Monday, 28 April 2008


I will write more (probably when I have uploaded the pictures and so on, and when I am less tired) later, but for now, here is a quick update on the last few days (and getting home) of our Canada trip :

So, that Thursday we went back to Vancouver, but we hadnt really realised how bored we were with the city. Bored is perhaps too strong a word - as its a great city for sure, but we really felt that there was nothing we really wanted to do or go and look at there, and, we had pretty much run out of money by then, so we didnt want to just go palming around the shops again. TC had mentioned an area we'd missed, so we went and had a coffee up there - the London road area of Vancouver, then we went back to the Arcteryx factory shop (didnt buy owt), and finally (as we were both flagging) to the Museum of Anthropology, which is quite interesting.

The politically correct term for the indigenous population of north america is 'First Nations people'. The museum is largely a collection of 'First nation' artifacts, few of which are older than 100yrs (their chosen medium for totem poles is red cedar, and I think it must be quite soft and therefore doesnt last well) but the museum (and anything you do see on display elsewhere) seems to skip over the whole episode of the colonisation of the area by europeans - which is a bit wierd. Actually, reading that back, it occurs to me that the reason there is nothing older could be becuase they never kept anything. I suppose what I wanted to see was some of their culture and heritage, some of their legends and folklore, rather than just exhibits with no text about why it is what it is.

Had a walk to granville island for tea and then wandered home with a bottle of wine. Had greatly enjoyed staying in vancouver, but really looking forwards to getting back to the countryside on Friday.

Friday arrived and typically we spent ages getting stuff together and getting out. I was like a cat on hot bricks - psyched to get out climbing. Made it to Squish for about 1300 and met up with Anne, Tim and now Matt Birch. Started off at the ZeroZero/harry met sally bloc and managed to do all the moves on harry met sally. Set about trying to link it, but could feel it biting hard into my skin, pretty sure I could do that one given more time, but wanted to climb more and moved on to this amazing problem with a daft name which is something like 'Sharma dyno problem'. I couldnt do any of it. Amazing looking problem though. Moved to a problem I was trying previously and continued to fail to do it. Anne was trying Homeboy sit start, so I joined her for a bit and between us we figured a sequence. Its made all the more interesting because theres a super low start where you start in a cave beneath the boulder, then, hugging the roof, you squirm out to join the sitter and continue up from there. Very good. My skin is nearly through by now, and after a quick look at some hideous projects Matt, Tim and I have a quick gander at Wormhole (or world?) Matt does it, and I might as well have not had a go as everything hurts too much and have to sack the session. Drive to the sushi shop but theres a massive wait so its back to the ranch for Pizza and wine. Talk shit until 2200 and turn in. A long day awaits.

For some reason, I couldnt sleep. I was perfectly comfortable, warm, etc, but I just couldnt get off. Last time I noticed the time was 0230, and I think I managed some sleep because the next time I looked it was 0540, then 0845 - I must have been dozing. Got up, did some sorting and Anne, Tim, Josie and us two departed to hike the chief. It was a gorgeous day. Felt decidedly shaky after a few minutes, and had to consume emergency rations on the shoulder before the final summit push as was feeling quite sick. This made me feel much better, and after a bit of lunch on the top we zipped back down and the Honey monster and I set off home. Lovely to see the family Clifford (and Matt) and tres cool to be able to stay in such nice surroundings at their house. Zoomed back to Vancouver, made it in an hour, popped to a shop to get these shoes I was after, and then back to the hire car office, which we didnt actually know where was. We had to have the car back by 1600, and it was 1554 and there was no sign of the damn office! drove like a lunatic and eventually found the office, but they were shutting, ran in and managed to give them the keys before they could lock the door! phew. Cab to airport. YVR must have been recently renovated as its amazingly nice! ate, drank coffee, mooched - got on the plane. 8 uncomfortable hours (and no sleep later) we arrive in Glasgow. Depart Glasgow early and arrive back to Manchester at 1350. Bags are all off ok and in reasonable time, and we get a lift to the outlaws to collect the car and have tea. Both feel wacked.

