Thursday, 26 February 2009

Back to school

I have never been as happy to be back at work as I am this morning. Being sick, and actually being sick - i.e. theres nothing you can do about it, you are actually confined to barracks - is rubbish. I hate it, its so frustrating. By about 1500 yesterday the fog was lifting and whilst idly flicking through my removeable hard drive for something to fill the time I found a load of camera phone clips from the school.

At the time of filming these clips I was on my own, and it felt a bit wierd to be filming oneself, but my motives were less narcissistic than at first they may appear. The board was to be closed, and I wanted some record of these - my favorite (or some of) problems. Also, these problems are/were hard. They took me a lot of effort, and I wanted to be able to look back at them - I wanted something for my trouble. So here it is, the fruits of those labours :

The School from dobbin on Vimeo.

They're camera phone clips which I have been meaning to do something with for ages, but havent had time/technology to convert from MP4. I've been absolutely riddled with cold over the last few days, so much I took yesterday off work and when I felt a bit better in the afternoon cobbled the above together.

It was deliberate there is no swanky soundtrack. It contributes to the lo fi feel, and also its nice to remember the other thing the school was known for - techno!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Half Power

Yesterday was a wierd day. I started it feeling poo, and as the day went on I felt better. Sometimes this is because of you waking up, but I actually think the cold I have was lifting off during the day. Certainly today, its moved from my head to my nose, so one hopes that by tomorrow it will have moved off altogether. Anyway, this isnt the only reason yesterday was funny. During the afternoon I was thinking about Full Power, so I mailed the two people I knew that had done it - Ned and Andy, to ask them what they did. I'd found a video of Ben Moon doing it on the interweb, but his sequence appeared to be bonkers :
Within seconds the harris beta machine was churning its databanks and a sequence was returned. The discussion escalated and suddenly, out of nowhere, Ed and I were racing out of work early to meet at Gardoms. The arbiter of conditions which is my car suggested it would be too warm, registering 12 degrees on sheffield ring road, but I knew it was at least a couple of degrees colder in the hills, and that with the day ending it would surely only get better. Oh but for a breeze!
There was none. It was still (ish), although standing about I got cold, so I think it was reasonable. Without so much as a warm up we did Soft on the G, for me including my nemesis 5b mantle. A word on mantling and top out skills : I dont detect an issue here, but I do have a point to make, which is : when I did the Joker I could have mantled, I showed that, but for snow I didnt. I took the tick - and was completely happy with that as I knew I had done the problem. With Soft on the G, I actually fell off the top and couldnt get back there, so I didnt take the tick, until last night when I actually did it twice. I do hope there isnt a theme developing here. Perhaps a spell at the Bradbury top out skills masterclass is called for?!
Full Power. Never having been able to do the top I had always dismissed it as impossible, but armed with Harris beta there seemed some glimmer of a chance. And, after a night of trying with really bad skin I certainly think its feasible. I also learnt that those blue slip on 5.10 shoes I have are rubbish. They are just too stiff. I have been persisting on with them for ages expecting them to soften up and they havent. I put on a brand new pair of Anasazi velcros and even though they were brand new and hard, the advantage they gave was palpable. Dont compromise on your boots kids. Its not worth it.
So, thats that. Another iron in the fire. Ed has no moves still to do, but the link to complete, and I still have two moves to do. With good skin, conditions, beta and psyche its all possible...

Monday, 23 February 2009

excuses excuses

It was a sad day when Ember Inns took over the Fox house. Its a shame that it couldnt be made to work as a walkers country pub type thing - I liked it how it was. We'd been to meet friends in the Castle (same chain, in Castleton) a couple of sundays ago, where I had a roast and it was lovely. Based on this success and a requirement for an early quick tea on Friday, we decided to give the Fox house a chance. Hers was ok but mine was rubbish (risotto thing off the specials board). Anyway, that was that or so I thought. Wouldnt have been going back anyway, but then woke in middle of the night and was sick and pooey until morning. Brilliant. Sure it was the rice from there which tasted wierd. Thinking about it, having risotto anywhere thats not going to be making it fresh is a bad idea. The problem with risotto is that you need to constantly tend to it, which means somewhere like that would preprepare a vat and then reheat it in bits (probably). Reheating rice is a bad idea. Anyway, i wouldnt usually bore you with such negative whining, but as I wasted my day out climbing I felt I should drag you all down too. Sorry.

