Sunday, 14 December 2008


Moved to Llangollen - nearest 8b sports route is 5 mins from my flat, i can hear the river, see the hills and the castle and smell the rock from my room!

Been climbing indoors regularly for the first time in 5 years? Feels good!

Had my first day out on Grit - toproped Kaluza Klein, E7 6c at Robin Hood's Stride and End of the Affair E8 6c at Curbar - both in the Peak District, both Dawes routes and both from Hard Grit - and both were surprisingly easy to figure out and work - managed around 6 clean, slack topropes on both routes before the meager winter daylight faded and we had to leave - Now they've been in my mind a few days i'm ready for the leads... With all the media hype about E8's and 9's being ground-up'ed lately it's easy to forget the seriousness of these routes and the difficulty! That day on grit was eye opening for me and also inspirational - i know i would have never been able to even hold the holds a few months ago - never mind consider leading these routes! I'm mega psyched!!!! For training, bouldering, hard trad headpoints.... the lot! Respect to Eddie B. and Ricky B. for their leads of End of the Affair b.t.w! Legends! hope mine goes as smoothly :)

Got a fingerboard

Sculpted my first ever climbing hold that is gonna be moulded and made in north wales the other day while off work sick... sweet sloper action!

Neal is off in Thai land - about to start his send fest no doubt - Good - it'll keep me psyched throught the winter :)

Will post more and more regularly again - promise :)

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Summer 2008

Well i'll call it a summer - despite the weather! :)
I've been working non stop to scrape funds together basicially... nuff said.
No holidays, not much climbing - non really. Bits of training .... just managed to keep my head above 40 miles pre week throughout the summer with the occasional week above the 70 mile mark. No climbing indoors. A steady ammount of hanging.
I've been working at Freelance Climbing instruction with groups out in Llangollen and also got my hand into leading Gorge walking groups and White Water Rafting Sessions - All great fun so it's not nearly as bad as it might sound.
Work wise - I got my first set of GCSE results during the summer and the schools poor run of performance in Maths has taken a turn for the better - with a department consisting of two, Tim the Head of the department and Me, we jumped the percentage of pupils achieving between a C and A grade from a Regional low the year before of just 14% to a new regional high of 52% !! So i must be doing something right :)
Got out on rock a few times - it was often wet - and managed a steady bit of mileage on some 7b's and 7c's but made no real progress on the 8b - Well, i got on it twice - now finding the lower section harder, but made huge progress on the top, crux move after watching Nico tryng it way back. Oh, and i'm climbing sans-tape.... the finger feels ok :)
Last night i went climbing indoors and had alot of fun. I failed patheticially on routes by the end of the night that i should be able to cruise! I mean 6b's by the end of the session but instead of feeling like topping myself off the nearest bridge i'm kinda excited. I know i've gotten Way stronger and fitter than before and that i can pull harder off smaller edges now than's just that i've done literally NO mileage in ages. I'm hoping to see and report back on a steep improvement curve.
Thats all for now Folks.... hopefully more to come

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Dave Sends Echo Wall, E12?

And a serious Well done to Dave From me... his blog is the best source of honnest grit and determination, following his trail of hard work and progress, on the web.
Way harder than E11 or any other route he's done?!?! Harder than 8c solo or 9a redpoint? on really crap gear? On a mountain crag? The route's already got legend status... I'm guessing there won't be a que of people wanting to repeat it anytime soon :)

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

British Fell Championships

A few weeks back Caroline decided to enter into the Fell championships despite not really managing to get into the groove of training at all this year really (Mainly due to a few lingering illness').
Heres some profiles and pictures of the event - 3 words - short and Sharp!

Caroline finished 9th Senior Lady despite a fall on the descent - got us back training on the fells with a vengance

Friday, 4 July 2008

Visual catchup

Still playing catchup with the last months activity... i'll just plough on redardless :)

I got sick - think it was my first case of the flu! Knocked me for 6! but every cloud has it's silver lining - i found the ultimate cure... look above. Yes, thats right.... lemsip max, plenty of honey, jameson and boiling water! Hmmmmmmm
We decorated the kitchen...
I went to a Welsh medium residential outdoor centre for two days where some of my year 7 pupils were staying for a week doing all sorts of activities - climbing, high-ropes, sailing, rafting hiking etc... On the day i arrived to help out i was asked to accompany a group walking up a hill. Half way in a kid trips up and breaks her ankle - turned out i was the most experienced of the instructors present and they had no plan in place for a situation like this. Luckily i threw my mountain leader First aid kit in my pack before heading off (Don't normally). Managed to strap it up as best as possible then arrange for a jeep to get as close as it could to our position. Despite the centre staff trying all manner of assisted hoping, group lifts etc... nothing worked due to the uneven terrain and the kid was in pain. So i ended up carrying her on my back the 3/4 mile to the jeep. Killed me!The Kid was heavier than me! Good deed for the day done and in the bag :)

