Monday, 29 September 2008

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Ikaria - New Routes

The article today takes a bit of a retrospective jump, back to Seyshells Beach in Ikaria for a write up of a few choice bouldering problems sent whilst out visiting my girlfriend in Greece. Unfortunately, due to my lack of climbing equipment (only a pair of holey shoes and a chalkbag) and an accident involving a moped that happened later that day, this was the only day I really managed to get any quality problems sent. The rock was interesting, very similar to the granite of the alps but not as polished and perfected as its French equivalent. The lines are superb; unique, absorbing and always varied. I just wish I had had a mat as they were often massively highball! Below is a few picture topos of the new routes, though these hardly represent all the bouldering, or indeed traditional routes that are to be found in abundance around the Seyshells area. Due to the passing of time and my forgetful memory, I have named but not graded any of the routes. However, they were all well within my limit of climbing and thus must never have really strayed beyond V2. Though the easy grading absolutely does not detract from the stunning problems that are to be found there!

One: Morning Star

Two: Terra Nova
Three: 'Its OKIt doesn't hurt at the moment'

Four: Immature Resistance

Five: Unintelligent Design 

Six: Pocket Socket

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

UKClimbing Publications

Im afraid I have no new footage or interesting stories to tell you, my avid readers, yet as I have been trying to chillax all this week in preparation for the big day on Friday. In which, the whole committee will be spending the day dressed up in full racks, jangling about in the stuffy, hot and overcrowded Great Hall of the Students Union. For it is, as most CUMC members will undoubtably already know, the Freshers Fayre! Where all the students eager to join a sporting society come down to the Student Union to meander round the crowded hall looking at all the Athletic Union stalls for all the different sports. Climbing has always been one of the biggest clubs in the event, signing up over two hundred members at last years Fayre! So I expect we are all going to get rushed off our feet this year as well, especially with the new tantalizing promise of free hoodies to draw the freshers in! And so I am, as I have already said, resting this week and unfortunately not doing very much crazy climbing stuff to tell you all about. Don't worry though, soon I will be up to my eyeballs in climbing stories once the year starts proper and I have to lead for freshers four times a week again.

In the meantime, I have been trying to get a bit of publication on UKClimbing-, in line with this whole climbing media and communication lark I have been indulging in. I have sent in one article, concerning eight different sensation that climbing can generate in a person. This is an old article, already published here: However I thought I should try to see if more people want to read it, other than just CUMC!.
Additionally, I have entered into the Marmot short film competition, with a reedited version of the Penalta movie, called One Afternoon as Student Climbers Hopefully this will be broadcast on the UKC site, but in case it doesn't here it is:

And thats about it for the moment dear friends- no other news to report.. Except my Girlfriend does come back to Cardiff today! So I'm going to be ultra very happy in all my following posts as she has been in Greece for four months and I haven't really seen her! Wishing you all the best

Love Jamie

Monday, 22 September 2008

Medics' Fayre

Freshers' Week has started! And so, I am now up to my eyeballs in meets and communications duties, as well all the other responsibilities that come with with being on the committee! The club held a stall today at the Medics Athletics Union Fayre - a miniature version of the main event to come on Friday - to sign up fresh, enthusiastic and eager-eyed young freshers into CUMC. And so we all had to be up at 8:00 and jacked in ready to make our stall space the best display in the whole fayre. Unfortunately I am running out of time to explain any more, as I do have to sprint out the house to rush to a committee meeting as I write. Therefore I will leave the following video to explain the rest that has to be said about my very stressful day!

Medic Fayre
Uploaded by Bunchuk

Sunday, 21 September 2008

An Interview with Jason.

Thats right, A Jolly Production is back up and running! This is our indulgence into the stupid and the inane, for whenever the stresses of climbing and committee prove too much for mine and Olly's overworked minds! Here is a short film about a drunk flat-mate, made using some extracts of a now infamous, but so far unpolished and unpublished, joke film concerning quite a few members of our club. But you will all have to wait for that film to be released! We still need to run very far away from Cardiff, barricade ourselves in an abandoned farm house and assemble a cutting edge team of defense lawyers for the impending lawsuits to come, before we will even think of airing episode one of our avante guarde animation! In the meantime enjoy the show! *run guys, run!*

Friday, 19 September 2008

The start of CUMC 2008-2009.

Had our first 2008/2009 committee meeting for the Cardiff University Mountaineering Club. It was quite long! Over three hours we debated, discussed and flat out argued the direction our club of two hundred members would take in this coming year. The results are quite interesting, and I really feel are pushing the boundaries of a traditionally clique club out into the forefront as one of the best clubs in the Athletic Union, offering one of the best experiences for our members. Without going into boring details of practicalities, I thought it would be beneficial (especially to CUMC members who read this blog) to explain some of the broader concepts and idea that will be concerning the club over the coming year.

