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.


It could be worse...

There must be one of those laws out there, like Murphy’s and Godwin’s, which is when a deadline approaches something will break, stop working or just give up. This has just happened with my bike. With less than a month to go till I travel home, the front sprocket has sheared. I was heading back from Llanddulas Cave on Sunday (13/05/12), just got on the A55 accelerated to seventy mph and then suddenly no drive, quickly I swung on to the hard shoulder. I looked down and saw the damage caused. The highways officers that stopped and helped push my bike up the on ramp at Conwy were of real help. Thanks go to them.  
Damage caused to the front sprocket cover. This is what I saw upon stopping. Did not look promising.(Gear leaver removed)
The removed front sprocket and retainer. Notice the mangled teeth.
Wear on the drive shaft.
On Monday I looked at the damage and now I’m waiting on new parts. I’ll be taking the engine block out and replacing the drive shaft when I get home. A messy job since the drive shaft sits inside the gear box which is full of oil. A combination of factors appear to have caused the damage, long journeys at high speed, age of the parts and a slightly tight chain, all of which really come down to one cause poor maintenance. Woops. So a point to learn from, when checking  your chain tension also have a quick check of the front sprocket and see if it has any free play around the drive shaft. Having not done this I’ve paid for it. 

However, it could have been worse. At least it did not do the opposite and lock the rear wheel up, a skid at seventy would have made a real mess of me. 

Climbing has been great recently, a direct opposite to the bike. Saturday (12/05/12) I went with Dale to Wen Zawn, Gogarth, to do Britomartis (HVS 4c). Abseil rope set up, we set off down to the belay ledge. Once on the ledge we had to wait twenty minutes or so for a pair of climbers (who had just met at the Climber’s Club meet that was happening over the weekend) to finish the first pitch of Spider Wall (E1 5a). Dale was wanting to try an lead his first HVS but baled (without shame as the first pitch was cold, wet and in the shade) and quickly came back to the belay. A swift change over with the gear and I set off. Having previously led the route I got on and got going. The route follows a rising crack line, with jug-like holds for the hands and other quartzite lumps for the feet. It is fairly pumpy and the gear is regular, but it just keeps going with the pump setting in. Reaching the belay stance is a relief. I threw a loop of rope and a sling over the two flakes at the stance, set the hanging belay up and placed Dale on the belay. On the second he made good progress. On reaching the belay we switched over the gear. I set off (mainly because last time I did Britomartis, I’d miss read the route and finished up Toiler of the Sea (E2 5b) not something I wanted Dale to experience) and quickly reached the top. A great section of the route, short and a complete contrast to the first pitch, sparse gear and airy moves. Dale came up and reached the belay ledge thrilled to have done such a cool route. Dale also did Cursing (VS 4c) at Holyhead Mountain in the afternoon. A solid lead that he had wanted to do for some time. 
Looking down the line of the first pitch of Britomartis, sea below.
Dale reaching the belay.
At the belay.
Dale tackling the second pitch.
Dale on the Cursing.
The next day had a slow start as Dylan had stayed overnight, we set off to Llanddulas Cave and met the BUMS there. Warming up on Spider Mite (F6b) was great but a brutal way of waking up the muscles. It just kept going, clip after clip a great route. After a break I attempted Pearl from the Shell (F6c+), falling at each clip, missing holds and pumping out far too quickly. That route and some others have caused me to realise that I’m spending too long on the bouldering wall and not training my stamina. It is funny how you can become focused on certain small aspects and forget the whole picture. Before leaving I did Afterglow (F6b) with Thea, a funky run with a good run out. Next I did Grog and the Donkey (F6b+), I almost had it, then a foothold broke. I went flying. A quick breather, I pulled back on and got to the top. The crux moves were good fun and I recommend the route.
Me on Grog and the Donkey.
Wednesday (16/05/12) I went with Chris to Clogwyn y Grochan, with no real set plans but an inkling that we might attempt Hangover (E1 5b). Racked up and ready to go I set off on what I thought was Phantom Rib (VS 4c), at the first major ledge I checked the guidebook (stashed down the front of my jacket, a great place to store the guide on a multi-pitch) I realised I was about ten metres to the right of the route I was meant to be on. I was actually on Spectre (HVS 5a) which quickly explained the difficulty (4c rather than 4a), the line followed a difficult start to a more continuous crack line which involves a full foot jam near the top. Chris took pitch two, less technically difficult but more run out. It follows a vertical crack and then stepping left from under the roof. The last pitch was mine, a complete fight and of unexpected difficulty. Stepping up I placed a pair of offsets, and tried to pull myself into the shoulder width crack. And I failed, pumped out, confused and fearing that I would hit Chris by peeling out of the crack I eventually sat on the gear. A real shame. Reassessing the moves I pulled back on, threw my shoulders into the crack, turned sideways (catching my helmet on the rock at both sides) and wriggled further in. Precariously balanced in the crack, I fought to bring my foot in and then it was over. Cam placed and I pulled round and topped out. Chris managed first time on the second. Good effort. Instead of finishing up Nea, we abbed off, the best of it over (and we wanted to get more routes in). 
Chris tackling pitch two on Spectre.
Chris coming up pitch three post-crack manoeuvres.
After a lunch stop, we re-racked and looked up Hangover. Making sure we were on the right route, Chris set off. The route starts with a leap, quite scary with no gear. He made progress up the corner, with the crack at its back running with water. Pulling over the top he had a sign of relief and set up the belay. Climbing to meet Chris was interesting as I’m a few inches shorter and the jump at the start was difficult. Swapping over at the belay I was slightly nervous as I really wanted the onsight and after failing on the previous route things did not seem promising. Ready to go I set off, I committed to an airy step to the right and then stuck my hand into the vertical crack line, placed a cam and got going. Powering upwards I reached the next ledge. A complex step left off the ledge and a continued push upwards resulted in topping out. Chris loved the route on the second. 
Chris on the first pitch of Hangover.
Looking down at the belay from halfway on pitch two.
The second half of pitch two.
Ready to abseil off the top.
Us and the Grochan.
We then had to catch the bus back to Llanberis (no motorbike is a real pain), got a quick beer at the Heights Hotel Pub, then another bus to Bangor.

So life could be worse…

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