Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Denbigh Quarry

The Main Wall
Early 2012 Ryan McConnell kicked off the the development of the main water worn wall of Denbigh Quarry.

The first route to go was King of the Castle - 7a, a fantastic crimpy line passing a prominent hanging shield. In early spring Ryan and I headed down and he climbed the second line of the crag, Stupid Schoolboyz - 6c+. This is the longest line at the crag, passing water worn grooves to a taxing finish on the headwall. An unforgiving but excellent “warm up”.

The wall still showed promise with plenty of rock still to be climbed to the left of these routes. Ryan, Luke Clarke, Sam Catell and I went to get some photos in Autumn 2012. Sam pointed out some lines he had previously climbed, Sam’s Arête - E1 5b taking the massive Arête on the right hand wall of the quarry and Howling For Beaver - E4 6a on the short cracked wall opposite the main face.

Luke Owens on King of the Castle - 7a

Ryan, ever keen, spotted potential for a new route to the right of Sam’s Arête behind a wall of ivy and using his Tree Surgery skills he soon had the wall cleaned up. This gave the crag a great technical face climb, Acer - 6c.

Sam Cattel on Stupid Schoolboyz - 6c+

Development continued to flow when Ryan bolted a new line through the prominent runnel in the centre of the main face. Ryan handed the line over to Luke Clarke as a thank you for all his belaying duties and general psyche. In early November the line was climbed, Freedom Fighters - 7a+ supplying a brilliant, technical and burly climb.

After checking out Freedom Fighters myself in late November, I spotted the potential for another unique looking line to the left of this. I finally got around to bolting the line in February 2013. What first looked to be a great but fairly obvious line turned out to be the technical test piece of the crag.
The first ascent climbed by myself in March 2013, Force Majeure - 7b takes the prominent groove on the left of the crag via a classic Limestone sloper. A very unique climb on great rock, and not your typical Limestone route.

Luke Owens on the first ascent of Force Majeure - 7b

The crag is sure to become popular. It stays dry in showers, suffers minimal seepage and is sheltered by the canopy of trees above in summer.  It will be included in the up and coming North Wales and Clwyd Limestone guides.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Force Majeure - 7b - First Ascent

On the 9th March 2013 I made the first ascent of a new line in Denbigh Quarry. For me this is a big milestone, having never bolted a route before and to climb a line of such difficulty.

The route is a real technical test piece involving some very elusive moves on slopers to gain the upper section. I'm very proud of it and I think anyone who climbs it will enjoy the unique experience.

The name is a French term meaning "Greater Force". When unforeseen circumstances beyond your control prevent you from fulfilling something or forces of nature make something no longer possible. A very fitting name for my personal journey on the route, battling the weather, dark nights and various other obstacles.

Many thanks to my partner Danielle for her support and belaying. She really believes in me and I really can't thank her enough!

Also thanks to Luke Clarke for the footage and Ryan McConnell for introducing me to the crag.

Here's some footage of the first ascent:

Force Majeure - 7b - First Ascent from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Training Training Training

The weather has been shocking lately with a lot of snow. Despite this I've been out on rock the past two Sundays so I guess I can't complain!

Headed back to Ruthin Escarpment on the 20th January, there had been a lot of snow already and anyone else wouldn't of bothered to even try and find dry rock, needless to say, Myself, Ryan and Kieran were out.

The Escarpment was completely dry despite the snow coming down all day. I managed to tick Rumble in the Jungle a hard V4 which starts on a cool tufa feature and finishes up a hard V3. Felt good, keen to try the V5 link that traverses left further and finishes up the flake. I had a quick go on the 7b route The Butterfly Collector but it was way to cold for tieing on and I sacked it off as the top was wet.

The main event of the day for me was flashing a V5/6C. None of the other guys had tried it and were sieging the traverse instead. Not keen for that I wanted to try the other problems on the left of the crag. I liked the look of the problem on the far left which starts sitting under a roof, a good heel hook and ledges lead to a hard rockover/lockoff to a small sidepull before getting the top. Really happy to flash a problem of this grade, it is probably more V4 but I'm no good at grading. Either way it's my hardest flash to date! Here's some footage:

Ruthin Escarpment - V5/6C - Flash from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

Yesterday I headed to Nesscliffe with the Boosh Crew. It's great to have such a good scene locally and alot of psyched people!
I'm the one attempting to climb
I haven't been here for awhile and was keen to again try ST a hard V5. After asking everyone for beta, everyone does it a different way. Every way I try this problem I find equally hard! Fortunately I made progress compared to last time I was on it and can finally touch the lower pocket with a cheeky drop knee. Real tension move so I'm working on some core to hopefully get this on in the bag. I also had a few goes on The Planche V6 again, I can do the first lock off easily and getting the sharp crimp fine, just moving my right foot from under the bulge is impossible, again I think this is core strength related - a pattern is emerging here!

