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.

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Intro to Outdoor Rock – Trad and Sport Climbing Course

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This weekend I was joined by a keen bunch; Liam, Pralad, Sam and Karl on an Outdoor Rock Climbing Course.  They all had about 6 months indoor experience with some lead climbing.

Day one we headed out in glorious weather to Tremadog upper tier… the walk in nearly killed them, but we were safe once rock climbing.  We hit up a few of the harder VS and HVS routes on the left hand end of the crag.

Rock Climbing Tremadog Upper Tier

Pralad with a lack of colour co-ordinated plastic jugs to hold

Firstly I took the guys up top to show them how I was rigging the ropes to hold them.  Placing a few wires and hexes then backing everything up with the iron stakes that are insitu at the crag.  It really is an SPA climbing paradise.

After a stiff warm up (K.M.A. HS 4a), we got into discussing all the kit that I had along with me for the day.  Dyneema Slings of differing lengths, Wallnuts, Rocks, Hexcentrics, Dragon Cams, 4CUs, quickdraws and extenders.

Quatre Fois, Tremadog Upper Tier

Quatre Fois, Tremadog Upper Tier

Next up, they each climbed the cracks of the VS (Madog VS 4c), with a steep learning curve in the art of toe / foot jamming and embracing the pain.  Except Karl, who lay-backed the whole crack sequence, again!

For lunch, I was entertained watching the guys try and eat yoghurts without spoons, a great crag food!  At least they bought a picnic blanket with them… I’m not sure who lugged that up the walk in, but good effort that man.

Orchid Flowers in Bloom

Orchids, North Wales

Next up was Myomancy (HVS 5b), which is a really good and interesting route.  Whilst a pair of the lads were climbing on this, I was talking through belaying up leaders to stances.  Two point belays with a sling, and with just rope.  Three point belays with ropes all coming back to clove hitches on an HMS carabiner.  It was about this point of complexity that we decided to go sport climbing the next day, and rein it in a little!  Though I could see the minds of the three engineers ticking away watching the shiny kit like magpies.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so much interest in demonstrating a 3to1 mechanical advantage hoist of a climber.

For a warm down to the day and as the light turned fantastic for photos, we headed up Quatre Fois (VS 4c).  Unfortunately the wind dropped, conditions were absolutely still and delightful, BUT for the midges too… they promptly came out and attacked us all.  Most of us fine, with a few little itches, but Liam’s legs suddenly showed signs of chicken-pox and were swelling up.  Time to call it a day. 9.30 meet tomorrow at the service station on the A55 for some Sport Climbing.

More Than This, Castle Inn Quarry

Karl warming up on More Than This, Castle Inn Quarry

Day Two; Castle Inn Quarry.  Another North Wales climbing gem.  This place is an intro to sport heaven. Routes from french 3 through to 7a, with a significant number around 4-5.

Sport Climbing Course

Sam working out his clipping tactics

I kicked off by leading and putting up a rope on Mogadishu and More Than This.  Whilst climbing and simultaneously talking through the safest way to clip the bolts, manage the rope and organise the lower off.

Ffrind Castle Inn Quarry

Steep section at the top of Ffrind, Castle Inn

Then it was for the guys to lead and set up One Fine Day.  This is another fantastic way to Learn to Lead as the route itself is french grade 3, so all concentration can be put into the lead climbing without any worry of falling off.

North Wales Rock Climbing

Hidden Gem, Lost World, Castle Inn, North Wales

After a few plays with the Beta-stick (engineers remember), we headed for Nain, Ffrind, Taid and Hidden Gem.  The team pretty much clean onsight/flashed all of these routes which was a really great effort, especially on such a hot sweaty day.

Sport Climbing Course Crag Castle Inn

Super friendly intro to Sport Climbing Crag.

Nain Castle Inn Quarry, North Wales

Sam pulling through awkward moves on Nain

The top of Hidden Gem is another great site for learning, that I often use.  The bolt belay includes two hangers close together with a ring through each.  As well as this, as the instructor, I can scramble around the side and watch/supervise the cleaning out of the route.  This involves the climber clipping into the belay, pulling through a couple of meters of slack rope, threading it through the bolts, retying their knot, then cleaning out all the quickdraws placed on lead as they come down.  It’s a fairly complicated process, which on the first few times, is great to practice at ground level, then with the eyes of a qualified Mountaineering Instructor (or experienced and knowledgeable climber) watching on.

How to strip a sport climb

Liam cleaning out the anchors / belays and stripping the route

All these routes in the stonking heat had taken their toll.  So I quickly lead and put the draws in Route 2, acting as a bit of a test piece for Liam.  He moved quickly and precisely up the route with never a glimmer of falling.  Good effort, star player.

Nice one guys, pleasure to climb with you.