Posts Tagged ‘North Wales’

The End Is Nigh

Increasingly the last few weeks my mind has been drifting back towards the mountains, and increasingly, as the time since I was in any of them increases I have been feeling a sense of almost exile with regards to my disconnection with them.

The heady days of summer seem such a long time ago now when I felt like I could move endlessly over whatever terrain I chose and felt strong and confident doing so.

I have been maintaining my fitness out here in the flat lands as best I can , even though the longest run I have had since the Bucharest Marathon is about 16 km. Its just nigh on impossible to justify spending longer away from the work environment……

The trails are pleasant and I continue to see some lovely sights as the sunsets, with deer, hares, foxes and all manner of birds of prey presenting themselves as I pass through the landscape, empty but for the odd tractor cutting a late corn field or harrowing a rich brown plowed field…

I can turn the legs over pretty quickly now and feel ok, but increasingly I suffer from a bit of a motivation issue – The closer I get to arriving home, the less inclined I am to worry about squeezing another run in here, except that without the day to day runs here I will lose fitness for the days I want to spend up high somewhere else.

This has been keeping me going and within a week now I am going to be at home…Fantastic indeed and I can’t wait to traverse the hils again with a sense of freedom that a snatched hour here or there cannot quite deliver..

When you have only an hour to run, one is aware of a particular end point and how long it will take to get there. At home by comparison, I think about where to go on a run , not really how long it will take me to get back and that is liberating. The same with our cycle trips, its all about the journey …….

So I am ready for Wales again. From early August til now I have not set a foot on the hills there….Bring it on, they lok great on the webcams I have been viewing the last day or so….


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Tryfan Highline

Several months back a bloke from Liverpool named Nick invited me to come highlining on Tryfan. He said: “Hey man, what do you think to organising ourselves and a couple of mates to help with lugging of gear and rigging and doing the Tryfan high line (Skyline?) in August?”

Guy Ruyssevelt putting a fine effort

It pretty much happened exactly like that except in September!

Getting closer to the date of the 20th there was much organisation and mass debates on what webbing and what anchors that were to be used on the highlines. It seems to be quite a strange thing but the webbing you use and get used to walking makes a huge difference on the experience so I was a little sceptical as I hadn’t walked any of the webbings the group had chosen to use.

The night before we were to head up the mountain everyone came over to my flat in Llanberis to sort out the kit we needed, my girlfriend wasn’t best pleased that she couldn’t watch TV over 6 smelly slackliners but she soon overcame it and joined in with the chaos. With piles and piles of spansets (Mega strong lifting slings) and heaps of steel connectors strewn over my living room floor, our plan was taking shape. Each of us took a share of the weight in our packs and went to bed. Not with the packs I might add although I can’t speak for the whole group.

The six of us each with about 50kgs on our back set out at about 8am. We decided to go up the steady but slightly longer route past Llyn Bochlwyd and up the back ridge, it took us a long and sweaty 2 and a half hours to reach the summit.

Guy and Nick's legs warming up!

Upon arrival we set to looking at and choosing the anchors for the smaller highline,

after a light lunch of course. Things were chilled and pretty relaxed as the weather was so nice. After realising some anchors were either too high or too low making the overall line uneven, we finally decided on the anchors and set to wrapping the mountain in carpet and slings. One anchor required roughly 24m of spanset to get around it. We had thought of slinging Adam and Eve (two pillars of rock on the summit) but as I mentioned earlier it would have been very much a downhill slackline. The other anchor was what looks like a very hefty flake/ boulder about 9m in circumference. After a little deliberation and a little help from Ray wood we set to getting the line up across the gap, it was fairly simple as we just walked it around and attached it at both ends using linelockers (a kind of mechanical knot that retains a high percentage of the webbings strength)http://www.v12outdoor.com/product.php/5526/eqb-canon-sh.) To tighten we used a line grip and pulley system, at first on the Friday we had the line, what I would say was very loose, but each to their own!

Once tight we all mutually agreed that Jake should have the first shot at the line as he stood the best chance of flashing it – it’s what we all wanted to see and he did not disappoint!

This is just what we all wanted to see after a long days rigging

It made all the hard work worthwhile, he just stood up and walked like it was on the ground, everyone went completely silent and I felt like if I moved I would put him off – A fine effort Jake well done!

