Thursday, 29 April 2010


Bouldering. Is it too hardcore for mainstream recognition? I'm reading the ron book at the moment, and it strikes me as the thing which gets you widespread recognition isn't the hardest moves you can do but routes. Punters don't get boulders, they think that its about going up high. How often have you been asked 'how high have you been then?'. They don't ask what's the smallest hold you've pulled on, or the hardest move you've done is.

Anyway, that's not the point, the point is that bouldering is too specialist for widespread recognition. If you want to be a big name, you have to do hard routes.

The thing with bouldering is that its the distillation of the essence of climbing. None of the faff of ground up or of grabbing the belay, pre clipped bolts, top rope practice etc, its you either climbed the line or you didn't.

The thing with routes is that hard ones are enchainments of boulder problems separated by plodding. So the extrapolation of the bouldering = doing hard moves is that being able to do hard moves after some rumbling is harder than bouldering. I suppose the argument ben moon once made which is that one day somewhere, someone will be doing a sequence of moves where its just too hard to take a hand off to clip. And then what's the difference? Who cares how you do it? Surely its about the climbing rather than the logistics of protection?

In fact, when you think about it, the higher you go, the more recognition you earn - right the way up to mountaineers at the top of the scale. If its kudos you want, bouldering is not where its at.

I might get to do some routes this weekend. To be honest I'm a bit scared. But what better therapy than a bit of aversion?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Logridge, Longridge. noun. Quarried gritstone edge at Jeffrey Hill, Longridge, Lancashire. Gently overhanging, 150m long, up to 10m high (but only in the shit bit). Bordered by strange soulless houses. Endless scope for traversing, up problems either easy or very hard but also filthy.

Friday was a wierd night. We went to the pub - saw Rob Barker and Nic Kidd and Piff, chatted for a bit, nice to catch up, then they went and we were just sat quietly when we got accosted by an ex Neighbour and queen of the tittle tattle on our street. I love our road, its dead nice, but because its a cul de sac and near a school, its very popular with young families and all the mums gossip. We live in a little bubble at the bottom and have no interest in taking part so we know nothing. This woman is queen bitch, but also queen gossip. Although she split up with hubby and moved out over a year ago, she knows all about the tittle tattle that we have no interest in and dont care about. For instance, the man opposite hung himself, and his next door neighbour is a lesbanian. I dont suppose the two are related. Where is this going? just to tell you that we got stuck with her for a bit and wanted to go home. Jesus. That was a tortuous link. I suppose I also meant to say that it was our time to have 'that' discussion. You know the one, where she says I am obsessing about climbing and that I never want us to do anything nice. All week I have been asking what we were doing at the weekend, and she's not been sure, so i havent made any plans. Folog is going to Kilnsey. Dylog and I had fallen out, and Edlog is entertaining (by the way, on Edlog entertaining - he is very charming! on his best behaviour when we went for dinner - taking coats and being the host with the mostest - bless!).

Its getting too hot to pull on slopers. It wont be long before the brown rocks are a distant memory and JB snores quietly from his cardboard box in the airing cupboard. We ended up going over to the outlaws as it was her Grandad's birthday. I took my leave and scuttled off. The idea'd come to me like a divine vision - longridge! too hot for grit, too far for lime. Good motorway links to Longridge, so although its far, its quite quick.

If I lived local I would be all over the place. When I arrived I was well excited. It looked brilliant. Since I last went they've built these horrible houses behind the crag, and I cant imagine climbers are popular with the residents - the back windows of the houses look right at the crag - its 8 metres away (or thereabouts). The ground has been built up by the BMC, but its still lower than when I used to go as a nipper. When I got there I thought 'this is amazing'. And as Dylog and I had made up by now I texted him to say we should go there, and he replied that it wouldnt be long before I was reduced to shuffling sideways for entertainment. The thing is that the up problems are either dead hard and filthy, or dead easy and done really quickly. It also feels pretty high. I was on my own at the crag, and although I have two pads, they looked very small from the top of the crag. I wouldnt drive over especially, but if i was local I would be there all the time.

