Monday, 27 December 2010

Some Nice Ice

Ice at last. On christmas eve and throughout christmas day the temperatures dropped off the scale. The lowest was -11degC. Perfect. What was not so perfect was the timing, with it being christmas i had to go along to festive things of great importance, well to my family, mostly as im not around much. So plans were made to go out early boxing day morning. However my partner for the morning,bailed- hangover probably.

Plans remade, 6am start on the 27th. Cool. So going to bed the temperatures were still -1/-3degC. At 5am the next morning i had a rude awakening. The ice was melting and Bob was on his way over! Stuffing shreddies and water down my throat i grabbed an assortment of sharp and melt things shovelling them into a sack and running out the door. On the road by 545am we headed high to avoid the 'warm' 2degC temperatures. Hitting poor road conditions we whacked out the snow chains. The race was on and we meant business.

Eventually we got to the layby and dumped the car. Humping our packs to the bottom Torpantau we could see it was melting slowly-for the moment at least. As we came up to the first ice steepenings we donned crampons, harnesses, axes, rope and all the other paraphenalia and began soloing up the easy ice until we stood beneath the main 30m pitch of the route.

Starting the main pitch of Torpantau Falls (III)

Managing to weave my way up between the hollow, melting, running, shelled ice i threaded a route up the ice bosses. Eventually coming to the final headwall few metres. Seeing a thin crack up high to my left i aimed for this, stuffing a decent cam in just as the crux of the route came up. Torquing the axe pick in this thin crack i moved up, reaching back out right to hook on any turf that was half frozen and jumping my feet up to by the cam. Give it another tug, Bomber!

Reaching up again hooking the picks through heather and other stream type veg i got some good 'uns. Running my feet up so my front point was back in the torque crack. Twist the shit out of it and go. Stand up, rock right. Done.

Was a brilliant pitch and well worth the III. Conditions improved slightly as we crept higher up the mountain but not by much, it must have been hovering at OdegC at the top. It wont be in for much longer and looking at the longer term forecast for this week, i doubt anything else will be.

So finally after a string of early non-starters i finally got some south welsh winter ice into my belly. Good stuff.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A mixed bag

The conditions in South Wales havent lived up to their expectations based on the last big freeze. Firstly sunday we got to llanbradach only to find that the water was still running freely down the vegetated steps much to our disgust. So that day got bagged and we went home dejected.

Keen not to repeat this i held off going out again until we'd had a good freeze-thaw cycle. So instead went and picked up my skis from a mates house. Now considering they cost me £15, i used my climbing boots and i cant ski i think it went quite well. According to my mate "they are a special set up only for me" which i think means they're completely fucked to anyone who knows anything about skiing but by the end of the couple of hours i hit the streets / parks / hills of Cardiff i was able to stop-ish, turn-ish and go off jumps that were about waist hig, getting around 6ft jumps that went on for 6m. Was a good laugh,and not as steep a learning curve as i expected.

AirBourne off one of the larger jumps

After my brief ski fun went to Boulders climbing wall, its shite so i wont post much. Did a few routes, and am now called the 'northern fairy'. Nice.

Today however went slightly better on the climbing front. After getting up at 7 and waiting for Bob in the cold for 45mins we headed back to Llanbradach, picking up a guy called Ken on the way. On arrival it was surprisingly mild, considering it was -2 in Cardiff, nevertheless we headed to the crag, but lowe behold it was sopping wet, possibly even more than on sunday. Dejected we walked around the crag looking for something to scratch up. We did actually find a non-summer route corner groove thing that had mud and some frozen bits on it so headed up that. Bob give it grade 5 but hes a hard bastard. Felt hard is all i know.

Llanbradach in the Snow. Normal falls come in on the left of the crag.

The Corner crack. We stepped left onto the triangular wall toward the top

Despite it feeling hard, it would have felt harder had i not fixed my crampons to be monos. Now this is something i have avoided doing for 4years now mostly through laziness and being scared they wont climb as well. But they do, they didnt rotate off holds like i thought they would and i was able to stand on much smaller holds more stably.

