Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Spotted Summit Strongman

Hulking beauty

'Hmm, clouds' I thought as the minutes left in the working day ticked past. 'At least it will keep the sun off' - I tried to reassure myself that clouds were a good thing. It'd been a busy yet productive day - which is one of the better sorts of days to have if you are going climbing. It's no good being catatonic as that makes it hard to shape yourself when the time comes. The time came and like a dog from a trap I was off down the stairs, making the coffee and squeezing my pads into the car.

Predictably, there was noone at my choice of destination. Having seen the Tor so dry yesterday I felt certain there would no be wetness, and therefore I was suprised that it was actually wetter than Saturday, which is quite interesting - as it hasn't rained since saturday, so it must be about a 2 day delay from when it rains to when the crag gets wet. As an example, on Saturday Cherokee lane was totally bone, yesterday the right handhold was soaked. I wonder if the rate of seepage is constant? Conditions didnt feel amazing. It was very still and about 11degrees. There were midges out (which I have never seen at the place in question), and yet again - the old skin was keen to show its face in spite of a patina of liquid chalk.

I worked through my warm ups feeling pretty fruity, but saving the judgement of my performance until I had tried my objective. I could barely pull on. My heart sank. I fumbled a bit more and it wasnt going anywhere. I had a coffee. Maybe I should try the Thing? I do, its hideous. I remonstrate with myself for being so weak willed - we dont get anywhere without trying - are you going to just roll over and die? give up without giving it your best? I remember Dave Mason's comment from last week - 'you did this last time, couldnt pull on for ages and then suddenly were at the top'. I refocus my efforts. Its such a funny move that first one. The left hand is on a wee pinchy edge thing which forces your fingers to stack onto your little finger which is handily wedged in a groove - and it hurts. After a bit more fannying about, I hold the hold totally different (higher up and away from this sharp skin pinching notch) and I can do the move everytime (numbnuts). From zero to hero, suddenly I am hitting the sloper on every go.

Hitting, but not holding it. Shit. It felt better than this last week, then, every time I hit it, I held it. Not today. Risking life and limb I teeter up the ladder and scrub the shit off the sloper. It still doesnt feel great, but I am getting the right hand pinch better and better each time, which gives me more control of how I hit the sloper. From sliding straight off it I am holding it, my feet flap uselessly beneath me, I kick back in and bring my right hand up - YESSSS! I move my left like Jasper said, crimping the ripple thing, put my heel on, look back at the ground to see I am now directly over my bag and loads of ankle breaking detritus - brilliant. I drop off without trying and move the pads into the right place.

The next go is even better, the holds are in the right place, I can pull on them and again, I am on the top holds, scuttling into postion. For much of this my feet arent on anything, but somehow I remain attached. This time I am not giving up! I wack my heel across to the moffatrocity hold and rock onto it, it comes into balance when you commit and I casually reach the crimp. I feel a bit uncertain, but have a video of Tim doing Superman2, he flicks the heel to a toe and pushes back left into the edge, I do, the confidence returns and presto - it's done! I feel like doing a pullup, kissing the wall and then dropping off - but I dont, I dont want a mouthful of dirt.

Thats it - ticked! brilliant. I feel a bit like I should really have done it some time ago, but its ok. I'm in no rush (only I am, but I dont know why). I pop to the tor and bump into Jordan and Naomi Buys. Jordan is on Boot boys, Andy Pollitt's rarely repeated 8a+. I once held Zippy's rope on it, and he made it look desperate. Jordan has applied comp technique/style to pass the mono, and is having redpoints - it looks feasible. I get quite excited about having a go (in the future). Powerband has wet footholds, and I fire out of the slots a couple of times, but ultimately get to the end after a bit of drying (with my long johns). Someone has left their pants at the end of PB. I can only imagine they were so happy to get there, they removed their underwear in delight.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Sloppy lime

