Saturday, 30 May 2009

Evening sessions

So that's the last day out of the way. The evening came and it was obviously much better conditions. We started by the upper bridge and did a bunch of fun easy stuff. We all did kameltrophy. After which we walked to hohenrausch, collecting the others on the way.

A big team meant big matting. We did our best to arrange ourselves so as to minimise the danger and then a throng of euros assembled to witness these crazy brits throwing themselves at this amazing highball. Ed robinson flashes it, ed brown and joe le sage close their accounts, and it also bows to the might of the cofefield and the fulwood.

Before we move on from the scene at hohenrausch, let me speak about the audacity of my good friend joe. We have all been snatching for this poor top crimp, and then popping to the jug at the top. Not joe/jerry. Oh no. This guy nails the crimp and in front of a massive crowd waves not once, but three times before finally taking the top jug. Amazing and waddage points for schooling the tickmarking euros on their home turf.

I retry the link into the 7a on the left and get oh so close, but run out of glycogen and stop.

James ed and I go to look at the bruno whilst the rest go to pura log. I'm knackered and go home. Noone does anything else. Now back at the bunkhouse about to start the final sleep before home time. I'm looking forward to going home to be honest. I am exhausted, and the whole wierd anxiety episode has all but gone but is still in the wings. I need to get home to reset myself I think.

Its been a good trip, I mean of course it has, but I wish it had been someone elses stag do and that I had been able to really enjoy it as much as everyone else has. And I wouldn't stay in this chuffin bunkhouse again. I'm going to compose a letter explaining that i/we believe that he has unrealistic expectations about how the place should be run. I mean, its fine to ask people to tidy up after themselves, but you have to lay down the ground rules first. Its no good kicking off that things aren't as you want them when you don't explain what it is you want in the first place. I have a theory about why its all as it is. Hopefully I will remember to explain when we get back.

Anyway. That's it for tonight. We'll be doing a bit in the morning but to be honest evrything aches and the skin is terrible.

Last day

Ed rolled the shutters in our room at 0800 this morning. It felt early, but there was a beautiful alpine morning outside. Not a cloud in the sky, the snow on the mountains on the horizon glimmered - noone of sound body and mind could possibly stay in bed and miss out on what looked like a scorcher. Only of course at this stage in the game to describe any of us as being of sound mind or body is a stretch of the imagination. Ragged skin throughout the team, waking and feeling like your backs been used for some sort of pugilism, but the spark of doing some problems keeps us going.

In the bunkhouse we all thought we'd be boiling so we dressed appropriately, foley even baring his teats, but it wasn't to be - an icy cold wind swept down the valley and we were all forced to don more clothes.

First stop in the forest was a highball (h30) near the top bridge. Brilliant. Just hard enough to keep your interest but without scaring the beejesus out of you. We did a bunch more easier problems and then walked up to jack the chipper. Blummin well good effort rob smith flashing it.

Manage a team tick and wave goodbye to ken and kes who fly home today (now in fact). We do a bit more bimbling on the way down and then come back up to the bunkhouse, which is where I now am. When it cools off, we shall head back into the forest. Possibly for the last time to climb. My skin is flayed. If all tips aren't through at the end of the evening I will be suprised.

English storm in the forest

Just a quick post as its well late and I am walloped. So, today seemed to be a big day all round.

Si wilson, cofe is doing his best to not leave you a thing. He did supernova, jack the chipper, and other stuff I've forgotten. Something like mad cow disease too. Although that might be what john has given him.

Jon also did cofes ticks. Jim did the chipper thing.

But rob smith went brockwild and did jack the chipper and swiss beats (7c+).

Meanwhile I was falling off the end of octopussy. However, all I was actually doing was inching closer to sucess and delightfully with joe I managed to pull it out of the bag. Although my skin is bad now. Not through but bad.

Ed rob and james were down at iron butterfly waiting for a crowd of incompetent spaniards to leave piranja. Eventually they did and they both crushed it up. But not before dylog sent the butterfly.

Ed brown did marijuana corner.

Blummin good day all round. Steve pack and andy j climbing as well, but I don't know what they did.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

One summer trying

Yesterday I omitted some very important cofe news. The hairy bugler went on something of a rampage. He crushed Foo fighter,
Goldfisch and Hohenrausch, and is having a well deserved rest today. Effort word!