Made it back to sheffield at about 1930, after a drive fuelled by tea and red bull. Managed to stay up until 2100 and then slept until 1130 this morning. Little cat is very happy to see us, house is still here and all allright. We have had a lovely time, but Its still good to be home.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Back to Vancouver

We were gonna try whale watching one more time today, as the littlest pig so wanted to see them, but the sea looked pretty choppy and we really should have done it the day before, plus we are running out of money and it feels like we have done a lot of stuff this trip. So, we drove back across the island and had a bit of a stop for coffee along the way. Made the 1500 ferry and were back on the road heading into Vancouver for 1645. We'd thought we would come back here as we figured perhaps we would check out Seattle tomorrow. Also, we really enjoyed this area of Vancouver, it really feels like we are on holiday - there's bars and places to eat within walking distance. Anyway, apparently crossing the border is an arse and Seattle aint that good, plus we felt tired after a lot of racing around, so I think we're gonna check out some further afield areas of Vancouver tomorrow and take it relatively easy.

Which is an added bonus as I will get to climb on Friday! Then we fly out on Saturday.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Rimming the Pacific

Where we are staying borders the Pacific rim national park. We basically did that today. My cold has all but gone, and the sun was out. Breakfast at the hotel was great, just cereal and toast which is really all you want and or need. Yes, its nice to have more, but you don't need it. Anyway, went to ucluelet, then back to the wickaninish interpretative centre and then to several other sites within the park. All very pretty, pictures to follow.

Canada, particularly BC, is a great place to live if you like activities. Where I am staying there is surf, a beautiful beach and its a temperate rainforest (not sure what activities you do in a rainforest), but then you look over the trees and there's snow capped mountains beyond! So there's alpinism, surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, everyone runs all the time and all manner of other incidental activity such as horse riding. And, everyone here is dead healthy, the pubs shut at 10, everyone eats at 6 and the night clubs start at 7!

So. Tomorrow we,re thinking of exploring more of the island and then heading back to the city for a night before possibly having a look at Seattle. Back to squamish on Friday to climb. Matt birch arrived at chez Clifford today too, and it will be nice to see him/get inspired!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

My cold continues. I have these decongestant tablets but they make me go jittery if I have too many. Anyway, today we left squamish and caught the ferry from horseshoe bay over to nanaimo on Vancouver island (which I would like to up size after previously claiming its as big as Wales, I now think its more like England. Across the smallest cross section its 200 km, so its massive anyway). And then drove through to tofino which is a small surfing outpost on the Pacific rim national park. We followed a hotel recomendation from Tim and are staying in an amazing beach lodge overlooking the Pacific. Amazing.

There is talk of more whale watching tomorrow, but we'll have to see. Money burn rate has increased massively so we're going to have to rein some of our ambitions in I think! Better go. Have many recollections to recount but no time to order thoughts now.

Monday, 21 April 2008

chief owned

gotta be quick, as for the first time this trip I am typing on a proper keyboard, but its on tims laptop, and the home key keeps getting hit by accident, and its annoying. This morning the monster and i dashed off a quick ascent of the chief. It was beautiful, clear skies and nice and fresh. I still have a cold, but its not too bad. Went to the supermarket and finally to do some bouldering. Met TC at gibbs cave and did the problem of the same name (7b+) then watched their friend george on his new project which will be 8b+ bloc/9a route. looks amazing. like longer version of never ending story with worse landing. dropped down to defe enders of the faith which is a super classic 7c. Its sharp. Took me ages, but finally did it and then the girls arrived and we walked on to a different area. Finished day by trying a 7c+ that I am really close to doing but skin super thin. Tea in town - burgers. yeah! ranting about work over beer, bed. Road trip tomorrow. psyched!

Sunday, 20 April 2008


That 10 I did is called zero zero it turns out. Climbing again today and will attempt to create a list for Keith as mentioned above...


When I went to pick up the hire car yesterday I got offered an upgrade to an suv. I'd already been thinking that the difference in price between the differend vehicles is really small here, and had almost persuaded myself to get a flash motor, then when the man offered I thought why not! Its only 90 dollars more. So, We are now driving around north America in this most ridiculous gold jeep thing.

Followed Tim's directions up the sea to sky highway (would be beautiful, but being renovated ready for Olympics) and arrived in squamish in about an hour. The house is amazing. You could go for a run without leaving the garden (admittedly not a long run), and the garage houses an amazing board! No need to even go to the rocks! Had a cup of tea and enjoyed a bit of Clifford hospitality before heading out to the rocks (little Josie at day care).

