Friday, 29 August 2008

Beluga board

Although in Sheffield the skies were bright and everything looked rosy, there was rain around. As I headed out of town I could see a bank of cloud over longshaw estate and the reports from a busy climbing works of winter like conditions didn't do much to raise hopes, but a faint heart does not a fair lady win, and with the prospect of the fairest of limestone crags to look forward to I continued.

My first choice of venue was soaked. Actual Rivulets of water dripping off the holds. Didn't even put my pad down, just carried on to rubicon. Dave parry arrived whilst I was fannying around at the car. We found the crag green and in bad condition. Very slippy and everything round by the trees coated with surface moisture. Jon arrived. All agreed it was terrible, but that caviar area probably ok.

Jon clipped up the sissy and despite completing some good links and nearly doing it, he didn't redpoint.

I used the pallets to create a platform beneath caviar. Delightfully I reclimbed the boulder problem, and it didn't feel too bad. Jon's route then goes straight up and a bit right from here. Worked out some moves, didn't really put much of it together, but the climbing was good and I felt happy and quite reasonable, which I am pleased about, as at the moment I'm analysing every performance to determine my recovery. Perhaps its time to stop that before it becomes another neurosis. I would say that I probably need another two sessions on it to get it, but I don't want to prejudice myself against doing it next time. Which, could be Saturday. Ed brown and I are going to try early doors I think. Suppose we need to monitor conditions through the day today.

Good news on the school front too. Nic has been in touch and explains that although an exorbitant amount of money is required to return first circle studios (the school building) to a usable state, there is no appetite to develop it into flats, and pressure from the community to prevent it falling into disrepair and becoming inhabited by homeless people and drug users. So, funding is in the pipeline and we might actually get back in over the course of another year or so. Sounds ok but not great doesn't it? Well, we have been offered a space by the heeley development trust in another building on Chesterfield road. So, we have a short term fix whilst they sort our building out. Hopefully, something should move on this mid September - just in time for winter. Great news.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Parryband, pub brawling and chipshop madness.

My meeting finished as promised, on the dot of 1600 with the promise of a further follow up meeting to look forward to. I don't mind really I suppose, one has to flex like a reed in the wind etc. I blazed a trail back to sheff with the intention of going to Rubicon, but, on the way, i had two phone calls. The first, from the monster suggested that as she was going out tonight, that I should not climb and we should do something. An awkward moment, I'd been looking forward to getting some fresh air all day, so suggested she join me and we try the Red Lion in Litton as a reward for her coming out. She agreed! blimey. The other call was from Ed and Chris who were on their way back in after flagellating themselves and getting nowhere on their respective projects.

With only limited time and no belayer I decided to try to crush the powerband again. This, as you know, has been my barometer of rehabilitation. And, despite Stone's best efforts to the contrary, I managed to do Parryband (reaching past the last move) and delightfully, it felt easy. What we can learn from this is that both Powerband is a knack and that I am pretty much back on it. Good. Stone and I investigated Kristian's direct start on Wild in me. This is both good, and has a long move to finish. We both climbed to the hard move several times, but neither managed more than a slap at the Wild in me edge. Quite a good little problem this, rather than using the big flake out right, one starts as for Ru's route gains the left hand edge with the right, then uses a rubbish edge for the left to reach into the wild in me edge with the right. Probably 7b/7b+?

Little Monster is getting bored, and, with another day to try we pack up and head off to the Red Lion. Its well busy, theres a wait on for food and nowhere to sit. A nice man offers us a seat at his table, and we sit for the duration of our drinks, then a grumpy bitch comes in and exclaims 'oh, I was sitting there', well, you didnt leave anything on the chair, someone offered and there were no drinks on the table. She plonks herself down practically on the Honey monster and glares at me. I smile as sweetly as possible and observe as the monster's heckles go up. Who slows her rate of drink consumption so as to maximise the interuption to this narky old dog. They leave, and as soon as they have, so do we. We mean to go to the Stoney chippy, but its 19:57 and therefore shut. Ridiculous. We drive back to Sharrowvale road and go to Two steps.

Tonight, JLS is going to the tor, Jon to Rubicon and Andy to ring me. I will probably go to the Tor first and aim to meet Jon at Rubicon later.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hi, my name is...

