Monday, 29 September 2008

For those who rocked...

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

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

James with skulls :

Geordie Stef as Freddie Mercury playing air bottle :

Those jeans are wrong!

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

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

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

Friday, 26 September 2008

Sissy closure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Percy's black stump

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

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

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

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

Monday, 22 September 2008

mtb mania

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

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Back beyond the rubicon

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

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Grand Earl of Midge

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

Monday, 15 September 2008

Manc sissy

Saturday morning club has its disadvantages. From anecdotal evidence at least, the weather is often better in the morning - the forecast weather for Saturday was good, but started off wet with low cloud. It had rained all night and there was almost no prospect of dry rock - at least, not until later, or so I thought. Ed decided to go surfing and James sounded exhausted. I dropped the monster off to do her morning of work and headed round to Chorlton to pick Follicle up. We went to Manchester Climbing Centre. Its in an old church in Ancoats and is quite handy for town. I was a bit fearful of the car, but the car park is guarded and has cameras and stuff so its probably ok....
I'll not launch into a review of the climbing wall, as its a climbing wall. Its not bad. Certainly it has more to offer than Rope Race. A bit wierd that the bouldering is separated out into three roomlets, two of which are moulded resin surfaces and then there's a small board. Which is too small really. They've done a good job with the available space, and it is a good wall, but upstairs is limited by the ceiling height - it feels long enough climbing on the moulded resin cave, as its really steep and therefore long, but the board isnt steep enough and so you've no soon as pulled on and its over. Some good well set problems mind - I imagine the hand of the barrans at work as they certainly felt like comp problems. Another major plus is a good cafe - good coffee and homemade cake.
The afternoon is spent at a barbecue birthday party back in Sheff. We get home at 10 drunk. Sunday is a better weather day and we pack our wellies and head down Cheedale. We keep trying to walk through cheedale and keep being turned back by the river or rained off but not on Sunday, we made it all the way through. Chee tor looks good, and is dry, Cornice looks brilliant but is absolutely soaked, max's wall is pretty wet but Two Tier looks ok. Saw Ed over there and half waded the stream to say hello but kept getting nearly washed away and bottled it.
Today I had hopes of getting back on the Sissy. I think I could redpoint it but cant find anyone to hold me ropes. So, in the absence of a belayer I hope to have a board session, still awaiting confirmation of that even. Wednesday ed is on about LPT but I need to be back at tea time so looking for partners then too. 

Friday, 12 September 2008


Notes on using a petrol powered lantern for night bouldering sessions :

  • You will also need a head torch
  • They get hot
  • Dont put them where the exhaust gases can only escape past where you are climbing - i.e. at the back of Ben's roof. It goes dark at about 1940 at the moment. After work peak action is now becoming the stuff of lantern only missions, and really it should be reasonable - certainly its colder, but there was absolutely no breeze last night and conditions didnt feel as good as they should have done.

Both Ed Robinson and chap who I'm sure is called Simon did Ben's Roof by headtorch but I kept standing on the wrong thing and being unable to bear the skin pain so didnt. Was nice to be out but I shouldnt really have gone - felt knackered.

Oh, and... the tor has major patches of seepage. The RHS is soaked, massive patches of seepage on Revelations, right of pinches wall etc etc.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

A leafy gent

According to the mighty met office - the soothsayer of hopes and dreams, yesterday should have been the best day of the week. We should have basked in sunshine but instead, as usual, we awoke to drizzle. Packed the monster off to work and started the hunt to see which of my friends were keen. Ed had arranged to go tradding (but ended up at the Tor), Dylan had to work, Jim went with Keith and Adam to the Churnet, Paul Bennetts dad has the familys enthusiasm and is off to Stanage (but ends up turning back) and Katherine Schirrmacher has given rubicon up as a bad job, but Jules Littlefair's keen.

