Friday, 29 February 2008


Traditionalists will tell you that the only day a woman can propose to a man is February the 29th in a leap year. 2008 is a leap year. Today is February the 29th. She'd organised a romantic weekend away with activities for me and everything. I did wonder, but I hadn't twigged, and on arrival admidst end of the world weather she presented me with an album documenting our 8 years together, and the last page had the question... Well, I'm psyched out of my mind and consider myself the luckiest pig in the land!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Non fascinating facts

Ages ago I signed up for google analytics. It basically tells me stats about the blog of dob. I forget about it for months on end and very occasionally, in a burst of narcissistic self adulation I have a look. According to google, the blog of dob has 311 unique visitors - i.e separate people, not someone refreshing from the same computer. Most of which are return visits (87%), and most of whom come directly to the page - i.e. they aren't clicking a link from somewhere else. But, of those that do follow a link from elsewhere, 5% come via Ned's blog, and 12% from Paul B. I could go on. And on.

Went to the Foundry at lunchtime today. Skin going from bad to worse, its a good thing I have three days off. She and I are going away - I dont know where we are going, and thats all the more exciting! So, no climbing, lots of nice honey time and back to it (fresh and keen, with a pair of fully skinned hands) on Monday. Zoo York fixation getting bigger. I think i know my next project!

Tom Peckitt - Yorkshire's nicest man

Went to the Foundry on Monday night. Its such a good wall, but for being the works' resident computer geek I would sign up for a year there. The works gets so busy, and theres always too many people to say hello to! Anyway, had a good night, skin terrible, climbed ok. Tuesday rest.

Last night (weds) I was presented with a dilemma. Spoke to Jim who was Peakside with Adam and the worm. Think he said they were going to do Mossatrocity and then go to yarncliffe. Not that bothered about anything at Yarncliffe, would be nice to join the team, but - it goes dark at 1800, so after leaving Leeds at 1500, I would only really have an hour and a half. Contemplate a split outdoors/in session but decide to go to Caley instead. At 15 minutes from work, I really shouldn't be such a stranger to this Yorks gem. The last time I went it was wet, so with Almscliffe in my back pocket as reserve I left work and legged it to Caley. As I was chatting to the honey monster on the phone at the roadside, a harnessed up Fiend yomped past, through the trees presumably on the way to the edge - wonder if he always drives with his harness on? does he sleep with it on too? and a full rack? the mind boggles!

Bimbled up Otley wall, fingernacker crack etc before moving to Zoo York and finding Tom Peckitt - yorkshire's nicest man. Its pretty green but all climbable, and I'm quietly pleased to have recruited a team to hang out with, especially one containing such an accomplished local hero. We pad out ZY and he pulls on. He's shaking like a shitting dog and theres no way he's gonna do it, but he fights it out and has despatched. Blimey! it looks well feasible to see it done so well, even with the shakes. I have a go and get to the first toe lock, go to sidepull bit, the toe isnt in and i'm scared - drop off. Do that move, and fail on the undercut to edge bit thats coming up, but it does feel possible. My skin is terrible. I have holes from Gardoms in four fingers - as soon as I chalk up my finger tips go pink again and are wet to the touch. This is less than ideal. Do some more links on ZY and really think I could do it. Everything needs to be right for success mind - I'd need to be on it, wearing a toe with rubber on the toe and have a full hand of skin. I can tick none of the boxes on this session, so move to something more realistic - ju ju club. Originally in the old book at 7a+ but everyone says its more like 7b+. I would tend to agree. Tom and I work a sequence and he does it - again, shaky shaky, but gets it done. I get to the top two holds maybe 6 times? but I never do the last move (other than in isolation) It feels really really slippy. Its like its moist. Think its a combo of it being super green and my weeping fingertips. They move their pads to secret seventh. I stay on ju ju club (have done SS before). They move to Ben's groove, and its this that I had ideas about when I thought of coming to Caley, but its high, and one small pad on your own is bold. Join in and comfortably romp past the 'hard' bit but have no concept of how to get my left foot atop the rounded boss. I'm set up in the sidepull and pocket every time, and I try a variety of things with my right foot on that ramp thing, but I'm miles off, and I dont know what to do! Give up and have another failed attempt at ju-ju club. They move to Wainwrights wobble as their last problem. I've never tried it and have a few goes, but it reopens one of my tips and I sack it all off with nothing in the bag when it goes dark.

I'm pretty psyched for Zoo York mind. I think with two pads I would be allright on my own. Hmm. Not really in keeping with the Mosely plan. But I suppose I could try it for half an hour on each visit to do other easier stuff. The grit at Caley is so sharp that its murder on the tips. Good crag though.

I looked across at in the week, and saw that Ted Kingsnorth had done low right press. I was amazed - he was nowhere near such things when I last climbed with him. Happened to mention this to someone and apparently he's out of work at the moment, so is climbing a lot. Its a great effort, and must be one of the quickest progressions I can think of. He added Tsunami to his ticklist this week too. Blimey.

