Friday, 19 December 2008

T-t-t-t-tiger stripes

Last night at the Foundry I had the eye of the tiger. There's nothing more cheering than climbing well when there's others there to see it. Dylan, Ned, Dave Mason, JonBoy, Ed Rob, Busby, Dan Walker and Rob Napier all tearing it up on the wave. Noone even ventured to the board.
The Beastmaker distribution centre is poised ready to swing into action, and there is still some chance of a pre xmas shipment.
I break up today for two lovely weeks off, and I cannot wait!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Foundry comp round 2 on Monday. I was exhausted when I got there and it didnt go well. Only 2 hard problems, probably 4 droppers in total (i.e. of 20 problems, 4 were droppable/5 if you missed a trick on another, but am not including it as once you knew what to do it was very easy). Polish Dave, Stu and Roy Muesli will have been the contenders for winning this round. One hard problem on the board, I flashed to the penultimate hold, matched it and fell off - about 10 times. Feel certain Ned would have flashed this one. The hard problem on the wave was tricky up to the last two moves, then it was evil brick hard. It wasnt that I didnt do it because I didnt climb well, I didnt do it because i dont know if I would ever do it!

With such a poor performance as a backdrop, expectations for Tuesday's big day out were low. I collected Ned and Dave from their house in Crookes and set sail for Yorkshire, starting at Caley. Given that the roads into the area were wet, it seemed doubtful that Caley would be in good condition and it wasnt. Got a tour from Dave of the crag area which I have actually never been to. Understand now why people are so suprised I'd never been up there now - its really good. Banked lots of things I would like to do for when it is dry.

We'd always thought that in heading to Yorkshire we would at least be able to fail back to Almscliffe. This was our next stop and I can honestly say I have never seen the cliff in such a state of disrepair. Almost everything was wet. Went up to Demon Wall roof and that was about as good as it got, but it really wasnt good. Did a new thing (for me) called Pebble wall, then Ned did something which isnt Hot Dog Fromage, but is dolphin belly slap without the arete. Jon turned up. We tried to go to Matt's roof - soaked. Continued back to the Virgin to look at Dick Hymen. It too was wet. Had a look at Gypless - I dismissed the top at as nearly certain death and bottled it, whilst Dave, Ned and Jon all rinsed it out. They then turned their attention to something which wasnt called Magnum PI but much hilarity was had describing it as such. Some to'ing and fro'ing was required before Ned took out his balls and went for it. It looked gripping, and led to the same slimy E27 top out they had waiting for them at the top of gypless. I was glad I wasnt pretending to be brave and had my trainers on. Dave was next to succeed, seemingly scrittling his way over the top in a moment that was both inspiring and terrifying for those of us left on the ground.

Next it was my turn to shine and the four of us wedged ourselves in the cleft of Jess' roof. It was unclimbably wet. We went back to demon wall roof to finish the afternoon off, then drove home and went to the climbing works, which was almost unclimbably busy. And, I was useless. To say it didnt feel like I'd done any climbing I was knackered and left soon after starting.

Monday, 15 December 2008

ticking over

Ed says the blog has gone off the boil. I feel a bit like I have gone off the boil too though, and its only reflective of mood so what can I do about it? get back on the boil! get involved in something new and exciting. I have known this for a few weeks, and I have thought its me not having something to focus on, but its also that although its looked brilliant outside its actually been quite damp. Or, perhaps with better choices of venue and project it hasn't, but I haven't made these.

Last Thursday I took her to her xmas do over in New Mills. This was at lunchtime, I had the afternoon off, so I headed to the Tor to see whether it was dry. It wasn't - very wasn't. Chatted to Zippy for a bit and high tailed it round to Rubicon, which was dry. Sticky underfoot but climbable. Warmed up and realised that without anyone to show off to I wasn't motivated to repeat problems I'd previously done and decided to go do Soft on the G at Gardoms, however, that looked wet (from the road) so I went to my next choice - Burbage South for Electric Storm. The 'hard' bit was dry, but the 'easy' top bit wasn't. Finished the day at the Foundry with Ed Robinson and a cast of strong people. Which was good.

Friday we were off work and I got to trawl around Meadowhall. Brilliant. Went to the cinema in the evening - Madagascar - escape to africa. Dont bother. It rained a lot. Given that everything would be wet I didnt even bother setting an alarm to get up early to try climbing outside, I just plumped for the climbing works - which had new comp problems to do. Met Ed again, and Dylan and Lee and loads of people. What the climbing works does really well is providing a social experience. The comp problems were good and I left tired. Saturday night was the CW birthday party. I didnt go, but did meet Dylan in the Lescar for a drink first.

Yesterday she and I walked into town and had lunch on the way back. I didn't sleep well and feel knackered today. This is a problem because tonight is the Foundry comp. Tomorrow I'm off and I'm going climbing.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Witchhunter meets the witch

On paper, climbing can be a solitary activity. It is possible to go out, buy a guidebook and then go climbing on your own, and to choose good problems. The problems you may try/do might be good ones, you might find the sequence before fatigue sets in and you might therefore, return home happy. There are also a lot of shit problems in the world, and a lot of conditions dependant/esoteric/downright rubbish crags. If time is of the essence, then you can do no better than enlist the help of a local hero. The point of all of this is the reason why I never built a board of my own. I obviously lack imagination and get so much more out of being shown the way. I think I am more motivated towards repeating other peoples problems than establishing ones of my own.
When the Foundry board was first opened I was a bit ambivalent towards it. When Dylan opened his I was mega psyched, and the reason it was different was because there was a big team sessioning it and creating problems. I did have a session on the Foundry board with Leo ages ago, but the disparity between our ability is so great that the projects I was left with I really knew I would never do. In short, I left it looking for a more pleasing experience, i.e. one I came away from feeling good, which means having done some climbing. Its important to climb with people better than you, but I mean people in the same ball park, me climbing with Moger on the Foundry board is like Dave Graham going out with Fiendy pops!
Last night was the first night I've been up to Dylan's for a few weeks and I think we have learnt some important board building lessons. The foundry board is good because of three things, the featured footholds - better than dan and ned's slick abominations but worse than dylan's screw on foot jibs, the rail at the top (means you cant get half way up the board and just launch), and the variety of holds (at dylans the small holds are all quite incut (or so it feels), which means if you tag the hold you will hold it). At Dan and Ned's all three exist, but the base level is higher. And its small. In short we are going to reset Dylan's board apres Xmas.
Dylan had a split tip, so after trying valiantly he sacked it, and so that he could call it quits we went to the Foundry. And there was Scott McLellan. Unfortunately he was there to do rowtes so I didnt get to be startled by the strength, pulverised by the power or terrified of the tension, but we did have a chat and I got his number.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Jerry passes the magic on

Monday nights performance is inversely proportional to how much sleep I had on Saturday night. If I did nothing on Saturday night then I slept well, which means that on Sunday, I struggle to get to sleep early enough to cope with Monday morning, which in turn means that by Monday night I am tired. As we went out and I was in a strange bed this Sat, so I slept like a log on Sunday and felt on it last night at the Foundry. 
Anyone waiting (like me) for a Beastmaker should note that they are still awaiting parts from America (the testicles of a water buffalo apparently), although Nedwyn did say there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes Ned, but that's a train.
As I was packing up Jerry arrived. He was there to coach kiddies for the Foundry Academy. I want to know if there is an upper age limit for pupils cos I want Jerry to coach me. But tonight, hopefully - Dylan's board.

Friday, 5 December 2008


I opened the curtains to find some snow, but nowhere near the astronomical proportions predicted. Figured it would be busy on the roads and was right. Pic from our road at 0630.

Took me an hour to get to Chesterfield, but when I did there was no snow. Just heavy rain. Further hold ups due to a horse on the motorway, then a long day in Slough.

When I got home there was a CD on the door mat. On it were some nice pics from Ed Brown :

The crag of the summer :

Andy Hutch on tribes:

Me on Zeke le Freke

Dan Cheatham on the Sissy (nice light) :

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Grumpy bitch

I wasn't supposed to be working from home today, but my windscreen wipers have died (or rather, had died) so I kinda had to. Turns out they hadn't really died, but needed a bit of love. The other way of looking at that is that the faulty part has been freed off and oiled. It might stick again. Ah well, I'm sure you care less than I do about the windscreen wipers on my car, so I shall move on.

Paul B - your new attitude is great. You are still a pessimistic chap in nature (perhaps it is the engineer in you - always seeing that which can go wrong), but no longer is the world shrouded in darkness. It is a pleasure to get burnt off by you.

Andrew Asquith - you suprised me too. I think you try to hard to be matey with people and come across as false and insincere. Relax, dont push it - let friendship come naturally. I came away from our encounter tonight thinking - oh, he's not so bad!

Andy, Shiv and Fi - all lovely to see you all.

Sports nutrition is something I would like to understand more about. Schoolboy errors were made this evening. I ate too much too soon before climbing and as a result felt bilious through the first hour. As I had climbed like a donkey due to this I did a James Foley - have a thousand bad goes on something in the hope of getting one good one. Then I managed a really big fart, the tension released and climbed well for about 30 minutes before fatigue set in. Which was quite annoying. I want always to be brilliant.

Didnt even go on the board, sticking instead to a schooling from the crabmaster on the wave. Its just brilliant that wall. The hold density, the smears - its brilliant. A joy to climb on.

