Thursday, 27 May 2010


I have another massive grain split in the pad of my right hand index. Cheers skin. This time its not down to foolishly following the advice of a chiselled racist, rather the result of crimping a bit too fiercely at the tor. Things were amiss, the force was out of alignment. Although cool it was actually raining, but thats not what I mean when I say things were wrong in the world. What I mean is that Dylog arrived, put his harness on and DID sardine. Just did it. Putting the clips in - erm, error! Can I have my incompetent friend back please imposter who looks like dylog? perhaps the green tea and chives diet is finally paying off. So he does that, all casual and then does toadside - also on the lead and totally cool as a cucumber. Blummin incredible. Edlog arrives and we scuttle rightwards to shelter - its fully chucking it down.

Edlog does Rattle and Hump but seems to have moved the crux down a move to gaining the pinch. It doesnt stop him and he rattles to glory on his second go of the day. Holds are physically dry, and the bottom footholds are finally getting there, but theres moisture in the air and it doesnt feel good. I put a rope on dialectics. Rae steps in and stems the flow of incompetence with some well placed beta. She can mince the start - does it every go - incredible. I get spat out, slide off and find that 'easy' start bit well hard. I suppose it is the meat of the 8a route. Anyway, the upshot of this is that I have now done the first hard move, and by the time we left I could do it everytime, but it is a press both off, and too a crimp, so I suppose I should be able to do it. Thing is I am getting stuck on the foot move after that. Basically, if you can udge your left foot up onto the jug you've as good as done it. I did from there to the top and it was fine, so it boils down to one and a half moves. Hmm.

Interestingly, I have previously raved about the Sportiva PenguinFeet which I have been wearing of late, and I still think they are good, but they seem to have bagged out a lot and gone a bit shit. Which is frustrating for a million pound shoe. I also think they lack midsole stiffness and that when standing on tiny dinks they dont give you as much push - you cant nail them into stuff, but they are super sensitive and great for the wall (for instance). Oh, and they look like penguin feet.

It turns out that when I claimed to have been on Obscene Gesture last week that we were actually on Obscene Toilet. The boys went back on that, but I was totally convinced I could do Dialectics that I didnt join them. Ed took a fall, I got jealous - the way to combat the fear of falling is in falling. And although I had plenty of falls on Dialectics, Ed's was a proper leader fall. Anyway, tonight I am going to the cave - and I have got a massive split - the full width of a pad. Started off small, but spread under load. Low expectations, high hopes.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Solar Sheffield

Do you listen to the bodytonic podcast? might be becoming one of my new favourites. Avant Guarde? Listening to Luke Solomon at my desk at the moment. Its good desk music. Enough to block out the wittering of the office, but not so much that you cant concentrate or get so amped up you cant work.

Unless you live deep underground you will be aware its been like living in spain - i.e. hot (no chorizo in sight). We went to the Broomhill tavern on Friday. This is a shit pub, but for some reason I feel quite at home there. I think this is because I used to go years ago and it feels familiar. Anyway, we sit outside on the same table as a couple of randoms. Theres loads of us, then lady random stands up to leave and asks if we will look after her baby, before handing an aubergine over and walking off. Wierd. I wondered whether it would be socially acceptable to throw the baby across the road at her departing form. Decided not to find out.

Ned is now building me a wood shed as well as installing a worktop.

Should have been climbing on Saturday morning but overslept and besides it was a thousand degrees. The parents came and took us for lunch. Managed to persuade them to go to Spice Market Cafe (they always want to go to the Dore Moor inn for some reason), and it was lovely. Felt very like being on holiday in Sheffield over the weekend. Saturday night we sat in the back garden and drank GIN. Ahhh GIN. No points on weight watchers you know (as long as you drink slimline tonic). My new favourite thing.

Couldnt bear another day of slothing so convinced the monster into a bike ride when it had cooled down a bit (actually, minor irrelevant tangent - i have taken action to thwart the actions of burglars - i have fixed a massive motorbike floor anchor in the shed and chained the bikes to it), and we soon found ourselves pedalling gently up towards Helen's house in the Mayfield valley. I am so jealous. Its a lovely house. Anyway, she makes us GIN and we enjoy a bit of sun. Home, barbecue and thats it.