Firstly, the club structure is likely to change given the opening of the climbing wall Boulders so close to town. It means that people, especially experienced people, are a lot more likely to visit the Wall independently rather than through the social nucleus that was the minibus dependent trips every Tuesday and Thursday to the WICC. This might change our club make up and how we run trips in the future, but for the meantime we are just going to have to wait and see. A knock on effect of this is that everyone will be wanting equipment from the kit store at times outside the normal club run trips; we feel however, that this is likely to lead to most of our equipment going missing (which is currently a problem) and so have gotten stricter about the signing out of gear. Only committee members can use the union key now, the number of which has changed. Instead, we are working on the idea of having multiple keys at committee houses, if you are trusted and get your act together in reasonable time, one can get the key from a committee members house. It then has to be brought back to the house after all kit has been returned to union, before the next club trip. Failure to do so, without valid reasons, or abuse of the system means that you will not be allowed to take gear out in the future. We think this a fair system that will promote a decent respect for our collective kit!

On a more interesting note, the club will have a more competitive edge this year for some added enjoyment of our more experienced members, competing several competitions including BUCS (formerly BUSA), the new inter-Welsh bouldering league that is being set up, and hopefully getting a climbing Varsity up and running for Cardiff's annual battle with rival Swansea. Sounds epic for sure!

(The committee deciding things at our first meeting of the new academic year/ having a nice chinese meal)

Technically the club is going under a bit of a revamp as well, starting with it change to a new address domain at As the domain is finally under an independent server instead of the Universities, we are aiming to have access to to the html code so as to keep the webpage updated (the introduction page has already been redesigned and will be uploaded soon!) in a timely fashion in accordance with the changing situation of the club. Hopefully you will all see a facelift on it soon! In a similar vein, I have been personally trying to get us more representation in the Gair Rhydd which, despite our status as one of the biggest clubs in the union, is woefully inadequate in chronicling what our members get up to. So if anyone has any ideas for articles concerning CUMC send me an email and I can have a crack at writing it up, or try to pass your article along to the editors of student paper. If not, I can always post it on this blog for you! I'm sure somebody reads it! ;)

That's about all I have to say at this present moment concerning the club. I may in future, depending on the response of my fellow committee members and feedback from any readers, publish the minutes of our meetings just so that the ordinary club member has some idea of how their club is being run. Maybe a good idea, maybe not! I would like to sum up by concluding that that our onus this year will be to try and get as many people as possible climbing outside, leading confidently and acting safely. Basically, to fill as many people with the same intense love of climbing that we, as a committee, already have.

Meet Sec
Cardiff University Mountaineering Club

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


A little movie; playing around with my brothers camera that I always bring to crags but never use! I only managed one climb yesterday, a one move wonder VS, pathetic! However, Wil did his first E1, Gigglers Arete, which was incidentally my first E1 as well! Olly having not trad climbed since May, jumped straight on an E2 with humorous results! But I won't give too much away, watch the film!

Uploaded by Bunchuk

The Font Movie!

Somebody asked me yesterday if we were going to show the Font DVD, a movie I made whilst out out with the club in Fontainbleau at Easter, at our Freshers party. Thing is we have too much going on already at our party, so I thought the best way of letting everyone see it without spending ridiculous amounts on DVDs, would be to post here! And thats what I've done, enjoy!

Uploaded by Bunchuk

Sunday, 14 September 2008

I Went Traditional Climbing!!!!

What? No?! Never! But yes dear reader, I actually went Trad climbing! Nuts, hexes; my entire rack that has not seen the light of day for a very long while!  The crag was Trebanog, a moderately good, low lying crag in the middle of a Welsh ex-mining town. It is a pretty staple venue of the Cardiff University club, having a fair number of easy routes to take beginners up. Consequently I have been here a few times previously and done a reasonable number of the routes here. Still, there was plenty left to explore! The company was good, if a little girly, with fellow CUMC members Nikki, Hannah and Liv being my climbing partners for the day. The first route Liv and I attempted was Last Arete (HS 4b) which is simply brilliant, a superbly independent line, good positions and never too technically difficult. Dispatching this easily, gave me renewed vigor to skip the whole 'taking it slow as haven't climbed in ages' shenanigans and go try some harder stuff. Somebody's bolted Firewater! Previously an E2 5b solo, now its a sparsely protected 6b sports route. I had a go at this on lead, which although completed clean, doesn't quite count as an 6b tick as I wimped out a bit at the end using footholds out left on a VS I had backed off of a year previously. Liv, despite her shorter stature, managed to complete what I had failed and with only one rest, pretty good going for a girl who hasn't climbed outside since May. 

