on a crag that really doesn't need that many of them.

Marine Drive
Whilst Beaverbrook might arguably be a sensible retrobolting proposition compared to it's previous mono-peg incarnation (somewhat out of character with the generally reasonably protected routes around there), Pure Mania further around is definitely NOT. I lead this a couple of years ago, and in character for the crag it was a great wee trad experience, a bit run-out, a bit thoughtful, a bit technical. Just a proper good trad route. Now it's a line of fucking bolts. 

The latter examples particularly baffling / infuriating. Pen Trwyn has, in my experience, always been a bastion of balance, a showcase of trad and sport sitting side by side, with neither impinging on the other, where you can have great experiences of both genres right next to each other, (and where the quality of the rock and climbing transcends Pete's miserly understarring ;)). It should have stayed as that great example, rather than another example of insidious wedge-thickening. 

What next?? Melkor has a thread in and most nearby routes are partly bolted - should that be another F6b-ish thing?? No. Fuck that, it's a lovely trad climb, I did it last week as a warm-down in the evening sun and wouldn't have wanted a single bolt other than the lower-off. It won't happen, huh?? It already IS fucking happening...

I always suggest the first and most important course of action should be:

1. Thoroughly clean the route up including removing vegetation and loose rock, scrubbing and chalking the holds (yes, some effort, but less, and much cheaper, than retro-bolting).

2. Replace essential fixed gear with like-for-like if possible. Install lower-offs if the finishing terrain is too appalling (as it sometimes gets).

3. Publicise the route(s) all over. Get some nice photos of people leading them in a pristine state. Shout it from the social media roof-tops. Write an article for UKWebanpeopleunjustifiably.com, update the logbooks.

4. In short, give the trad routes, and trad climbers, a fighting chance BEFORE reaching for the drill.

In the meantime I'm either going to have to get on any limestone trad routes pretty damn quickly. Or buy a re-chargeable angle grinder. Suggestions on a postcard...

P.S. Vaguely on topic, here's a disgruntled miserable old sport-hating trad dinosaur in action:

The Bloods  - I've wanted to do this for a while since the rather evocative photo of Redhead on it in ...And One For The Crow (my 3rd tick in the book after Poetry Pink and Young And Easy... , I probably won't get many more!!). In the accompanying essay / demented rambling, he says it was first done with two bolts, then ended up with 7 bolts and a lower off. It's actually only 5 bolts and a lower off and is still a bit run out for a sport route at the start, middle, and finish. Should this have been left as a sparsely bolted semi-trad route?? I don't know - would it have provided a good, intricate, nut-slotting, committing trad experience?? It didn't look like it, but if someone had chosen to take a strong stand for it, that would be fair enough.

Julio Juventus - partly done because a friend was on the first half (a very logical pitch in it's own right) and partly done to avoid failing to flash Axle Attack or Mayfair! I somehow scraped through this one despite botching the my feet on the first crux and simply not having enough feet on the second crux, thus having to skip an unfeasible clip, and I got away with it and was pretty chuffed with my commitment. No idea about a previous trad / semi-trad status of this one. 



Source: The Wedge Keeps Thickening...

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#983 Re: fiendblogCreative Urges
July 13, 2021, 07:53:34 pm
Creative Urges

"https://www.youtube.com/embed/N3rHuFlghJs"

Thats fucking bangin, chapeau.

I went to uni in '97, made friends with some Londoners and they introduced me to doc scott and spring heeled jack; my socks flew off and haven't been seen since.

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Quote
.. (and where the quality of the rock and climbing transcends Pete's miserly understarring ;)).

Hehe!
Better to under-promise and over-deliver..
Basically on pen trwyn if you pick a route at your grade with a star you’ll likely have a good experience. And if the unstarred route next to it looks like it’s worth getting on, then it probably will be.

Agree with you about Pure Mania. I led it trad years ago and felt a bit sad when I heard it had been retro’d. I remember thinking it wouldn’t add any quality to that part of the crag as another unremarkable low 6. Some poor and short-sighted judgement there imo. Don’t agree so much regards LPT. Perhaps you felt that way because like you say you’d built up expectations and a certain idea of the routes from the E4 ticklist in n.wales rock. Other climbers coming along now won’t have those expectations as they’ll expect a grade 6. They were decent as trad, but it always felt like a chore to bother going down there with a rack and a trad head on when the crag is 99% about sport climbing. You could go to 5 better trad crags within 5 minutes walk/drive.
Different feel about upper pen trwyn, which still feels like a trad crag if you just want to go tradding there - as many people do. But then that’s where the wedge argument comes in..

