Thursday, 16 December 2010

Santa's Grotto

Thick snow blanketed all of our crags, but just as quickly as it arrived (possibly quicker) it was gone. The difference between snow levels on Thursday and Friday of last week was astronomical. On saturday you would have had to persuade that it had snowed at all. Made it out on Sunday. It was never going to be a high octane sending session. I'd driven up to Hooks Carr on Saturday night just to see if Ringinglow road was open, which it was, but there was fog around and no wind. Wasnt bothered really, just wanted to end my spell of fantastic plastic by touching rocks. I suspect this was a common theme as the mood at the Plantation was one of light hearted sociability. Pottered around, tried Help the young sitter a bit. My celebrity Belayer becomes celebrity Beta database when its bouldering season, and with his help I think its possible. I get off home to roast things and drink red wine.

With everything else being wet again, and having an afternoon off there was only one option. Thankfully plenty of other people share my longings to scuttle around in the back of a cave on the Orme, so I wasnt alone. The cave is brilliant. I dont care what you think, I love it. The moves are brilliant, the potential persuading and the scene scintillating. It was really nice to see Ben P again, who has been avoiding me since switzerland because of the pounding he was subjected to. Three teams - two young lads I have seen about but dont know names of, Team Dylog - Dylog, Joel and Bendy and Team Dobolog - me and Jim.

Of course we made the obligatory detour to 'dudno Asda. I bought a healthy options chicken fajita and waited for Jim. I thought he was taking a long time, then I saw why, the sight before me left me speechless - Jim waddled out of the sliding doors with armfuls of rotisserie barbecue chicken! How the honest people of Llandudno reconciled a metric tonne of flat cap wearing Hillyard I will never know. I suspect the samaritans are busy this morning.

Like a true caveman Jim tears into a haunch of barbecue chicken, watching the spider like form of Joel wisping effortlessly up Trigger Cut. Good effort! Dylog does Louie. Boy band member also does it. Jim and I get shown some of the lip problems which we have never done before. I start working left wall high, which is suprisingly good.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


I have decided. An iPhone is an excellent all the things a phone isnt. Its like having a small tablet PC in your pocket. The browsing experience really is brilliant. If you want to go on the internet then look no further (unless you wanted flash), its amazing. Occasional internet use - throw the laptop away. Actually stops me opening the browser at work, which can only be a good thing.

If you are on your own at the climbing wall then its brilliant. This is where it beats any other phone hands down - on a normal phone, you text all your mates and then put it away. Nothing to see here. The iPhone is the friend of the meddler, its something to fanny with between circuits, laps or whatever you are doing.

But, there are many things I took for granted with my beloved BlackBerry that I miss. And when I say I have decided, what I mean is that the BlackBerry is without doubt a better telephone. Its thought out around being a telephone (that does email) and it does this brilliantly. Things like being able to click on the person in a text and it rings them. Being able to attach multiple images to an email, cut and paste works better, the flashing red light, better battery life and better signal, UMA.

It all depends on what you'll do with it. But like when you buy a faster car you drive faster, if you have the interweb then you use it and wonder how you did without. What I'm saying is that it changes how you use your phone and what you expect from it.

Would I buy one again? maybe. Would I recommend you buy one? well that depends on you.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Final swiss roundup

Well, fritag was hurty as predicted. Everyone felt broken, and it would have been too much to ask for us to do anything noteworthy to be honest. Started with Bendy doing Vol au Vent which is the worlds hardest 7a+ , then we moved round to Franks, which I read Mina has just done - which is another great effort - she really is climbing brilliantly at the moment. Better than us too, as we couldnt do it - noone held the match without a supportive spot, or winch in place. Its a great problem though, and I would really like to do it. .Made progress from previous years I suppose, in that I used to take the pinch and basically fall off. Now I was taking the pinch, walking my feet through and getting back to the heel, but it felt shit - I wasnt getting anything off it and attempts at matching resulted  in headfirst plummets. I think perhaps its one to do a bit earlier in the trip next time.

We walked on to Il Partner. Mina and I had been chatting about which was prettier, cresc or chironico. She said cresc, i said Chironico. I almost texted her after we had walked through Cresicano, because suddenly i got it, I was reminded of how lovely it is at Cresciano, its just the mountains you can see more clearly from chironico. So, I dont actually know which I like more, just nice to be away isnt it? Anyway, Bernd Zangerl turned up at Il Partner. We spoke to him - its scary up there. Noone did it. On to La Boule to finish off again. Still couldnt do the move rightwards on la boule itself, but managed to drag self up La Boulette. Felt pooped. Went and looked at La Proue. I think if ever there was an 8b I could do, that this might be it! another trip maybe.

Get home, flights and everything are all fine, but its actually colder here than it was there I think! And theres more shitty death snow!

Bendy has an iPhone4, and I became jealous in the week away. So I bought one. Its very good, but has some draw backs. I have to learn to use the on screen keyboard, although it is pretty good, and i am already getting faster. The Notifications thing is annoying. It pings up in the middle of what you are doing and if you are typing quickly then you get all gobbledegooked. Signal is definately weaker than on a blackberry. Havent had the grip of death thing yet though. I dont like that you cant completely control it, but when a jailbreak exists, i might go this route. On the plus side, its beautifully made, and the screen is possibly the ninth wonder of the world.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Everything aches and we all feel like we creak as we hobble around on sore feet. We've all got either hurty skin or actual holes, and the prospect of going climbing again is somewhat abhorrent!

So, it must have been sunday when I last wrote. I'd just done the alphane moon and those two were looking hopeful. Monday everything was soaking everywhere so we went back to am as it was dry. We all did arabald (7b) to warm up and those two made progress. I didn't climb on the alphane moon again (for obvious reasons).

Tuesday was the first of the mint days. Drove back to chironico and went to centrale to warm up, then I tried serre moi forte. Which is the hardest problem in the world. Ben P did cliques a claques. Walked out to freak brothers - wet, then on to no mystery/schule des lebens. Gangle did no mystery. Thought I could do it but didn't.

Wednesday, brione. Frogger was wet, ganymede start driable but wet really. Pamplemousse looked implausible. Some international dudes turned up and did ganymede and pamplemousse - one of them was michel caminati - he climbs 8c. I hurt, and was lying in the sun, but they made it look so easy I had to have a go. I knew I could do it and waited for them to go before doing so. James looked possible, ben's elbones hurt and he stopped. Brione is lovely. Stopped somewhere on the way back down and then went to the pizza shop to celebrate.

Thursday, yesterday - felt good. Went back to finish serre moi forte. All do papa razzi (7a), bp does cliques a claques again, none of the rest of us can do it. Serre moi forte holds out, although I do manage to get out of the sitter into the stand, but am unable to link it. Two sections. Very hard. Went round to the alphane moon - those two make progress, and james has a great link towards the end of the session and it looks on, but he fades. Go back to freak bros which is now dry, but flippin desperate. Suspect not warm and feeling it as would be my thing another time. I'd be keen to go back on it.

Today, last chance saloon. I'd like to do no mystery. Cresciano.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Jippy scuttler

It felt brutal getting up at 0350. I rolled out of bed and tried to shake it off. It wouldn't go, and I felt terrible. Nauseous, bleary,cold. Dressed, kissed the monster goodbye and headed out to join Ben in his van. Thick fog shrouded everything in gloom, and we both felt ill. The drive and journey was all fine. I would write more about it, but am tapping this in from my blackberry and there's more interesting things to talk about than travelling.

We arrive, check in and discover dai koyamada staying next door. Haven't actually seen him yet. Didn't climb saturday afternoon for two reasons - one: we all felt shocking, and two: it was filthy anyway. Made dylan's legendary chorizo stew, everyone very impressed (thanks dylog!) And collapsed in a heap.

Sunday dawned and the sleety death rain battered on the windows. Brilliant we collectively thought. Just brilliant. With no urgency we breakfasted and slithered in the snow up to chironico. Couldn't even get the hire car up the flippin road. Didn't think we'd be climbing so just had a walk up to find the alphane moon, which is a dave graham problem which stays dry. Amazingly, it was. I can't really articulate just how wet everything else was - fully and totally soaking, constant rain and snow - none of which was there the day before. So, we went and got the stuff. Since more people had now tried the road now had tracks, and we decided to move the car. Fiat doblo's are shit in the snow.

I'm really excited about this problem. It looked like it would really play to my strengths, I honestly thought I could do it. We started trying. As there were no other dry holds, so we had to monkey around on the start to get warmed up. Two or three easy moves on jugs lead to a series of long should presses between crimps. Dave, gangle and their dutch friend michael turn up. I'd researched this problem and commited the sequence to memory having watched the internet and doyles film over and over. Landing is a bit more spicy than you'd think having seen that though!

There's a heartbreaker of a move right near the end which I knew would be a problem. Its awkward, insecure and requiring you to sort of lurch in off a straight arm. I kept getting to it and failing as expected. But I knew I could do it, and thankfully managed to do so just before beginning the downward curve of performance trajectory.

James and ben make progress, but ben is injured and james starts to go backward. We go home, eat tea, drink beer and watch east bound and down on ben's laptop - which is brilliant by the way. When he told me about it I thought it sounded awful, but it was actually really good.

As predicted, the appetite for typing on this thing has worn thin. Its chucking it down again, and we're in bed drinking tea reading. I think its supposed to stop raining later today, then tomorrow and the rest of the week looks amazing. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Project management

Mismanagement. Thats been the problem with me and lowrider. I kept thinking i was going to do it so I never stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. Because i kept nearly doing it, so I never took the time to work out why these goes to the end never amounted to anything.

You should be reading this nursing sore and thin fingertips. I'm not. Got called out saturday morning and had to spend three hours on an incident call, so missed my slot. Raced up to Stanage far end for about 1500, and got involved. Shot my bolt, warmed up too quickly and kept getting to the end but being a bit pumped and being unable to hold on. I think it might also have been condensing a bit too. Oh well. Worked out that my left leg has been getting stuck beneath the prow on the very last move, and that i need to move my hips right.

