Wednesday, 25 November 2009

So whats so good about Sheffield?

Proximity to the crags is one thing, but when its always raining you could be forgiven for asking yourself - whats so good about blummin Sheffield? Its the people, and its the climbing walls. Today, I tried to go actual rock climbing. You know, outside - as in, actually on the rocks themselves. It does feel a bit as though I have been locked in that corner of the climbing works for about three weeks, so when today started sunny I was excited. Dave the racist, Dylog, Garry, Sam and Lu all met for a warm up at the works. To say we were frothing would be an understatement. The car park was dry, the sky was clear - all signs were good.

As Dave and I crested Dore Moor the sky didnt look so perky. We parked up and could see Sam and Lu and persons unknown over at the nose. We started out towards North, but quickly turned back when some light rain started gusting in. As we reached them at the Nose the heavens opened. "The jobs fcuked", and so it was - back to the Climbing works. Proud new dad Cofield is greets us as we arrive, flexing his guns in the doorway, I hasten to congratulate him before Dylog, Garry and I set about some of the yellow problems. To my delight I seem to be climbing well (its all relative!) better than monday anyway, and I manage to flail up a couple I'd dropped then.

If ever I become a publican (not likely), the public house I run will be named "The Flailing man".

Adam, Worm and Sam phase in and out and its like actually having a team session outdoors. Thats what I like so much about climbing. Those days when everyone is out and you are climbing with a team. And thats what you get so perfectly in Sheffield. There are always people about to go climbing with, your options sometimes feel limitless, but sometimes you'll miss the trend or others will be out when your not. Its not that people in Sheff try particularly hard, but that its easy to be motivated when there are so many people around you going well.

I've had a good day today, and I didnt even go on the board! to cap it all, as I was winding down I got to climb with Rob Smith, Andy Reeve and even the mighty Bogginator.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Motherboard Wiki

I have created one. Please add your problems, and a picture and so on:

Motherboard Wiki

Wiki Wiki Wah Wah

I am under pressure to use up my accrued flexi hours, so a week ago I booked a flexi day off. Only I didnt end up taking it because the weather was so bad there was no point. I split it into two half days and had one last wednesday and the next one this wednesday. However, its likely to be raining again, so I will be at the climbing works most likely. Which is also where I was yesterday. From 2pm. Sounds early? I started work at 0600. My hours were done and I was off at 12. In spite of the rain all reports suggest best ever conditions at the Tor on Sunday, and so I started driving out, reaching Ringinglow road before reasoning that an actual river running down the road wasnt the best indicator of great conditions. I headed home and did some housework before going to the wall. Dull, but necessary.

Dont worry, this isnt going to be a blow by blow account of a circuit at the climbing wall, just a generalised statement in which I will tell you that Dylog, Percy and I had a good time flailing on some of the new yellows. Its interesting climbing on things other than the board, as it highlights the value in so doing. Stubbs and I were talking about this last night on the Twatter. If you over do any one board or crag you become a specialist, and too much specialism gets you up only things at that specific venue. This was particularly evident at the Mill where the rule is that its hands for feet except where the hands are wood, and you dont stand on wood. This is a good rule and allows both rules to exist side by side. Stubbs argument is that because its harder on small foot jibs, so it makes you stronger for when you have bigger feet - and I sort of agree, but I also think theres a stylistic difference in how you climb with hands for feet. Perhaps its something about the way in which you move?

So, it is with this in mind I propose a new ideal board configuration. Maintain the same density of bad wooden footholds, but also allow feet on resins (and perhaps a few more resins to make this possible)?