You wouldn't think the rocks had been there for as long as they had judging by the way I scrabble over myself to get back there. Its as if the crag is about to fall down, or that I am to leave and never return. I have a palpable sense of panic about when I will be able to get back to a project I feel I am about to do. Which could be described as ridiculous. I think I have become partly addicted to ticking stuff. Anyway. Friday - cinema. I want to see that film Bronson but she doesnt fancy it. She wants to see Marley and me, and I think that looks like tripe. We end up seeing Haunting in Connecticut, which isnt great. Its ok, but not great. I dont do horror very well.
Saturday starts at the crag with no name, and I have dreadful skin. Its in that weeping state where you chalk up and then your fingertip appears like Jack Nicholson through the door in the shining - "Here's Pinky!". Its not going to be a great day I fear. I'm actually wrong. I climb well, nipping up the pinch, sean's, jericho rd and cherokee ln, but not the Hulk which I cant even pull on to. I'll be back... possibly today.
Sunday dawns beautiful. She and I go for a walk down Cheedale which looks largely dry. There are people climbing on Embankment (rab) and Max's wall (pickles, smitton and vicky hurley), and the Cornice is wet. Still looks awesome! Stop at the tor on the way home and see a cast of tens clustered around the right hand end. Stay and chat for a few minutes and then jet home to chat. We walk up to stanage pole to watch the sunset to finish the day.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Mild mannered crimper

I'd put all my eggs in the wednesday afternoon climbing basket, so when the day started wet I got worried. By lunchtime the skies cleared and a plan was hatched. I'd rested to allow skin growth, and whilst still not perfect, the glistening had all but stopped and my main concern was over this supposedly busted pulley. It still aches a bit in certain positions, but I am delighted to report that it didn't hurt in action at all yesterday.

I have two irons in two fires at the moment. Lanny Bassham says never allow yourself to have only one goal, as when you complete it you'll be left empty, wondering what to do. So, some degree of 'directed' channel surfing is allowed. The first goal is the infamous low rider, which has taken its fair share of skin and should really have gone down ages ago and the second is the Hulk. I have tried the hulk on and off for years, and its always been too hard for me. A couple of years ago I was shown a way I can sometimes static the first move, although it felt desperado to anything else. This year I can static the first move go after go after go, so when Dave showed me how to do the rest of it I had no excuses. I was delighted to make progress and be hitting the sloper in the wet, so kind of expected to do it the next time i went and it was dry. That time was saturday and I was there with a busted finger and weeping skin, needless to say - it didnt happen. So having rested tues I had a glimmer of expectation that I might actually do a problem.

I shouldnt have gotten excited though because it didn't happen. But, we don't dwell on the negatives - what I didn't do, I reinforce that yesterday I was closer than ever before, and what's more, I felt I climbed well and didn't have too much trouble with the finger - psyched! I still find that first move so wierd, I have ten goes and on 6 of them I will static through it, then the other 4 I wont be able to move at all. I feel that the holds are so poor that I must take them just so, but that with poor skin I cant weedle my fingers into the right place, I must just grab them and pull on. Still, its all learning and I reduce the amount of mistakes its possible for me to make so that success edges closer. 4 times I got matched up on the sloper. I even managed to get my heel out right but in the wrong place. Its fully on next time.

The most exciting problem there is the mighty Superman. Dave was trying the original, and Ned was on Superman2. Both actually looked like they were going to hit the pinch. I didnt even try, but I wouldnt be suprised to learn that either had acheived their goal, and what a goal!

Repeated goes on the same sharp holds started to take their toll so we trundled down the road for the hour of power at the Kudos wall. As we arrive steely fingered mountain wad Dave Hesleden is crimping his way through the classics. We chat, his solitude removed, he takes his leave - sorry Dave! Dave M doesnt put his boots on, but Ned and I destroy a few of the classics. Most exciting, Ned does pinch to press jug which actually looks a pretty awesome move. I prove I cant moan too much about the finger by doing low right and low left presses, and even getting to the top of Tsunami. I try in vain to traverse back left after low left press (to do the simpson link), but its chuffin desperate. I think I need to get the trav wired.

On the way home we hear from Dan Constant Variable who reports that strong Aussie monster Sharik (sp?) has done the Staminaband/PUTP link. This is incredible! For two reasons - it means its climbable, and secondly - its 8c+! WADDAGE!

So now the big question is - Saturday. Where to go? I have two problems I want to do, and I guess I am equally close to either. On one hand, my skin is still thin (but concievably will be better by then) so maybe Hulk is better whilst it recovers? on the other, I am very aware I have limited time to get the rider before its too warm. I think the weather shall decide for me anyway!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Yesterday my heart said go, whilst my body said no. It was cold, breezy and bright and I knew the Rider was awaiting an ascent, yet when I looked down at my fingertips they glistened in the sun - they were wet to the touch. I was convinced that inspite of this I could do the problem as I figured it would be so cold up there my chalk would stay on. Ultimately, sense prevailed and I didn't go. I decided the better option was to leave it for better skin conditions, but it felt hard work not going out when the weather was nice. Compounded by the fact that today is filthy in weather terms. I am going to have a look at the Hulk this afternoon.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Up on bricks