Meanwhile Ed does Brass Monkeys, and James gets close. Junior Hammertime has done Mecca! i think this is three 'days', but one of them he had no beta and was only on it 15 minutes, so two real days i guess. Well good effort, and is that quicker than Elie Chevieux? I have it in my head he might have been three days or something. Whatever, great effort Junior Hamertime!

Sunday, she's in a right pickle, so I clean and bake and do housey stuff. Oh, and the wood burner is blazin squad all day. M.i.n.t. Theres a time and place for a lazy day, and I dont think it would have been great on the rocks, so that was it.

Ned and I hatch plans to do Zoo York. I'm well keen. We talk about what else I would like to have on my list, and so far obvs there's LowRider. Then I would like to do the help the young sit. Then Full power. I like to have aspirations, and I think those are fairly realistic, but if i have learnt one thing in all my years of trying, its that having goals which arent just acheivable, but doable in a session is worth a lot. But we cant think of any 7c's.

Actually, since writing that I think of Pogles wood? whats that like? perfect day? Ben's wall. The reclimbed walk on by.... Your thoughts?!

Monday, 8 November 2010


Commitment is getting out of a warm bed at 0600, struggling into a cold damp wetsuit and yomping accross dewy grass towards the beach in the twilight. Its slogging uphill through a bog with two pads on your back, the wind biting at your face when you should really be having a lie in, and all to get the best conditions. Commitment is not succeeding at either of these ventures, but still going back and doing it again the next week in the hope that things will work out different.

It feels like I have been getting to the end of Lowrider for years. Getting to the end of, but never doing. I've been up there at 0700 before work, I've stumbled back down on my own, in the dark after work and almost all the times I've tried i've thought i would do it on another go. So after Saturday's apparent progress I'm not getting duped - i've been here before. However, where before there's been doubt, and a feeling that I would just have to man up, i've reduced my power sapping easy to fluff sequence to a more moves, but more assured one.

It really looked good for Saturday. The problem was that by the time I had it figured (this new beta), I had blunted my edge. I had four or five 'redpoints' which finished with me matched on the top rail, staring at the jug. On two of them I lurched jugwards before failing, and on one of those I actually got a hand to it but still fell off! The hopeful optimistic in me says - this was because you fannied around working it out for too long. And the Bennett says that we've been here before, and that it doesnt mean anything.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

I keep farting this morning.

"Electric Log splitters?" I spluttered to Foundry Aiden... I couldnt believe my ears. Why would any chap wantonly eschew the paraphernalia associated with log preparation? And a chap with a canadian other half too. Thankfully, she had the decency to look horrified and start inching away from him, as logging is part of their genetic makeup. I launched into a tirade about the various hardware items I now need to own - I bet Jim has a wood grenade, must ask him.

I have my celebrity belayer back. Now with added 8b tick, and not just one but two. The little runt. I remember the days when I used to burn him off, and now the ginger ninja seems to have forgotten his place in this pecking order. Rest assured I dazzled him with my skillz at the Foundry, and I think he went home suitably impressed. "Ned" I said, "its not about how many heel hooks you can pull, or even the crimps you can bone, what really matters is the moves you throw down on the wave" - food for thought I'm sure you agree.

This is funny. Whilst having my breakfast this morning I stumbed across this post on UKB - it points to some wierd blog someone has set up, but read through the list as its quite funny - particularly when you get to the uncool list....

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

White edge

More stories have been proved accurate. Years ago Neil Bentley said
that the groove hurt your leg, and i thought he meant cos of some
jagged edge that dug into your flesh, or maybe that the deep egyptian
hurt your joints or something, but thats not what he meant at all. The
first 'arse bar' is fine, you sort of flick one buttock into the
groove, wedge it there and stuff two fingers into an undercut pocket.
This gives enough respite to be able to torque the left knee down into
a mega egyptian. From here I've been trying to basically hop up the
groove, which has proved to be fully desperate. I spoke to Char about
this, and thats not what he did. He told me to watch the
Littlefair/Heap video on Vimeo (sorry for no link, am at work and cant
check it), and what Rich does, is takes the egyptian out, essentially
matches feet, then steps right up, left back out and then does the
egyptian again. So that is what I think I need to start doing when I
next go.

I learnt another important lesson on Saturday, and that was that you
need to take the right shoes if you are to succeed. One of the whites
had fallen out of my bag in the house somewhere, so I had to make do
with velcros. Now, these are a great shoe, but softer and even with an
edge they flop around on those edges in the groove like clown shoes.

Had a nice morning though. Felt good, tor was in good nic just the
wrong shoes this time. Maybe one day all the planets will align and a
crow with the head of an elephant will swoop upon the tor and success
will be mine. Just another seven years to go...

The rest of the weekend was spent living like a lord. Its a wonder I
dont have gout now (not to sure of the symptoms, so may actually have
it anyway). Friday night chippy, Saturday night Cricket Inn, Sunday
breakfast in sainsburys cafe and then massive roast lamb dinner at
home. So hungover on Sunday morning. Touch and go for a while there.
We walked to get the car back, and for at least half of it I really
didnt want to be there. Then like a switch had been flicked, I started
feeling human again - totally out of nowhere. Really strange, but
fine, if thats how it is, thats not a problem.

A couple of weeks ago, those nice people at Vodafone sent me a
BlackBerry torch, which is the latest and greatest from the BlackBerry
people. Its got a touch screen, but also a physical slide out
keyboard, so on paper at least it should be the ideal device for me.
Perhaps because I am used to my old BB I am struggling a bit to get
into it - it annoys me that I have to do something to get to the
keyboard, and the recessed nature of the keyboard makes it take a bit
of getting used to. Basically I cant type as fast as normal and its
annoying. On the other hand, browsing experience is really good, and
its nice to have a bigger screen. So i'm wavering again this morning.
Had i not landed on it at the climbing works and broken the battery
door, I think I would try it again.

Monday, 25 October 2010


I was just playing before. I dont think I actually wanted to do the route - I mean, it looks great and so on, but I was scared of the top, and I didnt really think it was possible. People kept on at me to stop working the bottom bit and get stuck into the top, as even though its supposedly easier, you need to have it wired. The route requires a shift in attitude for me - one must actually embrace the idea of trying hard above the bolts and the possibility of falling off, and Saturday saw a big change...

But not just in terms of my progress on Mecca. I'd supposed to have been going surfing with Edlog. The charts and forecasts were checked, refreshed and checked again before finally, the advice was not to go. By the time we'd have gotten there, it would have gone to shit. Now I love the tor, and when I know I'm going, I get thinking about what I want to do and get my head in the right space for it. When you have gotten yourself excited about one thing (surfing in this case), enthusiasm doesnt just switch to its replacement activity. So, it took some time to get motivated.

As I minced up the path with a coffee, a glum faced queen of the tor (Rae) stood beneath the pinches wall with the Mighty Lion Paw (Sharples). These two Tor stalwarts did not look keen either. It was cold, raining, and Paul Reeve had a t shirt and shorts on! All chatted, then they went off to try Culloden. Ethan and his dad turn up. I do the Bear Claw at long last. Tried for the first time in new Teams. What good shoes these are. People seem a bit down on them, and yes - they are very hard to get on, but when they are on I think they are really good. Ted arrives, and inspires some enthusiasm in me trying 'the route'.

Paul is on Mecca extension. I think I'm off the hook, but he wont hear of it. He proclaims it perfect conditions, but says that he feels shit and pulls his rope. I get set up. Blimey, it does feel good. Typically, i'm not listening to those who have won their battles, who tell me to get on the top bit, and am trying from the ground again. It does feel good, but my fingers are a bit cold, and cranking through the start bulge, the grips feel amazing, but I feel a bit tweaky. I actually think I would have gotten into the groove that first go, but the sun had come out. I dont mean it had gone hot, far from it - I mean that I couldnt see the footholds in the glare! I flump off, then monkey up to the top of the groove to put the next bolt in.

Its well bolted Mecca. All the bolts are in good places, and in the only places you could use them. However, if you are working it from above, the line pulls you away from where you need to be, particularly when you want to work the groove. On this first session I feel good and everything, but the top of the groove is totally impossible. I cannot get out at all. Its desperate. I come down and cant ever forsee of what I need to do.

Ted gives me a pep talk and eventually I agree to try again, but this time, monkey up the draws to the start of the groove. I stick the belay and rumble to the top - which is ok. I suppose its the fear of the unknown that makes me wimp out of even trying. With the belay clipped I place another draw on an old death bolt to the right - this makes the rope I am on run perfectly down the groove. I come back to the top of the groove, and Ted coaches (or perhaps coaxes) me out of it. Ted's knowledge and enthusiasm is the perfect tonic for a limp sequence and a wet day. He knows not only how he did it, but also how everyone else does. He soon works me out a method and I go from it feeling impossible at the start of the session, to not only having a sequence, but actually having executed it, climbing out of the groove to the top of the route.

I cant emphasise how important this is! I now actually have a chance. I now actually want to do it, and am starting to believe i could. I think had I had it worked out earlier in the day, I could actually have done the link i was trying, which was from the move into the groove to the top. Is it on? more work needed, better fitness etc, but in theory - yes!

Britain's strongest Pathologist turns up and starts working on Keen Roof. He's a nice chap Tim Palmer, and brutally strong too. I hear on the grapevine that he actually does it later that day as well - so good effort Tim!

Edlog and I leave the tor malnourished and tired. We go up to Neil's wall. He has different foot beta, but I totally cant remember what you do with the top sloping death rail. After some skin grinding attempts I manage to get to the top from the sitter, but cannot match. My tip splits and we decide to bail. I have had an amazing day, and fall asleep with dreams of Mecca, the groove and a complicated leg intensive sequence.

