Thursday, 25 February 2010
I had a meeting in Leeds - or so I thought. If i went at all i would be toddling over on my own, and possibly bringing someone back. But I reckoned without the might of a metric tonne of Jim. The key time was 1130, i'd spoken to team sheffield through the morning, prayed for the snakey to open and all but given up hope, then at 1125 I thought, 'I'll just see what Jim is doing' and rang him. He coerced me into going to his house and he would drive from there. I'd somehow become fixated that I would have to drive myself, and its a fuck of a long way on your own. This changed everything. Blazed a trail to Jims, met Lee and nestled into the back of his car. The irony is, my meeting had actually been cancelled - I hadn't needed to go to Leeds at all, so really I should have been at home and therefore not going, so it was all fated to happen...
Not driving is a revelation! As a climber, many of the people you will find yourself sharing cars with will of course be other climbers, and the thing about them is that they hate spending money - usually because they dont have any. Which means, if you then have a better car than the people you are sharing a journey, you will often find yourself driving. I have a shit car (i hate it) but compared to some of the rust buckets I am offered rides in, its like a Bentley! Jim's car on the other hand, top trumps the Chavstra - it even has wipe clean seats in the back (I mean leather).
Like last week, the journey was one made on the strength of the llandudno webcam which showed sunshine. From the pennines east it was minky. From there west it just got better and better. So much so, my cave aspirations were overruled and I was dragged to the mountains. The rules always used to be - if you can, go to the mountains. If you cant - the coast. But then you get all obsessed about the cave and the mountains dont matter much anymore. The thing with the cave is that if you have a basic level of strength the moves are just brilliant. Anyway, we start at the traditional warm up Cromlech roadside. Its a bit wet to be honest, but there's a fair wind whistling down the valley and if anything, its getting drier. Diesel power is wet, the Cromlech roof crack is wet. It is f'in cold. We sack it to Jerry's roof.
There's two youths already camped out. One of whom is on Mr Fantastic. He has a bit of a wack sequence, but its not stopping him - he actually looks like he might do it. We chat - nice lads, and then muscle our way in and get started. Or rather, me and Jim do. Lee has pronounced it too cold and is fully covered back up. I've previously climbed the amazing Jerry's roof, but not any of the other problems on the block. I want to do Mr Fantastic really, but its 8a+ and I dont expect it to be possible in a day (I am not Ned), and, it finishes up Bus Stop - which is the sort of grade I would expect to be able to knock off in an afternoon. I get involved and after a bit of fannying around and jessery, I strip things back to basics and do the problem. Although theres an argument that says I should have been trying Mr F, this I knew I could do, and its better to get something in the bank I think.
Jim inches closer and closer to Jerry's roof. He is falling off at the swing (crux) and being able to continue from there to the top. Nodder phones, Lee arranges that he bring us coffees. I feel a bit like I might have had too much red bull, but anyway - a hot drink would be nice. Youth unknown continues to put in good links on Mr F, he's falling off into Bus Stop, so with a bit of refinement....
If I had a specialist subject within climbing, it would be the shoulder press. Mr Fantastic involves a massive one. Its probably the crux. I think I manage the move on my second or third go, and then its because I've sorted out my feet better. Hmm - this is exciting! Anyway, I keep doing the move but not getting out of it - there's a swing to hold, and the youth (bless him) has a wack sequence. Pete Robins turns up. He has a much better sequence. I can now get out of doing the swing. End the day because it is going dark, and I am wilting, but have done it in two halves. Projects are funny things, you wait for one for ages, and then three come along at once!
We go with Pete and Rach to the Vaynol arms (great pub) and have a quick pint before driving back first to Jim's and then home to Sheffers. Brilliant day.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
First up to the plantation on Saturday morning. Felt pretty fresh, a bright gritstone mega day? dunno whether it was just me, but I thought things were prone to dampening - i.e. it would look and feel dry, but repeated use of a hold resulted in its blackening. Yet it didnt feel like there was moisture in the air, so perhaps it was dew point or something. Anyway. I started off at Jerry's traverse. I dont know why i bothered - this really is log. Went up to GT and the snow on top had now started to melt and the holds were wet. Went and did pebble arete a couple of times - having to hand traverse along the lip as the top was a snowy death trap. Padded along deliverance slab and gazed at the top. Except for that I have a witness, I wouldnt believe i'd done it! Skip the Ace and move to Back in the YMCA - still 8c. HTY has a big wet melt streak and some irritating student types are sat on the edge : "oh gosh, johnny - a rock climber" etc. I scuttle off to the Pit. Its dry - amazing. I'm intrigued to try this in solutions, having only ever done it leading right hand first and in 5.10s. It feels like cheating! on my second go I get the jug. Amazing. Have a coffee, couple more goes - trying to get it wired - its a good problem. Manage to make it work the left hand first way, and it is easier, but flexibility dependant. Classico.