The morning of work passes quickly and soon I'm Rubicon bound plotting whether its possible to buy wellies on the way. It has to be flooded surely? Jules and Stu went the previous day and it was soaked with condensation... and flooded. Thankfully it is possible to buy wellies at Calver crossroads, and through a quirk of fate, the wellies I end up with (£11.99) are the same colour as my little Arcteryx jacket - khaki green. I have a yellow moon t-shirt on and brown patagonia pants. The combined affect of which is that I look like a forest ranger. I am delighted with my new purchase and cannot wait to test them in the swamp beneath the crag. I am not disappointed. Its fully flooded :
But with our wellies we are undeterred and soon dropping stuff off on the island beneath the sissy. I'd come to get on Beluga, but its more than 6" deep beneath caviar and the two pallets we could make a platform out of will not keep a pad dry. Zeke looks drier than it has done, but if Jules is going on the Sissy, and has a sequence, I will probably get more out of going on that. I haven't been on it in about 5 or 6 years, and then I didn't get anywhere, so that sounds like fun.

Checking out the rest of the crag, I am suprised to see that there is water beneath Kudos. I dont remember it ever being this bad before :
Which is bad, but I have some confidence that can still disappear - more worrying is this patch of seepage starting above the press :
But again, if the weather improves, that could dry out without getting too much worse.

Jules puts the clips in the Sissy and shows me the way. I spend an age working out foot sequences and the like and it feels dirty hard. She has a redpoint and looks pretty composed, apparently doing the match move and then slipping off moving right. It comes to my turn and with my new sequence committed to memory I actually look to be in with a chance. The match stops me - it feels so hard, but thankfully Jules notices I am attempting to pull on the rubbish bit of the hold rather than sharing the finger jug. I change my sequence and try again - the match feels ok! I push on to the top but am a bit scared on the final jump. I try this a bit more and whilst the move is ok I'm wimping out - I dont know what it is I expect to happen to me - i'm right next to the bolt! I come down, Jules has another redpoint, making progress - the match is better but she's off again. I'm now also into redpointing territory, but I'm trying with the 4th clipped. You'd always do the route with the third clipped, because you can climb down from there, I wouldnt take the tick with the 4th clipped, because the fourth clip is quite hard and probably adds something. My thinking was that I wanted to have a go at the climbing today and see whether I could do it at all. Anyway, I pull on again. The sequence is further refined and I take all the holds just so. I pass the match with beans to spare and rumble rightwards to set up for the jump. I can feel my arms are a bit pumped, I set up for the pop, pull up, then sag back, pull up sag back - 'Take!'. Gaylord. So basically, i just diddled myself out of climbing it continuously because I was worried about what turns out to be a nice clean fall. I'm quite cross with myself. I do the move, clip the 5th and then strip it back to the 3rd for jules RP.

She gets back to the match but falls, this time with two split tips. We're both getting anihilated and on my next go I feel knackered too. Ah well, its all progress. A familiar face called Sam turns up and has a quick go before we scoot off home - he's into redpointing territory too. On the way home we discuss that you can either train to get so strong that you will never fall off, or you can learn to fall off and get more done. Classic Littlefair wisdom, and I recognise thats why I didn't go for it. I didn't want to run it out when I wasn't 100% I could hold the holds. This is what always stopped me on the Freemonster. The moves felt piss but I would get pumped and stop before I had to try.

Its funny how you can look at a climb and feel complete antipathy, then actually attempt it and not be able to wait to get back there.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The second coming

Another good board session last night. Started at the Foundry as Dylan was running late, then met up with Cheekbones Mason, Dylan and Garry and later on Harry Pennels and strong thin southerner Alex. Nothing of note went down from me anyway, although it was interesting to climb at the Foundry and then move back to the board. Clearly, the level of the problems at the board is much higher than at the wall. It would perhaps be interesting to go to the foundry board and then up there. Strong southern thin man crushed the top of the board green tape problem, most impressively flashing the hard press move I can't do at all, but failing to do the first move I find easy. I kept nearly doing 'our jade' but the footholds changed more often than a route on Peak lime, so I might actually be further than I thought away. Its hard to tell whether i was climbing well or not. The blue project remained beyond me and I felt it was further from reach than Saturday, so perhaps I wasn't.
In other board related news, we now have a date for the removal of the boards from the School, however, its not a date I can assist with which is rubbish. Hopefully enough others will be able to help, but I wonder whether they will... Once moved, they wont be going straight back up again, at least not in so far as I understand anyway, which is a shame. But, perhaps although I cant help take them down, I can help resurrect them. I like to see myself not as the dismantler of boards but as their resurrector!
I'm hopefully going out tomorrow, but I dont know what the weather thinks its doing. Its foul at the moment, but forecast to be ok tomorrow. Really want to get back to Beluga. Open to other suggestions...