Felt semi human on Sunday, and did manage to get out in the morning to try Soft on the G at Gardoms. Couldnt do it, couldnt do it, couldnt do it. Then Jon Barton turned up and I did it. Got all the way to the top, mantled, my foot popped and i slid back down again. I had a watch of Ben Moon doing Full power when I got back and I think it looks feasible (full power not soft on the G). You'd want good conditions. Mind you, I had those I think - it felt ok.

So, this week - Foundry tonight, Ace with Dave on Wednesday afternoon? Away with the monster in the lakes this weekend. Well looking forwards to it.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Ace of beasts

My plans changed organically as the day grew. Instead of being at the Foundry at 4 I found myself at home at 1. I still intended to go to the Foundry, but it looked so nice outside, and so dry on the roads that I wondered whether it was worth a look at the Plantation? 4 came and I shot out the door like a dog from a trap, swearing at slow moving fiesta driving road users on the way - why is it when you have no time everyone else has loads? To my delight, theres no snow at all and I can get all the way to the plantation car park unhindered. Dave's car is abandoned on the virge and my excitement reaches fever pitch - I know what it is he's here for, I wrench my pads out and start running to get to the crag.
I'd been worried that I would be too scared without a spotter, but thats no problem now. And, I get to see what to do on the start. Running lost its appeal as the angle of approach kicked back and I slowed my pace to a trot. Dave and UKB's Serpico were sat beneath captain hook. Said hello, drank coffee, got started with Green trav standard warmups. My excitement made me feel quite fruity, I bounded between warmups with inadequate rest feeling light and strong (which is funny, because in pounds I am quite heavy - 11st6), before joining Dave under the Ace.
He was hitting but not holding the right hand crimp. Although it looked a bit wild you shouldnt underestimate dave. If he can get to it he might do it, such is his tenacity. I feel jittery nervous as I often do when I am about to go on something I know I can do. The pressure to succeed is opposed to the assertion of feasibility. I know I can do it so just execute? right? My first go is ok, I pat the top and dont really try to hold it. I set the watch and at 1min I cant wait any more and climb back onto the start boulder. Failing first time was all I needed to kill the nerves and so this time I fire the problem comfortably. There's no suprise as I arrive at the jug, I knew in my heart I could do it, I still know the secret, I can still put it into practice - and so I did! As there's no snow I can dot the i and do the mantle. It really is 5b. If you take the jug in control and dont do the mantle because of ice you can have it in my eyes, but the completists can now rest their soapboxes - the problem is complete, mantle and all.
Back to Dave and the Ace. His goes have improved, he's getting to the right hand crimp and for a moment holding the position. I presume its just further refinement required to nail the whole thing, so I get started too. Its chuffin desperate! I think when people assert that the bottom two moves are 7b+/7c that perhaps they havent tried it - it feels much much harder, and i can only imagine that when you get to the joker you will be imperfectly set on the holds and what I find so easy now I wont on the link. The first move is a bit wierdy, but tricky more than hard, but its the second move that perhaps I just dont understand yet. With your left on the JOker left hold you swing your foot to the start jug, and this is where I go wrong. I get my foot to the hold, but I feel totally insecure, I'm not using my feet to my advantage, I'm cheesing off the hand hold as all my weight is coming down through this one hand crimper. This is going to take some trying methinks. I recognise I'm chewing my fingers up and stop before holing a tip. At this point I am considering going home and on the Beastmaker, or to to a wall for an hour. Thinking how good it would feel to see Percy and lord it over him, I head to the climbing works.
Percy wasnt there, but Dan and Ned were, and with them nice wooden grips and a new board to play on. I got quite excited, and not just at the chance to abuse the beastie boys, but at this new board. If ever you were privileged to visit Beastmaker HQ this is like a bigger slightly easier version. This is a good thing because it was too hard for me there anyway!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Soul power

When we were in Canada, TC got a film out starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Phillip is (physically, at least) a disgusting spectacle of manhood, and the film opened with him bumming a vocal young lady. We exchanged nervous 'what sort of film is this?' laughter and continued to sit through another hour and a half of dreadful Philip debauchery. Anyway, where this is going is it is the root of a Phillip Seymour Hoffman phobia I have developed, and the man is currently everywhere. Last night he was on channel 4 in Mission Impossible 3, and currently he's in the cinemas in the film Doubt, which we intended to see on Saturday night, but the whole of Sheffield was also in the cinema so we gave up to return another time. There's not a lot on I want to see at the moment. She wants to see 'The curious case of benjamin button', but I think it looks dreadful.