I move to Silk. There's still a 3ft drift/glacier beneath it. You can basically pull on after the crux of the boulder problem, however, thats not the crux of the route - oh no. Its blummin thin and tenuous and high. I get up there, realise all of this and reverse down as much as I can before pad skiing down the hill. JLS and new dad Jon boy turn up. Guffawing ensues and I reluctantly start to walk down. Only to find Adam unpacking in the car park, then Edlog, jim, Dylog and Folog all arrive (separately - one car each!). Stay and chat for half an hour, already late leg it home. Spend all afternoon sulking - it really is a mint day. So, in report from the rest of them I understand the best effort is Folog repeating west side story at the end of the day.
It wasnt supposed to snow on Saturday night. I do hate impromptu bad weather. Stubbs and I were talking about pleading for a sunday pass, but there was no point. Bimbled. Went to the Depot yesterday. First full day on their board (when I say full day, I mean 'session'), and I really enjoyed it. Its very hardcore that board. Harder than the works. Set three new ones which I have mailed Olly for him to include. Will upload them when get chance later.
Tomorrow I have arranged a half a day flex. I have to come to leeds unfortunately, but should be free by 1130 and on the road to wales. Yes, its another cave raid. I just hope the cave doesnt let me down!
Thursday, 18 February 2010
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You'd have thought that after the debacle of two weeks ago when I went to the cave and it was rubbish that I would have been reticient to go again, and I suppose I was really, but the cave - she gives so much, her curves and the moves she demands are so alluring that the horror of that day was soon forgotten and once more I found myself recruiting for other cave hopefuls to share the dream. My companion this time was a chap from Sheffield called John Oldroyd. I'd met him in the cave with Kook before, and seen him at the wall from time to time. Seems like a nice chap, and keen for the cave which is the important thing. The day started cold and bright in Sheffield. I actually thought it too nice to go to the cave, and was trying to think of ways I could get out of going and instead get back on Zoo York. The devil on my shoulder was whispering "its nearer, much nearer, and theres a wall in range if its wet", but then in rolled the fog. I used the instant messaging infrastructure to find out that it was at least as bad in Pudsey (20 mins from Caley) and so it was back to the cave. All sorts of thoughts and conundrums presented themselves. I think had it been bad I would have sunk into a gross depression. But, my desires were stronger than my doubts and we set off. Super cold and foggy over the snake (-1.5 on top), bad all through manchester, bad fog still at Chester, Holywell..... then as we got to Prestatyn it started to clear - on the Orme the sun was out. I was frothing!
It is traditional to make an offering to the cave gods in the toilets of Llandudno Asda. We arrived at the cave at about 2pm. Its a fallacy to think this makes for a short session, as 3.5 hours in the cave is enough for any man. Its brutally cold and takes some time to get warmed up, but I feel like I am climbing ok - the cave gods have been satisfied with my humble gift. She's almost totally dry the old girl. There are patches of wetness, but with the exception of stuff like the first pinch on Louie, all the holds are usable. Clever beaver gets three laps, and i dont feel ready. The Hamer bros turn up. I have a few ranging goes on Broken Heart. Can't quite get the heel to work, but have a good link from the undercut into clever beaver. Bit more work gets me into the undercut but falling off going to the jug. Feel warmed up enough to try Trigger Cut.
Steal everyones pads and do my best to platform out the landing. Something about putting a super deep egyptian in upside down on slippery footholds at head height is scary. Have to have a bunch of goes to do the first move. The engram gets reawakened and suddenly I can do it every time. After working that out, i still have goes where I dont take the second hold quite right, and for me its a problem on which I cant afford such luxuries, although trying to push on I need it all to go perfectly. Get to the point where I am trying for the shothole, and like last year it feels blummin far away and I'm not getting enough help from the holds to be able to take a hand off and go for it. I slap at it, but its more like a token effort than a serious attempt and I never hold the damn thing.
John is trying pit of hell. It looks desperate. He does from a couple of moves in into the wobbly jug at the bottom of RA. Ed Hamer is trying Clyde. Which looks desperater. And high. Sam has a go on Upper Cut. We are all scared. Those two jet off up the road to the 'box. With less pads I'm scared of Trigger cut, so I give up and go back on Broken Log. Am getting tired. Get to end of Clever Beaver from the start. Know I havent got it in me to finish it.
