Thursday, 31 July 2008

Dylan's theory is that because it has been warmer and wetter than usual, there are a greater number of flying bitey things in the air, and that he too has been nursing a bite, but his is on his hand and hasn't swollen like a carcass left in the sun like mine has. All agreed that my elbow is horrid. But I felt ok and so we headed out to see if the Cornice was dry. It wasnt. Nearly was but all a bit wet in the back of pockets, and there's more rain on the way today apparently.

Ed and I stayed at Rubicon. It was sweltering, but doing the warm ups in the heat made me feel quite dizzy. I am hoping to blame the malarial death bite on my elbow (going to the docs about it today. Shouldnt last a week should bites, and, it really knocked me for 6 and is more swollen than you'd expect. Suspect they shall just recommend anti histamines). Ed was having redpoint attempts on Caviar, and to be honest he looked pretty good on it. It could have been on, but it was one of those days when you only get a couple of goes before your hands go hot and red.

Harry, Mina and Neil were all there to boulder, and then to try Salar. I decided I would attempt to flash Too Old to be Bold. My attempt ended beside the first bolt. My hands hurt and felt cheesy on the grips, my skin was rolling off the sharp painful crimps. Worked out a sequence and lowered off.

Ed strips caviar and prepares for a flash attempt on totbb. He wobbles, moans about the holds but keeps it together and pushes through to the top. A fine effort. I grit my teeth, get to the top but slip off the jug and clatter to the ground again. Thankfully, my next go is succesful and I can take my boots off and relax. I celebrate my latest ascent by going for a shit. The two events are comparible.

Dylan has a go and finds himself slithering around on the crux footholds. He decides not to bother and strips the route. We drive home. The end.

Here are some piccies from Queens crag up in the County.

Monday, 28 July 2008


Living in the Peak district you certainly learn to value solitude. There are so many people in so many of the Places, almost everywhere you can see some evidence of man, and its quite condensed - there arent great swathes of emptiness. This is what makes the county special. It also helps that visitors only think there are two crags - Kyloe and Bowden. I wonder whether Chris Graham's excellent new guide will encourage people to quest further afield? its a double edged sword writing a guide book. On one hand you can argue that doing so opens up an area for all, and on the other you can say that it might jeopardise access, lead to erosion etc etc. I dont suppose the county will ever get Peak busy. Its just too far from the south east.

Despite 9hrs sleep I felt tired when I woke up. Something had bitten me (I think) on the elbow, sometime over Thursday night. All day friday it hurt to the touch and had swelled up and gone red. Nice. On Saturday I had developed a hideous rash to accompany it - great. Clearly my body was fighting off something. But, the boys had made considerable efforts to make my County dreams come true and I had to go. Besides, a tour from the crag's premier developer was not to be missed. Owing to communication errors we set off first to the county, then discovered we had to collect Dan from Carlisle so headed up the A66 - which was closed. Sat in traffic for a while before taking a chance on a b road up country. The gamble paid off and we were soon hurtling past the carcasses of many a furred beast too keen to cross.

Met Dan and three of his mates outside the farmhouse. The guide says you should approach the house and try to pay them, but Dan apparently knows the farmer and its all square. We park, collect our stuff and I realise I've forgotten my trainers. Noone else seems to have any sort of hardy walking shoes either, so flip flops will hopefully suffice. We set off walking down a dirt track, skirting some trees and then questing on across fields. An edge comes into view off to the left and I hope thats not it. Its not. We drop down the edge past Chris Graham's Worldline and clap eyes on Queen Kong, Dan's testpiece from 2005/6. Awesome. An impressive 6m prow, with a flat or slightly scooped face and twin aretes that must be 5-6ft apart. The edge is set atop a boulder field covered with ferns, and as it doesnt get much traffic, so there arent really paths trodden into the foilage. We walk along the edge marvelling at the quality of the rock and ogling the undone projects. There are certainly some great lines. At the far end is an amazing lone block that stands away from the edge like a kind of ancient menhir, on it is the second most impressive looking problem of the crag - red dragon. This block has also the classic 6b+ 'The magician's nephew' - the Black Pearl's only addition to the crag.