If you are injured, you climbed or trained when one of the following three conditions was true :
1) You were tired
2) You didn't warm up
3) You were ill
Recognising when your enthusiasm/psyche says 'its ok - go climb' but you should actually stay home is nearly the most difficult bit of climbing. Here (briefly) is the sum of the days leading up to the current trouble. Wednesday - big day out. Crushed everything, climbed well. Happy. Friday - up early and out trying low rider - first mistake. Skin was utterly nailed, tore new holes and still didnt do the problem. Saturday morning - rubicon with Dr Pinch, tired when arrived, terrible skin - weeping and requiring extra crimp power to even stay attached to wall, A2 pulley starts to hurt. Did I stop and go home? nope. I went to Cbrook and further deepened my motivational trench by failing some more.
It ached, I ached. Its been iced, massaged and needled ever since, and to be honest it doesnt feel too bad. I can feel it if I clench a fist, but I am perhaps being hyper sensitive. Going to rest up, grow new skin and try it out on Wednesday.
Took her for a walk over Stanton Moor yesterday. Never been, wanted to investigate whether it was worth returning to climb. Found Spare Rib which is brilliant looking - I would really like to climb it. However, its quite high and whilst you could go on your own it would be scary. Its the only bit I found that I was excited about. The other stuff looks fairly unexciting.
Dave and Ed were up at Low Rider on Saturday afternoon/evening. Although it was hot there was a cold wind and the guys were all making progress from the sounds of it. Dave said he has just to hold the cut loose to do it. I remember thinking that on my first session and yet I'm still slogging back up the hill! Hopefully he will be less inept than me. Ed Robinson has gone to SA for a week.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

My Big day out

It was all about Lowrider. I had a new sequence, the afternoon off, rested arms and ok skin. Our wonderful weather had different ideas - it thought it was August. Poor Dave 'subjected to 6hrs of wittering' Mason and I slogged up the hill, unaccompanied by the usual howling wind to find the 'rider shrouded in midges and coming into the sun. FCUK! We have a bit of a do anyway, and I actually get further than before (such is the brilliance of the new sequence) but its far too hot to pull on that sloping crease at the end and realising all I am loosing is skin we fcuk off. But not before my day is brightened by a text from Jim, who has added his name to the list of Lou Ferrino ascentionists. Which makes twice he has now officially burnt me off in the cave. Full waddage points!
We trek back down to the car and its destination X. Crag X. Which is quite wet to be honest. I slither my way up Jericho road, then we have a go on Sean's. It feels pretty easy, even with a spoogy foot hold and wet top holds. Its all about the Hulk though, and we soon focus our thoughts there, and after a few flaggelation goes I am static'ing (footless unt statik?) to the pinchy right hand sloper thing. Well, that's good, but I've been here before and still not done the problem, but today's progress is that after Dave shows me the next move a few times, I am actually hitting the wet top sloper and nearly controlling it. Cant help but think that when its dry it could be on. Back to the theme of the ones that matter are the ones you had to work for - well I've wanted to do this one for about 10 years!
As the afternoon turns into evening, we head down to the Kudos wall, reasoning that it will be in shade by now. It wasnt, but by about 1645 it was just about there. The hour of power had begun. As if the promise of showboating to Dave wasnt enough, there was a young Jas Sharpe lookalike (isnt everyone?) working low left press. The gloves came off. With battered skin and tired muscles I knew if I was to retain the king of kudos title, I would have to impress, but was starting to get a glassy eyed power fade (damn not bringing enough food!). Knocked out the Kudos starts, Low right press, got to the top of Tsunami and fell with hand on jug, and finished by doing low left to the press crimp.
Matt Pickles turns up at a truly professional 1715 and sets about Tsunami. He's trying the bounce of the sloper into the crimp method, and describes the sloper match as 'a bit dense', which I suppose if its lines you want, it is, but this is Peak Limestone, eliminates are king - its all about the difficulty. Bouncing off the sloper is Tsunamish rather than Tsunami. Which leads to the question, if you do LLP bouncing off the sloper, can this really be 8a+? I think low right is 7c+/8a, Tsunami (i.e, no pocket, no edge) is thick end of 8a, and low left is low 8a+.
So there you go. Its still all about lowrider.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

