Rock Climbing Course and Snowdon Marshalling

clogwyn du'r arddu
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Just had an amazing weekend.  The weather was blissful and the work I was involved in was a pleasure to do, so I have no regrets and don’t feel I’ve missed out by working.  North Wales is epic in this weather, spending time and living in Snowdonia is probably the best place in the world when it’s good.

Kicked off Friday morning, I was running a ‘Intro to Lead Trad Climbing’ course for Jez at JBMountainskills.  James, the client for the two days had a fair bit of indoor bouldering experience behind him, and a little indoor lead climbing.  So we focussed on guidebook reading, gear placements, anchor building, belays, rope management, hanging belays, abseil retreats from a multi-pitch crag, amongst other things.  I love trad climbing.

Saturday night was then one of the best parties I’ve ever been too.  Liam and I set off at about 8PM, I was feeling a little tired, so I insisted we stopped off at a petrol station for a coffee.  In my haste I removed the cup after the frothy milk stage, yet before the coffee stage.  Replaced it with a cup for Liam, which proceeded to fill with an espresso.  Only in the van halfway to the party did I realise that Liam had necked the coffee, and I had a warm cup of milk… probably the opposite of the waking up I needed.

There was a 3000watt music and light system run by generators on a beach surrounded by high cliffs.  It was the longest day of the year, the tide was out and we only got 3 hours of darkness.  I left the ravers to keep on going, but needed sleep for the next day at work.  Unfortunately the front seats of Liam Flemming’s van, were surprisingly uncomfortable and didn’t allow me to get more than 30 minutes without cramp.  Still an incredible night.

Sunday was another stonking sunny day… I can’t remember seeing a cloud in the sky.  It was the annual charity 3 peaks for a company called Kier Group.  They managed to raise over £26,000 which is a fantastic effort.  I set off up Snowdon and based myself just past the halfway house, clipboard and radio in hand.  I was there for about 6-7 hours when the final group made it back down to me, and we could all head back to base for chicken curry and chips.  A wonderful day spent sat in the sunshine, chatting to the numerous people walking past, playing with various dogs, eating a lot of food, reading my book and luckily not having to do any rescuing, searching or first aid!

Looks like the weather is set to change Wednesday night, maybe a good thing so I can catch up on all the admin I’ve been putting off, tidy the house a bit, and give my forearms a rest from all the rock climbing!

Until then I have a day out on my Climbing Course to prepare for, enjoy the weather all.  T

clogwyn du'r arddu

View of clogwyn du’r arddu from my seat on Snowdon.

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Lightning and Thunder, Simultaneously. Mountain Leader Training

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A dull rumble shatters my already broken sleep, my ears prick up to full alert mode before I can say I’m awake. I lay there in my 1 man tunnel tent, like a translucent coffin, listening to the heavy rain starting to bang against the outer sheet, no pitter patter nonsense, each drop makes its own heavy thud.

Mountain Leader Training Ropework Day

Mountain Leader Training Rope work Day

2 days ago, I was on the Gribin ridge with my group, enjoying the role of hopping between each pair on a rope work day, ensuring that they were safe… keeping it simple. There were overhand knots going on left right and center, the sun was blazing, wind howling, the surroundings of Cwm Idwal giving a real mountain milieu, these guys are training to lead their own groups in the mountains, eager to learn, and a strong group. The day finished with with an ice cream, Magnum white. My ice cream being too sickly was the only objective danger of the day. I felt in control and on top of my game, totally comfortable in that environment.

A flash lights up my tent, alerting my eyes to the same sensitivity levels as my ears, before I realise what the sensation is, thunder cracks all around the tent, like a boomerang whooping 360 around you in a state of the art surround sound cinema. It’s close.

Navigating to Lliwedd

Navigating to Lliwedd

The day previous we set off with bags weighing in the region of 12-18 kilos, mine was at the lighter end, the guys with pyjamas and deodorant at the other. After some paperwork and organisation my group took turns to navigate from the Pen y Gwryd, over the horns, down to the lakes in the amphitheatre of the Snowdon horseshoe, up the other side and over the rocky ridge line of Y Lliwedd. My team, slightly different from yesterday were again strong, a few climbers, a few outdoor ed staff, and some more than adequately switched on learners. Finding a flat campsite at 6PM in cwm Tregalan in the shadow of the Snowdon – Lliwedd bwlch, was no drama.

3 or 4 hour Night Navigation

3 or 4 hour Night Navigation

Will’s team camped in the same spot making 14 of us, with about 11 tents forming a hamlet (of aluminium poles) at 450m altitude, surrounded by mountains in their June alpenglow. We readied for night-navigation with an excited anticipation of being out until 02:30, the weather was ideal, a waxing quarter moon shone down.

Quickly getting dressed, opening the tent, peering out at a dark dark sky, this time it is not a flash, but a intracloud luminosity. Lightning above us. The clouds are not far above our heads and the mountains to the sides are fully engulfed. Thoughts extremely rapidly change from how the clouds are earthing their charge separation to; we’re in a tricky situation here… Time to turn on the autocratic tone of voice that the trainees have not yet heard.