Its just like magic wood. Only bigger, and from what I have seen so far, rougher granite. That's not all of it though - there's still a lot I haven't seen. Did a bunch of cool problems to warm up and got shown when Harry met sally and something called 1010 on the same bloc round the corner. Super crimpy basic power problems - I might actually do something this trip!

tc demonstrates 1010 (v10) and I recognise small but positive holds. Its cold and I am not warm. Do the last move, then do a move lower, then the two together, then the really hard first move, but I don't actually do that one and think its quite hard. Have a minute or two and sit myself at the start. Nail the first move and shuffle feet, second hold is a sharp gaston, but its positive and I can bone it. Walk feet round for the awkward up deadpoint, lash out and amaze myself by sticking the hold, just the easy lock to the top and its done - get in! Immediately I have done more than on some full week long trips! We move to a pinchy 11 and Anne does a cool slab to the left. U manage the first move once on this problem, but skin feels super thin and I don't do much else. The girls walk to another block and Tim and I go up to an amazing 12 that he did a start to - it looks incredible. Originally it was climbed from a jump start and given 12 for that, but he managed to climb into it but doesn't think it adds anything! Anyway, it looks fully amazing, but I don't pull on. Yet. We go to check out the egg - a super classic 11, and I can't do the first move. The climbing here is not all basic at all. Tim explains that 1010 is a very basic problem! We walk through to the chaka demus and pliers block and I get to look at dream catcher. It looks awesome. And in a very imposing setting. I also get shown the singularity, and there are holds, but I can't really see how bad they are, but there's certainly no chalk on them. I,m a bit in awe. Look at an 8b route on the bloc facing dream catcher and still a bit dumbfounded we walk on to see the girls just beneath.

There's another couple of 10's here that I try and feel I could certainly do. We jet into town to collect Josie from daycare and pop in the supermarket for provisions. Its a bit of a culture shock being in squamish after the city. Its really low rise and spread out, the city is so dense and bustling. Kinda wish we'd come here first!

Go home and play with Josie. She is so cute. Such a happy lovely child! After tea she goes to bed and we all retire to the second of the Clifford living rooms for a chat and a beer. Everyone is tired and we turn in at 9pm!

This morning we languished until 830 and I felt snotty and rubbish. went into town to check out rob Smith's recommendation of Mr d's. Apparently Mick Adams couldn't finish a lumberjack breakfast, so I had to try. neither could I. Had to leave nearly two thirds of it as the sweats were starting! Left and family Clifford and us two walked around beautiful alpine lake before we decided to head up to whistler for a look around.

Its about another hours drive up the aforementioned sea to sky highway, and some pretty spectacular stuff to see on the way. I felt really snotty and energyless when we arrived, so bought and necked some more decongestant pills which sent me wired. Urgh! Hung out up there until tea time when we drove back to squamish for some tea.

The honey monster and I discussed our plans for the week ahead. We always said this wasn't going to be a climbing trip, and with her back still hurting most activities are off the menu for a few days, so tomorrow (Sunday) we're going to do a bit of a walk and the climb, and then Monday we're going to head out to the island to check out the Pacific rim national park. Also, the sunshine coast. Anne and Tim told us all about it and it sounds amazing. We always like to explore on a holiday, so that's what we're going to do.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Salty sea dog I am not...

One of the things people said we should do was to visit the island. Vancouver is a city built around what we would call an estuary. But at the mouth of this estuary there's a 20km strait and then a whopping island which is probably the size of Wales which is where we have been today.

We got there by float plane, which was dead cool. Its a 30 minute flight and the plane takes off from Vancouver harbour and lands in Victoria harbour. The harbour of both is right in the mix, so there's no messing with transfers or taxi's or owt, you're straight in on the ground floor (or first floor as they say in this continent). I was waving my camera about when we got on, and the pilot asked if I would like to sit in the co pilots seat! I nearly wet myself with excitement! The co pilot was pleased too, although it did get a bit cold in the cockpit with the no trousers rule.

We had half an hour when we arrived before we were due on to a zodiac caterpulting through the waves in search of cetaceans. The man on the counter seemed very genuine (they all do here, this is a nation of the most helpful friendly people you could wish to meet. From a cynical UK perspective you feel suspicious, but they really do seem to want to be nice) and he reckoned there had been no sightings, and it would be warmer in the afternoon. We agreed, changed our times and went off in search of food.