Typically, I have climbed the loggest day of the weekend. Sunday is beautiful, and I make a woodstore and a roast for the outlaws. Today is also beautiful, only I understand that theres a chance of rain moving in later. This is the last week before the clocks change, so after work action really will be a thing of the past next week. Most people I know are in Font.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Cumberland Grit

Starting back at Stanage is very different to starting back at School
was. I am excited for one. One of the great things about living in the
UK, and particularly the Peak national park is the variety of rock
climbing on ones doorstep. In spring I long to get involved with the
sharp crimps on the limestone, in autumn I remember how to mantle.

If my spindly sport climbing legs would have let me, I would have run
up to the plantation. But walking around with pads on felt like hard
work after a summer of stumbling to the tor with just a rope. Few cars
in the car park, and something in my heart said that the ace/joker
would be occupied. Sixth sense didnt go so far as to tell me who would
be there, just that someone would. You'd have thought that those
crimps would be unusable in the sun, but two people were indeed there,
and as I drew closer the blobs became shapes, and slowly the bushy
black thatches of Constance Variable and Cave legend Davies took form.
They were trying the Ace, and not doing very well to be honest.

Although in the sun, the wind was bitter. I'd guess temps were around
5 or 6 degrees. Pretty much perfect to be honest. Pottering around
warming up, you needed a coat on between goes, but it felt brilliant
padding up slabs, remembering how to trust ones feet again.

Joining Dan and Chris at the Ace, chris is about to go. Ryan turns up.
I have a few goes on the joker. For me to climb this problem I have to
try quite hard. This means I have to commit to snagging the top with
my left - which is scary. If you were to plot intent against attempts
then you would see early attempts with no actual intention of holding
the top, its all about seeing how it feels. Then once it shows a bit
of promise ("let dog see rabbit") I get excited and start trying
properly. Thing is with that problem is that to do it (as we have
already said), you have to commit to the left hand sloper. If you do
that it changes your trajectory such that you arc out over the death
gully, and you save yourself by grabbing with the right hand, only you
might not get it and that will end in a plummet. So you need a spotter
too really. I didnt just have spotters, I had spotters who had climbed
8c+. Perhaps not the best choice of spotter, as presumably a less
able, but fatter chap would do a better job of stopping ones
earthbound bulk.

They started working the sitter (yes, the sitter. Climbing out of the
cave. It looks hard), and i went to go and 'do' Help the Young sit.
Took me about 15000 goes to repeat the stand (brilliant problem), then
I felt like i was running out of skin, and beans, so I went back to
the Ace to meet them. They were going anyway, so I waited to walk down

Couldnt decide where to go next. It was about quarter past five and I
had perhaps another hour before it went fully dark, so i needed
something near and ideally that I hadnt done. Ended up going to Spring
Voyage, where i met old school hero Robin Barker. Excellent I thought,
this means I can see how its done and get it sewn up quickly. Which
isnt how it worked out - has this gotten harder? I'm sure I remember
getting up to that sloping crimp rail loads of times in a session when
I have tried this before, but it felt desperate and a real struggle.
Neither of us did it, but with aid Rob managed the top (i.e from crimp
rail to top). Consoled myself (and tried to warm up) by doing the

Blimey it was cold. When I got back to the car it said just 1.5
degrees! I would like to say 'lets hope this is the start of a great
winter' but its raining this morning, and supposedly will be until
Sunday. Its only 1815 when I get back to the car, so I pop to the
Climbing works to gloat that I have been out. Am more tired than I
gave myself credit for and flump around falling of the jugs for half
an hour before admitting defeat and going home to eat sausages. MMMMM,

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

d5 damager, power to the people

Its not that nothing's happened since we last spoke, just that nothing
you'd want to read about. Far be it from me to make judgements about
what you do and don't want to read - i mean, a whole load of people
actually buy the daily mail, so you'd be suprised what people do want
to read, and hence here's a little note to brighten your Tuesday
morning. Or, plunge you into a pit of self loathing and despair (based
on how good i am and that you aren't me).

On wednestag Dylog and I went out. It was a beautiful autumnal
afternoon, but still with a bit too much warmth in the direct sun,
which of course Mecca would be in. I wanted to go to Sean's roof to do
that Banks problem to the left. It was wet. As was Sean's. Some
discussions about where it starts and hold investigations. Then I
remembered about Neil's wall, and Smitton's scorecard comment -
'soft as sin'. If ever there's something to galvanise the loins its
the prospect of an easy 8a, and Dylan hadnt been and could do that
Beginners wall thing.

I put the clips in BW and set off. The holds didnt feel as good as I
remembered, and I gave up attempting to stab my hand into the dogs
mouth pocket at the end of the hard bit. Dylog had a go and fluffed it
as well. I went back up and did it this time. Lowered off. Dylog did
it as well, and then I got involved with Neil's wall. Did it from
stand, and very nearly from sitting. Sadly, its not 8a. Neil Travers
is a full legend though, and no stranger to 8a, so I can only imagine
he either did it with his eyes shut or new footholds have been
uncovered since then. It started to bite, so I left it for another day
and we went to the tor.

Which was in a strange state. It was cool out of the sun, but it wasnt
out of the sun - and the rocks still felt warm. Ok, it wasnt bad, and
certainly someone competent who know what they were doing could have
done Mecca, but thats not me. Although I did reach a new high point -
which was one hand in the groove. Fun afternoon though. Problem is
that it goes dark at 1830, but the crag is too warm until 1700!
Although, it is supposedly cooler this week, so maybe. Actually, the
all important breeze wasnt present, and as time went on it looked like
there was mist forming in the valley.

There are no tales of further glory at the hands of the Tor this
weekend, as I have been off having my picture taken. No, its not a
repeat of 2008's modelling debut, rather my mum's 60th birthday
present - a deeply shameful family photograph. Oh god. I could only
think of zoolander as it happened, and suspect i may have been pouting
and looking rather less than fabulous. When I get to see something of
the pictures I will post them.

So a weekend of drinking and lard really. Went back on the board last
night, and was shit. Its good that board though. Hooray for winter.
Man, the works was well busy. My little oasis of calm remains quiet,
but by 1900 the place was teeming. Anyway, back out again this
wednesday, and theres potential for thursday too. This weekend, I need
to catch up with Edlog, as there might be something going on there as

Finally, I might buy a Volvo V70 D5. Am shopping....

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Can't believe I forgot to mention, that Char did Mecca on Sunday!

Its a bit with mixed feelings I report this news, as in part, my mecca
chum has now done it and wont want to go on it again, but also I am
off the hook - its scary and now I dont have to be brave.

Solid as a rock according to Pennells (last night at the wall). I
better get my finger out!

Prison Bloc

There is something menacing about the tower which stands over Strangeways. Like an Orwellian overseer, its gaze unflinching, never sleeping - the all seeing eye forgetting nothing... I'm getting carried away, Its just a structure of bricks and mortar after all. But these thoughts fluttered around as I walked back from the station holding my coffee. It was 0830 on Saturday morning, and I was waiting for Rockover climbing (herethereafter referred to as Prison Bloc) to open its doors. Which was, in itself, a shame. Nice day saturday turned out to be, but Jordan had invited me to be part of their team, and I couldn't let him down.

Officially, I have retired from comps, dismissing them as 'for kids'. Thing is, I thought the chances of loads of good people going to this one would be smaller, and that I might do well, and there's nothing like the promise of glory to reawaken ones interest. Barrans and Johnny P were the obvious ones I wasn't going to beat, but beyond that, things looked hopeful. Jordan and I surveyed the task ahead. Everything looked quite hard - where were the giveaways? got chatting to Cassidy - he's going to quit climbing walls and start converting vans for a living. And, pointed out the easy ones. Which looked dropable.

Climbing started, and we flashed our way through the back corridor. People were actually falling off some of these problems, so already it was unlikely I was going to be last (yes! get in!). Quallies require more strategy than may first appear obvious. Don't completely warm up, as some of the easier problems should continue your preparation. You need to go round and identify the hard ones before you do anything. Work out which ones arent going to get climbed by anyone - and which ones you think you can do. Look also for those with conditions dependant holds on, and get these done early. What you need to work out is what standard everyone else is at, and what you will need to do to get in the final.

Say what you want about Gaz Parry (he looks like David Dickenson and eats Pork pies) but he is a savvy competitor. Watch him in comps and he races round picking off the problems, finishing early and leaving a longer rest. He is also a very good climber, so he doesnt make mistakes, and those "shouldnt fall off" difficulty ones? well, he doesn't fall off. Which is the central reasoning behind my not doing comps anymore. I spend the following three or four days frustrated and kicking myself about my silly mistakes. I climbed well, but as always, there were errors. For instance, there was one problem where I set off when someone else was in the way. I thought they would be out of the way in time, but they started fannying around and I greased off whilst waiting. Error.

I say I could have done better, and that I was/am frustrated, but I was knackered when climbing finished, so i must have been trying hard. Mixed feelings as they announced the results. I was tired and didnt know if i could climb again, I was partly frustrated to have missed the proper final by one point, but mainly proud to have gotten through to something. Although, as Folog charitably pointed out - there are no 'names' in the list below me. (Effort to Rich Sharpe!)

Finals are an interesting showcase of ones ability to perform under pressure. I dont have it. Totally misread the problem and failed early which will have cost me places. Jordan on the other hand, he went up as a result of both being good at showing off, and having better fitness (and being a better climber). Naomi also made the finals and looked to be climbing really well. Predictably, the unstoppable machine which is Barrans won. Second, comping's nicest man Jonny P.

Finally, a word about Shauna. Amazing. She won the lady comp comfortably - is a very good climber.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Surf rat

After we went to Islay I had a weekend at home, then I went off down to Bracknell to go on a course. This was frustrating, because through no more serious effort than following the Twyford plan (i.e. not eating bread), I was down to a svelte 11st3lbs, and climbing well. I'd not tried to get my weight down, but I had been just avoiding bread which does seem to work. So, i'm all light and strong and everything, then I toddle off down to a hotel and undo this good fortune with lard. Ah well, easy come easy go I suppose.

