Little and Big Tryfan

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Today I was out with return clients Angie and Jareth, who arrived with enthusiasm in abundance, despite the overnight storm nearly blowing their tent away. Rich Gentry was also out working for me, with Keiran who is over from Cork, Ireland.

I headed to Little Tryfan to focus on leader placed protection and multipitch climbing skills. For instance, nut, cam, sling placements and building belays along with stance/rope management. This is a two day course making them competent to trad climb in the moutains on their own.

Rich headed for the utmost of classic routes ‘Grooved Arete‘ on Tryfan, guiding Kieran as part of my 1 day climbing courses listed on my website. A great decision based on the howling westerly winds, and they found almost complete solitude up there.

Here are some pictures of Angie and Jareth climbing their way up the gentle routes on Tryfan bach to get them leading on the rock with confidence.

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And here are the pictures of Kieran having a blast of a day seconding Rich up 8 pitches of mountain classic. With the famous Knight’s Move on the chequered slab. And Kieran topping it off with a jump across Adam & Eve!

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For any more information about the skills based climbing instruction myself and my freelance instructors provide, please visit my website terryjameswalker.com

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Life’s too short… A Summer roundup

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That’s 8 fingers

  • Climbed F8a

After warming up and falling off Nightglue F7a+ in early May, and not being able to do more than 10 of the moves on Over The Moon Direct, I committed 15 sessions to Lower Pen Trwyn (LPT), and sent it. Pretty happy with that, considering minimal training and niggling elbow injuries. Hardest grade I’ve ever climbed and now I have a fingerboard in the alps, I should come back with a little more than zero strength in April, so 8a+ next.

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Mid Technical Crux – OTMD – 8a

  • Onsighted some E4s

I didn’t climb much trad this summer, but had a great day out being belayed by my girlfriend Jacqui, who then almost followed E4 clean having not climbed for probably 3 years. Effort.

Slate Climbing Sunset

Sunset after an evening climbing with my girlfriend

  • Bouldered f7B

This was an anticlimax really as I was trying to get Jerry’s Roof f7C done in the autumn, but a sore wrist put an end to specific power endurance training and therefore it never got done, despite the moves all feeling totally fine after about 4 sessions.

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Mid Crux – Jerry’s Roof – V9

  • Worked 3 days a week on average

My contract with the Military was 3 months late in coming through, so I was actually free to work with my own clients and therefore had a very successful Summer. I’m also grateful to the other instructors in North Wales who trust me enough to send work and clients my way. 3 days a week on average was a perfect compromise, I earned enough to pay the bills, and put a fair bit of time into climbing for myself.

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Sea Cliff Climbing Course

  • Started a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science

I’ve enrolled in a Master’s program in the Clinical Sciences and Nutrition department of Chester University. The course is fairly intense as my background is not like the others on the course (medicine, physiotherapy, sports science, etc.). I’m currently writing a 4000 word assignment on the BioChemistry of Metabolism. Incredibly interesting stuff, and very useful for clients and personal training alike.

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It’s easier to learn a 45 move climbing sequence

  • Development Climbing Coach Award

I’m currently going through the process of becoming a qualified development coach. Although I’ve been coaching in my instructional role for many years now, it’s nice to have an official ticket that represents a level of competence. The scheme is great and makes up for a lot of the soft skills that are lacking from the Mountaineering Instructor Award (MIA).

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Coaching at Castle Inn Quarry

Now to concentrate on the ski season, which kicks off on Saturday. The ever reliable Val d’Isere has come good again, looking like a huge number of slopes will be open and perfectly groomed for this weekend. Early season is some of the best piste skiing you’ll ever get.

How to cut / chop a climbing rope

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After some mileage indoors or sport climbing, your rope may become fluffy, frayed and worn.  Generally about a meter infront of the tying in section of rope.  Look for signs on the outer sheath, and also test the core (bobbins strands) by feeling and bending the rope… it’s very unlikely any of these will have snapped, but they do become stretched/worn/twisted inside the sheath (mantle).

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Fluffy section above

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Tired core on the left

This kind of wear is very unlikely to happen on a trad climbing rope, because its caused by the repetitve resting or falling on to the quickdraws.  Though it is very possible to get a nick or cut in a trad rope, and the same process of cutting or chopping the rope may be necessary.

I start by feeling the rope and getting the section where it becomes ‘good’ again.  It’s not fluffy, bendy, and holds a nice loop as you pinch it together.  This is the safe part you’re looking for.

I then tape with good quality duct tape as tightly as possible around the section I am going to cut.

Heat up a sharp knife with either a few candles or lighters, or on a gas hob… take care not to burn yourself and do it either outside or near a few open windows, as this is smelly and gives off fumes.

Cut straight through the duct tape.  Then use a lighter to melt the duct tape into the shealth and into the core, so that it all welds together and won’t fray.  I then roll the still hot edges on some newspaper to round them off a bit and avoid any sharpness.

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Be sure to clean all the black gunk off the knife before you put it back in the draw and your non-climber wife/girlfriend/mum finds it.

After chopping the rope 3 or 4 times, take a moment to consider the state or the middle section, the rope is probably quite tired, and could do with being retired.  For £150 the price per usage is negliable… check out V12 Outdoor shop in Llanberis for some great deal, and you get 15% off, if you are or have been on one of my Rock Climbing courses.

5 best “First E1s” in North Wales

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Rock climbs that anyone would be proud of ticking, and that are particularly suitable for your first step into the grade.

For the ease: Bella Lugosi is Dead

I have coached many people through this route as their first E1 on my climbing courses.  It’s steady enough, with some small fiddly gear required, but your weight is always on your feet and the holds are obvious.  Run up the crack, placing tonnes of gear until it gets thin, then place some bomber micro wires or Brass Offsets, and do a couple of moves trusting smaller foot holds. At the top, the gear is very good again for some longer reaches. Job done.  Not the easiest here, but almost!