This weeks Wednesday afternoon club is cancelled because I have to go to London. Blummin London. However, I havent got to get the train until 1127, so it occurred to me that I could go out early. My plan is to get up and get out with her at 0630. I am torn between logrider and the tor..... I could be at logrider for 0700, try it for a couple of hours and still be home at 0930 to get the train....

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Tribal cuts

Not a cloud in the sky all day yesterday, and this morning another beautiful sunrise. In some respects, being too busy to flex the afternoon off is not such a problem at the moment - its light later, and baking in the sun so theres no point racing off at lunchtime anyway. Conditions are strange here at the moment. It should be mint, the air is cold, really cold, but when its still and the sun is out its h.o.t.

I'd had grand plans. The attendees list pulsated as Monday became tuesday became Wednesday. Folog had to work, Dylog too (for once) which left me and a not climbing Ned. Then at the eleventh hour Katpee Whittaker joined the party and Rubicon was our destination. With retrospect my alternatives of Cheedale 2tier or WCJ Cornice would have been wise from a conditions perspective, but I'd been reminded about Beluga, and wanted to try that and Let the Tribe Increase.

The lake was low, the ground totally dry and you could even walk to the base of the jug pillar without getting covered. As it was rather warm footholds were not weight bearing, and the 3b traverse felt like it was coming from the arms. I got pumped. Felt like the blood in my forearms wasnt moving, like i'd been inflated, the skin taut to the touch like a sausage left in the sun to putrefy. This doesnt bode well i thought. After attempting to let it subside and making more than a token effort to warm up we decided that a perfect introduction to the summer of roped climbing would be with an ascent of the route Rubicon. Off I set, quickdraws dangling from my harness, rope limply swishing between my knees. I tottered up the jugs to the break. You'd be doing well to fall off here, but the creaking snappy jugs and slimy pockets aren't a great confidence booster. I think I was overgripping everything because i had the fear. Fumble placed the first drawer, clipped it, felt a bit calmer (or so I told myself) rumbled up to the next jug, made the next clip, and the next one. Now the 'crux'. Climbed past it, looked at the jugs, climbed back down again. Got a bit pumped - wimped out. Disappointed with myself I shouted 'take' to Ned. The admission of failure. Not a good start to the season of routes. Katy cruised up, as did Ned, me again. Fully piss. Its about 3c. Realise that A - not fit, B - have irrational fear of falling off. Its not the height, its of falling off above the bolt. Whilst I need to work on this, I dont need Paul B aversion therapy (big lobs!), or else I will become a boulderiser year round.

With that done, its up to the business end for er... business. The wall has now come into shade and it feels cold. The rock has other ideas and is doing its best to radiate the days heat back out again. Rat crimps feel bad. I go on Tribes, Katy goes on Caviar. First go feels horrendous, I am crimping like my life depends on it and my finger split massively reopens and starts gushing blood. Although not injured I basically cant bone with it which puts Tribes in the impossible list. Work out a sequence and thats pretty much it. Actually, on subsequent goes i get better and better and remember my feet and how to use them. It looks feasible but not today.

Meanwhile Katy Jane throws shapes on the Caviar headwall. With some innovative moves bordering on madness, and that I have never before seen to pass those festering little finger biters she makes progress but doesnt seal the deal. None of which stems the tide of beta I throw in her direction, forgetting that she'll find her own path without my almost certainly incorrect advice. I remember how to do the start and again try to pass this on, but I think she might be taller and it doesnt work. By the time we leave its dark, and despite not really doing anything, I am tired.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Rebel Alliance

One of the best things about Sheffield is that its not that big. From where we live you can both walk to the Peak district or to town. In what other city can you boast such a thing? Friday night we walked down ecclesall road and all the way to the Sheffield Tap, which is a pub at the station. Far from the usual fayre of station pubs, this one is good. Thornbridge brewery, lots of choice, original victorian tiling. Recommended. Collected our mate and got a cab home. Walking dead - straight to sleep.

Saturday was a beautiful day. Ed had sacked off Caley in favour of Burbage as it was going to be boiling. Our mate got back on the train and went to watch the Manchester derby, whilst she and i had a look at the Volkswagen dealership up at Norton. Cars are expensive (for her not me). Went to car people showroom and looked at a Mini Cooper S works. I think she should buy one, but its ridiculous really and not a wise choice. They had a Clio sport trophy too. Suprisingly nice looking car, but being a renault would probably set on fire and/or explode after a year.