We head back to the pads and warm up on a block set down from the edge. It has a problem called 'The power is on' - 7c which Smith is on in the guide. After some easier bimbling we get involved. Ned dispatches, I split a tip and Keith does the hard bit but drops the wierd finish. I think - he did push on when I'd stalked off but I didnt think he did it. Lets presume so. Certainly he was more than strong enough. I've moved to Worldline to avoid the youthful exuberance of one of the host team, but am quickly reunited. Yay. Ned crushes Worldline as does one of the hosts, and then I get on. Worldline is exactly like the dagger at Cresc. Its a roof which is climbed by clamping the corners with hands and feet. I flash past the hard bit then stuff the easy final slap. Have to have a sit down. They move to queen kong and I try again, but get nowhere. Its funny how you can get to the end on the flash, then spend ages getting back to your high point. Plenty more goes take place and finally I complete the problem, which is amazing. As i top out I can see stars and feel quite dizzy. Take my boots off and lie back in the shade. After eating Keith's malt loaf I feel more human and join them at Queen Kong. Ned is getting really high but doesnt manage to send. I want to have a go but I know I'm beat and just rest up, taking pictures. Keith Dan and Ned invent a new problem which both Keith and Ned complete in their trainers. Its one of those not hard but scary problems and I'm gripped just watching.

The whole camp moves to Magician's Nephew/Red Dragon. Noone does RD but MN has a few ascents. I lie in the grass feeling destroyed before deciding to walk out now. The walk out on my own is lovely. Theres noone about, no sign of anything and I really enjoy the silence. The light is beautiful too. In spite of my virus riddled body I've had a lovely day. Its a beautiful spot, and now I know I'm keen to go back. The others get back to the car at 2100 and we say our goodbyes and cane it home, making it back to sheff in 2hrs30.

Spent sunday in a daze. Feeling really tired, elbow still all swollen, but no rash at least. Wierd. Feel massively frustrated at ill health this summer. I dont feel like I've been well for 10 minutes. I dont know why but I dont like it. The monster got home and was ok, so we had a nice tea and went for a walk. Nothing this week until weds.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


The heat was stifling. Even just sat working on my laptop in the attic I was getting clammy paws. The team fluctuated between 5 and 3 as plans evolved through the morning, but in the end only three set out. As we dropped into Cheedale we met two teams on the way out, all of whom confirmed our fears - it was crap. There wasn't going to be any pulling on small holds for me. Crossing the river cooled the metal in Dylan's legs such that he writhed in the nettles until some warmth returned, whilst Lucy and I put a rope on Subterfuge. Quality Control followed that, and then we moved to Darl. I rumbled to the top of the groove, climbed up into the traverse, climbed back down again. Each time I climbed down I got a poor rest, nothing back but a bit of courage returned. I pushed on, I came back, I pushed on, I came back. This continued until I was irreversibly pumped and slumped onto the rope. Stick clipped the next clipper, summoned the courage to push on, and actually, the climbing was very easy, if a little committing. Rumble up to the belay and lower down with hurty hands and feet. Lucy follows on a topper, Dylan crushes it on the sharp end.
I have a go on Countdown on the back of the rope. This previously stopped Paul and I, but again - it was the end of the day and our second consecutive day on. Get to the second bolt but fall off moving past it. Not until I lower to the ground do I realise I have exhausted my stored energy and have no food or water left. Stuff down handfuls of Dylan and Lucy's jelly beans and force Dylan up the route in my place. The sun is fully out by now and we're all worn out. Walk out bumping into Si Holmes and Tom Briggs at the embankment. Back in Topley Pike the car reads 28.5degrees. Good conditions? no. I'm saving entree for when its cooler. Ted and I were blessed on Saturday.
Out with work tonight. Ned and Keith have both expressed an interest in Saturday action, and potentially we have lined up a tour from Variable. I guess it all depends on the weather - which looks dicey.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