New entrant in the 7C+ club

James Foley! just done Lou Ferrino. However, he was on his own so its probably all lies ;-)
Remember the lost Joker vid filmed by persons unknown? here it is :
I am well psyched for the rider tomorrow. Ed Brown and Dave Mason are my team.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Tactical abstinence

I could get to Caley today by 1530. Its been minty dry and windy over the weekend, and today looks pretty good too - it will be almost certainly be dry. I even have my pads in the car, so you could say the planets are aligned. But, I shall not be going.... why on earth not? madness perhaps? nope - tactics. Professionalism and Lowrider. I went out yesterday afternoon and got oh so close, closer than ever before, so much so that had I found what I found at the end of yesterday at the start of the session, it would have been 'in the satch' now, but thats just not the way these things work. I am supremely confident it can be satched up on my next visit, and I am now in that exciting headspace of desperately scuttling to find an opportunity to get back there.
But, thats not explained the tactics being employed here. This year for the first time I can remember, the biggest problem for me hasn't been not getting out enough, its been that I have been out so much I perpetually have no skin. I am tactically going indoors today with a view to preserving what I have left (and letting it grow back to be nearly perfect on wednesday), and recognising that an indoor session a week keeps the hand in. I'm being focussed too. My goal at the moment is the magnificent Low Rider (and on wednesday, chip shop brawl), and until thats done I shouldnt be channel surfing.
It is definately true that you get back what you put in to climbing. The moments that have meant more to me arent the ones where I did a climb quickly, its the ones that I had to work for that feel more special. All those things on the Kudos wall - they took ages, and they were like great waves of euphoria crashing over me when they were done. The Joker - that was the most pleased I have been in ages - it felt so great to do it, I was buzzing for days. Zeke, again, the amount of effort expended getting there, working it out - the journey from bolt to bolting and it feeling impossible to actually climbing it without weighting the rope - it makes it all worthwhile, those little golden moments of joy when everything comes together. I wonder if this is why I am so bad at comps? I love the journey, I dont want my experiences to be a flash in the pan, I want to get into something, become fascinated by it and then finish it, close the chapter and move on.
Sigh. Life is great!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

le Big Frank (hope for the fatties)

Just read this on Chuck Fryberger's blog :


Fred Nicole is such an understated hero. He's amazing. I met him once underneath Dreamtime, only I didnt actually meet him - he was just there talking to someone TC knew. I got someone to stand between me and him and pretended to take a picture so i could capture big Frank in all his glory. I dont still have the picture, and besides - it was terrible.

The best laid plans of mice and men

Often go awry. I dont suppose they really did go awry to be honest. I went out to do Lowrider. In that, they went awry. But, I made progress and in that they didnt, it was worthwhile and besides, I enjoyed myself. It was a bit less windy, and I had worn my thermals so I was toasty. Its a full body workout that problem. I didnt feel very strong, but I think I could (and can) do it. It might have been a bit wet before I got there, but the howling wind soon saw to that. Anyway, it didnt go down and so I have to walk back up the hill again. Its not unpleasant, just a bit wet underfoot, and a tiny bit epic going down in the dark.
Its great - you can climb until about 18:15 without a light on. I was out until 18:45 last night! 

Monday, 9 March 2009

Low Power

The deal always was that if the weather was ok we wouldnt be going to the comp. And the weather was ok, so we didnt. Ed and I met at Gardoms just after nine. Had the crag to ourselves at first, it felt a bit like I was letting someone down not doing the comp, but it was with good reason - actual climbing. Both of us made progress on Full Power. Really, we both have a move to do, but Ed is closer. For me it feels like its a big ask, its not that I'm nearly doing it - I'm not. I'd need good skin, conditions and perhaps even to be shown the move I cant do in order to succeed, and I dont think the planets will align before its too warm.
This, of course, is wholly the wrong attitude. Think you wont and you wont. Think you will and you will. In fact, not even 'think', it should be 'know'. If you approach something you want to do not expecting to do it, but hoping that luck will get you through - you won't succeed. This is what Jerry was talking about, mental strength is 90% of the battle. So Keith, if you are still reading - I dont want to read that time is running out, that you are running out of strength, skin, whatever - I want to read that you marched up to Gecko assis with the intention of tearing it a new asshole!
Talking of tearing things, Ed and I waited until Rob, Will and Kerry appeared to disappear off to Low Rider. To be honest, it was warming up at Gardoms and there were midges about. Low rider is mega, very exposed and consequently freezing. Almost on his first go Dr Pinch gouged himself and started bleeding - game over. I felt like I could it. We worked out a sequence and I went into redpointing mode, but didnt suceed - this time. Its a great problem, but I can see why Jon said wait until its warmer. We got a bit too cold really, and it was impossible to stay warm enough to summon the force. But, with it warming up its good to have another project which can hope with an increase in temps.
Props to Mr Fullwood for having the vision (and time) to quest around finding new things, working out a sequence and cleaning them.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Rubicon pre season friendly

Yesterday the big dilemma was whether to go out or to train. I wanted to go on the Ace, but it was snowing and I had no spotter. Paulo was stuck in sheff city centre, and had I fannied around going back in to get him and then back out again I would loose half an hour of light. I happened upon a compromise - training and going out - Kudos wall!

