Monday, 5 December 2011
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
One of the intervening weekends Foley came through and stayed. In my head it was all about getting out and having another day like that, but it rained solidly, so a lot of tea was drunk and some wood grifters pulled down at a heaving Climbing Works. Ned went to font, and despite wet and warm conditions came back with two 8B's (narcotic direct, satan) but didnt get to go on Gecko (too warm). And I even made it to the county - on my own, and admidst fog like death cloud. Needless to say, it was rubbish. Fucking Rock climbing. Bah.
Anyway, I have seen the future, and I would like to introduce you to the Dobowonderlog patent pending grade decline graph :
See that EDD? know what that means? Estimated Due Date.... Yes, thats right reader - we are pregnant! Well, I'm not but you get the picture. The graph shows the end of casual nonchalance on the 7th April, from thereafter will be a slow increase back to a max of 3b in about 2014, before a gradual slide into paunchdom thereafter.
Do we know what we are having? no. Not going to find out either. They can be wrong anyway, and she thinks it would be nice to have a suprise. I actually would quite like to know, but I dont really mind. Anyway, here is the little blighter :
To go with that, i have traded in the chavstra and bought a dad mobile :
Thursday, 27 October 2011
At first we have no concept of what is required, ultimately having to resort to looking at the picture in the guidebook, but that's no help, as it just has a picture of the Lord Wormsdale half way through the sitter. Eventually Rupert unlocks the sequence with what I can only describe as 'concept levitation'. I cannot compute the move at all, but eventually it yields to a wild slap. We try the sitter and conclude its very hard. The day is nearly over, we are all flagging and the dusk is drawing near. Nip to Short Sean's reachy roof, and the fatigue is clear in the honourable Mr Davies who looks beaten. We look briefly at that mantle thing which we all fail on, and finish on Blood Falls. Then the pub. Ahh the pub. Lovely. Its dark when we leave and I am late home. Great day.
Friday, 21 October 2011
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Friday, 14 October 2011
Thursday, 29 September 2011
Then she and I went on holiday. We had decided to drive to the south of France. The reason for the mega drive was that it meant we (I) could take surfboards. I'd planned to stop half way, which is roughly Font, so we got the chance to check out the Andy Jennings mega gite - the House. Its good. Got loads of potential, but also would cost loads of money to realise it fully. Did climb for about 30 minutes at Isatis. Saw squiff in the car park, he didn't see us, mainly because I ran off in the other direction to avoid saying hello. The house (as the andy jennings thing is called) is brilliant. Highly recommended.
Here's a wee pic of fontainebleau palace with the moon over it on the way down :
The bit getting to font was by far the worst bit. The roads around Paris are predictably busy. When we got south it was quite a different proposition. Dull, efficient, costly French autoroute. This part of the journey took 7 hours. Nothing to report - 'cept we saw a Lotus Evora :
Found cap de l'homy easily, and it far surpassed our excpectations. Picture a massive pine forest that stretches for miles in every direction until it meets a line of sand dunes and then the beach. Cap de l'homy sits just inside the forest on the edge of the dunes. To the beach was perhaps 300 metres. I thought that a municipal campsite would be a bit shit - as a council owned facility in the UK surely would? so, we were suprised and delighted at how clean, efficient and well run things seemed to be. Nice toilets (for a campsite), good showers, and most of all - amazing location. We hadn't taken a tent, instead taking the option to rent a canvas bungalow thing. Think like a little chalet but made of stretched canvas. There was a kitchenette area, all crockery and a little hob provided, beds for 5, bedding - everything you would need, and perfect to avoid having to travel with camping gear. The only thing it could have benefitted from was running water. You could fly drive here and it would be fine. If you came in season you would even be able to hire boards, so perhaps thats an option for next time.
Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was to check the beach. Incredible. It runs for something like 200 km from biarritz at the bottom up to the gironde at bordeaux. And, where you join it at cap de, you can see no signs of development - theres no high rise buildings, its just forest and then miles and miles of beach. Brilliant. We were tired and hungry and there was this terrifying, body smashing shore break scene in front of our eyes. Normally theres a flat fun bit with kids in it next to the beach, but not here - here, the sea rears up into an angry six foot monster inches from the shore! here is a picture not showing that :
Waves are generated from the action of a storm out at sea. The wind across the surface of the water starts a wave, which if it has space to travel before it comes ashore organises itself and becomes something called groundswell. In a sea without much room for this to happen (such as the North sea) this doesn't have time to happen, and what you are surfing on is probably windsea. I.e. the wind has created teh waves where you are surfing them. The difference between windsea and groundswell in surfing terms is that the latter is big fat powerful organised lines marching out across the ocean, and the former can be just chop! When aforementioned swell hits the land, the sea floor forces the bottom of the wave to slow down, but the top isnt so restricted - it goes faster, which means it overtakes the top, and rides up out of the ocean - which creates the shape and peak you expect to be able to surf on. Here in france the beach is both steep and made up of this gravelly sand conglomerate which means the waves take on a hollow tube shape - and pack a mean punch.
So, we have a problem. To get to the waves you want to be in you have to get past the crushing jaws of the shorebreak. The technique seemed to be to pick the biggest, gnarliest bit, get as close to it as you dared, and wait for it to detonate right in front of you, then dive over the back and hope to be sucked out beyond it! However, you also had to paddle. To rely only on the undercurrent was to be sucked into the death zone! This meant you would get into a loop where it would suck you into the worst possible place to be, knock your feet from under you and then explode on your head!