I did potter to the Climbing Works yesterday, but it was hotter than the sun. Realistically in this weather you need to be campussing and thats it. Its kinder on your skin. Did a bit of that, got a flapper from the comp wall and went home tail between legs. Its not just that its hot, its that its appeared so quickly - we are not used to it.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Sixteen degrees at half past six this morning. To be honest, it felt so humid that I didnt think the Tor would be up to much. Pulling on sharp tinies when your skin is saggy and the air thick with moisture is not a good combination. I arrived first (out of our team), jumped out of the car (this weeks CLR podcast is Adam Beyer, and very good, plus, like last week when there was a 9hr Speedy J set, you can have two hours and no Chris if you go to CLR, you do have to subscribe to a newsletter, but I suppose you could always cancel it) and felt COLD... Brilliant! My judgement wasnt far off though, it felt cold if you'd been sat still, but once you started moving shorts were required and the man boobs were out.

Jehovakill looks very dirty but almost totally dry. I mean to go and have a look at this, but question the safety of those nasty caving bolt things which are currently in place. Also, there dont actually look to be any holds! Well, I think I can see two from the ground, but not much between them. I put my rope on Boot Boys. First mistake. This is an Andy Pollitt route from the 80's which looks brilliant, but involves the ability to crimp on razor blades. And theres a move off a mono low down that I dont know how to do (I can only fit my pinky into it). After the mono theres a 6ft easy section to an undercut jug, then some scratching up the aforementioned death crimps. I can see where it goes but not really what to do, or how to do it. One to save for when its cold. Or at least colder.

Ed and I go on Rattle and Hump. At first it looks like he is going to static his way through it on the first burn of the day, and the first time he has tied in for ages, but he goes to the wrong hold and is back on the rope again. A good effort. I get excited for him then he reminds me he has actually done it before. I am less excited.

Foley and Rich are now in situ on a 7c which starts to the right of in brine but left of the toilet. It was really good. I shouldnt be so suprised. Folog managed to link it in a oner, but was on a top rope. I managed it in two halves. Good climbing. Had a quick look at the line to the right, which isnt the toilet? hot flushings? call of nature - that was it! again, feasible, but involves crimping razors, and my fingers were hurting. Apparently Emma Twyford has just done this - great effort!

So, that was that. Started to feel a bit more Tor fit again last night, as the last time I went it was pitiful and i couldnt do anything. Saturday looks doubtful. The parents are coming which is good from the point of view that I get taken for lunch, but bad from the having to be back in order to be taken for lunch. And anyway, its going to be 22 degrees apparently...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Ned's merry anus

I am well tired, and I havent been climbing at all this weekend. Been a few degrees warmer, but with a nice breeze, so I bet if you picked your spots there would have been places to go. Friday we had guests. The hope was to kick them out early and go out, which more or less happened, but I was tired and it would have been pointless (you dont sleep well when you have been drinking). So, we walked into town munching along the way. Pleasant. Home for a sleep mid afternoon, then up and ready for action...

Or not. We teetered between going and not going, and especially when Die Hard came on the telly - Ned's birthday party looked less and less likely. She suggested GIN. Gin seemed like a good idea. Not just one Gin, but three. GIN! Feeling supersonic by now we giggled our way down to Nedward's. There was a back garden barbecue scene. Wild man Paul B set himself on fire for our amusement, and Wild Country man James got to handle a ferret. The party migrated indoors and it felt the right time to begin learning the drums. Ned tried valiently, but a lifelong lack of coordination served me well and I couldnt master the simple pattern. Ed's wife Colette turned up - who is a professional music teacher. Even with the might of the Big C I got further but not very far.

Back in the main room, Ryan and Hank had arrived. Hank Pasquill - Legend! Everyone was pissed, and by now it was 2am. We went home to enjoy another lack lustre day yesterday. This week - tonight - training (its monday), then Wednesday tor. Foley wants to go on obscene toilet i think? and maybe rattle and hump. I dont mind - just want some mileage.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Cave life - its the only life I know...