One fingerboard doth not maketh the beast

Keith is in this months climber. In fact, he is in twice - in Gresham's 'masterclass' and in Si Panton's 'the scene'. The 'the scene' mention talks about his blog, film and that he did Gourmandise, whilst the mighty Gresh has a full two page interview, complete with pictures and philosophy. Its the first time I think I will have to buy climber!

Amongst Keith's conventional wisdom he makes a very good point, which is that occasionally fingerboarding wont turn you into a beast, neither will a few months of it, rather, a dedicated shift in training focus will eventually (cited 5 seasons) lead to beastily greatness. What with that and the 'Why are young guys taking down such big numbers' thread on (UKB) made me attack the Foundry with renewed vigour last night. The sentiment of both is that the reason these guys are crushing is because they are being more specific in their approach to training. Well, I'm not, but perhaps I should be. I've just been climbing. But, on the flip side, I like 'just' going climbing. I'm not doing that badly now, maybe I shouldnt worry about it. Why is it 'just' anyway? that word serves no purpose in the sentence.

Anyway, well done Keith. It may not be Men's Health, but you look good and come across well.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Ted's main course

I send around 500 text messages a month, the vast majority of which go to other climbers to find out where people are going and who is about. The blog has become a useful tool to hook up with partners, and of course, its free. I added Superted (he of the dangerous bros flash) to my phonebook thanks to Jon this Saturday. We'd planned to go to Rubicon, for him to do Caviar and me to do Dangerous Bros, but before I had even set off he texted to say it was flooded. Arranged to meet at Cbk which was apparently dry. And it was - more or less. Obviously had been wet, and I wouldnt say it was in good nic, but it was more or less dry. Did a couple of the easier problems, had a play on the pinch, and on the hulk but nothing went down. Sacked it to Cheedale.

Walked down the valley chattering on about amongst other things, Kristian's route the Spider. Ross Cowie said it had up to 10 ascents this year already. Great moves and position, and some kind of crazy bicycle clamp for the feet to cross the roof. Sounds great. Say hi to Debbie Corbett, Katherine S and boyf of the former (presumed...) at the embankment, which looks to have a bit of run off on the top, but is drying out fast. Katherine says the river is high and that she bottled crossing to Two Tier, but that Ben P and Nic are there. Ted teeters across the stepping stones - it looks about E6. I start on the stones, but forsee disaster and move back a metre where it is deeper but at least stable - Is very cold. See Neil Mawson and lady friend on Quality Control. Ted and I do subterfuge before moving on the main event - Entree.

As I've been on it before, I go first to share with Ted the knowledge. Take the undercut, step underneath and left foot off, but the move to the gaston is still far too fast and my attempt ends. I fanny around for a bit but ultimately find a foot sequence that enables me to do the move statically - not even a slap, a nonchalant lock! brilliant! Knowing it to be now possible, and that Ted is cooling down I do the next few moves, clean the holds and lower off. My psyche goes from doubt to cant wait to get back on. Ted gets involved, works out a sequence after the gaston and it swaps back to me. We are psyched! we both know we could both do it today. I get into the undercut, stand up but I cant get my back foot on and am off - bugger. I have also split a tip. Swap back to Ted who executes and climbs past the crux into the easy slap for the jug by the second bolt, but he struggles and falls! I don't believe it, he absolutely crushed the start which is without doubt the hard bit. He has a moment and works out a more efficient way and comes down. I have a final feel of the holds but its pointless - I'm bleeding and it hurts.