Anyway, I eventually do get out to the waves out the back but wherever you paddle to they move away from! or thats how it felt. And, there's this massive cross shore drift. So, sitting on your board with your view fixed on something on the land you move laterally quite fast. Speaking to Gav about this when I got back, he explained he would walk up the beach against the direction of the drift (north), paddle out, catch a few as he went and then go back in and repeat. This was sort of what went on, but to be honest it was quite a lot of hard work, and I have ridden better waves at Scarborough!
For the next three days I surfed and surfed until my triceps and back felt like I had been trapped in Tom Randall's cellar with Pete Whittaker and an array of rubberware. I was almost pleased when it went windy and rubbish. We went to Hossegor and Biarritz one day which was nice. Rained unfortunately, so didn't wander as much as we might have done. Talking about Scarborough - Biarritz is a bit like a posh Scarborough. I.e. its got a faded grandeur thing going on.
The next day the weather is as bad and we go to San Sebastian which is just over the border in Spain. Lovely. We really really liked it here. Normal sort of town stuff then a really cool network of amazing medieval buildings the foot of which are all tapas shops. Only, being the Basque country its called pintxos. Everything is out on the counters, so you can see what there is and pick what you like the look of, which is handy because they speak basque, which is sort of spanish, but with more x's. Monday and its still shit at sea, we do a bit more touring about, buy a hammock and loaf around. At least the sun is starting to come out (just accompanied by nuclear wind).
Tuesday and the surf is back in business. I run to the sea first thing and have a look - looks good, so I go and get suited up. Decide to ride the mini mal, as its not big, and this board means I can ride it on anything, and as surfing hasnt so far been very successful on this trip I feel like I would like to actually do something. Get a couple of ok rides, its 10am and I think I will go in and walk up the beach (see earlier drift thing). Speak to a french couple on the beach, and then pick a flattish spot to get in the water. Get back out and get an ok ride. Pleased with myself I start paddling back out. NOw, I dont really know how this next bit happened. Not sure whether I was on the way out, or had caught a ride and pitched into the water or something, but I end up in the drink and not on my surfboard. I am swimming back towards it (I think), then it gets lifted up and flung tail first at my head. The fin at the back of the board goes right into my left eye socket. I don't know this, but that's whats happened as will become obvious. All I know is that my eye doesn't work and that it hit me hard. I know I have to get in quickly. I want to know if I can see, and as I take my hand away from my face there's blood on it. I can't see if that's all there is, and I am in the water, so perhaps its been washed away - but there's not much blood and I am hopeful that's a good sign. Eyesight is foggy on that side, perhaps its just watering or something? god, I hope so. Things feel wierd, and the paddle back to shore feels epic. I get in, retrieve my flip flops and start walking out. I feel quite sick. See the French couple again and show them. Although they dont speak english, I hope to be able to gauge how bad it is by their reaction. They don't help, as she nearly faints, and he seems to think I should find a doctor.
I make it back to the tent and zip open the door. The honey monster is in the bedroom and I say 'Could you come and have a look at something for me?' then she sees it and is like 'Oh Shit!' etc etc. First mistake - we go local doctor. He can't see us until 1400. He says go straight to hospital. We do that and get xrayed, cleaned up and generally inspected. All of this takes about three hours. We are thoroughly miserable. And, as noone speaks english, and we dont speak French theres a lot of gesticulating going on to make understood. But, staff are very nice, facilities seem very good. We get told we have to come back tomorrow to see the surgeon and that I will be having an operation. I assume that this is just getting lost in translation, that they dont mean operation and surgeon, but doctor and stitches.
They didn't. They meant operation, they meant surgeon, and they meant operating theatre. 0830 the next day and I am shitting my pants. First I meet the surgeon. He does eye exam. You know when they are going through the motions and you cant tell whether its good or bad? then when theres a lot of interest and focus on something specific? well thats what happened. He puts some drops in to dilate the pupil and sends a nurse back with more of the same every 15 minutes for the next two hours. I have one massive eye, one normal one. I can see through it, but it hurts and keeps watering. He comes back and finishes the eye exam and says 'I sink you are verry lucky guy', and explains I should make a full recovery - there will be no long lasting effect, and that he needs to do some stitches, which he will do in theatre because he wants everything to be very clean. I think that sounds reasonable and am delighted that things are going to be ok. I feel pleased to have had it all checked by the top dude and know that its gonna be allright.
Now I get anaesthetic drops in my poor suffering eyeball. A very slow hour passes and my tension levels are high. I get taken down to theatre, made to put on the paper pyjamas and then lead in. Its a proper operating theatre. I lie down. Its cold. I am shaking. He says not to be nervous and that it will take no more than 30 minutes. He straps my head to the table, and tells me not to move. At this point he says 'So, you know you 'av zee two er... ow you say? wounds? oui?' oh? say I, 'yesss, one in zee eyelid, one in zee errr, conjunctiva? ow you say, errr - eyeball?' WHOA! no, i didnt know that! i knew I needed stitches in my eyelid, and thats what I though we were doing, but this eyeball business is news to me. Oh well i think. Committed now, and in the best hands. He seems to know what he's doing. An emotive thing your vision though eh? Especially having experienced 24 hours of 50% reduction and didnt like it. In for a penny in for a pound I say and he looks back blankly. THen starts ze work.