So, from here - I am supposed to be going to Slough tomorrow, but its supposed to snow really heavily, so I may be about. Depending on the weather I might do something during the day. Next climbing will be Saturday morning, which is forecast to be ok, but if this motherlode of snow materialises will anything be climbable? I realise I'm not adrift without a project, just feeling the lack of opportunity to get out.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Scotland the baltic

How was your weekend? I would have guessed at another super saturday, as far as the weather reports seemed to suggest it would have been cold, dry and bright. Me and the Honey Monster went to Stirling in Scotland to see a friend. Its ok Stirling but I wouldnt rush back, nothing specifically to complain about, and a great castle, but nothing amazing to rave about either - just another not especially pretty small town with all the things that un special small towns have. Very very cold. Ate and drank loads and did no physical exercise which was nice but yesterday back at the Foundry I felt heavy. We bought our xmas tree yesterday. I love xmas - whats not to like? I dont get people who get mardy about it.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Night fever

I was asked 'are night sessions the way forward or just a way to get cold?', and I realise walking up to the crag that so much of the outdoor climbing experience comes from being able to see and enjoy your surroundings. Night sessions are like training in that you go out with an intention in mind and you are focussed on it completely. This might not be too different from a day session, but between goes in the day you can enjoy where you are. Think I'm a little bit adrift at the moment. Having been so focussed on Zeke I'm now enjoying puntering around on the grit, but I'm not directed towards any clear goal.

Dylan has always gone on about how good his Mondo pad is. And indeed, it is thick and deep. But it is also soft and very heavy. I lugged it up to the Plantation on my own last night. I was quite suprised by the amount of snow and ice about, it was treacherous getting about. Started off on the green traverse boulder. Certainly it was very cold, but quite still and the rail felt sort of wet. No visible trace of damp, but definately a bit moist - like there was low cloud or fog or something. Whilst I was puntering about the beams of two head torches started bobbing up through the trees, I felt relieved - even stanage which I know well, is a bit spooky on your own at night. It was Tom Slater and Kevin that looks like a monarch. They were there to crush Zippy's traverse. I moved up to the Joker. It being slightly damp and me being quite afraid of the fall stopped anything like a sensible attempt being made. Simply putting my hand on the right of the two slopers left it black. I gave up and joined Tom and Kevin on Zippys. Night bouldering does not lend itself to highballs or scary falls or problems. Well, not to me at least. Good venues for Night climbing would include lo fi things such as the business boulder. I warm to this theme as I start climbing, I dont like the business boulder normally, but perhaps at night its worthwhile. I set about that traverse thing, and I still cannot do the middle cross through move for love nor money. I think its 8c.

All three of us head up to the Pit. Its got a big streak of wetness but is just about climbable. I am desperate to get it wired so I can be like Adam, and I am getting better on it each time I go. The two schools of thought on the sequence fork right off the starting line. You either reach up with your left or right hand. If you are better technically than you are strong you lead with the left, and if you are strong and 'technically dense' you go with the right. On saturday I thought I was going to be able to unlock the trick secret of the left hand first way, last night it felt desperate, but I was all over the right hand way.

I always want to finish climbing feeling either that I have worked hard, or that I have done something. Certainly, I didnt do anything notable last night, but I do feel achey today which is good.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The hamster that turned

Confirmed my suspicions that my latest illness is nothing more than a head cold by climbing ok last night. It seemed quite quiet at the Foundry, but it was nice to see Jules and Stu Littlefair. No other revelations. Dylan wants to go powered by lantern light this evening. Am quite keen but unsure as to the wisdom of such a plan given my recent convalescence.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Ned's big day out

Once again I am ill. I have the immune system of a hamster. Saturday was a lovely day. A perfect gritstone day probably. Car reckoned 3.5 degrees, and I was the second car in the plantation car park. Yomped up to the boulders and wished I had gloves. Felt like a bit of morning dew was still about at first, but by 10 it was mint. Ned, Dave and Tony turn up and join me dicking around on the Green Traverse. Ned and Tony go to do Ron's slab and Dave and I go over to Brass Monkeys. These guys all want to go up to Shine on, and I think - yeah! why not. About 7a they reckon, and its E7 - would be a good tick, they're not that high these routes, and the top bit is supposed to be easy. Yeah. Lets go for it...

When I previously tried Brass Monkeys I was on my own and its a bit scary. Not the top, but the crazy swinging bit. Anyway, I was also totally doing it wrong. Dave pulls on, nails the crimp, flicks his toe round and bump bump up - he's done it! nice work. I try his method but I dont get on with this flimsy toe hook/scum thing and find a more basic way. Ned and Tony turn up and I dispatch. Ned has just done Ron's slab and adds Brass monkeys to his list of ticks. Tony is technically a pygmy (albeit a strong one) and whilst he does the moves he doesnt do the problem. We move to Shine on.

I take one look at it and walk back to the boulders. It looks piss until you are high enough to do some damage, then it looks tricky but fucking scary. Ned adds this to the notches on his bedpost whilst I open my account on the Joker.

The deliverance boulder is now crowded. Jim and Foley have arrived shortly followed by Bob Smith and Ed Robinson. On display up at the Joker Ben Pritchard is repeatedly getting his hand over the top, Lee is trying and Paul and Nat are also in situ. Its quite hard, as you would expect from a one move 8a. I barely manage to move at all and when an excuse to go somewhere else comes up I jump at the chance.

Stanage plantation is a lovely place but on a saturday morning on a nice day it is not going to be a calming quiet experience. I chat to Adam down at Careless Torque before finding Rachel and Tom Briggs in the Pit. Its a pity to barge in, but when there are more people/teams than rocks what alternative? Sorry Tom and Rach. Haven't been back in the Pit since I did it and it feels a bit slippy the right hand first way, and I would like to learn the 'easy' left hand way. Never ever been able to get my hand up this way, until today, and it feels allright, but I'm all uncertain and dont complete it. Perhaps lacking motivation? Ed and James and Jim and Worm and others all try and I run out of time and go home.

Later on I learn that Ned has also done Careless Torque and Silk. A good day out all round then!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Don't stop me now

Tonight Im gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive on the Board turn it inside out yeah!
And floating around on sm-e-ears
So dont stop me now dont stop me
cause Im having a good time having a good time
Im a shooting star leaping past the jugs
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
Im a racing car passing by like Chris Sharma
Im gonna go go go
Theres no stopping me
Im gonna do your project!
Two hundred 8b's
Thats why they call me mister lying twat
Im traveling at the speed of a cat
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Hmm. Needs work. Foundry board tonight anyone?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Mog Egg the board destroyer

The Foundry was busy with a strong team last night. Ned, Dave Mason, Leo Mog Egg, Tony Mussels, Justin Plumtree (still looks like a ginger vagrant) and the incredible hulk himself - paul bennett. Much went on (or down) on the wave before migrating to the board. I bloody love climbing on that wall. It feels more applicable to climbing outside, there's no tricks, you're either strong enough or you're not. The potential for feet on smears and elimanates is high so you can tailor your experience, and I love it.

Whenever I go through to the board there its like a revelation. What have I been doing biding my time on the wave? The thing is, you need showing round some of the problems, or if with a team you could work them out from the book, but on your own, with no music - its an effort to get on it. Really good board though. Mog Egg Moger looked amazing. Springy, strong and unstoppable - I was agape at his power a couple of times, and after one particularly astounding feat I had to award him a medal I was so impressed.

After Monday's drubbing at the hands of Varian, Foundry Tuesday felt like a better session. Still I failed, still I tried hard but I came away feeling like I had had to try hard. I think I'm not strong enough to get a training effect out of Dan and Ned's board, I am on it for such a short amount of time I cant feel it working. Or is it so profound that I dont know it? are my presumptions about what training should feel like outdated? Does feeling worked mean you've done too much and allowed yourself to get tired doing moves within your comfort zone? Spanish Kev used to reckon that he had at least one session a week just doing single moves and failing, and he climbed 8c so there must be something in it!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The importance of being Wolfgang

Dan overruled Ned and the original board session was back on again. I arrived and Dylan was waiting outside for me. I’ve only previously been on their board twice before, and both times I have had plausible excuses, not so last night. The gloves were off. No splits, no previous day training – it should all be on tonight. But it wasn’t. It’s a humbling experience climbing on that board. Yes there is an element of it being a new board, but really the meat of the matter is that it’s just hard. The base level is higher than anywhere I have been and so I find it difficult to get going and there are no ego cosseting soft touches to build confidence.

You don’t get strong by doing moves, you get strong by not doing them. The problem is that I like to climb - to do a bit, to feel the flow and movement in my limbs, whereas flailing doesn’t give me that satisfaction it will lead to greater strength. Back to the question of comfort zones. It’s nice to operate within one because you get to feel good about yourself, but this is a hollow victory, you’ll feel good in the short term, but longer term you’ll plateau. You need to push it if you’re going to get better.

What makes this board so hard then? Without question it’s the slick wooden holds and slick wooden foot jibs. But the emphasis is on the foot jibs. The problem with grippy resin foot holds and screw ons is that they are grippy. Place your foot, forget about it and move. That’s not right, and it encourages sloppy ploppin’. Clifford and Birch used to swear by the rubbish wooden foot jib wisdom and it did them no harm, so I become more and more convinced that it is the way. I think the symmetry idea is a strong concept too. You do any problem and before you can take the tick you must repeat its opposite which turns this board into a laboratory of movement - excellent to study your specific individual weaknesses.

So, I leave this most excellent of boards feeling a bit crestfallen. I don’t feel like I’ve done more than a couple of consecutive moves but as I have tried to explain above, this is actually a good thing. Accept ego death and get stronger as a result. As I head towards home my mind starts to wonder about my motivation, to get stronger I need to fail on problems rather than do them, but I like doing problems, I like the movement, and this makes me wonder what it’s all for?