Our pads were not where we left them this morning. We continued into the forest figuring the campers must have taken them and just around the corner was Rob smith above a sea of pads beneath hohenrausch. I think this could be the best problem here. I have some pics but cannot post them yet as am writing from my blackberry. A soaring shield of granite launches from a pit of jagged boulders, criss crossed by good edges. Plus, its highball, so there's spice in the mix too. Its got it all. Anyway, the last hold is a biter and tho rob is getting there he's fighting the battle to stay attached as his skin is about to go through.

We start warming up and rob sets off from the bottom, displaying a finely measured display of agression to reach the last crimp, he sets up and throws for the top, hits it but is airborne on a fast track to the bottom of the pit. Boom! He's fine. Phew. That partly allays my fears and I'm totally up for taking a ticket to get involved. Robs next go is amazing. It would be inaccurate to say he climbed the problem - more he attacked it and tore its head off! This time as he took the top crimp he touched in for the match, and launched himself to the jugs with a man bark - BRRRAAAAPP! And he was up. Jittering, I sat myself at the bottom for the flash go.

Although shaky, the first moves were very much my cup of tea and soon I was staring at the top crimp, but rob's sequence felt uneasy and I stepped off. On my next go, I changed some foot beta and nailed the top crimp (which is very sharp), I started to unwind and get my weight over my toe and I realised I could lock it, reached further and deeper in, I'm going to have to pop for the top, pop and stick and whoa!!! I'm off, taking the ride right from the top and its fine. The jittering passes. Dylog steps up and does the same as me on my first go. His next go is with the benefit of having seen me get to the top and fall off from just about the worst possible place, and he absolutely crushes the problem. My next go its all perfect and I too am on top. Jim has arrived by now and is getting to the last move but being unable to finish it. Ed brown too. Three or four times he gets there, but his skin is terrible and he looks to be cheesing around on the grips. He can't make himself do it and throws in the towel.

We move to pura vida. I'm going to stop telling you so much because my thumbs are getting tired. Jim and james foley do schnae brett (which it turns out is what we did the other day - schnaesturm starts on two crimps in the middle of the wall, I try and nearly do the move, but its a bit unpleasant and hard on the skin.), and I have one really good link to the end of one summer in paradise, but it turns out that the last bit is actually about 8c. I try it a bit and sure I could do it if I had unlimited time and skin, but I don't think my reserves of these limited resources will see me victorious. This time.... anyway, I'm pleased to get to the end and know I can do that.

I take my stuff up to octopussy. There's a couple up there from london. They seem really nice and we chat for a bit whilst he and I exchange goes. He can do it from the start to holding the jump, but cannot get his feet down, whilst I do it from the jump to the end, which is another new link for me. I'm shedding skin like a snake in a skin factory and pack my stuff away and call it a day. I think if I rest tomorrow and grow some skin back it could be on.

Whilst I'm there jls comes up to chat and I'm glad to talk as since we arrived I've had some sort of anxiety attack thing going on. In short, I think I massively got heat stroke on day one, didn't know what was happening to me, or how to make it stop and this brought on some hideous anxiety. I managed to hold it together by the skin of my teeth but not without help from all of my understanding and kidly friends. Thanks boys.

Joe and I have a walk to sofa surfer and meet up with some of the rest of the team. Apparently I just missed james foley adding fool fighter to his tick list - a good day for him too then. Andy jennings does the deed and I get it on film.

I go for a bit of a walk and find john and cofe beneath some cool looking 6b. They're not climbing just looking. Finally, I walk up to high spirit and voigas for a quick look. The great thing about here is that I can actually fully concieve of being able to do quite a few of the hard problems. The difficulty is in picking the one you want to do most of all and sticking to it. And the thing about that is that this time I've shot me bolt on other worthwhile problems rather than focussing on the projects I really wanted to do, but this isn't really a projects trip, its a team thing, and that's fine, but it has whetted my appetite to come back, perhaps at an ever cooler time... Like october. I feel like I could climb 8b here.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Big rest day

Big rest day for all in the bunkhouse today. Got up later and found breakfast laid out for us in the bunkhouse. Raining outside. Soon stopped though and before long jim, lee, andy jennings and steve pack all arrive on their way to the blocs. They depart, we watch the most unpleasant film I have seen in some time - crank2 - high voltage. When that ordeal is over I watch a southpark to take my mind off crank. After all this sitting still, the sun had come out and all had twitchy feet. We drive to thusis and I manage to buy a hat. Lee had also asked for a hat, and we amuse ourselves picking him a particularly smart one.