Wandered around the shops and visited the BC museum before heading back to the harbour for action. I think I'd been feeling a bit flaky anyway, and was a bit dreading this seaborne adventure, but she was really psyched. We arrived, checked in and got fitted out with flotation suits. She wanted to sit at the front of the boat, and inspite of the mans advice that 'it was a real yahoo ride up front' I thought it would be quite fun too. And it was - for about 10 minutes - of a 3 hour trip.

Within the breakwater it was fine, absolutely fine. on the open water the waves felt massive (don't think they actually were), and we were charging through them, it was dead exciting, bouncing right out of the water at times. I was loving it, but when the boat slams down with a crack into the next wave and you're not braced for it, it whallops your lower back. I half stood and braced with my legs, but the poor monster took the full ride a couple of jarring times. We waited until we slowed down and moved back up the boat which lessens the amount of pitch, and it was immediately better. Except that by then I was already feeling crook. All I could do was stare at the horizon and concentrate on my breathing. Totally convinced was I that sickness was on the way. Monster seemed fine. The tour continued and we saw dalls porpoises, seals, otters and eagles, but no whales. Moving back a seat and some respite in calmer waters saw me right and I was feeling chipper by the time it came to crossing the rough bit again. Blimey. It was worse. Even from the new back seats I had to pointedly stare straight ahead and answer questions with single syllables.

Made it back to terra firma, but the bloody flight then had the indecency to be bumpy too. In a little plane you feel everything and I was on my last legs by now, but thankfully I managed to hold it together and made it back to VC with contents of stomach intact. Couldn't face a cab, so had a walk to the nearest starbucks for a cup of tea.

Both managed to wolf some feed down but had full sea legs (the effect of still thinking you are afloat even when totally stationary) on getting home. Rubbish. Her back is ruined, so I've been out to get ibruprofen and she is in bed as I type this. Hope the morning does not bring with it much pain for the little frog. I feel a bit achey myself to be honest.

Last night in Vancouver tonight. Had enough of the city now, although very cool, that's it now - I feel like I have done it. There's nothing else I would like to see or do here. Probably! It is an amazing place, I have never heard of anywhere else where there's mountains in the back ground, skyscrapers in the centre, and then a beach in the foreground! Amazing. And the people are lovely.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Tandem tantrum

Much darker skies overhead this morning. Breakfast in the apartment before heading down to the park to do some more pull ups. There was a tramp on the rings so I contented myself swinging around on the childrens assault course! Caught the bus into town and wandered along Robson to the start of Stanley park.

They have this amazing chain of wholefood deli shops called capers. Incredible organic and healthy foods within. We have started eating there to combat aforementioned engorgment. Had a wrap from there and hired a tandem.

Stanley park is an amazing thing. think of a peninsula of land, with the most high rise bit of the city occupying most of it - this is downtown Vancouver. The city extends round onto the land either side of the peninsula too, in fact, that is just the centre district. Anyway, the tip of the penis is Stanley park, which is billed as a taste of wilderness in an urban setting. Well, maybe if you had earplugs in and had been taking mushrooms. If you consider bingham park a taste of the peak district then you get the idea. Anyway, its about 11km around the sea wall, and wobbling slightly on our new steed, we quest off around the park. Very pleasant. On getting back to the start you can follow trails through the middle of the park, so we do. It quickly becomes clear that our tandem is intended for tarmac use only. Its ok going up, but coming down again the tyres strain on the rims, and after a particularly enthusiastic descent we puncture our back tyre. Ah well, this at least secures us a discount.

Bus back home as both are tired. Don't know what we will do for tea tonight. Might go and get a salad from that capers place again!

One last thing - I don't get how intersections work. When there's lights and you are on red its still ok to turn right I think, and if you are going left then I think you pass on the wrong side of an oncoming left turner or something. Its wierd. And when there are no lights, its first person to the line who has priority. On the subject of transport, the buses here have a better charging model than we do. Rather than buying a ticket on each and every bus you travel on, you get one ticket that allows you 90 minutes of travel on any bus you like. Which is handy if you keep getting on the wrong ones.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Shop quest

Had a bit of a lie in for us this morning. I went to the bakery and got croissants and stuff and did some pull ups in the park. They have rings there too, so I I did a muscle up into 5 dips. It felt hard. This can only be because I am hugely fat. We have walked miles, but also eaten like horses!