I realise that if you stick to the public climbing walls you’ll pretty much always be able to do almost all the problems and people will tell you you’re good, and in that pool of skill you are - the biggest cog in a small wheel. It’s important to realise that the world is not just that small wheel. This is a syndrome seen often in climbers who get to be the best climber at their local wall, and so they think they are the best climber in the world and then they come to Sheffield.

Everyone likes an ego boost. Surrounding yourself with climbers who aren’t as good as you is a strategy for achieving just that. You get to feel the big dog, but once again we are back in the big cog, small wheel thing. For the person consistently operating at the top of their group of chums, the danger is of stagnation, and of falling in love with their self image created by these fawning acolytes. Once they’ve created this false idol so you have to live up to it. I imagine it’s no giant leap of faith to get from here to having to embellish actual deeds in order to live up to their expectations. Within a group of friends what does it matter if someone is generous with the truth? Well, it doesn’t really. Its only them thats cheated themselves. But when embellishment encroaches upon history then it matters. And it matters to me because I have to accept my limitations and move on – why shouldn’t they?

Ultimately climbing is about much more than being the best. It’s about experience and adventure, look further than the end of the board and who knows what you might find!

Monday, 17 November 2008

A dog on the motorway

The problem with having a semi fixed ticket is that you cant organise the weather when you need it. How deeply frustrating. Had I more than a three hour window, I would take my chances and go out, but with limited time and >90% humidity I cut my losses and go to the wall to train instead. This was the shape of Saturday morning.

My frustration grew through the day as conditions just got better and better. She was out at a dinner party in the eve, so I decided to try the much hyped lantern session knowledge, however, I was of course on my own. Went to Stoney. It wasnt very cold at all, and I got spooked in the woods by myself (like there would be anyone there), so managed only an hour and a half. Whilst this wasnt a great experience, can totally see how on a night like last night (cold and clear), it could be brilliant. Its a bit strange flying through the air towards a pad when its dark too. You seem to fall further. Or perhaps I just need to eat more carrots.

Sunday was a lovely day in weather terms and after bimbling about doing housey stuff we went for a walk down Water Cum Jolly dale, where we saw this :

Which is of course the mighty superted who lost his camera at Rubicon some months ago. What a nice thing for the finder to do to get it back to him. Anyway, I texted him and he does already have it back, so if you go to Rubicon - take it down! Plenty of mud underfoot at Rubicon, but all rocks totally dry. Theres a big wet patch on the Bastard, but absolutely all the rest looks mint. Top of Kudos wall has patches, but the important bits were dry. Walked on down to the bridge at litton mill - passing some interesting looking crags on the way, I plan to investigate some of these next summer. Cornice looks soaked. We slog up a hill in the mud and come in to Monsal head from Priestcliffe direction. Is a lovely afternoon :

We stop at Calver cafe on the way back in and see Dave Barrans and that Callum guy from London. I chat to DB but only notice Callum and family as he is leaving. Wonder if he did Pinch 2? There looked to be chalk in Polish Dave's dog egg cave too, perhaps it was his...

So, this week. Its Monday and that means one thing - board action! Tried to tap Ned up when I saw him on Saturday, but he is worried I will do all their projects and so only wants me to come on my second day on, which might be Tuesday. Weds probably nowt, Thursday? hmm. Something on Thursday me thinks. I have a meeting in Halifax until 1400, but will probably come back to Sheff straight after.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


I feel guilty. I had a couple of days leave to take before the end of the year, and I kept one of them secret so I could go climbing. I thought noone would ever have to know, but these things never work out right, and I am a terrible liar, so I was found out. Anyway, this stealth holiday day was yesterday.

An early start preceded breakfast at Otley cafe which was great. £3.30 for full breakfast and tea - brilliant. As we had no fixed destination in mind and Mr Pritchard had unfinished business at Earl, there we started. I was happy to go to Earl because the only time I had been previously it was hot and midgey. A beautiful day overhead, hardly a cloud to be seen :

We got involved with, but failed to succeed on Grape nut, Lager... and Underpants. I think it had been raining overnight as things were dryish but a bit moist. Treacherous underfoot, but getting better as the day wore on.

Decided to go to Slipstones and headed off. Its lovely up there. Watched the sunset from the edge and managed to do Sulky Little boys which is a good prob. The rock quality is amazing, its super fine high quality grit which I would compare almost to granite. Fab. Quested off in the gathering darkness and all set about layby arete but despite an initial flurry from Dylan, we managed nowt. A good day out, home by 1930.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Wild ginger horses

I've never regretted starting this blog. Its fairly non intrusive and possibly theraputic to write and I can use it to my advantage arranging partners, escapades and missions. Its fun to occasionally be controversial but the best bit is without doubt the associated comments. Some of the wisdom that gets imparted through such a tenuous secondary channel is just ace. Highlights almost always come from the likes of Kershaw, Fullwood and Littlefair - just see yesterday's rambling nonsense from me and associated pearls from them for an example. I have joked about producing a book of the highlights from the blogosphere (i.e. not this blog), and undoubtedly most of such a weighty tome would come from the comments. Perhaps inside front cover could contain this from yesterday :

"To climb anything anywhere near your real limit you need to be able to fly the plane through deep fog with both engines on fire and still make a perfect landing on the runway."

Thats what I'm talking about. Genius. So, round 1 of the sheffield walls climbing comp thing last night, and also R1 of the foundry's league. Despite claiming to have retired from comps, Monday is a training night anyway, and Dylan was out and about so there was no option of the board and plus, Roy had been on to get some support for Neil - who's put much time and effort into organising, and it was great fun. I think I was super relaxed and happy not feeling any pressure and not being arsed. Ned also turned up early and it was really good to hang out with him, as since I let him graduate the school of Morton he rarely returns to such lowly circles. Dan and Rob had stripped the whole wall and set some really good problems. Not that they dont always, but when its just gaffer tape over existing holds it doesnt feel very special. With less skilled setters what happens is that everything bar one possibly impossible problem goes down. There were 25 to do and 24 got done, so on paper it appears thats what happened, but its not. 18 were pretty straightforward, 2 were easy to slip off, 3 were tricky and 2 were brick hard. When I left, noone had done one of the two hard 'uns, and only Ned succeeded on the other.

It was really good to see the Foundry heaving, and people vying for goes on problems. I worried about the Foundry when the works opened, but in Sheffield there is room for both to exist. Both provide different experiences and both are valid. Roy looked mean and terminated all but the two hardest problems, Ned was just Ned with his in built ginger brilliance (he let on that he's 12 stone, but its all beef - he looks super lean and ripped!), Justin 'I look like a vagrant' Plumtree turned up and looked well strong - does justin own a shirt? Those were your three contenders. I dont know that justin actually takes part in the comp, but I would put my money on Ned. Justin as I say looked very strong but he is a midget and might have struggled to put some of the sequences into action. No idea on final scores on the doors, but Ned was 23something and I was 221.

Dan Varian turned up clad in Wild Horse Adidas trainers. I actually thought for a horrible moment he was going to do one of the evil brick hard problems sans warm up and in the aforementioned adidas. I would have had to run him over (repeatedly) if this was the case. Its great having retired from comp climbing. I'm so relaxed and having fun now. This is how it should be. I'm happy to do the Foundry comps, as they are on a monday and I would be climbing anyway. But I'm not tiring my self out for the weekend on a friday night one.

Monday, 10 November 2008

mental fortitude

Weather disgustipating this weekend. Tried to go out on Saturday morning. Rubicon is unflooded but the high levels of moisture in the air have condensed on the rocks. It was probably driable, but this was 10am, reckoned by >1300 it might have been ok, but I had to be back. Went to the climbing works.

Chatted to Dave Hesleden and mate whose name I have never known, and then the Mighty Reeve turned up. He was going up whilst I was going sideways. Its the wrong time of year to be training endurance and he was trying problems I hadnt noticed before. Sometimes I find I can't summon the mental fortitude necessary to try hard on power endurance/stamina routes/problems. Which is why all that I have ever done has been a function of strength, or at most a few bouldery moves strung together. To succeed on longer things you need to muster inner mental toughness, you need to really want to do it.

I wonder if psyche comes from different areas of your brain or something? I find that on a short problem I can shut my mind out and execute, whereas to achieve success on hard redpoints you need to be able to pull it out of the bag when the chips are down - i.e. when you are pumped and form is less than perfect. Writing this it seems I have the boulderers mentality which is that in order to operate at your limit, all that goes before has to be perfectly executed, you cant afford to fluff the moves going into the hard bit.

I am of course, talking about extremes. I dont step off just anything because I think I stuffed the start moves up, only if I know that which comes after the bit I fluffed is at my limit. Part of which is honesty I suppose. What point carrying on if you know you havent got left what is required? I need to sort all these things out and get into really trying if I am to do Mecca next year.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The incorrigible show off

Good board session tonight. Expected dylan to say no or not be able to make it or something, but in fact it turned into one of the good ones. As I'd climbed the day previous I expected nothing but felt pretty sparky and climbed ok. I reckon if there's new people, or people you want to impress then you try a bit harder, and that's what I reckon dragged me out of climbing like a turd. I can't resist showing off, which is why if I climbed 8b bloc I'd be psyched to go round the boards crushing everyone else' projects! If kudos alone wasn't enough, recognise the importance of climbing with your peers. If you're an 8b beast and you're climbing with people who aren't at your level then your always going to feel the big I am. This is not healthy. You'll stagnate. You need pushing, being burnt off is a good thing - that's the impetus to train, it shows you what is possible.