Breakfast in the hotel was £16!!! I know I'm not paying, but £16!! so I felt I had to make the most of it and piled my plate high with various cooked meat products. I love breakfast, its probably one of my favourite meals, but starting the day feeling so full you might be a bit sick is perhaps taking things to excess.

Courses provide lunch. Which is usually congealed egg mayonaise sandwiches and/or sausage rolls. Deathy. This course laid on a full cooked dinner! So lunch was bad as well. Then of course, because I was staying in a hotel, I couldnt cook or anything, and Tea was deathy as well. I basically had three full cooked dinners every day for a week! Like I say, easy on, easy off (hopefully).

Made it to Craggy island on the Wednesday evening and had fun (and pizza). The bouldering is quite a small area, but the setting was good, and unlike before - not everyone was a punter, which was disappointing. I visit these southern climbing walls under two guises, firstly to go climbing, and secondly because you quite often do everything, burn everyone off and get to feel like a hero for all of ten minutes.

The course finished at 1400 on friday, and I drove home. This mundane detail is going somewhere, I promise. I get home at 1800. Its poured with rain the whole way. I unpack the car, throwing my stuff in the porch of our house, and I bundle my wetsuit, board and a sleeping bag back in the boot. I dont even bother with a change of clothes - am going to be living like a rat in the car - i won't need them! The Wifelet is wedged in the passenger seat and at 1930 we set off again. Phew. This time our destination is Bristol. In spite of surface water we make it there for just before 2300 and have a couple of beers. Get to bed at 0100.

She's staying in Brizzle with her friend Frankie. My alarm beep beeps all too early (0600), and I roll out of bed, back into last nights clothes and the car. Which rolls off down the motorway to Devon. Its ten to eight when I am suited up, trotting across the sand with a lump of fibreglass under my arm.

I'd just like to briefly visit the excitement as I crested the hill before Woollacoombe and caught sight of the ocean for the first time that day. Clear long lines stacked back across the surface of the water - it looked so clean! I could barely keep my right foot off the accelerator as I dropped into the town. I wouldnt say it looked huge, but it did look clean.

How wrong I was. The time now said it was 0930, which meant I had been trying to get out for an hour and a half. All I had so far managed was a number of near death experiences and to drink a lot of sea water. At one point I was level with someone riding in, about 20 metres to my right, and as the surfer turned in at the bottom of the wave, he was completely stood up, looking back UP towards the peak, which was at least 2ft over head. Basically, it was bigger and harder than I have ever been out in.

A combination of amateur duck dives and paddling like my life depended on it (felt like it did at times) got me out back. Set after set rolled by whilst I tried to recover. My arms and shoulders felt anhiliated. Finally my time came, and I took my chance... Glancing over my shoulder as I paddled frantically I could feel the water hefting me up, and then I was pitching, no, shooting towards the trough, I was too far forward and had I tried to pop I would have gone in head first and gotten slapped down, which I knew, so I stayed put and shot beachwards at what felt like light speed. But now I had to get back out again.

The problem is, I cant duck that board, so you just have to take everything on the head. Quit at 1130 and went for food. Bought the papers, had a snooze, got back in at Putsborough in the afternoon. This was much better. It was smaller and the tide was on the way in. Easier to get out, and got some good rides.

Slept in the car that night, and got in again at 0800 the next morning. It was good until 0900, and I thought I was really learning, then the wind started and I sacked it home. Well, to Brizzle, then to home. Pooped

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


It rained all the way to the Lakes. The M6 north has to be one of the most picturesque motorways in the country - perhaps topped by the M74 which it becomes when you get a bit further up. And, there's noone on it. Glasgow looked damp and busy. I craned to try to see Dumbarton rock (is it just above the a82?), and onward, sloshing northwards through the rain we went. The scenery passed in a blur, the novelty and excitement now but a memory.

Finally we arrived at Port Tarbert which was to be our base for the evening. We'd driven all day, and booked in to a B&B overlooking the harbour. There was some sort of music festival on in the town, and so after tea we investigated. Raucous. Bet it would have been a good weekend - folky music and lots of beer from the looks of the revellers. It'd been a long day and we didnt stay late.

The next morning we caught the Calmac ferry from Kennacraig across to Port Ellen on Islay. Takes about 2.5hrs. Beautiful crossing - you are always in sight of land, and its pretty stunning land, so most of the time was spent on deck scanning our surroundings.

Islay is a beautiful island. Its characterised by small pebbledashed villages connected by bouncy roads across peat moors. Port Ellen (where we landed) is very small network of buildings and a bit underwhelming. We went straight to the hotel to get the keys to our lodge thing. This was a recommendation from the footprint surf guide, and I'm sure it said that the hotel was 'smart'. Tired would be a more appropriate description. Initially disappointed, we felt like we were staying at butlins. So out we went to find both waves and the prospects of staying somewhere else.

Our lodge sat at the southern end of a long stretch called Laggan Bay. The footprint guide recommends it because you have only to wander across the golf course and you are on the beach, and whilst tired it was clean and we had everything we could have wanted. Plus, if you were on a surf trip with all boys it would be more than adequate. Oh, and it was cheap by islay standards.

A wierd contradiction exists on the island. If you live there and are local then you have either retired and have money, or you are one of a number of young families and you probably live in what looks like pre fab concrete council accomodation - albeit in a spectacular setting. We quickly discovered, on our quest to better our accomodation, that bijou commands a price premium and that what we had would do for us.

The island is bigger than you give it credit for. You see if on a map and think its only wee, about 15 miles from end to end, but its probably about 20 miles from north to south, and if you drive from the two points of the U (its U shaped) then you are looking at a hours drive. Bowmore is the biggest settlement, and even that is wee. Mark McGowan had recommended Machir Bay, so after a look around Bowmore we headed off in search of that. In the furthest flung, most remote of corners sit the distilleries, which are in the most improbable of places. BUt what an amazing place to work!

The most striking thing about being on Islay, and particularly in contrast to Devon and Cornwall is that theres noone there. We park up at the road head, and run across the dunes to see whether its worth getting in. It is, but only just. The monster decides she cant be bothered, and I paddle out alone. Catch a few waves, get some reasonable short rides and head in after about an hour. Not the greatest surf session ever, but having done all that driving, I just wanted to get out.

The rest of the trip followed a nice pattern - there would be a bit of surfing, a bit of doing something else, a lot of whisky drinking and even more eating. All separated by spells zooming from one end to the other of the island.

So, on friday we were back on the Ferry to the mainland. Port Tarbert felt like a conurbation after such small pockets of humanity. We loved it. The remoteness - the tranquility - it was wonderful. From a surfing perspective it was only ok, but I had fun, and got some little rides in on 4 out of 5 days. The return jouney was long and epic, and it felt good to finally be back home. We would recommend Islay, but I would suggest that if you are not going with any specific activity in mind then you could do it in a couple of days, and then hop on to another one and continue your tour.

Anyway, been rambling on for ages now. Better do some work.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Quick thought

When I'm there I think about the negative things. How hard it is, how my arms and shoulders hurt, how cold the water is, how I can't breathe, how getting tumbled over in my attempts to get out make me feel sick, but now that I'm home I just can't stop thinking about the glimmers of brilliance. When, for a few seconds I actually felt like I could do it, these are few but shine so bright, that even though I remember the struggle so clearly it makes me just want to go back there and try again. Someone once said that if something is worth having then its worth working for and the things which matter most come hardest of all. And that's surfing. It is fucking desperate. And so frustrating, but so utterly brilliant. Like a shining light, its brilliance a beacon in the darkness. I want it and yet I don't, the ease of climbing so appealing, compares to surfing which is to struggle, but so fleetingly incredible. When it works it works so well.

More tomorrow. Possibly.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Sunday Driver

My problem is that I think that driving should be fun. Actually, the problem isn't that driving should or shouldn't be fun, it's that cars can't take 'fun', and they explode if exposed to too much of it. In just 24 hours the top gear team ruined a BMW 330d by driving it at its limit on a track. Even if you are only driving the car to 70% of its capacity, consistent use at this level will drastically foreshorten the lifespan of the car. Perhaps these people who boast starship mileage on vehicles wear driving gloves and warm the car up before rolling off the drive.

When I first got that Astra I hated it. I'd attached significance to having a nice car. Not because I wanted you to look at me and go 'ooh, look at him, nice car' - no, because I wanted to sit in a comfy nice seat, and be able to have FUN. All the problems start when you attach fun to driving. Owning the Astra has been an interesting experience, as its educated me that a car is a utility, a luxury which facilitates my lifestyle. What I need to keep in mind is that its a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. And, to possibly moderate my driving style. I have to say though, I honestly dont think I go that fast. The thing is, there are two ways to look at it - either I have been terribly unlucky, or the commonality is me and I need to change?

Its back anyway, with a new gearbox. As was pointed out to me at the wall on Friday (thanks Bunting), that I have paid out £1640 and its in the same state as it was before. Its not like I have made it faster or anything, it just works. Still, having it back is liberating, and I made use of it to go to the tor. Smells of oil in the cabin, but drives lovely.

Good scene at the tor. Caught up with Ed Brown at long last, and discussed fainting with everyone and anyone. Plenty of people also had fainting stories, and all agree I am a big jess (mini update on Aunty Susan condition - she is having physio already - from hooked up to ventilator one day to doing exercises the next. Incredible). Char did well on Mecca, climbing from the ground to the top of the groove. It looks like he could do it quite soon, and with temps only getting cooler, I would argue the chances are going to be good for an ascent this year. That said, he looked broken when he came down after this mega go, and people tell me they got to the last moves many times before it yielded. Much is discussed regards sequences. I change mine again, he sticks to his. I get set up to go to the groove but hesitate and dont do it. This is progress, as I have never before gotten set up for the move. It was almost like I get there as automaton and then awake from the sequence trance to find myself eyeballing the groove but unsure how to actually gain it. Obviously, I fall off.