Quested off to new areas after boutique suggestions from a waitress. Found some really nice shops with individual Canadian designed pieces but nothing that captivated the monster. Thing is that you'd have to go for the whole look, individual items would look out of place on there own. Its like shopping at ikea, its fine if you plan to do the whole house or a whole room, but single items don't work alone. Anyway, found amazing lunch café in boho area (as much as can be in north America) and after more trawling headed back to town. Found some really posh shops and I bought some jeans, she still didn't manage to get owt. Town is ok, but its either chain shops you can get in the uk or its reet posh designer stuff. Anyway, got the bus back to 4th and found better shops which were more our style. Age bought a hoody which is lovely, and after a trip to the bakery (yes, more food!) we walk home for a rest. Half an hour later we start the half hour uphill to Vij's which is a host recommended Indian. Its lovely. The service is amazing and the food is unlike anything I have tasted so far. Reasonable too. Waddle home and that's were I am writing this from. Tired and I have shin splints. But, feel settled now. Accomodation is lovely, have seen all the city and even booked whale watching trip by seaplane on thurs.

Can't wait to get up to squamish now to be honest. Have pretty much exhausted squamish.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Garbage grouse

If you come to Vancouver ever, don't bother with grouse mountain. Its rubbish. Only perhaps it isn't, if either its summer or if you can ski or snowboard. We paid $34 each to get the cable car up and we pretty much came straight back down again. It does have a nice view, but its very expensive. Saw more poor animals behind bars on the way down, and thankfully the bus was waiting to take us back to the ferry port. Been good to cross to north VC today, feel have seen more than the standard tourist trail, and still like it as a city. Went for pizza in lovely eataurant and then train and bus to nearly home. City takes on an altogether different light by dark, felt a bit shady in places on the way home, but we made it back to a bar in our neighbourhood without incident. Tim was right, I will be more than bored with the city by the time we go up there, but I think the monster will be loving it still!

Arcteryx mountain

Little monster woke up at 0400 and couldn't get back to sleep, I managed to sleep through till half 8 and felt much better today. Went to zen café, ordered lumberjack breakfast, it was massive. Too big in fact, and wierd - bacon and pancakes with poached eggs and maple syrup! Oh, and chips on the side. Tried best but didn't even reduce it by half. Anyway, pushed on to catch the bus from granville island and headed up to gastown, which is pretty cool. Had a coffee and caught the sea bus to the north shore. Decided to head straight to the arcteryx factory shop. Its good but they don't have as much as I had hoped, its more seconds and jackets rather than pants and day wear. After much cogitation bought another gamma mx hoody in another colour. It was 259 dollars, which is about 130, so it is cheap. Then got the wrong bus and am now on the right one on way to grouse mountain. Feel pretty normal today, so hopefully that's the last of the jet lag.

Anyway, weather is mint. Hope it holds into next week when the activities begin!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Town quest

We woke up early today, so we got up and headed out. Think we made it to granville island market for 9am. Had a muffin and wandered about. Caught the ferry and walked up hornby st through nice residential district until reaching Robson st, which is like the central shopping district. Found somewhere to eat called inlets, and starting to feel a bit jaded by now, food was kind of what was needed, but equally, the blood rushing to your stomach always makes you tired, so had a bit of a post lunch lull. Walked to Canada place. She was really having a moment by then, so we bought tickets for one of those sight seeing bus things where you can get on and off at will. Went to Stanley park, and to the aquarium. I start having a moment, and she is chipper. We help each other! Aquarium is quite good in that they have a clear message about conservation but still not right those wild creatures swimming round a pool for my benefit. Feel torn between contributing to their incarceration, and supporting the wild life trust thing. Catch bus again and enjoy rest of ride home. Have a brew and head to bridges pub for tea. Its a guide book recomendations and its ok. Feel well jaded. Beer perks me up, so I have two. Walk back via west 4th st, which is more our cup of tea. Going to bed now.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Vancouver first impressions.

Its 2115 local time. Must be about 5 in the uk. Not managed to sleep on the plane, so feel pretty wacked now. Was tripping earlier, fully got second wind after watching the sun sink into the Pacific and having a beer.