Feels such a treat to be climbing on a board again. I miss unencumbered access but am grateful for getting an invite at all. If the foundry board is a better training facilty than the works board, dylans is the next level. Dan and ned's is a step on from that. Its the knowledge!

indoor action

The problem with being enlightened in a climbing sense (preferring to climb outside) is that when it genuinely is hideous weather (such as today), you cant help but feel disappointed that you arent outside doing actual climbing. Add to that the fear of getting unstrong and rather than questing to look at new boulders you end up in a climbing wall. Perhaps I am getting into it, or perhaps I'd had a good rest before yesterday or something, but I feel like I'm doing allright at indoor climbing at the moment. Perhaps also, the difference was that I restricted my movements to the training wall. This is the bit of the climbing works that most closely resembles outdoor rock climbing. Chatted, climbed hung out - all good. Conflicting reports about how good or bad the weekend is going to be, I hope to get out.

It was bonfire night last night, and someone wanted to go to a bonfire. I really didnt want to go and stand in the drizzle and managed to persuade her to go for dinner after questing round likely bonfire sites in vain. Climbing again tonight, need to get hold of Dylan to see if he is up for the board, or else it is the Foundry.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

How to look good belaying

No board last night as Dylan was otherwise involved. Monday's energy levels are always difficult. I should have learnt some basic rules by now, but still I make mistakes. Always consume some sort of oat based snack before climbing. Always arrive, have said oaty goodness and a coffee, then crush. Because I thought I would get something at the Foundry, I forgot I didnt have any money, so had to cadge a coffee off Neil, and then borrow money from Kerry later on for a flapjack.

Started strong and felt good, but wilted quickly. Tried to campus, am so appalling at this I was quite glad to be on my own. The Foundry board is good. I just need to get into it. If I was making it again, I would put less holds on it, make it longer and about 5 (or 10) degrees steeper. Then wild horses wouldnt keep me away.

Climbers and style have never been close bedfellows, although with some of the new ranges coming out from Ben Moon and from E9 things are getting better. Climbers are apparently fascinated by deeply hideous but functional outdoor wear, preferring the reassurance of triple ply goretex to keep them safe should they be forced to bivouac on the way to the pub. I suppose its a badge isnt it - 'look at me, I'm an extreme sports dude'.Troll pattern pants - The worst of the lot :

I havent seen anyone dare to front such an item in many a year. I used to have some of these. Horrible, horrible fashion disaster. I must ask my mum if she has any pictures. Oh yes kind reader, for I am guilty too. I'm afraid I have an arcteryx fetish that will never be satisfied, and I seriously doubt whether my proshell alpha SL will ever be put to the test but its a nice piece and I love it. Double standards.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Cheating Sean

So I missed a post or two last week. I climbed on Thursday at the climbing works - So frustrating that I wangle the afternoon off and its 2.5degrees, raining and horrible. Even JonBoy wouldnt have risked it. The headache and general malaise of the previous day had lifted, I felt my perkiness restored. Popped to Dylan's house, saw Lee, went to the climbing works. I have previously dreaded going down because I get mithered to fix IT problems, but have even done some good there and that should be a thing of the past too. Felt like I climbed better than before, the indoor strength is returning. I am much happier struggling inside when its because I have achieved something outside. The balance this way round is how like it.

Once the weather crapped out, it pretty much stayed crap thereafter. Friday I didnt climb, or do anything really. Paul rang during a dull evening to say that Pascal had done a nighttime ascent of the Ace! well good effort mildly overshadowed by recent controversy surrounding that problem. Paul now has knowledge about the start and says its feasible and that we should try it. I havent ever really spent any time on it but would love to try. Perhaps this winter...

Saturday morning it had obviously rained a lot, so i went to Stoney. It turns out I lied about Sean's problem. Well, not lied, I didnt say I did something I didnt, but I didnt realise there were foot rules. When I was there and 'did' the problem previously I had to phone Foley for the holds, and I climbed it using obvious feet and the right handholds, but the rules say once you are in a specific position, the low break is no longer in for feet. Anyway, delightfully I managed to do it properly on this day, and suprised myself by having quite a good morning pottering about doing some fun problems. Spent the afternoon mooching around town with her, and then to the pub in the evening with Dylan and Lucy.

I dont know whether its my legendary inability to drink or some curdling of different sorts of beer, but after three drinks in the pub (and 1 before), I was sick at 0300! Felt queasy still at 10 when she and I got up. Went for a walk in the rain along Curbar before eating cake at Calver cross roads and was pretty much ok thereafter. Slothed and cooked rest of day away.

Forecast for this week doesnt look so good for the Peak. County looks much better, but thats three hours drive away and you'd need holiday... hmmm. Plans to climb are thus - tonight Dylan's board, Wednesday afternoon out? perhaps the tor/rubicon if raining. Thursday evening - a wall.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Coat of Alms

I went to Almscliffe yesterday. Is it Almscliff or Almscliffe? the signs in Huby have the 'e', but all climbing reference omits it. I had a cracking headache on arrival and it didnt depart until I got back in the car on the way home. And, it was freezing! as I arrived a big storm cloud loomed over the stainburn forest, but delightfully it missed the Cliff and all remained dry, and windy - so windy! The car said 3.5 degrees, so with windchill must have been around 0. Struggled to warm up at Morrells wall, but there were people at Underhand so I took my time. The crag seemed busy, and there was almost nowhere to park, but thinking about it, this must have been because it is half term.

I moved to Underhand and could immeadiately see my dreams of flashing it were not going to come to fruition. Its not that its not flashable, certainly, if you knew what to do then yes, it could go down, and I had watched a video of Adam Lincoln doing it on YG, but I couldnt remember what he did, so I did the following (not to success) : both hands in the cleft at the back, right out to undercut, left foot heel toe cam, then left hand to rubbish undercut, bump right hand to better seam, left out to edge in roof, scum right foot and left hand go again to good pocket in roof, now release heel toe and swap feet, left foot out on nubbin in roof and then right heel on ramp below the seam - not very helpful, now slap and hump up to pinchy undercut on the corner of the roof (I got here), and then presumably go again to edge above. Now from here I didnt do this bit, but I kinda guessed you'd want to go right hand a third time to a better edge in the seam, and indeed this is what Adam does in the vid, and what James Foley recommended. Then its easy. I flailed about a bit and then gave up to go look at Jess' roof.

Previously when I've tried this on my own, its been with two pads, which means you can make a slide out of pads so you dont bounce into the crevasse on your back. Its too scary on your own with one small pad. Gave up and had a walk around by Matt's roof, ending up at the Matterhorn boulder. I'd never climbed on it before so had a bimble on the arete, which was nice.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

No time for lime

Outwardly you might hear people exclaiming that its been a rubbish summer, and certainly there were spells when I would tend to agree, but actually, I've been out loads. Its been allright - there's been opportunity if you've been looking.

The routes and the lime started early in Buoux for Crab master Harris' stag do (I'm still smarting that I missed climbing at Volx due to hangover), then I got pumped having fun at Kilnsey. I did some good routes and was a bit scared, but happy.

Me and Ted went down Two Tier and he busted out Entree. Dylan took me to Turkey Dip rocks, and I even did new routes at Raven Tor (although I have a suspicion I've done them before). I tried to get into the Cornice (WCJ), but as soon as it dried out it was wet again and I along with everyone else gave it up. The bulk of this years action has been at Rubicon. I absolutely love it to bits. I get to feel like a good climber at Rubicon. Its nice and short, the holds are small and the routes are hard. On that subject Andy is on the front of this months Climber on Barracuda.

I've left a couple of gems for next year. To start the season I've got to finish Tribes, then Beluga, then I have only Barracuda and the Bastard to do! Would love to do the Bastard, but there dont actually look to be any holds. Closer inspection required. And besides, Char and I have hatched a plan to focus on Mecca...

I did think to myself I wouldnt ramble on today, but once again I have failed that objective.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The end of the LIME

So thats it then, the end of the lime for this year... or is it!? well no. As long as I can find someone to go with, I'm still keen. The problem now is that very soon its too cold and staying warm between redpoints becomes a mission. Plus, whilst i would love to do Beluga, I feel like I've been missing out on the grit action and I want to focus my attention elsewhere. We will see. If someone wants to go I'll be there, but I am happy to swerve for a week or so!

Today was the day. I knew it was on Wednesday when I didnt do it. And I suppose that was why I was happy to 'fail' then, I knew that the next time it would go down, and that day wasnt even really failure - I had issues before - I'd never been to the top (through the 'easy' top bit) and I was still trying to justify doing it with the 5th in. None of that today. Today it was all about the execution. I think wednesday skin stopped play, and its taken until now to recover. Not splits as such, but excrutiating bruised flesh under the skin. All gone today and I knew that and I knew it would go down. But knowing it will and doing are different. I get more nervous when I know I can do something than when I think I wont. I suppose its the worry of thinking 'will I fuck it up', 'will i have to text my friends and tell them i failed again?'. The secret to success if you are plagued by such thoughts is to empty your head and execute.

