This summer has been awesome!
Work has been top drawer fun and I’ve been enjoying my climbing loads.
Work has mostly been local which is ace because I love North Wales, but I’ve also done a bit in the Peak District and the Wye Valley as well as a two week work trip to Croatia, which I can only just call work. The majority of my work has been teaching / coaching leading and such like, which I really enjoy.
In my down time, training at the wall has dropped off a bit but I’ve been getting plenty done outside including a mega trip to Chamonix in the Alps. In North Wales I’ve ticked some classic routes like Kalahari E3 at Gogarth and loads of other equally brilliant routes.
I’ll make the next blog more interesting, but in the mean time check out our Facebook Page for more regular updates!
The theme tune to The Littlest Hobo starts playing, I love that tune and the lyrics seem to resonate with me, so it’s been the ringtone on my phone for years.
“Er hi! Is that Jez”
“Are you available for some private guiding during the week after the Bank Holiday?”
“Let me check the diary, I am, what have you got in mind?”
“I’d like to get some climbing done, but I’d really like to get a little more familiar with Lliwedd, especially Bilberry Terrace…”
At that moment I had flashbacks to my Mountaineering Instructor training, we did Bilberry Terrace, it was wet, green, involved tricky route finding and is on one of the biggest cliffs in Wales.
“Sounds good! I’m up for that!”
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I meet with Shane who was the man on the other end of the phone, who’d ended up booking three days with me and the focus of day one was to guide Shane up as much rock as possible getting him used to the exposure of climbing and getting used to tying nots, clipping in to belays etc., so we headed to Carreg Wastad on a beautifully sunny day.
Shane had climbed a bit in the past and has lead up to VS, but that was before work and kids put a stop to it for a while, so most of the stuff we covered was just a reminder really. I lead Shane up some cool routes working through the grades – Wrinkle a three pitch V Diff, Crackstone Rib a super classic two pitch Severe, Skylon stepped it up a bit to HS 4b and after that I asked if Shane was still in his comfort zone “well it’s had to get scared on the second isn’t it he replied”, so I took that as a challenge! Next up was Lion, a pretty stiff four pitch VS 4c, Shane had a couple of falls on the crux but battled through and on reaching the top he admitted his comfort zone had definitely been stretched a lot!
On the second day we went to Tryfan Bach looking at lead climbing skills before a quick visit to the slate quarries so we could get some footwork thought going on, ticking Equinox at VS and Solstice at HVS.
Day three was the main event – Bilberry Terrace.
A slightly earlier start was required for this one so we could get parked at the Pen y Pass car park and I think we pretty much got the last space at 0800.
The walk in to Lliwedd is about an hour, it’s pretty easy going until the final scree slope up to the start and we didn’t have too much kit to carry as the weather was once agin brilliant and we only had a small rack of kit fo the route, I took a set of nuts and a few cams, along with the usual few slings and krabs plus a skinny 30m rope. On the walk in we stopped to look at the cliff and guidebook so we could work out the route, this always gets harder the closer you get and I made sure Shane was involved in this as well as it was part of his goal to be able to come back and do it without a guide at some point, the route takes a devious line though some really impressive terrain. The Stevie Ashton scrambling book (jokingly known as the little book of death..) has a really good description for this route, which I was super useful considering this wasn’t a route I had much memory of in terms of route finding.
The start is a steep, tricky rock step so Shane put me on belay for this bit and I placed one runner on the way, a red nut before getting to the first of many direct spike belays. From here you follow the terrace easily enough so we moved together for a little bit until there’s a cheeky corner with a chockstone to thread as a runner, this was the only other bit I pitched during the route and to save faffing with a sling a chucked a gold cam in before reaching a nut belay.
So far so good, we hadn’t got lost yet, the rock was bone dry and although there was plenty of vegetation and some loose rock, it was nowhere near as grim as I remembered! The key now was route finding so we looked at the book regularly and to my surprise were able to follow obvious signs of wear from other people who had prevuoisly adventured this way, in the form of cleaner rock and worn away steps in places. Don’t be fooled though, this is not a polished path like many scrambles and the weather was being extremely kind to us..
Before we knew it we were at the half way point and for virtually every section I went ahead leaving shane attached to a spike belay before finding another spike to belay from, mostly scrambling about 20 metres each time. The route takes in some absolutely fantastic positions and the views to Snowdon, Crib Goch and back East towards England were absolutely breath taking. Shane was loving it all, really soaking up the atmosphere, the only near miss being him dropping his phone which thankfully only went a few metres down on to a ledge!
