Mountain Trainin Picture

Mountain Trainin Picture

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Quay competition time…

Well today was the South West Climbing Competition at the Quay Climbing Centre. Categories included under 18 male and female and 18+ male and female with individuals participating in disciplines including bouldering and top roping and also bouldering and leading. Both me and my partner Alicia (Aj) signed up to enter the bouldering and leading disciplines of the competition. So after signing in and collecting our score sheets we headed for the bouldering rooms. There was 10 boulder problems ranging from V1 up to an impressive V7! After tackling around half these problems within our 3 allowed attempts we set about some of the harder problems… Although not finishing on the final holds of the harder problems we were still racking up the points by completing a set number of moves on each problem. After some intense bouldering on tiny crimps, slopers, large volumes and some attempted dynos from Aj we had attempted every boulder problem and individually racked up over 500 points each.

 Aj busting some moves on he boulder wall

                                                           Me before a tricky attempted dyno
Now it was time for the lead climbing category. Five routes on the lead climbing walls with grades ranging from 6a+ straight through to an astonishing 7c!! A maximum of 100 points for each climb completed with only one attempt allowed. Aj started on the 6a+ first and managed an impressive 73 points then I led to secure my only full 100 points in the category. With the climbs becoming increasingly harder our point scores slowly started dropping… However me and Aj finished on xxx points and xxx points respectively. Not too bad for our first individual competition.

A very enjoyable day climbing with good routes and problems and also very good boot demos by La Sportiva and climbing hardware talks by DMM.

An early night sleeps will go down a treat as a group of us are completing in the Plymouth Sport Relief mile tomorrow morning so I must shoot off.

Results to follow, Adios Amigos…

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Mighty Barn!

Another Thursday and another practical day for college. Sadly the weather didn't look appealing to be climbing outdoors today so we opted for a day at the wall. Having been to both Dart Rock Climbing Centre and The Quay Climbing Centre lately it was good to have a change of venue.

The day was spent at the The Barn where there is a free standing boulder with around a hundred routes and a grossly overhanging lead wall built to resemble Ansteys Cove. We spent around 3 hours bouldering and I also led a few routes on the overhanging wall, which was tough to say the least.                                

      Briony pulling shapes on the boulder wall              

This was perfect training for the competition this Saturday at the Quay. My arms are burned out so i'm going to stop chatting away now, peace out...

Competition promises to be a good'un ...

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Head climbing at Sanctuary Wall...

Well the sun was out again today and me and Jack decided it would be rude not to go climbing. We decided to hit one of the hardcore crags of Torbay and attempt a line that we have both had on our wish list. The crag was Sanctuary Wall, a massive overhanging cliff above the sea with the only realistic chance of escape being the dreaded drop to the sea far below. The route was Incubus, a HVS and possibly the most traveled route on the crag due to the grade and ease of start.

The belay to protect the leader on the 1st pitch.

The 1st pitch was led by Jack. A very technical sequence on side pulls gains a ramp and easier climbing leads to the belay ledge. After stripping my belay I nervously followed Jack and we met at the belay ledge. I got to finally see my 2nd pitch as its impossible to see from the base of the crag, unless however you are in a boat below the fiercely overhanging wall. I said to Jack that my head wasn't in the right place today and so he reluctantly gave in to my asking of following him on the 2nd pitch also.

Jack on the technical 1st pitch, note the steepness!!

So Jack set off on the 2nd pitch, a tricky layback which soon eases off and the holds become more positive before reaching a wire and peg belay at the top. The communication was poor and Jack had to phone me from the top to tell me that he was safe and that I could take him off belay. I quickly undone the belay and started climbing. I got to the tricky layback move and overcame this by some super funky bridging before reaching the jugs and pulling positively to the top. A quick handshake and I told Jack that I owed him one.

 It just goes to show that a big proportion of lead climbing is all in the head, a mental thing. I easily made every move on the climb but was terrified at the thought of falling off and hanging in space above the sea. I'll be back to lead the beast that is Incubus.

Cheers once again Jack and the next pint is on me!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Granite jamming shenanigans...

Well the day finally came and me, Will and Jack met up prior to our North Wales climbing eXpedition in order to get a days multi pitch climbing done. We discussed at the beginning of the week that the Dewerstone was probably the best area of South Devon to go for the climbing that we were all looking for and so the decision was set. An early morning drive down the A38 had us in the car park by 9am, considered an Alpine start by some of the more lazy inclined individuals. A quick stroll up the approach path had us at the base of the crag within 10 minutes.