There was nowhere to warm up really. Certainly, it wasnt possible to do any crimping before getting actually on the route. Char put the draws in, which I would usually have been delighted about, because it would have meant I could start redpointing without wasting energy, but today, with nowhere to warm up, I wouldnt have minded bimbling up the start. I have my first go and my fingers are cold and despite doing the crux I cant really feel how I have the dish and shout take. Char has his first go, looks to struggle a bit with the feet but sticks the crux dish - for a second but thats that. My next go I know before I set off its 'the' go and I feel terrified on the lower easy wall. I wobble into the start of the hard section and delightfully, here it comes together. First pinch, second pinch into the gaston, my feet are perfect and I feel good. I think it must be good conditions today or something, I roll through off the shoulder press and snatch the dish. I cant believe it, I have three and half fingers right on the sharp lip of the dish - perfect, I look down and try to put my foot on the hold I've been using, but it feels off balance, so I step up high on something I've not been able to use when I've been struggling, but today it allows me to miss out a hold! with the thought that I should've saved enough for the top now I shuffle my feet and body upward. I stuff as many fingertips as I can in the undercut, and thanks to the practice I have the last move dialled. I may be out from the bolt but I know its easy and step up, roll over and I'm on the jugs. I can hear my shallow gasped breathing. I try to make myself take a minute but I sort of know its now or never. I think I had nightmares of getting to this point and fluffing the easy top bit, so I commit and give it everything. My right hand goes up and I've remembered how to hold the hold, I rock up right and my left darts out to a high edge - its an ok hold, but its not as good as you'd hope for at this point. I dont allow myself the luxury of a pause, BANG I've got the top! I dont feel as though I have had to fight as hard as I thought I would. I clip the belay and feel a muted sense of success. Part of this is because I dont want to be gloating when Char hasnt finished, and part of it I cant explain. I think I felt more pleased when I did the Sissy. Perhaps it will be a slow burning happiness that I will buzz off all week.

Char says his congrats, I clean the holds and lower off. His next go looks fantastic. He is all over it, and I totally think its on, but after a second on the dish he's off. I dont believe it. He lowers down and gets the redpoint willies. I dick around and talk shite. His next go looks good to the crux, his body seems tight in to the rock and I know he's not coming off. He reaches past the crux and steps up, then he really seems to struggle taking the undercut, I brace ready to hold his fall, but he's still on and rolls over into the break! whooo hooo! I shout something. He carries on, but really looks to be having to try on the top wall I am terrified that I have projected my failure onto him, but thank goodness he punches through and clips the belay. Nice one! phewweee! a good day out.

We pack our stuff and I head to BBG north to meet Dylan and Scouse on the Terrace. Its lovely in the burbage valley. I realise how much I have been longing for a different view!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Bloody rubicon

Bloody Rubicon! Bloody super conditions dependant sharp bastard crag! AAA* super perfect gritstone afternoon - 9 degrees, breeze, totally clear and fully baking down the con. Grrrreat. Me, Dylan and Paul headed down for about 1400 and clipped up our respective projects. It was no shirt weather over at Kudos wall. Paul had no rope, which meant one of either Dylan or I had to do the deed fast to donate the string. It all looked like me - I had been on the route on the Saturday and nearly done it then, and I felt pretty good warming up, so it certainly seemed to be on.

I pulled on the draws to place them all and gave the holds a scrub. Lowered back to the break to wait for a cloud. As soon as the sun was covered conditions got better and I started climbing. Felt shaky on the bottom two pinches, but not shaky enough to fall off. Felt well strong on the snatch up to the dish, held it well, moved through to the undercut and bam - done. I was on the jugs. Clipped, cleaned, lowered back off again. Now, at this point I should explain that people do Zeke with the 4th clipped. The first three are all really easy to clip, and I've climbed up and placed/clipped them from the ground so thats all ok - i.e. you could climb back down from here with no problem. Apparently everyone does it with the 4th clipped, the reason being it is where the old second was and this is seen as acceptable. You dont clip the 5th - its for dogging the moves, so with Morton logic I figured I could do it off the 5th as you'd not be missing a clip. But, this is gay. I forgot to tow down the rope and had to pull it all the way before my next go. But first, Dylan - Caviar.

Previously, he'd all but done it as I remember, but today seemed to have real problems with his feet, and it was a bit epic squirming about in the mud, so he literally had two goes and sacked it as a bad job. The first time he thought he might just have cooled down waiting for me, so he tried again, but it didnt get any better and he stripped it on the next go. Paul was still waiting for a rope.

Helen turned up and worked Kudos. We laughed and talked shit. Back to another redpoint, and this time no clips were in. Clipping up from the ground as I have said makes no difference to clip 3, but I dont really have a strategy for clip 4 and so stopped there. Now this was good because it gave me an opportunity to do the crux and up without clip5 in place. Which I did and was pleased because its ok. Pushed on to the top on this go and its no push over up there which is a bit of a worry. I mean, comparitively the holds are big but I will be tired and I think I could drop it from up there. Took a big lob off the top and came down to rest up.

All other goes ended at the crux move to the dish. I either stuffed my feet up a bit, or missed the fucking thing. I had one go were everything was perfect except I tried to go a bit too quickly and missed again. I need to calm down, slow it down and get it done!

D and P move to HFC. Paul hasnt climbed in over an hour, but plans to warm up on kudos - the hard way! he nearly does it as well. Has a minute and does do it, then continues with a fumble clip to the break. Its looking quite good as he sets up to make the big rock to the first of the edges, but theres cobwebs all over the left foot pocket and he skidadles off. Dylan has a go at the top wall and seems to climb it really easily, but has the boulder problem to do. Paul's last go - all others have failed, its all on him to make it count and he steps up to the challenge. He gets the wrong bit of the flake, has to adjust, comes in with his right, but thats not right either and he has to fight to stay attached, but fight he does and attached he is. He thrutches up in to the undercut by the 2nd bolt and clips - phew! He puts the next clip in and hangs out for a few minutes to get something back. Moving past the break is a move Paul struggles with - presumably because he is a pygmy not because of finger strength. He lunges but misses and thats it - we've all failed!

Or at least, we have on paper, but I'm happy as I have made progress in a couple of areas : 1 ) I have for the first time done the whole of the difficult section in a oner. 2 ) I have done the top of the crux above the bolt a couple of times. And 3) I have a sequence on the top wall. But as I said above, I'm a bit afraid of that. Not cause of the fall, but because its not that easy and I might fluff it!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Just a little bit more

In the space of a week autumn's really started. Last Sunday I drove down Froggatt pass and the leaves were green and on the branches, this week they were orange and swirling around the car. It was cold and there was a fair breeze - good redpointing weather? possibly too cold first thing. Met Char and Ed at Rubicon and set about warming up. The rock felt cold and I think I might have traversed too much on my first pull on. I'm very specific about what does and doesn't work for me as a warm up. Too much and I get a bit too pumped and dont manage to shake it off for ages (if at all), too little and I risk getting the flash pump when I first try something hard.

Char and I put the clips in Zeke and I set off for a bimble. I fall off at the crux move, which is a shoulder press to a dish. I'm not holding the press hold right and I dont feel amazing on the moves leading into it which is a bit of a disappointment, but with hindsight its probably just that I'm not warmed up enough. Char has his working out a sequence/remembering the holds go and its back to me. I think I fail again at the shoulder press and this time take a bit of time to work out what to do and how to hold that hold. We switch to redpointing - i.e. when you fall - no working the moves, just lower down and have a rest. Char steps up and climbs it much better, stabs at the dish but doesnt hold it. Ed Robinson goes off to RHS. Its my go again - feel nervous. Take a second to try and clear my head but rush starting and jitter through the easy lower wall. I fluff holding the first pinch of the hard section, and I know its all wrong so reverse down for a rest - should have just lowered off here to be honest - this is a route I cant afford anything to go wrong on, I need it all in my favour if I am to succeed. I think its within my capability to do it, but there's little or no margin for error. Anyway, that go goes from bad to worse and its Char again. He styles to the crux but falls. Back to me. I feel a bit wobbly but press on regardless, moving through to the shoulder press and snatching the edge of the dish, suprise myself by holding it! but I have only just held it, I bunch my fingers into a crimp and rock onto my left foot, but the rock out left now looks a long way so I snatch into a side hold by my face as an intemediate - which allows me to shuffle upward, my body now in the right position my left hand darts to the next hold but I cant quite set it up right and although I hold the position I know I cant move and let go. Dammit! thought if I got there that would be it.

Char and I both thought it was done and although it was close I didnt feel like i had anything left to make the last move which is a worry, but perhaps if the crux move goes a bit smoother I will be ok on the top too. I cant help but noticing that the sun is now on our bit of the wall and its noticeably warmer. He ties on and as he sets off I think this is it, he's gonna do it - and I want him to do, but I also want to be first. This is his best go. This is the one when he should have done it. The sequence looks refined, he climbs well but again is off at the crux. He cleans all the holds and returns to the ground. I feel fatigued as I set off, and I know this is my last go of any worth. I feel a bit more composed up to the crux, and I do slap to the dish a bit better... again I rock left and this time I widdle into the hold a bit better, enough that I can take the undercut - I step up and all I need to do is backfoot and bam - its done but I feel boxed and fall off again. On an easy move. Dammit! Char has another go and strips the route. I'm leaving the crag empty handed but I feel positive about my chances. I really think it should go down the next time I'm on it. And thats something to be excited about!

Doyle turns up and Char heads back to Sheff. I cant resist the allure of showing off to Doyle on the Kudos wall. He wants the beta so our objectives are compatible. The sloper doesnt feel that good and I cant do Tsunami or Low Left again - but think this is because I've been crimping all day so far and have a big nail bed split which I opens and hurts every time I crimp. I manage to wobble up low right, and feel quite fruity on the press move which is good. Doyle gets stuck in but cannot make his lanky frame fit and objects to the hold on the rail. Its good to catch up and after imparting all sequence knowledge I leave him in peace and go home to be normal.