It was a big birthday for another non climbing friend that evening, so we were expecting to be playing host to others through the day. The one who has started climbing called - 10 minutes away from the station, and talking about going to the climbing works. Much as I love the place, there was no way I could be accomplice to such behaviour on a day like this, so I collected him and off we toddled to Burbage to catch up with Ed, who, by now was crawling back down the path Joe Simpson stylee, having fallen off parthian shot. At least, I think thats what he said. It might have been a 3b nearby and he wasnt crawling.

There was a fair breeze, and the south edge was probably as good a choice as we could have made. Showed lee 7-ball, then we moved up to the alliance. Which looks scary and high. Some randoms are attempting a rippled wall just below, and having not seen it before we join them. Its in the sun and tearing chunks out of me. However, i will not be defeated and manage to find a Sharma esque sequence which involves jumping past the slopers. With that in the bag I take my leave and go to look at the alliance. Decide the best strategy is to pad the gully and stand lee on the boulder to push me into the pit. Pull on. Rumble to the top not having worked out where the holds are, its allright this I think, but havent looked at the top and have no plan, scuttle down a move or two and step off. This time I go round the top and have a feel of the holds and a look at the position. All the holds are pretty good, and whilst you really shouldnt contemplate falling from there, I cant imagine letting go of those jugs unless something goes badly wrong. I have decided to commit. 100% effort, climb fast, fluid - no time to think. It goes well, feels easy, boule the top of the boulder and reach back to the edges to haul myself over. Theres only been a second of 'whoa' in the whole ascent. Mantle to glory, take my shoes off, pack up and walk back to the car. Suspect this may be the end of days for the grit season.

In the evening we went to town for a meal. It was a bit log to be honest - popolo in leopold square. Home at about 0130. Bed by 0400. knackered yesterday. Went to Sharrowvale market to consume pattys of dead animal. Did help, but only for a while. Bumped into lots of people which was nice. Then we saw this lobster clawed fiend hobbling through the throng - it was Ed, up from his sick bed and walking unencumbered. Very interesting - thought i had stumbled across a subterfuge, a secret training excuse or something, but I think it just wasnt as bad as first reported. Foley went to Malham and got pumped. We agree that routes of more than 5 bolts long require you to be thin and serious.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Ben's Thrape

"We should really have gone to Malham" I thought as I drove towards Caley. But as the afternoon's meeting wore on, my early dart drifted out the window. Foley is corruptible I thought as I sewed the seed of Caley in the concealed text message sent from beneath the desk, and sure enough, the plan changed. By the time I skidded to a halt in the layby besides the 'road of death' I was frothing with excitement. Changed, threw heap of stuff inside a pad and scuttled up to fingerknacker crack. Greasy. Rabbits Paw Wall, Otley Wall, New Jerusalem, Manson's Wall - it all went in to the warm up circuit at a suprisingly quiet crag. Then the main event. Zoo Log. Only somehow I didnt feel ready, and besides, I have wanted to try Ben's Groove with a spotter for ages - still too scary, still couldnt move my foot at the top, still bottled out.

Folog wanted to go on the Secret Seventh. I had only done it the once, but love showing off and felt I could do it again, so under the guise of showing him the way, got stuck in. 15,000 goes later I found myself swimming through green bulges to get on top. You know that feeling when you have done the crux but the top isnt quite as easy as you remembered but you're committed and you have to push on? tick.

So now at last Zoo York. I think I must've taken the edge off with my minimum rest, hundreds of goes, trying really hard strategy on SS. I didnt feel sparky. Did it from stand again. Next link I wanted was to do it from the 2p edge and the undercut. Never failed on the undercut move, but holding the cut loose and getting your heel back on is going to be the redpoint crux. Feel wildly out of control and like superhuman tenacity is required (note to self, need to siphon Paul Reeve's blood). Oli Wright (old skool hero) turns up and sets about claiming not to know how to do Ben's Groove. There are two other lads beneath it now, only they have brought dust sheets with them rather than pads so when Oli throws his on the pile I see my chance and scuttle over to join them. The boulder of death beneath it now suitably subdued, I can try with impunity. Oli does it easily, but looks gripped on top. Often when I see someone else get gripped it sort of makes me feel better as I realise I'm perhaps not such a shithouse and that its ok to be scared. Anyway, I thrutch and hump and find myself mantling to glory too. Huzzah! have actually done something! Nothing better than unexpected-late-season-after-work-ticking.