The 1st route of the day was chosen by Jack and not surprisingly the route of choice was Central Groove. A magnificent corner on the left side of the main crag and one of the best HS' in South Devon. Jack led up the 1st pitch comfortably and established a hanging belay on the belay block, Jack does have an obsession with hanging belays! Whilst hanging Jack belayed me up followed by Will and a quick changeover of gear ensued before Will took off and led the 2nd layback pitch before bringing me and then Jack up on belay. There is something cool about climbing as a trio, I enjoy the company at the belay rather than shivering away alone on a cold day!

Me on the 1st pitch of Central Groove

 Belay at the top of pitch 1 of Central Groove

 Me and Jack on the block belay of Central Groove

Jack on the 2nd pitch of Central Groove

 After some discussion at the bottom of the crag we all decided on the next route, Climbers Club Direct. ''One for the jamming master'' as described in the © ROCKFAX  guidebook. As me and Will hesitantly took a step back from leading the 1st pitch Jack was brave enough to stand up to the challenge at hand. After a gnarly jamming session Jack managed to overcome the crux with only 2 falls before using an in-situ tree and climbing the roof above to gain the belay stance. Once established at the stance Jack belayed Will and then me up stopping only to hold both me and Will at the same move that he had himself fallen on, nothing worse than blowing the on-sight!! Another change over of gear at the belay saw me taking my 1st lead of the day and heading up the 2nd pitch. A huge groove big enough to body jam and then a juggy roof saw me progress up the route quickly before getting stopped in my track at the last few desperate moves of the climb, and I do mean desperate! Whilst here I placed a bit of gear before a karabiner wildly swung from my harness and chipped my front tooth, a mouth full of gritty enamel, nice! After 10 minutes I finally ''manned up'' and began jamming my way to the top, however I did suffer from a severe case of sphincter twitching and sweaty palms before I finally reached the top.  I quickly belayed Will up followed by Jack who both agreed than Climbers Club Direct was full value for a HVS 5a.

Jack setting off on the 1st pitch of Climbers Club Direct

Will reaching the belay on the 1st pitch of Climbers Club Direct

The last route of the day was chosen by Will and after telling him how cool a route it was he chose to lead Leviathan. Will must of been in a hurry as he made probably the fastest ascent to date of the route climbing it in less than 5 minutes, a feat than Dan Osman would have been proud of him self. He quickly set-up a belay and belayed me then Jack all in the space of 15 minutes. I know know that Will rushed as he had left his lunch in the car and was running on an empty stomach!

Will speeding up Leviathan

Not a bad days outing in preparation for our Wales climbing eXpedition due to take place the 1st week of April, super psyched and cant wait to get back!

All photos curtosy of Will Cattell.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sea, sand & seals...

Well Thursday finally arrived and after the last few days of wet, un-climbable, weather I was keen to get back in a boat and top up my sea skills. Thursday is our practical day at College and for the last few weeks we are completing a module in 'Alternative Pursuits'. These alternative pursuits include both sea kayaking and surf kayaking and today my group was sea kayaking, yayyy.

As I headed for college this morning the sea mist was still exceedingly thick and I didn't fancy our chances at getting the opportunity to paddle today and I also didn't like the thought of  being stuck indoor doing written work either, and it was looking like an 80 - 20% chance in the written works favour. However upon arriving at college it was good news, the mist was to clear around 11ish and we were told we were boating!

To give the mist a chance to clear we had an hour long tutorial from our college instructor Luke. The tutorial covered about the effects of the sun and moon on spring and neap tides, equipment specific to sea kayaking and coastal and tidal navigation. Its always good to cover these topics before setting out and gives students the opportunity to ask questions about such subjects before committing to a practical session.

After the tutorial we collected our personal equipment, group equipment and grabbed our sea boats and left the college grounds, next stop Brixham (Fish town). When we arrived at the harbor we simply unloaded the trailer, got kitted up, outfitted our boats and finally got on the water! Whilst in the harbor we played about for a while letting every one get used to the boats as not every one within the group had been in a sea kayak before. Everyone responded well to the feel of the boats and after spending time dusting off the 3* skills we set off on a paddle along the coast to Elbury Cove. 

Me and Briony on the water, still looking quite misty...

Whilst we headed for Elbury Cove the group were constantly working on their skills and paddled well as a group with some good banter along the way. The conditions were extremely calm throughout the day with the water resembling glass and the wind minimal, although this was nice for paddling I prefer choppy water, surf and big swell just to make it more interesting!
Whilst paddling along the coast the group were also rock hopping and getting a feel for the slightly less maneuverability of the boats compared to the boats we usually use on the river. Rock hopping involves moving between and around rocks which are not joined to the land, quite spicy and technical in big swells. The best of the rock hopping today was a large cave with just enough water passing through it to make the cave paddle-able. Whilst the majority of the group made it through poor Briony got wedged in the cave and had to make a hasty retreat backwards to exit the cave, unlucky Briony hahah!!

