Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Thanks Blog

Well this week has been a pretty damn busy one!

As it was my 21st birthday this wednesday (I'm definately no longer chronologically a kid anymore, mentally is different) me and Jess headed down to my homeland, Devon to see me rents and all the family actually! It was great to see Mum, Dad, Ali the bro and all the family again and we had awesome weather too which was great! I was showered with generous gifts, I'm a lucky, lucky boy. This feeling was excentuated by watching Red Nose Day, a great event which always makes me feel lucky to be British and put my hand in my pocket.

We headed back to North Wales on monday and plans were made for Castell Cidwm on the tuesday with Alex, Central Wall, E3 being the target. On waking I felt rough as dogs, but perked up enough to go to the crag. Once we got there I felt worse again, so the Curver at HVS 4c was the first tick of the day me taking the EXPOSED 2nd pitch. It's probably only VS but a fun little route. Then Mase ticked off the Straightener, and I kicked off a block whilst seconding! It was then time to go as we had an important date to make.......

Jess and her Dad took Bubbles, Laura, Mason and me to a Ron Fawcett lecture in Stockport, this was a dream come true for me as Ron is one of my all time heroes. It didn't dissapoint with lots of personal stories about his travels, First Ascents, and just the general scene in the 70's and 80's. To top it all I got a signed copy if his autobiography and two, yes TWO handshakes! I endeavour never to wash my right hand again... However, for the first time I felt truly starstruck, I have a bit of a rep for making a twat out of myself when meeting famous climbers... sorry George I was young and naive.... but I truly didn't know what to say to Ron.... Thanks guys it was awesome.

We busted back to the big N.W. and on wednesday we headed out to the pass armed with a minbus full of pads, people and psyche! Utopia, wavelength and boysen's groove boulders were swarmed up, around and over in a mad rush. I had an aim of getting at least 21 V-points and managed this fairly comfortably with, a V2 a V3, 2 V4s, a V5, and a V5/6 repeat. But the effort of the day was Tom 'Bubbles' Ripley's ascent of his first V4 Boysen's groove, he has gone from a mountaineer who casted bouldering off as rubbish to being on a natural high for literally hours after.... inspirational!! We finished the day off with a barbie down by the cromlech boulders and an adventure into a munitions store near Llanberis.

Thursday saw Tommy Martin come over to crush and we headed to Tremadog. I teamed up with Mikey and headed off up Merlin Direct a really nice HVS that I have been wanting to do for a while. we then headed over to the Vector Buttress so he could try his project. After a few topropes, sorting the gear and a new sequence, Mikey G went for the lead, and whilst he was doing the 6b crux I was on tenter-hooks. He obviously cruised through to the final mantle where he looked a bit shakey but he cruised on up to glory! The Philtrum E5/6 6b *(*). An awesome effort from Mikey who's boyish good looks and flowing climbing style will surely be the feature of magazines and DVD's of the future, it was awesome to be there to share the experiance with him! I headed up Grim Wall VS to get the gear from the top and we headed down for some grub and water.

After this we still had some more time so I led the first pitch of the Fang HVS 5a and the led the second pitch of Extraction, E2 5c which I found surprisingly straight-forward, which bodes well! A brilliant few days and some awesome weather for North Wales at the moment, I hope it stays good for pembroke!

Now though it's back to the grindstone so I can go to pembroke.....

Here is a nice little blog for you guys to dip in and out of, and the inspiration behind this post:

The Thanks Blog, is a series of thankyou notes written by an American woman and can range from funny, to very poiniant.... well worth a browse...

So Thanks everyone, whos made my 21st such an awesome week!!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

All creamed out...

This week has become a very exciting one indeed.....
On monday me and Davey Morse set a plan to go to Tremadog with the goal to climb the Vector headwall classic Cream, E4 6a. I prepared myself the night before with comedy avec Green Wing and 8 hours sleep (perfecto, non?). Meeting in tremadog village I was surprised to find Dave missing his trusty 'Chariot', instead with a car he had pikey-ed off some poor unsuspecting soul I suspect.

Anyway we busted up to the base of the Vector Buttress, necks craning to get a look at the impressive Vector headwall and the crux pitch... Luckily my nervousness was distracted by two guys trying to find One Step in the Clouds, a Tremadog classic at VS 4c. So jovially, I set off on pitch 1 and soon found myself at the palatial belay that seems to be the starting point of nearly all the classic hard routes on this beautiful piece of dolerite... Soon enough Dave was up there with me and was off and onto the tricky 5c pitch of Cream. Once he was out of sight, doubts began to creep into my mind; 'I've only ever climbed one E3 at tremadog', 'All my other E4 onsights have been bold slabs, not steep cracks!'. However, I managed to banish these thoughts partly from psyche for the route (which was reet high) and lessons learnt from the book: 'The Rock Warriors Way' by Arno Ilgner which is a mental training book for climbing, a rarity and despite having not finished it, it has helped me relax into hard trad attempts much quicker than I thought I would, which has gotta be a good thing, eh?

