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Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Trifle Lazy

I was glad to be back at work this week as the finances were getting rather stretched to say the least. The plan was to cane the training after work. I did some pull ups the first night but faded the rest of the week. I just couldn't be arsed! Pascal was on the beastmaker for and hour and a half every night and i was sat down eating trifle. I just enjoy sitting down and couldn't make myself do it. If there had been a board i would have been all over it but sometimes i struggle with motivation for pull up bars and fingerboards. I knew it was bad news and wasn't expecting much from climbing yesterday. Headed to Three Degrees Crag with Spidey. This place has been seeing a lot of use by the locals who are loving it. A few were there yesterday including Dave who works at my old haunt Prestatyn Leisure Centre. This was the first climbing wall i started using, me and the Cattells had some meaty stamina circuits. Dave has climbed on this crag quite a bit over the years top roping bits and bobs, he climbed here with Andy Boorman and Andy Pollitt as far back as the 70s. Spidey got stuck into Clitoris Allsorts and got it bagged.

I tried my remaining project there, a boulder problem on a rope affair. I had tried it briefly before but it was a bit too powerful. Yesterday i spent a bit longer on it and did the moves. Need more strenght to link it though. The holds and the moves are ace.

Then we jumped ship to its neighbour where i have two more projects. One is a meaty roof and corner which i had tried a few times but not done all the moves. This time i got the moves quite quickly and some links. It didn't feel quite as hard as i had first thought and i discovered some better beta. It is flippin brilliant though and it feels ace to climb on. Should go down pretty soon.

Ormesman of the Week: Colin Goodey - The Original

Colin Goodey is the original Ormesman. He started the ball rolling and was the first man to venture onto the Orme with climbing in mind. In 1947 at the age of 11 Colin and his brother started bouldering and top roping on some small crags at West Shore. Colin lived close to the Orme and transport and finances meant that getting to Snowdonia was very inconvenient. In the Summer of 1950 Colin led the first route on the orme with a single 100 foot length of manilla rope and nailed boots. The route was Pigeon's Chimney VD on the Toll Gate Crags. Colin rates the best new route of those early days as Colin's Groove VS which was put up in August 1952. By 1956 Colin and friends had motorcycles and so extended their climbing to Snowdonia. They returned in 1958 to practise their pegging for a trip to the Dolomites. By 1960 they were pegging across the huge roof at Elephants Cave. Colin also discovered Craig-y-Forwen and Castle Inn Quarry. Colin is in his 70s now but is just as active today. He has developed quite a few new routes on the slate and Tony even caught him sniffing around a new venue on the Orme the other day. Once an Ormesman always an Ormesman!

Colin with the old king:

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Big One

After bolting 15 routes this year i wanted to finish this bolting campaign with a big project. During the many days i spent trying Temple of Gloom in the main cave at Llandulas last year i spent a fair amount of time eyeing up the line to the right. There was another obvious weakness which looked just as good if not better. I went up a few times this year to have another look. It's even more dark and gloomy in there in winter so it was hard to see much. I returned with my clip stick and aided up the new 6b that starts on the right and climbs diagonally into the top of Zoidberg. I abbed off an appropriate bolt and came down the finish of the line. There seemed to be many potential holds and sequences, just the ticket! I returned again with the drill and bolted the end of the route. I spent the next few weeks pestering Tony as i needed a ladder off his van to bolt the roof sections. Unlike Temple of Gloom no one had looked at this line before so there was nothing in the roof to assist bolting it. Tony sacrificed his Saturday morning and we slogged up the muddy hill with the kit and ladder. I ended up sticking five bolts in the roof section. It was very interesting to see the holds close up and feel them. My first impression was that it seemed a bit harder than i had imagined from the floor. The intitial depressions only yielded a couple of holds and i had to prise off some loose stuff that i had expected to use. However there seemed to be a sequence, that was the main thing. You can never tell without trying these things properly but i'm optimistic that it will go down. If i can crack the start i'm sure it will go. A seige is not a problem, if this is what it requires a seige i'm the man for the job. I'll probably hold off trying it til i'm climbing a bit stronger again. It looked brilliant and it actually steepens a bit sooner than Temple.

Happy with my efforts i went off to do some bouldering at a little bouldering cave we'd found. There was a hard project there which i was really keen for. It was just what i liked, steep limestone overhang with a big crux move off a lovely small pinch. I knew i wouldn't be up to it at the moment but i was keen to see what it was all about. After doing two very nice easier problems i had a go. There was some mud in the back of the pinch so i scraped it out. It had become a much juggier pinch which didn't upset me too much. I tried to pull on and the flipping hold came off. I should have replaced the mud with resin.