He explains that of the whole procedure, that the injections and the clamping of the eyelid will be painful and wierd respectively, and they are and it is. Then he places two stitches in my eyeball, and four in my eyelid. The ones in the eyeball are suprisingly painless. The actual prep is worse than the doing. He tells me to stare at his microscope light which, being terrified, I am glad of something to focus on. Having stitches in your eye is like watching someone stitching on a piece of glass just above your eye. It doesnt hurt or feel wierd or anything, but I suppose thats the anaesthetic. Anyway, the whole thing is over mercifully quickly, and i could hug him for saying I am gonna be fine and for fixing me up. We drive back to the campsite and rest the rest of the day in the sunshine. I feel fine, just a bit shaky and have only one eye. I can take the bandage off the next day though.
I must say - props to the wife for remaining calm throughout, and also for picking up the driving around to and from the hospital. She'd never driven on the continent and was a bit worried about it, but as she said after about a mile - 'if you know how to drive its actually very easy'! and of course, for looking after me during and after. Thank god for the honey monster.
SO, a day later, and the recovery rate is fast. I am feeling exponentially better and I take control of the driving back to font. This is a long day, but we make good time, and I even get to climb at Isatis and burn some Germans off - with a terminator eye! We eat at Pizza Mimi, and the next day I drive us to the eurotunnel. IT all goes well, but when we get back to blighty we are sick of being in the car and the remaining 5 hours home feels slightly desperate.
its been a good trip, even inspite of the little mishap, and yes - i will be surfing again. What happened here was a really wierd freak accident. Noone I have spoken to has ever heard of anything like this happening to anyone else, and I am just glad that I can still see!
Friday, 9 September 2011
Monday, 5 September 2011
Magic Seaguess predicted that the conditions on the East coast would be favorable. Everyone else had gone on the sunday and monday and the reports came back of amazing sessions, overhead barrels and charging reef breaks. Tuesday looked even better. The Monday team had had to seek shelter, but by Tuesday PM it looked like the wind died out and favorably changed direction. Ed had just got back from a break to Thailand, where he had discovered God :
And the good lord said that we should ride waves.
The lord wouldn't get his wish. The first problem was that the tide was all wrong. Very big tide, and going to be high water just after we got there. Ideally it would have been low, then we could have gone to this runswick place. We went to Cayton. From the cliff it looked quite good, but as we got to the water it looked like there was a lot of white water and that as Ed put it 'a torrid paddle' awaited. And it did. Should have told a story that there were 50 people in the water, and only 2 out the back. We eventually increased the number to four, but not without some serious effort. Caught no good rides, agreed to check s.bay. Drove round in wetsuits to find the sea bouncing off the sea wall and no chance of surfing. Bobbins. Went for a cuppa and drove home hating surfing.
I got to go back to Roof Warrior that Thursday with incomprehensible Brian. Sort of felt a bit pumped from the off really. Don't know if I over-warmed up or something like that. He didn't look good on CoD either, so perhaps it was something in the air, but part of me knows it wasn't and that we were shit. So, let's analyse those errors :
This is a knee pad I made to make the route easier. It's an old Pink Anasazi with the top butchered so you can strap it to your leg. I showed Ned the above picture and he said the problem with such devices is that they are ok for bouldering because there isn't that much leg waggling before you need to use the pad, but with routes it could well move. And move it did. At the first knee bar it worked, sort of, but didn't acheive its goal - the position felt no easier, so it was kind of pointless. Then it moved between the kneebars and actually caused the next one - which should be a rest, to feel terrifying. Balls.
Saturday morning came and with it a chance to drag another willing victim down the dale. Things just felt better. I felt better, today was surely the day. I had eschewed the kneepad, and gone back to the comfy floppy clown shoe rock boots. For a millisecond, on the 'putting the clips in' go, I thought like a hero I was actually going to be able to do it putting the clips in! Quickly realisation dawned and i stopped that attempt. But, I felt like I'd climbed it well, that I remembered all the cheating tricks and that I was actually going to do it. Had a really good rest whilst Ed had a burn. Then it came time to tie on again.
I rinsed up the lower wall, punching through the sequence to a poor rest in the roof. CLip. Quick couple of breaths, change hands and stand around a bit, then reach back through the roof. I clamp my feet around the undercut and take my right hand off. This is a wierd move. I pivot out and stuff my hand into the sharp jug to move up to the first kneebar. I remember the nuances and make the next clip. Without stopping I put the top thighbar in and clip again.
Conciously I slow my breathing down, changing hands and shaking out trying as best I can to recover enough for the redpoint crux. Look round, and have a quick chat with Ed, then its time to go, and I throw myself at the edge above. It's an ok hold, and if it was on the bouldering wall you'd be able to do a one armer on it, but up there, after all that - it's not what you need. I shuffle along it, remember my foot sequence, toeing down on a blackened smear and changing my focus to the undercut above. I don't allow thought, stoppage or doubt, instead thrusting my hand upwards into the undercut - got it! Yesss! match in and snatch a few ragged breaths. I know I haven't got much left, and that I need to be quick. There's a good finger jug coming up, and I scuttle quickly up to it, hoping to be able to recover. I try my best but there's not much coming back in my arms, and I know that it'll soon be counter productive. Push on!