Ted shows me Minos and we chat to Mawson for a bit, then he ties on for what will be the last go of the day. I realise Ted is standing into the undercut much higher before placing his back foot. Next time. He completes the crux sequence almost casually, and its not until he's reaching the second bolt does he struggle to climb out of the hard section, but he does and I cheer for him as he clips bolt three and pushes on to the top. The heavens open and Ted gets a wet head as he strips the belay. I feel psyched. I now know what to do, and but for my splits am pretty confident I could have done. Chase back into Sheffield to the chippy and then the Tav to meet Foley for one. One becomes two and I end up in the Nottingham with other friends. Drunk and ranting.

So, this week - what to do on Wednesday? Supposed to be hot this week, so Rubicon will be disgusting until later on. Cornice? dont know that its dry. Cheedale? Hmm. I'm pretty keen. Also, this weekend the monster is away. I bought the new Northumberland book and would quite like to go have a look at Queens Crag? Originally I was thinking about Wales again, but the M56 is so bad thats putting me off a bit.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Hot fun closed

I feel like a rich man when I get to go climbing after work. Weds night especially so as I actually acheived something. Out for 8hours yesterday. Paul ran to the cornice but it was wet so we stayed at Rubicon. Which felt intermittently brilliant. When the sun went in and the breeze came out, conditions were good, but when the sun was out it was pointless. Rubicon was busy. There were people on rubicon, people sat in the sun, people on Too Old to be Bold and people bimbling around bouldering. I dont know whether Jon's reequipping work is responsible for Rubicon's return to fashion, we sort of saw the Tor getting busy last summer too, so perhaps theres just more people embracing the lime.

I was there to do Hot Fun Closing. Stick clipped the first bold and set off. Shook through the bottom section feeling jittery and uncertain. Got a bit back in the break, then set off to push to the top. Locked up to the edge, matched, sorted feet, left hand to sloper, rock rock and errr not enough... fade and I'm off. Bugger. Finger tips less than a cm from the jug. Dammit. Next go.... Paul mooches, Mina does 2Old and has an epic getting down, Dylan ponders and I wait. Dave Hesleden steps in and refines his sequence. I get another go. If the last one was so close, this one is closer! I climb the bottom bit well. It feels solid. I rock rock and this time try to push out to the jug but fall short once more. Dave suggests I adopt his sequence for the top wall, and I give it a go - its the same to the two edges, but rather than using the sloping dish straight up, he rocks his right hand out to a wee edge, bumps his left to the better hold, and pops right again to the jug, I have a go, its easier than my way which, although I've never fallen off in isolation is proving to be a redpoint crux. The cycle of people trying revolves around once more and finally I am at the top, rocking over. Dave's way feels a good measure easier and with a minimum of fuss I reach the jug and mantle to the belay. Thank goodness. The usual wave of elation is muted knowing that I should really have done this two days ago. First day on the route I was foiled by rain, second day I only had two goes before the full sun got on the wall, and this day well, I should've been up it first go. Never mind, feels great to have done something after a funny few weeks of not doing, and a Mountaineering wad belay tick.

Dylan keeps trying Caviar. He has the top wired and looks good when he gets there, but the start still holds problems. Perhaps it would be wise to do it above a pad a number of times or something. Lu is on Too old to be bold, which looks good, and I wonder about trying to beta flash? Paul gets on HFC and when his pessimism has been shelved he gets really close and it honestly looks like its on, but skin runs out before muscle and we pop to the Red Lion for a pint to celebrate.

Keith's film is out at last. You can download a copy from his blog : Its filmed in HD, which is lovely, and whilst it looks amazing you do need fairly serious hardware to render it.

This weekend I'm on the hunt for people to climb with. Saturday morning club is going to be Saturday afternoon club instead. I'd love to get on Dangerous Brothers if I can find a belayer - and perhaps to try to flash too old to be bold, but again - that depends on the availability of belay slaves. Failing that, I might go to the tor and try to do Staminaband.

