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.

21/11/2011

Sunshine on the Slate


Winter is well and truly on its way, but as usual in the U.K. it is unpredictable. Dark nights, check, rain every other day, check, cold weather, not arrived. Recently the unseasonably warm weather has been providing great opportunities for climbers in North Wales. 

This last week has been one of completing university tasks and staring out of the window at the remarkably sunny, dry hills of Snowdonia (wishing the work to be done). If anyone wants to do some research on the concept of national identity in England, Wales and Scotland during 450-1000 I can now point you in the right direction.

Wanting a mid-week fix, Gwen and I went on Wednesday afternoon to Australia Quarry (the Sidings Area). We did a series of routes that I’d done in September (why when repeating a route is it always harder?). Gwen raced up Orangutan Overhang (F6a+) and Cyber World Sl@teheads (F6a+). Both are good routes. Orangutan presents some cool overhanging slate climbing with an ace heel opportunity. We did a couple of others then set a top rope up to try Shorty’s Dyno (F7a). It was fairly dark and some (small) progress was made. I reckon with a strong span (therefore training is needed (typical!)) I can get it to go static.  
Gwen half way up Orangutan Overhang (F6a+), with the roof still to go.

Sunday rolled round far too fast (with no climbing in). The rain the night before, the closing nights and a half marathon around the Orme limited us somewhat. Guess what: We were back at the slate, Australia again. Splitting off with Tristan we went to the Looning the Tube area. However it seemed as if all the climbers in North Wales had thought the same thing, it was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. Tristan hasn’t been climbing that long but is improving rapidly so I got him on some more challenging routes. He did a couple of F5+/F6a routes then seconded happily up Maximum Tariff (F6b), Brief Encounter (HVS 5b) and Looning the Tube (E1 5a). I completed Turn of the Century (E2 5c) an interesting route in a corner, it feels a bit hairy going for the second bit of gear (a bolt) with possible decking potential if it goes badly wrong. With several routes in the bag and darkness closing in we called it a day after topping out on Looning the Tube. An excellent day and the sun had been out all day long.

Turn of the Century (E2 5c) in the corner (just left of the rope).

Australia Quarry in the sunshine.

Two climbers on Looning the Tube (E1 5a).

Henry and Pete on a sport route (on the left-hand side).

The Gaggle

The Kendal film festival was on this weekend (results are on UKC). The series of short films that form Vertical Sailing Greenland are great. I love nutters in it, the humour, the music (however bad) and the places they visit make the film something fantastic. 

Whilst on the topic of films, I hope everybody has been watching Frozen Planet on the BBC. It is amazing! Not much gets cooler (pun intend) than filming animals on the North and South pole. 

As for motorbikes, the NEC Motorcycle Live show was on this weekend. I’ve been looking on MCN at some lovely, shiny, expensive motorbikes today. I wonder if I can have a new BMW GS with full metal panniers for Christmas. Doubt it! Also watching the North Wales rally on the BBC made me wonder if there is a bike version. I’m looking forward to being able to kit the bike out for green-laning. 

I genuinely think that people who go out seeking adventure, (even if it is just an afternoon out) need a sense of humour even in the middle of an epic. It just makes things so much easier, especially in an epic.

11/11/2011

Mini Post: Adventures of the Year National Geographic.

Have a read. Some fantastic stories.
http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2012/

I can't make my mind up on who to vote for. So many interesting travels and adventures. I'm tempted to vote for Alastair Humpherys as I've seen some of his mini-films and they are interesting. He makes adventures possible in various ways and points out that you don't need to do the North Face of the Eiger to have a tale to tell. 

The picture of Cory Richards is great, I'm going to try for the frozen face look this winter.

I like reading the National Geographic (and you should to). It is always a source of inspiration for me of places to go and things to see. Also being a bit of an eco-hippy I think it vitally highlights various ecological issues that are of worldwide importance. Finally they often have "old-stuff" in which appeals to the historian me.

Also this is a little video and bit of music that keeps me happy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrdYczRLXkE

09/11/2011

Poor Weather and Reading Week

A fill in post due to poor weather.

It is currently my reading week. Wanting to see the family and carry out some maintenance on the motorbike, I've travelled home.
Hoping for good weather and knowing that the BUMS Peak District trip is at the end of the coming week (12th/13th) I brought home my Trad gear. It hasn't left my room yet (typical after spending time packing it all). I hope the weather improves for Saturday.
A trip to the Nottingham Climb Centre on Monday was good. I think it can be useful to visit other climbing centres now and then. Your training and thinking become stuck with the style of your regular centre, going elsewhere helps to prevent stagnation (the fear of most climbers). 
I'm hoping to have a wander on Kinder Scout later this week. It hopefully will provide some entertainment, bog-trotting is amusing particularly after lots of rain.

I've spent sometime this week with an old friend, Harry Barnard. His adventures revolve around ornithology (bird-watching) in Central and South America. Working as a guide for eco-tourism he is one lucky guy. With amazing pictures of animals and the jungles I've been feeling rather jealous, in particular when he showed me a photo collection of birds that only a few people (including himself) in the world have seen.  

I'm currently trying to work out a few international adventures of my own. A 'Camp America' trip, and with the motorbike: An Alps circumnav (France, Germany, Austria, Italy and back to France) and another trip to Morocco (via France and Spain). Inspiration coming from motorbiking friends and the epic journey that is 'The Long Way Round'. Anybody got any clues where to get cheap(ish) metal panniers/top box? Any mods needed for alpine trips or desert riding?

With the weather changing, becoming cold, wet and windy, I'm looking forward to winter coming in properly. I'd much prefer to deal with snow and ice than cold rain, at least it makes hiking interesting and winter gully climbing possible (however bad motorbike driving weather). Also winter provides those adventures and epics I like to seek out.

Hear is to hoping the weather improves (or just snows).
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