These are good holds, but they're all a bit flat - there's nothing you can hang off your skin on, and I feel that I am slapping increasingly wildly, but thankfully, before I fall off I get the massive hooter right of the chains and clip. Get in! Ed has another go, but is still really pumped, so we tootle back off to meet James.
That evening we and a group of 18 join Dylan and Lucy at the aagrah in Sheffield for farewell drinks. Its a nice evening, but we are pretty tired by then. It rains on Sunday. James attempts dog napping :
Ed shows us his lo-fi Dyson :
And our weekend finishes with a pie :
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Monday, 22 August 2011
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Then she and I bailed down to Cornwall, which was basically all about eating and drinking. There was also exercise in the form of surfing, but actually, i have had better conditions on the north east coast of late, so that wasn't brilliant. I suppose the interesting lesson from that trip was that the water is so much nicer in devon and cornwall! its blue for a start, although the beaches are busier. Much busier.
Tuesday was my birthday, 35. Jesus.
Yesterday was the first chance to climb. Although its going a bit cooler, its also rained more, and in the back of my mind is the concern that soon the cornice will be wet and with it, my chance to climb nemesis gone for another year (possibly more). So we (Dylan and I) headed down there with a loose plan of cry of despair and/or nemesis. Although actually, in my head I sort of knew it would be a bad idea to go on Nemesis - fat and weak after loads of trough, i'd only go backwards and get cross. And what better way to get back on it than going on this mega route which people kept going on about. I mean, positively raving about how good it is. Brian even said I could flash it! He must have been having those climbing dreams people were on about on the internet where amazing and fantastical things happen. He must never have actually seen me climbing! Either that or its 5b.
I knew I wasn't going to flash it. I must be one of the worlds worst flashers (!). Knowing this, and knowing that Dylan stood a good chance of beta flashing, I set off to clip it up and work out a sequence. Straight off the deck it felt like there was a tricky flick to a good hold, which on my last go of the day I finally realised you make much easier with a heel. Had we known all the little bits and nuances perhaps it would have been possible to flash it, but it doesnt matter.
I bolt to bolt the route, work out a sequence and come down to the ground. What a wild route this is! its got everything! two full hands off rests, an arse wedge and no rat crimps. Just what I needed on a first session back.
The route feels like it has three distinct sections. A vertical bottom wall to the undercut and kneebar rest, then a steeper section which contains the meat of the difficult climbing ending with an uncomfortable bit of respite in the open corner before finally a teeter up a vertical wall to the belay.
Dylan sets off on his flash go, getting to the undercut and putting the knee bar in. He doesnt look comfortable and slips off getting his feet over the overlap. I have another go, and I knew this wouldnt be a successful one, as I felt like I needed to know how the climbing felt like continuously. Bit kicking myself about this one really, as I got to the crimp past the sloper at the top but refused to slap to the pocket which signals the end of the hard climbing. Lowered off. He has another go, and it looks wild on the bottom wall, he doesnt look like he's going to do it, but he keeps going and makes it through to the corner at the top, managing to get his hands off and get it all back to romp to the finish. Nice effort.
The pressure's on, and I think I feel a bit pumped. Success is far from assured. But, its on this go where I find that heel at the start, and I skip a clip before the crux which means there are beans in reserve. Kicking myself from previous failure I dont allow any thoughts to enter my head and with a bit of panting and scraping I too am established in the uncomfortable groove at the top, wishing I could get it all back like he did. I get my breath to slow down and go for it. This next bit I have a great sequence on. Basically I wedge my arse in the crack and can almost sit astride it to rest. Again, I wait, and then finally a little wobble to the jug. Phew.
Great route though. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Which was on the Saturday night. Lovely food, great service - I loved it. Oh, and amazing setting. It had taken 6hrs to get there though, so if we look a bit tired that's why.
Porth joke (round corner from crantock) on Sunday morning. We got in at a messy crantock after this walk.
Crantock church. Cute.
View from bedruthan steps on the way to padstein for tea.
A pal checking out the most expensive joint in town. We went to the chippy!
Bedruthan steps yesterday morning. The legend is that bedruthan - a Cornish giant, built the steps to cross the bay (like stepping stone) but was turned back by another Cornish giant (diggory). I feel a bit like a Cornish giant this morning. Back to slimming world!
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
At best it was going to be the last chance saloon - a slightly desperate attempt to catch some waves before the normal summer flatness returned. The signs weren't perfect, but in my optimism to surf I managed to convince myself it'd be worthwhile. Sometimes my aspiration and desire affects my judgement, and this was one of those times. I drove for 4hrs to splash around for an hour and a half in a dying swell with the wrong tides and not really catch anything, other than a whiff of agricultural effluent.
However, no experience is entirely negative, and inspite of this ozone burning exercise in futility, I've learnt that there should be minimum conditions present before embarking. These, I think - are 4ft, 8seconds and light off shore winds. And the right tides for wherever you head.
