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 is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves'

‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves’, Sir Edmund Hillary

The quote by Hillary is interesting as it can be widely applied to things in life. The challenge often is defeating the doubt, the pain and the lack of motivation. These aspects we develop in our minds, often they are greater than the issue that is faced. Upsetting our personal status quo is difficult and appears risky as most humans are risk-averse. Climbing and long distance hill-walking force these aspects to the front of the mind, to succeed they must be confronted head on. Humour helps. 

The last couple of weeks have been busy; end of exams, friends that are free all the time, and weather that is playing ball half the time, so it has been possible to get in lots of climbing. The only reason this is actually getting typed because Bangor is having some of the worst weather it has seen in a month or two. The weather is grim today. So an update is in order. 

On 20/05/12 the BUMS visited the RAC Boulders. The collection of rhyolitic blocks provide a range of problems, from simple slabs to the classic pump traverse (V4). Warming up on the easy slab routes I then moved to slightly harder routes and some mess-around eliminates. Stops, Lewis and others attempted to run up the main slab, a few succeeded. Having seen an offwidth route at the crag above the boulders Mikey and I grabbed a couple of pads. Some others followed hoping for a laugh. The route is called The Lightning Bolt (HVS), from a distance it certainly matches the description, a jagged split in the rock, ominous and dangerous looking. At the base of the route we arranged a couple of pads and Mikey opted to go first. Speedily lay backing raced up a few metres and then threw himself into the crack proper. Then the traditional struggle in a full, body-consuming offwidth began. A little higher up and the crack drops flat and to the right, then it turns up again. Balancing precariously above the pads he tackled the zig in the crack and raced to the top. My turn, mimicking Mikey start, I laid back rapidly moving hands and feet whilst simultaneously trying to work out when the point to turn and throw myself into the crack. Once in the difficulties had only just started, as with all large offwidths they are not so much about refined movements but more to do with little manoeuvres and thrutching (a term used by climbers to describe the kind of progress is made with a lot of effort and little height gained, typically used for offwidth crack climbing). Once in the crack a dilemma is faced, you pull in right shoulder first resulting in the body facing the wrong way, you need to turn around. With shoulders free enough to move about ninety degrees I span so I was looking out of the crack, only to notice that the rest of the group (that were meant to be bouldering below) were sitting on the boulders looking up at me; half stuck and grunting as if I were in a strong man competition. And then I said it, with a half laugh, ‘Er, guys, I might be stuck’. No offers of help came, just laughter and ridicule. Not wishing to be defeated by the rock I wriggled upwards, turned fully round then faced pulling out of the crack to tackle the zig in the rock. A scary position. I cleared some plants and moss from the block I was about to pull onto, poorly aiming (most of it landed on my spotters, sorry) and half belly flopped on to this block. A mad swing with my right foot and I stood up. Quickly padding to the top, I had a momentary cheer, turning around the group on the boulders all clapped. Thanks! A few problems later we set off home. 
On one of the problems.

Mikey getting in the crack.

'Now I'm in what do I do?'
Hard work!
'Er, guys, I might be stuck'.

'Well, this isn't a marked problem, but I'll try to stay just in the scoop' (Probably V2/3).

BUMS at the Heights Hotel, Llanberis.

A planned trad day (21/05/12) with Pete, turned into a boulder session with Pete and Jez at the Cromlech boulders. The Cromlech boulders are a cluster of rocks in the Llanberis pass and (conveniently) right next to the road. After doing some warm up routes including Brown’s Crack (V2, sit start), Pete suggested we all tried Brown’s Mantel (V0+, but I think it is upgradeable, you can do it or you can’t. No matter how well you climb it does not help on this problem). It is a slightly angled block, about a metre and a half off the floor, with little to grip onto. Grunting, wriggling and lots of laughter later I managed it. Pete did as well. A great route and worth seeking out, best done in a large group so ridicule can be made of everyone. We also did Scoop Lip (V4) and I worked a bit more on The Edge Problem (V6, if including the sit start which is not too bad). 

Pete: Almost there...

Pull even harder.

Jez having a go.

And a bit higher up.

The Tuesday (22/05/12) was a BUMS trip to Castle Inn Quarry, a great place with a range of grades and literally no walk in (as the tarmac stops at the base of the main cliff. Pairing off with Libby we jumped on some sport routes. Then we did the route I had come to do, Pioneer Cracks (E1 5b). Racked up and ready to go I pulled on. The first half of the route is quite gentle, with solid holds and jams. A quick shake-out before the overhang and clustering some gear meant I was ready. The steep section started, the fore-arm pump kicked in and the race to the top began. Some fiddly gear near the top made the route just that little bit harder. Pulling over the top I wooped and set up a belay. Libby struggled valiantly up the route, a good effort for someone who has only seconded one E1 before. I also had a shot on Crosswinds (F6c+) and after several attempts I reached the top, one to come back to and get clean.   
Me setting off on Pioneer Cracks (E1 5b, in red) and Henry working As You Like It (F6b+, in blue).
© Thea Eldred.
 After a late start, via Pete’s Eats and a car boot sale of climbing gear, the Sunday (27/05/12) turned into a great day. After a quick warm up and a couple of attempts on the Edge Problem, I wanted to get some trad climbing in. Trying to work out where and which routes would work best as a three, as I was with Bede and Charlie, we settled for Clogwyn y Grochan. Sights set on a couple of routes, we saw that Wind (HVS 5b) was free. Knowing that it is one of the classics of the crag I was keen for the onsight, with Charlie and Bede wanting an introduction to the rock type. Wind follows an obvious vertical crack line. Placing a large cam near the start of the route I bashed on. The hot weather was not helping progress, repeated chalking up made it easier as my hands were sweating like mad. The climbing is fairly steady with a great hand sized pinch about half way up. Pulling through the crux moves felt ace. Once the difficulties were over I raced to the top. Charlie, who is rapidly improving her trad grade pulled the rope through and came up on my gear. Bede seconded up. After three fairly rapid abseils we were done. 
On Wind (HVS 5b)

The new parts for the motorbike have arrived, so I’m able to drive it home. However really it could do with a new gear-box to front sprocket transmission shaft, which means taking the gear box apart, which in turn means taking the engine out (and to do that the fuel tank has to come out and the engine disconnected from everything). It is going to be a mucky job! A learning experience.  

So get out there and conquer your own mountains.


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