I missed the team on Monday. As I drove through Litton I passed Andy and Shiv and Joe, Vicky and car load heading to the pub. JLS got to the end of Staminaband 14 times apparently, but still didnt seal the deal. I just wanted to do powerband which has become my return to fitness barometer. Monday was better than Saturday, in that I got there 4 or 5 times, it felt easier but I still failed to complete the link. Spent some time with Seb fannying around trying different methods on the last move, and it feels steady with the egypted feet, but I just cannot get my back foot off. The key to that move seems to be not to pull up on your left hand too much, you need to sag down low. If you pull up you pull your feet off the holds. So, with that not done but happy at progress, there endeth another tor session.
I should be getting excited about going out crushing this afternoon, and indeed I had arranged to meet Ed Brown - perhaps to do Entree, perhaps Dangerous Bros, perhaps neither, but now I have a meeting in Leeds until 1600. I am not happy. I still hope to get out, but the nights are drawing in and soon it just wont be possible. Bloody work, getting in the way of serious business. Its not on. Suppose I should be grateful I still have a job.
The idiots are rising up on UKB. This most recent manifestation begins with people starting threads to introduce themselves - what makes you think anyone's interested? I consider it quite conceited that you think it acceptable to post a 'Hi, this is all about me, please will you be my friends' thread on a public internet forum. I imagine it comes about as result of them seeing a community and wanting instantly to be accepted. It doesnt work like that. You should listen a while and contribute to discussion - let your posts be your introduction.
Whats happened to mystique? Fucking americans.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Holiday hopes

Should have been down to Devon surfing this week, but as the country has been battered by rain, I'm glad we didn't. Although, it would have been fun. Until everything got wet. So, we've been around and about in Sheffield doing odds and ends, and its been good. I climbed briefly on Thursday, and went to the tor again last night.

It wasn't a great session, but am pretty confident the hand is fixed, just weakened as its not been used for three months. Joe Le sage has just done staminahumps and I went with the intention of going to get back on that. Didn't really expect to do it, as it requires peak fitness. Did rattle and hump start, then did power humps, but couldn't get through stamina band start at all.

Tried the powerband last move and failed, did it a few times reaching down and decided to try the traverse with the gay finish. Which I've never actually done. I've done it once the man's way but never this other method. And I didn't do it last night either. Felt good to be getting there again though. Feel like I won't be too far off the pace and back on it soon enough.

Want to train pockets and open hand strength. Think its time to remember what the campus board is for.

Monday, 18 August 2008


I could be. That's tonights big news. After a physio, a massage, a gp appointment and tonight a chiro session, I think I could be back in black. My chiro is a Clifford recomendation and also does an f1 team, middlesborough football club and the Aussie bird from emmerdale. He did a bunch of testing, a neck crack, a spinal thing and sent me off. I went to dylan's new board (brilliant) and actually felt pretty good. So, am psyched, and happy that perhaps my dismal summer will amount to something after all. If only I had gone sooner.

Something else special happened tonight. I felt a surge of board excitement walking in to Dylan's new board. It is just brilliant. Granted, it needs more medium holds, more bad footholds but it climbs brilliantly. Four things maketh the board - small holds, big moves, good coffee and techno. We ticked all the boxes tonight. Brilliant. Ed was on fire. He dominated, looking lean mean and strong. I was impressed.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