Dylan and I went to the WCJ cornice on Tuesday the 2nd. Bumped into some Scottish heroes when we arrived and then realised we had no belay device! Well done. Thankfully some kind chaps had one to lend and the day wasn't lost. Ropegunned Brachiation dance for them by means of mild exchange and then got on the disillusioned Glue machine. This is a route I first looked at the day I did Yorkshire 8b. I got on it for something to do, and to avoid rumble. It was filthy and I spent an hour cleaning it, but made little difference as it was so minky. This year someone more capable has put the time in and its restored to a reasonable state (so whoever you are - nice one! bolt heads want tightening up mind). Dylan has a great session flash go, getting to the vulcan pocket from the deck but not doing the move. I keep getting there and running out of steam. Anyway, we have a nice time, noone does it and we leave as it goes dusky (now 9pm).
My throat felt a bit sore that night, and by wednesday day its razor blades and I'm uncommunicative and grumpy. Thursday and Friday are mired in snot and even on saturday I'm still flaccid. Sunday I get a short unexpected pass but noone to climb with, so I furtle off down Blackwell dale to go on Paint it black. Fully expecting to be rubbish I'm pleasantly suprised, and whilst the pressure in my sinuses makes prolonged sequences of hard moves a bit uncomfortable, I can still do a bit and manage to scrape my way up the problem (but not before a thousand skin depleting goes). Again, a fair scene of dreadlocked puy jugglers, the sound of digeridoo music fills the air and the smell of agricultural by products once again meets my nostrils. I meet a man who is not John Cooke, but could be his doppelganger, and i accuse him of such, but this is not the first time he has been so challenged, and he puts me right. Apparently he is half thai, where John Cooke is half philipino. So now you know.
Monday night, as you know - is board night. Ned was bored though, and it was a nice day. He wanted to go out, not to climb, but just to get out of the house... I saw my chance, and I leapt on its back and rutted its leg. Ned got to walk to the WCJ Cornice, and I got to get back on the Glue Machine. Although not one of the Peak's finest lines, the climbing is good and I knew I could finish it. A tick in the bag is worth two in the book. I think it feels about 7b/+ route up to and including the last clip. THen you have a tricky move into some ok holds before a lurch to the belay. My first go I'm not warmed up properly and on my second go I get it done. I strip the route and we walk back, getting home for 1930.
The honey monster was away, so I went down the wall to meet another monster. A pinching monster. One whose claimed to be injured for far too long, only to be exposed hustling his way around the comp wall after dark. Like a shark patroling the black depths he paces the mat beneath the comp wall, watching and waiting for a unsuspecting seal pup to flipper into range (leah?), then, like a black missile, jet propelled out of the shadows he hurtles towards his prey, the vice like grip clamps down and crushes the weak back into obscurity. Hurty Elbone my arse.
Friday, 29 July 2011
In fairness, it felt hot, airless and those holds are sharp. The problem isn't just skin when its like that - its lethargy (Copyright Davies conditions consulting, 2011). I didnt manage to do the first move again. I think it might be impossible with a taped split. Got pushed through it and did the next couple of moves - not as easy as I hoped. Did the jump to the pod a few times, exited it but never held the cut loose. Tried the campus at the end - its harder than it should be.
Thrash myself to within an inch of skin tolerance and go home defeated. This is certainly going to be rather more of a battle than i thought, although - as I write that I think - dont be so negative - you've got a big pad split which needed tape, and it was hot and sweaty.
I will finish by condemning the new guidebook for making the damn place popular. Rarely is the day when there's noone there anymore, and I don't like it! Gone are my quiet solitary afternoons pottering around the crimps, now its all wrestling dreadlocked puy jugglers, stepping over their unicycles to get to the problems. Bobbins. So nice one guidebook team, for encouraging the populous to go to places I like. Cheers.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
The first move is hard. Pretty blummin' hard. There are then a flurry of ok moves, but - read : relatively ok - i.e. still not easy. And mildly worrying - although that might have been a function of it being a bit soapy. Then there's a quite hard jump to the pod, which is a jug. Getting out of the pod is the final challenge, as killing the scorpion swing is v.hard. Seriously - doing this without a rope? its bordering on stupid! there's bolts there - use em! not doing means a wild swing into the path of traffic - its just not worth it! what you gonna do? wait in the pod until there's not a lorry driving past then quickly scuttle to the jug? mental. Do it on a rope. Oh, and its sharp. We do ok, both do all the moves, both get quite psyched to go back. That was Saturday.
All week an increasing tumult of internet chatter about the east coast has been on my radar. The mega swell was coming, and in the middle of summer too. 'The biggest waves in a year' on the east, etc etc. It would have taken an inert man to resist getting the littlest bit excited about it, at least on paper. And the reason I say that is because everyone looks at Magic Seaguess and they look at swell and period. Then they get excited and rush off to the coast. What they seem to fail to notice is the wind. And the words of the shops and locals, all of whom were saying - 'yes, there will be waves, but seek shelter, cos there's also mega wind'.
The way of the world is often for the wind to be lesser in the early morning, and with that in mind I picked Zen Surf Master up at 0555. We made it to Scarborough in an hour and a half, and went straight to south bay. The sight that confronted us was that of a disorganised, gigantic, heaving steel grey sea. It looked like a good place for sea monsters and ship wrecks rather than going for a swim with a lump of plastic. It seemed the forecast was right. Up at the town end, in the lee of the harbour wall there was some semblance of order. Already a few rubber clad bodies could be seen contemplating their predicament. Further out it looked epic, dangerous even. A feverish mood ran through the car park as folk struggled into wetsuits and scuttled about waxing boards. It was my first day of proper riding on the new stick and I was nervous whether I had made a bad decision only bringing it.