8c Stu also chalked his name on Tsunami's well worn bed post this week too. Apparently he had to match the sloper footless! Is this the shortest persons ascent? I cant think of any other midgets who've done it? Hark back to Keith's comment that it would get downgraded due to the number of people whove done it now. I dont think that means it isnt 8a, it just means that its very accessible. I'm pretty sure it is 8a. I'll entertain your argument if you suggest bouncing off the sloper to the pocket is 7c+, but matching the sloper (like a hero) and walking the feet is for sure the full monty.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Weekend pass

I miss the monster when she's away (she's been to London with the girls - they went to the theatre and have had a lovely time). I love our 'normal' weekends when she is about, but once in a while - when she's away or something, i get to sample that most elusive of tickets - the full weekend pass! its a bit like going on a mini trip. I always think I should go somewhere further afield when I have the chance. .
Friday night I went for a pint with Ed Brown. Forecast looked dicey. Phoned round and left everything open for the morning... Which started with leaden skies and wet roads in Sheffield. Phoned Busby; he and Roy were going to chance Yorkshire. I felt torn. On one hand, I felt that not going to Yorkshire when I have a full weekend pass is to miss an opportunity, but on the other hand its a long way to go if its going to be wet. Decide to stay local. Arrive at Chez Fletcher at 0940 to collect Dylan, Garry and the biggest pad I have ever seen - the much talked about 'mondo'. We drive to Gardoms south - the walls and roads are wet, the sky looks grey - its not going well, so we continue to Eastwood. Jim's POI isn't consistent with the guide, so we opt for the guide's parking suggestion and get lost in the woods. Finally, we locate the edge - amazing rock - really fine grain compact grit. Almost Northumberland esque. Climb the very lovely corpse crack a couple of times, and then Jon's 'ten inch zombies' which balances up a slab - crimping on chicken heads. The obvious prize is the traverse, the so called 'powerband' of grit. Its long, involving and complex. Garry is so uninspired he takes his boots off and waits for us to finish. Takes ages to work out how to climb the crux middle section by which time we are beaten. Muscle and drive are waning fast and then I find a way to cheat past the crux move using a knee bar and thumb jam combo, I try and I get to the end but my hands are opening on the holds and I can't do it. Rubbish. Feel a bit disappointed. Being honest about Eastwood, I wished I had finished that traverse, because I probably wouldnt bother going back, and now I have to. That said, apparently it stays dry, so one to keep in reserve perhaps?
We drive to calver cafe for chip butties. After we've taken on sustenance its back to Gardoms south to finish the day. I've never been and am delighted to have two new crag ticks in a day. As you approach, theres one thing that stands out - suavito. Its on Roy's list, and with Dylan's mega pad there's never been a more hand made opportunity. Garry is straight up there, eyeballing the finishing jug - I think he has been on it in the week or something, and is psyched for the tick, he stares it out, it stares back at him and with a token wave at the hold, he's back on the pads. It's well high! Garry's fine in spite of taking the ride so Dylan steps up. Its looks like a bloc thats straight outta switzerland - a jutting sharp edged prow, with broken edges for your left hand up the middle of the face, definately the line of Gardoms south. Dylan gets to the top but gets psyched out and is off. I have a go, fumbling all the moves and not even getting close. Char turns up and demonstrates - he goes with his left hand at the top, and has to battle some dirty swing out board move - it looks terrifying, and tenuous, and high. Discussion ensues as to whether its right or left hand at the top. I'm getting sweaty palms just thinking about it. Having seen what to do I have another go and am soon ensconced on the top holds staring at the top - it looks a long way away. I dont even try the move, preferring to drop off onto the pads. More goes continue from everyone other than Char, until I for some reason start leaning in from the block on the right hand side, I get to the top, and rather than throwing for the top, I shuffle up a bit closer, until rather than a slap its a pat - thankfully, the top is super grippy and flat, I match, get a pocket and mantle to glory. Phew. But theres a niggle, why did I start on the damn block? I decide I should do it again, from the lowest obvious holds - just to be sure. It takes another few goes, but I manage to get it done and am psyched - what a great problem!
Whilst we're under Suavito, Dylan chirps that he thinks Brad Pitt is 7b+. Char and I are stunned. When I did it Adam and I agreed hard 7c. I recorded it as such on but subsequently upgraded it after thinking about other problems I've done, speaking to Sam, and seeing that its in the guide at 7c+. I will entertain an argument of between 7c and 7c+, but proposing 7b+ is madness! Suavito is supposed to be 7b+ and I did it in about an hour - Brad Pit on the other hand took me about three or four years! I think its one of those problems that feels ok when you actually climb it, but I think the effort required in doing so is worth +. (7c + that is!). The more I think about it, the more I convince myself that its 7c+.
Jon turns up, and he and I scoot off to try some project thing that he is looking at. This project is mega too! (think everything could be today, am in a good mood) as soon as we get there he dispatches it on the first go with me present - either the morton psyche was the required ingredient, or he had actually done it before but wanted a witness! I try, and think I could do it, but hadn't counted on the top move being quite so devious - its classic fulwood madness and I'm not even close. Good climbing though. A sharp leaning arete by a tree - barn doory upside down pinch fest climbing with crucial thumb action required to push yourself back from the barn door. His goosiness busts out the a sitter and proclaims it 7c. Nice. We walk out in the dark.
Get a curry for tea, and I feel like I've earned it. Arrange to meet James in the tav, but feel exhaustipated and contemplate crying off. Once get there, I feel full of beans and talk at a thousand miles an hour so that noone else manages to say anything. Sunday looks similar in weather terms, and after popping to Joe and Vic's house to collect my guide book I head to Burbage south edge. Try pebble mill traverse and cant do it, eventually finding a way, but my skin is so bad its not going to happen and with rain on the horizon, cut my losses and leg it to 7ball, which just amazing to look at. The rain starts and I get up to the top as it gets quite heavy. What a gorgeous problem - really climbs well. Walk out and its pretty much passed by the time I get back to the car, but I need to do some shopping and sort the house out and so on.
Tidy up, cook, pop to the works to drop something off and move my fingerboard before the honey monster comes home. I've enjoyed my weekend pass, but its lovely to see her and have things get back to normal.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Help the young