Flights all fine, just very long. Now in flat in kits, tres cool. Its like I imagine north America to be but without the Americans. Brilliant. A city surrounded by snow capped mountains but with beaches and sun sets and everything - its bizarre, its like it has it all. So tired.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Lands end

Went to the foundry with James on Thursday but I really shouldn't have bothered, it wasn't long enough to have recovered after the cliff (even with cyclone) and I was rubbish.
So, this is the first of the mobile blogs, this one from Manchester airport t2 on the way to Vancouver. We are both dead excited. I imagine I should be able to drop a few mobile blogs whilst on the move, but I would also predict that they will be brief, as sitting tapping away on my blackberry is not very social.

Its raining in the uk. Weather in VC looks loads better. Going to have a beer!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Peckitt downgraded...

Red sky in the morning clearly means the shepherd plans an evening on the grit. It was mint last night. Best conditions this year at Caley? well, from my limited experience at least. Started on Rabbit paw wall - becoming a favorite this, then fingerknacker crack, otley wall and new jerusalem. Moved to Ben's groove and returned to high point, trying everything to move left foot but still be incapable. Its not that I cant do it, just that I completely know that to move my left is to fall off. I think I need to see it done. Someone has been on the sitter - theres chalk all over it. Move to ZY. Start from head height - feel ok on the holds, and individual moves are ok, but I feel scared. I think I need a spot. I'm not committing to anything, always half looking over my shoulder to make sure I have a pad underneath me. That landing is not good. I fell off once and managed to stab my leg down between the boulders beneath and just thought - nope. Not one for a solo visit. Ed's achievement goes even more up in my eyes. Such a fine fine effort. I think I can support my 'I just need a spot' theory by pointing out that when I have been there with other people I have done it in two sections - whilst when I am on my own I do single moves!
Head to Almscliff. Straight into the cleft to do Jess' roof. It funnels the wind, but the last bit of the sunshine is really really beautiful, and I spend some time sat on my pad soaking it up. Lovely. Do the last section a couple of times - working out how to hold the holds, then do it from head height. Start at the start and keep getting to the end but failing. Tom Sugden arrives and joins me for a chat. Smith turns up and they go off to warm up. Another 53 (!) goes take place and I still havent done it. They come back and both crush. I try again and get up to the top but I dont take the pocket quite right and fail. I didnt want to change to their sequences so late in the day as I really thought it was on a next go tip. Never mind. Martin down grades Tom Peckitt's nicest man in Yorkshire status to #2. Much banter and 'high jinks'. Sack it off and join Ben Meeks and Rachel Seymour at Demon wall roof for Smith to try the exorcist. I do Demon wall roof and dolphin belly slap and feel knackered. Martin looks hot on Exorcist, I also get shown Stu's roof. These yorks people get some serious mileage out of a tiny bit of wall/roof. Bit like raven tor really!
Anyway, I think I may have managed to get an invite to the bingley board. Had a lovely evening inspite of not achieving anything new. Couldnt help but think that it might be the last of the gritstone sessions until september?

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Old wifery

There are almost no advantages to getting up as early as I have to. No advantages except that its quiet on the roads, and sunrises. Particularly magical one this morning - red sky in the morning, shepherds warning? hmm. We'll see.
I hope the shepherd is perhaps warning that its going to be cold, as I am hoping to climb outside tonight. Sky over Leeds is overcast but quite bright, and the horizon looks clear. Forecast is reasonable, and I have my sights on yorkshire grit. The car is loaded with pads, I anti hydral'd last night, didn't climb yesterday....

