Sunday, 24 July 2011

Amphitheatre Buttress.

Well, today we had plans of finally getting on the uber classic Amphitheatre Buttress on Craig Yr Ysfa.
This was very nearly scuppered by firstly taking the wrong turn in Tal-Y-Bont, costing us quite some time,  and then finding a bat in the middle of the road, (not the wooden piece of sports equipment bat!). Our furry friend unfortunately only had one wing for some reason, but we moved him of the road anyway, and took a couple of snaps!
Once we finally reached the parking spot, time was pressing on. We knew we had a big walk in, and the route itself is probably the longest route in Wales, (excluding girdles!) at 960ft, and then obviously we had to get back out.
On researching the route it became apparent that some parties have really struggled on AB before, and times of 8 and 9 hours to climb the route were popping up, even if it is only VDiff.
We reckoned we could still do it in a reasonable time, so we pressed on with the long slog towards the crag. On arrival and to my dismay, nobody was on the route! Even in the remote setting with the tedious approach, I would have bet my life someone would have beat us to it in today's sunshine.
Looking up at the first couple of pitches, Dan and I opted to simul-climb until we came to any difficulties where we may have wanted a belay.
I took the sharp end and set of up the initial slabs and continued for a couple of pitches. I found a couple of interesting moves in these pitches, so for any readers, don't let them put you off!
 Dan then led the pitches on the main pocketed slabs, which was brilliant climbing with fantastic exposure. I then switched and led the next couple of pitched which involved the un-noticeable crux. The moves lower down and the slabs Dan led all felt harder than this!
The route then becomes more of a easy scramble for the next couple of pitches until you hit the pinnacles on the knife edge ridge. We easily moved over these, and up to the final corner. This finishes the route of very well and again gives some interesting climbing.

Dan leading up the exposed slabs

The climb itself took us approx 1 1/2 hours, we obviously saved time by simul climbing and moving together. We were followed up by a team of 3 who seemed to be doing a lot of pitching, they hadnt moved too far by the time we had descended and got on with the walk out. This is where the times of 8 or 9 hours could happen if your all not moving quickly, don't forget, the guide book describes this as 9 pitches!
A quick sort out of the rack and rope and we were on our way back, looking for the path that drops back down to the way we walked in, at this point I wish we would have parked on the A5 and come up the tarmac road! We even chatted that you could easily cycle up there!
The slog out was hard, and from the top of the route back to the car park only took us another 1 1/2 hours, so we made up good time all in all.

                                         Dan doing a proper, 'aux cheval' on the pinnacle

To summarise, in my opinion, the route itself is very good, not excellent. The reason being, is that the climbing is far from sustained, and very broken at mid height. For me, this detracts from the quality of the route as a whole.
Saying that, the climbing itself is fantastic, very exposed pitches, which could feel serious to a VDiff leader, simply due to the setting and remoteness. Protection is pleantiful as expected and the holds are everywhere you would like one to be and the scenery is stunning, take a camera!
If you plan on pitching the whole route, do allow a FULL day, and although we didn't do the A5 approach, I would think its much better. The crag is much further than it initially looks when coming from the Tal-Y Bont approach.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

First climb in 12 months...

Well, as the title suggests, today I donned the rock shoes and got back in the groove..... 12 months on after breaking my foot in Chamonix!
I met up with Dan early this morning, and we headed over to Ogwen. Obviously we chose a reasonable objective with which to try out my mending foot and also to get my head back in gear.
We decided on ambling up to Tryfan's East Face, and seeing what was what. On arriving a team was gearing up at the base of Grooved Arete, im not one for queue's so we walked further up. Pinnacle rib was next up, done that, so we opted for Gashed Crag. I knew it was a bit of a classic, but have never really payed much attention to this one, but the guide book description sounded pretty good so it was game on!