Ow ow ow! The cave has taken its pound of flesh and spat me out - beaten. But i still love her. The problem with the damn place is that the moves are so good. There are shit problems in the cave (clever cleaver), but your big money lines are all good. Dan and I went back yesterday for a rematch. On paper it should have been a deal sealing mission, but in fact it was a channel surfing haven of failure.

Last time it was wet. Last time I fell off TC going for the shothole. Last time I did Rock Attrocity and three laps on Lou Ferrino. I thought I was the big man. Big things happen to big men, and I thought they were sure to happen to me the next time. Dan nearly did Directors. We talked about whether he would finish up the top like Pete Robins, but neither of us dead cert, sure fire winners were winners in the end. Trigger cut felt well hard. Never even held the undercut. I have skin problems, so perhaps I wasnt trying properly or something, but it just didnt feel on it yesterday. Conditions were good - no complaints about that, and so its doubly frustrating that we werent able to capitalise on them. Hoping it was perhaps a slow warm up day, we continued.

Dan couldnt do Directors either. He kept falling off in Trigger. The frustration was getting to us, so I thought, some success will buoy my spirits, and I set off on Louie. It felt desperate and spat me off before reaching the end of the ramp. I changed shoes and did it, but by god was it a fight. In some ways I wonder if that right foot heel needs to be a bit damp to be sticky or something. I rest up and start trying TC again. It goes nowhere.

I'd never met the mighty Nodder - hero of the cave before, and now I had. Nice man. I wanted something less intense than trigger to get into, and that came in the shape of Cave Life. Nodder showed me how to do it, and soon after I found myself climbing down into left wall having started at the RockAttrocity jug. I thought this was it - you got to stop there, and that was 7c. Jolly pleased with myself I stepped off to a chorus of dismay. Apparently you have to then do LWT. On went the stopwatch, and back to the start went I. Thankfully I managed to do it again, and this time continued to the end. Just the start to add in now. I worked and worked and by the time I forged a sequence I was too tired, but from the arbitrary start in the middle of nowhere I made it to the foot move to connect to LWT. This is possible I thought, but not last night it wasnt - I was whalloped, and the start hold had chewed a hole in my palm.

Meanwhile, at the business end of the cave Constant Variable was rinsing through Clyde getting to the end each time, but in spite of making man barks and snuffling noises he fell off on what I would call jugs. Which isnt to say that getting there wasnt hard - it certainly looked it, and I think the positions looked difficult to hold. Testament to the tenacity of Parry. Say what you want about an overdeveloped ego, but he's something of a cave wad. Some of the moves and things he has done in there...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


I wonder how easy it is to get into crown green bowling? Any ability I ever had for Rock Climbing has been absent of late. In fairness to me, I havent actually been doing so badly, its just my terrible skin stopping me doing as well as I want. I said to Ned the other day 'oooooh soldier, theres just nothing worse than skinjuries' and of course he set me right - of course there is. Almost everything is worse than a skinjury, so stop whinging. Its just frustrating when you want to do hard things and keep slipping off or being unable to engage full crimp due to pad splits. And its all Dave Mason's fault.

I wonder if I can sue him for bad advice? negligence? "Anti Hydral that split" he said, "get right in there with the stump creme, then sand it in the morning". My instincts said no, and this contradicted every bit of advice I have ever heard regarding the magical stumpenhausen, but I thought no - I will give him the benefit of the doubt and try this advice out. And what has it lead to? the deepest, longest lasting, most reoccurring split I have ever had! in fact, to call it a split doesnt do it justice - more like a finger canyon. Perhaps this is revenge for my dubbing him Dave the Racist (which was actually Dylan by the way).

Met up with Folog at the Tor on Saturday - we were shit. I couldnt even do the powerband. Shed loads of people turned up, including, but not limited to : MC Hammer JNR, Ru and Stu, Masonic Dave, Stone (!), Simon Lee, Tall man from the Foundry and Emma Twyford. Down our end there was nothing but flailing going on. Shook through staminaband start like a nervous comedian on the stage for the first time with the words of the guardian of the Orme in my mind - "the cave is only really any good for the cave". It felt like the first time I had been to the tor in months. What we can learn from this children, is that singleminded focus and dedication towards any one end leads to specialism in that specific goal. But to do these hard things you have either to be talented and strong or dedicated and keen. So if you lack talent then you must be dedicated, and that leads to specialism. Is it such a bad thing? no, not necesarilly, not unless you desperately need to do well everywhere you go, and feel like the big hero all the time.