Meanwhile Hannah and Nikki were having fun, climbing an unnamed Vdiff (Nikki), Desperate Arete S (Hannah) Last Arete HS (Nikki) and Eastend Crack HS (Hannah). Which is a pretty damn fine effort given that the girls have about a dozen climbs under there belt between them! Carry on Leading girls! 

Next climb on the list was Blood, E1 which Olly had climbed on our last visit to Trebanog in May. Its turns out, after I get to the top, that it wasn't Blood at all, nor even a full E1. Instead it seems I've forced a weird line between an E1 at the bottom and a HS at the top. Random! Awkward corner cracky climbing! And so from this disappointing HS tick, I really resolved to try a proper HVS, just to show myself that I've got better since May. Thing is Trebanog HVS's are all ridiculously soft touch: half of them could easily be soloed! But I remembered Steve having a right ol' swearing seshion on a HVS round the far corner of the crag so Liv and I went for a wander to look. Described as Aunty Pasty (HVS 4C) "The unlovely corner to the right" - from the ground it didn't seem that unlovely, in fact it seemed pretty easy! A relatively unprotected bridging shuffle to a large ledge, then lace a large crack with gear and then summit through the offwidth. How easy! But easy it was not: an unweildy mantle at the first break anda horrendous burl-fest through the offwidth at the top, all on rubbish gear! I was shaking, disco legging, struggling and cursing. It was far from graceful and next to the climbers two routes over from me elegant ballet, my struggle must have seemed like a gritty and pointless street fight by comparison. But I got it clean, another, proper HVS tick! Liv tried to second it but cut her finger on the first few moves, pouring blood everywhere! Nikki had to second it in the end, only resting once. 

It was a good day; a really encouraging start to the next academic climbing year. I can't wait!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

You've been framed!

We ended up watching you've been framed today (amongst other, more productive things) and so getting all excited I sent off one of my own bloopers from Font. Here it is, enjoy! 

Friday, 12 September 2008

Once again, It's raining in Cardiff! Ahhhh!

Once again the heavens opens, crashing bullet rain onto the whole of Cardiff. Once again, I've only just stepped out of the bloody house. Once again, I'm drenched through; sodden from head to toes. There is absolutely no possibility - and hasn't been for the past three weeks - any chance whatsoever of climbing outdoors. And so I feel that my blog is sadly running dry on fresh climbing material to report about. So, once again, I'm dipping back into my store of Alps media - this is a few minutes of footage from when we were very very bored camping on the glacier, resorting to chatting random rubbish for quite a long while:

On other fronts, my girlfriend comes back in two weeks, yay!!!!! Can't wait!!!! Poi is going quite well, a few more tricks, a few more bruises. Cracking on with my dissertation research. All so interesting, isn't it dear reader?! Hopefully in the near future, I will be able report on some fresh, new and exciting climbing projects I've been pushing myself on, once the rain lets up, if it ever does. If not, you my dear reader, will have to listen to exciting stories about my walks to IKEA and such like. Thrilling. J xx

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Butterfly Anti Spin Flower

A nice picture from my back garden, playing with the lights on my LED Poi.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Pic du Neige

The sun strikes down; unbearably hot even at this altitude. My throat is rasping and my body is screaming at me for water. The one litre that I did bring up had run out roughly four hours ago and we were still high up on the mountain. It was meant to be a warm up peak- easy, even to us inexperienced alpinists. Yet here we are, five hours overdue, off route and on the wrong side of the mountain! And now to make matters even worse our little group of four are faced with a perilous abseil down a shattered gully - stones in a constant state of acceleration, firing pitilessly past our heads. I look around at the strained faces of my fellow Cardiff University mountaineers – Olly, Duncan and Andy, each deeply absorbed in their own thoughts. They must be thinking similar thoughts to my own, dreaming about the comfort of camp; blocking out the irritation of our situation. How had we got to this stage? It had all started so well:

Brought to a sudden and abrupt awakening by the blasting of our alarm pumping Bloc Party into the quiet early morning silence, I lay quietly basking in the cloying warmth of the sleeping bag confidently contemplating the inevitability of the ascent of our first big mountain. This was to be our first alpine peak, a training peak, a starter for bigger and better things to come. Described in the guidebook as a popular and well-trodden beginner’s route, easily completed within five hours; visible from our never-ending approach right up the glacier on the previous day it had seemed exactly that; easy and short. Reluctantly, I leave the comfort of the bag, hurriedly pile clothes on and emerge from the tent into the cool crisp glacial air. To my left, Duncan and Andy are stirring in their bivy bags. Behind them the sun is just breaking over the highest mountain in the region, it’s light; warm and golden spills gently down the snowline lighting up the entire mountain. It is very beautiful, and very fleeting. Olly emerges from the tent behind me, sleep still in his eyes - it’s probably still in mine. A few jokes are exchanged as we begin to stuff our packs with all the rubbish we think we might need up on the hill. Once we’re prepared we wolf down a hasty breakfast snack of pain au chocolate and some glacial water and start pulling on our crampons, ready to go. Andy and Duncan are up; they plan on doing the same route as us, but will be a completely independent climbing team so I doubt whether we will see them that much today given our earlier start than them. Hoisting our bags over our backs, Olly and I look up at the foreshortened mountain - still dark in the early morning dawn - and set off to conquer our first alpine peak.