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Just a brief post this morning. Need to update the links to the rest of the blogosphere at the side of this page. Doyle now has a blog, and he has started an amusing tradition of writing a sunday sermon, which was a hilarious rant about british drivers this week - have a read :
Then there's Keith. Blimey Keif - since he stopped climbing at the board he has started crushing 8b's! I stopped climbing at the board and had the best winter of climbing I've ever experienced - perhaps there's something in this 'going climbing' thing... Keith's been in font for what feels like forever, and has just done a problem called Gourmandise. I've never heard of it, but understand it's 8b. Bloody hell! good bloody effort beast! He did ask ages ago that I didn't pass on the address of his blog, but since he has rehomed it, its now written better, and that I just bigged him up for doing 8b - plus everyone who reads this drivel knows anyway, its at Bless him - his enthusiasm is infectious, the things he does make it entertaining, although he does still insist on writing mathematical nonsense. I can forgive - as its probably that I just don't understand!
Some time ago a friend of mine sold his soul to the devil (could this be Jerry Moffatt?) to climb Voyager. A year later he snapped his leg and ended up in one of those fixator things, then he got back to climbing and was involved in a hideous car accident resulting in a fractured sternum and broken hand. He has just been to see a doctor (have you got shares in bupa paul?) and been told he has a fractured vertebrae (broken back!). On the plus side, these things are supposed to come in threes - and, perhaps if there is any karmic justice at all, perhaps now you'll have such a charmed existence that it will all be worth it, but until I see evidence that your luck has changed, I might defer going to the pub quiz with you as I am concerned the building might fall down.
When I said this would be brief this morning, clearly I wasnt expecting to get on such a ramble. Anyway, someone has just been through to ask a work question, and on fobbing him off I said 'nice one beast'. Its got to stop - its deeply inappropriate! Its James Foley's fault in my case, and he blames Doyle.
Finally, now that crabstick Arthur Haggis is back in town, perhaps he will see his way to an earlier calling of the lime this year. Last year there were leaves on the trees and birds singing before he finally signalled the end of the grit season. Come on Arthur, we've got projects to get stuck into! If this year is a repeat of last year I might have to plot a coup. A democratic Lime calling committee?

Monday, 7 April 2008

Kudos masterclass

Went to Nando's on Friday night. She sometimes goes with colleagues at lunchtime, so has been threatening to take me ever since. I'd never been before, and I dont think I would rush back either. There was nothing wrong with it, but its in the same bracket as Frankie and Benny's, TGI Friday et al. In fact, those two would probably object to that statement as its probably pitched even lower. Expensive fast food for people on office do's. What a scathing review - food was nice in fairness, service fine etc, other people in there were on office parties or were chavs though. Anyway, on to the cinema - were hoping to see the orphanage, but it depended how long we were in Nandos. We were too long, and ended up seeing Horton hears a who, which is an adaptation of a Dr Seuss story. Pretty good to be honest, but we were both super tired and didn't get as much from it as we might.
Saturday we went to the outlaws for lunch, to her nan's and finally out into Manchester for someones birthday. I'd offered to drive as I feel I have had enough drinking episodes of late, and after a nice evening (all with heavy lunch weighing me down) we headed back home at 0030 in heavy snow. Thankfully, the covering on the roads was almost non existent, excepting the very top of the snake, which is always bad. Either way, the drive wasnt relaxing - three drunk people guffawing loudly, and me glued to the windscreen (as if it would help - why does sitting as close to the windscreen as possible feel like it helps when conditions are adverse?). Home and straight to bed.
Sunday started off great - there was snow about, but the sky was clear and it looked mint. I got a text from Jon Fulwood to say he was out with Nige and Helen at Burbage Nth, got keen for that, then heard from Dylan that he wanted to go to the tor. As I felt like I wanted to make up for feeling scared on the end of a rope in France, I was keen to get back on (and, since having had more time to think about it, I think that was just my first experience of the season, now I feel up for it. Nothing like a baptism of fire to start the year), and hatched a plan to get on Sardine. Then Foley got involved and said he had heard from Ed Robinson, who had been for a walk down millers dale, and it was A : Freezing, and B: wet. Rubbish. Suddenly thought of the Kudos wall (this is over the course of numerous text and phone calls) and we agree to meet at Stoney, then move on to Rubicon.
On the way out its a full blizzard and I dont have high hopes of anything, but push on nevertheless. Cant park at Stoney and drive around to Electric quarry to walk back. Meet Ed and he points out some problems to warm up on. James turns up, and between the snow showers its ok at minus ten. Granted, there are periods when we have to press ourselves against the wall as the snow falls, but for the most part its ok, and we get to climb. I will never be a fan of minus ten, but it is good to be out. Feel virtuous. Head to rubicon for a short session. The floor is muddy, but kudos is in good nic, and completely climbable. Do the Press. clean the holds, do kneeling press - feel allright - good, clean the holds again. Ed isnt climbing, James is trying everything on quick rotation. Have a go on low right, but drop it. Know why - finger slips out of rail hold. Clean holds, rest - dispatch low right - feels ok. Pleased as punch. Clean Tsunami, have a good go, but sloper feels a bit on the cheesy side and I get ejected at full speed. Clean everything again and have another go, this time getting to the top, but not having taken the undercut quite right I only wave at the jug. More general banter from all three and we laugh much. Have another go and crush Tsunami - brilliant, it feels fine. I think as hard as Low right, its been useful to do them both on the same day for comparison. Get involved with low left and have couple of good goes, ultimately ending up with right on the press crimp, but dropping it there. Wow! psyched! I could do the trio in a session! I didnt think I would ever be able to do all three in one session, but it looks feasible. Plan also to aim to do that link up of Rich's.
Head home, eat tea, drink beer. Gonna have to post this without reading it back. Hope its ok!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Bolt Therapy