Adam got a nice pic:

Thursday, 21 February 2008

What would clifford do?

its been a funny couple of days over here in Mortonland. I last posted after a very early morning on the way down to London. Got into town for 8am and can heartily not recommend being dog tired and dazed amidst the peak rush hour commuter chaos. Made it to old broad st, started doing what I had to do which I anticipated finishing about 1300 in order to get to a climbing wall for a few hours. Everything went badly wrong from the off and continued to do so through the morning. It got to 1530 before I could get off to my hotel to drop off my bags and do some testing. I felt fully jaded. Found the hotel and it was grim. Not happy. Checked in and went up to my room. Nothing actually wrong with it, just dilapadated and impersonal. So, I do a bit of testing, have a cuppa and head straight back out. On the tube on the way back round to Liverpool street I feel shocking. cant wait to get to bed, get back on site early and do what I have to do, eventually finishing around half 8. I'm walloped and go straight back to the hotel to sleep.

the next morning after I do about an hour of work in the hotel room, its apparent I wont have to do too much more and can head home. Dash off to St pancras and make the 1025 train north - psyched! this means I'll be home at 1245 and out on the grit by 1330. Awesome. Where shall I go? half form a plan to go to the plantation to do help the young and then look at this brass monkeys, then head to burbage. thats settled then, thats what I'll do. Suddenly for some reason I am reminded of vicky Barrett's text about rubicon being mint and I start to weigh up going back there.... the thing is, I've really enjoyed the grit of late, plus, because of Roy's list - which contains lots of easier problems, I feel like I am actually doing things, I'm ticking my way through loads of cool stuff and its boosting my confidence and straightening out my neuroses. So, initially, I'm a bit reticent to go and fail on tsunami again, but as the journey north continues I talk myself into it and thats where I plan to go.
Deliberately I dont tell anyone my intentions - In case I fail, I can just not mention I went in the first place. Get off the train and I run through the station to the taxi rank (would have got a bus, but a: I'm not paying, and b: i am psyched). By the time I get home I've noticed that the normal pre rubicon nerves/excitement arent present, theres excitement, but I dont feel as nervous. I think about what Ned said - just relax and see what goes down as I drive out. Theres loads of cars there - must be walkers I hope inwardly. My heart sinks when I walk in and theres about 5 guys on the kudos wall. Shit shit and shit again! I take my stuff over. the floor is fully slithery but its only mud, theres not actually that much water about. I can see now that the guys on the kudos wall are trying that jump start thing - phew! at least I wont be queuing to get on my problem. I get chatting, and they seem sound. Young, but nice enough. One of them is trying the press with wack foot beta, I point out the foot hold but he dismisses my advice, continuing on his way. I go off and warm up. When I get back he still hasnt done it, and I reiterate the knowledge - the first time he tries it, he does it! You can lead a horse to water etc etc.

I start on Tsunami. The holds all feel pretty reasonable, but I really do have this problem pretty wired. Pull on and nail the sloper - feels mint, cant fault the conditions anyway. Walk feet across rightwards, but they feel really insecure and ultimately, my right foot plops off into the mud. I clean everything again, start the stopwatch and put a little chalk dab on the right bits of the footholds. More goes happen and I get to the last move a couple of times, but it feels miles off. The lads loose interest and wander off to try rubicon. I feel around the left hand pinchy undercut thing, and wonder if the little finger catch has shattered a bit more - I think it feels a bit different. Work out there is somewhere for the little finger that changes the move from being a full on slap to being a controlled slap. This doesnt sound much when I write it out, but on the link from the sitter it might be all thats required. Theres another sequence change I've found that I havent mentioned - This session, I've started moving my center of gravity right for the move left into the pinchy undercut thing. It means that instead of having to snatch the undercut, I can take it in complete control - and, crucially, settle that all important little finger on the notch.

The 'I'm going to do this' pre-ascent nerves set in and I wonder if I've had too much coffee. Sit myself down and give my boots a squeak, pull in to the wall and set my hands up in the slot. Because the very back of the pocket is dank, I'm really not using my right hand, just sort of starting with it resting on the lip, as I pull up to the sloper with my right the thought 'What would clifford do' flashes into my head, I smile inwardly and think that he would have done it ages ago and refocus on the job in hand. The subtle changes in position, the nuances of individual holds all come back, I'm in the zone and I know I can do it, with my right hand crimping seven shades out of the sloper, I step right to the spike, stretch underneath with my left foot, then right again onto the good foothold, out of the corner of my eye I can see one of the lads has come back, but is considerately waiting silently a little way down the path, I come in for the match and my thumb locks on to the pinchy thumb catch under the sloper, I move my right hand out of the way and lock up to the press hold in good control. I take it just right, and because I've moved to it slower, I weedle my fingers just perfectly into the hold and move my feet until my right foot is on the square cut hold on the rail. Really bone that right handhold now to pull my weight over my right foot and theres a sweet spot at which it becomes easy to reach back left into the pinchy undercut thing, I'm moving slower and am able to adjust so that my little finger is on the notch. Pull into the position pasting my left foot down on an unhelpful smear, and again, theres a point at which the outward force becomes undercutting force, comes onto your biceps and feels more probable. Stare at the finish jug and bang - I've nailed it! yes yes yes! let out a gurgled cry and it doesnt feel as hard as it should have felt considering how long I have spent trying to do it, but its a slow burning sinking in of happiness that I mute out until that evening. Amazing. I think I have been trying it off three fingers in that undercut until now, and my own advice about wack beta has been borne out in practice!