John shows me an efficient way to finish Rock Attrocity. Having never done it I get quite excited. The problem I have with RA is that I am always boxed by the time I get to the end. I need a more efficient sequence. When Mina did it last year she had a cunning toe hook where I always just sucked it up. Yes, its quicker and yes you dont need the toe, but I wonder if it can help. Get to the end three times but am boxed. Give up, drive home - no fish and chip supper. You know the rules, no send no fish. A good day, and delightful to be presumably amongst the only people in the UK climbing outside!
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
A bit disappointing really. Had to towel off the Green traverse. Did it three times, then did it backwards twice, then did ron's reach, then GT there and back. This is a good warm up. Harris and Muesli turn up. They warm up, I go over to the Ace.
By jimeney its hard. Get a bit of knowledge from Haggis and Muse, but it seems to involve crushing the tops of your knuckles against the top of the crack, and is a bit unpleasant. I do the first move a couple of times, even managing to get my left foot out and round and into the crack by my hand, but being able to move out of that position and therefore into the joker start is going to be Hard. Note capitalisation. I realise I need to make specific fingerboard programme if I am to succeed.
Move to Help The Young. Actually, not to HTY, but to a Travs thing just left of it. Back in the YMCA. It looks well easy. 7B+ they said. All sorts of thoughts about Travs being generous flash through my mind, and I think I will just do this, then I'll go and get on HTY. Its desperate. Not only do I blow the flash, but I don't do it at all. Each time I end up scrunched up in the high pocket, unable to jab my foot over the overlap onto a smear. Its wierd, off balance and I feel a rubberised shin pad would yield more success.
I've done HTY before - from standing. Theres a sitter, which Adam showed me years ago. He made it look really easy, basically clamping the fin between his forearms. I couldnt even pull on. But, I had mentioned as much to Sam and to Arthur Haggis and they suggested an alternative method (and that Adam was a gimp), which I tried and managed not only to move, but to almost do two moves. Got quite excited, but realised I had left it too late, warmed up too much and burnt all my beans.
Harris nearly does the Travs thing. I have another go, get no higher and sack it off home. As I walk down I see Sam and Lu, Ian and Percy. Two lovely couples holding hands. It starts to drizzle. Here endeth the weekend of climbing. It looked like Sunday was the better day, but when your slot is booked, you have to take what you can get.
Went to the board last night. The left hand side of Dowel Syndrome still resists my advances, but it WILL yield. Nearly did it on the right again. Get a new one off John Welford, who has had a week of sickness and claims to be weak. I want to be weak like you John! (legend). Will stick it on the wiki later. Later, much later, Sam and harry join me and do a bit. Sam looks well lean. We start talking about weight. He is roughly the same height as I, and is a full stone lighter. Shit! when I weigh myself at the end of each day, I am about 11st10lbs. Sam is 10st10.... Imagine if I was his weight? I would be awesome. Think its because i have done no CV exercise for months. Dont think I could sustain that weight for long, but could drop half a stone I would be bionic.
Finally, when I arrived last night I get chatting to Lu who, bless her, has swallowed the Accapi sales manual. I didnt know who they even were before, and I have to be honest, I am hugely sceptical. Basically its a baselayer type of long sleeved top about which some fairly outlandish claims are made. I havent read the blurb, or digested the science, but its something to do with metals and infrared? and by wearing it you recover better and it heals your injuries, and you will climb 8b... erm yeah. Fernando Alonso reckons it reduces G Force!!! so a t shirt reduces gravity? f*cking awesome! where do I sign? This has to be psychosomatic. Anyway, i would try it but the price is prohibitive - £150 for a t-shirt. Would be interesting to see if it works, but I have not the funds. Besides I would need a huge one to cover my paunch.
Friday, 12 February 2010
For years I have lusted after the prize which is Zoo York, and for years I have thought I needed a spotter and never really prioritised it as a goal. The problem climbs an awesome looking prow starting sat on in a bit of a pit which you climb out over the edge of. Theres a bit of a split level platform to land cock eyed across and because of this I've always shied away from really going for it on my own.
Anyway, with two pads and a bit of sense applied to their location, plus a pinch of just actually trying it to see whether you do indeed shoot off backwards down the hillside, I made progress. So much so in fact, that I went from not really thinking I was in with a hope, but going to work the moves, to actually being able to concieve of doing it (noone ever said I had a lack of imagination!).
I'd never previously held the hard stab off a right hand undercut into tape box edge (because I was worried about tumbling down the hill), but yesterday (with Ed Robinson's beta) I changed my feet, hence my body position, and found I could do the move. The move after that is ok - if your hips are in the right position, and from there to the top theres a hard cut loose to hold, and a wierd heel move, but its certainly after the meat of the difficulties.
