emperor: Me and my trad gear (trad)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 04:42pm on 01/01/2016 under , ,
2015 looked like it was going to be a good year for climbing. It didn't quite end up that way...

Despite the weather, [personal profile] naath and I managed a good weekend trad climbing in Wales in April - 5 climbs on Saturday before the crag became a waterfall, and then the multi-pitch Pulpit Route on Milestone Buttress.

Then in May, [personal profile] atreic and I had a trip to Brassington, picked for being a sensible day-trip from home. Despite the nettles (which were pretty bad - I dread to think what they'll be like in the autumn!), we had some fun here, 5 short climbs up to HVD; the protection was a bit hard to find at times.

In the first week of June, [personal profile] diziet and I went to France for a week of sport-climbing. I regret not writing this up at the time (other than in my ukclimbing logbook), as it was a great trip! We took the train to Carpentras (where we stayed) and hired a car there to get to the crags. Much of our climbing was on the Dentelles de Montmirail, an amazing chain of limestone crags that jut out of the landscape, and really dominate the skyline. Over the week we attempted 30 routes, and I got 20 of them cleanly (repeat or onsight), at grades up to 6a (I didn't get anything in the 6s clean, only up to 5c). UKClimbing notes in places that the grades in this bit of France are a bit "traditional" compared to other venues, and it's fair to say that they felt much harder than the equivalent grades at Harlow climbing wall! I noted against one climb "Never mind sandbag, this is an entire flood defence!".

That said, I'd not done any sport climbing before, and did have a really good time, despite it being rather too hot (even on north-facing crags, it was hitting the mid-30s in the afternoons, so we were starting as early as hotel-breakfast allowed and stopping when it got too hot), and sometimes getting a bit disheartened by the rather feeble grades of the climbs I actually got up. Perhaps a highlight was climbing up to the very top of the ridge, and standing admiring the view - really on top of the world! [personal profile] diziet managed to stitch together some pretty impressive panoramas.

At this point, I was looking good to beat my record for number of outdoor climbs in the year. And then I broke my foot (5th metatarsal) in an accident on a waterslide and that was it for outdoor climbing :-(

Indoors, I got to Harlow 36 times, climbing one-footed after breaking my foot. This coming week I'm going to try climbing gently on both feet again, and see how it goes. And buy some new shoes! My big toe nails are still damaged from the compression of the current pair when it was hot in France (the rubber curves over the big toe, meaning there is no-where for the toe to expand).

Best grades indoors (clean ascents): 7a (top-rope), 6b (top-rope, one foot), 6a+ (lead)
Outdoors: S (trad, onsight), 5c (sport, onsight)

I really hope my foot is good enough to climb on soon, so I can start planning 2016's climbing fun!
emperor: Me and my trad gear (trad)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 05:17pm on 05/05/2015 under ,
[this is a manual cross-post of the corresponding LJ entry]

Given everything that happened since, it's perhaps not entirely surprising that I've not yet written about last weekend's climbing trip, but I want to scribble something about it down before it receeds to far into the past.

[personal profile] naath and I went to Betws-Y-Coed, which is my usual base for multi-pitch climbing. Sadly, as the weekend approached, the forecast was looking increasingly grim. The inauspicious omens continued, as despite leaving mid-afternoon (having taken a 1/2 day off) we sat in a lot of traffic on the A14. Things did eventually improve, though, and we got to the slightly odd B&B with time to check in and go for dinner. The chinese restaurant in town had a new specials menu available, and the Szechuan belly pork I had was really good (and very spicy!).

Saturday's forecast was sufficiently bad that we decided the best thing to do was to go to the crag just outside Betws, and see how many short routes we could get in before the rain became too much (it was forecast to set in around midday). As it was, we managed 5 climbs (2 at VDiff, 3 at Severe) which were quite pleasant (excepting one thrutchy horror, which I think was a bit much even for [personal profile] naath who likes that sort of thing); as I was seconding the last of these, the wall had pretty much become a waterfall, which we took as our cue to give up for the day. Once fortified with lunch, we headed out for a bit of light gear shopping and a coffee at the Pinnacle Cafe (where [personal profile] atreic and I had met our instructor on our first outdoor climbing trip). The Bistro in Betws did us a lovely dinner.

The forecast for Sunday was much better, so we picked a quick-drying route somewhere near the road - the Pulpit Route on Milestone Buttress. We perhaps underestimated how cold it was (the rock was really cold, and in the shade), which meant seconding pitches could be a bit more challenging, as I could hardly feel my fingertips! The climbing was mostly straightforward, with the exception of the 4th pitch. The chimney was a bit tricky with a heavy seconding bag (it had 2 sets of fairly heavy shoes, a large thermos, and so on), but I got to the top of the chimney where you have to make an "airey" move through a hole and realised that there was no way that myself + bag were going to make it round. This did not result in immediate joy! But [personal profile] naath was able to dangle a sling down that I could attach to the bag, and then leave it behind as I completed the pitch (which wasn't too bad to second once unencumbered). I could then swing the bag out from where I'd wedged it, and haul it up on the sling. The final pitch was straightforward.