I got us underway on the 1st pitch, 10ft up and the rain starts, typical! Fortunately this passed and it was only the 1st pitch that was climbed in the rain. The rock in places was damp, but overall the whole route was in good condition.
The route get's going after the 1st pitch really, and it gives some really nice climbing. The chimney pitch after the 'Gash' is interesting, and going against what the guidebook says, Dan dispatched this in fine style, complete with rucksack too! This I thought was the crux of the route, and also unprotectable until after the difficulties.
A pitch or two later leads up onto the ridge, which gives 2 pitches of really pleasant, flowing climbing, with bags of scope for protection.
The ridge leads to the final chimney and groove, which is really the only other difficulty of the route. This again is really good climbing involving some nice thrutchy moves!
To summarise the route, it gives nice climbing and longish pitches in some exposed situations. The moves flow, protection on the whole is plentiful, apart from the 1st chimney and the route does have a fair bit of polish. The 2 chimneys are not that straightforward, and I would agree as other's seem to suggest, that the route is under graded at VD.

                                                    Heading up the final pitch of Gashed Crag

Dan bridging on Gashed Crag

Relaxing at the belay

Dan high up on Tryfan's East Face

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Some more time on the MTB.

I popped over to Llandegla forest this morning with Dan for a quick blast around the black trail.
There are a few newish sections which have been added/altered since I was last there, and they defiantly are a good addition! In particular the new section of jumps called 'The Parallel Universe on the first major black section are pretty spicy!!
The ride went well, no incidents to report, and the trail isn't as wet as I thought it may have been, although as normal, it was pretty busy.
All made for another enjoyable ride, and hopefully more progress with the foot.
Hopefully it will be time shortly to get back on the rock with a few classic Vdiff's!

                                                     The new Parallel Universe section

The Video content is not mine.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Back With A Bang!

As you can see, the blog has not seen much activity over the recent months. Not for the want of trying though, more like the old broken foot is still causing me problems, 11 months on!
Anyway, this week I completely had enough of not being active and with so called, 'profesionals' telling me I should be doing this and that, and me saying, "I have been doing that for months, it wont help!".
So I decided to get back on the bike for some stimulation. As the pain I get in my foot is caused by a side to side motion I knew this would cause me minimal discomfort compared with trying to climb again!

That all lead me to rolling up at  the start of Penmachno trail at 8.30 this morning. Dan was obviously with me, after pretty much being stuck without a partner in crime for the last year.

I have ridden loop 1 of the trail a few years ago, and always fancied going back. This time we did loops 1 &2 as the foot was feeling good, this cant be said for me though, months of watching tv and doing little else certainly shown, but this is what I needed!

The trail itself was exciting to say the least. It was pretty wet after some rain last night, resulting in the rock on the trail being VERY slippery, and with it being a natural trail you encounter lots of it! The flat (ish) open sections high up were pleasant with the weather holding off and there being virtually no wind.
As expected, in those conditions and with us  making the most of being back out, we both took a trip over the handle bars on the duration of the course. Dan had a great one, as his front wheel seemed to suddenly slip from under him, leaving Dan whithering in the overgrown rough. Myself, I slid on some polished wet rock slabs, not getting the turn in, which sent my front wheel off the track and down a small drop, I then conveniently got propelled over the bars and into a waiting tree trunk!!
It was great to be back out,  even though I was blowing at times, and up to now, the foot feels ok.

                                          Dans tumble, ha  ha. I was quick with the camera!

If your looking for a rugged trail, with fast, twisting singletrack, boardwalks, beautiful views and a great remote feel, then give Penmachno a try!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Big News...

Having still not climbed due to my ankle ligaments still being weak and not in good shape, the blog has been quite of late.
Hopefuly things will improve this year.
Anyway, as the title says, big news today, as that, 'The Hurting', has been repeated today by none other than Andy Turner,
This is the first repeat of Dave Macleods route, which he graded XI 11!!!

Keep checking Andys blog for the update, should be interesting!