Before reaching their tents, which are just 20m away, Will is already bellowing at the top of his voice, “Get out of your tents, now” “Get up”, “….ing move”. I join in to deliver the same message in much the same way, like commanding officers in a war zone coming into contact, concise, accurate, directive information. The tents are wriggling as bodies battle slumber with adrenaline. Will and myself leave the hillock we’re shouting from, it’s been about a minute since the last bolt landed a few hundred meters away, we’re due another. Running low to the middle of a large flat area we all spread out, crouch down, and I think about how it’s impossible for me to directly and actively be in control of protecting my group from the sky.  [info on what to do in a electrical storm]

As I tie up my boots holding sockless feet, zip up my jacket, and watch my open tent and sleeping bag fill with the torrents, another bolt lands very close indeed. The thunder is simultaneous. The lightning stays alight for more than a flash, maybe 0.3 sec, then the scarring on my eyes stays for longer. I look around the group, Will and I unable to communicate with all of them, but just leading by example in what to do. Everyone copies us, our posture and patience.

The sky over Moel Siabod is now looking brighter, just 10 minutes after the first burst of electricity. Another flash goes off, with thunder less than a second or two after, but clearly it’s moved on top of Snowdon and out of our home for the night. As the brighter sky creeps towards us, I can see a smile of relief on Will’s face, I return it with nervous laughter. Still the storm carries on, but always moving North, the lightning to thunder time differential growing.

After a fair while, we pack down our tents with a sense of urgency, and navigate the best way down the hillside. A great course with excellent feedback, and a glitch in the weather on the final day! We head through the old quarry workings. I wonder how many storms the miner’s confronted. T

Rainbow Gallt y Foel

A more friendly looking storm – 10 hours after our very rowdy wake up call

Non Rock Climbing Activites (rain stopped play)

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Rain in Snowdonia

Wet wet wet (not the band)

In Snowdonia, we’re familiar with the petrichor must, rain falls abundantly.  Luckily we don’t get those overcast, grey, drizzly fortnights like London, when it rains here it rains proper.  It’s usually over and done with fairly quickly and I can be back out climbing almost straight away.  For the bad days, here’s a list of non rock climbing (so as to not increase psych for climbing and exacerbate the withdrawal issues) related activities that I have been immersed in today, they could give you some ideas of stuff to do when your day is overwhelmed with floccinaucinihilipilification.

1 – Antagonistic Shoulder muscle exercises and stretching.

For me this basically isn’t fun, but essential.  I’m putting a lot of work in my rotator cuffs, catching up on all the work that’s been omitted over the past 10+ years.  Rock Climbing, like many other sports, overly strengthens your internal rotation shoulder muscles (pecs, lats, delts), these are all big powerful muscles that grow pretty easily whilst climbing often.  The antagonists that battle to counter balance these powerful lumps are relatively small muscles, namely your rotator cuffs: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Subscapularis, Teres minor.  Today’s rain has inspired me to re-read “7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution” by J Horrigan and J Robinson.  A great read not only for the always injured like me, but also for essential injury prevention that climbers need.  So I’ll be stretching the internal rotators and strengthening the external ones.

2 – A 3D puzzle.

Church Puzzle Snowdonia

Found this bad boy in a charity shop for £1… win. One piece missing… lose

3 – Write an article using big words.

Like being “filipendulous”, which is very relevant to the rock climbing courses I deliver.

4 – Easy Work.

Terry James Walker Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing Instructor Work, not too taxing!

Do a bit of work on your outdoorsy website, send a few emails and maybe find some potential clients and increase your summer opulence.

5 – Restring and clean guitar?

Washburn Guitar

Washburn Electro Acoustic, aesthetic and sounding great

6 – Bake bread

Homemade Bread

Home baked bread… Hmmmm

When I get bored, I get hungry.  Being well prepared for days indoors is vital.  Some warm bread for chunky sarnies can prevent unfortunate incidents of exophagy.

7 – Surfing in the Rain

Terry James Walker Surfing

A bit of surfing on small waves. (Pic from a sunny day)

8 – StumbleUpon

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An amazing website for times of utter and extreme boredom.  Head over to http://www.stumbleupon.com enter your interests and click stumble, you’ll be engrossed for quite a while

9 – Ebay for stuff ending in the next 1 minute

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A real frugality-fest, just by looking in the climbing category and sort by ‘time ending soonest’, you can grab some absolute bargains.  Good luck.

10 – Light a fire and drink tea

Log Fire Cottage North Wales

Probably my favourite ‘activity’. Log burning fire, way better than a television

Let me know of any interesting rainy day things that you guys and girls get up to, these things run out fairly quickly!  And lets hope for a super sunny summer.  T

 

Rain Rain Go Away

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Pretty shocking few days here so far this week.  Lightning strikes abundant around our cottage yesterday.  Rock is currently dripping all over the national park, sea cliff and coastal crags.  It was super dry on Sunday, so should only take a few days to fully dry out again, with no seepage.  Then time to get back on the rock and continue to get back a bit of fitness after a winter of getting heavy ski legs.

Met office says it’s looking up for tomorrow… So maybe a bit of slate action. Dead keen to get on The desolation of Smaug! If possible this week.  Till then, I’ve gotten pretty bored and set up a blog… Oh dear.

indoor rock climbing

50 degree board

Training later, going to hit the steep board and try and hold on for 5 minutes at a time to build some stamina… More boring than trying hard moves but definitely gets my climbing going at this time of year.

T