About Me

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I'm Alex (also known as Midge, Al and the Guy in the Neon Orange and Black Leathers). Three main passions in life: Mountains, Motorbikes and Old Stuff. Currently in North Wales, at Bangor Uni with my Transalp 600 and Snowdonia on the doorstep. The purpose of this Blog is a combination of discussing the above and highlighting other blogs and videos of interest.

Slideshow Info

The Slideshow contains various pictures (all taken by myself), ranging from my Dogs to hanging belays at Gogarth. Hopefully they give you a flavour of what I get up to.

31/10/2011

Sea Cliff and Slate Cracks

I’ll start again by discussing the weather. It has improved (slightly). This past week has been generally grey, overcast and damp in the mornings however about dry enough to get some climbing in.
After a reasonable Indy (Indefatigable Climbing Centre on Anglesey) session on Wednesday the forecast was good for the next two days. Not wanting to waste what maybe some of the last few days out before winter hasty arrangements were made with Dale for the possibility of two day out.

Thursday (Day 1): Holyhead Mountain.


After pondering where to go as Llanberis Pass (the Pass) and Ogwen Valley looked very wet, we decided upon a day of Trad climbing at Holyhead Mountain. There were two reasons for this a) Dale had only climbed V. Diff  and b) it is easy access and single pitch in case the weather changed.

Convincing Dale to climb something a bit harder was not difficult, and having Sport climbed with him I knew that he was more than capable. He quickly dispatched Tempest (S 4a). I then led Black and Tans (VS 4c), a good route with a couple of interesting moves. After bringing Dale up on the second he only needed a little persuasion to try something harder. Tension (VS 4b) was plenty enough of a challenge, a cool route with increasing exposure as you get higher, but not to worry there is plenty of gear. Seeing Dale tackle the crux and then proceed to top out was great. He was buzzing at the top. He had only planned on doing a top grade of a Severe.

Dale pre-crux on Tension (VS 4b)

A rather pleased Dale

I had been saying all day, ‘If today goes well, wanna go and do a sea cliff at Gogarth tomorrow?’ and after seeing Dale comfortably climb I was confident in him. So plans were a foot.

Friday (Day 2): Castell Helen, Gogarth South Stack.


Motorbike laden with abseil rope, climbing ropes, gear and people we headed off. Plans were to go and do at least Lighthouse Arete (VS 4c).

Set the abseil up, showed Dale how to ab with a prussic and down we went. Dale had been quite worried, the names Gogarth and sea cliff demand a lot of respect. If things go wrong they can be a nightmare to sort out. We reached the belay. The position was amazing, high tide was in and the sea was a couple of metres away. Dale suddenly relaxed, mind blown I think. I set off on the first pitch, completed with ease. Dale was up next. He cruised along. A misreading of the guide book by me resulted in him not only doing the 4b pitch but him continuing and finishing the 4c section. Calm and collected the whole way, it was great to see such a change from the apprehensiveness he’d displayed the night before and that morning. I finished, a bit miffed at myself for doing myself out of the crux pitch. We topped out, had lunch and called it a day. The weather was changing, wind was up and thick grey cloud was forming. We considered going back down to do Pel or Rap (both VS 4c) however there had been groups on them. 

Looking at the sea from the first belay

The sea again

The first pitch


Dale cruising up the second and third pitches


Sunday (Day 3): Rainbow Slab/Walls, Llanberis Slate Quarries.


Plans made at 1.30am that morning with Lewis with a proviso that the weather looked okay proved to provide a great day out.
Warming up on Horse Latitudes with Horsing Around Finish (F6a/b), was a good starter. Then the clouds looked very threatening on Snowdon and the wind was blowing our way. So more sport was called for. An attempt was made by us both on The Speenal Flick (F6c+) however it out foxed us both. Lewis feeling strong got on Gerbil Abuse (F7a) with only a couple of rests on the crux sequence he topped out. My turn, on the second, from about half way up I was cursing my lack of technique, strength and the route. Finally I cracked the crux move, a real sense of elation came.  A good route for those strong monsters out there as it combines a fierce lay-back and slightly overhanging slate. The day was getting on, I’d been looking at Pull My Daisy (E2 5c) all day, I was clear and as a last route of the day I psyched myself up for it. I really wanted the onsight, so it was do or fly, there was to be no backing off this route. The climbing is good but small in places up to a pipe a bit over half way, you clove-hitch a sling round this and push on. There is no gear for all least another ten metres. I was grateful for having my tri-cams, as there is a shot hole as the last bit of gear. Topping out was a combination of relief and joy. 

Rainbow Slab

Lewis on Gerbil Abuse (F7a)

Me on Pull My Daisy (E2 5c)

Me near the top of Pull My Daisy



P.s
With climbing seeing others succeed is always a great feeling I find, whether it is on a Mod or some mental E grade. It is a challenge that they put themselves to and find a way to overcome it. It is even better when they are unsure of their chances and still manage to complete the route. (With some thought as I was typing I realised this applies to life in general).

25/10/2011

Testing, Testing. One, Two, Three.

As first Blogs go this one will be pretty poor.
The weather currently in North Wales can't make its mind up, rain showers and sunny spells seems to be the order for the last week and coming weeks. Rubbish weather really for the nature of this Blog.
Enjoying the outdoors regardless of weather is a fairly tricky task. However having friends that are either a) brave, b) insane or c) some useful combination of the two, seems to provide a way forward.
Two such instances occurred over the weekend. Firstly Saturday evening resulted in night (read head-torch) climbing with Jack (a.k.a. Ginge) on the Slate at Bus Stop Quarry. After one windy route (Equinox VS 4C), Ginge fancied a beer rather than another route.
Sunday proved just as interesting, if not more so. A text mid-morning from Pete asking whether I was wanting to do some easy multi-pitch mountain route, was unexpected yet appealing. It was like daring the weather to be the worst it could be with the way recent weeks have been. Grooved Arete on Tryfan's East Face was selected. After completing the first pitch and handing over to Pete, route-finding seemed to go out the window. We reached a ledge but nothing like that described or pictured in the book. The top was insight, so we went up anyway. Reaching Adam and Eve as the last of the light disappeared we were at the summit. At this point the real difficulties started, I'd not packed any food and Pete had no head torch, to make things more fun the wind was blowing such a gale that walking in a straight line was nearly impossible. Nearly three hours later we were back at the car; having walked down, fallen over, bog troted, Pete braking a shoe lace and having the skin on our faces well and truly scraped off by the wind.   

Motorbiking at the moment is wet and cold, it still beats a car however! The chain was replaced last week, why do no-one say that O-Ring chains are a nightmare to get off and on the bike? Replacing the front end exhausts soon. I'm looking forward to kitting it out with bash bars and plate for some off-roading fun.

Good Night.

P.s. After being out with Pete, I remembered that I can't complain really a) we had a great day out (what better way of doing it than hanging around on a mountain) and b) I knew that days out with Pete are all ways epics, so why should Sunday be abnormal.
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