Magic wood is the climbers name for a valley called averstal. The boulders are pretty much at the bottom of the valley and there's another 20km spur which leads up to a village called juf at the road head. Its amazing and very alpine - beautiful mountains, rolling green meadows, snow, log cabins etc etc. Very nice. We dick around and take some funny pictures before heading back to the bunkhouse.

I'm about to start cooking when jim and lee arrive. We are hanging out chatting in the bunkhouse living room when the guy who runs it comes in and is upset that we've left it all a mess. Also, I think he thinks we are having a lot of people round, as it turns out that the others are all outside and had been about to come in. We do our best to placate the situation and get back on with our evening, but the atmosphere has been spoiled and everyone goes their separate ways.

We eat a nice tea and watch a film in german on the telly. Tomorrow back to the blocs.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


A much better day today. Still boiling, but we were prepared and got up to make the best of the conditions. The plan was to go down to the blocs for 9, then come back up about 11 and chill until 4 or 5.

Started the day on the bruno bloc, and despite the hour it wasn't great nic. I got back on part 2 but it felt well hard. Basically got shut down making little progress.

To my left ed robinson was at the end of supernova, but within sight of the end he dropped it. He and dylog had worked their way through the moves and were both exchanging redpoints, but it looked like it was going to be robbo's prize. Ed seemed to go backwards whilst dylan streaked ahead, climbing through to the end with more than a little fight. Effort word.

We leave and come back to the bunkhouse to chill. I feel shaky and retire for a nap. The others head to andeer to buy bread and ice creams.

The enthusiasm of jim was uncontainable and rather too early it was time to go back to the blocs. We walked straight to pura vida and scoped it out. It still looked amazing. Around the corner there was a lovely looking highball called whorenrauch (?) With a swiss dude camped out beneath it. In between frenzied attempts on 'rest problems' jim managed to impart the sequence and ed and I were quick to put it into action and do the 7a+ to the left. Back at pura log and schnauesturm (sp), jim has just finished a sequence of 300 consecutive hand movements and is ready to show us this ace problem.

Schnauesturm is the obvious start down and left of the problem pura vida, which has something of an arbitrary start. I manage to do schnausturm and so does ed. Its fully brilliant. James, dylan, jim and rob all make progress but its not to be and as the heavens open we call it a day. Briefly, before moving on, I link from schnausturm into th last moves of pura vida. This makes a problem called one summer in paradise. It hurts my bad finger but I think I could actually do it.

Poor ed brown. He's nearly done piranja when the mongol raiding horde descend and batter up his holds. To make it worse, after we've all been there flailing, some random swiss guy in stereotypically bad knitwear trys to join the party. He doesn't bring social skills. Noone does piranja, ed does goldfisch.

Finally, we have a quick do on octolog. It feels disgusting, and although I nail the jump it feels desperate and I can't do anything with it.

We walk out, drive home and eat. All starving. Rest to recoup skin tomorrow.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Heat stroke

First full day in the wood today, and I have managed to get heat stroke. We arrived late last night and checked straight into the expensive bunkhouse. Its best described as utilitarian or perhaps clinical. Its 50chf a night but we can walk to the blocs and that does include breakfast.

Joe, jon, cofe and rob are all camping. The campsite has really improved since I was last here and now has toilets and a little shop. However, by all accounts the toilets are rancid.

Its been super super hot (hence the idiotic heatstroke) today, the car said 35degrees (was left in the sun), so to say conditions have not been great would have been an understatement. We started at the bruno bloc end and flailed in the heat on the slab beneath astronautefiber. Ed and rob both flashed protecktor, the we walked to a cool 7b just next to the left and right hand of darkness. Something fall? Very good anyway. Starts on two crimps, heel next to hand, hard move left to a good hold, then rumbling on and up to a highball finish. Really really good.

I then got very excited about the left and right hand of darknesses which looked totally possible. Looked but not felt! It was so hot my hands were so warm and the holds so small. So, I did move one, and move two but not together. Noone else made any more progress.