Dylog left and was replaced by Keith. Been far too long and it was nice to see him. He claims to be weak, but is strong. Climbed some good problems on the board, and invented/got shown a few other new ones. For those who might go and try, write these down :

This first one is one I set myself last night, although is so obvious I would be suprised if it hasnt been done already. Essentially climbing the original easy problem :

Start matched on undercut bar
Right to good square pinch (using the top of it)
Left into good undercut above Monkey shot
Right all way to good Beastmaker pinch
Ninja stab to Beastmaker crimp

This one from Ned, dunbar pinching (pinky and thumb around either side) allowed :

Fat legs ucut pinches
Big dowel

Which reminds me - i need to investigate wiki pages.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Mills and Doyle

As the week wears on, interest in the weather forecast increases, to a point on Thursday or friday where its almost every other thing I do - refresh the weather page. No amount of refreshing changed what was to be a complete wash out in weather terms this weekend. The honey monster was Chester bound to go see a friend, so I was continuing into Wales to the Cave - which was in the worst condition I have ever seen!

Doyle had warned me, but I still wasnt prepared - the whole cave was completely the wrong colour - condensation saturating almost every hold. There were people in the very back pulling on clammy holds, but I was warned that sudden dismounts were of the order of things. My boots remained in the car. Doyle had offered a backup tour of the Mill, so it was there we headed. Before we talk about that, whilst on the subject of the cave, I think there was ed Robinson's mate Dave there - who I thought had gone away somewhere? and also Richie Crouch - who I think I have met before. Richie looked pretty strong and was doing what I think a reasonable link through the dirt at the back towards the wobbly jug. I have tried these moves, and I dont think I could even pull on!

The rain continues to fall in stair rods. The car steams up, theres standing water on the road and no sign of the sun. We drive towards the mountains and pull up outside a large stone mill building. My enthusiasm (which would usually have been at fever pitch by now) is dampened by the river running down the road, and the rain scratching at my face. Doyle fumbles with a heavy padlock - inside, I'm met by a scene I imagined from Jerry's youth! Wow. What a great space. Its a two storey working building which is partially rented out to the board collective. The board is upstairs. Climbing the aforementioned stairs is terrifying - its dark, theres sharp looking tools strewn across the floor and the magnified sound of the wind and rain frustrated by the roof of the building. Just like the school theres some grimness required before the fun begins, and when he manages to plug the lights in I am greeted by a behemoth of a board in an incredible spacious layout. This is an awesome facility!

The mats are covered with the detritus of climbing wall manufacture, which is why its a bit unloved at the moment. Unjustly so in my eyes - a really good climbing wall quality board with proper mats and everything. Granted it could use some homely touches, but it is also a working building - so what do you expect. I get a good tour from Doyle and although we only have a two hour session, when we leave I am ready to do so. Do some good problems and leave one of my own. I have a pic, and will upload it in a bit.

Spoke to Edlog yesterday (the scarlet pimpernel! will our paths ever cross again?!) and he reckons the tor was mint on saturday. I had a big change to do (network integration) early this morning, so my 7hrs will be done by lunchtime, and I wonder about heading torwards. Rubicon will surely be flooded? I would be suprised if the Tor is allright to be honest - I mean friday was ok, so perhaps thats why it was alright on sat...

Thursday, 19 November 2009

12 stone of sinew

It feels like ages since I wrote, and that's because it is. There is good reason for this abstinence - there's been nothing to tell. I've imposed a "not-writing-about-the-board" ban, which is about to be broken. Mostly it is quite dull, but occasionally something other than ninja hand movements occurs in that dark corner of the climbing works, and a blog is formed.

Yesterday was something of a mammoth session, although I sadly missed the beefiest mammoths who arrived just after I left. But as one of them (keith) has threatened to break my arm, leaving 'bone sticking out', this does not seem entirely unwise. Would have been nice to see Edlog, but he only would have burnt me off, thats fine too. The third mammoth - Ned, will have been gutted to miss out on the masterclass Foley and I hosted yesterday - 'Bitching and Procrastination 1'.

I have been climbing with the junior Hammertime kid, who is off to Kranj to teach Adam Ondra a thing or two. He is strong (hammertime) and light. I hope he does well. Toby overbite broke or dislocated his ankle, and Dave 'cheekbones'/the racist Mason showed us the not so prominent cheeks which rather put me off my third expresso.

