30th September 2015

Original Mountain Month September ’15

The end of our fourth Mountain Month is upon us and the sun’s been out to finish it off in style.

We’ve had another great month, this time joined by Anne Rebecca and Carol. The course is always bespoke to the clients and this time it’s been a fairly even mix of mountain days with a Mountain Leader focus and rock climbing, whilst we’ve kept the Single Pitch Award scheme in the back of our mind, the main focus of the climbing has been to get lots of leading done.

Anne Rebecca and Carol have been navigating us around the hills, micro navigating their way up and over Moel Siabod, getting us safely across Crib Goch, walking on bearings over the Glyderau plateau, amongst many other days out on the hill.

On the climbing front they progressed from me leading them up climbs like Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs, to them leading me up routes such as the mega classic Crackstone Rib and Skylon on Carreg Wastad. We have visited loads of great crags around North Wales, including the cliffs on Anglesey, Bwlch y Moch and Upper Tier at Tremadog, crags in Ogwen, crags in the Pass, the slate quarries, even sport climbing on the coast.

Both of them have now completed their SPA training so will now need to get out climbing as much as possible to consolidate their new skills with a view to working towards an assessment and all that’s left is the official ML training which takes place next week

They’ve both done really well and have been a pleasure to work with throughout the month! A big thank you goes out to the other instructors who have played a part in the month too – Terry, Mike and Anthony.

Moving into our third year of running this course, the next one we have running starts on the 29th February and we have already got one client signed up so there’s only on space remaining, get in touch for more info and take a look at our Facebook page for loads of photos of what we’ve been up to and have a look at the Instructor Training page for more info.

September is super busy!

Our Original Mountain Month is in full flow with our two clients Carol and Anne Rebecca already improving lots. They been navigating in the hills, leading on the cliffs, improving their technique indoors and mountaineering on the East Face of Tryfan. Lots more to come too!

I was also directing a Brian Dent Single Pitch Award assessment last weekend with 8 candidates, the weather was super kind to us and I really enjoyed the weekend, as I always do.

Last week Terry looked after the mountain month for us, whilst I was working with an MOD group down in Dartmoor. We had an awesome week of good weather and had fun biking, climbing and a mini expedition. I had a brilliant group who learnt a lot and developed many skills, as well as providing top banter.

Loads more to come this month, so I’m thankful my new puppy Oreo is sleeping better at night!

As usual, check out the Facebook page for loads more photos!





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15th August 2015

Learning to lead multi pitch trad

I’ve had a great week again this week, this time with Elizabeth who’s over visiting from Australia.

We’ve done absolutely loads…

Day 1, Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs looking at the basics of seconding and staying safe on belays and then a few slate routes in the afternoon to focus on movement skills.

Day 2, Pulpit Route and Rowan Route on Milestone Buttress focusing on setting up belays and introducing the placing of trad gear and then some more movement skills on the RAC Boulders.

Day 3, Tryfan Bach where Elizabeth led us up a couple of routes – first ever leads!

Day 4, Tremadog, I lead up Grim Wall and Elizabeth led us up Boo Boo and Hale Bebe.

Day 5, The Beacon due to rain, recapping and looking at more set ups, abseiling and leading indoors.

Over one week we progressed so far, from never having held a nut or cam, through to confidently leading V Diff routes, which was a stella effort.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, get in touch!

Our Facebook page has loads more photo!

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12th June 2015

Route of the week number 9

Route of the week number 9

I’ve had an amazing couple of weeks back in the UK, the weather, after a super shaky start has been brilliant. I’ve managed to get out most days and when I haven’t, I’ve been out on my bike instead. Living in North Wales has been awesome!

Climbing highlights include Blanco, HVS at Castell Helen, Canol, E1 in the Pass, a link up of Tennis Shoe Direct, Tennis Shoe, Rampart Corner and Continuation Cracks, E1 – HS – E1 – HVS on Idwal slabs and plenty of others, but one stands out for sure…

“Do you fancy Devil’s Nordwand?” Stu’s message read. I’d never heard of it so quickly checked UKC to see what and where it was, I groaned internally, in the Devil’s Kitchen and pretty rarely climbed. I had visions of a shady, wet, chossy route which at E1 5b was going to be hard work! I’m weak willed so I agreed and dutifully rode over to Stu’s house in Llanberis the next morning, it was a stunning day so the thought of standing in a damp Devil’s Kitchen wasn’t super appealing.

On looking at the guidebook though I realised Clogwyn Geifr isn’t in the Kitchen itself, but is a great looking cliff on the flanks of it. I was completely unaware of this cliff despite years of living around here and when it came into view on the walk in, it was even in the sun – amazing!