The teams split as we went up to octopussy and t'others head to blown away. Although far too hot, octopussy felt feasible. I think I'll be back on that one tomorrow.

Down at blown away its nice and cool. Cofe has a fight on his hands and it looks like its on but he runs out of steam before putting it all together.

We finished the day in andeer where we did some shopping and weighed up moving house. Basically, there's another bunkhouse which is only 15chf a night, but youneed a sleeping bag and there's no facility to cook. The saving is so big that it almost stacks up when you consider that yÓ'd have to eat out everynight. The decider (to stay here at the original bunkhouse) was made because all restaurants shut here at 9pm. So you'd need to miss the evening session to be able to eat.

Anyway, a more upbeat and worthwhile entry tomorow, when I have rehydrated and feel human.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Parisella's Log

I felt a bit like I had fallen out of love with the cave as we drove home last night. On reflection I don't think its as bad as that, more a question of logistics. When you are trying to do something hard, you must accept that you cannot always be at your best, and that conditions are not always perfect. Perhaps I have been spoilt in recent weeks, but yesterday it didn't feel good. Plus, Dylan's van is great and all, but for a there and back in a day trip, its noisy and slightly uncomfortable (if you were going and staying, there is no better way to do it). And, its a long day out - up at 0730 for a few hours work, then off to the cave at 11, back last night at 2130. Don't worry, you haven't strayed onto Paul B's blog, things will cheer up soon - I promise!

Anyway, I honestly believed/had convinced myself that I was going to do Trigger Cut last night. I didn't. On the way in it chucked it down, and although not directly wet, there are now wet holds and seepage patches in the cave. As soon as we landed, I could feel the increase in temp in the air, which was totally still. The session felt like it went quickly, and my skin went from fine, to thin, to hurty over what felt like a very short period.

I never even held the undercut. Slapped into it a couple of times, but whereas the week before I was all over that move, this week I had gone backwards. But its because the holds didnt feel as good, and I wasn't camped out on them as I was then. So it's fine, I'm not going to loose sleep over it, although that may well be the last visit until after the wedding. We shall see what opportunities the summer presents...

Team A included Dylog, Mina, Nacho and I. We got busted doing 60 in a 50 on the way in, and thanks to officer dibble being A) in a riot van and B) on his own, we escaped with a bollocking. Team B had on board Si Wilson, Worm and of course, the hamlord himself - the mighty Jim. Jim was tired, having broken his wrist earlier in the week, and being up all night with a baby. In spite of doing a lot of moves, none of them added up to a problem, and aside from the normal lap running on Clever Beaver he did nothing new. Si Wilson and Worm were a hilarious double act. Worm did Rockattrocity on his final go, which paved the way for Mina. She stepped up and dispatched. Not without having to work for her tick - on one go she climbed right to the end, got one hand to the finishing hold in control but couldn't match! Thankfully she pulled it off on her next attempt.

Dylog and Si Wilson tried Lou Ferrino, but the unordered and conflicting shouted beta from me and Jim caused only confusion, and flumping onto pads having forgotten what they were supposed to be doing, or missing moves out. Three times I climb all of broken heart, getting to variously the last or finishing moves but wilting. I am pleased with this, having never linked this much before, but I'd got my heart set on trigger cut. Ah well.

On the way out we stop at a fish shop by a tram stop. I can certainly vouch for its being better than Tribells. Which is rubbish. This chippy provides me with perhaps the best fried fish I have yet eaten. There's something very 'on holiday' about being in 'dudno. I don't want to live there (because that would be like being permanently on holiday), but I feel at ease there. More laughing was done than sending, but thats ok. I have a video of Mina doing RockAttrocity, which I will upload (hopefully) today.

So, thats it until Magic Wood. Jim and Worm (both of whom went on Sam's stag last year) reckon it is full board at the bunkhouse. Which would explain the price, and to be honest would be a great thing. I am well looking forward to it.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Charles Atlas

Saturday it rained and rained. I was fairly sure the tor would at least be dry but everyone wanted to go to the works for a pre trip 'tune up'. Added to that my hangover and the appeal of good coffee and not much driving, I went to the wall. It was immeadiately obvious I was going to be shit. Left before the end of my slot, but it was good to hang out and enjoy the collective pre trip psyche.