Monday, 8 September 2008

Rainway track

Shane Meadows (he of 'This is england' fame) has a new film out. Its called 'Somers Town', and may well slip under your radar, but you shouldn't let it - Its too good to be missed. Thomas Turgoose is in it again and delivers another excellent performance. That was Friday.

Saturday saw more action on Sheffield's hottest new training facility. There's already a couple of plums ripe for picking, but my ham fisted plum harvesting technique caused them to roll away down the furrow of incompetence.

We should have been away camping this weekend but rain stopped play. Instead, the people that were supposed to be camping came to Sheffield and we went to a pub. I am sick of the rain. I feel a sense of wanting to rush out whenever it stops. Although I've had a fair summer and got out a good bit, I dont feel I've done any sitting out at night, or barbecues or any of that sort of stuff. And its rubbish. I'm ready for winter in one sense - it being cooler, grit etc but I dont feel I've seen the sun this year. Granted, there have been moments, but they feel like they were short and sporadic.
Anyway, with minor non-debilitating hang over, she and I set off down Cheedale. We got to the end of the railway track but found the stepping stones submerged, and whilst further progress would have been possible with wellies, we didn't have any so we turned back. As last weekend, as soon as we got to Calver the heavens opened. I made a roast, and that was that.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Board whore

I'm writing this with the lights on and the sound of the rain beating down on the roof outside. Its cold, everything is soaked and even the most hardy of animals will be staying in. The MetOffice have issued a severe weather warning, James Foley is coming over and I expect the purveyors of indoor pursuits will be wealthy this weekend.

Last night, as the sunshine lighting S3 gave way to darkness, 5 bare chested hulks flexed their muscles only feet away from dozens of drug ravaged prostitutes. Neither were aware of the others presence. Both groups ply their trade handling hard wood and both have a predisposition to becoming heavilly dependant on dietary supplementation but remain thin to the point of emaciation.

There's something special about the exclusivity of training on a board, opposed to even the best of boards at a climbing wall. Perhaps its that proportionally there's less traffic at a private facility and holds are cleaner, but more likely its that the base level gets set higher. This was what was so good about the school. Were you to take a representative sample from the general climbing populous, I would expect 2-5% to be able to do any of the warm ups. To a commercial climbing climbing wall, to build such a facility, which 95% of folk couldn't use - would be folly.

Perhaps also, its that board sessions encourage beasts - you get a concentration of psyche in a small area, and this helps everyone to push on. I knew last night was going to be a special session. Through the evening we had Dylan and Garry, Ed Robinson and Keith and even The Dark Knight Ed Brown cycled down on his lightweight track optimised velocipede. I was tired, I ached and I had bad skin, but I was psyched and I tried hard. Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Dangerous Done...

My good friend the very Reverend Father Doyle wrote to me yesterday suggesting that I loved rubicon more than he loved the Mighty Orme, which brought me round to thinking that perhaps rubicon is the orme of the peak. Reviled by most but adored by those that do like it and boasting a wide variety of some of the hardest climbing an area has to offer. There's history, old school ticks, and the areas first 8a. LPT has the countrys first, and Rubicon has the Peaks. Cofe may have written that it should be turned into a laser quest, but I think even he has a soft spot for the place. I do love it, its short, favours the crimp and is only half an hour from home.