Having now done the move for the first time I set the timer and clean the holds. In my head I could actually envisage getting to the top. Sense would suggest working the top to get it wired, so that if I got there from the ground I would know what to do, but being the top its also higher and the fall unknown. I'd be happy to get to and hold the tape box edge from the ground I think, and thats just what happens. I am well psyched. I have another couple of goes, wanting to get to the cut loose to see if I can hold that it in, but its tearing chunks out of my right index and I'm tiring.
Its good to have a project again. The only problem now is that I cant wait to get back there. I think I'd be suprised to do it on the next session (but it is possible with a trailing wind and favorable skin), but can reasonably imagine doing so on the one after that. And, all this whilst a portly 11st10lbs! I have to admit, I felt a lot of pressure going through my fingers swinging around on those crimps. 11st4 would see me at the top perhaps?
Thursday, 11 February 2010
However, strictly speaking, the other side has yet to be done, so it still technically remains a project. Never the less, I am pleased to have done one side of it.
One of the other two things I have in the pipeline at the moment is this :
Note the specific blue feet - ringed in blue. The lads do this without thumbs on the middle hold. I always thought I would allow myself thumbs until I could do it, then I would strip back the cheating. Oh, and at the top there are no feet. So when you catch 16crimpy2, you then have to campus to the bar. Didnt manage that, but did manage both sides with thumbs and an assistance foot at the top. Very pleased.
Monday, 8 February 2010
In some ways, it would actually have been better to have been chucking it down all weekend. At least then theres no question of there being chance to climb anywhere, but instead it didnt actually rain, just that everything was wet. There was a glimmer of hope on saturday afternoon when on walking along Bowden doors the sun came out and a slight breeze picked up, but it needed hours more than those conditions continued. Night fell, the clag descended again and no rock climbing was done.
I got to go to Climb Newcastle which I enjoyed. Good setting of problems, clever use of space, slightly dodgy location (but I dont know the area to be honest) and staff and coffee good. Really good setting actually. Whilst I had fun, I would rather not have been there. Of course, this is no reflection on Climb Newcastle and its staff, just that I had gone North to go rock climbing.
I got to look at Kyloe Out which was good. Whatever the problem is that uses a pinch to climb a prow and is 7c looked fab. I reminded myself why I love the county, but I was ultimately thwarted by conditions - this time. I am dead keen to get back there.
To some extent you make your own luck in life. If you believe things to be shit, then you can be expected to have a shit time. Of course, theres realism, pessimism and scepticism, but its up to you the slant you put on things. So, you could come away from such a weekend feeling despondant about climbing in Britain. Or you could think about the fun that you had doing other things and chalk it up to experience. The rocks arent going away, I will go back, and it means that today when I go to the board I have good skin and will do my project. Then it really will all be allright!
Monday, 1 February 2010
Saturday am we were over in Manchester looking at a house up on saddleworth moor. A barn conversion attached to a working hill sheep farm and less than a mile from Running hill pits, the setting was stunning. Really really stunning. From the south facing back garden, there was a little retaining wall but then nowt. Fields and streams and niceness. I was in love. However, sadly my affections were limited pretty much to the view. The layout of rooms was odd, it needed quite a bit of love, and we still wouldnt be able to have people round (problem now is that our house is tiny). We love our house now, but we would like to be more rural. We would like fields. And fields in the mayfield valley cost a fortune. So, we were just putting our toe in the water more than definately planning to move. Theres more choice over there.
It got to 12 and I was champing at the bit. She could see as much so put an end to my suffering and released me to run wild. Angrily I tailgated my way through Todmorden and navigated to the pub by the Bridestones. I couldnt get my pads out of the car fast enough. A familiar face turned up in a golf, then their mates in a van. I recognised them but didnt know them, so stacked my pads on my back and yomped off across the moor. First stop, the objective of the day - Jerry's arete. Warmed up on the Whillans jam which you dont jam at all. Then squirmed up the cleft between that and Jerrys, then climbed the prow right. Not feeling completely on it, and it being very cold, decided to get stuck in and have a ranging go. Consulted all the pics in the guidebook and set off. Your starting holds are good, and you stretch up to a palm pinch on the arete. I fumbled around trying to find a good bit before deciding enough was enough and to attempt movement from where I was. It all felt ungainly and inelegant and that attempt didnt last long.