Friday, 17 October 2008

I love you Dave

Dave waits for no man... Dave wont stand for lateness..... Thoughts rushing through my mind waiting to be picked up. But in the end, Dave wasn't even there! I'd babbled excitedly to my friends, who scrambled into their cars from opposite ends of the country and raced to Raven Tor, all in the hope of seeing an ascent of Hubble. I vowed that if Dave did Hubble I would nosh him off in the car park. My knees stayed clean and Dave stayed in bed. Well, he might have done, I don't know. Every car that was heard on the lane my heart leapt - is it Dave? but it wasn't.
Good nic torside last night! phewweeee no excuses there. Attendees on arrival were Zippy belaying Matt (no sirname, sorry) on Chimes, and Steve Mac and Rab on indecent direct and what looked like Mecca extn. Oh, and a lone man swearing at the Powerband. Warmed up and I was desperate to show off in front of the sweary man so we headed down there to do Kristian's direct on Wild in Me. I eventually did it - its good. At least 8c. We go back up to the roof of Ben, and I climb out to the headwall (the undercut hard way) but haven't breathed in minutes and am pumped. With my hand on the penultimate hold I wilt. Dylan and Keith busy themselves with moves, sequences, foot changes etc, I eat flapjack and wait. Still no Dave Graham. Oh well, no reason to save any beans - better have another go on BR. This time I get my hand to the finishing jug but absolutely cannot match. I spend what feels like a minute with my left on the jug, trying to find a position I can flick my right hand to the jug comfortably, but all I actually do is get more pumped. Some would give me that, but I'm not taking it. Easy to be virtuous when you've done things before.
Keith and I kit up for Revelations and Hubble. Yes, if Dave isnt going to put in an appearance then responsibility falls to Keith. I go on Rev and get nowhere. Nacho and Vicky turn up, Nacho gives me Jon's foot beta, but its about 9d and I can't do it. Keith goes to warm up for the flash on Hubble and I do a quick powerband lap. Well, a lap of getting to the end and then stepping off without trying. Back to Hubble. The Shirehorse steps up and pulls on to the first overlap, but there arent actually any grips and we cant see how you get to the blocky pinch. He pulls up and has a bit of a work of the next bit - the crux photogenic bit. It looks bloody desperate. And, this guy is not weak. The famous right hand crimp causes an exclamation as its so wank. Perhaps a cellar model is required! A minor stripping the route epic follows and then a drive home.
Conditions and weather bode well for the weekend. Its cold and bright. I hope the Rubicon lake goes down a bit, as I think I have talked Char and Dylan into coming on Zeke with me.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Sat at the bottom of the commercial climbing wall of life

Went to the Climbing Works last night with Dylan and Lucy. I tend to avoid the place on the main because whenever I go in I get mithered to fix the latest IT disaster. Did some circuit problems which I found hard to be honest. Feel like I'm good at pulling on small holds but yarding between ok ones on a long steep board is alien. Got shut down by the comp wall, managing a couple of 7a's, but needing more than one go on both and flashing a 7b - which had crimps on it. Blimey. I'm not too worried to be honest, I feel like I'm doing allright outside and I'd rather have the bias that way round.

As always, after tea time the place fills up, and this is another reason I'm not a regular - its lovely to see people but I cant help myself gabbing and end up standing round for hours on end talking shite - and thus, not climbing. Good to catch up with some folk though, and I suppose were I more regular I would see them more often and have less to catch up on. OOOOOh its a hard life.

How psyched would you be to hear that Dave Graham had done Hubble? I would be psyched out of my mind. In fact, i might drive to the tor, jug up Rev and wait in case he decides to pop by. You never know who might turn up....

Finally, the weather looks much better this afternoon, and I am going climbing! I would have loved to have gone on Zeke, but I suspect I shall struggle to muster enthusiasm from any quarter, such is the problem with having projects to do, no quality control and being a devotee of a particular venue when everyone else has sense/moved on.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Staring at the finishing hold on the mystical board of life!

So much of climbing is linked to energy levels. Monday is a funny day because you are tired after the shock of going back to work after two days off, but rested because the sleep deficit hasnt built up yet. Which almost always means I start strong but wilt after about an hour.
It's a treat to be back on a good board again - I've missed it. Boards are the answer. Well, not completely the answer, but a board is a better training medium than a climbing wall. But for Dylan's board I think I would have to look at building one. But, so much of climbing well on a board depends on the combined energy of the people in the room. Its tough to get yourself going on your own sometimes.
I would so love some frame of reference to be honest. I feel like we are doing some hard moves on that board, but without anything to compare to I'm not sure. Talking to Paul, the place the school boards now live is some sort of dumping ground in which they plan to clear a space for us to use for a few months, but I guess people will be reticient to spend time, energy and money putting it back up if its only temporary. I would love to pull back on that board to know where I'm at.
So, a good session - Dylan, Garry, Paul Bennett and Joe Brown. Feel positive about my chances on Wednesday - remember, approach with confidence but show humility. 

Monday, 13 October 2008

Heed young punk!

I would like to warn against making false judgements on your relative standing within the climbing community. Its demoralising when you think you are at a certain level to realise that actually, where you thought you were is further down than you realised because you discluded a whole breadth of people. So really, what it is you are realising is that you aint as good as you thought you were. Remember, the people you know are not all the people.

However, irrespective of your abilities I should also like to use this platform to extol the virtues of social ettiquete. This is the imprecise science which should be applied in your dealings with others, and yet all too often is ignored. You may be an 8b uber wad (and if so well done), but a little humility goes a long way. Although you should approach the crag with inner feelings of confidence, outwardly visible over confidence leads others to think you a cock. Even if you arrive at the crag, announce you are gonna do the hardest problem and then do actually do it, spraying about it first leaves other people with the impression that you are a cock. Theres self assured-ness and arrogance - the two are different.

Additionally, stating the grade of every problem you've ever done after describing it suggests your motivations for pulling on holds are kudos rather than joy. This is a shame and stamps another nail in the you are a cock coffin. ANYWAY. On to happier things :

There is a good scene of strong young punks at the moment. Its quite something to behold. I went climbing with some of these spunking young cocks on Saturday. We went to Anston Stones, which is one of these worksop area crags Mick 'The daddy of striking cheekbones' Adams has developed. On first impressions it looks quite good - a wavelet of limestone tucked besides a train track, but there are few holds in the roof and only a couple of lines that actually cross it, those that do require a fair span to make the distance. We start the festivities on a 7c to the far right. The climbing isnt great to be honest - a sort of slightly unpleasant slap required to gain a jug at the top. Its the only hard move but requires lunging nastily out over a spikey boulder. I have the willies and dont seal the deal. Team big numbers set up camp under a hard problem next to the entrance gully, starting in good undercuts a long reach back left leads to a pinchy edge and then a hard tension match into an undercut beside it, I dont manage this move at all, although I do only have one go, I dont think its a move I would do easily so I dont even bother. Ned, Tom Newman and Dave Mason all look pretty fruity on this problem - I am impressed by their strength, tenacity and body tension, but then in comes Dan Varian! A.N.O.T.H.E.R L.E.V.E.L! I've never actually seen him try hard and try hard he did - with a bit of scuttling he dispatches. It looks desperate. The midges come out and it goes dark and so we sack it off.

I start Sunday with a quick pootle down Stoney. I would have loved to have gone on the grit, but it had obviously leathered it down overnight and I didnt think anything would be dry. At stoney I managed to do Sean's problem which is good. Popped up to Tom's roof and didnt really do anything.

This week, tonight at the board, wednesday out - dont know where. Thursday lunchtime stealth session, then it looks like Saturday morning becomes saturday daytime club! only have to be home mid afternoon.

Friday, 10 October 2008

So Solid

Well its been a horrible week for me. From Monday to Wednesday I was basically flat out with hideous stomach cramps and the shits. That got better through weds and by Thurs I could spend extended periods upright, which may not sound great but certainly felt it. I had a solid poo last night - albeit a very small one, and now I think I am constipated! Sigh.
Cinema tonight, lie in tomorrow - climb tomorrow aft/sunday AM.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Queens crag itis

So, when I last wrote everything was allright. I was lying on a sofa watching telly and excited about the prospect of going to Queens crag the next day. Although, with hindsight, I think I was starting to feel a bit more achey and tired then than I should have done by rights. By tea time I was starting to be very gaseous and getting stomach cramps, which evolved into the shits through the night - bad but made worse by the toilet block being a walk away, and requiring one to be dressed. Anyway, I felt rubbish. Sunday started out fine. Not a cloud to be seen and really cold. Got some immodium and felt pretty normal again. We drove to Queens :

and, as you can see, it was gorgeous. Everything felt different from last time, it felt closer, although I suppose a lot of that is knowing where you are headed, but, i think I must have been iller than I thought last time.

I managed to bring them to the edge atop queen kong, which is the most impressive thing there, and adds to the wow factor on arrival. We checked out some other stuff but started the day on the power is on block just down from the edge. Again, here highlighting just how bad I must have been then - this felt steady away. I got to the crimp before the second boulder but the holds up there were wet and the easy top bit was impossible.

We moved to Worldline. I romp along it and again - it all feels easy. Ed and Dylan are clearly nervous about the flash but I try to impart as much beta as possible and ensure all the holds are clean. Ed dispatches :

Dylan also flashes the problem and concious of time we move beneath queen kong. I didnt even try it last time, this time between us we do fairly well working a sequence but noone completes the deal.