Everyone bailed to the climbing wall early afternoon due to the hailstone but I stuck it out to try The Highwaymans Traverse a really cool V5. I managed to get through the crux 3 times but kept pumping out on easier moves. I definitely don't help myself lately, yo-yo-ing my attempts on problems and not resting properly. I was seriously tired by the end of the session. I must of tried ST at least 30 times. . . Not good!

So. . . Training . . .

I've been doing alot of training at home lately as well as hitting the wall every Tuesday. The weighted Max Hangs are going well, I did 3 x 10 secs of 11.5kg last Thursday. I've also started working core more and have devised the ultimate weapon. . .

Killer Core!
 15 Press Ups
 30 Crunches with Legs up
20 Aqua Man's
30 Pelvic Lifts
1 Minute Plank with Alternate Leg Raises
15 Press Ups
15 Side Raises - Both Sides
Rest 3 Minutes
20 V Ups
20 Leg Raises
20 Crunches with Legs Up
20 Aqua Man's
1 Minute Plank with Alternate Leg Raises
Static Spider A Muerte...!

Did this this evening and it felt hard, hoping to get this done at least 3 times a week! Psyched!

Also did some Deadhangs this eve concentrating on weaknesses:

13kg Pinches x 3 both arms for 30 secs
Slopers - One arm on 35's and other on 20's x 3 for 12 seconds both arms alternate.
Back 3 - 10 sec hang

Can now hang both of the 35's for 12 secs too - Happy!

Also started doing weights again when I can specifically shoulder exercises to add some agnostic training into the mix. Hopefully this extra training will pay off come summer when I'm back out on the routes . . .

Friday, 18 January 2013

So Far So Good

Into the New Year and feeling good after bouldering sessions at the wall this winter so far, been doing Repeaters on the Beastmaker since November and seeing definite gains. Last week I managed to complete 3 sets of my work out for the first time

10 - 15 minute warm up

Pinch Grip (2x4 attached to a 10kg weight) 7 sec hang 3 sec rest x 6 - Left and Right arm
3 Minute Rest

Alternating between hanging 140 degrees, 90 degrees and full lock for the next three grips
3 finger open hand pockets 7 sec hang 3 sec rest x 6
3 Minute Rest
20 Degree sloper 7 sec hang 3 sec rest x 6
3 Minute Rest
Middle 2 Pockets 5 sec hang 5 sec rest x 6
5 Minute rest

Psyched! I've been reading up a lot on training lately and been pretty stunned by the result of gains people are making by following a rough version of Eva Lopez's progression training plan. So much so that i've started a Weighted Max Hang cycle myself, first session went well as follows:

Weight at time of hangs 68kg

I did 10 minutes warm up which included press-ups, stretching and feet on hangs.

Beastmaker slot below the 45 degree slopers, 20mm? I used this for all hangs in a half crimped grip.

Progressive Set
Hang 10sec with - 5kg
rest 3 minutes
Hang 10sec with - 7.5kg
rest 3 minutes
Hang 10sec with - 9kg
rest 3 minutes

Main Set
Hang 10sec with 10kg - 5 sets - %BW - 14.71% - Total Weight - 78kg
rest 3 minutes

I manged 2 extra sets than planned, the hangs themselves felt hard and I had to try hard

As a result of successfully completing 5 sets the next session plan is to up the weight by 2.5kg and hopefully complete 3 main sets. Really keen to see what gains can be made from this, i've give my mate Kieran the heads up on this and he's trying it out too. It's good to mix things up on the Beastmaker to prevent a plateau. Once i've completed a cycle of Max Hangs i'll do another cycle of repeaters and should give me some good Power Endurance gains ready for some sport this spring!

Onto what i've been up to lately...

Had a good first session of the year at The Sheep Pen on 6th January. Managed to tick Dog Shooter V4 an awesome 3 star problem which is definitely the best of the grade i've done. Also ticked a V4 on the back of the Pinch Block, hard at the grade and had some awesome moves. Also tried Toe Dragon but found the holds pretty slopey (working on training slopers lately) didn't manage the tick and had a quick go on Kingdom of Reign V6, brillaint problem but couldn't even manage the first move! All the guys had a good session with plenty of ticks here's the video:

The Sheep Pen from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

The following weekend Luke Clarke, Baby Leon and I headed up to Ruthin Escarpment. Expecting it to be wet, it wasn't! Seems like a great winter spot as most of the Clwyd suffers from loads of seepage this time of the year.

