Mountaineering Course – wild camping

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This week just gone I have been working for the Joint Services again, at their mountain training wing in Llanrwst, JSMTW (L).  The course was a Summer Mountaineering Foundation, which lays the foundations and gets some of the pre-requisites for the Mountain Leader Award.  I was joined by members of various Regements, from Royal Gurkha Rifles, to Army Air Core.

Day 1: Navigation basics, including bearings, contours, distances, pacings, timings, etc. For this we headed from Capel Curig, over Crimpiau and Craig Wen.  Perfect terrain with lots of features to attack.

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Crimpiau

Day 2: Mountain day and basic scrambling. We covered Y Gribin ridge from Llyn Idwal, then went over Gylder Fawr and down Devil’s Kitchen.  The day was North Wales tropical, but our friend from Brunei didn’t agree.IMG_0871.jpg

Day 3: A long day on Snowdon, working on more advanced navigation using mainly contour interpretation.  On 1:50k maps.  We travelled up from Pen y Pass, across Lliwedd, and down the Rhyd Ddu path.  I then found out the Gwynedd council had given me a parking fine of £25 at the Pen y Gwryd car park. Cheers

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Carneddau Wild Ponies – Ffynnon Llugwy

Day 4: First day of expedition.  We travelled from Gwern gof uchaf to Carnedd Llewellyn.  Then descended the East side to camp in Cwm Eigiau.  We saw the plane wreck site of Canberra Wk129, a jet that crashed on the Summit in Dec 1957, the debris was spread about a mile across the hillside and on both sides of the impact ridge.  Truely an impressive site.  Many of the parts still remain there.

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Eastern Spur of Carnedd Llewellyn

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Day 5: It was one of the first times I can remember camping on a North East facing cwm, so I pitched my tent so that at 05:30AM, I could unzip my tent door and see sunrise.  A seriously cool way to wake up.  I put a brew on and enjoyed the hazy sunrise then went back to sleep.

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Looking towards Colwyn Bay from 820m on the Carneddau at 05:30AM

 

 

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

Llanberis Resoles – rock climbing shoes bought to life

Llanberis Resoles
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Rock Climbing is not an expensive sport, clear evidence of this fact is illustrated by the sheer number of students that participate.  And they are generally poor, right?  If sharing the cost of a rope and rack with your partner, then harness and helmeted up, all you need is some shoes.  This can all be acquired for less than £400, and then you’re good to go… The equipment won’t wear out for at least 5 years in reality.  The only thing you’ll need to reinvest in is a few new pairs of boots.

I climb 5 days a week in the Summer, and sometimes wear the shoes for 10 pitch climbs on Tryfan and Lliwedd for up to 6 hours.  Although I have a few different pairs (redpoint sport pair, trad climbing pair, comfy work shoe), they will generally only last 1 year or so.  If you’re climbing indoors regularly with some dodgy footwork, then they may only last a couple of months.  At £90 a pop, this can be the main expense of your very highly addictive hobby.

Terry Walker Old Shoes

My Scarpa Vapours before photo.

I recently climbed this pair through the phases of hard trad shoes, to comfy work shoes.  Then just as all the good rubber was gone from the sole (the rand rubber is inferior and slippery in comparison), and before I wore through the rand too much, I sent them to Torquil at www.llanberisresoles.com

I timed it perfectly, if you leave it too long and wear through the rand to the fabric, or worse your foot, then he has to do a long repair which costs a fair bit extra.  I dropped them of at V12 in llanberis, from where he picked them up a few days later… before I knew it they were ready for pick up.

Terry Walker New Shoes

Scarpa shoes after Torquil’s magic

Terry Walker Scarpa Vapour

You can see the cut across the top half of the shoes

Above are two pics of the new rubber soles.  The edges are sharp and stiff which will be great, and for technical trad climbing, they should be undistinguishable from new ones.  I can’t wait to try them out, they are the second pair I’ve had done.  At a third the price of a new pair, you can’t go wrong.

Happy climbing.  Terry

Llanberis Resoles

Llanberis Resoles

 

 

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

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

3 Peaks Challenge – Snowdon Climb – Miners Track

Snowdon and Lliwedd from Miners Track
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As in my last post I said during periods of heavy rain, it doesn’t usually last long, and we can be outdoors and getting adventurous within a couple of days normally.  I was right, and putting up with the last week was fine as today we were beautifully rewarded with an outstanding morning.

Pictures say a thousand words, so take a browse through below, the Miners Track up and some of the Pyg track on the way down.  Flora fully out at the moment, loads of saxifrage, wood sorrel, butterwort, milkwort, dog violets, harebells, the list goes on… even on the crazy busy paths you can see these Arctic alpine flowers doing fairly well.

[Oh, and to the ignorant douchebag deliberately letting his dog chase sheep on around the Glaslyn today, thinking it was funny and arrogantly dismissing my advice two or three times, get educated and read this… Dogs Guidance It’s illegal, they’re someone’s property, livelihood and are animals with feelings too.]

Anglesey

Early Bird gets the worm. Inversion over Anglesey 5AM

Pen y Pass Car Park 5.30 AM

Plenty of Parking at Pen y Pass, even on a bank holiday (5:30 AM!)

Crib Goch

Crib Goch from the Miners Track, still reflection

Snowdon and Lliwedd from Miners Track

Snowdon and Lliwedd from Miners Track

Old Mine Works - Snowdon

Old Mine Works

Lliwedd

Lliwedd, from steeper section of Miners Track. Beautifully clear morning

Scrambling up the Miners Track - Snowdon

Scrambling up the Miners Track – Snowdon

Approaching the Pyg Track Junction

Approaching the Pyg Track Junction

Money Tree - North Wales

Money Tree – North Wales

Towards Llanberis from the Finger Stone

Towards Llanberis from the Finger Stone

Snowdon Summit RIdge

Snowdon Summit RIdge

Snowdon Train Track

Snowdon Train Track

Snowdon Train Up

Snowdon Train Up

Snowdon

Snowdon Summit Cairn

Triangulation station, on Summit Cairn

Triangulation station, on Summit Cairn

Pyg Track

Pyg Track

The descent

The descent

The Llanberis Pass looking North West

The Llanberis Pass looking North West

Nearly back to Pen y Pass

Nearly back to Pen y Pass

Snowdon Sign Posts

Snowdon Sign Posts

Insectivorous plant

Insectivorous plant

Right on the Pyg Track!

Right on the Pyg Track!

24 hour challenge!

24 hour challenge!

Crazy blisters from badly fitting running shoes

Crazy blisters from badly fitting running shoes for 24 hours

3 Peak Challenge is available for booking now at http://www.terryjameswalker.com/walking.html

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