I have a battery angle grinder - if you want it to fight off locals while you rewild the environment.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2021, 09:30:44 pm by petejh »

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#985 Re:  fiendblog
July 14, 2021, 03:42:02 pm
I've never climbed anything I'd really consider loose, so intrigued as to setting off into terrain like that Trwyn Maen Melyn without a helmet?

Otherwise good interesting blogging.

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#986 Re:  fiendblog
July 17, 2021, 10:34:39 am
Cheers Chris, Pete, and especially cowboyhat  :punk:

Chris: no logical reason, just personal preference. TMM is not nearly as loose as it looks and generally if I might be doing some careful dismantling en route, it's less likely to drop on me from a great height. On almost all routes there one naturally belays off to one side too.

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You Should Have Seen The Looseness Of The One That Got Away...


Recently I've had some setbacks with my amateur chossaneering. I seem to have come up with an abrupt wall where the gentle terrain of "Big G grading routes quite softly in his later climbing years" suddenly rears up into daunting scenarios of "Big G grading routes in direct comparison to his multiple Gogarth E7 6b roof crack heyday", and unlike the rock in reality, this particular wall doesn't seem soft or wobbly enough to pull a few bits off and sneak around it. Thus I'm running out of routes I can pretend my way up by climbing very slowly and gently and ignoring the dubious structural integrity, and starting to be faced with things that are actually hard. And then there are other issues with off-piste routes that don't get nearly the repeats they deserve:


The latest shambles looked a bit like this:

Dichotomous, The Range - superb bit of rock in a superb situation. The first two superfluous pegs I pulled out by hand. The essential gear protecting the crux along an expanding undercling finger flake with lichenous smearing consisted of the one remaining bendy peg with rust flaking off it and a missing RURP. The long fall from here would leave on having to be lowered into the sea. I bailed.

The Blue Horse, Porth Dafrach - Warming up on Caff's minor sandbag DAME was fun. Feeling the greasy flakiness at the start of The Blue Horse and trying to envisage the brutal laybacking required for upwards/outwards progress along with protecting the whole sheningan was less fun. I bailed.

Angel Of The West, The Range - On paper this is a mere half a grade harder than Surreal Estate that had been a perfectly charming womble the previous day. In reality it must be a good 3 grades harder. I have looked at AOTW from many angles on 4 visits, and have been doing specific training for it on The Depot roof and The Boardroom DWS roof, and it still looks utterly and incomprehensibly outrageous. I bailed (but I'm still thinking about the fucking thing).

Three Day Event, Porthllechog - more like Three Metre Event as that's about how high I got up it. Somewhat more conventional in angle and situation than the other routes but, well, my guts had been bad that morning (for absolutely no fucking reason), the refreshing breeze all day had dropped in time for my attempt, there seemed to be plant life covering crucial holds, I'm a wimp, etc etc. I bailed.


---


Anyway, all of this got me thinking, thinking about some proper choss, proper potentially wonderful routes, and the Top Three That Got Away, which goes a bit like this....

Gold, North Pembroke
Wow. Okay. This one. Honestly, if I'd got up this (a one star route at a grade I've done dozens of), it could have been the route of my life. Rainbow Zawn looks quite impressive from the side....but from below, it's unbelievable. It was genuinely hard to take in how impressive and intimidating it looked - constantly overhanging end-on strata of culm sandstone and shale. I battled for an hour up the first pitch to find that a section through an overhang (shared with an E3 5b!!) was missing and I couldn't work out how to climb it. I left a wire and krab in-situ and this update for UKHitlering (which never made it on afaik)

"An epic climb that is one of the easiest (!) lines up a shocking cliff. Originally graded E4, the first pitch has lost holds including at least one crucial ledge, and it is a very different experience to South Stack / Lleyn / Craig Llong E4s. The end-on shale strata are ungenerous with holds so expect an awesome adventure with hard, strenuous climbing as well as the obligatory loose rock, rope-cutting edges, rusty pegs and sandy cracks."

I still regret not doing it.

Back To The Old Ways, Atlantic Coast
Immortalised on film with me backing off it, tail firmly between stockings. A very cinemogenic King Line chosen for Cheque's Seaside, as a light digestif to accompanying Duncan on Eroica (and the bugger calmly encouraging me onto Black Magic despite my qualms). Alas it wasn't meant to be, the choss quotient was perfectly fine (in it's own shaley way) but the much-harder-than-graded climbing with much-smaller-than-required gear was a bit too much. A pity as it really did look ace.