As soon as I've dropped off and exchanged pleasantries with the lads I've put my stuff away and legged it to the car. Stanage awaits!

Yomp up to Help the young and it feels dead hard. Am being an idiot, and two mins later its done. Turns out that this lovely problem was retro claimed by paul mitchell after char did it. Try the stand and have no idea what to do, plus, theres a fair wind blowing and its fully freezing. I sack it to find brass monkeys which would appear to be more sheltered. What a great problem this looks! Dylan has sent me some beta, but it involves left hand sidepull, then right all the way to the crimp - hellfire - thats desperate! I try it, but end up flying backwards down the gully and with visions of breaking my legs I back off and walk back to the car.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Sunday School closure

The boss lady has just moved into the office behind my desk, so my usual blogging spot is again under siege. This morning I'm on the train, so it doesn't matter. After saturday's siege of the plantation my skin was (and still is) bad, so I was happy not to climb on sunday, but it was another perfect day and I had to get my carcass outside as much as possible. We did some cleaning housey type jobs, I got called by work, and then we headed out to the hills for a walk. We were going to go down to monsal head, so i could see whether rubicon was as dry as I have heard (talking to that scottish Lynne girl yesterday, the tor is wet) but as I had been called, I kind of needed to stay within mobile phone signal incase they called again (they didnt, but had i gone down wcj dale I bet they would have done), so we parked the car at the yorkshire bridge and walked up win hill instead. It was a gorgeous day. However, chavs seem to favour win hill, as there were loads of henri lloyd garments and football shirts making a pilgrimage to the summit. They obviously cant read maps either, as they get to the top, turn around and walk back down the way they came up. Wierd. We did a big loop and came back in along the shores of the resevoir. Stopped in the pub for some food - pleasantly suprised. Both cheap and nice, and it came quickly! Finished the day watching Shaun of the dead which I'd taped over xmas. A brilliant weekend. Lovely.

Yesterday I called the Foundry to see if Neil was back and whether I could start my two month free pass. Neil was back but there is some confusion over one of the other level's prizes and I couldnt get in for free just yet. Well, once I get my free pass I will be using it as much as I can, so I certainly dont want to be paying in and getting sick of it on my own money, so I tried to go to the board. On sight at least there was no change, the sign is still on the door and our key was there, but when you try to use it to unlock the door it will not turn. Its like the council have deadlocked the door shut or something. I need to mail this out to the other school users, but I wouldnt be at all suprised to discover that this is the last time I will get to do basic jez. And, I never did turd reich! Will I ever feel the pinch? Rubbish. Hopefully, we will get a reprieve, but I wouldnt bank on it. So I pushed on to the works for a couple of hours. Always leave the works feeling that I havent done much/enough/anything, and certainly that i didnt climb well, but its so steep and so long and so different to outdoor climbing that I dont have the prerequisite wall strength to succeed. Busby turns up and we laugh like hyenas.

Plans for the weekend are brewing, but theres a big question over the weather. Apparently, it will all change by thursday. So, I had harboured desires of yorkshire, thinking about either earl or crookrise, but not if its raining.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Brad pitt

In the words of Ice Cube - today was a good day (and no - I didnt have to use my AK). When I woke I didn't know where I should go, I had heard via Rae Cowie that Rubicon was dry, but I knew what Roy (the master) would say. Starting to see Roy like Jon Allen in Stone Monkey - he wouldnt have allowed a self indulgent crimp fest on a beautiful grit day such as this. Figured the plantation would be busy, but if i was early it shouldnt be too bad.

Passed Adam Long on the way in at fiddlers elbow - whats this? adam on way back at 930? surely it cant be crap and he is on his way home already? it hasnt rained for days and the sun is out. The car reckoned -1.5 in the car park, but walking up to the plantation with two pads on I soon warmed up. Travelled light - just pads, one pair of shoes, chalk and a flask of coffee. The grass was crispy with virgin frost and slippy to walk on, hopped from boulder to boulder, feeling velcro like friction under muddy soles - surely it cant be wet.... and it wasnt.

Started off on the pebble bimbling about. Saw a nice picture of Ned doing boston mess in the week. Have always been massively underwhelmed looking at it, and understand its a bit eliminate? didnt even look in the end, but will have to get him to show me. Did pebble arete on both sides, that easy thing on the side facing towards careless torque, and then a quick pootle on deliverance. The lack of wind plus pots of sun was enough that I was back to t shirt. Couldnt do it, couldnt really remember what I was supposed to do with my feet.

Moved to the green traverse, did some elimanates and a few laps before moving to captain hook. Bruised my cocyx years ago trying this with a wack method, and nearly wasted skin trying to do so again today. Adam turned up just in time and confirmed what I was doing was stupid and the way I discounted was in fact correct. Why do I do this? If I dont do something quickly I think too much about it and start to become convoluted. Get it done and do that fun thing just next to it where you climb a hanging arete. Dont know what its called, but its quite easy, and very fun.

Just below the hanging arete theres a little face with a pair of opposing pockets. You smear, grasp the pockets and then pop your right to a chip, I do this and then Adam shows some good problems on the other aretes. I follow where I can, excepting the one he falls off as it looks hard.