As I sat at my desk in Leeds looking out the window, I tried to guage what condition the tor would be in. The trees weren't moving and the sun was out - no wind and hot. Chances were it wouldn't be that good. As JB commented on a previous post, if you are tor or rubicon bound, a bit of rain is not necessarily a bad thing, the crag is steep enough that the rocks stay dry and the rain takes the heat out of the air. The tor is a very unforgiving place to climb if you're not on it, and I certainly havent been, hence I've stayed away. And, to be honest, its been kinda hot.
You'll probably not remember, as details of my various ailments are doubtless immeadiately discarded, but ages ago I complained of having pins and needles in my left hand. This has intermittently persisted ever since. Its not been so bad as to pack me off to a medical professional, but it has been there, and, now I think about it - every time I latch a hold with my left, where normally I would bunch up and crimp the shit out of it, this summer my hand has just wilted and my fingers opened. Clearly, for someone who prides themself in their finger strength, this is not good. To give you some anecdotal evidence in support of my claims, before being stricken with this virus in June I cruised along Staminaband in total control. Wobbled off the end but really thought it was going to be on this year, then since I haven't been able to do Powerband even, and now I think about it, its a left hand move near the start I couldnt do. The left hand has felt weak and numb for months. People have said 'Oh dont worry, its been too hot and you've been doing routes', but I've known its more than that - this is weaker than I have ever been. I read a bit about it on the interweb, and discovered that numbness in the bottom three suggests Ulnar nerve being trapped. Said nerve runs down from your head down your arm inside your elbow and then into the hand. Who else do you turn to in such times of doubt other than Sheffield's second best Jerry Moffatt lookalike and friendly neighbourhood physio - Joe Le Sage. Joe explained that nerves are like hoses, and that when the hose is trapped or pinched, the flow is impeded and function affected. The swollen elbow is probably the cause of the nerve wierdness and that needs a GP, so, I'm booked back in for after our week off.
The reason for telling you all about that is that as I mention, I havent been able to do powerband. Now, I find that last move desperate, so I don't mean the whole thing, but I haven't fallen off in the middle of it for years - not until this year anyway. Last night Dylan and I went back to the tor, and delightfully I managed to get to the end. I think in part this is due to getting a sports massage (which was rough, and no, no extras) which I think might have loosened the nerve off. Certainly, I was very knotty.
Dylan was tired from being up at 7 making volumes. He smelt of fibreglass. Its a sweet, initially pleasant smell that soon becomes oppressive. His mood was subdued. We drove to the tor to meet ed brown, to try chimes, revelations and possibly just train on sardine. There was noone there, and conditions were good - it was jacket on weather between redpoints. We warmed up and I suggested he could try and flash SHIBB and Wild in Me. I climbed SHIBB to get the clips in for him, and to show the way. He crushes nonchalantly - his first Tor tick!
We move to Wild in me and I suprise myself by comfortably climbing through the boulder problem. This is what starts me thinking that massage has helped, as I feel my old self just around the corner. I get to the second clip, rumble up to the last move and feel a bit flash pumped. Like a gaylord I climb back a few moves and slump onto the rope. I brush up and clip the belay for Dylan and return to the ground. He struggles to employ my sequence on the lower part, as I can reach where he cant. We rest, take stock and he finds a way, battling valiently past the boulder problem to the fingery technical headwall, makes a move out left but misses and takes the ride. Ah well, never mind. I do it for completeness sake, and then its him again. This time really was his time, everything went well, where before he struggled, this time he climbs positively and it looks in the bag, except that as he goes to move off the top crimp I see one of his fingers pop off, its split and his movement arc is interrupted. Once more he misses, takes the ride and is back on the ground.
Cubbitt and another dude I recognise turn up and everyone chats nicely. I put a rope on Chimes, with a view to trying weedkiller chimes for training purposes. I fully cannot remember how to get to the slopers and end up stripping it after a couple of abortive attempts. I think I'm tired. We go for a pint in the red lion in Litton, and there are loads of people in eating. It smells gorgeous. Menu looks good, I think I might suggest taking the monster soon. Talking of which, I get back and go to collect her, who 'wont be drinking', but is drunk!
I'm on half rations climbing wise at the moment. All doctor medical types seem to be suggesting that whilst I am recovering from whatever mystery ailment I shouldnt be training at normal intensity, so I'm off today, probably go the works on Friday, then I hope to be out on Sunday - to be honest, if it remains a bit cooler, I would love to go and get Entree done.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Weakness revelations