I'll hurry up typing now as I feel sick. We quest along the edge to the Magician's nephew, which I will remind the forgetful reader, I actually failed on last time I was here. Theres a committing move I wouldnt commit to, but actually its pretty steady. We all romp up it and then head back out to the car.

at which point I begin to feel really sick. I hold it all back until getting home and then just crash. Feeling utterly utterly rubbish. Took yesterday and today off work.

Full photoset here

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Lip liner

We knew it was going to rain today, so we made sure we were up and out early. Record in fact, 9am. Drove to kyloe and walked up to the crag in growing drizzle. Forgotten just how good a crag kyloe is, although sharp is certainly a word I could use to describe the holds. I should come here more, it really is great. After a warm up we move to Cubbys lip, and still the crag belongs to us. After a lot of general flailing we've seen the way and its on. Twice I get established in the finishing crack but am unable to move down to the jugs! Dammit! Work that but but skin is too sore and have to admit defeat.

A load of people turn up and we chat and exchange beta. Two sound lads from the climb Newcastle thing show us how it goes down - if only they could have arrived earlier! They pronounce less than ideal conditions which makes us feel better about the situation. We walk back out and slump at the Bunkhouse. I don't know what happened then as it hasn't happened yet. I love the county, its brilliant. Shame its so far away.

Queens tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Another Rubicon hopeful

Climbing as an activity lends itself to fabricated ascents. You may be on your own, there may be no witnesses and so you ask to be taken at your word. The idealist reading this will bristle at this statement - why can we not give everyone the benefit of the doubt? because people lie!

In theory it totally doesnt matter what other people say and do. If they're not talking about you or hurting anyone, then why should you care? you shouldn't of course. So why does it matter if someone embellishes their own acheivements? again, it shouldnt - they're only kidding themselves, so dont sweat it. But it does matter. When you put a lot of time and love into an activity its more than just an arbitary pastime - you've become more involved, and so if you think someone's making stuff up then it irks - why should I bother training and trying and failing and being honest about my failure when i could just say I did it too? Its a hollow victory saying you did summat you didn't - you know you didnt really do it. Although I do wonder if some people convince themselves...

The benefit of the doubt is afforded people based on what you've seen them doing. For instance, having climbed with Paul Bennett and having seen him do some very hard problems at the board (sometimes with weight on), its reasonable to assume that at the very least he is extremely strong and I have no trouble believing he is capable of doing some very hard routes/problems. I've never had the pleasure of climbing with Paul on a slab, so I dont know that he is an equally skilled technician, but - he is a good climber. If he said he'd done a new 8b somewhere (for instance) I wouldnt struggle with that.

People have bad days, go through rubbish patches - may even be particularly good at one facet and not another, which is why a value judgement about someone else's abilities should not be formed on a single experience. As another example, I can remember Rupert Davies and Rocket man Rob Smith actually rolling about laughing at my laybacking technique. If you saw Adam on the Kudos wall you would still see a very talented climber at work but you wouldnt get the best impression of his skills.

Dont be reading this thinking I am talking about Scott Mclellan - I'm being general, although that is what got me thinking about it. I shouldn't have said he didn't based on climbing with him once, and the internet is no place to debate these things, plus, he's said he's several witnesses - even mentioned one of their names, it sounds awful to be needing to know who someones witnesses were, but when you've come from behind to the very very front people are gonna want to know how you got there and that you actually did. Anyway, thats enough of that - don't tell fibs kids.

It rained and rained and rained yesterday. I drove to the Tor to meet Ed and Dan. The rocks were pretty much dry, but the floor was v.wet. Staminaband undercuts dry, pocket 4 in powerband a bit spoogy but climbable. Junior Fred Nicole was camped out there, Debbie birch traversing about, Stone, Jon Cook, Sharples and Simon of the unknown sirname. It was really cold - dare I say baltic? I dare - it was. Ed wanted to go on Dangerous Brothers and I on Beluga so without even putting my boots on we zipped around to the mighty Con. Remember the wellies? thankfully still in the car. The crag is completely flooded again and they were necessary to make an approach. When I walked in it was about 4 or 5 inches deep, when we walked out about 8!

Who would ever have thought that two essential items for climbing at Rubicon would be wellies and pallets? Ed and I create a platform just out of the water for him to start from and I come on belay in wellies. He climbs up to the crux and looks to be a bit uncertain, but takes the holds and pulls them down, he's got the jug! amazing! he clips and rumbles up to the top but hasnt got a krab for the belay so jumps off in celebration. THis is not like us - we dont just get on and do stuff, usually theres at least three hours of fannying about before such things happen. We head back to the Rubicon island beneath the Sissy and Zeke. I dont feel massively excited about getting on Zeke - the last time I tried I couldnt hold any of the holds or positions and thought it was fully desperate. I knew I could do beluga and wanted the success rather than a working out the moves session. But, in the final analysis I had more than that on Zeke and have lit a new fire of desire. So, this time after some of the aforementioned fannying I basically did it in two sections. Its gone from being totally implausible to being on. I dont know where I will clip from but I'll work something out.

We leave and I pop to the climbing works to see Ed Robinson. Its rammed.

Monday, 29 September 2008

For those who rocked...

My neck hurts. Its years since I 'rocked', so I'd completely forgotten that headbanging gives you whiplash. No climbing this weekend, only a rock themed fancy dress party at the Nether Edge club on Moncrieffe road. It was good.

here's the birthday boy in what I think should have won the prize for fancy dress (he couldnt self award so gave it someone else) :

James with skulls :

Geordie Stef as Freddie Mercury playing air bottle :

Those jeans are wrong!

And this is from the end of the evening. Full set here

Finally, Ed went to Gardoms south on sat and before it was too hot investigated Suavito and Perfect day, both too high for solo mission but added to the list for later. Foley met Dylan and Variable at the Tor yesterday, Dylan has two overlapping sections on Ben's Roof whilst Variable did the Hooligan start but slipped off higher up apparently. Blimey.

The big weekend ticket is up this weekend coming, and so far the plan is to go to the county, but she just said she heard it was going to rain this week. And, all the bunkhouses are full. I will continue to investigate. Climbing tonight, wednesday and probably thurs.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Sissy closure

If there was a measure of reliability, Andy Hutchinson could be considered 100% reliable. When it comes to arranging climbing then you can rely on his being where he says he will be when he said. As I work through the text a thon required to sort belayers/partners/spotters/compadres I hedge my bets, putting several irons in fires in case some of the fires go out.

On paper at least, it should have been better earlier in the week. The car said 14.5degrees on Tuesday and 17 yesterday. When the sun was out it was certainly too hot, but it didn't feel too greasy. Or perhaps it did and I was just more on it? I wonder whether the cries of bad conditions are actually excuses and whether in fact if you are on it you can make it work whatever the weather? probably elements of truth in this, but there are certainly some times when conditions are genuinely dreadful. Ever since going on the Sissy with Jules a couple of wednesdays ago I have been uber keen to get it done. I returned last weds but couldnt seal the deal, feeling tired after my first go, which lead me to thinking I must have blown the warm up or something. Then last night it all lined up. I clipped it up and then did the top bit with the 4th in, then I lowered back to the start of the hard climbing having unclipped the 4th - remember, I had never done that clip... Breezed up to it and its ok to clip after all - phew! cranked through to the top and knew in my mind I could do it - all I had to do was put the easy bottom bimbling bit on and it was in the bag.

Andy was/is on Beluga. I couldnt remember the foot sequence as I was focussed on Sissy. From the ground he cruised through to the undercut with thumb catch but was finding it hard. Its my time again, we walk back down - its been 13 minutes. I tie on and feel a bit but not too jittery, the climbing starts and I feel a bit more efficient on the easy bottom bit, I'm not worrying about the fall or the clips, I'm just climbing. The 4th gets clipped even easier - I cant believe I didnt try it properly before, and I have changed my beta slightly for the match, which leaves me able to have a little flick of my arms between moves, I get out to the right and instead of doubt I have desire, I really want this done now! I paste my foot on and nail the last hold, catching it slightly off and open handed - the shouts go up from below but I grease and am airborne! shit! this fall is a great one for confidence boosting as its clean and theres nothing to worry about. Dammit! I haul back up, clean the holds, and strip the route. Back to Beluga.

This time Andy seems to be struggling a bit through the start, he doesnt look as composed as he did, but seems to get higher, taking and holding the undercut but being unable to move. Ed Robinson comes back from Cbrook - reporting soapy not great conditions, he and Sam set about the Kudos wall. The floor is better than it has been in months - all the puddles have gone. Its possible even to climb on the three tiered traverses.

Ed and Andy join me at the base of my route. I tie on and feel jittery - like I've had too much coffee (perhaps the second can of relentless was a mistake), I stare at the wall and try to banish my insecurities, I dont want to overanalyse my performance, I just want to do. With a few deep breaths and an emptying of my head I exchange a glance with the Hutchmeister whose face says 'this is it, this is the one' and then I'm climbing. I dont feel as solid as the last go but by the time I start the hard section I'm locked in to the sequence and its just a question of execution. I'm careful to slow it down and take the holds right and have a little shake between them, clip the 4th, make the match - slightly stuff it up, but its ok and I find myself on the penultimate hard move, but somehow I know its on, I have the holds better and the determination is all there... BANG! I hit the top hold and bone it! YYFY! roll through to get established on the bigger holds above and back clip. Start to get sewing machine leg a bit and jitter through the jugs to get to a rotten horrible belay. Clip it and slump onto the rope! phew! belay looks dodgy so I bimble off to Zeke belay and lower down off that.