Its funny how the internet directs the focus of climbers. A few weeks ago Jon boy was on about Birchens, and that weekend everyone went to birchens. Then recently someone (perhaps Tom) was on about Soul power, and over the last week or so its had a string of ascents. On thursday JLS, Dan Walker and Rob Smith all crushed it, and then me and Ed's Robinson and Brown went out and did it on Saturday morning. It is a really good problem, with the added spice of height to (as dan put it) 'Sharpen the mind'.

The melt is well underway in the Peak, yet the ground is frozen hard and so meltwater just sits around until night time when it freezes. So, there's loads of ice about. Ed Robinson and I slithered our way to Soul Power early on Saturday morning, to find Ed Brown already there and getting high up on the arete. Its shaped like a letter P in profile. The climb starts up the stalk of the P, out under the roof to a hanging arete, which once gained, you release your feet and gently kill the swing. Hanging hugging the arete you hump your right hand up to a pinchy hold, and then swing your left heel into a faint crease which is at first rubbish. Finding something of a sweet spot you reach casually left for a crozzly pocket. Curl the fingers to gain every last iota of mechanical advantage and change the heel to a toe. It feels unsecure, off balance, and HIGH. Ed Robinson was first to make the move to the pocket, but slipped out. The race was on. I hold the pocket, get my feet up and pat the arete but am too scared to lay one on. Ed goes again, holds the pocket, slaps his right heel round and makes the move up the arete, his feet scuttle and we shout encouragement - thats it surely? its done... but it isnt! the holds to get to the break just arent quite as good as you would hope for and Ed looks a bit scared as he scuttles upwards to the safety of the ledge. I am now gripped! I keep doing the supposedly hard bit and being too scared to commit to the top. Ed Brown climbs wildly but comes into his comfort zone on the high insecure top bit and takes victory next. I feel nervous, but having been established at the top and taken the ride already the edge has been taken off my fear and soon I too am scurrying wildly for the top. Pheweee! As if thats not enough the easy descent route is possibly more gripping as its slightly wet and would involve falling into a cleft. Nice. All three manage to get down without incident and ER and I have a quick go on Slingshot - which looks and feels possible.

So, another one bites the dust. Keen to get back on slingshot which has my name all over it. BUt, with the melt in progress I can't help but wonder whether the plantation will be accessible by Wednesday, and whether I could get back to the Ace. I got to the plantation car park (still shut) yesterday by approaching from Hathersage, but the road up to the popular end car park is still shut and deadly. I'm also pretty keen to get to Gardoms to do Soft on the G and have a look at full power. And then theres Yorkshire. Zoo York! pretty sure that will be wet at the moment, and I need a good spot really.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Rich/Tom's video

Dobbin - The Joker from stom on Vimeo.

I am such a dickhead! Ah well. Both of these are from the first time when I did it. THis second one has a bit more back footage of my trying before, and of the missing the pads go.

Dobbin - Brad Pit from stom on Vimeo.

Brad pit from later that day.

The proof in the pudding

The Joker, Stanage Plantation from Jamie Lilleman on Vimeo.

I'm fully having that. Tick!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Joker meets the Joker!