Monday, 30 June 2008

Past it's sell by date - Eye Candy 003

Right - i know this is getting old so heres the last few pics from the week off - Jean Lou asked if he could take some shots of me going for my first E7 ... heres what came out Ignore the crap ropework... was more concerned with staying on!
Again, not lookin the most steady... Placing the definition of Mental protection - the smallest Black Diamond Cam - placed in a flared sandstone mini-crack. I tested this on abseil and it ripped straight out...pointless!
Ready for launch - all set up on the smears and tiny edges before the crux dyno for a rounded break - i hadn't got this move first go on a toprope ever before, so without any warmup i was all too aware i was gonna fly off at this point. Ripping the crap Cam and (hopefully) stopping above the ground providing the old Peg below me held
I caught it! Now pumped and with the prospect of making it the climbing keeps comming - the groove tapers, getting narrower and narrower, every move feels at least Brittish Tech 6a...
The climbing style changes into something more like face climbing before...
the groove totally tapers out and theres a sequence of Monos on poorish footholds before you reach the top break (Ha, ha! Break! On lead, right below the top and about 10 ft higher than this picture, with no more gear, a handhold ripped off while i was about to top out sending me into one of those wavey armed barndoors!! i just managed to hold on!)

Sunday, 29 June 2008

At last!

I've been having broadband issues at home and YouTube is blocked at work so it's taken me this long to finally upload my naff first attempt to string together some of the footage from our fun week - The vid is from one wet day in Pembroke - Lots of Wet holds from the nights rain but the sun came out so we went onsighting! Typically all the best climbs were not caught on film! and i didn't stick in any of the footage from working the Big Issue as none of us got on lead before the rain came... Enjoy and be kind - my first attempt at editing!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Eye Candy 002

Wider bridging above the crux but still nothing like a hold in sight
Nico belaying sean (in my hat) on his oh so almost successful 1st redpoint attempt. Just look at this position, Palming, hangjam-chickenwing, kneebaring, smearing, chimney-ing, face smear!!

Me belaying Nico - taking a deep breath before throwing himself into the groove for his last redpoint attempt!Me starting up Yukon II, E7 6b - damp sandstone! A great feature but not many holds - or trustworthy gear placements!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Eye Candy 001

Some buildering around Chester - Under the bridge, the fist jam traverse

Sean starting up pitch 3 of the Quarryman (E8 7a) with me filming and Nico spotting

Me getting into the groove - we all took turns working this pitch before going for the redpoint - i think i counted 3 holds on this pitch!

A typical, chicken-winging, knee-baring, palming, smearing, chimney manoeuvre from this pitch! Physical!!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Quick update cheat

God it's been busy here with home, work even illness again!
still not quite out of the mess yet but heres a copy of an email i sent to a friend about the rest of the week with the lads .... it'll have to do for now i'm afraid
"Well we established a new 7 foot horizontal dyno in devils gorge, went to pembroke, did 4 E2's, an E3, an E4, 3 E5's, 2 E6's and played on the big issue (Nice!!), got rained on, drove back up to north wales, went to slate - did 4 E2's, 5 E5's and 2 E6's before getting rained on and going to Llanuduno - Went bouldering in the rain at parasellas saw a V13 getting repeated, lead a wet 7a+ 3 times in LPT, went to Dinbren Nico onsighted my 8a from last year - loved it! Then sean tried to onsight it, came off at crux - worked it a bit and sent it 3rd go on redpoint. Then i got Nico playing on my current 8b project - again loved it but didn't send it - i got new beta for the crux though and he fell off at my highpoint on both his redpoints. then we went to slate to do the Quarryman - E6 6c, E5 6b, E8 7a and E7 6c - never been freeclimbed in a day - we didn't manage it despite spending nearly 12 hours on it!! Awesome though - felt like a Big wall! then we went to nesscliffe - bouldered, i lead an E7 - fell off a greasy hold onto rusty little peg in damp friable sandstone above crux, pulled back on and topped out with more excitemebt before the top (broken handhold) - the lads flashed it then, Sean did an E8 after abseil inspection, then Nico onsighted an E7 and Sean flashed it afterwards. yesterday we went to Dinbren after work for soem power endurance training - i lead 4 7a+'s - feeling psyched beyond belief - unfit but focused and hungry for pain - it's training time!"