More and more people are turning up now and its starting to look busy. As it turns out, most people are either walking or tradding, and the blocs arent too busy. We move over to the storm and to my delight there's noone there. Put all the pads down and Adam has a go. It feels terrible so he drops off to brush it. Has another go and does it easily - watching adam highlights clearly exactly what I have been doing wrong. I have been trying to rock straight up where he sits over on his heel, mantles his left hand right back past his body moving his center of gravity over his heel and then all he needs to do is move his left hand out to the lip - easy. I try my best to make the heel work but it just isnt secure, I dont feel good, so I go back to the toe. It takes me a few more goes, but I've seen what I was doing wrong. Another chap turns up and joins us, I know I am either one or two goes away from success, Adam does something scary up the right arete and I have another go, rocking more leftwards on to the toe and mantling with my left hand. I reach the limit of movement, and stretch my left hand out to the lip managing to snag three tips over the lip, start to barn door, but the friction is so good I stay on and after I've stopped the overbalance I settle my hand and mantle out to glory. I'm pleased and it feels good - especially as its something I had on my own pre-roy list, but I'm not ecstatic for some reason.

Adam suggests brad pitt (his rules are that if its good on the storm it will be good on the pitt). Theres noone on it and its mint condition - plus, I have the best Plantation coach there is, I cant miss this opportunity, might actually do something! I phone the honey monster and explain - thankfully, She's very understanding and my pass out gets extended.

Someone starts up archangel - It looks amazing. Adam takes some pictures, we have some goes on BP, I try to adopt the 'coming over with left hand' beta, but it feels totally improbable, and I switch back to the right hand gaston method. We take a break for a coffee and a familiar face walks over and says hello. Its one of those people who I dont know but I do know. I've seen the face before but I dont have a name, and its probably a nod to at wall type of person. Said person says hi and starts talking to adam. My hearing is notoriously bad (she and I say that she is see no evil monkey, and I am hear no evil monkey) and when the newcomer quips something about this 'ere blog I miss it at first, then he elaborates saying that he is going out with my friend Helen - and I know who it is! and its good news! the person is fiend, and fiend isnt who I thought he was! Am delighted! this person seems really nice, which is good, because the other chap wouldnt have been right for her. She is at Bamford (or Baslow) and apparently coming later. Some more pleasantries exchanged and I go back to the pitt.

Adam shows a few different methods and I inch closer. I start to scooch my right foot up against the wall, and it feels good, and I think I know then that I can do it. I've got here before, but all thats stopping play now is fear, I dont want to match the gaston. Tell adam to give a spot and thats all I need to really try. Do the match on the gaston and confidence gets massive boost - it feels really steady, but I dont think I can move up.

The next goes are all about building confidence in what feels like a very tenuous position. The nervousness of knowing I could do it is made worse by dwindling skin and I'm worried that I will be beaten back before the deed is done. Pull on, slap the heel on and roll it into position. Scum my right foot and bang to the gaston, weedle it into the right postion and push and oppose with
all my limbs until a bit more weight comes on to the heel and then I match, feel well insecure, but dead point the crimp and with a bit of a shuffle am more and more over the heel. In my subconcious I can hear adam shouting to go for it, and I've managed to move up just enough to pop to the top jug... Bang! I lash out like my life depends on it and I'm there! Adam yells, I yell, I pull up so fast I pull my feet off the holds and I'm on top - AAAARGHHGHHGHG! I've done brad pitt! get in! very happy.

Shout some gentle abuse at Jon Barton and collect all my belongings, planning to check out help the young before finishing for the day. I have split a tip but am full of beans and keen for more.

Adam explains, demonstrates and chats to a mancunian dude about chamonix. Jim turns up. I dont know if I can hold the hold as right hand is bleeding and skin tres thin. Jim dispatches and I pack up and walk down.

A really good day out. And hasnt it been better than flailing at rubicon? god yes. This programme of Roy's feels like am being made to rediscover the joy of climbing, and its really made me appreciate being out with people. Operating in isolation is ok, but when you are working something new out I think its invaluable to be with others. Plus, its really nice to get to know new people. Its going to be a best ever year for me at this rate, I am doing more climbing than ever before, and rediscovering what I loved about it in the first place.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Build up to buoux

The amazing weather was replaced by fog today. It had to happen. Dont know whats in store for the weekend, with any luck it will be ok and I can work through some more of Roy's grit list. Talking of which, Busby went back and did Dick Williams yesterday, presumably alone which is worth more than half a grade extra in my eyes.

James and I did routes at the foundry last night. This is the start of buoux training. It felt good, but I suprised myself by being unscared. I even felt like I was climbing above the bolts, not backing off being a homo. Its two years since I got dropped though, so perhaps the memory is finally fading. Even took a lob. The routes climb well, and I will be using my two month freebie pass to good effect and doing as many as I can. Pockets are apparently order of the day at Buoux. Sharp manufactured ones. Hmm.

On a course today. Half read a mail from Dr Pinch (ed robinson) that he has hurt his back surfing. And that he cannot read this blog any more. Get well soon ed. Not that you can see this. Chill tomorrow, climb saturday morning.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

School respiratory complaint

I am outnumbered by Vodafone people at the moment. As they're a third party, my usually lax professionalism has to be temporarily hidden, so I haven't been writing as much as normal. Its their last day today, so normal service should be resumed tomorrow.