Monday, 14 July 2008

ned the champ

Why is it that the one week I move Saturday morning club to Sunday morning, Saturday morning is perfect climbing weather, and sunday morning isnt. On Saturday I was cold in a tshirt, and on Sunday I was boiling without one. Dylan coined the phrase 'Sweltercon' which aptly sums up the conditions on Sunday.

He and I headed out nice and early, he got on Caviar, I was on HFC. We arrived at 0930, and it was cold. Dare I say pretty chuffin mint in fact. Cruised the boulder problem and confirmed in my head that it must have been bad on Wednesday (what in the full rain? never...), got to the break, flash pumped and fluffed the sequence. Not to worry, first go nerves. Sam and Lu turn up, the temp is already on the increase, but its this go that should have been the one. I crush the boulder problem and it feels easy. Pause at the break to shake out, remember the sequence, crush the lock to the top crimp, in my head I actually think - 'oh, I feel good here, I'm actually going to do it!', paste my right foot and hand is stuck in the slot, I free it up but the trajectory of movement has been halted and I'm off! bugger! Then to be honest, the sun came round onto the wall in force and that was it. We tried a bit more, but the holds really hurt your hands and neither of us managed more than a move.

I had a text from Ed Brown who crushed HFC on Saturday. We also saw Dave Hesleden who walked to the Cornice and straight back out again because its soaked. Nic did Free Monster and Rumble on Saturday, but said they were a bit wet. No rain forecast for the start of the week though, so perhaps it will be allright by weds... I'm thinking of coming back Peakwards this weds, hopefully if overcast, to finish HFC, but perhaps the cornice in case otherwise...

Its been the weekend of the Cliffhanger thing. I had sort of planned to go in the afternoon, but it was £5 in and I object to paying to get in to a trade show. What do you actually get for your money? But, the lure of seeing everyone and that Ned and Keith were entered was enough to give me that feeling of missing out if I didnt. So, on getting back from Sweltercon, I bundled the monster out of bed and into the car. Off to Cliffhanger. In fairness, there was a lot of stuff there, but I do still think £5 is steep.

I am delighted not to be climbing in comps this year. I was always naturally on the cusp of the final, never quite good enough to make it in. I certainly didnt flourish under pressure to do something on your first go, made mistakes and read things wrong. Climbing outside is only about me, its nothing to do with relative performance - removing the flash pressure allows me to relax and I do better.

Good to catch up with folks I've not seen for ages. We sat on the mats to watch the final which featured Jon Partridge, Dave Barrans, Stew Watson, Smith, Gaz, Ned, Tom Sugden and Croxall. Ned had qualified in second behind David Dickinson.

Here's Smith thrutching on problem 3. It was interesting to see how the seasoned final regulars spotted the tricks quicker than the new boys.

Simmo and Sharples ('Tenacity...'), the big guns of climbing photography, risking life and limb :Neddy boy looking strong :
Ned's moment of glory (stew in 2nd, barrans in 3rd) :
So, young Ned crushed his way to becoming British Bouldering Champ for 2008. A great effort. As Keith put it, he had "the eye of the tiger"! He crushed bloc1, bloc2, bloc3 - dont think anyone did bloc4, and was one of only two to do bloc 5. Although I have had almost no part in his success, I felt so proud as he accepted his foil plate thing. Boy done good.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Hot Fun Closing

