Monday, 30 November 2009

New 'Ram's Head', lower-off's at Horseshoe quarry

The BMC have recently employed a rope access team to re-equip 6 routes on the Main wall at Horseshoe Quarry. They have done this as a trial project and have replaced the bolts with, 'p' bolts, and replaced the lower-off's with a new, 'Rams head' design lower-off.
I havent seen them in person, but they look a brilliant idea which doesnt require the leader to untie and re-thread a lower-off as you would normaly do. The new style lower off's enable the leader to neatly and efficiently place the rope behind, 'the horns' of the lower-off without having to faff about pulling a bight up, tying on, untying, passing it through etc etc.
It will be interesting to see how people take to the new design.

For full illustrations of how to thread the new lower-off's, you can visit the BMC website here:

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Welsh Winter Has Arrived

Today me and Dan headed up to the Dinorwic slate quarries, so we wernt up on the tops to give an extensive report. What we did note though was that, the hills of Snowdonia got recieved a good ammount of snow last night. It fell as low as the Pen Y Pass, which is about 350 - 400m i think. All the high hills looked pretty plastered, and the good news is on our return this evening the snow had only retreated to around  600m, so good building conditions. Having not been up high today, i cant state too much, but i really doubt the soft, fresh snow = climbable!! More snow is forecast tomorrow, so this with a few freeze thaw cycles and some low temps then maybe!!

Snakes and Ladders (and Tunnels)

A while back Dan heard of, and told me about an amazing sounding route that runs through the slate quarries of Dinorwic, North Wales. Im unsure of how to describe the route, its kind of a Via Ferrata/climbing/adventure experience. Anyway today we finaly got around to doing it!
The route, 'Snakes and Ladders, and Tunnels', isnt in any guide book of sort, the route has seemed to develop through word of mouth, but all we knew was it took roughly 5 hours and is given an about grade of HVS, so armed with only a guide book to use to navigate from quarry to quarry, (as its our first time here) and a very brief route description written down of the internet, we set off in hope.

We found Dalis hole, where the route begins, a scramble up the slate scree slope leads to a tunnel on the east side of the quarry which inturn leads to another tunnel which led us to California.

Once in California, an old chain, left from the years when the quarries were being worked, has to be climbed to reach another tunnel, easier said than done. With the slate absolutely dreanched, few footholds and wearing big boots, this wasnt going to be easy! Every foot placement slipped of the rock like ice, so i basicially just had to haul myself up, clipping large screwgates through the chain as protection. At the top of the chain is the enterance to the tunnel where a nicely placed bolt and an old spike provided a thankful belay anchor.

From here the short tunnel leads back to Dalis, and an abseil took us down to the bottom of the crag. A short walk to the north end of the quarry, up the slate steps and we arrived in a long, pitch black tunnel, and apparently its cheating to use your headtorch!! Hence we didnt!!

The tunnel terminated in Australia, where a sludge up the oil drum glacier following white paint on the scree, brought us to a series of old fixed ladders, again left here when the quarries closed down. These are to be ascended up to the g'day level and a couple are looking pretty doddgy!! (just look what greeted me as we reached the top, gulp!)

Next was a walk up to the amazing, Lost world, where time has stood still. Here is a extreamly rural industrial settlement, probably late 1800s, where buildings and machinery awaiting the next days hard labour, which never came, have been left to deteriorate ever since the quarry was closed.

From here a series of abseils and ladders enable you to rech the bottom of the lost world via the Heaven walls, a vast quarry which is massively impressive! Another tunnel leads to Mordor, then climbing the final ladder brought us to the Kyber pass!

A fantastic day and a fantastic adventure, really ideal to do on a wet weather day also!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Dean Potter - Adventurer Of The Year

American all rounder Dean Potter has just recently been named 'Adventurer of the year', by National Geographic magazine.

Dean was filmed, as seen in the video below, flying in a specialized 'wingsuit.' He's since worked toward perfecting the art of human 'flying' from several locations around the world. On one of these outings, Dean flew nearly 4 miles in around 4 minutes and breaking a record. His stunts have captivated the world and, apparently, the editors of National Geographic.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Air Time

The wild and windy weather that has been causing havoc across the uk for most, has certainly had its plus sides for some.
Two kite surfers from West Sussex took advantage of strong winds on the south coast and attempted to jump over Worthing pier.
Jake Scrace, 25, and Lewis Crathern, 24, had been planning Monday morning's jump for three years but had to wait for perfect weather conditions which duly arose.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Another 9a for 14 year old Enzo Oddo

Enzo Oddo, the 14 year old French wonder kid, has nailed another 9a in the Gorges du Loup, France.

This is in addition to Enzo climbing 4, 9a's in two months, this time he repeted Dai Koyamada's intense boulder + route combo. The route begins with a boulder problem, 'Inga', weighing in at Fb 8a+,', then continues up, '7pm Chaud', which is 8c in its own right.
The boulder also leads to the route, 'Puntx', which is 9a/9a+, which he has already climbed,  so maybe more scope for a super hard link up!!

Enzo Oddo bouldering the linkup Inga 7pm JP Chaud at the Gorges du Loup, France
Photo by Philippe Maurel,

Enzo Oddo on Punt x 9a/9a+

Sunday, 15 November 2009

SPA Training

On Friday and Saturday i was over in north Wales doing my SPA training,, with David Hooper,
On Friday we were at the popular Lion rocks near Brynrefail where we got the personal climbing started, then late afternoon we headed to the Beacon CC where David ran through structuring group sessions etc.
Saturday we finnished of with all the group work, abseils, anchors and top/bottom roping etc.
The weather was kind to us on Friday as we just about stayed dry, Sunday though was a different story, as the morning was very wet. On the plus side, the paddlers were out in numbers this weekend, enjoying the huge ammount of water and the ridiculous fast rivers!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thomas Mrazek climbs 9a+

Last week Thomas Mrazek from the Czech Republic has made the first ascent of Xaxid Hostel 9a+ at Misja Pec, Slovenia.
Read more here:

Monday, 9 November 2009

The climbing begins.

The scottish highlands has had more snow over the last few days, there is now a good base up in the Cairngorm and over west too for the freeze/thaw process to begin. There was a over a foot of snow reported on the Ben Nevis summit plateau over the weekend, and the climbing is well under way as routes including Tower ridge, Milky Way and the Seam have all seen some recent action.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Winter Approaches...and Ice Anchor Workshop Movie

With the Scottish highlands recieving another light dusting of snow,  and a forecast predicting more to come,, its time to seriously start thinking about this winter season.
Gear is slowly starting to come out of the cupboard, route tick lists are being compiled, new additions are being made to the winter rack and all in vain of another good season which will hopefully live up to the last 2 years.
For this winter i have replaced my boots with the new and different, Millet Radikal Pro,, which are pretty none existant over here in the uk. I will make a short review of how i get on with these after i have given them a blast.
The usual topics are arising on ukc and the like about winter gear, protection, systems, techniques etc, so heres a quick movie i find interesting, which shows and compares different ice anchors, and what actually happens when an anchor fails.