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Juice part 1

Last Thursday I picked up Sean and Nico from Manchester. Friday I went to work and when I came home we got stuck into some sweet climbing. First up we went to Devils Gorge for some pre-dinner bouldering. Sean spotted a (not so obvious) challenge inspired by our recent viewing of Stone monkey – a 7 ft horizontal dyno to a jug and wild swing. This kept us busy for ages until it was eventually stuck (I’ll go back and film this one for the blog sometime – it’s nuts!). After dinner we packed the car to capacity and hit the road to Pembroke. Arriving at 2am we set up camp and got up at 8 for a full day on the rock. Warming up at St. Govans we swiftly dispatched half a dozen routes up to E4 between us and made our way to Huntsmans leap – the lads loved it! Straight in for the E6 onsights – damp holds saw the ladz slip off the cruxes of both Souls and Hunterkiller – lack of trad climbing resulted in me fluffing up the 6b crux slap on Minotaur!! Not too bad though as I was fairly happy with the move once I tried it again and it’s the sort of move you do mess up onsight – a reachey (for me!) blind slap to a hidden pocket. Ah well…. Caroline finished up with a E2 lead in fine form before we went to check out The Big Issue, E9 6c. AWESOME! It was really weird to be climbing with some strong lads on a visit – they had no reason to not jump on these hard routes because they’d never heard or read about their reputation – the outlook really rubbed off on me – everything looks doo-able and fresh…. Ripe! Anyway – Nico checked it for gear and then gave it a quick toprope – agreeing that it was 8a+ … he was psyched for the lead but the following morning it was chucking rain!! Noo!! Where now?

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Where to start?

Dear God it's been busy!
More news in any one day of last week to write about than i've had all year!
Pembroke, Slate, Sandstone, Limestone, Bouldering, Sports and Trad!
I'm still processing it.... but will post lots of sweet pics and Vid clips asap!

Friday, 23 May 2008


I've been thinking....
I'm more psyched now than ever for climbing and it's so easy to see why
  • i was climbing well by my standards at the beginning of the year
  • i got injured and was forced to take 6/8 weeks off climbing
  • during which time i was literally frothing at the mouth to climb and train!
  • i began to feel better and started some easy climbing
  • i began to hang and train again
  • i started to send routes and boulder problems i had never managed before
  • some insanely motivated and strong climbers come to visit for a month
  • i realise theres an awesome hard trad crag 30 minutes from my door full of inspiring lines
  • and now i've a week off climbing!

Don't you just love it when things come together?

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The latest

Well i'm not dead, i've just been busy.

Last thing i blogged about was Caroline's E5 lead - since then it feels like i've not had a minute to sit down and think. Firstly we had a busy weekend entertaining Caroline's Mam and friends who came over to hike up Snowdon - awesome day for it but a weekend with no climbing and only little running. After that things got real busy. Firstly my finger began to feel normal again.... but not normal - i started to hang from the fingerboard with tape on the injury but within a few days i was training again with no tape... was feeling stronger.
Sean and Nico arrived nearly two weeks ago and we spend an afternoon in Lanberis bouldering with them before dropping them off at the BMC international meet where they ripped North Wales apart with E8 onsight attempts and numerous E7 and E6 onsights. Needless to say the combingation of this excitement and the working finger of mine set my psyche levels rising fairly rapidly! Sunday was my birthday (26) and we had study to do so no climbing on the cards. However, Sean and Nico swung by with Adam en route to Gritstone for a few days so we had a bit of lunch and the lads filled us in on the climbing they'd been up to - and we were planning what to do next week, when i'm off work - Pembroke is sounding very, very likely :)

