Monday, 30 April 2007

Non climbing rubbish weekend

Just a quickie - this weekend has been rubbish. I have been working both days and havent done anything entertaining or fun. On friday the cat bought me a live mouse. I managed to separate cat from mouse and set the little fella free. Quite cute he was, except that it would be perverse to keep a cat and a mouse in the house I would have quite liked to have kept him. Here is a pic :

As you can see, he was rescued in a pint pot. Were I more of a man I would probably have picked him up but I was thinking about getting bitten and contracting hideous mouse disease.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Pump up the powerband

Ned and I went to the Tor tonight. Picked him up on the way home from work and got to the tor for about 1730. Got warmed up and to my suprise nailed my boogy problem the Powerband! Delighted - but not over excited, should really have done this many moons ago.

Ned did Blueband and I got my ropes and harness out to have a go on Pump up the power. This is a route I first tried when I was 16 which is 14 years ago! therefore in 1993! After a bit of what can only be accurately described as fannying around I had a serious attempt and slapped and held (for a second) the last hard move - awesome! Tarted around a bit more but didnt get another good go and skin was bad so sacked it for another day.

Good to be back at the tor, and inspite of feeling a bit sore from the rings, I climbed ok. Anyway, climbed tonight because I am working tomorrow and have a christening on Sunday. Forecast is for it to be hot both days, so its probably not ideal. Jon has the right idea - is off to kilnsey. Kinda thinking about the temperature at the moment and mildly worrying that it will soon be too hot for anything serious. Gonna stay campusing this year.

The ugliest car ever made

With the possible exception of the Fiat Multipla, I saw the first and only one of these I have ever seen today, behold - the Renault VelSatis :

Man. That is one hideous automobile.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Something even more worthwhile!

Wow, so today was a big day! I headed out to Rubicon at about 0830 this morning, for me thats a bit of a lie in. Anyway, turned up and got started - felt quite sparky. Moved the stuff to the kudos wall and did the Press. Ok. Had five minutes then did it from kneeling - whoa! feels smegtastic - shit, am I gonna be able to do this after all? shit! Have a rest. Try the low left start, sloper feels rubbish, I fluff my feet and am back on the pad pretty sharpish. Declare an exclusion zone around the sloper, it doesnt work and I feel rubbish. The stress is setting in. I actively opt out of the banter and sit quietly brooding on the moves and whats going wrong. Change my boots and have a much better go. The key to the low left start (if you are climbing it the way it was originally done) is to make no mistakes with your feet. Be precise and be definate. The V10s are great and I did low right in them but they feel a bit dulled whilst the dragons feel dead sharp. Anyway, I set the countdown timer for 8 minutes and sit quietly with a coffee. The youthful exuberance of the other two is apparent. Noone touches my hold! Pull on, walk feet through to the spike on the right, match the sloper, arrange my fingers so that my thumb can bite and drop right hand down to the good edge, adjust the feet and left to the pocket, sort the right good edge and take a couple of gasped breaths. Left hand to the gaston, its not quite right but I can weedle it in, change the feet and roll the gaston into my shoulder, right moves up to the press crimp and I paste my left back on, the right hand is so not in the right place, but I dont think I can move it, just go! you cant drop it here, but you have done before - dont think about that! go! jump! arrrrrghhh! and I've made contact! feet swing off but I am settled on the jug of justice and its over! Yeeeeaaaaaahhh! I've done it! Give the lads a hug and regain my own youthful exuberance. Fully bouncing around like a giddy kipper - fucking awesome! I am delighted.

I get home, send out some texts to my friends and message the mighty Keithinator on Gtalk. He is congratulatory but says 'You know its going to be downgraded?' and I'm like what? and he points out that its had a disproportionately high number of ascents for an 8a+ - its not representative of others in the peak. And he does have a point, it has had a higher number of ascents than others in the Peak, but I think thats less to do with it not being 8a+ than it is to do with where it is and that its basic. Of other problems of a similar grade the difficulty is in learning a trick move, or in getting the right conditions - the press low left is basic - if you are strong enough you will be able to do it. Plus, consider that its at rubicon, its mega accessible and therefore more people go and try it more regularly, ergo it will get more ascents. If the Press is 7b+ (I think its stiff for 7b+) then kneeling is easy 2 grades harder, and although low right is an easy few moves it certainly warrants a grade (maybe its low in the grade), but low left is a totally different proposition altogether. Its much harder, so yes, I think it IS 8a+. Also, I have had the good fortune to train and climb with Tim Clifford over the last couple of years. Clearly no stranger to hard moves and (more importantly) from Yorkshire and famously tight with his grades he says its 8a+.