Yesterday I went to body pump with the Honey monster. As per usual it destroyed me and my legs hurt today. THere is a horrible man who goes to this class called Charles. He must be in his sixties and has quite a paunch. The class is basically light weights to hard house music. The point of it is to go through the whole range of movement and I would imagine its intention is to tone rather than bulk. I like it becuase its quite funny and I find it hard. Anyway, this guy Charles always loads his bar up with far too much weight and lets out Gaz Parry elephant noises whilst trying to shift it. This leads the honey monster and I to discuss the duty of care of the gym management and whether they are irresponsible - the first point is that this guy is not making the most of the workout (well, thats up to him isnt it?) and the second is that if he injures himself effectively under supervision then whose fault is it? I know there will be some sort of disclaimer and the gym will be able to get out of it, but shouldnt they have a duty of care to him? shouldnt they tell him to chill the fuck out? And anyway, he is pretty old. I wouldnt be that suprised to learn that he had dropped dead in the middle of a class through over exertion. Not that that is what I want to happen, but you should see the colour his head goes whilst he performs these exertions! puce. Its good to try hard, but theres trying hard and theres walking the tightrope above the pool of injury.

At the same gym theres an incredibly thin woman. The first time I accompanied the monster to the gym she was there, and has been (up until recently) every time I have gone since. When I first clapped eyes on her I thought she looked like some sort of Triathalete perhaps - massively fit, but lithe rather than thin. She looked athletic. Then when I have seen her recently she looks like Skeletor after a bad weekend in a hard house club. Massively sunken eyes, painfully painfully thin and ill looking. The point is, clearly this woman has an eating disorder and is using exercise to burn calories - she has been in the gym for hours and hours every day and the weight is dropping off her. Shouldnt they say something to her? Perhaps they did and she's stopped coming. The question though, is whether it is their place to say anything?

Anyway. Important gossip - Martin Smith did Superman. He's pretty impressive when not injured it seems. Very good effort and big news in my world. He used the crimp apparently, so actually it should be Martin does Superman2.

Climbing tonight at the Climbing works with Ed. Tomorrow rest up for Wednesday - the next cave raid. THen I will rest all the way through to Magic wood. First climbing day will actually be Monday, so thats a whopping 4 days rest! I think for once such a mammoth rest is justified as I'm still struggling on with this poorly finger. Perhaps an extended off period will enable me to do the business when we get there - and thats all I am bothered about. Actually, its not. My focus is shifting to Magic wood, but I still have urgent business to attend to in Wales on Weds.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Broken Dylog

I have a great job most of the time. They are really flexible with me and I get to do things like yesterday's cave raid in the middle of the week as long as I am up on my hours. Certainly, this no overtime budget is helping my climbing no end. Anyway, I had a routine change to do on Tuesday day and it was all going well, then things went badly wrong, and rather than being home at 1630 cooking tea for the monster, i was still stood in front of a rack in the datacenter trying to recover a failed server. The recovery continued until 2100 that night and still hadnt worked by then. As it was a backup server, so there were no actual users out of service, but the resilience of the platform was impacted. So it needed fixed, and quickly. Although as I mentioned before theres no overtime budget, theres certainly increased focus on service, so I needed to get things sorted. And fast.

Wednesday morning my cave vision was fleeting and I could see my dreams slipping away, but I managed to get things to a stage where they would continue without me (for a few hours) and at the last minute it was all on. The team who had been waiting patiently for the go/no-go texts took their pads out and waited for the Chavstra SRI. It rained and it rained, but the roads were clear and the A55 roadworks back up to 2 lanes, so in good time we were parting with our hard earned to the fine man who guards the Orme and rolling the Chavstra's big 18s into pole position outside the cave.

Having rescued my hopes from the depths of despair I was almost uncontrollably excited. It took much willpower to hold back from doing a Jim and warm up slow. I've warned about the dangers of reference problems before, but we havent explored the positive reinforcement which can occur if your gamble pays off - i.e. you feel good on the reference problems. I did and my spirits soared. The three of us had separate objectives and only three pads. Nacho was starting work on the in hell start into louis armstrong(!!!!)(8a into 8b! new link), Dylog was there to do Broken Heart, and for me it was all about Trigger Cut.