Andy goes back on Beluga, and suddenly I can remember what to do! sorry andy. I explain the foot sequence and now he can put it all together but bad skin, fatigue and darkness call a halt to proceedings. I'm psyched to do Beluga now too!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Percy's black stump

Couldn't find a belayer to get the Sissy done so ended up on a solo mission. Been wanting an opportunity to get back on Staminaband anyway, so perhaps this was it. It wasnt. Undercuts fully sopping, but the massive patch of seepage above has dried out. Hot in the sun, not as much wind as I hoped but quite cool when behind a cloud. Chatting to Ross and Rae I moved camp to Ben's roof and engaged cruise control, only cruise control wasnt enough - had to try to pass the egyptian - sure this used to feel easy? its hurting my finger so I swaddle it in tape and try again, this time climbing out of the cave but forgetting how to do the top bit. On my next go I just cant summon the energy to try properly and decide to sack it to somewhere secret...

At the secret crag everyone knows about I am delighted to find its pretty much bone dry. All the useful bits are ok anyway. I try the hulk, but it feels evil brick hard - I am unable to generate any movement at all. I go on Sean's instead and keep nearly doing it but foot keeps popping off the top and I again pack my stuff and head off. This time to stump hole cavern.

I really fancy being out in the open, some nice rolling moors to gaze out at and to witness the yellowing leaves as it gets autumnal (love the changing seasons, am so looking forward to grit bouldering season now). If this is your desire, do not take yourself to stump hole cavern. A streak of white chalk on nearly black rock at the back of a dark nook besides the road was not what I had in mind, but the single problem thats there is quite good. I do the stand fast, and very nearly the sitter, but my fingers start to hurt and the grit is taking a chunk out of my pad so I stop and drive home for tea. Its 1830 - dark at 1900 these days.

The new crag excitement is muted by the crapness/esoterica of stump hole cavern, but I still am pleased to have tried something new. My plan for winter is to climb outside as much as possible and to do lots of new problems in lots of new places.

Monday, 22 September 2008

mtb mania

Should have learnt to pack in advance by now really, but still, everytime I go anywhere I always find myself packing at the last minute and having a blind flap about forgetting stuff. So with 15 minutes to go before getting picked up for a mountain biking weekend I was still shovelling stuff into my bag at lightspeed and with no organisation. I subscribe to the Sellars school of packing - at least when I am camping anyway - you need only one pair of trousers etc. Travel light, travel fast, alpine style. Felt a bit funny volunteering to go a whole weekend without climbing, but as the weather was hot I guess it worked out well.
Friday night then: zipped up to Gordale Scar campsite and pitched up. Man who runs campsite could charitably be described as 'eccentric'. Biked to pub, felt a bit car sick, fairly early to bed. Saturday morning started off early 0730 (other people up and about making noise) and was a beautiful day. We cycled up out of Gordale and into Malham village, then up an Alpe d'huez esque (I imagine anyway) hill towards the Tarn. Quick loop off road swooping back to street gate, across Mastilles lane to Kilnsey - brilliant almost out of control downhill into Kilnsey - awesome - highly recommended, and certainly the right way round to do it. Stopped in the pub for a pint of orange cordial and enjoy the sun, then beneath a deserted but largely dry kilnsey to Arncliffe cote where we turned left onto a bridleway which is accurately described 'a bit of a slog'. Gazed across at Yew Cogar on the way up up and up again. Finally, a grassy descent back to street gate before another grin stretching descent by road into Malham itself. 35.5km. Awesome. Had a walk to the scar and then ate and went to the pub.
You never sleep as well as you should when camping. Even with ear plugs its not completely comfortable so getting drunk to self-medicate yourself to the land of nod is a valid strategy. Slept from 1130 ish to 0900 which sounds like loads but woke many times in between. Another beautiful day. Slow start with plenty of tea before taking the car up to the top of the hill out of Malham (stiff legs, no juice left). Parked up and rode 4miles off road on good path down to Langcliffe Cote, then across top of settle before climbing steeply out on the road back towards Kirkby Malham. Theres a bridlepath there over the top of the fell which we slogged up - hard work in the sun, finally a short sweet downhill back to the cove road. Packed up and headed home, deeply tired, slightly sunned and happy. A lovely weekend.
So, the plan for this week is to climb Tuesday aft/evening. Am touting for partners... Andy Hutch has hurt his elbow, Eds Brown and Robinson will be at work, James Foley has no car, Jon Fulwood is off work and might be going to beeston tor, or might be trad new routing, Dylan depends on his work (which probably means not!). Then again on Thursday - probably just a short board session in the day. Then hopefully back on Saturday morning club.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Back beyond the rubicon

I couldn't wait to get back on the Sissy. Arrived at the crag to find Andy Hutchinson and Sam over by the Kudos wall, and the lake greatly receded. Still sticky on the approach, but better than last weds - no signs of seepage on the crag itself which makes under foot muck palatable. Dan Cheatham and Ed Brown turn up soon after and everyone sets about their intentions. I am here to do the Sissy as is Sam, Ed is on Dangerous Brothers, Andy on Tribes and Dan sets about Too Old to be Bold.
Sam and I talk sequences. With a slightly far away look in his eye he says he hopes to get it today, and I wonder if he's trying to convince himself or me. He goes and has a bimble, not a rp but a refresher. It doesnt look like its a dead cert, but the ground is covered and the engrams reinforced. I get tied on (with the 4th clipped) and engage cruise control - I feel really nonchalant, breezing past the match (which feels easy, the holds just feel bigger today) and to the broken penultimate hold, I've juice in the tank but the fifth drawer isnt in, I'm worried about giving it all to nail the last hold but being too pumped to place a drawer and then clip it. I gayly slap but dont really try to hold the hold and thats the best go gone. Rubbish.
Meanwhile, Andy has equipped Tribes and is redpointing, he has a really good go but falls right at the top. Ed is on DB but struggling with the crimp. Dan is still warming up. My goes on my route get worse from there. I feel tired just starting out, but I always get back to the penultimate hold, just feel further away from being able to do the move. The thing with this route is its one you have to go for it on, you can't afford to hope to get there and be able to style it, you have to be prepared to stick on one to do that last move. I want to do the move easily, but I need to change that and just go for it. Which is why when I do this it will be a more significant acheivement for me than DB. DB i thought was ok, its up my street - short and hard - I'm in control throughout. The Sissy is personally more of a challenge because I am going to have to go for it at the end.
Andy crushes Tribes in excellent style - its been about three goes or something - impressive stuff. Sam steps up for a go on the Sissy. He gets to the match (i'm on belay), his elbows come out at right angles but he holds it down, moving rightwards he takes the penultimate hold, sets himself up, his back arcs out and he has the appearance of a man about to fall off, but bam! he nails the last hold - he's still attached, not coming off for anything now, rumbles up through the trivial top bit to complete his first 8a! a well good effort. I do have another go but am boxed and haven't recovered. Get past the match but am all over the place and fall again.
Ed doesnt do DB, Dan doesnt do TOTBB. Dan really should have done and Ed has made progress, but they want to go to the churnet and sack it home.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Grand Earl of Midge

Its not enough just to pull on the holds, its the ability to flow between them that makes a climber. But, its easier to flow between holds if you are stronger. And, its easier to get stronger than it is to learn the movement. At the change in seasons and thus changing style of movement (from lime to grit) the differences become all too evident. A basic summer of pulling down gives way to technical tomfoolery, having to think in the third dimension and of hitting the ground every time you fall. AND I FUCKING LOVE IT!!!!
Me, Jim, James and Nik met at a midge infested Earl Crag last night. When I arrived it was raining, but it was quite cool so I had new crag excitement and reasonable hopes it could be ok/get better. I ran in my work shoes through the mud to get to the crag where I found Foley settled beneath 'The John Dunne slap'. Within minutes of my arrival the wind stopped and the midges came out in force. The image of Jim in a white vest in the middle of a cloud of midges is not something I want to repeat. Foley's head looked like he had teenage acne. They bite me but I mustn't be allergic to their saliva or something, as its irritating when I'm there but when I'm not its all fine again. Underworld and Underpants look good. Its so midgey we give up and walk back to the car, then Jim suggests a look at the hitching stone, which looks to be a short walk across moorland to a buckstone sized lump.
Off we quest across bog and marsh to a boulder which never gets any nearer... days and weeks pass and the four of us (and the dog) quest on, my work shoes are sodden and at several points enthusiasm plummets and we/I consider turning back. But, eventually, and without loss of any of our number, we reach the block on the horizon. Like a river bursting its dam, enthusiasm rushes back and I'm racing to put my boots on to be the first to do a problem - it doesn't look great but there's nay midges and I want something for my money. We bust out the big numbers - a 5 goes down. Attention turns to the 'line' of the boulder and I squeak my boots for a go, but despite my thrutching around in the reeds I cant actually get my ass off the floor. Thankfully, neither can anyone else, at least not until doctor Midge bait steps up and manages to pull on. But not move. Eventually, I do move 1, Jim does moves 2 and the top and foley also does move 2. Nik cannot summon enthusiasm to do anything. Jim looks set in for a siege, and I can see one of those video moments where we are all waiting with our coats, ready to go whilst Jim has 1000 goes in the gathering darkness, but its so out of reach that even he has to admit defeat. We walk out and go to the Chippy, which is about 20 miles away past three or four other closed chippys.
Its good to be back on the grit, but its not time yet. Andy Hutchinson and Dylan sound keen for Wednesday. I am desperate to get back to the Sissy, because I think I can do it. No word from Brown as yet.