Archive for the ‘Rock Climbing’ Category

Discounted Summer Courses – 20% off

April 21, 2016
Learning to lead in the Llanberis Pass

Learning to lead in the Llanberis Pass

I’m Back! and running the full range of rock and mountain courses again this summer.

After spending 4 of the last 5 years working at a wide range of locations in Antarctica for the British Antarctic Survey I am now back in Snowdonia – and loving it!

Already in the last month I have enjoyed scaring myself on sunny sea-cliffs and mountain crags, been for some lovely evening mountain runs over the summits and dusted off the road bike to explore further afield.

With renewed psyche and energy I am looking forward to teaching and guiding in these mountains again. Seeing old sights with fresh eyes after a chunk of time away, while still looking for new challenges and adventures yet to be experienced.

As a ‘welcome home’ gift from me to you I am offering a 20% discount off all guiding rates and course prices on courses taken in North Wales before the end of July.

While the website lists a wide range of courses please don’t think this list is prescriptive. If there is something very specific you want, or you just want to discuss what we could offer that would be suitable for you please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

I’d love to hear from you.

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Challenge, grades, surfing.. the experience.

October 30, 2010

First I was a walker. Later I got into scrambling and only then did I get into climbing.  The link through all these was the desire to explore new places, have an adventure and challenge myself. Grades meant nothing, it was all about the experience. If I am totally honest that is not always the case these days. Comparison with your mates, tick lists, graded lists, peer pressure and the ever increasing concentration, by the magazines and websites, on the pursuit of difficulty and comparing performances, means there is often a little devil sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, when I am considering what and why to climb next. It may be telling you to do a route because ‘your mate just did it’ but it may also be telling you NOT to do a route because ‘there is no way I can climb that grade’. Now I am not a surfer but I have tried it a few times. Every wave is unique and different. They don’t have grades you cant compare one to another very easily and you cant go out intending to match or go one-better than your mate. You simply go out and contend with what nature throws at you. Like going climbing but without a guidebook. Now I’m not saying that we should get rid of guidebooks but just that i’ve realised that for me having all that information (and the attempts to be so precise with the grades – E4 hard for the grade, TD-, 5.10R, E2 or E1 for the tall) changes my experience. Some of my best climbing experiences have been whilst new-routing on expeditions abroad. The experience becomes everything again. You may fight for your life on a pitch and there is nothing or no-one to confirm whether you just pulled off the lead of your life, or just made a complete dogs dinner of a really easy pitch! By not knowing you are simply rewarded with the warm satisfaction of completing the pitch, having given it all that you’ve got.

Maybe I need to do more new-routing or go climbing without guidebooks. Or perhaps I should give surfing another go. This video may be about surfing but it reminded me of why I got into climbing and the mountains and gave me a prick of reality as to how far I may have slipped on occasions from my original reasons for getting out in the wild and challenging myself. I hope you enjoy it to.

 

 

Gogarth Adventures

October 21, 2010
A Dream of White Horses

A Dream of White Horses

With my bags all packed for Antarctica I get an email to say my departure date has been put back another week. So with all jobs done (well nearly!) I have some time for some last minute adventures.

In the last week I have been out to Gogarth 3 times, each with a different partner and had some great adventures. First up was Fly Trap. What an trip that is! If you are into routes with a real adventurous feel this one should be near the top of your list. Climbing the inside wall of the sea-cave you then launch out blindly fumbling for the hidden jugs to end up belayed stood on top of the giant chock stone wedged in the mouth of the cave. Brilliant!

Next up was The Sind on yellow walls. No caves this time but still adventurous enough. Soft rock and technical moves in an awkward leaning groove that gets more sustained the higher you get. Don’t snatch for the finishing jugs, because they are not…!

And then just yesterday we went out to ‘just nip up Dream of White Horses and Britomartis’ However the sun does not come around as early at this time of year. The wind was colder than anticipated. So with the cold turning limbs to wooden stumps we settled for a shuffle around ‘Dream’. The sun did warm us on the last pitch and the autumn light was amazing be were still glad to get back home to a roaring fire.

A Dream of White Horses - pitch 2

A Dream of White Horses - pitch 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly Trap - the great cave pitch

Fly Trap - the great cave pitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sind, Yellow Wall - steeper and more technical than it looks.

The Sind, Yellow Wall - steeper and more technical than it looks.

Stromboli Buttress – Tremadog

October 3, 2010
Matt enjoying Stromboli at Tremadog

Matt enjoying Stromboli at Tremadog

Tremadog was definitely the crag to be at the other day. When we arrived around mid-day you could not get parked at Eric’s cafe. Rather than compete with the crowds we chose to drive on another mile and walk up to Stromboli buttress. The rewards for our 10 minute uphill approach was a quality crag entirely to ourselves.

We had a pleasant afternoon climbing, Stromboli, Plastic Nerve and Helsinki Wall before heading home for tea and biscuits just as the rain moved in again. A very pleasant afternoon.

Evening at the Grochan

September 18, 2010
SS Special, Clogwyn y Grochan, Llanberis Pass

SS Special, Clogwyn y Grochan, Llanberis Pass

In an attempt to believe that it was still summer and not Autumn Matt persuaded Adam and myself to the Grochan for a spot of evening cragging. Matt was after some mileage in preparation for his impending British Mountain Guides Rock Induction while truthfully I just wanted to play with my new camera! So Matt led while Adam belayed and I played at being David Bailey. We managed 3 routes before bad light stopped play and we were all reminded of just how high quality most of the routes on that crag are.