Trigger cut is so intense I didnt think I was ready at the end of the standard warm ups, so I joined Dylog on Broken Heart. Suprised myself by casually reaching the undercut but falling off getting my feet out of the heel locks. Dylog flails and Nacho makes chicken noises from darkness at the bottom. I am wavering. I think I could do broken log in a couple of goes, but surely it makes more sense to go on the super powerful short problem first and then try Broken Log later? after all the moves are easier...

I stop trying Broken Log and stack the pads beneath Trigger Cut. First go is a fanny slap go, second I nail the hold, step through and take the undercut - which is a first, but in switching the egyptian back the other way my left foot scooches off the hold and I fall off. I'm massively encouraged by the fact that I didnt think I could ever do that move, but I just did.

Dylog now has the first of three amazing goes on Broken Heart. He does the hard bit real casual and gets all the way to the end looking totally composed. However, he finishes up Lip Service, and after the penultimate pinch he slaps higher and way left of where the actual hold was! I cant believe it, and as he falls back on the pads I feel gutted for him. He is gutted too and takes his boots off to sulk.

Nacho continues squawking like a chicken and manages to get through the in hell start. I go from zero to hero and from slapping into the undercut I am falling off hitting the shot hole. The key is in the feet. And in taking all the holds perfectly! My goes get better and closer but I get more fatigued and in the end my fitness gives out before success is attained, but such is the progress that has been made that I am psyched to get back there next week as that could be the session I need to get it done. The key thing is that I honestly didnt think I could do the move to the undercut, and in yesterday's session I not only did it, but did it every time. As I am nearly doing the shot hole move, and linked to the top from there, then perhaps next time it will go down?

Dylog returns from a pensive walk to the end of the pier and reclimbs the lip service link at the end. He puts a big donkey line on the hold he needs to go to get to and takes a rest to recouperate his strength. When he sets off it doesnt look as composed as on the first amazing go but he makes it through to the jugs before lip service starts. He shakes, has a bit of chalk and twists round onto the crimp, he looks to fumble his feet into the upside down egyptian but manages to make it work, reaches the lip pinch, looks around, sights the hold and makes the last move perfectly. Broken Heart is broken down!

After a thorough drubbing we leave the cave, beaten but buoyant. Another advantage of the timings of these mid week raids is that we go after rush hour and we come back after it too - in other words its fast. And, because the cave is so hard an afternoon there is enough. We make it home in two hours and already I am planning the next raid...

Monday, 11 May 2009

Boot Band

Having always had my heart set on Staminaband, I've never really paid much attention to Blue band, but after a discussion with Rae started having a look this saturday. Blueband is powerband backwards missing out some of the holds. Suprisingly involving for a slimy elimanate traverse. Plus, it doesnt aggravate codfinger so can recieve unrestricted attention.

The mornings glory belongs to Rae Cowie who redpointed Boot Boys. Blummin good effort. She made it look really easy, total control throughout. The only time when it looked anything other than certain was when she was taking her time shaking her arms out on the headwall - obviously she was v.pumped and trying to get something back. The route looks mega though. I expect she made it look rather easier than it was.

So, another saturday morning club passes, and I get two new things to add to my projects bank. At the top of the list is Trigger Cut, and this wednesday theres a team making the long drive back to the Orme to get it done. Its less than certain, as the drop into the undercut is fucking hard, but one shall remain positive and lets see what happens...

I can confirm one thing ; if I get it, I am definately having a fish for tea.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Thursday, 7 May 2009


This morning was the first (of many, no doubt) commute in the new car. The obvious change is that the A3 felt like a womb inside. It was quiet, comfortable and all the instruments were in the right place. I know I am getting used to this Astra still, but the cabin noise is greater, and it appears to be less efficient. I suppose the best way to sum it up in a positive light would be to say that where the audi felt like you were soaring on the wings of a great silent bird, swooping between cities the Astra feels and more like a go kart. Its also got a bigger boot and back doors are your friend when climbing. Packing the car is loads easier.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the Tor, to Rubicon and to that other place up the valley. All three are bone dry and whilst the air was warm, there was a fair wind and conditions weren't half bad.

I am calling the LIME!

