Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Fat Blog

Just a quick log to drop this morning, but it is a log of the richest type. It contains gossip, big numbers and philosophical musings. And board angst.

Stu Littlefair writes well. His latest dropping ponders the current fad to 'get rich quick' by dropping the pounds, concluding that it is unsustainable but that it works. Having tried this over the years, I can confirm it certainly does work, and it is easier than putting the time in on the board. Of course, if you do both then surely your gains will be massive? well yes, but you run an increased risk of injury and you get sick. Train when sick and you're even more likely to injure yourself. I think its a false horizon too, because you cant maintain that weight for extended periods without impacting your immune system. I have never lost extra weight in order to do something, rather tried to maintain a sustainable healthy weight - which is now at about 11.5st. I can be 11st, but I get poorly. Plus, lifes too short and food too nice!

Gossip : Keith writes that Dirty Dave Mason (now being dubbed "the californian" - presumably because of his shaven fangita) has climbed an 8b in Austria within a week of being there! he does then go on to downgrade it, but lets not dwell on the negatives, very good effort cheekbones, and only took 40 minutes. That was your big numbers too.

I had a very interesting session last night on the board. Basically I was a bit log and things were taking an all too familiar path when Toby and another chap whose name i dont know, but have seen down there a fair bit (big guns) arrive and join me. Then I started trying and really got into it. As we well know, success breeds success and failure dampens the flame of desire, what I observed last night was that it is possible to train on your own and try hard, but you have to be wanting it badly. And why would you want it badly? because you have seen a glimpse of what you could be/have if you tried. Since I have been languishing in my 'I am rubbish' box, so i have become a slave to my pigeon hole, and accustomed to thinking I won't perform well. You get what you want if you want it enough, and i havent wanted it.

I know that I need a project. I need something tangible to get my teeth into, but i've been holding off for fear of failure. I need to remember the wise teachings of sensei Mosely, and pick some easy plums to give me back the burning desire to succeed.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Now is the time

Friday night - inglorious basterds. Hmm. Ok. Not brilliant, quite watchable, grotesque in places and Brad was rubbish. Very tired.
Saturday - should have been going climbing, but knowing that noone else was doing (except Jim log going to somewhere I had never heard of), kinda dulled my enthusiasm. I had only the morning, so anything longer or more day consuming was off the menu. Had busy day with the monster doing stuff, including wandering around the wood fair which was camped out in the park. Never seen this before, but apparently its been there the previous two years. Pretty cool, but then i like that kind of stuff.
Team Log reconvened at Rubicon on Sunday morning. Almost aborted the mission on the way because as I hurtled up ringinglow choad towards a peakside bank of grease fog, I could see nothing in my minds eye besides shit conditions. But no, push on I thought. Valour was not rewarded on this occasion and the most log of conditions were encountered. The rocks were slippy and slightly green in colour, but in the hope of the mythical sticky damp, i pushed on whilst waiting for the others. They turned up and confirmed the logness. Log.
We move to Kudos and its less log, but log still. Noone does anything. Dylog fires off horizontally and lands flat on his back in the mud. Caringly, we fall about laughing. Pulling on v.sharp holds with v.soft fingers on a v.humid day causes bruising and hurtiness. We take our shoes off and drive to the climbing works. Where we are still log, but at least doing some moves.
I climb again tonight, then thats it until Thursday. I wish I had gotten on and done Beluga this summer. But I am reminded of the time of year when I always seem to get these things done, and its not summer, its now! I do think I need it to be a bit cooler though.

Friday, 25 September 2009

science friction

The wind was cold but the rocks were warm. Jacket choice is always an important decision when heading out the house, and due to the sunshine I went light and fast - alpine style. I came to regret this later, but strangely, the rocks weren't as cold as the air. Met Rich and Folog on the way down to the Plantation cark. Claimed good nic in the pit of Brad and whilst I only wanted a potter, the possibilities started to churn in my mind. I love the Plantation. Its close to home, has a great circuit and a pleasant aspect with a wonderful view of the sunset. Perfect for a reintroduction to the grit.