Despite audible hassle from my krabs of wires Dave made it to the belay and made a sizeable belay in one of the most wild positions you'll find yourself in so close to the road yet not above the sea! I followed, impressed at the trickiness of the crux. Getting to the belay I noticed that a few of the pieces I predicted I might like up there were in the belay, but just took everything I could and started climbing. A tricky move to a Jug filled with wet plants, slowed the flow, until I committed to the tricky section before the rest and the crux crack... I almost managed to spoon this up, noticing a good hold once I had passed it but sketched my way up to an almost no-hands rest. After fannying around trying to get some good gear in, I began to rest and actually really enjoy the position I was in!

Now came the hard bit, getting real steep, real quick, I pulled up into fingerlocks and edges with poor feet, and tried to get some gear in, unfortunately I had already placed the best sized  cam lower down so bunged in the smaller one in the best bit of the crack and hastily retreated. Back up saw me push on into the crux, I won't spoil it for you aspirant Cream-ers but I couldn't see what I was going to and wasn't confident that I wouldn't kick the cam out on the way past so made a half-assed attempt at the move and the dream fell away...

Next up was Dave and despite looking good and being a Brenin wad, he got a move further, wiggled some gear in and fell! Nightmare!! After a rest, it was discovered that he was a move away from a juggaroo! Dave quickly despatched the juggy traverse and I followed with one rest to remove some gear...

Despite blowing a route that I have wanted to onsight for a while now, my over-riding feeling is that of psyche, inspiration and just having some really good fun on it. The climbing is brilliant, loads of gear if you have the guns and in an amazing position... it has made Strawberries a route which I will definately get on at some point in my life I hope, despite the E7 grade!

2011 should be a good year for me, getting on a steep E4 so early in the season bodes well for my goals, this time last year I almost decked out on an E2, and went on to consistantly onsight E2 by the summer!

This brings me nicely on to my travel arrangements for my 21st year! At easter I will be heading to El Chorro, Spain for some sunny sport climbing and hopefully a boost to my rock fitness.

Then in June I am heading to Squamish, Canada... I am really excited about this, I'm not the best crack climber so it will be great to be forced onto them, plus the diversity of Squamish is amazing, slabs, walls, cracks, sport, 500m routes, bouldering all within walking distance from the campsite! I will be accompanied by Heather aka Florence the machine. I'm so excited!!!

First up in my blog reccomendations are the two blogs that should keep you psyched and inspired by tales of hard trad, sport and boulders from two of the best climbers I know:

Alex Mason's blog:

Mason is a good mate and one of my housemates, he regurlarly gets on and cruises hard trad routes all over the country, and I think he's pretty much done every route I aspire to do up to E5, crushed V9 boulder, flashed F7c, RP-ed F8a and racked up some E6 onsights including crushing Lord of the Flies last summer...he really is a stinky bugger....

Mikey Goldthorp's blog:

Mikey, another good mate and Harry Potter-esque housemate (he lives under the stairs) and is surely the most-talented reacher I have yet to meet... in 4 years he has gone from never touching rock to ticking F8a slab, E7 ground-up, E6 onsight solo on grit, Font 7c+ boulders and E5 onsight. Don't worry I'll be breaking his legs soon as an experiment to see if it would slow him down at all.

Keep it creamy...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Blog to Begin All Blogs...An Intro

Wow, that's a bit of a cocky blog title, but its not intended to be a showy one, more to show appreciation, gratitude, addiction,

OK....Love. I just said it, I Love blogs.

It's everything about them, and embaressingly, the word:         blog        It's just beautiful in every way; short, simple, instantly meaningful yet gobeldy-gook simultaneously. Serious, fictitious, anonymous, general, specific, blogs are a big source of inspiration for me, I realised. Albeit half an hour ago.

But it's been dawning on me for a few days now, I guess it's been that two of my housemates, and good mateys, Mason and Mikey have just started blogging about their really awesome climbing/crushing/puntering/inspiring exploits. Add the discovery of good blogs by people I sort of know and those I will never know. Equals the admittance that I really like blogs.

I have also always wanted a climbing blog too.... I'm a bit worried that it's an ego thing, but I'd like to think it might be a source of inspiration to someone, somewhere. :-)

This, combined with my less than crystal clear mentality I have decided to start blogging. As the two of my subjects could make for a fairly weak blogs individually are combined to make the super-est blog EVER!!!

So the deal is; my musings on blogs, life and climbing and potentially my life in general. And I'll try and make them as varied, inspiring and well-written I possibly can with the use of various graphical delightful cheats (Videos and photos and drawings, maybe graphs too....who knows!)

Stay tuned for good blogs, bad blogs, climbing and monkeying around!!!

Dunc :-D