Had no main aims for the day but I was keen to look at the 7b on Butterfly Buttress. Managed to tick the 6c Fritillery Flake, I remember trying this a long time ago and couldn't even get off the deck! Great little route. I then belayed Luke on the 7b, he thought this was soft for the grade previously but after getting on it again reckoned it wasn't as easy as he thought! I filmed him in two halfs on it to get some good footage.

Up to the first bolt on this is a V3 boulder problem I first did almost exaclty 1 year ago and found it hard then. This time I did it first time and repeated it every time about 4 - 5 times, it's great to come back to things and see such an improvement! I also tried the upper section of this and managed to figure it out and do the moves very quickly, no time for a redpoint as Baby Leon woke up for his food! Very keen to get back for the send! I then got some footage of Luke crushing the 7c Sting Like a Bee, needless to say he was psyched!

Ruthin Escarpment from Luke Owens on Vimeo
Lastly I had a good session at the wall last night, managed 4 of the V5/6 problems in a session! A personal best, awesome!

Was planning on heading back to Ruthin this weekend but the snow has decided to come. . .

Monday, 14 January 2013

Life is Good

A long time since my last post and a lot has happened since then. . .

Happy Family at Christmas Time
The most amazing and inspiring thing came into myself and my partner Danielle's life on the 9th October 2012 when our son Leon Skylar Owens was born.

Nothing could of prepared us for what it would be like to bring new life into the world and every minute of it so far has been amazing. My outlook on life and everything we do seems different in a good way, it's like seeing colours of life that were never there before. He truly does bring colour into everything.

He is now 3 months old and is growing up so fast. He loves being outdoors and has been at the crag a few times now. Me and Danielle both are very much of the opinion that no one should shy away from the things they enjoy doing and put "Life on Hold" just because of a new arrival. We both want him to fit into everything we do and getting out and about is a big part of our life's. I'm excited for the future and seeing him grow up, each day brings something new.

Climbing wise, I feel like I'm climbing just as much as I was before he was born.

Since my last post Luke Clarke, Spidey and I headed out to Ceuse for 10 days at the start of August. This was my first climbing trip (Spoilt). Ryan and I shared the driving over there taking 15 hours but it was worth it. I didn't really know what to expect and I was blew away by the place. It's massive! (Compared to 2 Bolt long Clwyd routes!)

We had a great time out there and all got completely shut down on "Easy" routes. I managed to On-Sight 6b+ and ticked a lot of routes around this grade. I quickly had to accept that I wouldn't be climbing my hardest on the trip. The crag has a massive walk in which knackers you out as we were only climbing in the evening. Not having a rest day didn't help either!

On our 7th day I managed to redpoint nice long 7a called La Reine Des Pommes, this was more my style as it was just less than vertical and had a great crimpy crux section. Playing to my style payed off big time, was really happy to get this ticked and Clarky crushed it straight after. Good times! After this I jumped on another 7a, feeling psyched for an On-Sight attempt. Reaching the crux the route traverses left away from the last bolt. I took a few falls then one just went completely wrong and I landed twisted on my right ankle. In hindsight I'm pretty sure I'd pulled ligaments/tendons or something as It's only just starting to disappear and it's now Mid January!

Gammy Injured Foot!
With a forced rest day the day after, we headed up to Font to spend our last 2 nights and break up the trip. We climbed in the baking heat and just basically ran around the forest jumping on anything regardless of grade. Quite a nice way to spend it there as I can end up getting hung up on grades from time to time! My ankle was sore but I still tried my best!

Lads in Font

Moving on to September me and Spidey had a great long day out with a mixture of crags. We headed out early and walked all the way to the Pac Man Boulders only to find they were wet (Sack) Still haven't had the chance to climb there yet. After falling in a bog we headed over to the Orme and checked out Empire Crag as Spidey had told me about some gnarly steep jug routes. This being completely my anti-style I was keen to check them out! We thought we were on Cradle Snatchers 6c but turned out to be Nursery Crimes 6c+. Had to take a rest on the lead (pumped). A great route and one to come back for.

We then headed over the Parisella's. Only ever pulled on here when I was a complete beginner and was keen to see what all the fuss was about. First problem I did was Cave Righthand V4, nails to say the least. At this point I couldn't see the appeal of the place. I then got my first V6 tick in the form of The Pillar Start, all of a sudden I was psyched for the place! I can see why people get obsessed with the it, so much stuff to go at in there. Keen to get back when I'm stronger! We then nipped into Split Infinity cave and did The Pillar Finish V4, tricky little problem that one. Onto Angel Bay next, a place I've been a few times when I first started and a place that always inspired me. I manged to tick The Letterbox V4 pretty quickly and had good attempt at Ren Arete V5 and Pocket Wall which is a nails V4. All in all a great day 3 V4's and a V6 - Psyched!