One man who finished the weekend a big hero is Steely fingered legal eagled downgrading midget Rupert Davies, who managed to climb Keen Roof at the tor. I couldnt believe reading Stu's blog that Ru hadnt climbed 8B before to be honest. I suppose he's more of a routes wad than a bouldering specialist, but to see how strong he is you would certainly have thought him a signed up member of the club from years ago. There are plenty of these about - people who have the ability but never seem to have made it happen. Lots of this will come from time limitations. And of conditions in this country, other commitments etc etc. Ed Robinson is another one. If he lived in america all we would hear about is this 8b and that 8b+ that had fallen to his mighty hand, only of course that would never happen because theres no public transport and he hasnt got a car. Poor ed.

I have managed to continue the deepening trough of specialism by arranging another mid week cave raid on wednesday. Constance Variable is keen again, and I am not suprised. He really looked like he could do directors cut last time, so with fresh beans etc etc. I am focussed on trigger cut, with my secondary goal being the wire. Its a bit longer without super hard moves, so a perfect after you've blown your wad on the Trigger goal. There is also the possibility that the weather will be nice and we could go to the mountains. However, its a bit further, and when I think the cave is on the limit of range for a midweek afternoon raid...

Finally, I leave you with the wishes of happy birthday to Nedwin, whose birthday it was yesterday, and who is now 32. They went for a carvery last night because their mate bet them he could eat a full carvery and 15 roast potatoes (ned was allowed to pick the potatoes), apparently he pissed it. Good effort!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Broken Rock Solution

The rest of the world has been on Ondra watch - chasing up to Malham and Kilnsey to see Captain Beakface rinsing some of our hardest routes, and whilst no doubt impressive, I dont like busy crags at the best of times, and being unnaturally scared of climbing above a bolt - the combination of being a shithouse, and being publically exposed for being one didnt appeal. Plans were fluid up until the morning of Saturday. It all depended on the monster, and whether or not she was going to Manchester. If she went then I was taking her, and to then drive back up to Yorkshire made for a long day. I could have shared with Folog but that would have constrained him to my plans, and blah blah blah - boring. So, I went to the cave. Doyle and I had been on the text, and I knew he would be there plus it was a beautiful day with high promise of not only being able to climb, but with accounts to close down the planets were in alignment, the signs were good and all systems were go. Actually, briefly - I've missed a bit. Friday we had off - had a lovely day, went to see Ironman 2. Its ok - it is what it is, quite puerile but fun. Anyway....

Its all about irons in fires. I have had Trigger Cut, and Broken Heart on my list, but this time I went straight to Broken Heart. Although only short, Trigger cut takes the edge off, and I always do this, and I never go home with any ticks. So, straight to Broken Heart. Warm ups went well, reference problems (danger!) completed comfortably, then on to the Broken Heart. First go is a slip off, second I make a mistake, then on the third go things hook up well. The foot placements feel a bit more concise, the moves feel hard but are executed with a little in the tank - you know when the signs are good, and all you can do is try not to listen to the voices going 'this is the one! you did that move well, this could be it' and then when you get past the hard bit and find yourself shaking out on the 'easy but droppable' bit then the voice changes to be saying 'dont fluff it now, you know you did before...' and again, the voice gets a pillow on its face, and you push on. I felt more tired as I did the final moves than i have before, I felt wild, like I wasnt climbing well but somehow fought on regardless and then bosh! i was on the jug, swinging around at the top having finished the problem. The crowd didnt go wild, there was no roar of satisfaction but finally it was done. A warm glow of success spread slowly through my limbs in the minutes afterwards. Brilliant.

I realised that it was quite early on in the session and that I should try to finish Rock Attrocity. This is another problem that suffers from being not at the top of my list - that and my not fitting the final moves. I remember flashing to the jug pocket right at the end but never having finished the deal, and this is a situation which has continued ever since. Pretty much I put this down to having always tried it after stuff again - and being too stupid to see the wisdom in working the end in isolation. So, I got on with that on saturday. But I didnt do it. Rab Carrington (legend) turned up and we discussed the post climatic stress disorder condition that exists in climbers throughout the world. You do something you wanted to do and may as well write off the rest of the session. Thats not what I did, but nothing else went down. Well, nothing hard.