POV photo of me entering a tight maneuvering spot

After some rock hopping we made our way to Fishcomb cove where the group stopped for a quick bite of lunch and a drink. After lunch we set off and headed towards Elbury cove passing the 7 sea quarries and scouting out some of the climbs that only Mick Fowler would be interested in as they are basically composed of brittle rubble!! On the way to Elbury Cove we also had a brief encounter with 'fluffy the killer seal', those of you who know me will know by now that seals hate me and will go out of their way to give me a bloody hard time. This I suppose was not such a bad thing thing as I paddled as fast as my arms would allow to dodge 'fluffy' and made Elbury cove in record time. Whilst at Elbury Cove we had to demonstrate 'Advanced Skills' in a sea kayak in order to gain our distinction criteria in our alternative pursuits module. I chose an Eskimo roll as my skill and and cracked one out with no hesitation as I didn't want to hang about just in case 'Fluffy' made a re-appearance!!

Me demonstrating an Eskimo roll

After demonstrating some advanced skills we chose to make our way back to the harbor. By this time the wind had slowly picked up and we had to remain consistent with our forward paddling in order to out do the wind.  We stayed at roughly 5kph the whole way back to the harbor, not a bad effort I think. Whilst back in the harbor Briony, for whatever reason, ended up swimming and made a few unsuccessful attempts at rescuing her boat, much to the amusement of the local population. After this slight embarrassment  Matt capsized and had to show Briony how to truly rescue a boat, bragging rights for Matt and a red face for Briony.Once we had de-kitted and sorted the boats out we made the drive back to college to hose down the kit and boats and be debriefed by Luke.

All in all a banterful day on the water...

Photos and video curtosy of Matt Woodmore

Also congratulations to my mate Dave for passing his Moderate Water Endorsement (SEA)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Shoe repair, who needs shoe goo...?

 Tuesday 13th March 2012

Well it is with much sadness that my first pair of rock boots finally died on me yesterday whilst climbing 
Caesar's Nose. The toe on the right shoe has finally came right through and produced a hole. Although having bought them for a mere £45 2 years ago when I first started climbing it is fair to say that they have done me very proud. However, being a student and almost all of the time having next to no spare cash I simply cannot fork out £60 - £70 for a new pair. So here it is, I have decided  to repair them myself. 
I set about this challenge with the following ingredients; rock shoes, Stanley knife and a gas cooker hob. Not the most exciting job in the world I might add but never the less I gave it a go. Slicing some of the hard rubber from my rock boots and hot knifing the rubber on to the hole of my right toe did take a while and may not look very impressive but it does save me money for a little while...

Before the carving and burning...

After the slicing and melting...

I have a day of climbing coming up this weekend so here's hoping that the rubber lasts...

Monday, 12 March 2012

Fun times at the Dewerstone

Monday 12th March 2012

Well the sun was out again today and the temperature around South Devon was almost hitting twenty one degrees Celsius, with weather like this it would be rude to not to visit the crag!

So after deciding to go to the Dewerstone for a day of climbing fun me Joel and Sam girl all decided to meet up at our college outdoor ed store room, the local adventure sport students hangout. From here Sam borrowed a helmet from Jon, our tutor, and then headed to the car and set our sights for the stone of the dewer! A quick rally down the A38 towards Shaugh Prior by Joel had us in the car park within an an hour and by this time we were all eager to start climbing so we grabbed the kit and headed straight for the crag. The walk in to the crag is a spectacular trek through Shaugh Prior woods and along the majestic river Plym, quite a stunning location to climb at! But enough about the walk in, on to the climbing...

Having lost out on the 1st climb of the day on both Saturday and Sunday I wasn't letting this happen to me for the 3rd day running so I quickly grabbed the chance at pointing out a route that I fancied the look of. After gearing up I set off up Caesar's Nose and quickly reached the top where I belayed Sam and then Joel. Quite a tricky climb considering it is only a Severe 4a, fine by me and another on-site for the logbook.

Me on Caesar's Nose, S 4a

Having now ticked off the 1st route of the day it was Sams turn to have a go at her 1st lead climb! Sam picked out Agag's Slab as her intended route and got geared up at the base of the route. A few minutes later she set off and I climbed along side her guiding her on the route and showing her the most effective way to place protection. It wasn't long before we topped out and a quick congratulations on her 1st lead climb before Joel was belayed up for his 2nd route of the day.

Me guiding Sam on her 1st lead climb, Agag's Slab (Diff), belayed by Joel. Congrats Sam.