A few more ranging goes later, and I had worked out that the palm pinch seemed better if you take it lower down the arete than it appears you should go for. I sink my hips rightwards so as to hang straight from the pinch, and palm in by my face, this is enough to scooch my left foot up onto a chest height smear, then its a question of pressing back left - so as to rock over onto my pasted left foot. Everything feels connected, I am still attached. I rock rock rock, moving higher and have a pat at the boule hold for the left. As I fall I know had I tried I could have had it then. I start to get a bit jittery excited, as I have wanted to do this problem for ages. I should really have done it but was a bit scared, a bit testing the water.
I man up. You know sometimes when you set off on something you sort of know you are going to do it? well thats not how this was. I felt skittish setting off, pasted my foot slightly wrongly, but then when I rocked left it came more into balance. I had the height, I was in control - lets see what this boule is like then - its a jug, blimey! I guppy, hips move right, and I guppy the rounded ball above. Now au cheval on the arete I am scared. Theres noone about, I dont really know what I am doing, and the mats look miles away. I scooch my left foot super high beneath me and again, clamp rock onto it. I blindly feel out left and thank god, theres a ripple! its not great though and I still feel high. Not out of the woods yet, and dont I know it. I try turning my right hand but it feels worse, so I opt for the K Bradbury school of top outs and beach myself for a moments respite. Only then my damn jumper starts slipping! i reengage my hands and manage to get a palm down and mantle out to glory. By now some people are watching and they shout congrats. I am jibbering. Half relieved, half psyched. Pheww.
When I get down a Sheffield team arrive with nice chap John (Its either John or Kevin, I got it wrong once, but now its stuck in my head as the wrong one). And they set about jerrys too. In the context of 'showing them how to do it' (showing off more like), I set off again. Rinse it out and manage to do it much easier. Brilliant. 1000.dave and Pete Chadwick arrive. Showboating now, I do it once more and then toddle off to the small sharp wall.
The car park team are established, so I do the Villain, then Charlotte Rampling, then some easy thing on the slab beyond. Finally, before moving off, I have a few goes on a problem called pointless. I keep getting to the top, and Chris (of the car park team) is shouting for me to jump, but it feels like if i can smear on something I would be able to do it in control. I fail. repeatedly. Ultimately quitting because a sharp pebble is tearing a hole. Good problem. I do a fun arete just right of that, before questing off to have a look at the bridestone itself, and then trying an overhanging wall called Cheeseblock. Really good fun problem, dont do it - starting to get really tired, and the sun is setting. Very aware I havent done horror arete yet I head off leaving it undone.
Pass some good looking problems on the way, but dont stop. Horror arete looks high. And dark. I set up my pads and look at the holds. I can see what to do, and I think I can do it. But feel a bit of trepidation creeping in. I set off, moving tentatively up to a big left hand pocket. From there I bump bump bump my right hand up the arete till I reach a really good sort of bulb. I can see where I am supposed to put my foot, but it feels committing, I weigh it up for a second, Put my foot in, start the move, back off, start to feel a bit pumped. Jump off to see what its like. Its fine of course. I wait a few minutes and eat a bit of flapjack. Feel exhausted. Its been a good session, and I want it to end well. I have another go where it all goes a bit wrong and I dont do it again. Again, I wait. I have words with myself. This time I decide to go for it, but when I get there I feel nervous. I start the move, testing the water, only I move a bit more into it - the top looks so close, tantalisingly so, and it is. I pat it, its great - I am such a gay! match up, mantle it out and finish the day having done the two things I wanted to do. It appears that to get down you have to jump across to the other block. I commit before I have time to think too much about it. The end. Brilliant day.
Weather looked mint again yesterday. And indeed it still is today. Usually of a morning I would get up and make her a cup of tea, then go back to bed for an hour. Not this morning. Aware of the weather reports that its going to rain later, I headed out at 0645. It was a beautiful morning in the burbage valley. Amazing. Twilight as I arrived. Not a soul around. V.v.v.beautiful. Bimbled down to Remergence and found a big frozen snow drift beneath. Hmm. Sounds ok, but is hard and slippy. The point of it being just behind where you land from the fig, so as impossible to pad, you step off, slip over and hit rocks at bottom. Hmm. Warmed up. Couple of goes on the fig - amazing on the sloper - felt noticeably easier than when I did it. Only had an hour climbing time, so hotfooted it down to the sphinx and had a couple of flailing goes at Voyager. The holds are sharp and it is hard. I did nothing more than fettle the holds to be honest. Back to the terrace to finish off. Those solutions are amazing. Kept hitting the top shot hole wrong and then sacked it home. Very very pretty sunrise over higgar. Have a look on my faceache for pictures.