Steve Pardoe's uk.rec.climbing Trip Report Archive Pages

Tony Buckley's Reports

Edition of 2/11/2004


Index to Tony's reports...
Llanberis Pass, August 2004
Vango Tent Report, November 2004

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tony Buckley"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 2:11 PM
Subject: TR: Easy day and an unexpected find on Bochlywd Buttress

And so to Ogwen on a summer Saturday. You'd think experience would have taught me to avoid places like that at times like this, wouldn't you? But sometimes you've got to do these things to remind you why you shouldn't.

But it wasn't like that at all. The trip down the coast road was fine, rather than being constipated with holiday traffic. The rain that showered as we left Warrington disappeared when we crossed into Wales and the closer we got to Snowdonia, the higher the clouds were. No problem parking, and we pitched up at Bochlywd Buttress after a thoroughly enjoyable brief walk in. There were a couple of Plas Y Brenin teams at work so we decided we'd try the diff on the right hand side of the crag to start (Arete and Slab, I think). To look at you think, think, that seems a bit steep for the grade, but up the groove in the arete you go, hands curling over large flakes, a nut here, a sling round a pinnacle there, and it's all improbably pleasant. Enough polish to show the way, but not enough to do anything more. And after a recent spell of poor form my MS was behaving, so there was only a bit of wobbling on the first pitch and then the belay arrived, and I could look out to a sun-kissed Y Garn as Tony (my climbing partner went by the same first name. This was only confusing for other people) came up behind. The second pitch (guidebook third, but you'd have to be manically traditional to do this in three pitches) started with an awkward little step cum mantleshelf to gain the upper slab, and then a brief excursion saw us at the top of the crag. Only a diff, but very nice.

After some lunch we looked at what other people were doing and at the guidebook. Neither of us felt like any of the hard severe's, no matter how highly they were recommended, so that left a diff at the left hand side or the severe chimney in the middle. I snuck a cunning look at the two starts to this chimney while someone was seconding it. The start they were doing was up a little face and involved a lot of polished rock and some thuggery; the alternative was a traditional back and foot thrutch up a flared chimney. And so it came to pass that I offered Tony the lead as his pitch on the previous route had only been a short one.

Soon, we were looking at the guidebook again. If Tony hadn't managed to lead the start to that chimney then I wasn't even going to try, and so we headed off for the other diff. It's a way to the left hand side of the crag, away from all the other routes. Being foolish, I took the first pitch this time as the guidebook said the second was the better one. And the first pitch was grassy and heathery and broken and forgettable. It ended at a perched boulder which you could have reached by walking a little further left. So I slung a sling around it, Tony came up, then off he went to do the second pitch.

Now it's worth looking at this arete the next time you have a chance because from a distance it looks improbably smooth. In fact from the belay it looked unlikely that a diff would find its way up there; there were no obviously large holds to be seen, no cracks, no in situ teams of boy scouts, not much of anything. And when my time to climb came, I still couldn't see much of anything - though the sun shining in my eyes didn't help. But it was an utter and complete delight, one of the best single pitches I've ever done at an easy grade. I really can't recommend it highly enough. It had an elegant sufficiency of holds, but no more than that; it had protection, though only just enough. It was completely delightful. The small holds couldn't easily be seen until you needed them, and then there they were. The angle was easy enough to allow you to pad up, right until the final steepening. It really was absolutely marvellous. And because not many people go there, the rock was rough. One day, the Idwal Slabs must have been that rough. Utterly wonderful. Go with a rope if you're cautious, go on your own if you're strong and confident, but do go; it's a wonderful pitch.

And after that, on the way back to the 'sacks, I got distracted by bilberries. Not quite in full season yet, but there were enough of them if you looked, sweet and sharp and juicy. Give them a week or two and you'll come down from every climb with a purple tongue and fingers.

And the only blot on the day was that the Conwy tunnel on the A55 was completely shut on the way back...but that aside, a wonderful, easy day.

T.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tony Buckley"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing,uk.rec.walking
Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 3:28 PM
Subject: Vango Hurricane beta...

...alas, I've finally had to accept that it's well past its use-by date, and it is no more.

Sometimes you get a piece of gear that is just right. You and it get on, you have many happy times together, you get used to each other's little foibles...and then one of you wears out. And despite the mounting years, it was the tent that gave in first. Me and it have been happy companions since I bought it back in May 1988. First pitched in the dreary campsite on Arran, it endured a wet, windy and midge-filled week. It was subsequently pitched all round the UK, in the Alps and in America, on campsites both basic and posh, in people's gardens after parties and occasionally, for it was not a light tent, in the wilds far from the road. I think the furthest it made was on the hill below the Chapelle de la Gliere in the Aiguilles Rouge - tellingly, not too far from the end of the chairlift. It had the inner and outer zipped together and went up in about a minute - two poles and four pegs and you'd be inside. Four more pegs saw you snug and secure even in strong winds.

Its pegs were bent back into shape more often than I can remember, its poles had to be repaired once after I jammed a peg into the end of one of the sections when packing in a hurry in the pouring rain, and one of the pole sleeves had to be repaired after the damaged pole caused a few tears when I discovered the pole was damaged on a Friday night in the dark at a campsite. I cursed the absence of full midge doors, the inaccessibility of items stored at the far end of the porch and the inadequate storage pouches in the inner tent, and put my back out getting out of it once; I loved the ease with which it went up, the amount of stuff you could store in the porch and being able to sit up properly in it.

I tried to count the number of nights I've spent in it but gave up. I'd guess that over the period I've had it I've spent nigh on a year of my life sleeping in it though.

But the flysheet ripped on a trip to the US a few years ago, and though a temporary repair was made with duck tape, the end was nigh. Too much time and UV had degraded the materials to the point where they would stretch disconcertingly with a little pressure if they were under tension, and so, reluctantly, it has had to go.

Time and technology have moved on. Now there are many tents that are lighter, stronger and offer better internal storage; I've tried some. But after I've spent so long with the same tent, will anything ever suit me quite so well again?

Ah well. Ever had the same feeling when finally consigning one of your favourite bits of gear to the bin?

T.

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