Having now all climbed our 2nd route of the day I suggested that we should get on one of the classic routes on the main face of the crag, not for the faint hearted. So we grabbed our kit and wandered round to the main face. When we go there we paused to look up at the soaring tower of granite that rises well over 100foot from the river Plym which covers grades from V-Diff to E3, very breathtaking to say the least. The route I had in mind is a spectacular line called Leviathan, a 26 metre grooved arete that has been on my 'to do list' for several months now and a route that deserves the three stars that it has been given. After convincing Joel that we had enough time to climb it he eventually agreed and so began another round of gearing up.
By this time I was mega keen and rushed to the start of the route and made my way up the initial blocks and headed for the groove. Quickly getting in a few wires for protection I started bridging and made good progress up the arete finding plentiful 'bomber' gear on the whole way up. After around 15 minutes on the route I finally topped out in the sunshine and took in the amazing views of the venue before picking some anchors and putting Joel on belay. Joel decided that he was game for seconding and slowly made good progress up the route which he very much enjoyed, suffering from a case of 'disco arms' and 'granite rash' and even going as far as saying it was the 'hardest climb i've ever done'.
Well I think its safe to say that Leviathan is one of the best single pitch climbs that I have ever had the pleasure of climbing, good effort Joel on the second.

Joel in the groove of Leviathan, VS 4c, whilst I belay from the top.

All photos curtosy of Sam Ramsey.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Granite, limestone and sunshine...

Finally the sun has got his hat on and the crags around Torbay & Dartmoor are habitable once more. After not being at the crag since my winter mountaineering trip in Scotland its safe to say that I have been relishing the sun shine with a busy weekend of climbing.

Saturday 10th March 2012

Finally back to the good old granite climbing, it is the connoisseur's rock type after all. The day was spent on one of Dartmoor s most impressive tors that is Haytor, a beautiful outcrop of granite which can be seen from several miles in the distance. Having routes on the main tor which reach a whopping 27 metres and a grade range from V-diff to an astonishing E5 6a its safe to say that its fairly busy, all the time!!

My climbing partner Jack stepped up to lead the 1st route of the day, Aramis, a crack climb which requires bridging and jamming in order to bypass the crux. Jack led easily and I seconded, followed by Joel.

The 2nd route of the day was down to Joel, a novice of lead climbing, so me and Jack pointed out an easy route which he could attempt. Unfortunately Joel took a fall on this route, Bulging wall, and didn't have the confidence to try again so this turned out to be my route of the day and Joel was happy to second me.

       Jack on Aramis VS 4c

Unfortunately due to faff and time wasting we opted to call it a day, however the weather for the following day was forecast to be sunshine all round. Hallelujah... 

Sunday 11th March 2012

I met up with Jack in the morning and we made our way to one of our more local crags, Ansteys Cove, a huge coastal arena with a vast amount of both sport and trad routes in a beautiful location.

Sneakily Jack shotgunned the 1st route of the day and chose to start off with a crack climb named Tiny Tim. So we stood at the bottom of the route gearing up and looking at the line when a young blonde female strolled past with her boyfriend (probably on the way to a dogging site) when she let out an almighty scream, and rightly so when she discovered a bee the size of a small karabiner attached to her left hand. A giggle between me Jack and the blonde soon settled down and Jack started on the route. Swiftly pushing Tiny Tim aside and belaying me from the top of the route me and Jack both knew the friction today would be perfect.

The next climb was mine for the taking and I chose to attempt Cocytus. A climb that has been on my wish list for quite some time now. Graded E3/E2 6a and is a technical master piece. I tried the first few moves of the climb and realised that the moves were extremely tricky from the start so I kindly let Jack have an attempt. After a few falls, and some foul language, Jack topped out on the 1st pitch (good effort mate) and then lowered to the ground to let me take my 2nd attempt on the route. After seeing Jack climb it I was more determined to lead it my self. So I geared up at the bottom and led the route clean without falling or resting on the rope before screaming 'yeeehhaaa' to let Torbay know I had finally ticked off the beast that is Cocytus.

Me top of pitch 1 on Cocytus E2/3 6a, Britain or Spain? you decide...

Jack on 1st pitch of Cocytus E2/3 6a

Me and Jack were both happy with our achievements of the day and decided to 'cool down' on the Might and Main to Crook Bruce Traverse and then again swapping shifts on Tiny Tim before calling it a day.

Tomorrow is Monday and the weather is dry yet again, climbing possibly...?

All photos curtosy of Jack Hatton

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Blog!

Well it has certainly been a long time coming! I have finally decided to create my very own blog. This is where I will share my experiences of life whether it be rock climbing in North Wales, white water kayaking in Slovenia or sat in the library complaining about course work! There will be more to follow in the next few days, so watch this space...