The Cave went from being pleasant to being busy. This goon I met at queens with Constance turned up, and to make it worse, he is now strong. Goons who are shit I can just about bear, but goons who burn me off I cannot be coping with. I dont know if he didnt recognise me but I managed to avoid engagement. Doyle, Matt and I go to the box. Such a lovely aspect. By contrast with the cave its quite tranquil. I do a problem called Jack the drunk. (i think)

Went out for dinner that evening, had a lovely time - felt shonky in the morning. Sunday we were shambolic all day. Monday we scrubbed the house (amazing how dirty it gets so quickly).

Yesterday I managed to corral a team into returning to the cave, in spite of the current fascination with Yorkshire limestone. Dylog and Dan Constant Variable were my in car entertainment, and a cerebral conversation about sustainability and the environment provided the distraction from the delights of the a55 on the way in (and back). The Peak looked gloomy but ok, but from Chester west the weather deteriorated. I spoke to Doyle - he couldnt even see the Orme from his house. We contemplated turning back but I was talked out of it. My flexed afternoon off suddenly seemed like folly. I hate wasting time. Thoughts of a dry tor receding into the distance behind me played in my thoughts but continue we did. It was condensing when we arrived, but with lots of thwacking and towelling some holds came not into condition,but started to feel ok. Rock attrocity felt terrifying - like lurching around in a roof on slimy wetness. But, things got better with traffic, and for a while the sea fog lifted. I had tape on my left index, which felt extra slippy. The game I played was whether to redpoint without it and risk a split or whether to push on with and have the problem feel hard.

Dan pretty much flashes Lou Ferrino - campusing through the end of the rail. Impressive stuff, but at least he had the decency to grunt and puff. I remove the tape as the now temporarily satiated Variable fluffs the holds on logattrocity (the hardest 7c in the world). I've suprised myself by how easy the start moves feel - it used to feel so tweaky, but those drilled pockets are pretty good really. I rumble through to the flakey thing and set up for the move to the pinch. The holds have been held perfectly, they feel ok, I dont think I've got much left, but as I take the pinch and slap my heel round the ramp I dont feel ruined either. I find this last bit so hard. Sink onto the foot hold and take my left hand off, lurching wildly I grab the damp pinch beneath the finishing hold and quickly, as rehearsed slap again and hold the hold. All that remains is to cam a heel in against the ramp and match. Feels so awkward but I make it work and step off having ended an old nemesis. Feel that this one is one I should really have done before.

Dylog makes progress on Lou Ferrino. He looks to be so cash but then something slips and he's off. Which is pretty much how his day continues. He must climb through the ramp section 5 or 6 times (perhaps more) always looking like its on, but then something slips off and he never seals the deal. That said, it should be a formality the next time. Dan and I have turned our attention to Trigger Cut. He wants to do it with the knee bar, with a view to halfway and ultimately directors cut. He has an ingenious canibalised old anasazi strapped to the knee and manages to make it work. I make progress on TC and am back to the shothole but no further. Dan however does Trigger, then halfway, then starts trying from moves back. His best attempts see him from climbing from halfway down the louie ramp to the end of trigger cut. It basically looks like he could do directors. I'd meant to try the wire (lou ferrino into broken heart) but end up on louie. Manage to do it again with a slightly dubious finishing match - i.e. I slump off it as I match. We go to the chippy and drive home in mega time.

Lessons learnt - never give up, fight to the death and ignore the signs. This is what Sharples calls 'Tenacity'. Examples - me thinking i wasnt going to do any problems and actually doing two. Constant Variable keeping going with man grunts when he looked like he was off, and Doyle - shaking like a shitting dog but still doing trigger cut. Dragons are a superior shoe to Solutions. The lack of midsole in the solution makes them a bit too flexi. I find a more supportive shoe an advantage - especially on Trigger cut. On Louie, where flexibility is an advantage, then the solutions felt great again. Ok, so not necessarily superior, but the solution isnt the everything to all men i supposed it might be.

Better go and do some work...