So wheres the video? well, I was making such a meal of it at first that the lads put their cameras away. After I did it I tried to get a repeat for the cameras, but I was lacking that bite needed to succeed. SO thats it - done and dusted. We will see if the grade stands. I am very happy. Its certainly the hardest piece of climbing I have done!

Monday, 23 April 2007

Actually done something worthwhile!

Morning! Saturday mornings session was one of the most fulfilling and anti climatic sessions of my life!

For the first time I managed to climb an 8a boulder problem. I have been focussed on this as a goal for some time and it feels like a milestone - its the obvious milestone, because its the change in number from 7 to 8, also its taken some effort. Should be able to do 7b+ in a session, 7c depends - if they are basic should be ok. 7c+ feels hard and takes some work, but 8a seems like real brick hard. So, I'm pleased, pleased but as I found when I first did an 8a route, I just want + now!

Arranged to be out early on Saturday, so was good on Friday night. 9am loaded the car and collected Ned. Blazed a trail to rubicon - noone there - lovely. Warmed up, pretty achey from Thursdays body anhilation on kudos wall still, but movement eased the aches. Did the press. Did the press with rh on hold in the rail. Did the kneeling press - 5 mins off. Cleaned all the holds, pulled on and nailed it! There's a 'go/no-go' point when you nail the gaston with your left, shoulder it and lock through to the press edge - you could drop it here too - paste left foot and flick to the jug - hurrah! its done! continue on to the top for posterity. Here is the vid :

Relief! well, not that much - after Thursday nights session I knew I could do the low right start, and I hoped that it would go pretty quickly. Just prayed it would be all right, and thankfully it was. You put so much effort in, and care so much about doing something that inspires you, its a weight off to get it done.

I felt a bit of an anti climax when I dropped off the top holds. There was no massive swell of excitement, or at least not then. I did spend the rest of the weekend in a good mood! Honestly, there was a lot of me that wanted to do the problem becuase it was 8a, and some of my friends have been saying - about time, but I dont think it was - now was the time, I havent been ready until now and thats why I hadnt done one yet. I hope that by removing the stigma around the grade I can avoid psyching myself out in the future. Certainly the difference from 8a to 8a+ feels less about the numbers and more about the physical - can I do it? I hope so!

On thursday nights session I had worked the low left start and had been confidently getting into the position where you go up into the gaston from low right, so the obvious thought process was - given that I am doing low left in two sections and its a grade harder, then thats what I should be aiming for - Tsunami can wait!

Cleaned the holds again and had a couple of ranging goes - trouble making the foot stick, but made some good progress. Pulled on from the sloper and did it to the top, and had three or four really good attempts where I fell with my right on the press crimp - one of them slapping the jug! Awesome - its on again - for the next level!

So, with that as my goal and motivation I am going to head out this week in the hope of doing it! am dead excited! its great to actually get up something for once! Hope it doesnt massively rain! !!!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Kudos love

Had a great night at Rubicon last night. Repeated the kneeling press which I havent done for years, also got to the top of Tsunami and remembered how to do the top moves, feel really close to it! Then had a go on low right press and only had to stop because skin so sore. Going back Saturday am to finish them.

Man of the match to ginger minger Ned who climbed low right press AND le Tsunami ;-P

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

School to close early

Just had a mail from Nic :

Hello Nic, They sprung on us tonight that they now intend to sell the building privately and therefore want every one out by the end of Nov 06!
We decided to put a note of the mtg round everyone and are calling a mtg at Heeley mon. 14th May @ 7pm for all the buildings users - climbers, artists and community groups.
Basicaly we will be asking everyone -are campaigning for a future for the bldg? If so are they willling to work for it?
We don't think it's a foregone conclusion but it would be an uphill struggle - but I guess climbers are good at that!
We need as many climbers to show up that night as poss. Keep in touch. Best. Keith

Assuming Keith means Nov 07. I need to decide on a project.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Campus glory still in the distance

Didnt succeed. However, did analyse technique and decided that I was trying to dyno from 1-4 to 7 (and getting to 6.9). Adjusted this so that get 1-4, then fully push up to 4 before moving, top distance now reduced to 6.2 but feel that this is better technique. Went back to nailing 2-5-7.6 and then took a leaf from Simpsonian and did 1-3-5-7-8.5-7-5-3-1-3-5-7-8.5 - home. Am quite psyched for campus glory.

Monday, 16 April 2007

At the weekend I....

Didn't go climbing. Went to Wilmslow on Saturday and met the outlaws, worked for 9.5hrs on Sunday.