Foley gets on Rattle and Hump. He really nearly does it, and after refining and updating and making silly errors it all looks like its on, but skin gives out before muscles and he has to admit defeat. Mike Adams nearly does Keen Roof. Tom Sugden proves he is the strongest man alive by locking the smallest of holds, and Joe and Vics berate us for swearing, and for inappropriate use of offensive slang. I have previously thought about this, and meant to do something about it, but its become habit. When I say I am a gaylord for not doing something well, the implication is that it is in some way a bad thing to be the lord of the gays, when actually I have nothing against whomever that fine figure might be, but its become vernacular, slang for bad, and my habit to use. Habits can be broken as well as formed, so must try harder Morton. Ben Pritchard is sporting mountaineering facial hair which he has used to store food on Strone Ulladale.

Foley and I go for a cup of tea in Hathersage, and a dangerous look around the shops. I think I want a Patagonia gillet. Manage to walk away empty handed and head back to Sheff to do jobs and watch some of the Hurley Pro surf comp at Trestles in California. Realise if I had been a proper surfer I would have been a free surfer rather than a comp king. Although it does suggest a nice life to go all around the world just going surfing. I think I have started to realise that actually surfing isnt about a routine of tricks, its about making the best out of the wave that you have caught. All the things they do are to maximise the ride they get from the wave. Very interesting to see just how clean the surf conditions are, which highlights quite how bad it is here! At the end of this week, she and I go to Islay surfing for four days. Checked MagicSeaweed this morning, and on Wednesday this week, it shows 22ft swell! 22ft! (12 seconds period), but also 52mph winds. So not so good. Thankfully we wont be there for that, and it looks better next week.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Penelope Pitstop

There is a school of thought that says that the moves you try when training should be so hard that you can barely do them at all, that you should only just be able to string two of them together. There is mileage in this argument, but its boring. You dont get chance to actually do anything, and I dont like it. The boys all do this (ned, dan and dave) and it does seem to yield results, but I actually like to be doing stuff. So rather than trying a single dead hard move ten times I do sequences of considerably easier moves less times - perhaps just once! 

When the depot board first opened it was way too hard for me. Then they put on resin footholds and people (the ones who are too strong) said it had been ruined. Most of whom have now come round. I think its brilliant. One of the genius bits about the wave at the Foundry is that you can do a problem with hands for feet and smears, then you can do it just hands for feet, and finally - just on smears. Three problems on one set of grips on one bit of wall. Caters for all. This I discovered with Dave Barrans at the depot. Man, chief Wiggum got strong, and ripped. Blimey. To be completely honest, I wasnt just substituting foot jibs for resin foot jugs, but I was also having to use the bigger bits of the holds where he was on the monos. And I still wasnt keeping up. 'Get 'em boys...' 

Saturday morning club yielded a return to Mecca. Still brilliant, terrible conditions. Feel sure that the egyptian way is that which I will be able to use to get into the groove. Just an incredible route. Funky climbing. 

There's been a lot of stress in our house of late. She has a hard time at work, and her aunty was about to go into hospital for a hopefully life changing, but terribly serious heart operation, so on Sunday out we went for a bike ride to clear our heads and unwind a bit. It was brilliant and as we pootled around Derwent so we could feel a bit of tension ebbing away. There ended the week. Well, with a roast chicken anyway. 

The works board is now coming back into season. I went on Monday and started to feel the movement again. Man, its so physical. Problem is that the window right next to it makes it really hot in summer, and although those grips are wooden, they go slippy in the sun. So, good session on Monday. Invented some new problems, but back to the point a few paragraphs ago - I dont set dead dead hard problems, rather ones that i know i will be able to do in a few goes. And this is the thing with me, i like to be able to be climbing rather than trying moves - so I perhaps dont push as hard as I could, but thats because I want to be climbing! Anyway, so that was the last chance I got because then we went down to Brum to see her aunty in the critical care unit of the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Selly Oak. 

Blimey. Nothing prepared me for that. We said to each other on the way in that we should be prepared for her not to look well, but seeing someone you know with all the pipes and stuff going into them is well shocking. She was heavily sedated and I wouldnt have thought knew that we were there (it had only finished in the operation that morning, something like 6 hours in theatre) but we tried to sort of talk to her anyway, hoping that familiar voices would be soothing. Feels wierd talking to someone zonked out, i mean, I will ramble on at anyone for any length of time, but you keep being overawed by the machinery and beeping instrumentation surrounding your loved one. Phew. Stressful! 

I miss the next day as I get stuck in London. We went again last night, and this time her eyes were opening a bit and she was moving around, but still really vacant. This was again shocking, and I felt more so than seeing her zonked out. I suppose you can rationalise someone after an operation being out for the count, but seeing them with their eyes open, but clearly zombified really sort of shook me I think. I carried on rambling to her and all was well. Then her care team started telling us about her day, and that she had a number of heart episodes where her heart rate had increased sharply, but then settled down again and I could feel myself starting to go... I went to tap her (the monster) to tell her I needed to sit down, but things were escalating faster than i thought and the next thing I knew i was on the deck with a nurse in my face shouting my name. I was so confused, I didnt know who this woman was, or why her face was inches away from mine! Then the monster called me and I got my bearings, I started to come back to life. Man, what a wierd an unpleasant episode. Having it happen in the critical care wing of a hospital meant I got shipped off to A&E where they did blood sugar, heart rate, blood pressure and even an ECG - nothing wrong with me. Hey, but get this - resting heart rate was 44bpm! check me out! (I was nearly asleep). So, I think it was a combination of having a stressful few days, not sleeping properly and being well tired, not having eaten for a few hours and feeling overwhelmed by relative and all this crazy serious news about her condition. God forbid what happens when or if we ever have babies!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Diesel Donkey

Failure, error and generally dismal performance all round really. Perhaps bad performances come in threes, and in which case I should be awesome the next time out. The first error was in going to Rubicon last saturday. It was boiling. I tried and failed to make progress on Beluga, it felt hard and it made my hands hurt. Edlog tried and failed to do the Sissy.

Saturday night we went to the pub to meet Rob and Helen, Dan Cheatham, Dave Pin, Edlog and his lovely wife. Got fired up about surfing Monday. Drank beer. All good. Sunday blah, Monday - up early to look at webcams for the north east coast - majorly log. Very disappointing. Messages go out, noones going, recommendation is to leave. Go back to bed.

So we meet instead at the board for an awakening. Its further drubbing for the ego as a struggle to even get to the top. Go home crushed. Plans for wednesday brighten heart, but on Wednesday its bright of sky too, and hot with it.

Neddy arrives at 12 and we set off over the snakey :

Theres discussion about whether to start somewhere other than the less than lovely roadside boulder. Ultimately because of diesel power we decide we cant be bothered and get stuck in. Its totally still and about a thousand degrees. Pulling on rapey edges in the full sun is not helping.

We get on Diesel Power. He does the first move and falls off. I fall off. He does the first and second move and falls off. I do the first move. He does the first, second, third and fourth moves and then falls off. I fall off. He keeps getting to the end, even getting a hand over the top but doesnt manage to finish it off. He is cross.

Lizard log. James Foley recommended this as being a steep wall on good crimps. He neglected to mention it was rapey. We wade through a bog in flip flops to get there, then its a total midge fest and the problem itself has had its holds replaced with rasps. We both flail about for a few minutes before the midgeing gets tiresome and we head down to Jerrys. At least it has a nice view.

He's on Pools and I am on Mr Fantastic. I cant remember how to do the transition move - as in, where to put my feet. Plus, my hands really hurt now and swinging around on the grips is not helping. He is launching himself wildly towards the road and grappling manically at the porthole before crashing back to earth. I remember Pete's foot beta and pass it on. He goes backwards at first but eventually starts making progress, so much so that by the time we leave he's had a couple of goes where he stuck the shothole and actually looked like he was going to do it.

I dont deal in negatives. Life is too short, and besides theres plenty of negativity out there, so I try instead to focus on the good things that happened. Although the above is a pretty paltry display of climbing pedigree, I note a couple of good things - on saturday I managed to get back through the caviar start - In the sun - good effort. Plus, I got from the floor to the jump on the sissy on my first and only go - again, this felt good and is a reasonable link. Monday, I did rabbis and bagels on the board, and i think we were both moving ok. Yesterday, I was lapping jerrys - four times to the end, just got a bit of the fear - this is just getting used to bouldering again - no problem. And, I did two moves on Diesel power - with better conditions - who knows!

So there you go, pick your boots up and get on it for gods sake!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Which Climbing Wall?

The Foundry or the Works? They are both great walls. Going elsewhere makes you realise how lucky you are to have these top class facilities within the city limits. The Foundry Shop is better, but the music and coffee is better at the works. Of course, these are peripheral things - what about the climbing? Obviously, the Foundry gives you the opportunity to go up high, but the works has a better board. The steep bit of the wave is better than the comp wall. The Foundry has Justin Plumtree, the Works - Squiff. I would have said the Foundry is a better wall for training on, but then the works got the board. The Foundry feels more like a climbing wall, whereas the works is lighter and more airy. But this is a double edged sword - the reason for this is the windows which let the damned sun in.

In summary - you dont choose one or the other - you need to go to both. Of course a lot of whether you go or not depends on where it is and whether its on your way home, personal preference and basic economics.

I'm proud to reveal that I have been working with the Climbing Works team on a host of new developments which will take it to a new level. I cant say too much at this stage but to give you a flavour of whats in the pipeline - the central bit of the wall is going to be converted into a swimming pool beneath a section of retractable roof, which will include a swim up bar, with heavily discounted spirits for full members.