Folog is trying BlockBuster. Various discussions on the motion in the ocean and the state of the bulb ensue, but none of them yield success. I keep nearly doing it (channel surfer) then with a 'sickening thrape' (foley) off the crimp I skin my knuckles. Blood gushes forth. We pack up and wander down to the crystal method. Its now after 8 and dusky. As when I went with Ned I have no concept of how I did this. Being told how to do stuff is like driving with Sat Nav, you pay no attention to what you did, just follow instructions. By the time we leave skin is well and truly flayed and I am beaten. Its 2045 and not completely dark. Hot foot it to the car, to a chippy in horsforth and manage to make it back to sheffield (including chip stop) in an hour.

Last night I got a text from Folog saying that Paul Reeve had added his name to the list of Unjustified ascentionists. He must be so pleased - I dont think he has climbed 8c yet, although not without trying! Good effort.

I knew Edlog was going to go on West Side story last night, and as you can see it without getting out of the car, so like an old couple who take their honda out to the countryside to sit in it and read the paper, she and creepily watched him through binoculars from across the valley. Jim and Jonboy were also out trying Western Eyes. Jon did it, Jim raced around trying everything, Edlog persists with his wack foot sequence and gets to the top every time but never to the jug.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

West Side Video

here's the west side log video. Just to reiterate, I did it twice, the only time we filmed it I didnt go to the top and this is that time. So sue me! I then did it again and went to the top. Its really easy. Come with me, I'd be glad to show off/you how to do it.

West Side Story from dobbin on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Pump up the Pennells

I honestly thought that perhaps the lime season was near last wednesday. A whole team (sam, harry, dom, dylan and myself) went to the tor in the evening - and it was good. Powerband offered dry slots, but pooling footholds, even Stamina band had dry undercuts - got quite excited. A fair wind whistled down the right hand side and conditions there were primo. Less so in the middle where the scoop of the crag insulates from the wind. Dylog and i failed on Chimes. Man of the match goes without doubt to the mighty Harry Pennells, who after at least six ridiculously controlled (you could say overpowered) redpoints finally managed to close his account on Pump up the Power. He looked delighted, and rightly so - its a fine tick to have, brutal and quintessentially Tor.

Things went so well on Wednesday, that when Saturday came and it was too hot for brown rocks, the Tor beckoned once more. Only this time it was log. There was absolutely no wind and lethargy was the order of the day. Plus, the slots on powerband were now slimy. At least once I shot off horizontally. That and the humidity meant skin got nailed fast and basically couldnt be bothered. A the wrong time of day, and B poor conditions.

In the evening we went to Ed and Colette's for dinner. They've moved back to Sheffield at long last, and this was our first look at the new gaff. Its well nice! Recently we'd been looking at Saddleworth (as in, for a move) and I think we had taken for granted all that Sheffield offers. So we dont think we do want to leave after all now. I mean, you get a lot more for your money over there but you also loose out on the ability to be able to do all sorts of things we enjoy. So for now at least, we are staying. Anyway, after a lovely evening, we head home to find our outhouse door wide open and the bikes missing. Scars on the door suggest the padlock smashed off. I phone it in to the police and expect nothing back. In the morning I got proved wrong as they found my bike in a garden on Endcliffe Vale road - which is amazing. Intact too, and beside it - a pair of bolt cutters. So, whether the burgulators thought they had been rumbled and got rid of incriminating evidence or something I dont know, but we are back up 50% on bikes. Still, you wouldnt have thought that our road would be a target. Especially not our house, as its right at the bottom of the road, and you'd have to walk past a lot of other houses to get to it. Part of which makes me think that perhaps we were targetted?...