Its amazing how the psyche energy flows to and from a climber. There are two spheres of psyche, the immeadiate energy and feeling that follows success or failure on the problem or route you just did or didnt do, and the general psyche that follows the trend of your overall recent performance. Whats amazing is how a single good attempt on something can completely turn around both sorts of psyche from negative to positive - you can go from feeling slightly despondent about climbing, from thinking you are climbing like a sack of shite to believing you can do it in the space of just one attempt.
Two weeks ago, I went on the Kudos wall, to whom I am no stranger, and I couldn't even do the press. I felt dreadful. I questioned everything - whats happened to me, why cant I pull on those holds? Then I went again last night and bosh - down went the press. Down it went again just to be sure. Phew. This I guess is the problem with reference problems - if you cant do em, you think the world is coming to an end (back to the blog neuroses too). I still don't think I am strong at the moment, but last night I felt the ghost of my old self sniffing around. The purpose of the afternoon wasnt to repeat problems I'd already done, it was to get on Hot Fun Closing.
Jon has now installed a first bolt. He's done a great job of this and the route as a whole - I totally agree with his placements, and although I never tried it before, I think I would have been scared doing that top bit above a rusty peg, so thanks Jon for effectively opening a new possibility to me. Its true, the boulder problem bit to the left hand flake is the hardest bit of climbing, but it doesnt give it away after that - by no means have you done it if you get there. Took me a while to work out what to do with my feet, and perhaps I could still refine it, but three times I climbed from the ground to the break (which is massive). From there a right hand pocket and foot way out left leads to a 'Wild in me' small crimp, right foot on a nubbin and right hand to a better diagonal hold just above. I had another foot whitey at this point, but I think I was avoiding the obvious because it meant committing to a hold I hadnt seen. I ended up stepping left foot just below the break and right toe on a good hold on the same level as the bolt, but off to the right, left hand to sloping dish and rock onto right foot, gentle move to jug, top, mantle, belay - done. Nice.
So, three times from the ground to the break. Two times doing it all including the long move to the edge, but sadly the rain was blowing in by then, and whilst it wasnt actually sopping wet, conditions were far from ideal, everything felt a bit spoogy and there was plenty of moisture in the air. I have been trying to do a bit more longer pumpier routes this summer, as I know its something I'm not good at, and I think its good to work your weaknesses and get out of your comfort zone, but constantly not doing anything has the same effect of biting off more than you can chew - it erodes your psyche. Which is where T_B's comment about dropping my grade and getting something done holds true - thats what I should be doing really. Getting on a boulder problem with a belay made me feel good about myself and about climbing - I actually thought I was going to do it! this is the sort of climbing that I am best at. So, learn from my experience - get out of your comfort zone - it is good for you, but dip back in from time to time to reinforce what you already know and give yourself a boost. Or suspend your ego and drop your grade until you can do them, and work your way up.
I was blessed with Fletcher and Brown as compadres for the mission to Rubicon. Dylan was on Caviar and put in some good links but rain stopped play for him too. I showed him the Morton/Birch foot sequence on the start and he (like me) crushed the move the first time he tried it. I'm not suggesting you should start listening to my rubbish beta (didnt work for Jasper for instance), and really this isnt my beta, its birch's (which is why it works) but occasionally I have a titbit that maybe of use. Mr Brown is always good company. He attacked the Kudos wall until the tenderising affect of those sharp little holds ruined him and he lay on his pad under a tree offering wisdom. Jasper turned up and in adverse conditions pushed on working low right bigger splash - I have never tried this and it looks quite interesting. One to save until September I think.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Zen and the art of flapjack making

When you have a problem that you can't think your way out of it can be useful to write it down. Theory (I think) is that writing it down allows you objectise your problem and see it clearly, in order to find a solution. Well, thats all well and good, but if you didnt really have a problem, but you found something to write about anyway then does it let your otherwise fleeting thoughts crystallise? i.e. do you make an issue where there was none?
Has the blog of dob made me into a bumbling idiot? I probably always thought the thoughts, but wheras they would simply have been dismissed, now they get written down and thought about more. There's nothing like psyching yourself out...
Changing the subject completely - flapjack. I have stopped weighing out the ingredients. The preferred method now is just to do handfuls and guesstimate. I have managed to reduce the sugar and butter content and make a healthier slower release snack in the process. The principles of flapjack making are simple - you bind one thing together with something else that will set. The trick is in getting the proportion of setting agent to content right, which is a relationship best determined by trial and error. 
Being able to cook is not being able to follow a recipe, its being able not to follow a recipe.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Tired ticks