Darn, well you can't win em all! Off to work again next week so i've handed the bolting baton over to Norm and Tony!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Ormesman of the Week: Dave and Chris Lyon, new route machines!

In the late 70s two local brothers Dave and Chris Lyon, hit the Orme new routing scene with a vengeance and continued Rowland Edwards' good work in the area. Dave in particular would put up new routes across the Ormes and would become the areas most prolific new router ever! The Lyon's left their mark on nearly every crag over the next 20 years. The brothers began development on Crinkle Crags and Wonderwall and scaled the walls of the Little Orme putting up new routes. Norman told me that he went to stay at their place one night and as soon as the clock struck 9 the TV went off and it was lights out for an early start. True professionals! They bucked the trend of development above the road and put up the first route on LPT, Twisting by the Pool E4. Despite adding another route Jacuzzi, Jive the crag was largely ignored for another year before things really kicked off in 84 Chris became disillusioned with the climbing scene but Dave continued to put up new routes throughout the 80s and this culminated in his ascent of Ocean of Emotion 7b+ on Detritus Wall. This went into the 92 Rockfax as the only 4 star route. If you can get it guano free this is a brilliant adventure sport climb. Dave still owns Lyon Sport in Llandudno.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Ormeman of the Week: Pete Harrison - Services to Re-equipping.

Ever had a good idea but then come to the decision that it’s too much like hard work? There are plenty of things we'd all love to do but actually getting around to it is often one step too far. Well this isn't the case for this weeks Ormesman of the week. Rebolt LPT and lots of upper drive routes - check. Establish 90 metre horizontal line across the little Orme - check. Decide to write a North Wales Limestone guide with all proceeds going to the bolt fund - check.
Pete Harrison is a man who doesn't mess about. Once he's decided on doing something he just gets on with it, no faffing or procrastination. I only came across Pete on the Orme a few years ago. He grew up in the area but had time away in the armed forces and a stint living in Canada. I was on the pavement and I could see this guy on Mumbo Jumbo area on a rope doing some rebolting. It was to become a familiar sight. Pete soon took his re-equipping mission down to LPT. The bolt situation on LPT was quite inconsistent. The majority off the routes had good eco bolts but there were plenty with rusty old expansion bolts that desperately needed replacing. Some routes were well bolted but had one or two shit bolts that needed replacing. Pete started on the right side of the crag and worked his way leftwards making sure every route had decent resin bolts. A few routes were fully bolted but relied on the odd wire placement (e.g. Face Race and Mean Mother). These were bolted properly so you could leave your rack on the ground. I had placed a few bolts on a few of the harder routes and had rebolted Liquid Ambar but these were mainly for selfish reasons as these were climbs I wanted to try. Pete did his bolting for the good of the crag and as a result 2009 and 2010 turned out to be golden years for LPT. Nearly every route had chalk on it and routes like Parasite and Walking Mussel that had basically been ignored for years were seeing attempts. I would be in the cave staring down at LPT watching this guy dangling above the sea with the petrol drill.
Over the years a few people had suggested the idea of establishing a hand line across the Craig-y-Don seawalls to gain access to the Diamond on the Little Orme. This crag had hardly been climbed on for 20 years despite its impressive walls, existing routes and projects. It would surely become a forgotten crag if some reliable form of access wasn't established. When Pete heard the idea he decided he would crack on with it. The logistics of establishing a horizontal line like this on your own is beyond me. It took Pete a lot of effort and he did indeed have some worrying moments with knots stuffed into cracks facing huge pendulums etc…. Pete placed resin bolts across the walls and linked them with static line. The end result was brilliant, the hand line was perfect and finally we could go to the Diamond without getting wet and have a decent amount of time at the crag. I for one was over the moon after a few dodgy moments wading in and out and the sinking dingy escapade with Mawson. I could also try The Brute project after rebolting it a few years previous. A new generation of Orme climbers could experience the Diamond for the first time and this amazing crag provided a brilliant new alternative to LPT. Of course Pete didn't stop there and did some more re-equipping. This year he rebolted the classic but neglected Wall of the Evening Light so that should get some attention next season. It sounds amazing! A lot of work happens on Pen Trwyn checking the lower offs for the BMC; Pete has been one of the main people doing this along with Andy Boorman and Chris Parkin. This is also essential work which is time consuming.
Back in November I was told that a group of locals planned to release a lime guide with the proceeds going to the bolt fund. It came as no surprise to learn that Pete was spearheading this project and was doing the bulk of the work putting the guide together. He has spent a lot of hours cutting his teeth with the software and co-ordinating the efforts. I’m sure it will be a great guide.
So after reading this I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Pete’s efforts in recent years have been outstanding and that the Orme and all us climbers owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts. I would say buy him a pint when you see him but he’d probably rather you just give the money to the bolt fund! Nice one mate, you’re probably blushing reading this you modest git.
The drilling machine:

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Craftnant Invaders

A team of English invaders headed up to Craftnant today. Sausage had a good day flashing Wonderwall and ticking Cruella and Grasswind and a ten minute ascent of Special K. Jordan then flashed Special K! Sausage said 7b for Wonderwall and Cruella. Wonderwall probably will feel 7b if you can lock off on small crimps on a steep wall but i reckon most 7b climbers would have a tussle with it post break. It would be v10 in hueco thats for sure. Good to see the place getting some attention.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Hard Week

Phew, i had another hard week out on the crags. Wednesday was spent bolting a 20 metre line. It took me 4 hours straight to clean and bolt it. I spent hours smashing any suspicious looking bits of rock with the peg hammer until they fell off. It is a nice crag but needs a fair bit of cleaning. The next day i almost came to a sticky end trying to get to the top of a mini crag i found. I tried to get established in a easy looking gully but it was too wet and slippy so i ended up yarding up a steeper wall aping between tree branches. I ended up staring at the top with a committing move about 8 metres up. I was about to stand up on the wet footholds when i had a reality check and realised i was about to kill myself just to get to the top of a little craglet and it probably wasn't worth it. I awkwardly got my harness on and abbed off a tree, idiot! Then i took my harness off and walked to the top round the other side, idiot! Then i went to meet Norm at Three Degrees crag. I hadn't been here since that day with Robins and was keen to tick the rib project now that my skin was better. I put two bolts in my 6b+ Ivan the Responsible as it was a bit run-out then got on my route. First RP i cocked it up then i got it next go. The name is Jumbo Loving (cos we all like a bit of Jumbo Loving!) and its probably 7c. I really this route despite it not really being my style. I was pleased as i was a bit stronger than 2 weeks ago so some small progress. Just got to get the route to the right now in a month or two and all the bolted lines will be complete. Finished off with Clitoris Allsorts 7a+ which is defo a mini classic. I have continued to train at night, did a night of pull ups and two sessions on Gorgy's board which i'm really into. I haven't had any real love for overhanging bits of wood for years and it would be very handy if i got some sustained love now as this is the best way to get really strong. And if you're enjoying yourself and into the climbing it doesn't even feel like a hard slog that you have to force yourself to do. Being psyched for board climbing is basically cheating! I spose its good now because i've got so much more improvement to come to get back to normal. Motivation might be a bit harder to come by when i eventually plateau at den 7b like usual. Today i was out with Tony at my little craglet i found. Despite being fairly small i have a soft spot for this place as it is my first crag discovery. I spent hours knocking off a lot of loose blocks of the top of the crag, as i get clearing them more were revealed underneath. They weren't on the routes but you have to get the top of the crag as free of loose rock as possible to ensure the safety of others. I eyed up 3 nice little routes and Tony bolted a couple. My unspectacular little crag:

I've bolted 12 lines this year already. For those of you wondering why i've bolted so many and only climbed 5 of them well the answer is that a few of them are slightly wet (it is February after all); a few are a little to hard for my current abilties and also i want to get as much bolted as i can before the next bout of work so i don't have to spend my weekends drilling when i want to be climbing. Right time for a weekend of culture and relaxation. I've started having dreams about drilling rock so will be good to do something else!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Craftnant Circuit

Back in 2003 i went up to the Craftnant valley with the old king to go trad climbing. We got to the base of the cliff (can't remember name) and i was eyeing up a steep e2/3 cracky thing (Phoenix??). Truth be told though i couldn't really be arsed. It was cold and windy and my attention was caught by the nearby boulder field. We went for a mooch and it turned out to be quite a big boulderfield. It seemed to have some potential despite the many horrific landings. I returned with the Cattells to try the line that was to become Wonderwall. They did the moves before me (or course!) and were chomping at the bit to climb it but were holding back to allow me the first ascent. Talk about pressure! It was my pride and joy at the time although these days its not really what i look for (nice line but fucking sharp). I gave it a ridiculous grade of V7 (it was harder). We returned with Katzy who bagged Cruella (7b/+). Danny did Grasswind at 7c which is a very nice problem and one of the only good landings there. I returned a few more times and did a few more problems. Last year i took floppy Chris up there and he was jumping around like a kid in the sweet shop spotting hard lines. He started going up with Nodder and others and many of the remaining problems were polished off including these hard beauties:
Special K
My Own Private Idaho