Other sightings included trad uberWad James McHaffie and..... THE COPLEY BROTHERS! doing a one armer and chatting up birds beneath the campus board. I'd like to say they looked weak, but they didn't (the copleys rather than the bird - she did look weak) - although I don't think I saw either of them doing a whole problem, and I dont think the mammoths I left in my wake will have gotten burnt off. I need to get my finger out! on the subject of which, I did problems last night which I couldnt do pre wedding, so I fear I can no longer hand out the 'oh, I'm all fat and weak excuses', which is a problem - because I am fat - tipping the scales at nearly 12stone! Adam Lincoln is now apparently a stone and half lighter than me - no wonder he's bustin out the big numbers every other day!

Which leads me to another pointlet - if I am climbing well, does it matter what the scales say? clearly not. I love food and beer too much to miss out on, and whilst I know I could get a bit more out of myself by shedding a few pounds - its all about compromise - I dont want to live a monk like existence, climbing its something I do rather than the reason I am, so I will eat healthy and try not to drink been every night, but if I want one - I'm having it.

Anyway, to finish off this post of most crushing banality - here is a picture of my desk. I always think its quite interesting to see where people work. Am just a nosey bastard really :

Friday, 13 November 2009

Between the sheets with Keith

I watched Keith's new film this morning. His last one, 'L'Entranger' was nicely shot, made Font look good, but ultimately (I felt) lacked a human element. It became (in my eyes) a beta film - useful to see how things got done, but it was just clips of problems with nothing to join them together. Of course, it was a climbing film, and what is a climbing film if not a series of clips of people climbing? well, thats the thing - what separates the good ones from the pack is some form of narrative, a thread to bind the clips together, a story - the aforementioned human element. Summing up what I thought of L'Entranger, I thought it was ok, but do I want to see it again? no. If I was planning a trip I might make myself sit through it, but ultimately I'm glad I didnt pay for it.

As Between the Trees starts you could be forgiven for thinking you had tuned in to a music video. The opening sequence is nothing short of awesome. Its artistic, witty, clever and beautifully executed. Keith clearly has a real eye for cinematography, talent at the technical aspects of film making, and not to mention attention to detail. This film looks slick from the outset. Another criticism I had of L'Entranger was that I hated the titles. They were garish and in some cases partially obscured the action. He's certainly taken that on board - perhaps too much. In places I had to search the screen to see what was being climbed, but there were also some very clever bits - the partage titles for instance.

One of my favorite films is StoneLove - which is all about the dynamics of the group, the young guns coming through, and of Moffats last swansong. This I think separates it from the rest. In Between the Trees, the story is partly about the relationship of Keith and Tyler. Both of whom are really seriously good climbers, but Tyler... Oh my god. This guy is on the next level. He's like Malc in StoneLove. He has incredible movement skills and is a very pleasing climber to watch. Just how good comes into perspective when you see Keith (who has climbed 8b) humanly struggle on things which Tyler seems to dispatch effortlessly.

This is a good film. I started watching it from the default position of thinking that it would just be another selection of clips, and flicked through - it is. But watched end to end, its a journey, a story about Tyler and Keith, and a study of cutting edge kinaesthetic awareness. Keith has filmed beautifully. The lighting, the angles - all wonderful. The editing is supreme - I loved the transitions, the sync to the music - awesome. As I have said before - beautifully executed. But.... I still think that theres room for even more of the human. This is a pure climbing film. You couldnt show it to a non climber -well, you could, but they would be bored. What films could you show them? Would you want to? I dont know.

Go buy it. Well worth the money.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


"People in Glasshouses shouldn't throw stones", reminded the Stubbsinator as I arrived at Almscliff yesterday afternoon. The problem with venting in a public place is that your statements come back to haunt you. This blog started as a replacement for a circular email that harris and the like used to send on a Monday talking about the weekend's endeavours - people's work email administrators dont like lots of personal mail traffic and the blog seemed an easy access format, and its been good, but I do forget that other people read it, so my flip statements return to haunt me from time to time.