I start my education with a fairly standard sequence of problems. The pebble aretes, that thing that faces the green boulder, the ramp line above Boston Mess. Of note, i find the original Pebble arete desperate on my first go, I wobble, it feels desperate and I have no faith in science friction (orbital ref). I make myself keep doing it until I climb it with some semblance of style, and begin to trust the rubber on my feet again. But, I can't even get on deliverance. It feels slippy and polished. I go and do the green traverse, dope on a slope, ron's reach and then that mantle from the crimps. I move to captain log, but it hurts my leg and I push on to the easy arete/prow thing next to it. Adam turns up, we chat, he does the problem in his trainers, and then, unnoticed by me, he torques his foot into the crack in such a way as to be able to take his hands off and do a ninja hand movement. Actually, when you have seen those holds, and considered the trainers he was wearing, its not that impressive, but when you'd not seen the jessery involved, I appeared to be bearing witness to a matrix-a-like climbing moment. My faith was restored when seconds later, sans feet, I witnessed a sweeping pad dab. Dab'em Log.

We go to the hourglass, and I am glad of Dab'em's instruction as I wobble through the brilliant problems. If only he could have turned up earlier and I could have done Delifrance. We walk down occupied with talk of the coming winter and aspirations of greatness. Then race our wheeled oil burners back to the city. He goes home, I go to the climbing works. I'd not realised how beasted I was, and basically stand around gabbing for an hour without doing a move (or at least, an impressive one).

For the first week for a while, I have no big climbing impacting engagement this weekend. I think the forecast is ok, and i hope to get out on Saturday at the least. It might be time to head to Log Rider, and Green Room Log. Lee (!) is keen. Ed Log is going to yorkshire, Follog is team Sunday, and Dylog wont get up early.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

In a strange twist of fate, we went from baby sitting to going out raving last night. The couple for whom we were supposed to be sitting's baby was sick, so they sold us their tickets, and off we went.

I haven't been to what is now the o2 carling academy since it was roxys disco, and then probably not since about 1996! Its not undergone a massive refurb inside, and i have never been so stuck to the carpet. Forgetting that I was so adhered caused several hilarious nearly falling on face moments. But enough about that.

The support act were good, they were called Delphic and from Manchester. The lead singer was the spit of Chris Wheeldon. I enjoyed them, kinda underworld influenced Techno indie cross over. Interesting. Made me want to be a drummer.

Then, on came the headtorches and orbital took their place on the stage. They had a great sound, animated knob twiddlers entertaining the crowd pogoing behind their equipment and reminding me just why they are so special. I havent listened to an orbital record in years, but they have so many which are huge tunes. Not that busy in there though, which is a bit of a shame for them, but most striking was the average age of the crowd, which must have been at least 35! Saw Bob Smith, Mia and Andy J in there which was nice for a chat before things started and they disappeared off into the mix to dance.

Pic from Neil cos my camera phone ones were so bad.

Tired this morning though. I climbed with Harry on Tuesday night. Felt not too bad. Wouldnt say I was going well, but didnt feel too bad. Folog is at Rubicon now, talking about Stanage later, and Edlog is going to the works for 630. Weather looks reasonable, so I might head out at 4 for a quick circuit, then meet ed at the wall.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Tonight I will go climbing. I am looking forwards to it. I think that my current continuing crap form is related to the infrequency with which I have been training since the wedding, so this week I am changing my usual schedule to up the ante. Here ends mediocrity!

Loosely this links into the tail end of last week, as the last time I climbed was weds. I spent Thursday and Friday in London. Walked everywhere, which was brilliant. Great to get a sense of where things are in relation to each other. And, so many cool buildings. Reckon I totalled 15 miles over the two days, which doesn't sound like much but concrete is hard and my feet and hips felt it when I came home. My hotel-to-course walk was right through the middle of the city at rush hr. To say I felt conspicuous in civvies would be an understatement. The grey/black stream of humanity left a wide berth around the non believer dressed in jeans and trainers as they scuttled to their offices. Met up with my best man James in the evening and had a few beers.