We paddled around the side and out the back. Size between 4 and 5ft on the sets, some waves peeling in either direction, some closing out, you just had to pick your wave and take your chances. I looked at my watch - 0802. As I watched, the wave rolling towards me looked good, but I could see something more interesting just behind it which looked interesting - I would wait. And there it was, the first wave of the day, its face clear and unmottled, pitching up before me. I spun around and began paddling, looking back it had almost caught up, i felt the board pitch up and my speed increase, then with the zing of someone fresh out of the car POP! up I went, in the perfect place, at the top of the wave and angled away from the peak, I felt good, my board in the right place, my weight even and SLASH! down I went, skudding across the unbroken wave face, the whitewater just behind me and for a fleeting moment I was actually doing it! YYFY!
I caught a couple of other good rides, and I learnt to duck dive properly. I thought I was doing this before, but I wasn't. Its quite tiring, but very useful. Surfing is quite tiring! Out of the water just after 10, and back in the car to Sheff.
She wanted to go to tramlines, and whilst ZSM said he was going to go to bed I thought i felt ok, and that I was up for it. We got back, she and i had lunch, then walked down to endcliffe park. Nice vibe in there, nice and chilled, lay in the sun etc etc. This was ok I thought, i can cope with this - as by now I had started feeling a bit wierd. My problem was compounded by my not having slept well due to excitement - which, potentially, is the next issue I have to contend with in respect to surfing. Anyway, we ended up walking into town and meeting up with friends in the melee which was Sheffield. What an awesome event! Totally free, totally random bands but amazing atmosphere in town. However, I wasnt in the right headspace, and I made us leave by about 1900. She wasnt impressed. Very very tired. Sorry!
Friday, 22 July 2011
Finally it happened. After 13 months our wave riding paths crossed and I got to paddle out with the man with the vice like grip. Man, he was rubbish! he couldn't even sit on his board in the line up! TEEE HEEE! This of course, is not true. Like a seal Ed cut through the waves to the calmer water out back whilst I splashed around like a flailing sea bass the waves crashing on my head, threatening to sink me and my fibreglass barge. Soon I was beside him, contemplatatively surveying the scene, and assessing waves for rideability.
The first problem I have with surfing is that I get too excited. I paddle out, sit there for a bit, see a half decent wave, and because I want a ride I go for it, when neither it or I are ready. Which ultimately is a great way to burn calories, but not such a great strategy to threatening Kelly Slater (did you know he was both in Baywatch and went out with Pammy for a bit? fascinating). Its easier for me to chill my boots with someone else there, and we had quite a good short session.
It was interesting to see how conditions changed with the tide. We were there on the falling tide (I think) and the shape of the wave was very different from when I went with Zen surf master a couple of weeks ago - less dumpy and less closing out. It seemed that as it started to change that it became more dumpy again? so perhaps Cayton on the push is like that?
I got on quite well, getting a couple of good clean water rides, but there were also lo-lights, however - these were funny. At one point I was paddling and nearing being out the back again, when I became aware that both Edlog and another gentleman were paddling for the wave I was at the bottom of, 4ft above me, pointy surfboards pointing straight towards my head and about to carve me into fish fodder with their fins. Thankfully they both aborted and I haven't been minced (sorry guys). The other amusing error was my seeing a wave, paddling for it, but it suddenly advancing its stage of progression and me being in the dump zone rather than on the slope. I did the yelp of a small child.
The other lesson of the day was that Saltburn is easier to get to than Cayton/Scarborough. Although geographically further, roads are better and it takes less time to get back from. Finally, before we move on from surfing - there's a mega swell about on the north east coast this weekend. However, sadly, its accompanied by mega wind too. South bay could be where its at.
Last week I made Ned come down Cheesedale for me to do Nemesis. Warmed up well, route looked dry, all the signs were good. First go I bolt to bolted, putting the clips in. Came down, rest etc, all looking good. First redpoint I rinsed past the hard bit. And I mean rinsed - it felt easy. I knew this was the go, I was going to do it! Got to the flipping jug that signals the end of the hard bit, tried to clip, fumbled it, droppped the rope - then MONO'd the draw in desperation! As the laughter went up from below I thought I was gonna have to pull on it, but some sort of wild dynamic quickdraw grabbing ensued and I lowered off. Few more attempts getting here, but basically had put all my beans into that go and none was as good. Pretty cool route Nemesis. Would love to get it done this summer.
Finally, on the way home Ned was kind enough to show me the numbers on Sean's roof. Man, what have I been doing? If I want to climb 8b+ this is where I should be! not questing up power endurance routes on jugs! crimping in a roof - thats where its at! I am actually quite enthused about getting back to this one. Anyone fancy it?
Thursday, 14 July 2011
or possibly longer. As you meet other climbers you will notice varying
levels of exellence regards managing skin condition, from the non existant
(andi_e and squiff) to the expert (jon fullwood). The basic rules are simple
1. Splits - sand them till smooth. Grit your teeth, deal with the pain
and get rid of the burr.
2. Dont stop sanding them after the first time - the regrown skin needs
to keep being sanded or else you get a thick hard area, possibly with a
further impurity which will split again.
3. Sand your fingers down after the shower when you are hot and wet.
4. Always have some sand paper in your chalk bag. Aluminium oxide paper
seems pretty good.