Also in September I ticked a V5 at Hope Mountain called Grotto Up. A great problem that takes a crimpy rail out of a roof up some pinches. I managed it with a cheeky toe cam in the roof as I'm weak on pinches (Note to self get strong). Keen to get some Sport climbing done I headed up to Pinfold one evening with Leon with the intent to tick a 7a called What's Goin' On. With the light fading I got it first redpoint, a brilliant route and very technical and slabby (playing to by strengths again!)

Danielle and I headed to Porthmadog for a weekend in our Grandparents Caravan mid September and I was suprisingly warm. We headed down to Cae Du and I got plenty of easy ticks in and made a little video. Danielle was still pregnant at this point and enjoyed the beach:

Cae Du from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

Further highlights from the end of last year was a successful Redpoint of Jack the Smuggler at Llanymynech which I have been keen to do for awhile. I also managed to On-Sight a 35m 6c called a Night Torchlight Parade as a warm up. Awesome Day's climbing. I made a video of 3 of the Clwyd 7a's I've filmed:

Clwyd 7a's from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

Early November Matt Lamb and I headed over to sport climb on the upper drive of the Orme for the first time. With hopes to get on Axel Attack 7a+, only to find the start of the route soaking. . . Back up plan was this awesome looking 3 star 7a called Quicksilver. Took a few redpoints and felt tough but I got the tick, such a great route. Video here:

Quicksilver F7a from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

Mid November Danielle and I headed out to Porthmadog again and had a session at the Cromlech Boulders and took Leon too. This was Danielle's first time climbing after pregnancy and it was great to see her climbing again. She got up a couple of V0's and I was impressed. She was a fear of heights and does really well considering.

Early December no one seemed to be around to climb so being keen I headed over to the World's End one weekend morning and checked out the 7b there Cigars of the Pharaohs on a Gri-Gri, managed the moves apart from the start being wet. One to check out this year (2013).

On the 16th December I headed out early to Denbigh Quarry to put a lower off in a new route of mine. A week later I also managed to get a real bargain on a Bosch GBH for £80!

Later that day I headed over to GOP Cave to meet the Boosh lads for a session on some steep rock. Really keen to get on this type of stuff as I'm pretty poor when it comes to powerful moves. I managed a flash of the warm up V3 and ticked a cool V5 which is not my style at all. Short video of the problem:

Gop Cave - V5 from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

I ended the year on 23rd December with a shunt session at the World's End and On-Sighted a really cool E3 called Butter Arete. Amongst all this I've been training hard at home on the Beastmaker and at Oswestry Wall Bouldering every Tuesday! More on this in my next post, this one has gotten far too long!

Can't wait to see what 2013 will bring!


Friday, 3 August 2012

An Awesome Week

After I did Technicolour i've been really keen to check out the 7a's at Dinbren. Spidey had recently done Orgasmatron and recommended it highly! I was originally off put as the start is aided (8a un-aided) Needless to say I went for it. Didn't take long to work out on the dog and I felt it would go quick. First redpoint I got wrong handed at the very start (punt). Rested for a minute and went again and ticked my first 7a in a session! Psyched! A very good route! Also flashed Where's the Presidents Brian 6b+ as a warm up.

Riding off the psyche of doing a 7a in a session I headed up again with Leon to get on Quick Flash 7a. I'd had a quick look at this awhile ago but couldn't even hold the slopey rail by the 2nd bolt. Finding out quickly I could now hold this and then worked out the crux throw after this quickly I was keen to get straight on redpoint. It's a really short route (3 bolts) but has a really cool crux. This went 1st redpoint. At the end of the session we had a quick look at Wonderwall 7a behind a tree on the Right Wing. This was one of Spidey's routes and is 2 bolts long (?!) had a quick look and new straight away this wouldn't be a walk in the park.

Went back today with Leon for the send of Wonderwall. Took some time to work out some more beta. It's insanely techinical and one of them routes you need to do pricisly to get up the thing. Had two redpoints and kept coming off the top. Rested well but got stressed as it was going dark, really wanted the send today. Last go I managed it but not without a fight! Awesome! Three 7a's in a week! Off to Ceuse next week so this was a great week to set me up for the trip!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Technicolour Yawn - 7a+

After a massive siege that lasted 5 sessions i've finally ticked my first 7a+! Dinbren has become by far my favortite crag and this route is something special. I spent 2 sessions using a complete rubbish sequence after the crux before the crack and was getting pumped out. Each time i'd go for a redpoint it would be at the end of a session and a bit rushed. This time I went focused to do just this and sent it 2nd redpoint of the day with Spidey. So happy to climb it in complete control.