The ascent turns out to be exhausting for us both, but technically quite easy and thoroughly uneventful. Exhausting for Olly because of his lack of hill walking muscles (being more defined along the developed upper-body rock climbing physique) and I because of the altitude come sunstroke I was still suffering from the previous days ascent. Thus progress was somewhat slow as we meandered our way up the sloping ice fields, stopping frequently to get our breath back and drink in the scenery, only to then push ourselves further up the mountain against all the signals from our aching and over laden bodies. Duncan and Andy, much fitter and acclimatized than ourselves, overtook us relatively early on and had disappeared out of sight around a rock buttress. We temporarily get held up by another party’s retreat and down climb in a narrow and steeply inclined snow gully. But the hold up gives us a thorough rest, and once the other party had moved past Olly attacks the ice gully with vigour, leading the entire pitch with ease. And then we are on the col, looking down the other side of the mountain to the valley on the other side. It is another 40 minutes to the summit, but this time on easy rock, which through of our endless hours spent climbing in Welsh quarries, poses absolutely no problems whatsoever and before I knew it, we are standing along with Andy and Duncan on the ridgeline summit. It is nine o’clock; we took only two hours to get here.

It all seemed so easy; my main preoccupation at this point was what I was going to do back at our glacier camp for all the hours of daylight remaining having brought no books or anything to keep myself occupied. However, I should have taken the situation more seriously as it was our decision making at the summit that created the epic that we subsequently had to suffer through. Disliking the idea of returning the same way that we had come up, we collectively resolved to descend the other side of the ridge, which the guidebook assured was a route. Yet because Duncan and Andy had not brought any rock gear we would have to work as a four, one team leading and leaving our gear placed along the pitches so the other team could move swiftly over the ground using our gear and removing it when the last person went past it. The problem, as we did find out, is that this method is slower than anticipated, as the lead team still has to wait for the very last person to return all the gear once the leader had run out. The ridge was awkward, with very little places for four of us to even stand to pass the gear between us. Progress slowed to a crawl. The ridge was so much longer than we had expected; each time I saw an edge of the ridge that could not be seen past, I longingly hoped that over it, there would be a slope that would lead meanderingly back to the glacier and thus back to camp. We were denied such a blessing; each time we reached these edges all they yielded was yet more ridgeline, more rock, more climbing. We hadn’t expected to be up here this long! My water had run out at the summit and now the sun, bearing down mercilessly from it zenith in the cloudless sky, was causing a racking thirst and making our body sluggish and mind irritable. Indeed it was happening to all of us, sharp exchanges began to flair and everyone sensed that we were losing of control of the situation. We have to get down! I have to drink!

We begin to lose our way. An argument erupts between me and Olly over whether we should lead down the melting snow ramps that wind around the ridge over the exposed 1000ft north face or else descend down a shattered gully on the south side to a likely looking spire from which it may be possible to abseil safely, and hopefully down to the snowline. After a few sharp words we end up taking the abseil. The gully leading to the spire we wished to abseil off is steep and completely composed of shattered rocks. I am the first one lowered down – a blessing as I have the security of a rope above me in case I fall - which nearly happens when a foothold peals away underneath my weight, seriously shaking me off balance. I reach the spire; a big, apparently sturdy, spike of rock – looking down I can see a snowfield that stretches seemingly right down to the glacier. This is our way down! I throw the rope around the spire and then clip it back to my harness, securing me to the rock. Now the others have to get down, it is a slow, slow pitch. Olly and Duncan have a much tougher time getting down, as they do not have the security of a rope above them and any slip would mean a 50ft fall past me and down the wretched gully below. At long last after, we all end up awkwardly placed around the jutting rock, waiting as each person slowly descends out of view below.

It takes a further hour to finally complete the abseil, miraculously without anybody getting hit by any of the several tonnes of debris we unearthed through our movements. The time at this point is around two o’clock, seven hours since we first set out. We all thought that once we had got off the ridgeline and the rock, back onto snowfields we would be down at camp within the hour. From our new perspective we found that this wasn’t going to happen. It would be another gruelling three hours before we would eventually stumble exhausted, sunburnt and dehydrated back to the relative comfort of our sleeping bags and to the blissful embrace of a well-earned sleep. But for now we have to keep moving; Andy prepares the abseil whilst Olly get ready to lead the next pitch. Once more we set off, winding our way down, off this immense mountain.