The rest of the scramble went nice and smoothly and I think I was enjoying it just as much as Shane was, two hours after starting the scramble we were stood on the summit bathed in sunshine. A celebratory handshake and a few photos later it was time to make our way back down, I decided to carry on a bit further on towards Snowdon before heading down a quiet grade one scramble called y Griben so we needed to concentrate a bit longer before reaching the super highway of the Miners Track, which always proves a bit of a slog back to the Pen y Pass.
Shane had wanted to do Bilberry Terrace for about 20 years after someone mentioned it to him all that time ago, so I was really psyched to have been able to help in facilitating this adventure. Lliwedd is a great cliff and you’re guaranteed solitude even though you’re in the shadow of what is apparently the busiest mountain – Snowdon.
If I’m lucky enough to guide anyone up there again I’d take a similar amount of kit, even though I used very little of my rack, in worse conditions I expect I’d place more kit and you never know when you might need to run away! If this has inspired you to go and do Bilberry Terrace take care, it’s a serious place to be and you need to be well versed in roped scrambling, if in doubt seek instruction!
To cap the day off I went climbing after work and ticked Mabinogian E2 5c in the Llanberis Pass.
Check out our courses page (and our Facebook page) and if we can help you achieve any ambitions, just give us a shout!
We’re now into our third year of running these and we’ve just finished another Original Mountain Month, as always it was a great success.
Over the month the four participants got loads of climbing and hillwalking done.
Highlights include a great little mini break camping in Cwm Glas after a traverse of Crib Goch in stunning weather and climbing great routes like Grim Wall Direct (E1 5b) at Tremadog. We got loads of other stuff done too, scrambling over Tryfan, night navving in the Carneddau, staying in the Cwm Dulyn bothy, lead climbing loads of trad and sport on the coast and in the mountains.
At the end of the month they did their SPA training and ML training courses too.
Over the month we had five other highly qualified visiting instructors joining me to give a really good breadth of instructional knowledge and experience.
The next course starts in September and there’s just one space remaining… (for more info click here)
As usual you can see what we’ve been up to lately on our Facebook page
Dark evenings, rubbish weather, and wet rock all mean one thing. Frustration!
To ward off the frustration we have to make the most of what we have available to us and for me at this year that is time. Work is less busy so I have time to run, time to get down to the Beacon climbing wall, time to use my Rock Rings and time to make plans. All of this means that when the weather does relent and show us some dry rock then I can hit the ground running.
Running: I like to run, it gives me a chance to clear my head away from admin and other distractions, I put my headphones in and get some miles under my belt. I think the cardiovascular side of climbing is often neglected, even if it only means the walk ins are easier then it’s got to be worthwhile! In addition to this though it helps burn off some useless fat and in my mind helps me feel fitter and fresher whilst on routes. If running isn’t for you maybe try swimming or cycling.
Climbing Wall: The best way to get more climbing fit is to climb! If you’re climbing at a higher level then specific training regimes are going to be the way forward and you’ll find loads of info to this end on the internet. If however you’re climbing at slightly lower levels then just get the climbing mileage in, don’t forget to concentrate on your climbing technique as well as things like clipping with a straight arm at chest’ish level. Falling off is super important too, this will help you with your head game massively and this directly translates to outdoor climbing – if you’re scared to fall off even when it’s safe to do so, you will not fulfil your potential. Try routes that you might fail on (keep doing plenty that you can do too!) and work hard on them, you’ll soon be crushing them, feeling fitter and stronger.
Get strong and work on your weaknesses!
Rock Rings: Great for snatching a quick hit on at home in front of the TV… Metolius have some great work out routines (click here for their page), but personally I stick to my own sets of pull ups, offset pull ups and a couple of types of knee raises – don’t forget the importance of a strong core, especially on the steep stuff. Mine are hanging off the stairs in the living room meaning I can either get some music on the stereo or watch yet another episode of Big Bang Theory!
Planning: It’s cold, wet and dark outside which makes it hard to stay motivated sometimes. For me my motivation comes from having a few “just out of reach” routes that I’m working on at the wall but more importantly I have a wish list of routes for the upcoming year. I’ve just made my list of routes for next year, a top 40 that I’m aiming for – I usually tick around 150 – 200 routes a year plus what I get done with clients at work.
Although I will climb all over the UK as well as abroad my wish list is North Wales centric
Well that’s my plan for the winter and it’s going well so far, back up to steep 7a+’s at the wall and managing to snatch an E3 on the slate in a brief period of dry weather this week (Goose Creature – E3 6a).
Good luck with your own winter training and even better luck with your goals for 2016, whether that’s your first outdoor lead or on sighting an 8a!
To see what we’ve been up to lately, check out the Facebook page and “like” it.
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!