I can still feel the move. All day on Saturday I kept reliving the motion, imagining myself hitting the top again - an awesome feeling. Jerry, in his book talks about how the Joker is a move which once unlocked can be repeated on demand - a trick, a secret knack reserved for those who invested the time in learning. On Saturday I educated myself and acheived something of an ambition, I climbed the Joker, and whats more, I did so the way the master himself did it all those years ago.
On Friday night whilst most people with sense were in the pub I was nearly getting stuck in the snow trying to get to the plantation. I got down to the popular end car park, and the road towards the plantation was closed. I tried to do a three pt turn and so nearly got stuck - having to rock the car backwards and forwards in its rut to break free! Then I couldnt get back up the hill again, getting stuck at the farmhouse. Had to roll all the way back to the popular end and then take it at speed - much of which was very sideways. Partly terrifying, partly fun! I abandoned ship at Apparent North and set off across the snow towards Hampers Hang - time now about 2130. Although this felt very keen at the time it was extremely beautiful, as it was totally clear and a nearly full moon. The white snow and bright moon meant I could walk over without my headlight on. Imagine what a dashing sight I must have cast as I strode across the top of the crag in temps of -5 carrying a yard broom. At points in the hike I doubted my purpose, my faith was shaken - I considered turning back, but the dogged mentality returned and I pushed on, eventually turning down off the edge when i could see the fin on Help the Young.
My broom was ineffective clearing any snow from the top, and attempts to get on top of the boulder would have been suicidal. The block slopes steeply down towards a 10ft drop into a rocky gully, so failure really was not an option - especially not now, at 2200, on my own with no access to the nearest road. I gave up, shouldered the broom and headed back out again. I cannot do justice to the beauty of the evening. It was certainly worth it. And, now I knew I would be able to climb there the next day.
I didnt sleep well because I was so excited. My rational brain reminded me of international wad Tyler hitting the top and not holding the jug loads of times, so I knew it wouldnt be as simple as pull on, do it, go home, but somehow the preparation of the night before and the new found confidence granted me by Moffatt made me think otherwise. Somehow I knew I could do it.
It was harder to get to on Saturday morning, because i was walking into the wind and had two pads on my back, plus, my little legs were tired from the night before (its tiring walking in snow). But still my enthusiasm was undampened. I got to the Joker, and to my delight the snow stopped three inches back from the edge. Dumped my pads and wandered off to find Jamie. He was on the Storm with that guy Ethan who we met at Rubicon in the summer. Stayed to watch him have a couple of goes, get a tip over the top but not stick it. I head back to the green trav and those two come over shortly. Its amazing, 10am on saturday morning with totally crystal blue skies and there are three people at the plantation. I dont feel great on the warm ups, it feels a bit slippy (or so I think), and struggling to maintain the unshakeable faith I move up to my target.
Thanks to my previous goes on this problem being with Polish Dave when it was wet (!), the holds may not be perfect, but they feel good enough and my goes start at a pat at the top to being a snag of it and then get altogether more serious. Rich and Tom turn up, Rich gets out his camera and starts filming. I painstakingly chalk my hands, palm the face of the boulder, and establish my feet on the launch boulder. Leaving my right foot behind, I step my left to the start jug on the Ace. Using Dave's knowledge I wedge the ball knuckle of my foot slightly against the roof, and sit into the position, I can feel the claw of my shoe pull me in and I know its right. I have a last look at my fingers which are still white, and then set my left hand on the crimp, I lean under and my right hand takes its start hold.... I step off, swing under, swing back out and power power power, my left hand snaps out and latches the top - shit! I've got it! the swing right starts and I grab the jug but in my suprise swing past and am airborne! shit shit and damn! its on! I nearly did it! I miss the pads and go skiing down the hill on my arse.
The next few goes are rubbish. I have pre redpoint nerves and jitters from the fall. But on each of these fanny goes I am learning from my mistakes. The possible ways in which I can fail are getting fewer. Jamie gets his camera out and starts filming too. We're all talking shit, and my team are all saying that this is my last go as they're getting cold and want to do some climbing (selfish bastards!;-)), I set up, as before and pull on, its all perfect, I hit the top with my left and pause a moment, its ok I think, I know I can do this, and then I grab the jug and take the swing - which is just like a school board kick and completely my thing - fuck yeah! I've done it! awesome! I do a super pull up and have a moment on my own on the top as the realisation sinks in, and then thanks to the snow and ice on top, I jump off. Mantling today is not an option. More on that in a moment.
On that go I felt my foot brush Tom on the backswing, but I also knew I could do it again, and so I did. Only this go went even better - I had it dialled and almost managed to lock it. On reaching the jug I did a chin, hung out for a minute and again, jumped off. I dont have a problem taking the tick and not doing the mantle because I know that had it have been possible then I would have done it. If I'd not been in control or if it had been an even remotely tricky move then I wouldnt even think about it, but the top out is really easy and besides, I know I'll be back once the snow has gone. I do want to do it completely, and I really think I can. And, of course, theres the Ace to get stuck in with.
After that we all headed up to the Pit, and then I had a quick dabble on Silk with Jamie before walking out. The monster and I went to see Revolutionary Road which I have to be honest, I wasnt that keen on.
Sunday we went for a walk to scope out lowrider, which looks good - and hopefully doable. There looks to be a hard bit going up the arete at the end, so I need to have a watch of the various bits of footage of people doing it to get a sequence. But am pretty keen to have a go. Sunday night was all about Jerry. All afternoon I was excited, and daydreaming that he would start his talk by congratulating me for repeating his problem and that I would thank him for being my inspiration, but of course he didnt and I didnt have to blurt my devotion! I'd taken Foley's BeastMaker to give to Ed to send over, but when we arrived it occurred to me to get Jerry to sign it!