Kelly's Eye, Lleyn
A recent inspiration and retreat. A great bit of rock in a lovely wee zawn, but this time whilst both the climbing and gear on the first pitch seemed manageable, the choss was in full effect with almost everything feeling crunchy, or wobbly, or indeed both. Yes, I backed off the first 5a pitch, but abbing down (with the lone belay stake reassuringly backed up by the dog stake), the two 5b pitches looked just as hard and terrifying as they did from the slope opposite. I suppose when someone (Littlejohn) who has been E6 new-routing for decades, including the Lleyn, warns that "some of the rock requires a light touch", I should probably be extra wary despite the lowly grade. So the right decision, but still disappointing. 

---

Back to the present day. It feels a bit weird to run out of inspiration at The Range. I do love it there. So gentle and peaceful and beautiful and weird and sketchy on the routes. But there's odds and sods to pop in for, and other coastal gems to explore and the bird bans are off South Stack this weekend... I just need to get some fucking confidence back as it's taken a bit of a beating with these retreats, my digestion being up and down, my sport fitness going to pot (too much amateur chossaneering, sigh), etc etc. Fingers crossed.



Source: You Should Have Seen The Looseness Of The One That Got Away...

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#988 fiendblogMini-Adventures #3
August 02, 2021, 01:01:32 am
Mini-Adventures #3

 
Although things ground to a bit of a halt on a recent (pre-heatwave!) trip, there was still some fun to be had. The pictures can do most of the talking:

Looking straight down to a shell glued to a vertical face by the very edge of it's shell!

View out from Porth Dafrach. So many lovely and intriguing inlets headlands and zawns.

Rhoscolyn lighthouse and the Llyn.

Moonrise over Porthllechog

Big skies over The Range all the way to The Llyn.

Dickhead.

An anchor without a dog stake is an anchor without dignity.


Crazy Horse, Porthllechog. A Nick Bullock "decomposing wide crack". Amenable standard but good, thought-provoking fun.


Dichotomous / Dai-Version, The Range. This was actually on the failed attempt on the former, but the latter meets it at exactly this point so I figure it's okay. A great and substantial route that is less mini than some hereabouts.


Dame, Porth Dafrach. A minor Caff sandbag, good adventurous fun in a lovely location. Just look at the rock architecture!


Surreal Estate, The Range. A minor Big G ultra-soft touch, but guess what, yes it was fun too, and in a cool setting too!


So that was that. Since then it got hot, it got showery, I got back on the sport, I got back to the indoor wall, I had an epiphany that I've got physically weak due lack of any actual strength training and pushing redpointing, I had an epiphany that I've got mentally weak after starting re-reading The Rock Warriors Way and a mere 10 pages in realising my mindstate had gone awry on almost all counts. Lots to work on there....


Source: Mini-Adventures #3

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#989 fiendblogAnd thus it begins...
September 03, 2021, 01:00:46 am
And thus it begins...



T = 0
I'm sat on a slope of tumbling tussocks, 20m above the sea, 70m below the crag top, looking out at a rising trench of steep silt with little sign of protection nor security, and I'm terrified. Unusually, rarely, I don't want to be here. A non-trivial percentage of my brain wants to scramble out and haul up the ab rope. My confidence has been very vague this summer, I'm fed up of being stressed and scared - not of the climbing, but of my own mental fragility. But....maybe I could just pull on the first holds, see if I can move...

T +1.2hrs
I'm sat on a small pedestal at the top of the silt trench, anchored in to abstract ironmongery hammered into dust, and I feel sick with fear. Well, partly fear and partly my guts playing up after wolfing down an emergency egg breakfast. The fragility is still there - if I struggled to cope with the easy intro pitch, how can I cope with the main pitches?? Maybe it's best to finish up an easier version, maybe I could cope with that. Except I'd have to do it all again at some point in the future. But....the next "poor rock" section looks easier, and I can see some resting spots to aim for...

T +1.4hrs
I've just pulled onto a thin wall, out of the steep looseness, and onto terrain that intimidates me just as much - sheer and smooth and supposedly sustained. But....I'm hanging on okay, I'm trusting small finger flakes, small foot edges, a good small nut next to me....I'm no longer scared....I'm curious, I'm inspired, I'm becoming happy....

( T +2.5hrs - the above photo )


T +4hrs
I'm sat on a dusty crag top, belaying, diligently taking the the ropes at constantly contrasting paces to best protect my partner on the bewilderingly weaving top pitch. I'm mostly.....surprised. Surprised I could cope with the initial reluctance, especially surprised I could transmogrify from that fear and nervousness to genuine pleasure in the middle pitch. Pagan isn't the hardest route I've done (nor the hardest this year, nor the hardest on South Stack), but it is one of the hardest that I've ever climbed when I've been so lacking in confidence - confidence being one of the essential pre-requisites (along with a light touch, trad nouse, and a lot of cams, rather than physical prowess) for this sort of terrain. I'm still not quite sure how it happened...