Back in the real world, the car is still off the road - which means I am driving this shitty Prius thing around (on loan from work). Not only is it rubbish to drive, but it is seriously ugly. And, not that much more efficient than any other car I have had. The most efficient car I've had was that a3. Anyway, whats gone on with the car? well, as discussed - the old box is scrap. The problem is that there are a lot of this car out there, and they are all failing about now - so second hand ones are in heavy demand. I spoke to one chap who had one in scrap for just 10 minutes before it sold. Vauxhall are running out of new ones too. New one is guaranteed for a year, and with no prospect of being able to source a second, thats what I have gone for. £1200 for the box, about £1500 all in (ex VAT). If you have a 1.9cdti vauxhall coming up to 45k - and it isnt broken yet - sell it! well, sell it if its your own.

Magic Seaweed reports mega swells around at the moment. Paul Reeve got in up in the East on Thurs, but said it was so big he couldnt even get out the back at Cayton!!! Jeez! I cant imagine him being weak, or unable to paddle, so it must have been epic - and the forecast said just 4ft. It says 10 for Monday! Stu complains that other people are diversifying, and that it makes him feel inadequate. I compare him to the other great non-diversifyer - Keith. We agree that surfing is a lot more palatable for the non climbing other half, but as he doesnt have this problem, so he doesnt have to distract his focus.

Anyway - looks good for surfing this weekend, and Ed log is back, so I might get another chance to drown!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Tickets to the gun show

Sam called me over to his office. I trotted over and walked through the door to find him stripped to the waist curling a dumbell, counting "1001, 1002, 1003..." etc. Wow I thought. Gotta get me a ticket to the gun show. Team Gun's lead member was flecked with paint and positively bulging out of his vest. I scuttled back into my corner.

Monday night means board night. Its good. I am getting back into it, although its hard - one must be accepting of ego death if one is to leap forwards. At the moment, its a challenge just getting to the top! Stu arrives in the gayest outfit i have yet seen - white and blue sport capri pants and sky blue crocs. Such a strong look for such a strong guy. His torque steering front wheel drive power propels him to the top of the board, feet barely glancing the jibs. We exchange Clifford legends and wonder whether, like his initial namesake Tommy Caldwell - he pushes people off mountains with nine fingers just to avoid paying a ransome.

Nurse! medication please! Dan Varian itis has taken hold! (talks in riddles that one). Quiet unassuming nice man Hutchmeister proposes he is weak but locks casually up the board. I dont know if the works has installed special beefcake lighting, but everyone looks 'cut'. I dig into my bag and extract my bicycle pump - a little more inflation required in the muscle vest me thinks. I have compartment failure and only manage to increase my paunch. Team Paunch is born.

Gus bounds over. Jeeeeee-sus. The heavy artillery has landed. Team Gun is complete, and the two of them lurch around all bulging musclators and grins. Its sickening. Whatever happened to pale stick men with a far away hungry look in their eyes?

Car update - took the keys to the garage and explained what happened. They reckon its common on the 1.9cdti vauxhall engine with a 6 speed box. And the reason/problem is because its a five speed box which has had a sixth gear bolted on. This falls off into the gearbox and requires the whole thing to be replaced. Thats probably whats wrong with me. "Not much change out of a grand", for a second hand box. Thousands for a new one. I will get it replaced and sell it.

So, Adam Long. I want to come to Abersoch, I want to go surfing, but I dont know that I will have it back by then. Basically thats the thing. And then even if I do have it back, I might go and trade it in!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Like, totally differential dude

First day back to work is always hard. You have loads to catch up on and the harsh reality of not being able to please ones self all the time or be a surf bum are all too real. Still, the sausage machine wont turn its own handle :

Been away for my birthday and a weeks surfing. Continued exposure to this most challenging and fickle of past times has improved my performance from incompetent total beginner to incompetent total amateur. It seems that the other people in the water range between 'barely competent but kitted out' and 'suprised they havent drowned yet surf school lemmings'. There are loads of these! Croyde is rammed with them. I turn myself around and prepare to start paddling for a wave to realise the nose of my surf board is pointing straight towards the grinning rictus of some surf school goon looking gormlessly back at me, unaware of the jeopardy they are about to face. I am barely in control here mate, I might be slightly better than you, but dont think I can steer or anything - if i get up and you are in the way - you are going down! Anyway, them aside - Surfers Paradise campsite, and Croyde in general is ideal for a group. First session in on the Friday - blown out and fairly log, but glad to get in. Few very short rides with no power.

Saturday started with rain and again - rubbish waves, got in anyway - had a go on a mates long board - cool - when you get the barge moving if feels like you could wander around and or go for a cup of tea on it. Pretty log overall surf report though. Evening we go for dinner in hobbs bistro - total disaster. Those who dont surf have been drinking all day and are mortalled by the time we get there. There are 13 of us supposed to be eating, but the table doesnt really have room. People start moving tables badly and dropping cutlery and generally being a nightmare. The Honey monster and I are mortified and want the floor to swallow us up. It doesnt happen, but the owner does come and bollock us. 7 leave to eat elsewhere, we placate the situation and attempt to rescue the evening. I drink too much in an effort to numb the pain. It doesnt work, but does make me very ill the next day. Very ill. Which was the day when the main group headed home. She and I were moving to Woolacoombe to meet Ed and Colette. It was hot. I wanted to die. Ugh ugh ugh. Deeply unpleasant. New campsite very nice, surfers is fine for a group for a weekend, but is basic facilities (although great location). Thankfully there were no waves, so I wasnt missing anything.

Monday - my birthday - 34!!! the new team excitedly zoom off to the beach to check the sea and its totally, utterly flat. Like a millpond. I am disappointed. Legend is that Ed Robinson is a quiet surf beast, and I want to see the evidence, but he escapes having to demo his rad and sick manuveures as there really is nothing doing. We console ourselves by buying things in surf shops and then go for a massive walk to Putsborough and to perv at the nice houses. Beautiful day. We later attempt to kill children with an aerobie and break our necks on skim boards before going out for tea in Mortehoe.

Tuesday is a different kettle of fish. The end of the world in weather terms. We awake to downpour and decide to go back to bed. Poor ed and colette have to pack up in this most hideous of rainstorms. The sea is still flat. We go for breakfast and then to Braunton for him to attempt to buy reef boots. He fails. They bail back to Sheffield and we feel depressed. We go to a national trust property (arlington Court) (we are members), and have a cream tea. Then drive to Barnstable to go to Pizza Express to cheer ourselves up and watch a film - its still raining. The film we pick looked good on the trailers, but oh my goodness - its not in the flesh. The last airbender. We both knew from about 30 seconds in it was going to be seriously log, and it didnt disappoint. Sheeeeet! this is possibly the worst film i have ever seen. Except fox and child - that we walked out of, but then we were unlimited film members at the time - when you pay for it, you'll sit through it. Anyway, impressively log, but passed the time whilst the bad weather was about.

Wednesday - surf! huzzzah! blown out at Wooly, better at Putsborough but needed time to develop, and blown out at Croyde. Bought her a 7'6" foamy and had some lunch in Sandleigh gardens at Croyde - lovely. Back to putsborough, and we go in (at last). I leave my board in the car so we can have a bit of a me helping her session. She gets loads better, nearly gets to her feet but suspect my bad teaching and not really knowing what to do is part of the problem. I have a go on her board and feel like a hero! the thing with foamy's is that you can ride them in nearly no waves, but they are harder to get out as they are so buoyant. I go and get my board and have a ok session. Get some good rides in and even start to be able to bottom turn.

Thursday we get woken up by a noisy family next door. How is this different to a group of adults at the other end of the day? Suppose the adults should know better, but annoying nonetheless. Consequently, by 0900 we are packed and in the car on the way to Wooly for breakfast. Theres something happening in the bay and it looks reasonable for the first time since we arrived. I steam in with a greasy bacon butty swilling around in my gut. As seems to be the norm for me and surfing trips - the best session of the trip is my last one. I dont want to come in, but feel quite sick. Am turning and trimming and getting some reasonable length rides in. Feels like I could do this -but I feel well sick. Push the feeling aside for another one last wave and eventually have to come in for fear i might spew in the line up. Good thing about North Devon as opposed to Cornwall is that its much nearer,  on the drive home all the landmarks you are used to it taking ages to get to seem to come up fast. Which magnifies the effect of it feeling not too far. Its good to be back home! I like our house.

Make it to the Tor on Saturday. Join team Twyford and get back on Obscene Toilet. Feel strong but really unfit. And skin hurts.

Sunday she and I go out for a bike ride. ONly on the way out of Bakewell it feels like the car has run something over - like theres something stuck in the wheels or similar. There is no sign of anything so we stop and call the AA. They reckon diff or gearbox trouble. Grrreeeaaaat!!!!!!!!! Get recovered back to somewhere in bradway that does recon ones and cycle home. So did get a bike ride, but not from where we wanted to go to.

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Zippy actually looked quite upset when I bounded down the road towards him. Me, on the way to the Cornice? surely the planets are out of alignment? there must be some disruption in the flux? yep, fraid so - Nemesis had hitched its skirts and showed me its garters on Saturday, and I was salivating in a distinctly unsavoury manner (well, in so far as this allegory works).

A good thing about Nemesis for the Mecca aspirant is that its still a power endurance challenge, but its an easier one. Again, there are no really hard moves, but theres no mega bucket jug rests either. My celebrity belay protege was coerced into joining in, and it was with good reason, as he had done it on Friday, so he had lots of useful knowledge to impart. Not that it was required, as the first ascentionist was on hand to take the piss and roll his eyes as only Keith can.

My team also included the mighty dr pinch. His might was tempered by error, which started with a bradbury belay stripping episode atop spiders from mars, and ended with a burst blood vessel stopping play on his first go on Nemesis. Which is a shame, because I would have put this firmly within his realm of possibility.

So its all down to me then. First go is good, I get through the hard move left, up to the finger jug and then make the clip. I feel boxed! lurch and shake into the pocket and sidepull and fail from there, not knowing what to do. For me, a lot of the fear comes from not knowing what is above. Once I know what holds I have to expect and where I will be able to recoup a rest, i am more likely to try going for it. The top is easy, but I expect to fail there a couple of times. What a brilliant route though! cant wait to get back on it.