Beer then wine - fine. Wine then beer - oh dear. My sister and new hubby came down for tea on Friday night. I drank everything placed in front of me which was my undoing. Saturday was a wash out as a result, but my mood was matched by the weather. Attempted to console ourselves by going to the cinema, choosing 'Fox and child' as something suitably easy going to sit in front of. Good god. This is almost without doubt the worst film I have ever seen. And in fact, I can't truly claim to have seen it - we walked out after 45 minutes. Its supposed to show a relationship between a Fox and a child, but what you actually get to see is an irritating fox pestering oik chasing after a reluctant Basil bloody brush. Boom boom. Its the same director as the March of the Penguins - which I'd loved, but instead I got fucking Carebears. 1/10. The 1 is for nice cinematography.
Sunday was a better day altogether. She went to meet the girls to talk weddings and I arranged to meet Foley at 12. At 1230 I sent him a if you dont reply I am going here message, and he rang. We arranged to meet at the Foundry (as he thought it would all be wet) at 1330. I figured I would set the far reaching text tentacles in motion and find out if there was anything dry. The texts I got back were quite reassuring, so I decided to set off and have a look. I could be back in time to still meet him I thought. He'd said the snake was like a river, manchester was tipping it down - Doom and gloom, etc. I got to Stoney and it looked like a pretty good day to be honest. Hmm. Texted him to that effect and pushed on to the tor. Last summer I almost exclusively went to the tor, and this summer I haven't been at all. It's the first time I have seen it sans tree too. It looks wierd - empty. There are holds in the dirt though. My initial reaction to the felling was of righteous indignation, but really, in the global scheme of things it doesn't really matter, and I suppose it is a bit strange that all those routes started out of it anyway. I just dont know why anyone would have been possessed to do it?
Anyway, JLS, Alain, Brian and John Cooke are all bimbling around by the pinches wall. I have a quick mooch down the right hand side and its all totally mint. Conditions are better than I have seen since spring. The sun is out and the rocks are dry, plus, there's a cold wind whipping past the base of the crag. It feels good. I warm up and I feel allright but not very bouldering strong. John and I start waxing on about Revelations and he fancies a go too, so we head up there. I've never pulled on Rev' before, and it's one of my goals for the year, today is as good a day as any to get started. The first move is a bit wierd but OK. A strange opening of the hips leads to a reasonable pocket for the right, but there's a stepped roof above it so you cant bear down. Its one of those holds that if you moulded it and stuck it on a board, you'd be able to crush it - by crimping, but because of the roof above, you can't, you have to half crimp it, and I, clearly, am weak in this position. Neither of us does the move, but I have an idea of what is involved and am going to go away and work that position.
Seb turns up and we enjoy being rude to each other. Its a gorgeous afternoon, when the sun is behind the clouds its cold - shirt on weather, and when its out its a bit too warm. It feels like a summer Sunday afternoon, like its a good day for taking things easy. I dont feel like pulling hard, neither do I feel like driving fast on the way home. I love the Peak on a sunday afternoon. It empties of tourists towards the end of the day and the locals have it to themselves (ourselves). Its a more pronounced effect in winter. If you're up at Stanage, say, on Saturday afternoon - its rammed. 'Awwwight geezaaah, cor blimey you wanna caaam daaahhn the Castle mate, apples an pears...' etc, come Sunday afternoon, they've all gone home and its tranquil again. I love being outside. As I said to Jon Boy, anything outside is better than everything in. How things change!
Anyway, Foley fannys around until the end of time and finishes his spell in Sheffield with a quick hour of power at the Foundry. Given that I have given blogspace to the merits of actual rock climbing, I should redress the balance with this from Joe Le Sausage : here's Nacho showing the importance of technique :

Friday, 8 August 2008

Turkey Dick rocks

The littlest monster had recovered enough to go to work on Thursday, and I was allowed out in the evening. Was a shame to miss Weds as that's Ed's day off, who shall henceforth be known as the dark horse following his stealth ascent of Caviar. Neither he or Paul could make it, so just Big D and me headed out. Conditions on the car-is-it-worth-going-to-Rubicon meter were not favorable so we decided to check out Turkey Dip rocks, just above Matlock. I spoke to the Monster whilst we were there and she thought I said Turkey Dick rocks which made me laugh like a bear). Anyway, a bit concerned about Gary Gibson's notorious lack of quality control we headed out. The topo (Dylan pronounces this toe poe) had good directions and we were soon questing through someone's private woods.