Today I am going to realise my campus goals and nail 1-4-7.

Friday, 13 April 2007

I'll have a B please Bob...

Just got back from a lunchtime raid on Caley. Takes me 18 minutes from work - although you could probably trim that a bit if you drive like a maniac. One other car in the layby but no signs of anyone on the blocs. Dragged pad to otley wall and bimbled up that and the thing to its left. Popped and did new jerusalem and (is it called?)Finger knacker crack? Then on to zoo york/blockbuster.

Questing through the bracken all alone, imagine my horror when I see three lads trying BB! Aargh! Decide have no time to be nice and leave them to it, so I rock up, offer them my pad and then sit down and put my boots on. The young lad trying is fully battering up the holds and getting nowhere. I start brushing in the hope he will get the message and stop sieging the move. He doesn’t, so I push in. Hand on the horizontal pinchy thing I make sure I am stood on the ground (i.e. kicking their pads out the way) and jump for the boss. It sticks. I paste my foot on and bump left to the edge, feels ok. Right hand up, and eyeballing the sloper thing I have a valiant go but its not enough and I flip back to the pads. One of the lads says 'have you come to try this...' pointing to Zoo York, and I'm like - well not really, but you want a good spot an loads of pads, and they say - no worries mate and drag off all the pads! Feel I sort of have to have a go, but surprise myself by getting to the right hand sidepull on first go. Move undercutting that to the edge on the arete feels desperate and codfinger is moaning about not wanting to be used so I admit defeat and get back on Blockbuster. Nail the bulb and get into the position, but some how left hand flies off and I am on my ar5e on the pads! Have a rest and then bish bosh wallop I'm back on the bulb. Left hand up, take a bit more time settling the hand and bounce right up, feels strangely better, pull weight over left foot and eyeball the very top of the sloper, then pop - and its on! Run feet round and bounce up the arete to glory. Fantastic - another new problem in the bag!

Part company with the lads and go on to Ben's groove. Phone TC and get some beta - what will I do come Tuesday!? Hold the sloper on the top of the arete and then pivot right to a shallow pockety drag thing, left foot on and left hand up to crack - SCARY! Right foot goes back to the groove, but I don’t feel secure and it looks a long way to the lonely pad bent backwards over a spikey death boulder! Back off and after another 'do I have more confidence?' go, sack it back to work. A lovely lunch break.


Had first at board campus and rings only session last night. Think I could get into this for a couple of weeks! its not that hard to not climb, but I think thats because its a change from only climbing (in other words, I will get bored).

The problem with only bouldering all the time is that you always want to get better. By definition, getting better is pushing your standard, and that means operating at your limits. Limits are things that stop you from breaking, so it stands to reason that operating at them puts you at greater risk of hurting yourself. This is why I so look forwards to the summer routes season, as at the start I am rubbish and scared and worried about falling onto bolts and crap at not getting pumped, but its a change and that's fun. As the summer wears on I get into my groove and start to get better, and by the end of summer I am ready for the change back to Boulders. Both mentally and physically this is refreshing and prevents staleness and injury.
Last night James announced he was thinking about just bouldering all year! A talented and capable route climber, he has been sucked into the Sheffield power vortex - a seedy, dark netherworld where one arm pull ups are revered over hard routes/sends. Still, he is my injury buddy, so perhaps I can subliminally sew the seeds of route glory. I would have thought with his first 8a under his belt that he would be keen to get involved again. Perhaps he found redpointing a consuming and tortuous process? I like it. 8a routes are about 7b/7b+ bloc - doable in a day, and they say '8a' on them. Anne calls it bouldering with a belay, and thats what I want to do - not interested in 25m stamina plodding.

Yesterday daytime I popped to Burbage valley at lunchtime (its 8mins from the house) for an hour. Only really wanted to potter and did some easy route soloing. Very warm and rather humid. Did one new problem (for me) called All sit down (7b+). A bit esoterica to be honest - took about half an hour but had a pleasing rock over to a pebble. Anyway, better do some work - going to Caley at lunchtime to finish BlockBuster.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Fishy Easter - the end of TC

Aw Rubbish! codfinger is still bad. I think I am going to have two weeks of non climbing. I say that, but I really want to go to Rubicon! I have to be good and think of the things I want to climb this summer which involve having a full compliment of working fingers. Therefore, the short term need should be shelved pending the long term hopes and aspirations. Its an arse though, especially as the weather is nice and I want to be outside! Discussed with TC at Leeds yesterday and its an opportunity to train and do something other than bouldering for a couple of weeks. This wont do me any harm and should be viewed as a training period rather than a lay off. I have to get codfinger better and get back to crimping, so with that in mind I will be campussing, running, doing weights, training in the rings and doing longer problems with no right hand crimps for two to three weeks. TC also firmly believes that climbing on bolt on holds is a great way to make an injury worse. They are so tweaky and the dynamic nature of indoor climbing lends itself to lurching for odd shaped holds that strain the fingers disproportionately. So, no indoor bouldering for a couple of weeks. Circuits, campus and rings - thats the answer. I just need a goal on the campus board, and thats going to be 1-5-8 at leeds on the small rungs and 1-4-7 at the school.