The walk in isn’t too bad either, we had just passed loads of people at the bottom of Idwal Slabs when Stu asked if I’d picked up a rope…. Errr, no. Thankfully we had one and not knowing if the other half was in the car or at Stu’s house we car carried on up the path. “Is it a triple rated rope? No…” We traversed across to the crag reminiscing about the time we abbed into Castell Helen with just one rope. Oh well, isn’t it lightweight alpine style to climb on one thin rope?

The crag looked brilliant in the sun, just one damp patch on our first pitch, that coincided with the “Awkward Traverse” and that was my pitch. The rock looked brilliant and we were basking in the sun chuckling at the masses on the Slabs in the cold looking shade.

Geared up and feeling a little naked with one skinny rope dangling down I started off up the first pitch which is 5b, it was pretty steady with enough gear which requires a keen eye to find and place, it’s a little spaced but the rock was confidence inspiring due to the rough texture of it, even the slopey holds felt super positive. Extending the gear well due to our “Alpine” ascent (!) I was soon at the awkward traverse, staying low on good hand holds and spanning across to miss a couple of wet holds saw me in the belay niche, which the guide says “requires a bit of cunning to construct”. The gear in there isn’t perfect but a Walnut 3, 6 and a thread, plus something else I forget meant I was more than happy with at so I leant back on it all taking in the fantastic position of the crag and it’s surroundings.

Selfie on the P1 belay, shade incoming!

P1 was super good and Stu’s P2 looked even better. After arranging some fairly small gear he went up through the small roof of the niche we were in, then up quite a bold but steady section by a small sapling. It was at this point Karma started making an appearance, we were no longer looking over to the Slabs laughing at their shade, in fact we were very jealous of the sun they were climbing in as we were in the shade getting quite cold from the breeze… Stu regretting just wearing a T-Shirt!

After a bit of thought around a bulge with a crack above he was away to the belay and I followed up the route, my eyes watering at the top ‘cos of the cold wind, Stu was shivering on the belay so we swapped gear as quickly as we could before I set off up the final 35m of 4c climbing. As was the theme of the route the rock was brilliant but gear a little spaced, I was just excited to scramble over the last few heathery metres onto the top, greeted by the sun again, but not as excited as shivering Stu was when he joined me up there! The belay up there is on a funky looking bit of rock. A careful scramble down a ramp to the left brought us to a bit of ab tat which we used the last section is down climbable for sure but we abbed it as it seemed silly not to.

Stu leaving the niche on P2

It’s very easy to go to the same crags all the time, especially the ones with an easy walk in like the Grochan, I can be at the bottom of the crag within 20 minutes of leaving my house, but there are some superb crags and routes hiding in plain sight. If you’re climbing around E1 and want a slightly adventurous route, which is almost certain to have no one else on it, Devil’s Nordwand is well worth a look. This time of year it gets the sun until about 1200, we just had a slightly too lazy a start…

We needed warming up so we then went and did the Idwal Slabs linkup I mentioned earlier. Tennis Shoe’s direct start get’s E1 5a, pretty easy but thin climbing with minimal gear for the first part. We then moved together on Tennis Shoe before doing Rampart Corner which is E1 5c and has some pretty tricky but well protected moves, finishing on the HVS 5a Continuation Cracks, which are no pushover!

An awesome day.

Devil’s Nordwand, 100m E1 5b, 5b, 4c
R James, J V Anthonie 1959

Stu on the crux section of Rampart Corner

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3rd November 2014

A busy and varied few weeks

I’ve had a great few weeks work, but not many days off!

It started with a trip down to Dartmoor with a group of MOD apprentices who were up for a challenge and full of banter which made for a top week. We did an overnight walking expedition, a challenging day on mountain bikes and a chilled but productive day climbing (including some leading) at Dart Rock.  The group of instructors on the course was top class, mostly made up of other MIA’s and other really experienced people, which really makes a big difference to the “product”. We managed to get an evening out bouldering at the wall as well, where I got pretty shut down by some cheeky grading!

Then I ran a learn to lead course up here at home in Wales for Chris who was looking to build on his previous leading experience. I made some inspired crag choices (or got lucky!) and we escaped some really grim weather going to Milestone Buttress on day one and Tremadog on day two. Quality couple of days!

The next week was another local one working for CCAT, which is a military camp in Capel Curig. I had another enthusiastic group for the week on a Summer Mountain Foundation course which runs along similar lines to a Mountain Leader course. We had some really challenging weather and one stunning day where we were treated to some stunning scenes on the North Ridge of Tryfan. All the cadets passed comfortably.

Finally this weekend I was running a Single Pitch Award assessment. The weather was challenging again but we made the most of any shelter we could find. We went to Lion Rock, Union Rock, The Beacon and Colgwyn Cyrau. The candidates all did well so there are three brand new enthusiastic SPA’s out there now.

In amongst that lot somewhere I got out with my mate Paul who was practising his rescues for his MIA assessment which he then went on to pass the next week!

For more shots of what we’ve been up to check out the Facebook page!

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