Then we found the descent gully. The guidebook notes that it is steep and that some parties elect to abseil it. We looked at its steep, wet, slimy sides, and decided that you'd have to be mad to try and climb down it. So we used a solid-looking anchor left by a previous party (quite possibly the nearby Plas Y Brenin) and abseiled 1/2 the length of my rope. This was still in the steep waterfall, so we rigged another anchor of our own, and abseiled down to a point where the descent path became more sensible. I have subsequently washed and dried my rope! Anyhow, there was then time for lunch and a coffee at the Idwal Cottage, and then the drive home. We were fortunate enought to have a really good run (4h5 from Betws). [personal profile] ewx was kind enough to feed me dinner when I dropped [personal profile] naath off, and then I went home to [personal profile] atreic who was recovering from their super-fast marathon running exploits.

An excellent weekend :)
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 03:49pm on 02/01/2015 under ,
2013 was a bit of a non-entity climbing-wise, and 2014 was in danger of going the same way, until I realised in late June that I was really missing trad climbing, and should do something about it! After that there was a brief flurry of trips with various friends (which, unhelpfully, I wrote up on LJ not here).

First, we went to Wales in July. On Saturday, we climbed on the pillow lava of Craig Y Tonnau (4 climbs, VD, VD, S, S); with hindsight I regret not having a go at Brewer's Troupe, a VS with what looked like a pretty plausible crux - that would have improved my best-ever leading grade, and as it turns out I didn't get anything harder than S this year. Sunday was about showing [personal profile] naath multipitch stuff and giving them their first leads (3 climbs, VD, D, D) on the gentle Tryfan Fach.

The second trip was also to Wales, with [personal profile] diziet. On Saturday, we did a couple of the multi-pitch routes at Clogwyn yr Oen in the Moelwyns (2 climbs, VD S-escaped-onto-VD), the second of which was a switch of route party-way up. On Sunday we snuck two climbs in on Tryfan Fach (D, M, both in big boots and wet & windy conditions) before Hurricane Bertha's tag end turned up and made climbing impossible.

Finally, in October, despite a slightly iffy forecast, we went for a day trip to Birchen Edge in Derbyshire, and climbed on grit; the advantage of grits titchy little routes is that you get lots of ticks! (7 climbs, D, VD, VD, VD, VD 4a, HVD 4a, S4a; 1 failure, VD) I semi-fell down a horrible thrutchy chimney twice before giving up on it as a bad job; I should probably work on my chimneying :-/

Indoors, I got to Harlow pretty regularly (37 times), and sneaked a trip to an indoor wall in Bristol with a colleague. Best grades were 6B on lead, 6C+ on top-rope.

So, in numbers:
38 indoor climbing trips
5 days climbing outside (18 ticks)

I improved my indoor grades, but not my outdoor ones. This year, I should try and start climbing earlier in the year!
emperor: Me and my trad gear (trad)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 04:44pm on 08/09/2012 under , ,
Last weekend, [personal profile] ceb and Ian came to visit, and we went climbing. Saturday's venue was Pinnacle Crag, which is only a short drive from Inverness, and a short walk from the road. It was a bit blowy, but the gneiss was fun to climb on, and watching the weather blow over the nearby loch was pretty cool. [personal profile] ceb wielded a camera at various points, including taking a picture of me showing off my shiny toys protective gear; hence this GIP :)

On Sunday, we went a little further afield, to Kingussie, concentrating on the upper tier. After some pleasant (if a bit protection-light!) easy warm-ups, we did some harder stuff, and I equalled my best leading grade, despite having a bit of a moment part-way up. The crag's in a lovely spot, with views across the valley to the Cairngorms, and we had it to ourselves all day. We only called it a day when we heard a church bell in the valley chiming 7pm!

Two brilliant days :-)
emperor: Photograph of me climbing. (climbing)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 10:29am on 16/03/2012 under ,
Having had a little introduction to outdoor climbing in 2010, 2011 was a year in which I did a reasonable amount of trad climbing, to the point I'm probably at least a competent punter :)

I successfully climbed 45 routes in 2011, from Mod to HS4b; that's on 10 climbing trips. There were two failures, one due to being too lardy to squeeze through The Elephant's Arse, and another due to simply not being good enough; I took two leader falls (above my gear, which held) while trying Nerd Corner before admitting defeat (and faffing around to ab for said gear).

We took advantage of some fine spring weather to get to Harborough Rocks, with has a selection of fairly easy (if sometimes sparsely protected), short limestone climbs, for an afternoon of reminding ourselves how to climb trad. Harborough Rocks don't exactly have the greatest of views (they're just behind a brickworks), but it's a pleasant enough spot. Next was a weekend in Wales, for our first trip to Holyhead Mountain. We got three nice Diff/VDiff ticks before spending some silly time failing to do the aforementioned Arse route. Holyhead is the place climbers go if it's raining in Snowdonia (something we did later in the year), and they aren't up for a big day on the Gogarth sea cliffs (which are generally suitable only for those happy at HVS and above), but actually there are some commanding views from the cliffs, the walk-in's short for North Wales, and there's a good variety of short climbs. Rather than climb on the other day that weekend, we walked the Snowdon Horseshoe in perfect conditions.