A week yesterday (17th April) TC and family C go to Canada. I'm going to miss him/them. Everything in Clifford land is pretty chaotic this week as they box up their possessions, sell stuff, give things away and try to remember all the stuff that needs to be done/cancelled/thought about before they go. Imagine the feeling of relief when they actually get on the plane! when I have planned a trip and its me that organised it all I am always stressing that I have forgotten to do something/will it all be allright/have I printed out all the details/forgotten driving license before I get to the airport, and until I have checked in to the flight, its still all in my head, but it all seems to drift away then and I realise I am going away and its going to be better than being at work. Difference is, he is going for ever and I usually only have a week! Dead dead jealous - not only does he get to live the dream - having a climbing other half, but he is going to go and live somewhere amazing with loads of new stuff to climb. Got to be honest though, without the sequence computing machine that is me I think his effectiveness will be limited and he wont realise his full potential, and with that in mind I shall have to go over and coach him when he has sorted out somewhere for me to stay.

So, thats it for now. Climbed on Monday with the Honey monster (yes, you read that right!) at Rubicon and was a bit rubbish to be honest. Codfinger doesnt hurt as much outside which is good, and I made some progress on Tsunami sitter, getting to the sidepull on the Press from the ground, but not even doing that move. When I did caviar I got to the last move! It was ace getting the honey monster to come climbing - my two favorite things at once - fab!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

New crag discovered in Yorkshire

I am pleased to announce the discovery of a new and quality bouldering crag in Yorkshire. The crag is located just above the a660 near Pool, just north of Leeds. I shall refer to it as 'Caley'. In 6 years of working in or around Leeds I can't believe I haven't stumbled across it before now. My multi day foraging quests for new blocs are legendary (at all times wearing my trusty pith helmet) - it was I that opened 'Almscliff' with my ascents of at least two 7a's in 2005. There's quite a lot to do, but any potential suitors should note that as with other crags in 'Yorkshire', the grades are two or three grades easier than similar in the home of hard rock climbing - the Peak district. The natives should be avoided, miserable sods they are (although some of them are quite handy).

I did some quality first ascents including : New Jerusalem (so should have flashed this, got to the good rail with the left hand and failed to move feet! - 2nd go), Otley Wall (BETA flash) and the Secret Seventh. There was some other stuff too, but I don't remember their names. I have sent my guide a text to find out what they were called but I think he must have gone to bed. Anyway, had a go on a problem called Blockbuster. Start with your left on a grippy good boss and jump to a ok-if-you-catch-it-right pinch (I hate jump starts) then left foot on and right hand to a sharp edge (first goes I was trying to flag too much, dropped that and was ok, but then started to not be able to do the jump!), right hand to rubbish sloping thing and then go again to jug (got here a bunch but kept gayley slapping for the jug and getting it too low down. Ah well, landing is good, I will pop out one afternoon. Then I got involved with Zoo York. After some feeling of the holds and trying the start positions I was falling off getting my right hand to the undercut crimp with my foot lock in. Worked this move and found a foot lock sweet spot and it was easy, from here theres a hard move with the left hand shooting up to a tape box edge on the arete, then the right toe moves up to another toe drag, and left foot pastes on the left wall and presses in - again, theres a sweet spot in there somewhere, which, once found means the move to the next sidepull (for the right hand) is steady. Adjust the right hand and create some tension for the release. Take the right toe out and hold the swing, left heel (I think this might be wrong, it might be a toe for me) to the ear thing and bump left to a good hold (this move isnt actually that hard, but it is quite scary), then rtoe goes back behind an edge and you go and go again to a jug - didnt continue to the top from here, but apparently its not that bad. Psyched! totally feasible but fully nails your skin. Hmm.