After we finished scrathing around on this route, we headed off getting in the car off to the Climbing Station, Bob commenting "that guy can talk" referring to Ken who hadnt stopped since we saw him first 2hours ago. The climbing station is pretty good, is only bouldering but thats made up for in the fact that they are good, there is a good variety and the staff arent cunts like at the Boulders wall. If im able to get to it, im definately going to be going to the station from now on. Rest day tomorrow, well might do some skiing but rest for my skin, they hurt now.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Fail...on the ice front anyway

The title says it all really. Having managed to get out of the city and head up toward Llanbradach we were disappointed to say the least to see that only one poor thaw cycle had come through and so the ice was non-existant. I would put pictures up but they would only be depressing.

Instead me and Bob went up past Taffs well main to find some drytooling hole. Which we did, it was bolted but is in no guide books and the routes were shite anyway. Might get into troube for this especially after the Millstone debacle but meh, we only did one route with just axes and torqued in thin cracks most of the way, was probably about F6b/6b+ route so not bad on our parts considering it was our first drytooling routes. The second route we did was just in our boots without axes, this would have been nigh on impossible with sharps as the holds were rounded. Had the most painful screamin' barfies ever though, thought i was actually gonna chunder. As time moved on we got bored and the routes we could climb in mountain boots in -3degC temperatures decreased, we ran away to asda and bought reduced bakery stuffs (reduced to 9p!). All in a days....frivolity.

Friday, 17 December 2010

To the 'Diff

Having left sheffield yesturday travelling to Cardiff i couldnt carry all my stuff that i wanted. The first items to be lef twere my skis. Now before i get judged they were £15 from a charity shop including poles and a bag. Bargain!

Anyway, over night and throughout the day snow has fallen on south wales, a foot of it to be exact. I woke up wishing i had them to play in the proper deep powder. Thankfully i have a mate driving down this way tomorrow, so i should be able to get them asap. Then the fun will begin. Its all training afterall. Theres a project in the pipeline that will need me to be able to ski! Nothing is done without prior thought :)

New mixed routes are also to be checked out asap, probably sunday, give the roads time to clear and get the morons out the way.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Andy K

This time last year i saw andy kirkpatrick for the first time (tickets were going cheap), i wasnt massively up for going as he seems a bit like someone who attempts things (Harlin onthe Eiger solo for example) for the media attention and stuff to talk about in his lectures rather than actually being a climber. Sat there listening to him rabbit on about kayaking after Ian Parnell had finished his talk (it was a double) only confirmed my ideas more.

Last night however i got a ticket (cheap as someone couldnt make it) and was pleasantly surprised. This wasnt the Andy kirkpatrick i remembered or imagined. He was actually funny and jsut talked about climbing (thank god). He also went into more detail about some of his el cap exploits, many of which i hadnt heard before. So this post is for andt, thanks man for changing my view on you. Your not a prick after all.

(this is a link to his blog which has a sick steve house and Marko Preljzikisk video on it:- )

Saturday, 4 December 2010

More Peak winter.

Got out again yesturday for a bit of semi frozen chossy fun.

Headed to mam tor after being woken up at 8 (quite late) to say i was already late for my lift. Grabbing my stuff and drinking a bowl of porridge i ran the mile to the shops where my lift was waiting and raring to go.

Walking into Mam Tor is quite special, ive never been underneath it before and despite being reasonably small, it looks very Eigerish. Cant imagine how amazing the actualy Eiger looks. Getting to the foot of the gully at around 930am me and a friend (Paul) who id text the night before to see if he was keen, geared up and ran up the gully as a warm up / to have finally done it. We then moved onto the Central Rib (III, 4) thinking it was a grade II/III. It wasnt in brilliant condition, with the turf being semi frozen or muddy and ripping as you placed your feet and axes on the clods. I wish i had some pictures to show how brown the whole place looked during the ascent.

Reaching the top of the rib was nice as we had, had no decent gear for the length of the route (3 full pitches) a peg and a sketch nut being the sole contents of our routes gear. I think paul was a bit chastened, this was after all his 4th winter route. His comment of 'Well that was a bit different' and then declining the opportunity to do another route summed up his feelings toward the day. I enjoyed it though, it wasnt even type 2 fun, mostly type 1. Good shit.