Its tempting to make a retrospective call dated back to the 22nd April, as by some parties it will be claimed that this call is late. Let us recall the wise words of the Harris which stated that "truly the grit must be a thing of the past" before the call is made (and not to "be bullied by the keenness of youth for the call"). Plus, I felt like I climbed well last night : "climb like a legend on the day of the call". My bad finger is still bad, but it felt less so, and I breezed through the stamina band start like in days of old. Now here is another troubling matter on the mind of this years lime caller : I have never done Staminaband or Rooster booster (which it is traditional the lime caller retro flash for the season to open), but it would be in keeping with the spirit of the times to simply claim an unwitnessed ascent wouldnt it?

No of course not! the lime caller's role is one of paramount importance, and I shall endeavour to do my duties whilst upholding the high standards of integrity to which we should all aspire. I flashed Staminaband START and fell off crossing through on Powerband. I had a couple of laps to the end of powerband but the last move hurt my finger so I stepped off. Actually, I felt so good on these that this could actually be the year I finally do do Staminaband. Watch this space. Its a good summer project anyway.

I left the tor happy, and zipped around to Rubicon. Warmed up on Low right, got to the top of Tsunami and failed to do the move on that Flying Fish thing. For those not in the know, this is Tsunami to the last move then left hand go again to the bucket like sidepull. FA Mike Adams, Ned and Dave did it yesterday. Its not the greatest line ever concieved, but lets just remember, I fucking love that wall, and havent done this yet.

I pop up the road and again, its all totally dry, but my finger is panging a bit now - I must have aggravated the blummin thing, so I sack it and go to the works to campus. Theres loads of my friends there and I spend ages chatting. Do a bit on the campus board and think to myself that I am starting to get it, then Nacho arrives and amazes me.

Now then, wheres that tortoise box?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Commuters Choice?

So, after the previous tale of turbo woe the car was deposited back at the garage. They stripped it down and discovered play in the turbo spindle - which is terminal in turbo stakes. We spoke, we cogitated, we decided as it drove (but not on the motorway), that we had nothing to loose trying to part exchange it, so they built it back up again, and on Saturday morning I collected it. I had arranged to go to Huddersfield to meet a Volvo dealer, as I thought I quite fancied a Volvo V50 :

We went, we drove, we liked. Well, liked is a bit strong. It would have been highly practical and wasnt awful would have been more accurate. We agree a deal, and so that we dont appear desperate, she and I jump in the car to go around the block to have a think. At which point mine starts with a PTSCCCHOOOOOO! and lots of black smoke. Shit. We limp back to Sheffield in silence, terrified that we'll not even make it up hills etc. The car gets dumped back at the garage and we go off to a barbecue to get pissed.

The next day we're trolling about in her car when she suggests popping in to one of these Ford dealership car warehouse supermarket things. I decide as I dont actually want a car from them that I will sacrifice my chances and see what happens if we tell the truth about my car. Salesdude lets me explain and asks whether mine would drive off a low loader and into a car auction. It would of course, so I say as much. Salesdude tells me not to mention it again, and he will pretend he didnt hear the first time. I feel slightly uneasy, but grab the lifeline and hold on for dear life. He takes down our requirements and comes up with an Astra. My heart sinks - I dont want an Astra, they get a terrible review in the motoring press, and whats worse its a 5 door one. But, its a sporty looking one, and to be honest its actually looks allright in the flesh.

The thing is, what I can afford and what I want are quite different. I would like a beemer estate with low miles, but I would need it on an 06 or thereabouts and with 15k miles - well that car would be £16k, and I dont like finance. Also, own an expensive car - have to be able to pay expensive prices for everything to do with it. Own a cheaper car and its a cheaper life all round. To save you the turmoil that has defined my weekend, we end up buying the Astra. Its not my ideal car but I got a good price for mine, and it will be a capable commuting mobile. My Raven Tor transfer time may increase, but thats ok. I flirted briefly with a Civic and with a Focus ST.

On the subject of which, the very prospect of being mobile again is thrilling. Relying on lifts is fine if time rich, but we paupers need flexibility. Obviously, I havent climbed since a brief hour at the Foundry on Thursday, and before that the cave on Tuesday. I'd been dining out on cave success and recognised my need to sort the car debacle outstripped the need to climb, so when I finally got to go yesterday I was excited and pleased to even go to the wall. But, tomorrow the real deal starts again. Tomorrow I am going out. I am thinking of starting at the tor and then who knows...