After seeing Jake walk the line and play around on his way back we all had a go some good efforts and some not so much i.e. my self. Time was getting on so we stashed some kit and walked back to the cars in the dark.

Saturday

Feeling a bit fresher and not so fresh me and Will climbed up the North Ridge meeting everyone on the summit for another day of getting scared, burnt and dehydrated. I checked the weather late on the friday and it predicted clouds clouds and nil visibility. So, when I was sitting on my throne looking at sun cream on the shelf I thought, Naaaah. Oh how I was wrong! ANYWAY. Saturday was taken up by mainly explaining to walkers and climbers what we were doing and listening to unsuspecting tourists crapping themselves thinking one of us was going to die. until we calmed them down and told them that they were perfectly safe on a leash and NOT going to die. We welcomed a few others to our group of slackers in the morning keen to have a go and try the lines we had set up the day before. David had traveled over from Holland to be with us for just 2 days. We also had Ian Burton and Ray Wood join us to get some pictures and footage so if they got enough we should have ourselves a little film to show the world.

Jedadiah joined us and was the second person to walk the 47m line to the other side. It’s very inspiring to watch some one walking a highline, a strange thing but beautiful all the same, you almost feel like you’re on it with them, an awesome experience in the real meaning of the word.

Attempting to walk the line on the other hand feels very different. For this line you had to shuffel out on to the line about 6-10m before you were high enough to have a safe leash fall. Any closer and you would most likely hit the rocks below. You then have to Chongo mount the line, a kind of mantle for climbers, it involves crouching on one foot, balancing and then bringing the other foot up to the line. It’s pretty scary to say the least, I nearly bailed and shuffled back to the side to give up but peer pressure is a wonderful thing. You have to keep calm and focus on what your doing. I think the latter is where I failed, I finally managed the chongo mount and I think got 1 or 2 steps before I totally lost it. I must say I was disappointed that I didn’t get very far but psyched all the same that my first highline chongo was on that line.

A lucky shot of my brief upright encounter with the line.

The remainder of the day comprised of more rigging the 85m line, Jedadiah had to bring another length of webbing up for the safety – the gap was some what larger than Nick had planned for leaving us without a back up on friday. Most of the team managed to get some really good walks in and Jake looked pretty at home, playing around, surfing the line and plenty of exposure turns (Turning to face out from the line, looking out over mid wales).

The weather on Saturday couldn’t have been better, sun, inversions, broken spectres and a light wind made the views mind blowingly beautiful. The clouds we’re pouring off the Glyders like smoke from a school science experiment passing beneath our feet on the line.

Jake surfing the smaller of the two lines through the clouds

The day came to an end and we all set off to get another nights rest before having to climb back up on Sunday to take it all down.

Sunday on Tryfan -

I decided not to take anything up on Sunday just an empty bag, a little food and water so my it would be nice and light on the way up only to fill it with metal and slings later on for the walk down. David and Tom took down the 47m line, they some how got pretty much all of it down I didn’t envy their knees one bit.

Jed finally got the 85m line tight so we were all eager to watch him smash it in. Getting a highline to the right tension is at best a guessing game until someone gets on it and actually weights the line, we didn’t really have time for this so Jed just get straight on it. From the side it looked like he had about 3-4m of sag in the middle which is hugely loose and massively impressive, as the loser a line, the harder (to a certain point). On his first few attempts I could tell it was a really hard line and I was hugely impressed seeing him mount the line several times in the middle. If you’ve ever tried to stand on a slackline thats loose from the middle you’ll know how tricky it is, if you then try that from underneath the line in the middle of an 85m long line with 4m of sag at 900m and tonnes of exposure – it suddenly becomes some what trickier, to say the very least. He got across the line with a few falls and a lot of determination. After seeing how loose it was a couple of the guys got the pulley system out and put a bit more tension in the line and Jed set to walking the line once again. On his best attempt he walked it one way with, I think, only 2 falls.

Jed on the monster 85m line

Time was getting on and I think we were all pretty knackered from three days dehydration and sunburn on Tryfan so we de-rigged the beast and set off home down the West Gully.

Here’s some more pictures that deserve to be seen!

David flew over to join us from Holland - I think it was worth it!


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