So its seems that its a bit of a venue now with loads of problems. A video of mine has been on the Beardown Productions site for years but someone asked me about it today so i uploaded it to youtube. Along with Nodders vid of a few of the newbies here it is:

New Stuff:

Old Stuff:

Monday, 7 February 2011


I was trawling through the archives when i came across some footage of my strongest moment of last year. I remember i had just come up from finishing bolting The Big Crunch on LPT and was expecting to be completely knackered but in actual fact felt really light and had a new high point in the Cave. Such sustained hardness seems alien now but its some inspiration to look back on.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bolt Stuff

We will hopefully have some new areas opened up on the Orme soon as some of the banned areas are reassessed by the council with the input of BMC access rep Elfyn Jones. This means a lot of re-equipping. Check out Raymondos article about lime stuff Here. Donations mean safe routes and new areas so keep donating.

Jesus it has been pissing down here for days now. The coast is wet but not as wet as the hills. Driving to Plas-y-Brenin last night it felt like all hell and damnnation was raining down on me. Had to go home the long way round as a car and driven into a river across a flooded road and got stuck. After a late start i headed out for a mooch about. Bolted one and a half routes and went to gorgy's board which i managed to climb on for over an hour all on my own! I never could of been arsed to climb inside on my own last year. All my projects have given me a desire to improve and reach mediocrity!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Ormesman of the Week: Rowland Edwards - Early Activist.

Climbers had begun to sample the climbing on the Ormes by the late 60s but the first man to fully appreciate the potential of the place and take the bull by the horns was Rowland Edwards. Rowland was working at Plas-y-Brenin and started to make increasingly frequent trips to the Ormes in 1969. After climbing his first new route Gillies Groove on the Allotment on the Little Orme, Rowland embarked on a campaign of new routing and exploration in the area. As well as adding many free routes, Rowland established some long hard aid lines which would eventually significant free routes. 1970 saw him establish the line of Detritus on the Little Orme. This featured 200 metres of difficult climbing and took many years before it saw a free ascent from John Dunne. In 1972 Rowland also spent 16 hours establishing Wall of the Evening Light which would also gain classic status as a free route at 7b+. The best discovery during this period however was undoubtedly the magnificent Catell-y-Gwynt. This big imposing sheet of white limestone beneath the lighthouse on the Great Orme provided early inspiration to Rowland and co. The first route forged up the crag was Central Pillar which wasn't freed until 1983. In 1975 Rowland established New Dimensions on the Gwynt which was to gain classic status on a national level. Jim Moran used chalk on the 3rd ascent which some believed invalidated his ascent! How times have changed! Rowland returned the following year to make the first free ascent at E4. In 1976 Rowland became the first person to produce a guidebook to the area. He had planned to do one earlier but was threatened with legal action by Mostyn Estates who have owned most of the land in Llandudno for 500 years. This highlighted the fact that climbing on many of the crags in the area was still a contentious issue and significant access negotiations would be needed in the years to come. In the late 70s Rowland scaled down his activities in the area and after graduating as a teacher he moved to Cornwall to open a rock climbing school. Rowland eventually established his climbing school on the Costa Blanca where he is now based. His thirst for new routes hasn't subsided and with his son Mark he developed many new climbs in the area. Rowland kickstarted the new routing on the Ormes and showed the way to the locals who would eventually continue his good work.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Wake Up Call

Got out to the roof crag on Sunday after a night out on the sauce with some smelly climbers. I spent 45 minutes hanging on a bolt hacksawing a piece of metal sticking out the rock a bit close to my roof project (the saw was blunt!). This is a sign that the bottom of the crag was quarried. Then i bagged the FA of the diagonal grooves undercut route. This is really cool and weighed in at about 7b. It was quite a tussle in the end and the name is Three Stroke Norm (don't ask!!). Went to the Cave today to meet these aresholes:

It was a bit dark as a result of the temp increase but wasn't a total disaster. My strength is still a total disaster though and it took a visit to somewhere familiar to bring it home. I don't get a sense of how strong i am on new moves on a new route or down the Indy. In the cave every on every move i felt heavy and weak in every department. Even the old men Jim and Pritch burnt me off! For me being weak after a couple of month lay off is a different thing to being weak when you've actually been climbing. In 13 years i've only had more than 2 months off twice and the first was down to injury. Far from being disheartened i am quite optimistic and looking forward to getting anywhere back to my normal level. I have extra motivation as 3 out of my 4 bolted projects require a higher level of strength than i've got now. Plenty of reasons to gain strength. I really need to get to it now though and shock the body with some pull ups and fingerboarding.