Monday came and with my motivation levels at a new high and Adams encouraging views on Nesscliffe still ringing in my head we threw the kit into the car and floored it to the crag - we'd only been there once before and it was damp - this time it only took 30 mins to get there - nill walk in - and within 30 minutes i had warmed up an a 3 star E3 and was working a beautiful Soaring thin groove/arete, Yukan II, E7 6b. I couldn't compare this line with any other climb i've even been on - it felt utterly desperate. Technical 6b moves alot of the way protected by a variety of rusting old pegs. The seed was planted though - this would be perfect to do before trying My Piano again. It seemed like i had some close, hard trad to play on at last - it was always there, i just never thought it was feasable for mid week climbing! Doh! Tuesday evening - Nesscliffe again - this time, and after only one play on the route the night before i was way more comfortable with the unique rocktype and i managed the route clean on a top rope - the only thing now is getting comfortable with the arete dyno i do to the break - Friction holds for feet, open handed arete for left hand, throw your right hand for a sloping sandy break - looking at a 6m fall from that point minimum in the (quite likely) event of comming off. Hmmmm.... Anyway, Caroline began to work this line too and was making great progress on it before we packed up and headed home - it's good to play on hard lines!

Yesterday, Caroline had a driving lesson so i packed the pad and shoes and went to our local Limestone crag for an hour's mileage. Ended up soloing an E3, E5 and E6 plus a load of bouldering. Now i know someone commented on the validity of claiming E6 for a short route with a boulderpad below it and thinking more about it i have to kinda agree with them. It didn't feel E6 - but i suppose the intensity of the climbing was hard enough for the guide editor to award such a lofty grade. With a fairly packed and sustained 6b sequence getting you up the majority of the route, one things for sure - it's not E6 for exposure - it's for difficulty. Anyway - the point of this bit of the post is that despite the injury and layoff - moves and crimpers are feeling better than ever! Yes!

Now all i'm missing is a load of route mileage and a good summer's climbing is back on the cards!

A week in Pembroke with the Lads, Sean and Nico should get that well underway - I'm psyched!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The last week

Right then..... well after mentioning Carolines recent success in my previous post i thought i had better expand on it. Firstly i think a bit of background is important to see things in perspective :) Caroline has been climbing 4 years or so..... during that time she has never really taken the bait and gotten too keen - her running kept her busy and climbing had the potential to lure her to the dark side. So it was kept as a dirty little secret. Never making any big efforts to get out on rock but doing just enough to justify the time spent as some form of cross-training for running.... you know, core, abdominal benefit etc.. the scary thing i picked up on was that within 5 leads, Caroline had progressed to E1 and soon had preferred not to lead anything below that grade (that took just a couple of months). Then we relocated to Wales and within the first year she had lead a few E3's - some necky and technically easy, one or two big, pumpy and meaty.
A meaty one... Caroline on an E3 5c, Pembroke 2006?
But then a two year period of relative inactivity for both of us hit, which was brought to an end last summer with our trip to Le Tarn and Caroline's first 7a+ and 7b leads (taking 2 and 3 goes respectively). What happens when we break new grade ground? We doubt the routes difficulty, naturally! So it followed that on returning to the UK Caroline had a point to prove to herself and sent a few 7a sports routes on home turf. Then a week long trip to Siurana saw her trying every 7a in sight and managing on the second last day to bag her first 7a onsight. The proof seems fairly watertight at this stage (well to me at least) but being Caroline she still wasn't convinced. Anyway, the winter came and went and we've been doing feck all really. Then for whatever reason we started thinking of trad again. Caroline wanted a goal so decided E5 was a worthy one and last Monday we went out late to the local crag after work and she managed about 30-40 minutes on a rope trying Laxix. Driving home she was still unsure if she could do one or two of the moves - never mind doing them on lead. Ah well, at least it was good training :) Wednesday came and i managed to persuade her to come out again and try it for a laugh - she had a full days work and a 75 min road run under her belt by this stage but i won and we hit the crag. This time huge progress was made and the route was climbed in two overlapping sections by the time we packed up. She was getting into it! Saturday we made it out for around 5pm after a day in Chester and this time instead of going around to set up the top rope i got the pad ready and gave her the sharp end (half expecting her to tell me where to go)... and she tied in for the lead. The gear had been practiced too and nothing extra was racked up, the first few pieces; a fiddly 00, good 3 in a slightly flared slot and a backup skyhook had to be placed at about 15ft after the first boulder problem. After that, one bomber peanut in a keyhole slot protected the most fluffable and steepest section before the final balancy top section. Caroline's first attempt saw her back off before the first gear... this was her first trad lead in probably two years remember. 5 mins good psyche at the base and she was off again... this time straight to the crux but she wasn't climbing well - really scared and pumped - overgripping every crimp. As she moved into the crux i knew it wasn't going well and then her left foot popped off the blind edge under the bulge just as she was about to place the right foot higher - leaving her clamped onto the two worst holds on the steepest section of the route, footless! She hung on and tried to correct it but it was no use, she was off! Lowering down there was some severe frustration - but on the plus side, that was her second ever trad fall! The rope was pulled and within 10 minutes she was up there again on lead, this time the sequence vivid in her mind... RIGHT foot, then left, right hand sloper, left hand to crack scar, left foot onto pimple then.... the bit i had been waiting for, Caroline had to deadpoint with her left to a sidepull at the base of the groove - with pumped arms and crap footers it was all too fall-offable - a little kinda growl later and she had made the move and romped up the groove to her last wire placement, a sideways 4 in a shallow opening protected the remainder of the route and the final balancy moves. Man i was relieved when she topped out and in case you hadn't guessed very chuffed! The scary thing is that including this Caroline has a total of less that 30 trad leads ever! .... and we've only 1 E grade between us! On that note i soloed the neighbouring E6 before we went home... felt easy but good head training for harder stuff to come. (finger feeling ok... but still not better)
Today we headed to Burbage North to try and work something a little harder... Any E7 woulda done. We ended up playing on "Balance it is", E7 6c. Although i could climb it fairly ok - it was dripping wet, especially the sheltered left side of the arete and inside the cracks! it was an almighty fight! Before we could really get into anything else a thunder shower drenched us through and we packed up in the rain..... our hard grit initation had come to a close :)