Many different types of tick exist; the guidebook tick - featured in a guidebook (limited to selective guidebooks, where inclusion alone should indicate quality (or historical significance)). The guidebook photo tick - something which has a photo in the guide (applies to non selective guidebooks, and the ticker should apply his/her own quality control standards). The new crag tick - guidebook not necessary, a description and an intrepid nature are all that is required here, and finally, the Lyme disease tick which should be avoided at all costs. Sadly, the guidebook tick wasn't from Hard or Extreme rock or anything like that, it was from 'Cool Camping : Wales' - which I bought for her as a 'present' after she got 'Cool camping : England' from Helen.

This weekend I managed to achieve a new crag tick and a guidebook tick. There was nearly a guidebook photo tick too, but I was thwarted on that one at the final hurdle. Managing to climb at all was enough of an achievement given the weather. Saturday started with heavy rain which sporadically continued throughout the weekend, but fortune favors the brave and Ed Robinson and I set out anyway. Travelling at tea time on the Saturday night is a good time to go to Wales - the roads were quiet. Driving down the Ogwen valley in heavy rain, beneath black clouds, and unable to see any summits, things didnt look good but on arrival at Caseg Ffraith it had stopped and the rocks were actually dry. There's not a great deal to do here, and it does feel a bit like you are in someones back garden, but what there is is worthwhile and on amazing quality rock. Climbed until 2130 and sacked it to the pub.

I couldnt tell you the name of the pub, but its covered in Ivy and at the top of the Llanberis pass, just past Plas y brenin. Had a pint, marvelled at Whillans' signature and exited in a Bethesda direction for take out. It seems to my uneducated eye that many small towns in Wales have a problem with chavs, which I find quite strange. I guess if the mountains dont excite, the inhabitants dont think there's anything for them to do, so they get drunk and fight each other.

I have a very shit tent. It was £15 and has no inner layer. This means anything that touches the outside gets wet, which included my head. Add to the lack of suitable tent length the baaing of sheep at 0430, barking of the farm dog, someone snoring and midges and you do not have a good nights sleep. Raining again in the morning, and loads of bitey things, so breakfast in Pete's before coffee and shopping in V12 and then the cave.

Altogether a different feel to the day on the coast, much brighter but with it warmer and humid. Neither of us managed anything. With the best of intentions and feeling towards Mr Robinson it is at least good that neither one of us managed to perform. I dont think it was us, I think it was rubbish conditions - the grease index in the cave was high. After flaying ourselves for an hour or so we checked out the pill box, but i had soft red sore skin by then and didnt really try. We finished the weekend doing 'A string of pearls' which was chuffin terrificating. 6b+ involving rat crimps with hurty skin and feeling tired - great. We put a topper down the thing to the left, which was supposed to be 6c+. I think you must be supposed to take wires as the first bolt was half way up and whilst easy to get there, a slip would have resulted in certain death.

The M56 is now a car park. They're widening the road, but whilst work is underway, getting out of Wales is epic. 4hrs home. Rubbish. Otherwise, a good weekend rescued from bad weather. Great to hang out with Mr Robinson and build the bridges required to leverage his pending migration (!) but perhaps not the most fulfilling climbing weekend. Its all part of the game...