5. Stop climbing before you put a tip through. To stop now is to be able
to climb again in a couple of days, to hole a tip is to be out of action for
6. After sanding moisturise.
7. After climbing, inspect, sand, moisturise
8. If you go in the sea - moisturise.
9. Even if its nearly healed, climb with tape covering the split. You can
remove it for one redpoint, but this is a high risk strategy.
10. Always tape a clean finger.
Your skin type may change the number of days, and the amount of time and
quantity of moisturiser you will use but the principles are the same.
In summer I get splits at pad creases - from crimping when its hot and your
skin is soft. These deep fissures are easy to tape, but take ages to heal.
The reason for writing this today is that I got one a few weeks ago, managed
it just about better, but allowed a ripple at the corner to develop. Had
this been taken off before climbing then it wouldn't have split again.
Friday, 8 July 2011
I left work on Wednesday at 1300. I drove north through the rain and standing water and arrived at a very bleak looking Beadnell Bay :
It looked rubbish. There were occasional sets which held promise, but really I would have been going in for the sake of it. Cos of the rain it looked like I was going to end up driving to the climbing wall in Edinburgh. Not happy. Decided to sack it and look at Bamburgh beach, and the first blip of excitement came when there were T4's in the car park, and people in wetsuits getting ready... I ran to the top of a dune and looked down to see big clean lines set out in front of me! Brilliant! I high tailed it back to the car and changed as fast as I could, almost as if any delay on my part would see these conditions dissipate.
When I got to the waters edge it looked to have gone off a bit, but there were lulls, and then there were sets. Dont be thinking pounding over head barrels, more like 2-3ft of clean organised waves - which is just what I needed. Caught a few rides, things were going well, but my feet were freezing and my board was slippy. Went ashore and scraped off some old wax and applied some new and got my boots. Back out for another hour - big difference! Positively stuck in place I had more control and i think one of the best sessions I have had.
Interestingly, as I bobbed around with seals in the sea, I could see that the incoming waves were forming tiny mini tubes. You couldnt have gotten in one, but you could stick your leg in or something. I remembered all that I had been told, about looking back over your shoulder as you paddle in to a wave to see where it was going, and began to both angle take off and slide along the face of the wave. So pleased!
Got out, went for some tea in the castle pub (bit log), and a final walk around the castle grounds :
Before driving the final hour and a quarter to Edinburgh. Checked in at hotel, went out for a beer. Next day, attended this meeting I was there for, managed to get away about 1500 and zoom back off to the County. This time I decided to climb, so I went to Kyloe.
As I arrived I couldnt believe the number of flies that swarmed around the car. It was so bad, I actually thought I must have parked on some carcass that they were feeding on, but it wasnt that, just that there were a lot of flies. I changed in the car, putting my coat and hood on and zipping it right up so as to prevent the little shits from getting me. Next I shot from the car and onto the path - no better, and - heavy rain started! back to the car, collect brolly. Wedge that in pads to prevent them and me getting soaked - works quite well actually. Stomp up to crag to find it totally dry, but then the sun comes out! it goes from a reasonable 16 degrees to 23, and the holds feel sharp and hurty. I get warmed up and have a go on Cubby's lip. Work out how to do it, but dont manage to redpoint. Ah well. Have a go on the yorkshireman, fail to step left foot onto nubbin, and everything feels desperate. Sack it off and go to look at waves again. There are none. Drive home.
Monday, 4 July 2011
We tried, we failed. Rich Ames turns up and shows us how to get to the end but still fail. In fact, I think he shows us this five or six times. Perhaps he will see this and comment to advise whether it went down after I left :
Then came the weekend, and with it crippling mega heat. I opted for a tactical weekend of abstinence. We had people for dinner on saturday night, and as they were leaving he mentioned that there was swell about on the east coast - was I up for it? Hell yeah! All too soon the alarm was going off and the monster and I were blearily bundled into the back of a car laden with surfboards.
I'd never been surfing on the north east coast of England before, and I had been wanting to go with someone else to get shown where to go and so on. As we caught sight of the sea my heart sank - it looked totally flat! My host and driver warned that you couldn't see from there anyway and to wait. We parked and looked from the headland there were waves! Good clean ones too! With a mounting feeling of excitement and perhaps a little trepidation we ran back to the car to get suited up.
I learnt that it looks smaller from the top of the cliffs. When we paddled out it was 5ft on some of the sets and I also learnt that Cayton is a very heavy wave. Which was another new experience for me. The waves seemed to go from unrideable to too steep to closed out in the space of a second and not very much distance. Bit frustrating really. Didn't get to make much of it on my new board as I'm not good enough to catch a wave and be straight into the turn, I need to catch it, get my bearings and then slowly attempt a turn, wheras to get the best out of this you needed to angle take off and get the rail hard in. Basically I couldn't react in time cos I'm still finding my feet. Fun though, and after a two hour session I'd certainly had a workout.
We drove back to Sheffield and went straight down to squiffhanger. Twitter is a marvellous thing. I managed to get up to speed in the car on the way back, so that by the time we got there in time for the finals we already knew nedlog hadn't qualified. Such a shame as it sounds very close.
The finals always lack something when there's noone you know in them, and by the time we left my old man legs were very tired as was I.
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Morning. No rock climbs this weekend. My aunty's wedding at loseley Park near Guildford. nice. Good day for it, and totally free bar.