Back to Burley in Wharfedale to visit the spawn of clifford and then home to campus for 30 mins. Well done - you really needed that!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Burbage south bumbly

Had a lovely afternoon this aft at BBG south. A friends son was up (4.5) and loves climbing, so I collected them from Grindleford station this morning at 1145. Blazed a trail to BBG south and walked up through the ever impressive quarries - marvelling at the Cioch on the way in. Such an amazing block, I would love to do something there but sadly my testicles are too small. Spent the afternoon mainly in instructor mode but enjoyed some of the fun easier climbing on the boulders. Was pleased to do the sheep thing - starting left in the crack, right in a pocket then up to another cleft thing. At first I just could not do it save french starting to the cleft, and I wasn't going to settle for that. Eventually found a sequence and pulled on with my left foot pasted against the opposing wall of the crack, rocked onto lf and reached into the cleft, then leaning out on rh and bringing lh up, some lurching and its done. Once again, my technical mastery of the subtle art of gritstone is apparent as I spend half an hour climbing a 6c+!

Gorgeous weather all day today. Was pleased to be A) Alive, and B) out climbing! made me remember how much I hate being at work when the sun is out. Its tough sitting at my desk looking out the window when the weather is mint. Which brings me to my next point - back to work tomorrow. Usually in a week off I would still be fiddling with the damned blackberry, but this week I have turned the little fucker off and stuffed it to the back of a drawer. This is a good thing, but also has made the return to work all the more painful. The dilemma is - if you stay in touch and never really leave work then you don't have any fear about what you are going back to, but you are always at work and never truly switch off. If you don't get that stressed out about work then I guess you might think you can cope like that, but I reckon although you may not think you are getting stressed out, you might be bottling it up. Basically, I go back to work tomorrow and I am dreading it. I think that means I have had a really nice time not being at work, and not thinking about it and now its edging back into my concious. Anyway, TC is back in Leeds and I we are training at leeds tomorrow in the day - that should soften the return to work somewhat.

Training again tomorrow and thursday. Then we are into Easter and I just want to get to rubicon and get Tsunami done.

By the way - 300 only gets a 6/10 in my book. Lacking substance.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Turning the codfinger?

Going to the cinema to watch that 300 (the battle of thermopylae) in a min, so just a quickie with post holiday climbing goings on:

Thursday - works. Did all green and pink spots - didnt fall off. Started climbing with Dave musgrove on some pinks and did fall off but felt ok, and not too fat! Did a spot of campussing and felt a bit tired. Codfinger taped straight to prevent being able to hurt it - seems ok.

Saturday - TC down from Leeds. Head to turningstone and phone Jon for beta. Looks a bit like esoterica to be honest, but the climbing on the river of life is very good and certainly worth the drive. Worked a sequence, and TC came close but I think I was being gay and protecting the cod. Anyway, neither of us did it so we sacked it to Rubicon. Met two guys from Leeds we both knew and sat in the sun chatting for 20 mins - lovely. Sun shimmering off the water, and a nice cool breeze - perfect. Warmed up again, but felt tired. TC pulled on and did the press. I did the press. TC shuffled up to the low left start and did Tsunami sitter in total control! bastard! I reaquainted myself and got into the sidepull but felt tired. TC fell off low right press and then did low left! sacked it home. Good to be back at Rubicon and codfinger not too bad - will be back, and soon!

Cornwall report

Have been meaning to write something about Cornwall since we got back, but been on with other stuff, and doing all that I can to loose the bloat! So, went to Fowey on the Sunday and stayed here : Very nice. Nice view over the harbour and all thats stuff. Both Fowey and Polruan really quaint and unspoilt, well worth a visit if you are down : Had a nice evening and ate here :

Next day we went to the lizard - beautiful :

Then to Lands end and found it pretty touristifyed and a bit disappointing, nevertheless - sure to get the obligatory photo of the signpost thing : . Pressed on to Pendeen (as we live on Pendeen road) and found a picturesque council estate. continued to St Ives where we were staying for two nights - man, what a pikey hole! really touristifyed and pretty grim. At least the sun was out : so we cancelled our second night and went to the chippy. Next day we continued to perranporth, crantock : , and finally to Padstow where we managed to get a room at Rick Stein's Seafood restaurant. I think we were really lucky to get in as usually you have to book a million years in advance, and turning up on spec and getting a room, let alone a table is unheard of! still, it was out of season and we were lucky. As it was March you get 30% off, which made the room £120 for the night. A fitting end to a lovely trip. Food was great as you would expect from Rick, I had plaice goujons and she had lemon sole. Here is a padstow pic : . Next morning, we jetted up to Topsham (nr Exeter - where i was born) and had a quick walk, followed by a pint : . Home Via me mams and then back to Sheffield on Thursday lunchtime.

Cornwall is gorgeous. If you get the weather its just a wonderful place to be. I think we plan to go back in August around my birthday. A lovely honey holiday, all good for the rehabilitation of codfinger!