Rock Warrior Jon 'M Bison' Fullwood wrote about Rubicon on his excellent but oft neglected blog, eulogising a damp summer but some good ticks and memories. Much has transpired on those white walls and their shattered crimps this year; I finished Tsunami, Variable did his Bigger Belly thing, Andy established barracuda, Jon - Beluga, rebolting, wads flashing 8a's and even the evil Sir egg nearly did a route. Its funny how a crag can grow and wane in popularity, Rubicon should always be popular - bouldering is fashionable, its short - so boulderers can get on well there, its close to the road and theres hard things to do.

Yesterday I finished the Dangerous brothers, and Ed Brown did tribes. Although we were supposed to be going out in the afternoon, the weather in the morning was so nice I couldnt contain myself, and so we changed, which, with hindsight was a mistake. By 10am the sun was on the wall and when it was out it was bloody hot. I really had to struggle where on Saturday, even in superhumidity it felt more feasible. Temps were bon mind - 10/12 degrees in the car, but I reckon more like 18/19 in the sun. Strangely for Ed and I, we both redpointed and were left having to think of new goals to focus ourselves. Certainly, its not like me to get the deed done with time to spare! Went on Beluga, but had post climatic stress disorder and struggled on caviar start. I think in this case it was because I know I need to be fully on it to get anywhere with that one, so post something else was never going to happen. Ed had a great flash attempt on DB, getting to the crimp but then exploding back from that position with a squeal, exclaiming that the move was impossible.

Adam Lincoln and Aaron Deakin arrive and apologise for bringing the rain with them, far from needing to apologise, conditions get loads better, but I have to go and do some work.

So, thats that. I hope to climb tonight with Keith and Dylan at the board, then rest up ready for the weekend. I imagine there might be chance of saturday morning club?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The importance of being basic

I've a real sense of excitement about getting back to rubicon soon. I really want to get the dangerous brothers done, and I'm frightened it will flood before I get chance. We're not around this weekend, so I have to get it tomorrow. So, when I left work last night and it looked pretty good I tried to persuade Dylan into a smash and grab raid. Apparently it was raining in Sheff, and a once a week beasting on the board is a great reintroduction having spent the summer being stricken and doing routes.

Delightfully, the mystery illness has definately gone. i feel my old self again, which is such a relief. If I see you and appear to be (more than usually) babbling on about something, its because I'm on the up - happy that I can climb again, and I feel all that lies between me and greatness is hard work and application. I.e. theres nothing else holding me back. You could also argue that I have removed my excuse barrier, but I think thats a good thing.

I think my foundry membership, which seemed like such a good idea at the time, may not turn out to be such good value after all. But, its a bit like a smoker waiting for the bus - as soon as you light up, one arrives. Had I not joined up, thinking I'd be able to train on a board soon, no board would have materialised. But because I joined, there's now Dylan's board and the possibility of getting back in to the school. Winter is looking up! I'm also excited about Winter because I have got loads of stuff I want to do on the grit. I'm really looking forwards to the change in style too. To getting wrapped up and not having to drive as far as the tor, to going out with big teams and eating chips in cafes. Brilliant. I had possibly the best winter climbing I've ever had, and that was thanks to getting about a bit more, and having a great big list of things to do. Gritstone bouldering is for me an undermined medium, and so with all that to look forward to, of course I'm getting psyched.

Anyway, had another great session with Dylan and Garry at his board. It was a long session though, and I think I approached it with a little too much gumption. An hour and half in my elbows were aching and my hands had taken on a glowing red hue. Another pot of coffee and a rest for ten minutes wasn't enough to fix it, but the prospect of showing off was. When you're pretty much beaten, and theres nothing left to give, you're on the verge of taking your boots off and going home, only someone struggling on a problem that you think looks ok can get you back on the board! ha. Brilliant. Went home utterly utterly crushed, but not before enjoying three hours of a fantastic pumping techno mix from Adam Beyer, via Keith. Its absolutely brilliant. This is the music I like :

Billed by Keif as training music, its unstoppable. Keeps getting better and better. 4hrs long.