All pretty dry, undercut on tsunami a bit slippy wet and the back of the low left start pocket wet at the back but totally climbable. Timed it perfect too. Arrived at about 1600, and the sun was still on the wall, but only minutes from dropping behind the hill. Warmed up in a t shirt and it was a balmy 12 degrees. As soon as the sun went down the temps dropped to 8 degrees, and I got stuck in :

The Press (low left sit start) from dobbin on Vimeo.

On my first try I got to the press crimp, but I didnt have it right and hit but didnt hold the finishing jug. There were a couple more abortive goes between then and that, and even on that go I really had to throw for the jug. I think with a little bit more composure I could do it real smooth.

I tried to visualise like Jerry - 'it would be just like me to do this now' was what I told myself, but actually - 'it would be just like me to shake all the way to the top like a shitting dog and fall off the jugs' was what I actually believed. Its all very well this mental management stuff, but you have to convince yourself, and I am a big sceptic. My past, experience is weighted too heavily. This I have to deal with. I know what I'm like, and so I expect to live up to what I think I will do. What I need to do is to convince myself that I WILL do it. I monitored my arousal throughout (!) last night too. On my first go, I was chilled and I climbed smoothly and cooly, but didnt quite have the last hold right. On the next goes I was over excited (too aroused!) because I knew I was going to be able to do it. I had to take a moment to try to calm myself down before setting off.

Anyway, I went back on Tsunami and got to the undercut but slipped off and got the fear. Finished the evening on the motherboard with Miles, Mini Pickles and Dr Pinch.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Fix the blame

Each week I listen again to the essential mix on the BBC iPlayer thing. Some weeks its crap - tatty trance music from Tiesto or something, but some weeks its ace. There was a good Josh Wink mix a couple of weeks ago, and last weeks Herve was good too. This week its Drum and Bass DJ Blame. Hot to trot. Here it is http://rapidshare.com/files/203515292/Essential_Mix_-_2009-02-28_-_Blame.mp3

Bowder bum

There's a chapter in Jerry's book about him and Kurt 'Big Guts' Albert going to Borrowdale to do some hard routes, only they discover the Bowderstone and never get onto the crag proper. These days its quite normal to drive all the way to the Lakes with no intention of going anywhere else. If you've not been, the Bowderstone is an awe inspiring sight. A square column, sitting on its long edge in the valley bottom, creates two overhanging faces which climb like steep boards. Brilliant. The rock type lends itself to shattering and pinchy edgey types of holds, but as the hold surfaces are shear planes, they can be smooth.

I think the best way to approach the stone is with a team and padS. I had a honey monster a pad, which shouldnt have been prohibitive, but what you must consider is that the climbing on the stone is hard, and the holds are often a bit slippy. Twice I thought I was locked into a position and was dramatically spat off, once recovering before the ground and the other time, landing on my arse. The ground is hard, and i missed the pads.

I'd set my sights on doing Jerry's Impropa Opera which is what I landed on my arse off. Whilst she watched, I tried and tried again before eventually sticking the hold I'd been aiming for, I shouted 'Got it!' and swung out, back in and then schlipp! I was groundward, my arse my cushion. Ouch. I dusted myself off and got it done. The bruising would never really appear but I spent the next day hobbling. Finished the day off doing Ears of Perception which I had nearly done on a previous visit.

We were staying just above Keswick at a nice hotel called the 'Cottage in the wood'. Ate and drank too much, did some walking, back on Sunday. Nice little break. Went and had a quick go on Full Power yesterday, but i dont think it was great nic and I didnt do very well.

This weekend its the CWIM comp. Ed Robinson, Rob Napier, Diane Merrick and I are team Foundry. I am even planning to mend the Jazz pants ready to show Kilian Fishburger a thing or two. That is, unless its good conditions outside, and then a massive list of projects awaits!