I was amazed when we found the crag - It actually looked good! Anyone who has been to Gibson's 'Crag X' on the A6 will understand my pessimism, but I was pleasantly suprised. Turkey dick rocks is short, very steep and actually has lines on it. Rock quality seems ok on the bits that have been cleaned and I found myself getting quite excited. The crag overlooks a small lake and the climbing starts from a platform which looks like it might be a popular place for chavs to pummel their tracksuited girlfriends (judging by the cans of stella).

We both were ogling the 7c+ crack line on the left, which without doubt is the line of the crag. I couldnt contain myself and started soloing the 6b warm up to the right to put the clips in for the Dmeister - thus blowing the flash. This warm up route is of the lowest quality, but having nipped up it twice in the interests of warming up we turned our attention to a fab looking 7b - pedal to the metal. I tried to flash it and fell off the boulder problem start, but soon worked a sequence and returned to the ground to rest. Dylan tried but amongst much whinging about not fitting in the jams didnt manage to do the start either. He pushed on to the top and then it was my go again. The route starts up a 35/40 degree finger lock crack, before busting out right up a hanging groove. I wedged my tape covered paw into the crack and torqued my fingers into a mechanical lock, set my feet  and rolled over to the next jam, an uncertain move off that led to bigger holds and a clip. Now it was just a matter of keeping it down and getting to the top. There are big jugs at the top of the route, but I was boxed and slapping wildly into the top groove. The toepoe says its a great position, and it is, but I was pumped and slapping like it was 8c. Anyway, got to the belay, lowered off happy.

Dylan switched his attention to the 7c+ thing at the left. As mentioned before, this just looks brilliant. Again, it starts fingerlocking a crack up a steep wall before making some wild looking moves to pass the lip. He bolt to bolts it, covering all the ground and working out what appears to be a workable sequence. I have a go but its totally beyond me! I manage the boulder problem start but cannot concieve what to do to reach the lip - its desperate. Defeated, I lower off and he takes over again. This time he climbs like a hero and crushes past my high point with his feet off! I cant emphasise enough what wild moves there are to be done at this crag. He doesnt redpoint and it seems there might be a hole in his sequence on the tricky top wall. We pack up and go for a pint before going home. A good evening out.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Handbag house and Ableton

I've not been climbing much, so havent had anything to write about. Stopped taking supplements and lost half a stone immeadiately, which I think points to water retention. Going out this afternoon with Big D I think.

Anyway, have been learning how to use Ableton. Its sequencing software. I am thinking of selling the decks and going digital. Its been many years since I have been bothered about mixing records or have even tried, but I've never wanted to get rid of them until I had an alternative. This could be it. Ableton. I taught myself with an unmixed Space Ibiza CD, the output from which is here.

IN terms of whats possible its a very unimaginative mix, but I have only had it for a week, and would certainly say that I dont know what I am doing!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Board of no exercise...

Thats it then, the end of an era - James Foley has left sheffield. Sadly, I missed his farewell dinner which was all too convieniently just over the road from my house. Why is it that when I cant come people do things on my doorstep, and when I can they want to go to Rotherham or something. I was at a Wild West themed wedding in Stalybridge (oh the irony).
Dylan's board looks to be nearly complete. It looks great. I am hoping to swing past on my way home tonight, but the monster has just been on and has cricked her neck, is staying off work and eating ibruprofen, so perhaps not. I too am still off climbing and on antibiotics. The massive elbow has gone down loads, but is still swollen, red and hot. Think doctor lady was right, she said not to do anything as was running myself down and needed to let immune system repair me. I do feel tired despite no exercise. I shall hope to climb mid week, if by then I can lift my bloated carcass off the ground! To be honest, I dont feel too bad about being out of action at the moment. Its hardly ideal conditions. Might start doing some sort of CV work tomorrow.
School news : everything was bleak, it all looked like we were never going to get back in, but some shred of optimism has returned :
1) thanks to the state of the property market noone is interested in buying anything, let alone an old building you'd probably want to turn into flats - which wouldnt sell anyway! I think they must have been expecting a flood of interest, and got none!
2) It turns out the cost of noone using the building for a year is £70K! WTF does that get you I wonder?! obviously, if the building is occupied then you dont need to shell out £70k pa to not use it. Plus, they actually get some income from it then.
So, there's some sort of feasibility study going on, which should take us to end sept, but we might actually get back in there at some point - possibly even this year.