Monday night was the foundry comp. A bit harder than the last round, although I did think I was going to flash them all until I went through to the board. The one harder problem was a beauty, but considerably harder than anything else that had been set. A better comp is one where theres a good spread of harder problems, but I suppose this means that they've realised that theres only a couple of people operating at that level - theres no point setting loads of hard problems to separate them. I flashed a problem on the wave but topped out rather than finishing on the finishing hold. Got straight back on it and finished it properly and it was easier, plus, its only the foundry comp so I'm having it. Back briefly to the board one I didnt do. A good deal harder than anything else, I flashed to three moves from the top and then spent another three goes getting to the top but not sticking it. A very good and very hard problem. Didn't do it at all in the end. Ned did turn up, but didn't enter, and anyway - he had only done one other round and couldnt have beaten me anyway. Yay! So thats it for comps for another year. Which is nice.

Been so beautiful outside at the moment that I had to rush out after work. Made it home by 1600, and was at Burbage bridge at 1620. Saw Dan Variable walking up the path and walked in to west chatting about his and Ned's font trip. Sounded like it was a bit warm at north, and west was better, but almost a bit verglassy on the nose top out. That was on roy's mega list, so I got another one ticked off. Sam and Lu were out with another couple (the chap I recognise but couldnt name) and they were doing it a totally different way for shorties. Had a go on that way and it negates the long reach but is perhaps a bit more insecure. Did Not westworld. Went back to west side and after a few abortive getting everything wrong goes I was back at the top, wishing I trusted my right foot. All I need to do is have faith in friction, step left through and right up and go for it. Dan joins me and gets the second sidepull with his right, comes over with his left into the top one, runs his feet up and matches the top hold before moving smoothly back left to the jug. Pretty impressive layback smearing that looks terrifying! Give up as the light is failing and want to go and do the arete just behind it. Its scary. Get to the top but am completely convinced am about to meet my maker at several points. Dan says it does you good to be scared now and again. Have a quiet shudder out of sight on the way down. Get involved with an unpleasant wall thing to the left and keep sticking the top but sliding back off it. Its very non classic, and I dont think I will rush back.

Nic forwarded on a mail from the council which contains bad news for the school :
"I are not able to offer any firm end to the current temporary closure of the buildings (we forecast 3 to 4 weeks from the 15th January). I am waiting for Kier to provide us with a timetable for removal of the asbestos found in the boiler room.  This is, due to HSE rules, a process that can take a number of weeks.
In the meantime I have confirmed with the Council's senior Health and Safety adviser that the building will be completely secured by us so no-one may gain unauthorised access.  I will re-confirm this to all users as we know that access to the centre is being regularly made, contrary to warnings in the recent letter that we reserve the right to permanently exclude anyone found entering without express permission from us to collect belongings."

ASBESTOS! whoa! First I've heard about asbestos. Wouldn't be suprised to learn that this will be the end of the school. There may not actually be any asbestos, but they now have their legit reason to close the building. The result of this is that the other tenants are moving out - weakening the support for the campaign to keep it open. All in all things dont look good. That said, there are other meetings coming up, maybe I am being sceptical, but I can't help but think we would be wise to start the search for alternative premises.

Following Mr Bennett's latest installment of bad luck he is on the hunt for a new car. Quite an exciting, unnerving and time consuming process to embark upon. Has to be efficient as Nat drives to Wakey every day - and in my eyes this means diesel. Golf mk5 are a good car and should just about be in budget. Seat's are cheap but cheaply built - expect leaks, trim to be poor. The smart money is on a skoda fabia vrs. But, its a skoda. I would try to push for a golf I think - plus, with Paul's luck - they are dead safe. Older 3 series with 80k on might be worth a look, but expensive maintenance, and I think he thought it would be two big (imagine those two midgets rattling around in a three series!), so I think either Fabia or perhaps the fast diesel astra - the two door ones look great. Thurlby in leicester do a chipped 200bhp one. And, they're cheap as chips when you break em.

Monday, 11 February 2008

dick williams

Friday is, as Roy agreed - a good day for resting. Saturday means real climbing, and in order to give myself the best possible chance of success on Saturday - Friday should be spent relaxing. Things at work have been rather fraught over the last month or so - pressure to deliver our wireless infrastructure is reaching a peak. When I go home from work I stop thinking about work, but even if the stress is indirect - i.e. other people are stressing about stuff, it rubs off on me and I can't help but feel a bit strung out too. Friday night then, we went to see a shit film called Water Horse. It was bad. 45%. Childrens accents very poor, about all I can say that I liked of it was the imagery of Scotland which was ace.

I meant to write something about Roy's Terminator training programme. His central principle is that I have built a top heavy pyramid (of power!), by training and training and training. I've built up strength that outweighs my technical prowess - I am good at climbing on the board, but I will flounder on onsights and on new rock types. This is true. I see this manifest as my being stronger than necessary to do problems, but taking ages to work out what to do on them. By taking a step back and building my technique base I may take two steps forward. I have, for the first time in 15 years of climbing, got a longer-than-a-week structured programme. I've always had a plan roughly for the year - summer, longer stuff and weights, winter boulder boulder boulder, and I've also always had a loose plan within the week - Monday = board, hard climbing problems, Wednesday = climb, socialise - hard climbing problems, Thursday = training, climbing specific exercises, volume or stam circuits, Saturday out. Now I have two month  phases to concentrate on - designed to produce a peak around trips and in time to achieve goals. Right now, we are in a volume phase until the end of march. Shouldn't be trying really hard things, more building up skills doing lots of easier things.