Although conditions looked much more favourable yesterday, Mondays is all about training. I am not allowing myself out on Mondays - no matter how good it is. Noone ever got strong mincing around on the grit. Last night I did a bit with weights on (on the board) and did some going in circles. It felt good. I am convinced that this strategy will yield results. I am allowed out on Wednesdays however, but this is the source of dilemma. There are many options, but anything involving flex is out due to volume of work. In other words, I will be working until at least 1500. I need to decide what I am going to do, as I could be starting the day in Leeds. The thoughts and factors are thus : there are people going to Malham. Then on the radio this morning they said it was going to go cold = Zoo York, but I have a split fingertip. Ned wants to go to Candy Buttress. Foley doesnt know what he wants. Dylog is keen but has cat Aids. The only thing I definately cant do is meet Jim in the cave. But he is going.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

West side log

In one of the biggest downgrades since Si o'Connor's v14-v4 debacle, West Side story was yesterday reclassifed from 8B to just 7C. After countless attempts, inadequate sequences and bungling ineptitude West Side Story was struck from the Dobolog project list with a hearty red tick.

Perhaps it was silky movement skills earned in the forest of dreams, or maybe the coming together of skin, conditions and desire that lead to success - whatever it was, it is done (at last). A fine example of one that feels easy when you do it, but impossible until then. Adam Log's trainer ascent is no less impressive.

She and I were kicking our heels about the house. A week of our dust mite cat having free run of the place had left us tumbleweeds and filth in every corner. We had scrub a dub dubbed from top to bottom, and more or less caught up on Coronation street, so I managed to persuade her to come to West for a bit of fresh air. Things were pretty much dry, but deep clefts harboured moisture - things were a bit sketch. WSS is a good problem to try in such circumstances as the hard bit doesn't get wet. I actually thought I was going to do it on my first go, but that didnt happen. Holds felt good, feet felt planted - somehow success felt assured, just a short war of attrition and confidence building required.

I must have taken at least 4 goes to get it done in the end, and on each I was finding the jump more plausible. In the end it was the beta of the Sage and the Bishton, coupled with the knowledge of Britain's best bum doctor that yielded success. The Honey monster filmed it (but in portrait), so I will have to rotate it and stick it on these pages. I have to be honest, the top was wet. The first time i got the jug I puntered around a bit and then jumped off. I hadnt really worked a strategy on the top bit. However, it was one of those that once I had done it, I knew I could do it again, so thats just what I did. With a cursory glance at the obvious holds I set off a second time, and once more I got the jug - this feels good I thought, I can do this! only this time at the jug I didnt stop, just romped on through to the top. All of what you have heard is true - it is pretty easy, you could fall off but you really shouldnt. So with it not only done, but done twice, and properly, we packed up and headed to Hathersage for a brew and a look at the end of season sales.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The final frontier

Its gone really fast. Too fast if I'm honest. Holidays always do I suppose. You wish the weeks away to get here, and then you are here, and then almost immeadiately you're heading home. Oh well. We have had a great time. The weather hasnt been great, but we've climbed on all but two of the days, and whilst I am tired, I'm not ruined, and have no holes in tips (some would view this as a sign of a failed trip, but I think its been good).

This morning when we woke up it had rained. The puddle outside the window wasnt full though, so I hoped for just a light dusting rather than a thorough drenching and I kind of got what I asked for, but the skies were heavy and the prospects not good. Lay in to let it dry, then drove to cul de chien to find Michelle's phone and try eclipse again. Also because there seemed to be a good variety of bimbling to get us warm. This latter statement is true, but we reckoned without the weight of goons also at the crag. You know the type, university climbing club goons in their zip off trews with slow boat sloppy joe shoes and barely used top end DSLR. They crawl like rats from 3b to 2c, sloughing wet sand onto the holds as they go. This about the forest i do not like. i suppose I did go at easter. Anyway, its so overbearing we go to eclipse. I havent pulled on yet - this isnt the warm up I thought of, but I get started and actually make progress - supporting the theory that it was condensing the night before. However, as I am trying to get my left foot in the bottom of the crack it starts fucking raining and all bets are off.