Expansive.

The mildly horrifying ""E3 5b"" first pitch. 50% of the climbing on this pitch you could have a nasty accident on.

The completely fine and normal first belay. "Yes we could sling together the 3 pegs in siltstone and abseil off into the sea to escape".

~~{§}~~


Meanwhile, a few weeks earlier....

As chance would have it, I started the Red Wall campaign nicely early this year, scarcely a few days after the bird ban was off. Gogarth South became my constant literary companion...

I've always particularly loved the second paragraph :)

Looking down to Left Hand Red Wall, about to do Left Hand Red Wall. Another traumatic start off the tussocky ramp!

LHRW was a stern reacquaintance with the terrain, but pretty good. But not as good as Television Route which was bloody marvellous, surely one of the best single pitches in the whole UK. The tricky climbing on this 45m route starts at about the 3m mark and eventually eases off at the 43m mark, and on the way takes in a massive variety of steep, committing, wobbly, technical and constantly interesting climbing. World class.

Incidentally the description is quite inaccurate so have a proper one:

Television Route E4 5c *** 45m
Start by the two loose spikes. Just to the right is a groove, follow it, passing a few rusty relics from the original aided ascent. Surmount a loose bulge to gain a better crack and step right to an improvement in rock quality and more bolt heads. Continue on easier ground with little gear to an overhung red niche in the groove, and make crux moves around the right edge of the overhang via a "thank god" jug. Move up to the where the groove steepens again, and step right to a rib and spike holds, then trend left and finish up the continuation groove, past the last remnants of scrap metal.

However there weren't enough sandy troughs on TR, so I had to go back and do Last Of The Summer Wine, a lesser-rated but quite quintessential Red Wall experience, as seen below:

"Moon cheese" according to Andy McBiscuit. Mars cheese according to me!!

The usual view of the usual situation.

Recovering after the "very exciting" start to pitch 3 - right limbs on overhanging flanges of quartz, left limbs on fins of silt. All quite emotional. Above this it was a typically brilliant finish up steady steepness - the final straits of these routes are invariably euphoric.

~~{§}~~

So, if everyone can forgive a bit of numerical masturbation, and very much taking into account the start of this post where I fully explicated my weakness, that makes it 5 out of 5 successes on  Red Wall E4s (the others being Cannibal and Rapture Of The Deep), and 9 out of 9 successes overall on South Stack (adding in Hysteresis on Mousetrap, Dogs Of War and 93,000,000 Miles on Yellow Wall, and Natalie in Natalie Zawn). I will aim to do Kalahari Highway to get to a nice round number and have something on Castle Helen, but of course the post-bird-ban stuff has been a priority recently. What that all means I don't really know (especially since one generally steps onto these crags with enough in hand that failure is unlikely, or were it to happen one is unlikely to be around to blog about it afterwards!), but given my passion for the area it's something worth celebrating??

Thanks to Jodie and Jordan for accompanying me on these shenanigans.



Source: And thus it begins...

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#990 Re:  fiendblog
September 03, 2021, 10:50:05 am
I only seconded Television route but completely agree, one of the best pitches I've done at Gogarth. Having only got on Red Walls in the last decade, the amount of good rock was a big surprise. It's definitely not all dusty chimneys - upper left-hand is more like granite.

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#991 Re:  fiendblog
September 03, 2021, 12:09:44 pm
I also concur that TV Route has a useless description in the guide.  I ended up off route, then took a lob when a foothold broke whilst trying to reverse out of a blind alley. Ended up climbing out up increasingly spooky no-man's land somewhere left of the route. A fortifying experience all in all. Would like to go back and climb the actual route at some point!

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#992 Re:  fiendblog
September 03, 2021, 02:16:18 pm
The name’s a great reminder that aided first ascents used to be on national telly too.  :lol: Has anyone ever seen the footage?

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#993 Re:  fiendblog
September 03, 2021, 03:12:35 pm
Great blog Matt. Kind a helps me remember who I am - seriously.
Sea cliff adventures, the greatest play time ever!
It's not often you're reminded of what it's like to wake up having dreamed about it either.

Always wanted to do Television Route. There's something about it that captures the imagination and evocativeness of the old guidebooks - a bit like the old description of routes at Blackchurch in Devon.
Too many photos in modern guidebooks!