Saturday we had to prepare for a big wedding on Sunday. I was cooking and she was dressing the venues. Spent 5 hrs in the kitchen, but everyone loved what I made which was good. In the evening guests who were staying with us arrived (best man james again) and we ate (more cooking) before getting a cab into town to go to the Leopold (fancy new boutique hotel) to meet the wedding party for pre match beers.

Sunday was Chris and Vic's big day, and what weather! the three weddings which have been this summer have all been blessed with the same weather pattern - mint on the nuptual day, minky the day after. So, their wedding - it was in the botanical gardens, which was great as the weather was great, then we went to the cricket inn, then back to the grooms parents for a rave/reception/hog roast. I ate so much that I thought I was going to have to be sick or at least lie in a darkened room until it went down. Little pig did better on the eating front, but the combined effect of a cocktail of different drinks she'd consumed took their toll and by 1130 we went home. The rest werent far behind and that was that.

Could have climbed yesterday in theory, but we felt emotional, so stayed in and watched rubbish on the telly. Climbing tonight and thursday I reckon.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

fat barrister(d)

I thought it was cold yesterday, but when I stepped out of the house it was far from it. My jumper and down jacket and aspirations of log rider suddenly seemed daft. I went to the Tor.

Had the crag to myself for half an hour or so. Did a few laps on Hubble and then a circuit starting up Boot Boys and back down the houligan. Needless to say, I was pretty warmed up after that little lot. So I did Mutation as a rest problem before reclining on my pad in the sun. Brian and Andy Reeve turn up. We discuss the future, more specifically whether I will want to keep going once the tide has turned, once the infinitesimal improvements I still think I feel have become getting worse rather than getting better. Clifford always said big things started for him when he got to 34. So I have until next August to climb 8b!

The thing I have realised is that Climbing is a personal journey, as long as you are getting something from it then its worth doing. And as long as you keep your aspirations within reach, there's still goals to acheive. Realistic goal setting. I know I will never be world class, but I don't care - its not about me relative to you, its about me! I hope to still be going out with a team when I am 40. Everyone jockeying for position to be next, fighting for the chance to get it first. I love that.

I still can't do undercuts to crimp or edge. Go and try the powerband. Get to the end and fall off. Edlog turns up looking very smart. We chat, he goes to Rubicon. I have another two laps, each time failing at the end, then I head round to Rubbercon to meet him and survey the reported foothold damage.

Yes my friends, sad news indeed, the foothold I use on Tsunami and Low Left has gone. Its the foothold I stand on with my right foot at the end of the walk through - the one I am on when I match the sloper. Here is a pic :

However. Theres a wee spike left behind and I manage (even with current bulk and skin poorness) to climb through it and do all the moves I used to have to do with the remains. I dont think its any harder. Ed and I bimble around and whilst some individual moves get done, nothing notable - unless it happened after I left ed?

Rupert turns up. Whomever told me he was now fat was wrong. As he has just repeated the harris horror show (Barracuda), I think this is the sort of fat I need. He was on Zeke, as was Simon (dark hair, nice chap, climbs a lot) didnt see how either were getting on. Crag is drier than I have seen in years. DT turns up in running shorts (living in the 80's) and asserts the traverse is harder than zeke because of having to deal with the monotony. Well, either dont bother with it then, or tape a picture of something you do like inside your glasses to make it more interesting. Folog once told me that he had a conversation with DT where he was told that climbing was in fact a call to impress our mothers. Amazing.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Northumberland : the quiet county

Living in or near the Peak district which I understand is the second most visited national park in the world (the first being Mount Fuji in Japan), one of the first things that strikes you as a visitor to 'the County' is the lack of other people. Even at Bowden doors and Kylog in the log, the most well known and therefore popular of crags - there's just noone there. Awesome! noone to witness my/our floundering.

