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.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Yorkshire oh well

I used to think it would be great to live in Litton. The Red Lion is as pubs should be - dark, low ceiling'ed and with good beer, but the locals... man, the locals. With barely disguised hostility they tut as incomers try to get to the bar. She and I once were going to eat in there (and apparently the food is nice), we found an empty seat at a table - quite close to the bar, nothing on the table or the chairs or any indication there was anyone there, then this woman comes in and does a massive theatrical gasp and exclaims to the bar staff that there's someone in her place. She tutted and sat next to us, pushing the monster in the process. As she knows the bar staff by name we have extrapolated that she is a local. We left. Perhaps the village has suffered because of people buying holiday homes or something, but they come across as unwelcoming.

There are ancient rules written about success in climbing. If you win in the cave you get a fish. If you do an 8a you buy your belayer beer. Last night we got to go to the Red Lion, and last night I bought beer.

I'm superficially superstitious. I.e. I wonder whether its possible to jinx something by thinking I am going to do it, but I know really its not the case. Like when you really want something and you set yourself little 'omen tasks', such as - if I can throw this paper in the bin with my left hand, standing on one leg and from the other end of the room then I will do my project tonight... I do these things. Sometimes wonder if you take success for granted then you won't succeed. Sometimes it feels like the crag watches and listens, weighing whether you've shown respect before deciding whether you'll need another visit to acheive your goal. Sometimes it feels like you need to trick the crag, nip in when its not looking and bag your project before it realises you've been sly. Lanny Bassham says you should approach things believing you're going to do them, but I often feel that thinking like that is being presumptuous, and that I should be humble, and if i'm good enough i'll be rewarded.

It was always going to be a fun night last night. We had a big team, and numbers just seemed to swell as time ticked on. Starting off, the Sheffield based Cornice Bream Team of me, Dylog, Edlog and Lexlog were always going to go. During the day my ginger protege wondered whether to come, and although not climbing he came for the party and as a celebrity belayer. Through the opening in the Bum of Manchester came Britain's best bum doctor, followed by the honourable Mr Davies, then we got Scouse champ Pinnington into the mix as well. As if that wasn't enough, Miles and Ben Heason joined in later. The crag looked like Siurana, there were ropes and draws scattered about the roof, although unlike Siurana (I've never been, I imagine its like this) the climbers attached to the ropes were all sat on them.

Dispensed with the usual warm up of Brachiation log, and for the first time ever in my history of Cornice visits - noone did it last night. Ed, Lex and Dave got on the 7a+ to the far right. Dave led it, putting the draws in and it didnt look easy, but he did it. Lex and Ed got involved and ultimately both succeeded as well. I went on this (and failed) at the end of the night, and I think its harder than brachiation dance. Ru and Dylog get on Rumble in the Jungle which looks terrifying and yet awesome. Miles and Ben clip up Albattrocity. Meanwhile I bolt to bolt Yorkshire 8b. During our warm up Ru and I discuss it's being a Power of Climbing tick. I had forgotten there's a picture of Chris Plant on it, but there is, and a new special significance. I have spent much of my life influenced by the pages of that book, and the cringeworthy interviews it contains. I would half like to write the Power of Climbing2, or try and do a spoof version. Imagine - you could have picture of me squeezing my feet into a climbing shoe, sat underneath Super High Intensity Body Building, surrounded by drilling detritus and cast off climbing equipment with the caption "Ben Morton squeezing his feet into too tight shoes before attempting SHIBB" (cant remember exact wording). If you don't have the book, and you dont know the picture I am parodying then this will make no sense. If that is you - shame on you. Go and buy it. Anyway, the point is that if its in the Power of Climbing then I want to do it, and my friends and I quote the captions on the pictures to each other willy and indeed, nilly.

As per all things Cornice, rumble rumble rumble, hard bit, rooves, top. The new Anasaxi whites which I bought from the excellent CragX shop at the Foundry feel great. They're stiffer and the crux feels easier as a result, but the stiffness and perceived lack of feel counts against me on the easier move that follows as I cant feel my foot in the dish and drop off without really trying. Basically i have another couple of goes which end badly, before it happens. The route is well bolted in that you can clip the mid crux clip from the jug below and then shake out there before you decide to commit. The bad bit about this is that it gives you time to think about it and whether you've got it in you before you start. Banishing those thoughts I started, and for once I tried. Enough to climb past the crux and stab into the jug slot that signals the difficulty is over. Got it! get established, have a shake, clip - continue to the top. Feels an anti climax to be honest. I think i am pretty used to having to spend ages on things so that when I do something so quickly i feel a bit ambivalent. Also, it sort of finishes in the middle of nowhere on some jugs amidst tufts of grass. I cant see anything else up there, so I shuffle back down and jump off. Done.

Spend the rest of the evening cleaning Disillusioned glue machine. Its probably climbable now, but it is pretty horrendous. Will I go back and do it? yeah. Its something to do and could be another quick win, but am I excited, scrabbling to get back on it? naaah.