The send:

Technicolour Yawn from Luke Owens on Vimeo.

Keen to get some 7a's ticked now! 

Friday, 11 May 2012

First 7a!

Finally got my first F7a Sport Route ticked at Dinbren tonight. A real milestone for me and just over a year from my first F4 route! The route is called Hot Stuff and takes a line out of a steep cave off a big lay back pinch and a technical bulge near the top. Looked at it on top rope a few times over the last couple of months and figured out the moves. The crux for me was endurance, the moves weren't to hard on there own it was just linking them! I'm been training hard for awhile now and I think it's paid off! So Psyched! Bring on the F7a+'s!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Mountaineering Navigation Course 20 - 21 August

After having a real good think about what I want to do with my life a few months prior to this I've decided to pursue a career in the outdoors. I can't think of anything better! After looking around on the internet for awhile I found some info on the different mountain qualifications available. I found a website called www.expeditionguide.com which has a career in the mountains section showing you each step of the ladder to a career in the outdoors and the prospect of holding an MIA (Mountaineering Instructor Award) and being able to teach people to rock climb is all to appealing. I decided to get straight into it and emailed the guy who runs the website Rob Johnson. Unexpectedly he emailed me back within an hour with some information on where to start out my journey. I booked myself onto this Navigation course and couldn't wait!

So the weekend arrived and I was off to Snowdonia early on the Saturday morning to meet up at the Pinnicle Cafe in Capel Curig with Rob and the other people on the course. We set out to do some micro navigation around Llyn Cwmffynnon and I finally learn't how to use a compass - easier than I thought! After some further naving around some slopes and boggy ground we headed back to the car soaking wet. Great day out and I learn't a lot!

The following day I headed back to Capel Curig to meet the guys and we headed out to Ogwen to do some more naving on some more interesting terrain. It was great to be putting the skills learn't into use figuring out a scramble ascent up Pen Yr Olwen. I'd never been up here before but had done Tryfan with a friend a year earlier. Once we reached the summit the weather closed in and fog and rain completely removing visibility - Great naving weather!

We headed over to Carnedd Daffydd and then individually navigated a leg back to the car. Overall a great weekend and it was great to be learning useful skills! I had a good chat with Rob on the way back and he recommended I take the Mountain Leader Training at the end of November. As soon as I got into work the following day I booked the time offer and registered for the MLTUK to get my logbook for my ML and SPA and booked myself onto Rob's MLT in November! Can't wait.

On my way back from Snowdonia on the Sunday I met up with Alex for a quick climb in Llandudlas Cave. We warmed up on a F5 that's not in the guidebook then worked Guano On Sight 6a+ Great moves on brilliant features that climbs out of the cave towards the light! Came close on my first redpoint but couldn't get through the crux, I'll get this one soon!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Clwyd Meet at Penmaen Head

After climbing with Mike on Sunday he told me about the Clwyd Mountaineering Club meets that they have on the costal crags the next one being at Penmaen Head. So I headed down there and met up with them. It felt great to be out here again it's such an awesome crag! After a quick chat Alex and Mike told me about a great 6a+ called Blitzy's Jug. Mike told me the story behind the name which was cool. It's great getting to climb with the person who actually bolted the route your on! A real privilege. You can see how much pride he takes in them and I can see why!

Mike didn't have a partner so we went over and I tried it on lead. I made it up to the section just bellow the top headwall and had to rest on the bolt, I could tell I still wasn't used to how sustained these routes are! I'm too used to walking up to the crux at Trevor Rocks! Needless to say I finished the route with some handy Beta from Ian Andrews who was on his and Fran Growling's route "Aphelion" next to me.

After finishing the route I came down and Mike introduced me to them both. Both cool guys who were great climbers to. Mike suggested I try there route "Aphelion" 6a. Thinking this would be a walk in the park compared to the 6a+ I was just on...I couldn't be more mistaken!

The crux for me was getting through this giant flake which has some great lay-back moves. I got through this then onto some massive holds but I was just too pumped to climb on so I took my biggest fall yet (Which isn't that big) it was alot of fun though! After resting on the bolt and some handy beta from Ian again I managed to eventually fight my way to the top on what I thought was going to be a walk in the park. I knew at this point I was definitely lacking in my endurance!

It was great to be out down at the A55 again and meeting great like minded people! I'm psyched for getting better and improving and really hope to be ticking off some harder routes soon!