As soon as I tweeted that I was going to flex the afternoon and swan off climbing I started getting abuse that I had joined the ranks of the not working - as per a couple of blogs ago. Yeah well, I dont do so bad I suppose. A benefit of flexi time innit.

On the subject of Yorkshire's second nicest man (Tim Stubbs)(first position still held by Tom Peckitt), theres a chap with fine crag style. Whilst most of my friends rock the Crag Urchin look, theres a fly looking mofo. Yesterday he had on what I would describe as a golfing jumper and I think a hat. Now, in my head since yesterday I have made it into a corduroy flat cap, but I think that might just be my guilty fantasy. Also milling around when I arrived were Jordan 'fiend2' Buys (he was wearing socks with climbing shoes (and eating McDonalds)*second part is a lie), Dave Barrans, Ellie Howard, Vicky Barrett and then Jenny and baby Woodward.

I didnt have to cope with these punters for long however, as within half an hour Big Jim and Britains best bum doctor arrived with baby Jim in tow. Time now 2pm, and the sun was alarmingly low in the sky. Jim has gone to warm up on the Keel (!), so once warm I show Follicle the TC traverse. Only I cant remember how to do it. Ever the gent, Jim steams over, hurls his baby amongst the mats and demos the problem, only, like a floundering sea bass he fluffs the the end and rejoins his offspring on the pads. Conditions are interesting. It must be about 5 or 6 degrees, but the weekends rain is evident - it feels as though there is a bit of condensation about - things arent super grippy. Foley minces through the hard bit of TC only to fluff the easy, but fluffable top section. We move to Underlog.

Now this is a problem with a story (tells Vicky B), Anne Murray first found it and was working towards doing over a couple of sessions - it was her project, the object of her desires. Unable to wait for his future wife and baby mother to finish the project Tim Clifford has a go, but promises that if he does it he will jump off the end, only when he got there he didnt! hence the name 'Underhand'. Jim does it again, Dave barrans styles it, Foley fails, I have a thousand goes but eventually finish it, and in the mounting gloom we walk down to the Keel for jim to finish the day with a classic. Only by now baby Ellie is squawking as she is teething. Jim takes her down to the car and Foley and I do Cherry falls a few times. Yes, thats right - when everyone else had gone, and it was dark we do the hardest problem there. Multiple times. Pretty steady I thought. Managed to even do a chalk blow on 'the move'.

Finally, I would like to ask you whether Liam and Brandon Copley could be the Jedward of the climbing world :