Michelle had left her phone somewhere in the rocks last night, so we had been tasked the unlikely task of finding it (as we were going anyway), but after a good hours search we'd turned nothing up and had reported it lost. Then my phone rang (I had been ringing it constantly to see if we would hear it) and it was some locals who had heard it. Through schoolboy french and pigeon english we got them to come to us and got it back. Drove to Milly to return it and have a coffee. Saw the Whittaker clan. Had a nice chat and then went and ate cheese whilst wondering where would be dry. By now, the sun was out.

We drove down to l'elephant, having been told it dries fast, but the roads were drier in milly. Trepidation set in. Nevertheless we walked up to the boulders and did a bit of bimbling - this is another crag with good bimbling options. I wanted to do Barre Fixe, because people kept saying it would be right up my street. Asked some italians what to do and their sequence (wack) seemed to involve a mono. Hmm. I dont feel warmed up enough to be pulling on a mono, and not least one with a sharp edge and bad feet. Someone I thought to be john radcliffe turned up and suggested another method - this is more like it I thought, these are holds I can use (this evening, looking on - this second sequence seems the accepted way). After I get told what to do I manage to do it, and the top is wet and therefore sketch, but these are big holds and wild horses couldnt pull me off (as long as they were very small and shod in rollerskates).

My desire is unsatiated by this last tick - i still want more. I need to close my account on berezina, so in the hope that it will be dry we set off northwards to bas cuvier beneath some of the heaviest, darkest looking thunder clouds either of us have ever seen. Of course, I wont be turned back until it is 100% definately soaking, which of course it is. I wonder if I will ever learn and at least save myself time and petrol? anyway, it doesnt matter - last chance hotel and all that. Having really exhausted every last chance of doing any climbing we return home for the earliest finish on any climbing day so far and enjoy the amazing mega shower at MaisonBleau. There really are few pleasures greater than a massive shit when gasping, or a hot shower at the end of a hard day.

SO thats it. Tomorrow the fairly epic drive back north. Back to the board, and what sounds like a rainy Peak.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Full Moon....

we didnt watch all of the boat that rocked. Its now the third night we have tried and got through another half an hour. not that its log - its ok, but that we have been bushwacked. So, that was then, this is now - whats been going on? yesterday we got up and went to bois ronds to do an orange circuit. These arent so much problems as a mountain circuit - which take you crawling up and over and de manteling boulders - scary and v.polished. So we got to about 15 or something, then the rain started. Sacked it to Barbizon for a look around and had lunch in a creperie. Lovely. Sun came out again whilst we were in there and we headed back out for an afternoon session. This time to Apremont. Confusing, and a bit jumbly. Not very impressed. Noticed thats where l'alchemiste is but couldnt be bothered to go and find it. Both a bit tired. Drive to petrol station on edge of font and buy chocolate - much better. Now to Bas Cuvier - remarkably quiet. Lovely. Do something opposite Cortomaltese, then cortomaltese. First 7a of the trip. Wait for italians to leave carnage and set about that. It goes down! very pleased, and only about 500 goes. Brilliant. Try Berezina, lots of wack beta ideas before 'ow eeet feeeels and then get to top slopers and fluff it. Never get back there. Need to go back tomorrow. Pretty much last people there, get back to car as night falls. Dylog stew for tea.

Today - beautiful when we woke up, straight up and out to Hautes plaines. Pretty log to be honest. Have place to ourselves - its early, but again - mountain routes proving a poor choice for beginners as they involve slimy mantles on polished bosses. A fuck load of english goons arrive and we leave in disgust. To go to have a quick look at Fata Morgana. cant work out what to do - trying to over complicate things and use the holds inbetween - also turns out I was trying to do the sitter. You were right all of you - it is pretty log. Rain starts. Go to look at the cyclops in milly - cool. Now to market in milly, but caged ducks a bit upsetting, so buy some consolatory fromage and pop back to maison bleau for a coffee.

Now Sabots. Meet Andy and Michelle and Nik Jennings and family. Bumble round some reds with them, lovely weather. Manage to coerce them into coming to Eclipse with me - and for a spot on le toits de cul de chien. After a few fanny goes having the fear manage to do it. Very pleased. So scared at top do involuntary one armer on dinner plate. Dont think show off, think abject terror! not very brave. Now eclipse. Nearly f*ing do it, but starts to condense and have to sack it. Very excited. Last day tomorrow and there are accounts to close....