So, its back to Rubicon tomorrow. Tribes, dangerous brothers and possibly Zeke. Finally, an exciting bit of news - this morning, for the first time since spring, the car registered single figure temps. Roll on winter.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Dangerous Brothers

Saturday morning club is a win win for everyone. In the Honey monster's eyes it gets climbing out of the way, in my eyes, I get the better conditions when its cooler in the morning, and arriving home at 1300, we have a normal afternoon together too. The downside is that 8am feels very early on a saturday. The car reckoned 18degrees on the way out, and the air was hazy and felt balmy. Stu and Jules were camped out beneath the sissy, Andy Hutchinson and team on the Kudos wall. As Thursday, the Sissy to Rubicon area was disgustipating. Surface moisture on footholds, generally slippy. Kudos wall was ok, and left again on Caviar looked pretty good too.
Presuming Ed would be late, I arranged to go on Dangerous bros with Andy. Then Ed turned up. Conditions were so 'averse', he suffered a bout of indecision about whether to return his ticket for a refund, or whether to make the best of inideal conditions. He ended up staying. Andy put the clips in Dangerous Brothers. He looked to struggle, getting all the moves, but being some way off a redpoint. I step up, and cannot even do the first move! I try and try and it feels totally desperate - at least 8c. I eventually scuffle up to the undercut with a lot of huffing and puffing but again, I bail from there, theres no way I can do these moves!
Between us we work a sequence, and I end the days attempts (for me at least) by climbing from the ground to the crimp. This is a good route - the climbing is fab. A smeary reach to a pocket leads to a rockover on a good foothold to gain a right hand pocket, change feet and left up in to a widdly undercut, RF smears on glassy foothold and RH comes in to a sidepull and then again to a better crimp sidepull above. Now LF outside edge and RF to pocket, egypt and roll over with LH to crimp - this next bit is crucial - left foot flag and sit on rf, cheek against the rock... RH to sidepull undercut thing, then slightly stand up on leg and rh again to good edge! its over. I manage to climb from the move up to the crimp to the top. Its on! I'm already late though and have to sack it there. I leave Andy in the same position, two overlapping sections, just teh link to do. I fully expect Andy to complete it on his next redpoint, and to recieve a victory text at some point in the day.
I leave, with Stu on Beluga and Ed and Jules on the Sissy. I later hear that Ed does the Sissy and that Stu pops a finger on the start of Caviar. Urgh! possibly a contender for the most injured climber I have ever met, get well soon beast. I also hear from Andy that he didnt finish Dangerous Brothers, but got another text from him on the sunday to say he did! so, well done to you beast. I can't wait to get back there. To be honest, conditions were pretty poor, and i still managed two sections, so, with anything less than 100% humidity, I should have an ok job to close the deal.
The evening was the climbing wedding of the century. Sam Whittaker made an honest woman of Lucinda Hughes at the Norfolk Arms on Ringinglow road. They had 150 people in the day, and a further 130 in the evening - which is a lot of people. It was good to catch up and see friends such as Jim, Lee, Char, Jon and Fiona, JLS, Vic, Andy and Shiv, Andy and Emma Banks, Adam and so on. Plenty of heroes, luminaries and society notables too - Ben Moon, Tyler, Tim Emmett and Leo, Bransbubble, Andy Cave, etc etc. Was a good do, and they both looked radiant. There was a mystery american with Tyler. Recognised the face, but didnt get a positive ID match from my stalkers database?
Felt mercifully un hung over on sunday, so we went for a walk down cheedale, however, as we reached the railway tunnel just above the embankment the rain changed from spitting to chucking it down. Walked back out and went to the Calver crossroads cafe. The rain was just behind us, so as we finished our chip butty it started. Loafed the rest of the day away.
I presume Ed Robinson is back from Australia around about now? I'm climbing tonight, hopefully at Dylan's board, then Wednesday back at Rubicon unless its flooded, Friday again, dont know when or where, but we are camping at Gordale next weekend - assuming its anything other than filthy weather.