So as well as getting around climbing some great routes around North Wales, I have also had a eye out for new routes as I have been putting the slate guide together. I had always thought the Peppermint Tower deserved a route that didn’t make […]
Whilst exploring the limits of the structural integrity of shale is one way I like to test myself, At the same time it can get a little tiresome emotionally and there is the whole argument of choosing your battles. With a little of this and […]
Climbing is what many describe as a broad church, with many subdivision and subcultures that make up the whole. Whilst many climbers will drift happily between the technicalities, strength and athleticism of bouldering, through the physical challenges of hard sport and into the mind games of trad climbing. Few venture further into the dark water of adventure climbing, where the Deep Play resides.
The term Deep Play was coin by British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), who defines “deep play” as “a game with stakes so high that no rational person would engage in it.” It is also the name of one of my favourite books by Paul Pritchard.
Whilst many aspects of the congregation of climbing seem to many people to capture the concept of those irrational games, with little reward compared to the cost of failure. It is trad climbing that is most seen by climbers as approaching the deep end of our little sport. There is, however, a point beyond what might be considered normal trad climbing, what is often called adventure climbing.
Here the risk is greatest and the outcome unknown for many reasons. Routes are tackled from the ground up with no pre-inspection on what are often loose and unstable sea cliff. retreat may be impossible and falling often becomes very unfavourable.
To even leave the ground on a route like this you need to be honest with oneself. This is not your Facebook alter-ego at stake here. This is life and it is about to get real. As a result, you need your A game. Technique, tactics and finding gear placements come to the fore. Loose rock will be falling around you, even the rope will knock off blocks.
For me, it can often feel like a war zone leading an adventure route. Like I have over the last week down at Craig Dorys on the Llyn.
It culminated in me attempting a new route on the Golden Wall, a line that is obvious but had never been attempted before. The first pitch took an existing route. Beyond that was the unknown. This was where I wanted to be, at the edge of my limits.
Leaving the belay I soon reach what I had bargained for, loose rock aplenty and some shitty gear to beckon me onto the arete. Pulling off loose rock with my hands and kicking into the sea with my feet I gradually find myself on the brink of pulling around the arete. At this moment I faced a make or break moment, a commit or back off. As the way around the arete seemed like a one-way street.
Committing I pull round the arete with at least a few Ok runners, to a ledge. Which is just good enough to stand on but slight in from the jug I am on, meaning the clock is starting to tick. Managing your emotions in this situation is to me why I do this, it is a major challenge and one that really does mean I leave my normal world behind as I focus entirely on the situation in hand.
Hold back the frantic idea that panic is a good thing, I look for ad try to place a runner, the only one I find id below my waist and with that I try to get stood on the jug. The first time a foot hold snaps and I am back where I started with my heart trying to pound out of my chest. I have little choice but to try again, this time using a high foot I managed a big burly rockover and somehow find enough solid holds in the sea of crispy flakes to pull my way up and get a stood on the jug.
I am now in balance on a ledge, out of sight of my belayer. Rising up to my right is a foot rail, whilst a wall covered in mariner’s lichen hides any handholds. I get two good cams and start my way up the ramp, teetering my way along trying not to remember the story of a friend who fell nearly the length of the crag when the ledge he was stood on collapsed.
The further along I get the thinner the holds seem, a few break unexpectedly, but trying to maintain three good holds whilst you search for a fourth helps, as does maintain a balanced body position. A series of gentle movements lead on to the top and I flop over and a wall on emotional release breaks over me. I am now aware of the sun and the sea. It has to a certain extent cleansed my soul a little.
My second follows, hs eyes out on stalks as he follows in my footsteps, knocking even more rock seawards. We retire to a Pat Littlejohn E3 Lankee Yankee, where he had his turn to scare himself on loose and unforgiving rock.
The Rat is Fed as one old-school climber put it.
I am not talking about taking people precious climbing projects, i am referring to getting out despite a bad forecast and making the best of a bad bunch. The last couple of days has been just that, with some ducking and diving I have managed […]
Spent a great day at Craig Dorys today where the Llyn effect was in full force, so under a sunny if somewhat breezy sky we abseiled into the Craterer Slab and climbed Pat Littlejohn route, Headwind. This route starts up Full Sail before heading out […]
So generally this easter weekend has been a total wash out. With little in the way of climbing to be had due to the damp rock. That said I did manage to squeeze in 5 routes on the Range on Sunday with a good friend John Bunney. With route between Severe and E1 we managed to tick four different crags and some really good routes.
First was Delicatelesson, HVS which is a really nice slab into a loose and scary top out, although on a drier day its neighbour RAF Brown Slab, looks really good rock up a similar slab to the top. We then headed over to Quartz Zawn and climb a severe up to the bird beak. After that is was over to the headland and another fine climb up coarse layers of rock and cracks, on a route called Just Brew It, a stunning VS, just remember if you abseil in from the stake along the cliff edge then run one half of the rope towards the top of the route to help make something resembling a belay.
Finally after the tide dropped we headed to D-Day buttress and Bunney climbed Gold a fantastic severe that cuts its way along a slender gangway between steep rock. After that I did the route straight through it Atlantic Wall a fantastic E1. Which is something of an eliminate, but a reasonable good one for such a crag.
It was really good to start repeating a few routes I hadn’t previous done on the range. As it is a overlooked area and full of mini adventures.
The last couple of days saw me returning to the Hills of Snowdonia with a client who wanted to develop his Scrambling Skills. Which of course begs the question, how can you develop a scrambler? Whilst the answer to this question for me at least […]
So over the last few weeks I have been busy working on a new slate guidebook for Rockfax after it appeared that groundup had decided not to reprint or re-work their previous guidebook. As such I have been combing my external harddrives for all the […]
I was really please to found out that a proposal I submitted to Climber Magazine was accepted and I am now the Coaching Columnist for the only UK based climbing magazine, Climber. You can get the magazine easiest by subscribing to it for just £24 a year, which to me seems rediculously low for 6 magazine being delivered straight to your door for you read and enjoy. Although I see it in Smiths when I travel too and from the UK vioa UK airports.
CLIMBER magazine is bi-monthly with 6 issues per year. With the aim of bringing a bright magazine with inspirational articles throughout the year. In addition to the usual great content that we have given you over the years, you can look forward to stand-out features in the coming issues including:
- A competition in each issue to win great prizes.
- A stunning gallery of photographs from the best photographers
- A new style crag feature focusing on easier routes for those starting out or transitioning from indoors to outdoors. This will include all the information you need to get you to a crag and start climbing.
- A regular column from top climbing duo James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini.
- More in depth articles on a variety of subjects that matter and are intrinsic to climbing and mountaineering.
- Plus our renowned gear reviews get bigger, superb destination features, Ascent of Man, Around the Bloc bouldering, bigger interviews, coaching and more.
- Coachng Articels by experienced instructor and climbing coach Mark Reeves.
So the last week has seen me meet up with my regular climbing partner Si and a colleague of his Dan to head to Chulilla rock climbing. We have been planning this rock climbing holiday for a while and have had it earmarked for ‘big […]