Later in May, I introduced a friend to trad climbing with days at The Yat. The limestone there's a bit variable - it can be really juggy and good fun, but some of the routes are awfully polished; one of those was the first route we tried, but I'm glad it didn't put us off! Said friend did a couple of fine leads, and I got my First HS - Cascade. Symonds Yat is an odd venue - there's a car park and tea room at the top of the cliff, but you have to hop a fence to walk down by to the foot of the cliffs. The cliff itself is mostly shaded by trees, which means it keeps out of much direct sun (or rain), but just occasionally you get to a gap in the trees, and then there's a great view down the Wye Valley. Most of the climbs are one or two pitches, which means you can do quite a spread in a day.

A couple of months passed before my next trad, which was my first introduction to Gritstone (I'm still not sure if I'm sold on it or not!) at the midge-tastic Castle Naze. This was another outcrop of short routes, meaning I got 10 ticks in a day (4 of them were solos at Diff or VDiff, though!). A windswept day at Stanage End in August kept the midges away, but did mean belaying was a bit cold! This time I actually got some gear in the HS route.

An August weekend in Wales was, perhaps inevitably, mostly a washout, but we managed one route on The Moelwyns, and the mini-epic on Tryfan Fach (which shouldn't be possible!) - I climbed up the downclimb, set up an abseil, retrieved the gear, then we decided that we'd rather climb the main face than go back down the downclimb unprotected (it was pretty slimy); once the adrenalin from all the falls and faff subsided, it was a nice simple sunny climb!

Rashly, I went back to Wales, and the weather still wasn't terribly kind. We worked our way up Wrinkle on Carreg Wastad, but the wind was sufficiently strong that we couldn't hear each other at either end of the final pitch. Being able to look down on the cars driving down the Llanberis Pass, and up at the Snowdon Mountain Railway on the other side of the valley is a pleasant feature of climbing on Carreg Wastad, and it seems to catch afternoon sun pretty well. Holyhead was dry, though, so we picked up a couple of ticks, although I got properly scared near the top of Candlestick
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 12:02pm on 26/07/2011 under
Anyone know what's up with LJ? The status page is hardly enlightening, and after it being down for nearly all of yesterday, I can read entries now, but can't post entries or comments (I just get blank returns from the update pages, no matter how often I hit refresh).

It's getting very annoying :(
Mood:: 'aggravated' aggravated
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 11:33am on 06/04/2011 under
I know I don't currently post here very much; I currently post at LJ, and don't have any immediate plans to change this. I guess if there were DW-only people who wanted to read my writings, I could start cross-posting, but there doesn't seem to be demand for that.

Anyway, I thought on the current DDoS on LJ. Given that DDoSes are bad, and things I don't want to encourage, I'd like to suggest people don't migrate to DW right now - that, to me, would be to be seen to be supporting the DDoSers.
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 03:05pm on 15/04/2009 under ,
Having got a DW account, I need to decide what (if anything) to use it for. After all, I have a permanent account on LJ, and have done for years (the account is over 8 years old, I can't remember when I permanentified it). Even if I wanted a permanent account here (they seem to call them seeds), I can't have one (I'm on holiday well away from the internet 24 April to 4th May, and I full expect the seed account options to have all gone by the time I get back); there don't appear to be any plans to sell more seed accounts in future. I really like having a permanent LJ account, so that's quite a downer before we even start! Maybe there could be a way to hold an option on one before the open beta...

The key advantages of DW seem to be twofold - firstly, it has more clear trust network functions (you can separate who you want to read from who you trust to read your protected entries), and secondly it is aiming to be "fluffier" than LJ. There are some more or less substantial other UI tweaks, but they seem to be aiming to fix some quirks in LJ that have never bothered me.

As a network analyst myself, the first feature is definitely sensible (and might even reduce some of the de-friending drama that drifts round LJ from time to time), and I'm interested to see what difference it'll make to peoples' social networks over time. There might even be a short research paper in it :-) The flip-side here is that LJ might reasonably decide that this feature is good, and incorporate it into their code-base; in fact, I'll be a bit surprised if they don't do so.

The second I'm less sure of; back when LJ was starting up, it felt fluffy and community-oriented. I really applaud the Dreamwidth founders for trying again, and for making commitments to being ad-free and suchlike. But; will things still be this good 8 years' hence? Will the be-nice business model succeed?

[I wonder how [staff profile] denise finds time to read users' entries!]
Mood:: 'thoughtful' thoughtful
emperor: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 04:56pm on 14/04/2009
This is mostly a note to say I expect to spend most of my time still at emperor.livejournal.com, but I thought I'd see what Dreamwidth is like, and also grab a bit of namespace :-)
Mood:: 'okay' okay


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