I'd read in the week that Rubicon was dry, and you will know of my ongoing siege of Tsunami, so I had intentions of heading down there - which is exactly what I shouldn't be doing! I kind of wanted to go, but didn't know how I'd be climbing, and didn't want to fail. Opted to stay local, hang out with Busby and go out on the grit - after all, Roy's programme is only going to work if I follow it - its all about the discipline! Busby was up and out early doors, questing aimlessly through the woods trying to find the secret garden. What a lovely morning. Following the approach path through the trees I became mesmerised by the sight of a bare chested Busby flitting between the boulders... Hadn't been to the secret garden in years. Did a 6b+ to the left hand side, followed by a 5+ that I nearly fell off, then had about thirty goes on another 6b+ that is clearly 8b. Never done beachball, and that's a bit of a classic, so after a few flounders from us both, I work out a new method and put it into practice to succeed. Do something else to the right thats steady, and then we move to Dick Williams - which the guide proclaims as one of the best problems of its grade on grit. High praise indeed. Its an amazing feature - a lovely rounded arete starting off powerfully, and becoming increasingly technical the higher you go. I remember the joy of bouldering with someone of similar abilities, each of us opens an individual move, slightly refining the sequence for the other one and before too long its looking like its on. The bit firmly between my teeth, it could be either of us at this stage, and I tell myself I don't care who gets it first, but I do - I want it to be me! Some guys turn up and Busby has a fantastic effort and I really think its in the bag for him - don't know why he doesn't succeed (probably letting go) but he doesnt. Our iterative sequence refining process has drained us and at our attempts move from being close to sketchy, our skin's wearing and we're getting tired. Joe and Vicky turn up. Vicky has just done Blind Alley. She's tres nonchalant about it but must be stoked - effort! Busby says game over and puts his trainers on, and I decide it really is my last go - I have to be home and my attempts are getting worse. Pull on, climb well - taking all the holds just right, and I stand up into balance at the top - it feels well scrittley, I'm sure I'm going to slide backwards into the chasm, but manage not to to get the tick. Feel dead pleased! Feel mildly sorry for Buzzarella whose fought hard but had it slip away at the last minute. Next time beast!

Spend the afternoon being productive. Fixed a dripping tap, do some diy stuff and make a lasagne to have for dinner with sister and fiance on sunday. We go to the top of the mayfield valley to look at the stars, and she finds the seven sisters. I find stars mesmerising. Years ago, we had a night in cyprus where we lay on sun loungers in the middle of nowhere just looking at the stars for ages. I think they're incredible. I suggest we buy a telescope - she takes the piss, and we end up deciding to remove the bed in the spare room to make way for a massive train track. Me being the conductor and her role playing a passenger. We stop talking nonsense to go to the Cobden view with friends.

Sunday is another gorgeous day, the cat is up early and really insistent that we get up so our lie in is cut short. Do some more housey stuff, walk to get her car back and I pop out on my bike for an hour. Sister comes round about six and lasagne goes down a treat. Too much red wine flows, fall in bed tired out at 10.

Tonight is the foundry comp final round. I think I read that Ned is with Variable in Font, so I might do ok! now I have written that a legion of beasts will turn up and I will be last. At least I think I will do ok on the whole series. Tomorrow Leeds wall, Wednesday Foundry - routes, thursday maybe the works, friday off - saturday gritstone greatness. And Finally... it feels great to be doing all these problems Roy has set for me - as I can actually do them, and do them quickly. Not only is this reminding me of the joy of climbing, but its possibly helping me build skills! Feel massively positive about it all today. its been a good weekend.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


Blimey. Had my first session back last night. It's rather different climbing at the wall to climbing outside - more physical. I enjoy climbing on the works' comp wall - it is good, but its totally different to climbing outside. Even compared to roof climbing, the holds are smaller outside and the comp wall is more gymnastic. Probably mutually exclusive too. Felt boxed after two hours trying the new problems, managed a couple of the Black Pearl's scarpa affairs but waned fast - indoor fitness clearly lacking. Strong but unconditioned to indoor action.
The current crop of problems on the comp wall are really quite good. Talking about the black pearl's probs - they are just like a BBC (british bouldering competition), some are shared problems for both men and women to attempt, of the ones of these I tried, I flashed. The men only ones are the next level so I fell off these, expending all my energy until all that was left of me was a crumpled heap on the mats. Hung out with that Boreal sponsored euro dude (turns out to be spanish) who is over learning english. What a nice chap. Can do a bit too. Chatted to Ed and to Aaron, both of whom were in good spirits. Typically, it gets busier and busier around 6pm. I was pretty much beaten by then and jetted at 1930 - a good hour after it would have been prudent to leave.
We are looking after our friends Si and Diane's cat Magic at the moment, so I popped in to feed him on the way home. I dont know why I'm imparting this essential information to you, save that it highlights that our cat Heidi is definately a psycho. Magic will come and sit on you and purr, whereas Heidi is mercenary and only wants to kill stuff. She is better looking though.
The works' incomprehensible but charming manager Brian has bought the old PlanetFear server, which is to be reconditioned and turned into the works super server. So that's been removed to the development lab for its makeover - my cellar. Managed to squirrel it in before collecting the littlest honey monster from the Ball (drunk). Fed her, made her drink water and put her in bed.
Its another nice day in LS28 today. I have just been out to Caley (wet) and Almscliffe (pretty dry). I was walloped from last night and everything felt hard. Had pitiful attempt on keel, getting right hand to the hole thing but wilting unable to top out. Dismal. Having tomorrow off.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Future of highballing

Check this out :
at first I thought it was going to be some sort of climbing snuff movie.