Pagan is an amazing route isn't it!
Did that with Dave Pegg years ago, on one of his visits back to the UK from the States. A treasured memory of a dear friend.
I loved the belay between the first pitches. I seem to remember some good flakes and a large cam in the rock that looks like corrugated cardboard up to the R.
We'd chosen one of the hottest days at the time to do it.

Thank you  :2thumbsup:

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#994 Re:  fiendblog
September 03, 2021, 03:23:03 pm
The name’s a great reminder that aided first ascents used to be on national telly too.  :lol: Has anyone ever seen the footage?
I did search for it and couldn't find anything alas.

Cheers DT90  :) I do love the stuff, despite not always being ready for it. I'm going to keep coming back for routes regularly. The first Pagan belay was indeed a relatively comfy one and quite adequate with the large cam backing up the cheese pegs.

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#995 fiendblogMoonboard? Manorboard!
September 09, 2021, 07:00:12 pm
Moonboard? Manorboard!

 

Power-to-weight is a constant battle. Too little of the former, too much of the latter. The latter I can do very little about as the DVTs prevent easy CV exercise and the b0rked digestion (and healthier diet to try to alleviate it) simultaneously gives me lower energy without any weight reduction. I once asked an established climbing coach I met at the crag about the general issue, and the short answer was "It's fine to be really heavy, you just have to be really fucking strong too", and the disclaimer "The trick is to get strong without getting injured". I haven't booked a masterclass quite yet. 

But yes the former I can at least try to do something about and maybe I should try a bit harder instead of spinning the ledge shuffling and esoteric bouldering and quick easy redpoint plates. Actually, I have lost a couple of kilos this summer (a dozen to go...), and this is almost entirely due to some hefty days out combining ledge shuffling with inimical walking. One edge of this sword is a tiny improvement in fitness and lightness, the other edge is a severe blunting of any power. Hauling my carcass up to Dow for two 6A+ moves, or a full day trudging back and forth around The Range doesn't actually get you strong, who would have thought it?? And when the buffer between my sport / bloc ability and my trad desires often feels as thin as a midge's scrotum, there's something to heed there.

A while ago I realised how dire the situation was that I was a solid grade and a half below my redpointing at this time last year, despite not having the restrictive nonsense of a spring lockdown to crawl back from. By chance the revamped Awesome Stockport bouldering room has a vastly better selection of holds and problems on nice angles, the same terrible decor and ear-vomittingly awful dad rock soundtrack, AND a new Moonboard with wooden holds, which lured me in with promises of a convenient skin-friendly power top-up. 

Naturally I took to this like a cat to water, although admittedly it was as much an issue of the constant "so farcical it's gone beyond hilarious and back around into tediously unfunny" pseudo-grading, the common terrible setting by morons who should be blocked off the MB app, and the often entirely useless feet-follow-hands style which given the larger holds on the easier problems reduces most situations to neanderthal lurching between relative jugs whilst pretending that "finger strength" and "core tension" are not relevant things to be trained. But at least the app makes it vaguely easy to sift through all the dross that actually gets in the way of training to find the occasional sandbag gem that might actually get me stronger. 

After a few sessions moaning my way through the 40° steepness I didn't feel any weaker, so en route back to Gogarth for some Red Walls trough squirming I stopped off at Manor Crag which has always looked fairly aesthetic for limestone. Given the angle of the place I had initial hopes that it could be a good test to see if the Moonboard had given me any hint of a power top-up, but on first viewings I remembered this same angle is my definite anti-style and resigned myself to merely getting a workout failing on everything, and at least it's more scenic than the AWMB. 

But then this happened....


....which was quite a shock to me. I know, climber in "trains a bit on a steep board and then does okay on steep board-ish style climbs" shocker, hold the fucking press. Actually in terms of tackling challenges, this is one of my very best bouldering days out ever, it didn't even feel like a training day because it was over so quick. A few notes: Jawa I missed the flash simply because I forgot my planned sequence and where to bump my hand to. Patch's Crack I missed the flash because I didn't seat the hand jam right a couple of times. Cracked Roof I missed the flash because I didn't get my thumb fully in the jam first time - all very close things!! All very good fun too.

Anyway recently I went back on the Moonboard a couple of times, there's a Font """""6B+""""" that I've tried at least a few times each session for 6 sessions now. I'm almost close. Almost. 



Source: Moonboard? Manorboard!

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#996 Re:  fiendblog
September 09, 2021, 09:21:20 pm
Nice Matt, good to see the MB paying off!

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#997 Re:  fiendblog
September 09, 2021, 09:31:22 pm
I certainly feel I plateaued on it in about 3 sessions!!

Apologises that this blog is mostly a rehash of my previous moaning on here and my previous video on here  :ninja:

 

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