The plan went well and was executed smoothly. Dylog and I drove from Sheffield to my work (near the depot in pudsey) and met Folog there, continuing on in his car. Not driving, and not being late on friday night meant it didn't feel as far (in my head) as it is, although that drive does seem to get longer each time. We make Belford by 1400, and check in to our lodgings. We have elected to stay at the bluebell farm caravan site where there is a bunkbarn. The last time I went, we stayed here also, and our companions in the bunkbarn included a fat gay french man and his malnourished Geordie lover. They really liked us and talked almost constantly. Later we were joined by a surfing couple and their dog who all hated us (because I had dysentary and was up and down all night). Anyway, that was then, and this time the Bunkbarn was full. So we stayed in 'the Ark'. Picture two sheets of wood propped against each other so as to make a wooden tent, inside a raised platform is covered with suspicious wipe clean bedding. This was our home. It appeared that the birds (of which there are many) had also at some point made it their home too. Basically we were staying in an aviary with a load of turkeys.

All the way there we had vowed to be disciplined, we would walk to Kylog and chill our boots until the temps dropped (as it still said 22 in the car). However, when we arrived, we ran to the rocks, rammed our swollen red feet into down turned too tight shoes and headed for the sharpest holds in the direct sun. Nice one. Kylog (and the county in general) has some beautiful shapes and rock features, and some implausibly thin but apparently robust flakes to pull on. The rock is just amazing. Having exfoliated the first few layers of dermis I decide its time for heavy weight crush action. Cubby's lip. Girls have done this I think - lets have it! Strong girls with thin fingers and talent it turns out. In the words of Liam Copley - "i'll cut it straight, we didnt do owt". More accurately - not even a move. My fingers felt big and fat and didnt fit in the holes, when I forced them, it hurt, and my left hamstring was alarmed by the efforts to make it relieve the pressure on my hands. Given that the last time I was here, I zipped to the end three or four times, only to fall from the 'easy' match (must've had feet in wrong place), this was disappointing. But, it was hot and I am not fit or strong at the moment.

We move to the Yorkshireman, which has bigger holds. But is more physical. But brilliant. Both James and I were taking the undercut and slipping back down it, and Dylog couldn't get it at all. Once again, punterdom beckoned, so we moved further right still - HitchHikers. Fiend has done this I thought... So we all flashed it in our trainers. Ok, so thats not quite how it happened. Perhaps a thousand goes, maybe more, some more layers of skin shed but both Dylog and I manage to shake our way to the top. Thank god.

We drive back to Belford and go to the chippy for tea. The chippy smells bad - of excess grease. I dont have a good feeling about it, and a man in the queue reckons the pub (any pub) would be better. We end up in the Salmon, where we are amused to see that 'traditianal grill garnishes' and 'Chicken Beast' are on the menu. In a fit of stupidity, we order burgers instead of Chicken beast, and that was the writing on the wall for this trip. There were no beasts anywhere in our vicinity.

We get drunk, head home, fall asleep. Its really hot in the bird house and we all wake up feeling rotten. I drop my arse and the wooden hell hole is filled with the sort of sulphorous gas you can only imagine coming from a toxic dump. We scramble for air and whilst the fug clears, go for a quite repugnant breakfast in the Purdy lodge (a service station on the a1). Which sets us up for Bowden doors. My good friend Dan Constant Variable is disgusted that we should go there, but as noone has been more than once before, we want to. We are more rubbish than the day before. Our hands hurt, our muscles dont work and we feel sick. A man called Martin with translucent skin and massive guns meets us. We expect to be burnt off, but noone is climbing well. A few hours pass in the roof just right of sprung and between us we manage to look like some sort of adult improvers class. One with a crap teacher.