We went and looked at the Nook - jesus. This is log. Theoria is without doubt the best thing there, but the craglet as a whole is pretty offensive. Although I appreciate the length.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Nemi Call

Stop what you are doing! Stop going to the Tor, Rubicon and these other perma dry crags because the Cheedale Cornice is dry! Yes, its a good job you read this blog, as you wouldnt have realised otherwise, but it is indeed true. The Cheedale Cornice is dry. And very good actually. Foley always said that it was badly bolted and scary. This served to put me off a bit, but actually what Foley was being was a master of propaganda. He didnt have time/will to go down there so he sewed the seed of fear. Propaganda really was all it was.

Which of my friends can be coerced into saturday morning sessions? Hmm. Ed was away, Foley had just been on nights, Dylog doesnt get up before 11. Ned will do, but under duress and was going to his brothers. Hmm. Not looking good I thought. I could get back on Staminaband I thought and then, like a bolt from the blue it came to me - the glistening thighs of Rob Smith! there lay the answer. One of my oldest friends, and one with drive to get his rippling torso out of its pit early on a saturday. A volley of text messages exchanged and a 9am meet at the tor arranged.

We made a four which was perfect. Me and Alain, Rob and Tim. Warmed up at the Tor and then went down Cheedale. As Rob had said Cheedale I'd initially felt disappointed not to be back on Mecca, but realised it does you no good to singlemindedly stick to one thing, and besides I hadnt been down the cornice other than on foot, so with mounting excitement we slithered into the dale. People had kept telling me to get on Nemesis, and that I would love it so that was ultimately the goal. Usually when people say that its like a kiss of death - you know the 'right up your street this, youth' saying. Usually means get shut down, spend 15 years trying to do it.

Alain and I start on Spiders from Mars - 9b+. Scruffy would be one way to describe it. But fun. Its high! Rob and Tim scuttle Nemesis wards and Alain and I go on Clarion call. 'A bit intimidating' my host says, and then casually wanders up it placing the draws. Joe and Vics turn up, and I get tied on. The 'crux' is about 3b, but above it theres a balancey run out section, and I decide I am too pumped to go up and ask for Alain to take. He refuses, Joe and Vics plead with me not to gay out, but I dont want to commit above the bolt. So, I climb back down - yes, reversing through the crux I rumble back to the ground and sit for 10. The next go I race through and get stood up on the balancey bit above the lip. Its about 3b. Glad I didnt wimp out I rumble through to the biggest rest in the world and curse myself for not having the balls to have just gone for it. Still, thats it now and I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the route.

We finish and move on down to Nemesis. What a wild route! As we approach Rob is questing through the headwall, and when he stops climbing announces a new link - from the hard bit to the top. He's psyched, and it looks good. Rob and Tim dispense with beta and I think i manage to fall off the first move on my flash go. The next goes are increasingly better until i stick the move between the two crimp jugs, but then fluff the next bit due to lack of beta. I work something out on subsequent goes and I am dead keen to get back there.

I pack up and Roy arrives to crush Monumental. First go of the day he falls off going into a hole which looks to be at about half way. If nemesis is wild, then this is the beast of bodmin moor! Awesome, and inspiring watching the terminator in action. I leg it back out of the valley, to sheffield and then the train to meet the monster in Manchester - its our first wedding anniversary. Doesnt a year pass so quickly! (actually, its today was the day we got married a year ago).

Thursday, 5 August 2010

failure club

First rule of failure club is dont ever set yourself a goal you might actually do. Second rule of failure club... Actually, stop - this is overly negative and only based on a joke I bandied around last night - along the lines of these training camps people go to for personal development needs, I could run failure club - advanced lessons in never getting up anything!

Day three on Mecca last night. Brrrrriliant route still. Brrrrrrrriiiillliant moves - just a bit beyond me, and a bit scary. First go on and I get to the crimp jug beneath the groove. Feels like I'm really trying though, and I'm struggling to envisage getting there with enough left to actually do anything with the aforementioned feature.

Read this - indeed a good scene. I had bought Nedwina and Dylmong, then Stu and Jules turned up, then a very smart Mr Robinson. I'd give him a job! Ned goes on Mecca - does really well - flashes to my high point then gets confused by the myriad footholds. Theres no question that he could do Mecca if he wanted to, but like me, I think the sketch skip clip run out at the top doesnt really appeal. I know its irrational, and actually - some of the lurching around on the rope is starting to pay dividends - I feel a little more comfortable. Have to remember - its just climbing - stop thinking about it...

Dylan gets on Body Machine. It looks hard, scary and too high for me to contemplate. He works it all out, covers the ground but comes back down knackered and I think he might be harbouring cat aids. Ned and I bully Edlog onto Mecca. He does well, clipping the third bolt and then getting stumped by a million glassy edges. Jules isn't climbing. Stu is. He's going to do Revelations. Its the first time I've seen anyone do 'the move' and I totally think he's on it it, but it turns out the rest of the route isnt as straight forward as I thought it would be. Am hugely impressed, but hugely put off by the 'arse emptying run out' (copyright Rupert Davies, 2004) to the chains.

Notice that all the routes I have ever done have been short power challenges. I dont claim to be brave, I never said I was some bold hero - routes for me, provide an entertaining diversion during the summer months - I don't want to run it out high above the ground - I want to do hard moves! Anyway, back to Mecca, and I finally manage to make the egyptian work. This makes the move to gain the groove 3a. I come back down but have no pain threshold left and thats me spent. To be honest, the rate of skin depletion suggests inideal conditions. An expert later confirms as much.

Nedlog goes on Hubble bubble. This looks well hard. He does some moves, but not others and whilst I have no reference to say this is good or bad, I can see how you could justify the building of a replica in your cellar.

A fun evening. Much quoting from the power of climbing - which is surely the backbone of any successful evening out.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Mecca - day2 - backwards

I had convinced myself I could do it. Because, individually, the moves feel ok, so you can conceive of the notion of being able to string them together. I can pull on at any point and be able to climb somewhere out of it (although not yet to the top), so its easy to make that leap to being able to do sequences. A doubt creeps in - these moves feel tough on their own, will you really be able to do them on the link? But I am a big believer in hope and positive thinking, so I try not to allow the doubt room to grow.

On Saturday I get back to the previous high point, but really nearly slip off making the clip and get the fear. Although its because I have fumbled my feet, its given me the willies. Manage a new link from the third bolt to the groove, and rehearse some methods of gaining the feature.

Char fares better, falling off actually going into the groove.

I know what I have done wrong, and I know what I plan to do when I next get back on it (weds).

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Here be sieges!

Last night I opened my account on Mecca. Reasonable nic at the tor, very dry - bit of a breeze. Mecca. First bit is easy. Clip the third bolt - easy easy. Then the fun starts. People say there are no hard moves, and I can see why you would say that, but there are no easy ones either, and certainly no rests. I have a wack sequence getting into the bottom of the groove, and I am struggling with my feet. And my head. For me to do this route will be a real personal milestone. Not just in terms of grade, but in terms of going for it on the lead. Like surfing, it left an impression, and I find myself musing what could have been and where I should've stood. Basically, I'm pretty keen to get back on it. Although at this point it feels a big leap to believing I could do it, I can also concieve the notion.

"You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?"
The character Morpheous in the Matrix

You're thinking about it because you've felt something. Why you bother you can't explain, but you feel it. You dont know why, but its there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that gets you to the crag and makes you punish yourself...

Monday, 26 July 2010

Obscene faceplant

Ed pulled off his shirt to reveal a torso bulging like a condom stuffed not with walnuts but with Brazil nuts. A last gasp, a dab of chalk and he stepped off the ground. The first few metres passed in silence, as he reached up into the undercut but didnt look so assured as he had done on previous redpoints, nevertheless, he stood up, clipped and started the crux sequence. As his hands snatched between the grips, his body betrayed an inner fatigue and I didnt think he would succeed.

His left stabbed up into the undercut signalling the end of the crux, and for a second he was attached, holding the hold, then POW! his hand shot off, he pivoted out of the still attached right hand side and hung, motionless for a second but facing the wrong way before diving headfirst towards the ground! WILD! thankfully all was well and he was only frustrated. Next go shouldnt have been, but was and he doesnt have to go up there again.

I on the other hand, do. Three or four rotpunkt attempts and each of them ended feeling a bit pumped and not wanting to commit to the above the bolt climbing after the crux. However, get this - all of this faggotry was followed at the end of the session by a totally clean top rope ascent. Which proves quite clearly that my mind is my biggest limiting factor. Its a good route for me, Obscene Toilet, because it personally presents a challenge. Clearly, I am physically able, but I get the fear. Conquering it will be a milestone in my personal development.

On wednesday last week I posted about being in Sean's roof with Constance Variable, Freewheeler and other southern chap whose name I confuse. Nice chap. Anyway, I captured some footage of dark horse Variable face planting from the end of Sean's roof. Thought you would be interested, so here it is:

Dan Variable faceplant from dobbin on Vimeo.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

What women want

Some girls go out with guys who are dicks. Some girls seem to like men to treat them badly - men like Chuck Norris. Macho, tough guy, alpha male types. At the other end of the scale some girls pick a Gok Wang character - someone with whom they can go shopping and ensure they look fabulous. Me, I'm like Gok Norris. Soft and yet hard, yin and yang - I'll take charge and be chivalrous, but also 'that colour aint working for you girlfriend' mmm hmm (on bad days I become Chuck Wang. He's a dick).