I feel disappointed with myself for missing the last day climbing in France. I think I would have liked Volx too. I mean, its got everything I like - easier grades (than Buoux at any rate) big reassuring ring bolts, steepness and its a dirty cave. I did feel terrible though - just wish I had at least pulled on. What a waste.
I also feel disappointed that I wasn't braver. Nic said I looked to be going allright on day 1, but I know that I had to make myself do it. Mentioned this to Jon, and he reckons its just that I haven't done many routes over the last few years. Plus, I suppose Buoux is quite a good place to go for a baptism of fire - its high (40m in places) and run out (but well bolted). I blame James Foley - as he refuses to do routes, even when its summer. Well James foley, not this year. This summer I am going to go to Malham with Jon Fulwood, to crush the Peak with dave Mason, and, as of last night - adding Harry 9 to my list of route climbing chums.
As I write this, I wonder whether part of this malaise is the knowledge that the rest of the team are still out there, and really - perhaps its just jealousy!
So, since returning I have actually been to the wall three times (in two days!) although, last night was just to visit Helen (whose birthday it was) and to deliver presents. Paul's Nat popped over to say hello too which was nice, and Harry and I arranged a union of man and beast to do hard sport climbing. So, with him and Dave Mason, and even Mighty Fulwood, its all looking like I might get to do some clipping this summer after all!
Also met with Tim and Anne and J at Leeds yesterday lunchtime. J is a proper little toddler now, very cute, waddling round pinching chalk to draw on the mats. She has loads of energy and you just cannot take an eye off her as she races off at every opportunity. Parents look well too, it was good to see them, and plans for our trip were discussed and hatched. Am so psyched. I think on the Friday before we come back the four of us are going to have a skiing lesson (J in childcare), as theres still loads of snow up in Whistler! wooo woooo! am so looking forwards to it. And to getting the tour from TC. Even suggested the idea of doing the big Chief, but am not sure I really want to do that. As the words left my mouth it did occur to me that if I mentioned it then I might have to do it... blimey, that would certainly cure the fear!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Buoux photo diary

So, its a mystery how I wrote anything when I last wrote. I was drunk. Actually, I dont think I was that drunk on the night, but I certainly was when I woke up. As a result, I wasted the last climbing day of the trip which was a real shame. However, it rained a lot and buoux was off the menu. I think had it been sunny then I might have made the effort and actually done something, instead of which I wrapped myself up in my down jacket and wallowed at the bottom of the crag. Felt really disappointed that I hadnt done anything at the end of the day, but had been unable to walk about without feeling dizzy.

Anyway, here are some pics from the trip (I have linked them all to the FlickR pages, so click on any of them to see it bigger) :

Andy lowering off Rose des Sables - awesome route - 7a+ I think, climbs this amazing hourglass arete feature,
this was on day2.
Andy on a new 8a+ right of fissure surge. He didn't get it on this day. Was super super windy and cold round at this sector
called Bout de monde - end of the world I think it means.
Fissure surge is an amazing route - would have got that on another day I think
Cliched but cool shot by Rich of Andy on same route as before
Rich went wild with my camera on super fish eye. My big chin:
Danger man Sellers looking moody.
Captain Goose creature
The photographer showing how he works the shot out :
Sellers on Styx wall 7c+ - thin!
End of day muscle bathing. It was v.cold
Harris dressed in his best gear. He admitted to us that this is a look he has been working on for some time.
The jeans were from New look and sized for a 16 year old girl. And he had space in them.
Nice Tache Arthur
We made Busby strip to the waste to complete the image of the homo ping pong team. It was very funny.

Finally, from the last day, here is a camera phone video of Harris attempting Theoreme at Volx. It looks brilliant I think.