Autumnal but sociable time in the Alps

August 28, 2010
Chamonix Aiguilles at sunset

Chamonix Aiguilles at sunset

Just back from a 9 day trip to the Alps. Unfortunately the weather continues to be very unsettled over much of the alps and I managed to conspire to be in all the wrong places at the wrong times in regard to actually getting any high alpine climbing done.

Such is the way with alpine climbing.

Our one attempt up high was to be one of the couloirs on the North Face of the Chardonnet . Rising at 2am the rain and wind were still rattling the hut windows and we were in the cloud level. There was little change at 4am. Finally at 5 am things improved somewhat so we set off in a hope of achieving something.

As long as you stayed in a trench things were not too bad but step out and you were straight up to your knees in heavy wet snow! With no track in to our route we aborted plans and went for a walk instead.

Back in the valley I did manage some good cragging. With James Thacker we climbed the 6 pitch slab route Autoroute Blanche above the Swiss/French border. On another day with Mat and friends we visited a small crag above Le Buet. This is home to the famous off-width Thai Boxing. First ascended by Craig Luebben this hideously wide overhanging monster recently saw ascents from Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker. We would have got on it of course but we lacked big enough cams.. honest!! Instead we contented ourselves with an equally overhanging hand and finger crack just to the right.

It was however fantastic to catch up with various friends that now live in the alps and relax a little.

"improving weather" near the Albert Premier Hut

"improving weather" near the Albert Premier Hut

James enjoying the technical slabs of Autoroute Blanche

James enjoying the technical slabs of Autoroute Blanche

Summer returns to Gogarth

August 15, 2010
Rap, Castell Helen, Gogarth

Rap, Castell Helen, Gogarth

Yesterday I was out with Mike who was bought a days guided sea-cliff climbing for his 40 birthday present by his dad. And we could not have asked for better weather or conditions.

A busy home life meant Mike had not climbed much recently so we started gently with Lighthouse Arete. After some trepidation on the first committing abseil Mike soon started to relax and enjoy the climbing.

We then upped the ante a little and abseiled back down to climb the brilliant Rap.

We then decided a change of venue was in order to we headed over to Gogarth Main Cliff and climbed  the great HVS The Gauntlet. This route definitely gave Mike the full Gogarth experience – shimmering sea, lapping waves, great exposure, carpets of sea grass. . . . .  and a classis steep grass top out pitch.

What a brilliant day!!

Mike on his first ever sea-cliff adventure - Lighthouse Arete

Mike on his first ever sea-cliff adventure - Lighthouse Arete

Young and keen

August 13, 2010
Alex topping out on the classic Merlin Direct, Tremadog

Alex topping out on the classic Merlin Direct, Tremadog

Its the school summer holidays and that means 2 fairly guaranteed things:

1. The early summer sunshine will be replaced by the welsh monsoon period

2. Young persons courses at Plas y Brenin.

These courses are always great fun to work on. The youngsters are always fully psyched to climb all week and many of them are very capable climbers already. Its just that for most of them unless they have climbing parents then all their climbing takes place indoors. A week at the national centre with the chance to climb outside every day is an annual highlight for many of them.

Climbing to a reasonable grade belayed by a young lad/lass who probably weighs 6 stone soaking wet always focusses the mind when you look down from the crux to see them chatting to their climbing partner and paying you no attention what so ever!

Alex dispatching the crux of Merlin Direct, Tremadog

Alex dispatching the crux of Merlin Direct, Tremadog

Cuillin Ridge preparation

August 9, 2010
The northern half of the Cuillin Ridge from Sgurr Thearlaich

The northern half of the Cuillin Ridge from Sgurr Thearlaich

The last 2 days I have been out with David and Jane prepping them for their upcoming trip to Skye in September. They are heading there with a more experienced friend to attempt a traverse of the Cuillin ridge. While they have both done a lot of mountain walking and completed triathlons and marathons they knew they were lacking in some technical climbing and scrambling skills

So on Sunday we went climbing and climbed routes up to VS and refreshed their abseiling skills. Then today we scrambled up one route on the main cliff of Glyder fach and then scrambled down a fairly direct line on Bristly ridge. It was a great 2 days out and I wish them all well for their trip to Skye.

Keen in the Sun at Tremadog

August 7, 2010
Climbers enjoying the last pitch of Christmas Curry at Tremadog

Climbers enjoying the last pitch of Christmas Curry at Tremadog

Mike was keen for his first experience of outdoor rock today and from what I saw today it wont be his last. Despite the crag being damp and greasy first thing we got straight on with it and as the crag dried out we just kept upping the grade and learning more as we went.

In just one day we managed 4 routes:

Yogi (severe)

Christmas Curry (severe)

One Step in the Clouds (VS)

Merlin Direct (HVS)

and on top of all that climbing we learnt to place natural gear, build belays, and discuss everything from stance management to, buying your first rack. Winter mountaineering to alpine climbing. Learning to lead to the legend that is Eric Jones. All in all a top days climbing. And I dont think it will be long before Mike is on the sharp end making his first leads.