Jerry came across as being a bit nervous I thought. Obviously, its years since he must have done anything like this, so nerves were understandable. Having finished the book, and having had it occupy almost all my conciousness over the last week or so, i felt like most of what he said was stuff I had just read, but it was still worth going because there were some pics and bits of footage which werent included. I suppose as well, that when you've read it its been written by a talented writer whose thought through the structure and delivery so that it reads slick and punchy. Not that Jerry wasnt slick and punchy, but I could feel his nerves. The footage of him and Ben on his board was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I expect there are plenty of similar bits of footage which will come back to haunt me in years to come too!
I have outrambled myself this morning.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Jerry Motivator

In the olden days, when people were forming the first ideas about training, everyone was keen to guard their secrets so that they could get the edge. My heroes were famously secretive about what they did to train, and in Jerry's book, all that I longed to know growing up is laid bare. I know I keep harping on about it, but you must understand that Ben and Jerry have been my heroes since I was 15 (am now 32). Not only is it funny, but its motivational.

I've realised I am like a Jerry Moffatt who never got as good. So many of his foibles are also my foibles, his neuroses, ego etc. However, my ego has been kept down by my relative level amongst my peers being so much lower. Because Jerry was actually better than everyone else so his ego developed. Reading it, I find myself thinking that sounds like something I would have done, perhaps slightly more bashful. He talks about how before a comp he changed his attitude to be that of a winner, and how he channelled his thoughts into the positive belief that he could win.

Stu little tuned me into looking for a specific secret, and I can reveal that I have located and purchased said secret for myself. You are about to witness the death of mild mannered Ben Morton, and the birth of a new force in rock climbing. Now I have no interest in comps, but as a microcosm of the redpoint they are an interesting mental test. I approach a problem thinking 'blimey, all these strong guys are failing, I'm going to as well' and then I fall off - its no suprise really. What I need to do is to approach the problem knowing I can do it. Success breeds success. I've had comps when I have done something I've seen someone I consider strong fall off, and I've gone from strength to strength - because I start to believe I could be stronger and better and therefore do well.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Car sled

I have booked my tickets to go see Jerry at the works this sunday. Got to try to finish the book before then if I can. Have just started on his comp history. I am really enjoying his book, there are some really funny stories during which I have to suppress laughter so as not to wake her up. 

I keep wondering whether it would be worth trying to get to the Joker or not. On one hand, its certainly cold, and Jamie said that it was in good nic, but that there was snow on the tops. Presumably this will melt through the day and that will stop the goodness? And on the other hand, I worry that if I even managed to get there, would I get back?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Jerry Moffatt - my therapist

Its not that I didnt enjoy my weekend - I did, I had a lovely time, but typically, when you arrange a weekend of not climbing, so the weather is automatically mint and everyone else has a super saturday. If I was the caring, bereft of ego soul I claim to be I would be delighted that you're all out sending stuff, but I hate missing out, and I cant escape the notion that Saturday could have been my time! I say that because I think I'm close, but remember winter sessions - tyler hits the top loads of times and swings off. I suspect the road isnt as short as I would like it to be. We'll see (but when will we see?). Polish Dave is a great character to try it with because he is so unshakeably optimistic.
The road towards success is hilly. There are peaks, troughs and false summits. I honestly believe that I will get there in the end, but I dont know how long it'll take. As you make your way along the road you'll experience doubt troughs. Whilst you are in one you'll wonder if you'll ever get to the end, but you must be tough. These things arent easy (or else everyone would be doing them) - only the strong survive. So push on, focus! hard work is everything! (can you tell what book I am reading at the moment?). Grimer has done a great job. Jerry's book is great.
No real gossip to report, just a big up for Buxton's hardest pinching nicest man - Ed Robinson who made the best of the primo conditions - on Saturday he did the Pit, and on Sunday - he didnt do, but got close to Master Kush.