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Cranky Moon

Water Cum Jolly Cornice is apparently more impressive than Cheedale Cornice. I think I have only ever walked past Cheedale Cornice once, and even then, I was probably stoned and didn't pay attention. As you stand beneath it and look up to the top of the roof where the routes finish, it must only be about 8-10 metres. Brilliant. It occured to me last night that the routes I have ever done in my star spangled routing career (Patxi must be terrified) have all played to my strengths. They've been short, had a hard bouldery crux followed by some absolute rumbling to get to the belay. Anne Murray used to call it bouldering with bolts. I like that, it makes me feel like I am good at doing routes, which clearly I'm not.
Paul and I went to WCJ Cornice last night. We got soaked on the way in, but the crag was totally dry. Loads better than the other week. Brachiation Dance is such a rubbish warm up. Its just a bit too pumpy to ease you in to the session. Felt pretty good climbing it, stuck me head around the roof at the top and got a face full of water. Patted the jug and jumped off - went miles. Not sure that Paul's theory is working (that I should take a lob first to get into it).
Why oh why am I such a shithouse? I dont want to go climbing E9 or owt, but climbing on bolts is feeling scary at the moment. Its not always like this. Sometimes I dont worry about it, sometimes I do.
Got on Free Monster, got the willies again and after a bit of sequence reminding cruised past the crux three times, only to wimp out of the clip and utter the timeless shaky voiced cry of 'take...' before grabbing the draw. Took the ride with slack out once and even that didnt assuage my nerves. Some times, on some days you just get it on you and dont shake it off, but some other times you feel completely at ease. If I could find the button which disengages my danger sensor I think I might be quite good at climbing routes. I mean, i felt really comfortable with the moves on FM, wasnt really having to try that hard, just over gripping and getting the fear. If I could have suspended the fear I think I probably would have done it. Which brings the question that if I could be totally climbing with no fear what could I actually do? I certainly think a choice 8b would be comfortably within range - I mean, if I found a bouldery one, fitting the aforementioned description then it should be feasible, and possibly even 8b+, were the route specific enough.
This means nothing, as theres no off switch for doubt. You can't claim to be capable of anything until you've done the deed. Its like that youth stating he was going to do Revelations - you might have bouldered 7c+ but that doesnt mean you'll lap up 8a+ route - and its not that the grade mapping is incorrect, its that routes introduce all sorts of other factors. Bravery, getting into the boulder problem just right as though you've just stepped off the ground, your boots will be dusty and the chalk on your fingers may have worn off. It just doesnt compare, and so grade tables suggesting otherwise should be disregarded.
The walk out is blessed by a beautiful evening light which makes the Peak look amazing. As my adopted home I've come to view the park as my back garden - although not as rugged as Wales or the Lakes, I think its a wonderful place to live and I'm very fond of it. Had a quick look at Dangerous Brothers and Hot fun, which you will know have been re bolted. A high quality job has been done on HFC, but the first bolt is well well high! not that I think it matters. It will be climbed with that one pre clipped, and I think the other one would have gotten in the way, so its been done well and with thought. Bolt two is in a great place, making the top wall an altogether different proposition. It looks a long way to reach from the break, but apparently with a wide stance and a finger lock its ok. Good work Jon and Paul.
I actually wanted to go on it as it completely fits the Morton route template, but Paul wouldnt let me ;-)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Hot brothers, dangerous fun

Its quite clear that moaning does not make popular reading. Noone wants to read things aren't going well, and perhaps it's not that they aren't, it's just that it's really chuffin hot and I'm not on it right now. In no other sport do the athletes (!) expect 100% of themselves 100% of the time. I've certainly had a great start to the year, and so I should probably just enjoy the summer and not worry about it.
I think usually I'd be able to accept my being rubbish whilst its hot, but I think this current rubbishness is more than because of the heat, I do wonder if I still have a trace of that non descript muscle wasting virus lurking around. I feel significantly weaker than I have felt in years, and am a bit worried about it.
Enough drivel. On to gossip. At one of my favorite places - Rubicon, Jon and Paul have replaced the bolts in Hot Fun Closing and the Dangerous Brothers. I was going to be helping, but got stuck in traffic/wanted to climb. On that note, the wave has been reset (at last!). Ed Robinson and I are heading to Wales this weekend - which is very exciting. I've downloaded JLS on Lou Ferrino to my iPod, but given the current potential form issues that may be optimistic. James Foley seems in good spirits despite his bad finger, which does sound like a month off from his description.