Monday, 9 November 2009

The power of the interweb

The peril of heaving ones carcass out of bed at 0545 every morning means that we're always tired on Friday. This week especially so, by 2130 we were falling asleep on each other on the sofa. 10.5hrs sleep later we were raring to go. This is a lie. But, by the time I had crossed the Pennines and met Dyldog in Cheadle Royal, I had not only recruited steely fingered legal representation, but I had woken up.
We continue on in the van of which I am the temporary pilot (so as to save Dylogs beans for Adam Beyer). The rain bounces down as we aquaplane our way across Wales. On arrival we're waved through the toll house without paying. I interpret this as meaning we are recognised and accepted as climbers and therefore do not have to pay. I am very proud and in my head consider that the gatehouse man now thinks me a cave local. On reflection it may have been because it was raining. Or that it was winter. Anyway, the cave is busy. This is not what we need for the first session here since June. I dont mind it being busy if I am going to be awesome, but if I'm going to be shit, I'd rather minimise the amount of people who will bear witness. Perhaps I shall have Ru slap them with some LAW.
On friday I had sent the eyes at the back of the cave (doylo), to the back of the cave to investigate the seepage situation. And, it was exactly as he said it would be. Wet in places. Trigger Cut was dry, but Trigger Cut is also hard - too hard to be ticked on the first session back. Got on usual warm ups (end of LWT, LWT, Clever Beaver) and then young Tom (ex Foundry, now Manc) shows us a problem by the name of Clever Cleaver which involves climbing Clever Beaver and then moving left along the lip using the most mingingest of crimps. I'm ambivalent until told its 7b+, whence I engage the crimping finger and dispatch. Fingers feel a bit tender as a result of such overzealous exertion so soon in the day (remember, I am an old man now), and Trigger Cut is still a step too far.
Last june, when I was something of a regular - i could consistently lock the first move. In fact, i had sessions where I would be hitting the shot hole on every go. This time I could hardly pull on. Very disappointing. I dont honestly know what I am doing wrong. Rupert makes me feel better by not being able to do it either, but then finds a way. A way I cannot make work either! dammit! Dyldog on the other hand does the move every time, but cant do any of the rest of it. Team big guns are not performing well today.
If cutting edge crimping is not on the menu, then perhaps PE could be? Back in june I nearly did Broken Heart (affectionately titled Broken Log), so I move my pads beneath that. At first I cant do the first move, then I can, but not the second. A bit later and I do moves one and two, but not three and it all feels desperate. A bit deflated, I realise that LWT and Clever Beaver are about my limit for the day and so do a few laps on the traverse. The Dawes turns up. He's not there to climb.
When darkness falls and we crawl back to the van, I dont even feel that broken - not being able to do any moves has prevented me from exhausting myself. Accompanied by pouring rain we hightail it back to Cheadle, drop Ru off and find somewhere for tea. Dylog and I have a mediocre meal in a pub in Bramhall called the Millington. I drop him back at the van and disappear back over the pennines to a house full of cackling women on the way out. I stop in and say hello, chat for a half an hour and go to the pub with my laptop for some peace and quiet. Two pints later I return home, but they're still there, and the volume has increased.
On Sunday it rains and I cook things. This is a standard format for a Sunday. Today, the rain has stopped and the temperature dropped. During last week I had been arranging with Follicle to meet over here (in Leeds) to climb this afternoon. Well, with such perfect weather it could only be out. So I am going to flex the afternoon and head over to the cliff. On that note, a nod in the direction of Twitter and Faceache - thanks to my bleating that I might be going this afternoon Tim Stubbs and Vicky Barrett have been in touch and are on their way now! So, with Foley, Jim and possibly Ru (his faceache says he's either got Pesto poisoning or has bad fingas, hence the uncertain status) we have a mid week full team!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Kung Fu Finger

I have a strange injury at the moment, I wonder if you have ever suffered such an ailment? If you were stupid enough to forcibly prod a hard surface you could either bruise the end of your finger, or as I have done you can actually separate the nailbed from the finger, which leaves you with a finger which hurts to apply pressure. And as climbing requires exerting pressure through your fingers, so it is holding me back. I am pretty sure I did this at the board on Monday.
Yesterday was an interesting day in climbing terms. Well, it should have been. I had an exam in Wakefield, so, like a couple of weeks ago, I was going to go there, do that (passed! yyfy!) then go to the cliff. I'd lined up Dyldog and Lulog to join me and arranged to meet them there at projected exam finish time + 1hr. The roads were dry in wakey so inspite of the large amounts of rain that have fallen recently I headed north when I finished. The roads around Pool were wetter than in wakey, and the crag looked wet on top, but there were people climbing and so I had a walk up to have a look. Whole place was soaked, water pooling in the chip on the keel. I shouldered my pads and walked back to the car, diverting Dyldog on the way. They went to Stanage and met worm. It was raining, we all met at the Climbing Works where there was a men with guns competition.
So, its still very wet out there. My plans for the weekend have to be honest, come unstuck. Basically its raining everywhere and has been all week. Talking to County locals its been v.wet up there and its a long way to drive when you're not sure whether its going to be worth it. SO, I might not go. Dylog wants to go to the cave, and I am pretty keen. Especially as I should be going again (to the cave) on wednesday the 11th, so this would be my remembering how to climb in the cave session. But, it would be nice to go to the county. HMm. Better check the weather.