And so that was it to be honest. It drizzled a bit, we set off home at about 1400 and I am tired now. Three is a good number for a mini trip. Theres not so many people that the banter is never ending, and you can all fit in one car. Noone climbed well, so noone felt too bad that they didnt. Its worse if one of you is on it and everyone else is crap. I remembered just how much I love Northumberland. It is so beautiful, and so quiet. Folog and I are talking about a week there in November, so if that happens then we will be sure to explore other areas. Culinary wise it is something of a deadzone. Or so I have found thus far.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Been lovely over our way this week, and the niceness is set to continue over the weekend (i understand), which is good because I am going to the County...
She's been on a course to learn how to give a building its 'Display energy' certificate, which if I understand (not sure I do) is something to do with those energy ratings you now see for houses. This ran until Wednesday. Now Wednesday is normally a day when I would be out in the evening climbing, but I anticipated the last day of a course rules - always finish early, which she did and so got to be treated to the inimitable stoney  experience. The secret to her happy attendance on such missions is the purchase of tat magazines. With 'Closer' magazine tucked in my pad, we set out for Stoney.
Minus Ten is the sort of place that I like, but in limited doses. I would usually visit perhaps only once a year, I could probably stretch to twice or even three times, but I'd be suprised if it becomes somewhere I get excited about. It is however, perfect when pushed for time, when everywhere else is wet, or when you are on your own. Oh, and when its hot. Which it was. Some local hero with a squint turned up and burned me off - on his warm up traverse, followed soon after by the hamer bros. Was good to be out, skin was shit, I was shit. Doesn't bode well for the weekend, but all money in the bank.
Yesterday I made a schoolboy error. I ate tea before the board. Granted, it was an hour before, but still. I was sluggish and weak. Still, if you learn from these things...
Northumberland! I dont think Jim is now coming at all, although we have heard that a load of scousers and Mick Adams will be there.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Green Room Sloth

Although dry on saturday morning, there was rain about, and clearly, the rocks had seen some action through the night. Things felt damp and scrittly, although a fair breeze whipping past High Neb certainly suggested conditions might have been better than they were. I was appalling. The wife and I headed out at breakfast time to find Beauty and the Beast, and to do the Green Room Slap. We found Beauty and the Beast and failed on both. Beauty is about 8c. I did a move on the Beast, but it was the very easy first move, then I fell off. I am blaming conditions for my complete and total failure - after all it cannot just be that I am crap.
In the distance we could see a massive rain cloud over Win Hill. As it moved in our direction the grey morning yielded drizzle, and with an rapidly bottoming psyche we scuttled back down the hill to the car. Popped her home and continued on to the works to campus for an hour.
The one success from the morning was my new Moon Saturn pad - brilliant. Firstly, the design - it makes so much sense to have the dirt side on the inside when you carry it. And, because of the flap at the bottom, you can stuff it with your stuff and its all nice and safe. Having spent years slogging up hills with two pads on and a rucksac on the front, this is a big improvement. Carry straps feel good and comfy and the foam is firm too - I am happy. Will be interesting to see how it pans out now that its bouldering season.
On the subject of which, its time to get my teeth back into something, ready for winter. Cave season is imminent, I have Trigger Cut to finish, Broken heart to do and I think that's probably enough goals for a crag three hours from home. I feel excited about the grit, Lowrider time is now and onwards, there's the ace, but thats a big ask - and I think I need to get dedicated if I am to get close. Would really like to do Full Power, but you need it to be much colder. Looking through Roy's list, the other stand out ambitions are Westside story, the Sphinx (i know, i know), Brutal Arete and the Silk sitter.
Went to the works again last night, where I felt almost to be moving well - even managing to get to the top of the motherboard... By the end of the session my fingers felt like they were creaking a bit - but this is the shock load of returning from a break, and to be expected. Ned, Dave and Lee all there to chat to, and later on Toby and Sam muddling around whilst I finish myself off (!). Sam looks super ripped at the moment.
So, I will climb again tomorrow - weather looks bright, and perhaps a bit hot, so I know not where I will go, just that I will. Thursday, Friday off and resting for the County at the weekend. Tried to recruit Char last night, and he might yet come. Jim still unsure.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