Monday, 4 February 2008

back to work blues

I'm at work, which means I blog by email - so I can only link in the pics by URL. I might correct these later, but you might just have to live with it. Sure you'll cope.
Quite crap these to be honest, didn't take nearly enough, but when I'm climbing, I'm climbing - not titting about with my camera. Except that when I get back I always wish I had titted more. Anyway, here they are :
Felt walloped yesterday, and am taking until Wednesday off (training I mean) to allow skin to recover - still sore to the touch. Got to be something I can do to harden the tips before going the next time. Been a good trip, had a good time, don't feel too bad that I didn't do more to be honest. I knew I was climbing well before I went, and I know I could have done more but for the various set backs, but that's ok, I dont feel I was robbed, or that I wasn't good enough, just that things conspired to thwart me. In the past, its been that I wasn't up to it, and this time I think I was but other things happened. I have high hopes for the next time!
I thought about what Roy said whilst I was away. One of the reasons I love switzerland so is because the climbing is basic. I think he might be right and I have shortcutted my way to where I am - missing climbing skills on the way - look at my ascent of 'les cliques a claques' - I was more than strong enough to do it but had to have as many goes as I did because I had to use trial and error to refine the sequence enough to do it. When I finally did it, I had had about a million goes and was exhausted. Were I technically more competent, I would have sorted the sequence and done it much quicker. I refer to Stu Littlefair - 'you're not technically incompetent, but you are a sequence idiot'. The thing is, I have known this for ages. But I like training. I like being strong, I dont want to loose that - I've got things I want to do on the board! which makes me quite nervous about re meeting with Roy to discuss whatever he thinks I should do. But we'll see. I need to recognise that perhaps its worth taking one step back to take two steps forward...

Saturday, 2 February 2008

End point

Bergamo airport is really bad.

Dylan woke up this morning full of my cold, fed him and put him back in his pit. Cleaned the house. Weather bad. Much rain overnight - all roads v.wet.

Sorted the house out by half ten and drove up to cresciano. Lots of euro cars and vans in the car park, but not a soul up in the woods by the blocs. Everything soaked. Hardly a dry hold anywhere. Walked up to la boule area and looked at la proue. That foot hold is terrible. Walked back down and returned to the house to rouse dylan and pay ma stilhart. Sorted all that and left an hour ahead of schedule.

The motorways were all dead until milan and we made it to the car hire return thing in 1hr50. Sorted all that out and now waiting to board plane in 45 mins.

Its been a funny old trip. I trained specifically, fought hard, but it didn't pay off! First day at chironico dylan strained his shoulder on tomahawk and walked into a tree, I found that schule des lebens thing - got all excited and split a tip. So damn close though. Had I had someone else there to show me I really think I could have done that in a session. Never mind. Finished that day with a go on le pilier failing twice on the top jump. Next day I rested, the sun came out and it was boiling. Felt good about the world, sunning myself and reading on my pad. Ed did vol au vent. Tuesday I had filthy lurgy, but we went to chironico when I really should have stayed in. Looked at shark hunt, but had no enthusiasm for anything, did arabald and dr med dent. Next day I stopped in, dylan bust his ankle on I'll partner and ed did it. Next day dylan stopped in and I went wild at chironico. Friday we all went out to cresc but I had terrible skin. Dylan nearly did la pioche, ed did la boulette, I repeated 7b's I'd done before and did a new slab thing (new to me). Didn't do owt today.

Wished I'd not got ill and had tried shark hunt. Don't think I would have done franks or serre without armfuls of beta or a team to push me on. A catalog of errors. Great accomodation, great freeview soft porn, great company, food etc, but dogged by mishap and illness. There's definately value in going as part of a large group for collective psyche and beta. 6 out of 10 for trip as a whole. I'll be back. And would have no quarms about coming back with these two - at the very least we all got on well together. Boarding now. TTFN.

So, I write at the end of not the greatest climbing day in the world ever, but it rescued itself and I ended up having fun. Last night we met with ed's friend dieter. Definately a cool guy but with quite a dour outlook especially considering he's a full timer - living a nomadic life in his van at all the worlds best bouldering spots. Smelly feet the like of which I have never previously encountered, fuck me - I gagged when he took his shoes off.

My skin is dreadful. weeping through all tips, two worn down to flesh, the rest not far behind. Terrible. Don't know what I would suggest in future to harden them up, not climbing on smooth wood for weeks before probably.

Weather has crapped out at the end of today, so I don't think we will be climbing tomorrow. Other things I forgot to mention - looking at backgammon and cave of wolf. Shame they finish in the middle of nowhere. Frederic bricol looks good. Dylan nearly doing la pioche before a pole in bad jeans (from the market - 10€) stopping play. Thoroughly terrible pointless attempts on franks, and ed doing la boulette. The intention is that I come back and say something else about these, but we'll see. I may well forget. Am beaten. Almost hoping it does rain tomorrow!

And finally - a word of sympathy for paul b. News has reached us in switzerland that poor paul has been victim of a car accident leaving him with yet more broken bones! Clearly, the only explanation for this incredible run of bad luck can be that in order to shortcut his way up voyager, he sold his soul to the devil. Get well soon mate. And stay indoors!