Been surfing in Cornwall for a week. Started off flat, then got bigger, but super windy - so blown out/confused. Got in for two sessions a day, I'm still learning and still rubbish but more and more into it. In fact, I think it would have been different had I not had a last good session before heading home on the thursday. You see, as I understand it (thanks more experienced surf buddies), this is the problem with our fair isle. The wind blows the wrong way, the waves get confused and its hard work even if you do know what you're doing (which I dont). Basically, it was a bit frustrating from Monday to wednesday. Yes I was in the water, yes i was getting better at the ancillary techniques of getting out the back, paddling, take off and all that, but no - i wasnt getting many rides. Neither was anyone though. Then on the wednesday night we went up to Watergate bay for dinner in Jamie Oliver 'inspired' Fifteen (inspired because although I thought he owned them - he doesnt, but he did help set them up). Well, this was amazing on two levels - the meal eating experience was awesome - lovely food, service etc, but the setting was just astounding. The restaurant is on stilts on the beach and with the tide right in you are basically in the surf - which was booming! It was early, and there were people in the water - they looked like they really knew what they were doing. The waves were twice their size when they were at the bottom of them stood up on their boards. Well impressive.

You can buy a tent for £50 (you can of course, pay significantly less). These tents are only really suitable for camping in conditions which could be compared to actually being indoors. Certainly, they are not geared up to cope with any proper weather. And really, thats not even what happened on Wednesday night. It wasn't that bad, but come morning everyone else in a tent only was packing up to leave. We'd not slept well - ending up having to curl up in the back of the car and it all felt a bit epic. Its fine being in the sea when its raining and windy because your wetty keeps you toasty, but when you get out you want to go somewhere warm and dry to relax. Its just not relaxing being in a tent which is constantly getting flattened by the wind. So, thursday morning we packed up and headed.... to Crantock!

Gwithian was red flagged, and looked like a big mess of whitewater anyway. Ed said go to Harlyn, but thats right up by Padstow, and she wanted to go to Crantock for a look in this gallery there. The main bit looked rubbish, but the left hand side by the rocks was sheltered enough to be churning out some good waves. Had best session of the trip and went home happy. Surfing seems to be one of those things where you think - why do i bother, this is desperate and i'm rubbish at it, and then suddenly you get it right a couple of times and you cant stop thinking about it a week later.

So, back at home (which felt great, we obviously didnt realise how epic camping was in a shit tent), and it gets to Saturday and I call upon celebrity Belayer Ned Freewheely early on to go to Rubicon. First go on Tribes and i do all the hard bit, get flash pumped and fall off the jugs. Next go it goes down. Pleased, but it is a bit log since the hold broke, worse for it. Get on Beluga. Ned tries to flash DB but has a bad left finger and cant pull on the smallest crimp in the known universe. We leave.

Sunday the monster and I walk down through Cheedale. Cornice is busy and looks incredible.

Yesterday Ned and I meet Constant Variable in Sean's roof. They make good progress and are both pretty close. From the pod to the end, both are getting the jug but whilst Ned knows holding the swing is unlikely (from horizontal), Dan actually tries, which does nothing more than make him horizontal in the other direction - i.e. with his feet pointing straight out towards a passing juggernaut. At which point he lets go. 10 feet up vertically, moving fast and horizontal with your head below your hands is not a healthy place to be. Gravity takes charge and he smacks down missing all forms of padding and spotters (although what would a spotter do from there?). Thankfully he gets up unscathed, but to be honest I was suprised. We retreat to Rubicon.

As we arrive Edlog is at the top of Too Old to be Bold, and we learn that Dylog has just done it as well. I get back on Beluga, and in spite of the mother of all splits make some progress. Problem is with the feet on that middle bit. Plus, I think the super stubbed toe may actually have been broken - i.e. it still hurts (three weeks on). Ed, Dylan and Ned get on the Sissy. Noone does it. Lex keeps nearly doing TOTBB, and would do on his next session i'd have thought. Seriously - who is this guy? he will be going from 7a+ - 7c in about two months! and climbing with us? wtf?!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Nedward Froghally

Sometimes when you set off on something you've got the willies before you even start. Once spooked it takes a lot to unspook during a climb. Sometimes your blood just feels thick. You're pumped when you pull on, and once you register that you are, then you cant shake it off. It would be great to be totally empirical about climbing - to pull on and climb and just go with the flow - seeing what happens rather than analysing the signs.

It was raining yesterday, and rain means getting wet on long walk ins, so we went to the Tor. I got back on Obscene Toilet (is it called this?) and felt pumped. Got to the crux and shouted 'Take'. Disappointed in myself. On my next go I tried, and this was the scene of a brilliant training experience. Climbed past the bolt and got committed. There was no way I could reverse - I tried to try, I really did. I stabbed my feet, lurched into the undercut, but my elbows went out and off I went and wheeee! Brilliant. There's a world of difference between jumping off and taking a fall, and this felt like the first proper one I've had.

Ned and I jump in the car with the intentions of looking at Sean's roof. Which was wet. Then to Rubicon for him to have a look at Zeke. Couldn't remember my foot sequence on his bolt to bolt go, and he fluffed the bit through the pinches because of it. Looked brilliant though, and I wanted to remember how to climb it, so I had a go suprising everyone (most of all me) by doing it in two halves. Clean the holds, take the rope off the top two and lower down. Loads of frogs about. Ned tries to pick one up and it does a wee on his mat. He drops to his knees like a dog and laps the frog piss up. His eyes bulge and he takes on a strange distant look before tying back on. This time he knows what to do, his feet flit frog like between the grips and with a little 'ribbit' he makes it to the pinch. His powerful frog legs propel him to the dish and he bones like his life depends on it, has a bit of a look around, stuffs his foot onto the nubbin and levers through for the crimp. Blimey, he's got it! Undercut, over and he's on the break at the end of the hard climbing, clipping the bolt. Good effort! He looks like he's going to fall off the top, but thankfully doesn't and he's clippin' and strippin' just seconds later.

We emerge into the light for me to go on Tribes. I have a rubbish furtle go and get it wrong. Half sort out a sequence, and therein was my undoing - I glossed over the feet. Next go I climb well, everything feels great, then I fluff my feet and am off. I'm eulogising how good it is and inspite of having the starts of a split, Frog Boy ties on for a burn. The Morton beta machine serves him well and basically dispensing with his feet on the technical headwall (ok, they were pasted on) he flashes the route. Come on Ned, keep it going I think as he gets to the bulge, he's done it - and so easily too - as it did look easy. But then he starts huffle puffing - the frog piss must have run out, I shout some help, he makes a bark and manages to get the jug, but it could be a death crimp or something - the way he's yurtling at it. Thankfully he finds enough to continue and finishes himself off on the ledge above.

I am well psyched, and delighted for the Ginger Ninja, but I havent got the beef to finish the job - and my finger is splitting. Only at the end do I realise theres a hole in my foot sequence, so I fill it but its too late for that day. Man of the match for Ned vegas, surely a great evening out by anyones standards?

Monday, 5 July 2010

World Cup glory for Screech

When I went for a walk on Friday lunchtime I managed to stub my toe so hard that it hurt to walk and the whole thing went purple. I knew then that getting a climbing shoe on would be a challenge, but when I woke up on Saturday it didnt seem so bad, so I jumped in the car and set off to the tor. Time 0900.

You know that link road that connects the pub on Ringinglow Road with Hathersage Road? (just looked on Google maps, and its actually called Sheephill Road) well, as I was pootling along all traffic coming towards me was flashing their lights. Ah ha, i thought - it will be the rozzers, so I pootled along the lane at 28 miles an hour, a big smug grin on my face, thinking - you'll not catch me today, but as I rounded the corner near Hsage rd where theres a driveway to the left I was confronted by a totally smashed up white 306 estate in the middle of the road having obviously been in a serious accident... "Shit" I thought! Lee has one of them, but I could see the driver pacing around on the phone, and he clearly wasnt Lee and was able to walk. Around the corner there was a red golf without a scratch on it so I gingerly negotiated around them and continued on to the tor. Turns out that the white 306 was squiff, and the red golf was dan and Rob on their way to cheedale. Everyone is ok, but squiff has no car. Impressive damage. Whole car looked to be U shaped.

Anyway, I went to the tor. It felt like it was actually quite good - breezy, jumper on between goes etc but perhaps it was deceptive? Either way, as i couldnt exert pressure through my left foot, so I didnt do anything of note, but it was fun to be out. Big toes it transpires, are quite important. Back to Sheff, then off to a barbecue at Helen's where i find out that it was Rob and Dan in the golf and have a lovely evening. Even if the boule was fixed by the hostess.

Sunday. Busy day. Christening in Manchester, then back in time for the world cup round at Millhouses Park. I just wanted to see Adam Ondra. The monster didnt realise no Brits were in the final and lost quite a lot of interest when Ned gave her the bad news. Even though no longer personally invested, it was exciting. And, its always nice to see so many friends knocking around. The problems looked hard! Of note in the lady final were Alex Johnson of the USA - she is a whopper! Like a sort of super Katy Whittaker. Katy on Weetabix. Natalia Gros - fifth element lookalike, and amazing japanese lady. In the man final there was Polish dave with long hair (man from Ukraine), man with rat on head (from Russia), Brian May from Queen (adam ondra), Man with unlikely name who was clearly amazing - cedric and very thin man from France. Oh, and another Japanese gentleman.

The man final went like this : japanese gent would come out and nearly do stuff - get to the top, fight valiantly but not finish the problem. Then Polish Dave would come and beef his way up. He got up two I think. Then man with Rat would look pretty handy, then Cyril Sneer would destroy the problem (this guy is amazing) and then thin french man, and finally ostrich boy would come out and annihilate them. He was just awesome. He flashes three out of four then misreads the first move of the last one a couple of times before suddenly seeing it and wandering to the top like its 3b. A most impressive display. For reference, problem one seemed to involve a deadpoint to a small sharp edge, everyone else had to hurl themselves up it loads of times - not Adam Ondra - nails to the hold, engages iron finger and stops on it like its a massive jug. Impressive stuff. Then the speed with which he romps up the groove was most impressive. He's just in another league.

So dismaying was this display of competition prowess that went off to Nibbles to console ourselves.