Trying out the new North Wales Bouldering guidebook

It was a fantastic coincidence. I was due to go on a weekend climbing trip to North Wales and on the Monday before my trip the new North Wales Bouldering guidebook was published. I’d been waiting a long time for this book.

Me climbing an unnamed 4C problem on the Wavelength Boulder in Llanberis Pass, while Katrina spots me.

The first edition had been out of print for years and it seemed that only the quick and lucky (and possibly wealthy) could buy a 2nd hand copy. From reading the periodic UKClimbing threads asking when the next edition would be published, I had the tantalising impression that the reason the second edition was still not available was because the author, Simon Panton, just kept finding more and more bouldering delights in North Wales that he could not leave out. Read more

My Climbing 2016 in Pictures

 

Finding Somewhere New

I really enjoy exploring new climbing venues. They’re not new in the sense that they are untouched (I don’t climb that far off the beaten track). They’re just new to me and that makes them intriguing. That is part of why I enjoyed bouldering at the RAC Boulders in Snowdonia for the first time last weekend. It really felt like a discovery because I’d driven past the RAC Boulders fifty or more times before and never realised they were there.

What I found was that the RAC Boulders are brilliant fun. There’s interesting and varied climbing on a couple of boulders with a good selection of lower to middle grade routes (which suits me). It’s also, conveniently, only a few minutes from the road while being surprisingly quiet and tranquil. Read more

A Trad Day

I finally got a chance last weekend to do my first trad leading since my injury and surgery. After getting frustratingly rained off Stanage a few weeks ago, it was great climb in sunshine on Tryfan Bach. A day of climbing on Tryfan Bach’s beautiful slab, its with well-protected, low-grade climbs, was just what I needed to get reacquainted with leading trad and to clear my head.

My Climbing 2014 in Pictures

First Peak

My son, Leo, got to the top of his first peak today.  Snuggly wrapped on his mummy’s back, he got to the top of Craig Wen in Snowdonia.  Summiting a 608m peak is pretty impressive when you are eight months old, can’t walk yet and have to battle cold winds and rain.  I’m proud of how well he did.  It feels good to be introducing him to the mountains and I’m really looking forward to going with him to the tops of many more peaks.

My Climbing 2013 in Pictures

The Beauty of Rime

Rime on a boulder on the summit of Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales.
Rime on a boulder on the summit of Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales.

I love rime.  I love how these tails of ice seem to form on rocks, fences, walls, posts and anything bold enough to stand upright on a frozen, windy mountain.  I love how rime’s strange, white crystalline structures seem to sprout from the dark surfaces of rocks to either bring them into relief or bury them in ice.  It amazes me that rime can form as a razor of ice down one side of a single blade of grass and as an icy lattice inches deep on a wire fence.  What I especially love about rime is how it adds a new beauty and character to these small things as well as to a whole mountain landscape.  Rime is also wonderful for being something that is superficially simple – frozen water – that forms from an interesting process into something varied and complex. Read more

Be Seen on the Mountain

I couldn’t see where the cries for help were coming from.  The rocky hulk of Tryfan was almost black in the twilight and was shrouded in cloud.  I could tell the shouts of help were definitely coming from high on Tryfan’s west face, but they were just disembodied voices in the growing dark.

The Moon over the west face of Tryfan in Snowdonia National Park, Wales.
The Moon over the west face of Tryfan in Snowdonia National Park, Wales.

I was in a group that had climb Tryfan earlier in the day before moving on to climb Glyder Fach next door.  It was November and we had decided to head down by the Y Gribin ridge as the light dimmed.  Cutting cross-country to get back to the cars, we heard cries of “help!” and headed in their direction to see what we could do. Read more

Learning to lead

Libby teaching me about placing gear.

Guest Blogger – a post by my fiancee

Well, after two years following Robin up crags and cliffs, we decided that 2012 would be the year I would learn to lead.  Aside from the fact that it’s frankly rather cool, I had several reasons I wanted to progress to leading.  Firstly, I wanted to start pulling my own weight in our climbing partnership, we both want to have a stab at longer multi-pitch routes where leading through is necessary, and lastly, you haven’t really experienced trad climbing until you’ve been reduced to a quivering wreck…

Women usually climb very differently to men, so I decided I wanted a female guide to help me through my first foray into leading.  As we climb mostly in North Wales, Robin contacted Libby Peter, and we hired her for two days at the end of July 2012. Read more

Review of the new Beacon Climbing Centre

Earlier this week, with waves of rain sweeping over North Wales ruling outdoors rock climbing out, my fiancée and I decided to try the new Beacon Climbing Centre near Caernarfon.  We were impressed.

Tommy the bouldering elephant in the dedicated kids area at the new Beacon Climbing Centre.

The old Beacon Climbing Centre had been in the Marconi Building in Ceunant for some 18 years.  This was a reasonable climbing wall, but it was very out of the way, a bit rundown and in need of an update.  This old centre has now shut and the operation moved to a former TV studio on the Cibyn Industrial Estate near Caernarfon.  As the new location is just off the main A4086 road from Llanberis, the Beacon Climbing Centre is now brilliantly placed for climbers rained off the mountains and crags of Snowdonia National Park. Read more

Turning Around the Men in Pyjamas

There are times when there is no doubt that you should tell someone that they’re not properly equipped for a day in the mountains and should turn back.  One example of this happened earlier this month when a stag party attempted to climb Snowdon dressed in pyjamas and trainers, in a storm and by the scrambling route of Crib Goch. Unsurprisingly, this stag party got into trouble and had to be talked down by phone by mountain rescue.

A back-clipped quickdraw; a potentially dangerous mistake that is a little too easy to make and to not notice.  Would you point this mistake out to someone you didn’t know?

According to the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, this stag party was just one recent incident of groups heading up Snowdon without suitable clothing and equipment.  Although trying to climb a mountain in nightwear is an extreme example, my experience is that it’s not uncommon to come across people hiking, scrambling, rock climbing or doing via ferrata who look like they don’t have the right clothes, equipment or skills.  These people can be putting themselves at risk and can take up the valuable time of mountain rescue if they get into trouble.  What I wonder is whether there is a moral obligation on all of us to tell these people to turn around or change what they are doing. Read more

What they don’t tell you in the guidebook – Craig yr Aderyn

Rock climbing guide books are an invaluable resource and are essential to ensure that you don’t end up climbing the wrong route or no route at all (both of which can be scary and/or dangerous).  Unfortunately, the features of the routes that guide books describe do sometimes change.   The route descriptions in the books also need to be quite brief and this lack of detail can sometimes lead to you being surprised by some aspect of a route.  For these reasons, I am starting a regular series of posts on “what they don’t tell you in the guide book.”  The first such post is about Craig yr Aderyn.

The Bastion face on Craig yr Aderyn. The route The Buttress runs diagonally up from the bottom right of the face.

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