For the borderline HVS: Looning the Tube

This route is in my opinion at the very bottom of the E1 grade.  If you’re not very confident, maybe tie your belayer to something.  After a couple of very thin moves above the pipe, mostly protected by a good bolt, you clip a mega chain. Then fire in some cams and finish up the slightly awkward off balance split in the slab.  It might feel tricky, but it’s not.

For the technically footed: Precious Metal

Probably the most obvious section of rock to climb at this area of the Great Orme. Visibly from way off, it’s the diagonal ramp that entices you in.  Quite small feet and smears are required, but the gear is good. Maybe wear some newer shoes.

For the marathon climbers: Cemetary Gates

An absolute classic from Brown and Whillans.  Not the easiest here, but a proud E1 for anybodys first.  The gear is great and take loads, because you will place it. 35m of broken crack climbing and looking after your arms to avoid over pump.  It’s an incredible climb in an even better position.  One of my all time favourites.

For the jammers: The Grooves

Another outstanding climb from the Llanberis Pass.  This time a bit more hard work and slightly more bicep action… but it’s a safe as houses, plugging in cams and bomber nuts all the way.  If you’re up there, the E2 finish up the Overhanging Arete is unbelievable terrain at that grade.

Good Luck, and give me a shout if you need any help or check out my climbing courses page.

Rock Climbing belay

Just clip everything

 

Multi-pitch Rock Training Course

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Last week I was out climbing with Graham and John, working for the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre at Indefatigable, Anglesey (JSTMC).

Day 1: Single Pitch Award Training, (SPA) at Holyhead mountain.

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Graham acsending a rope, and self belaying back down.

Day 2: SPA training and an introduction to more advanced rescues, sport climbing and stripping out routes, at Dinorwig Slate quarries.

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Me on a cold, windy day up on the Cromlech

Day 3: Multipitch Training, climbing uber-classic routes on Dinas Cromlech “Flying Buttress” and “Spiral Stairs” in the Llanberis Pass.

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John and Graham about to second Pitch 4 off “Flying Buttress”

Day 4: Rock Lead Climbing training at Craig y Tonnau in the Moelwyns, to escape the weather. More advanced rescues and improvised solutions to multipitch problems.

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Me coaching Graham a little on “Diane’s Approval”

Day 5: Little Tryfan for multipitch leading of routes.

 

Concentration and Writing Complicated Articles

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Just tried to finish Part 2 of my hoisting articles for my website, reasonably complicated and would normally take me 20 minutes to get it right, then bang out the HTML.  But with Jacqui knocking around the house, incoming emails, new North Wales Limestone book at my side, new BASI manual in front of me, French homework for tomorrow and food, I have found the maths slightly tricky to get right first time.  So if there are any mistake in the article, I apologise.  But generally it takes people about 10 minutes to get back to me after first publishing to pick up any bugs.

So, with that done, now need to start thinking about Winter articles with a Ski/Snow/Season type subject.

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Trying to bang out an article in 30 minutes.

New Bolt in Belay of Solstice and Equinox

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Last night I attended a Bolting Workshop at Bus Stop Quarry, delivered by Chris Parkin.  As part of remaining current and striving to improve our knowledge technically and professionally, us members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI), register a certain number of days CPD (continual professional development) per year.  Last nights workshop will count towards 0.5 of a point towards those CPD required.

AMI Bolting Workshop

Chris demonstrating the placement of a stainless steel expansion bolt and hanger

Firstly we talked through the professional ethics and law to do with having a good understanding of bolts and their quality… If a bad one were to fail and an instructor’s client injured, there may be a case for negligence.

Then Chris drilled and put in a 10mm stainless steel expansion bolt, nut and petzl hanger.  Rated to about 25kn, we tested it to 10kn (1 tonne), and it held totally fine.  Should a bolt like this receive excessive use over 5 years in a softish rock like the Slate Quarries, then it may start to wobble and move around.  Recent testing by Mark Reeves showed bolts in this category still hold to about 1kn outward pull.  Which isn’t in my opinion overly dangerous as was reported by BMC etc, but I certainly wouldn’t be top roping groups of clients on those bolts.

He then placed an alternative which is a 6mm rod hanger, held in by resin.  It was a hot day, and after less than 1 hour, the bolt tested to 5kn of outward force (6-7 climbers all hanging directly outwards from it, and it would hold)  These bolts are believed to be slightly more suited to the slate, as long as they are not constantly being loaded sideways to create twisting.  The correct placement by the person doing the drilling and glueing is therefore extremely important.

Bolting Slate

Old bolt circled, New bolt with arrow.

I then asked Chris’ opinion of the single bolt belay that exists above Solstice and Equinox (used last weekend).  It is an 8mm bolt with hanger, the bolt sits inside a barrel in the rock… Both the bolt and barrel looked to be heavily corroded.  There is a sling placement around a big bolder to the right that forms the main part of my belay, but it would be tragic for the bolt to not be backed up by a climber and failure to happen.

So, Liam and Konrad were properly keen to get the drill going and resin in a new bolt for practise and to work the new skills we’d just seen.

There is now a new 6mm resin bolt directed towards the climb which should be good for 20 years at least, and would probably hold 30kn directionally (2 ford fiestas).  Considering the traffic these routes get, I think this new bolt is a good thing.  Shame about some of the old bolts which are there, I think the hangers were taken from them for no good reason (that I know of).

Think I’ll go and have a look at the ‘Gnat Attack’ belay next.  Safe Climbing people.  T