Friday, 1 May 2009

Keep on running

For years I drove a shit car. I opted out of societies enforced aspirations of lofty motoring - which has advantages :

  • You can park anywhere with total immunity from the fear that your car will be stolen.

  • When people see you hurtling towards them in a battered shit heap, they get out the way.

  • Noone ever wants you to drive to the crag

  • You can A: Fix them yourself, B: parts are cheaper

But eventually I buckled. I bowed to the pressure and I bought a nice car. Suddenly my commute was transformed. It was both comfortable and quiet. I actually became less tired at work as I could relax more on the way to and from. Great I thought, this is the way to travel. There were other advantages too, it was more efficient - much faster, and I was proud of it. It was fun to drive and I loved it. Until the problems started.

Last year (11 months ago to be precise) it sucked its own turbo up, needing over £2k's worth of work. Effectively it now had a new engine. I thought to myself, this is bad, but hey - I now know everything about it - its like its new, so I will now keep it forever, knowing all the history.

This year everything was going great until she and I were on our way back from Manchester one evening about a month ago. As we overtook someone up a hill suddenly a big pop, a cloud of smoke and no power. Shit! We get to safety, I check oil, water, exhaust - all totally fine. I feel very scared. We continue home carefully, and there are no further problems. Car goes back to the menders, they look, cant find owt and we discuss whether I should sell it now whilst it still drives. The opinion is that yeah, that wouldnt be a bad idea, but it could go and go for years to come. I'm skint, I cant afford to be paying out loads for a new car, so I dont. I figure I will keep mine going.

And go it did. When it drives it drives great. All was well. I hoped for a couple more years of trouble free motoring until I knew how secure my job was. Believing it to be going particularly well at the moment, I thought it time to get back to normal, and so I took it for a routine service (because although it certainly knows the way to the garage, this has always been about turbos or coolant, it needed normal things like filters, oil etc too). I picked it up and all seemed fine. She and I went out and literally just around the corner, going up a hill there was a PTTTOOOSCCHH! and no power. It sounded like we had gone over a bottle or something. We get out, look around - nothing on the road, oil and water levels are good, but turning the car over it feels like its running on two or three cylinders. We coast and limp (accompanied by much smoke) back to the garage. I am frustrated.

The next morning, the man at the garage is apologetic and its straight up the ramps. Its immeadiately obvious what the problem is. The air in pipe has been shot back across the engine bay. He reconnects it and it drives fine. We read the fault codes and they report 'Overboost condition: Waste gate valve failure'. A turbo is effectively a pump. It sits in the line of the exhaust gases. As these leave the engine they pass the turbo turbine which causes it to spin, creating a venturi sucking cold air from outside in, forcing it into the engine. This speeds up the combustion with the fuel and gives you more power. The device is designed to operate at a certain pressure, and once it reaches is optimum pressure it should release the excess through a waste gate valve. If that doesnt work then the pressure builds until a pipe gets blown off (like happened here).

We go back to the turbo replacement people and ask for the details of the warranty. 6 months and 12000 miles. Its been 11 months, and I have done 21000 miles. They drive it and say its ok, but that it does seem to be smoking more than normal (unburnt fuel). We discuss what to do, and both agree I should take it to a dealer and try to part ex it. I find a nice A4 and make an appointment (you may be thinking that its brave to want another audi, but here's the thing - since 2004 when Audi introduced the PD engine, thats when the problems start. The garage mine is with have seen loads of them. They get them under warranty from Gilders, and all of them have turbo faults. The previous engine type had none of these problems), then set off to work. On the way the turbo conks out on the motorway. I am left doing 60, with my foot flat on the floor, it at 3000rpm and loosing speed. I turn it off at a junction, turn it back on again and all is well - temporarily. It soon happens again. An engine management light comes on and I cant get rid of it now. The way home is even worse, and now accompanied by a metallic screeching noise from the general direction of the turbo.

Needless to say, it is now back at the garage. I am very unhappy. On the face of it I think I need a new turbo to even be able to sell it. So kids, be wary of Volks, Audi and Seat with the 2.0TDI 140 engine.