Re' Laxix - This isn't over!

Caroline's first E5 - Laxix, E5 6a - I'd describe it as a reachy, technical boulder problem to a poor rest with fiddley tiny wires and optional skyhook, straight into a sieries of 5c/6a technical moves up a gently overhanging wall split by a thin crack, ending with a deadpoint from a sloper to the base of a tiny groove which is then followed with poor protection to a thank God jug and a top-out. The propper write up will follow soon but all i'll say for now is it impressed the hell outa me!

Friday, 25 April 2008


It's been over 3 weeks since i've trained!! I'm convinced i'm now weak as piss!! How will i ever climb again?
Well, it's not that bad really - i've been doing little bits and bobs (even though i said i wouldn't) - concentrating on body tension and footwork at the wall and bouldering - plenty of slopers and no crimps - plus i managed to lead an E5 that i've done before but used to find fairly tough - this time i felt grand on it - kinda like it was a path! but the best news recently was hanging from both the large and small rungs on my fingerboard last night with no pain - but again, no crimping - just open handed.
Aside from that, for the first time ever the dwindling grade gap between myself and Caroline seems to have sparked some life back into my trad goals. The hardest i've lead is E6, i've also onsighted and soloed at this grade - i hate to admit it but it seems like i've hit a glass ceiling and havn't made any effort to push through it. Before the limiting factor used to be physical - basicially i'd climb at my limit on trad. Now i've improved my sports climbing and bouldering i'm finding the trad routes easier - i'm just thinking twice about the danger. I've a list of a few E8's that i'd like to lead but i know if i try them and can climb them then they'll get rooted into my head and i'll have to lead them. I'm also kidding myself into saying that if i do an E8 i will be happy with that but really i'm not so sure... Hmmmmm. It's all just pie in the sky for now anyways.... just talk... and thats cheap :)
Watching committed DVD hasn't helped my head by the way.... it all just looks so good!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Local project

Last night in fading light we hit our most local crag (10 mins drive) to get Caroline onto a line she had been eyeing up for a while now. Picture a lovely setting sun, quiet crag in the countryside, little lambs etc... and a crimpy little trad testpiece with a strong Irish woman yarding up through it :) Picturesque or wot?
The lower wall crux reach for Caroline

Moving towards the first piece of protection...

She can climb the route but it's time to contemplate the lead... Trad headgames

Despite the odd reach required lower down, Caroline fairly cruised up this route, as a sports route it might get 7a, maybe even 7a+.... grades Caroline can lead fine - but as a trad lead with limited protection placements (sometimes fiddley to place) it's a different matter.... I'll keep ye posted!


Saturday was an awesome day - started with a good 8 mile run, then an episode of Lost over breakfast, a quick trip to the farm shop to pick up some buffalo sausages, couple of hours bouldering on Grit, whiz around Ikea superstore, some grub, then a free Gig! Heres some pictures...

Finger is feeling good - this doesn't count as climbing though as i didn't go above V6, Honnest! :)