I fought the board and the board won

Returning to climbing is always difficult. One strives to appear effortless in ones exertions but instead huffs and puffs, turning puce on all but the easiest routes. The trick is in recognising ones ineptitude and checking lofty aspirations. Modesty leads to success, a feeling of accomplishment - a reminder of why you liked it. It should only take a bit of coaxing before you can start to obsess about the board again. The weather appears to agree that I could use some time indoors.
Don't ever stop all you training obsessives. As soon as you do your power plug is pulled, your fast twitch fibres drain out and you are left flailing beneath problems you could/should have done. Part of loving the game is loving yourself. The feeling of moving well - being 'on it, leads to feeling good - climbing better - feeling good about yourself.
I know I have had three weeks off (more or less) but it feels like the current non performance is a deeper trough. I have to admit though, it was warm at the wall last night, warm and humid. My hands went red, it hurt to pull - and I dont know about you, but i struggle to find the motivation to suffer on through skin pain, so I stopped.
Joe and Vics will be in Squamish with Anne and Tim. Follicle and I continue to plot our County raid, Dylog and Jimlog may now be on board. Next installment - Saturday morning club. I actually am really looking forwards to the grit. If weather is ok, I might go and try the Green Room slap. Ed says its not super conditions dependant, and I have never seen it. Otherwise it will be indoors action.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Crack of Ed

So, another minor blogging hiatus. The weight gain seems to have been slightly delayed, or perhaps not, perhaps its that we have been troughing since we got back. And drinking every night (mmm drinking). Feels like the road back is long and steeply uphill. Ah well, the sooner you start...
On Tuesday night after a pretty normal working day, I was in the shower. She was bimbling around on the landing, and then I heard a crash and a lot of yelping. Like a naked streak of lightning I flashed (!) down the stairs to find my lovely wife the source - she had fallen down the stairs. The face was as white as a ghost and no sense was being uttered, but she was at least upright with all her limbs attached and facing the right direction. When I managed to calm her down and pad her out with ice packs she got to sleep. By morning some lovely crimson bruises had arrived on her bum, and her hand and wrist hurt and were stiff. I diagnosed a sprain and dosed her up with ibruprofens, and iced it 15 mins every 2 hrs. She felt knackered and dozed all day. As all fingers moved and after a consultation over the phone with Britain's best bum doctor there was no big breakage, so I didn't ship her out to A&E... Until Thursday, when her parents had been on at us to get her to go. So go we did, and again with advice from the good doc we went first thing in the morning, which was a great time as we were in and out in 40 mins, having had an xray and being proven right. Which is nice. So the rest of the week and weekend was spent nursing.
I climbed once on wednesday evening (at the climbing works) and by god I was dreadful. Granted, it was hot and my skin started hurting, but still. Yee gads, if this is what one has to look forward to after a rest period... Thursday and Friday I was at home and around and about. Friday night we got drunk. Saturday I should have climbed but was so hungover I stayed in bed until about 1300. Sunday we went to the spa which was nice, and Monday I met Edlog and Folog at the Foundry.
Edlog treated himself to a solo county trip this weekend. Summing up a trip you werent on isnt something I have tried to do before, but here goes : imagine driving all that way to fail four times at the last move on cubbys on your first day. I imagine as he walked back down the forest track with hurty skin he must have thought 'fuck this, I'll drive home tonight', but no, the prospect of an empty flat in Buxton was enough of a deterrent and our intrepid warrior stayed on. He spent the next day at Bowden Doors with Pritch, Katz, Robbins and Dave Buchanan. Robbins sounds amazing, and is establishing his place as a complete hero. I shall cut to the chase now, as I need to do some work - Ed did the Crack! Super hard old school problem - certainly used to be 8a as far as I know, although some mutter its a bit easier these days due to foothold erosion, but I dont know. Katz said 8a. Whatever - good effort EdLog.
As if that wasn't enough, he then managed to be beastly on his third day on and burn Folog and I off on the wave yesterday. Which to be honest, is a bit like saying 'yeah, so I turned up and managed to out kick the one legged men in the arse kicking championships', so lets not ladle too much kudos on the lad. What a complete tool.