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).