Here is a pair of pals loitering outside the building:
Which turned out to be the ancestral home of the foley bum doctor dynasty. We know this because this picture of james was on the wall :
Too hot for rocks anyway, so it was a good weekend to be elsewhere. Congrats also to @Jim_p_t who got hitched this weekend also.
Friday, 24 June 2011
This is my dream, my fear - what I anticipate happening. This is why I will probably clip that last draw even though it feels wierd and its in the way behind your leg. Why I will investigate the knee bar. And this isnt what happened last night. Leading up towards a time when I will have a session on it I start to dream about what it will feel like to do it. And I can actually concieve of doing it as well. But perhaps now is the time to move on and save it for when its cooler. In my head I had visions of firing it on my first go, then going to the pub and buying everyone dinner, but it doesnt happen like that.
Monday, 20 June 2011
I will always start the session with a go from the ground, as I think it can't hurt, and it keeps one's hand in. Made it to the groove with one hand, but tried to clip from a wierd place and ended up grabbing the draw. Had a chill, did groove - top, including the clip - which is ok. The thing is - getting to the top of the groove is hard, and exiting it is hard also. But, when I flick my Beyonce like booty into the corner at the top of the groove, although it feels unlikely at first, once wedged I can get a bit back. So whilst it feels a struggle to get established, if I can get there, and get my ass in position - I could be in with a chance.
The thing people said was to work the top. They all said to get that bit wired, and not to keep trying from the ground. And now, at last, I am willing to accept they might be right. I think in part its getting used to falling off a bit more. I always knew success on this route would depend on my ability to be able to fall off it. So, the next thing to do is pocket top. And I felt like i nearly did that as well. All good - back Thursday.
After that I took Britain's Best Bum Doctor down Cheedale for him to do Lockless Monster, which of course - he did. With the comment that he had done harder 7a's in France. Perhaps it is 8a if you are soloing and have to climb a loose vertical grass slope at the top in order to get down.
Thursday, 16 June 2011
Those of you who are fortunate enough to know me will know I am shameless in my persuit of media domination, and so when I got to climb with Nick "berlusconi" Brown, the chance of cro-barring my way into the Outcrop films forthcoming production was too pungent an opportunity to ignore. Nick was standoffish, even cool at first, but slowly, slyly, I weaseled my way into the gusset of his affections, and began planting seed(s). It was Ned's fault. He went off to pull on plastic grifters, so I had to widen the net in my quest for sport climbing satisfaction. We went to the Tor, it was boiling. We looked at Sean's - wet. The dale beckoned its gnarled finger...
When Ned, Ed and I went and investigated the nook last year, I was offended by how crap it looked, so I had low expectations. We went round to the Cornice to attempt to find someone with beta, and we found Ethan. We wandered across and put in the clips from the tree. We wasted as much time as we could but there was no sign of the beanie hatted beta machine, so I sacrificed Nick's chances of the flash and sent him up to work it out. He did well, and actually made me thing it was doable, but he didn't do. I squandered more time, still no Ethan, so up I go - "Come On!" I thought, "Dylan's flashed this! it must be piss!" but my attempt ends where Nick's did, hanging off a jug in space with no means of climbing beyond it. I refine the sequence and as I lower off, a beanie bobs into view. We heed some of his advice, dispense with other bits of it and Nick goes again. He flumps off and after a quick confirmation of my master sequence, lowers off. I go again, and its well easy. I get to the top amazed that anyone could think it 8a. Lower off. Nick does it. We go home, my hayfever goes nuts.
Encouraged by the new, easier approach from Millers Dale and the tunnels, I find myself back there a couple of days later, only this time its all about the Cornice, and the route Nemesis. There are punters (Dylan) on the warm ups, and thus I am off the hook (of having to teeter up a dusty vertical wall towards a loose and damp belay). We get stuck in and a couple of times Nick and I climb through the crux and get stuck crossing the bulge which leads to the easier climbing (which is still pumpy). This is good, and a pleasant suprise. Time ticks past and I find myself back there, this time with buck toothed crimp fiend and now camera afficionado Paul Bennett. He pitched it as being him wanting to take some pics, so I wasn't prepared for the media circus which ensued. Paul had brought Stu Littlefair, and both chaps had more stuff than those who were climbing, only their bags were full of camera gear. But, they took some nice pics, and it was worth it because I have never had nice pictures of me climbing, so it was good to have some for once.
Finally (because I have to get some work done), I recieved my copy of the new guide again yesterday - and what a fine thing it is. As you would expect, its beautifully presented and crammed full of exciting new areas and contentious grades (brad pit - 7c!). And, after a year of campaigning - a picture of me! Already, talk at the crag is of who is this handsome new bastard, casually ticking the Peak's best problems and maintaining suave sophistication throughout. Ok, its not. People were talking about seeking out these new areas and going bouldering again - a dirty word until october at least.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Ned hadn't even put his boots on. He was supposed to be saving himself for Revelations. I felt the pressure of execution - the knowledge that you have the physical ability to complete a climb and just the doing between you and success. Rumbled up it putting the clips in, then had a moment on the rope at the jug pocket before the crux. Decided to put the next draw in to have a go on the move with the rope above. Describing it as 'the move' is misleading, as that implies its the hardest move or something, which it isn't. In the final analysis - its a pretty easy move, but its the one which requires commital, and that which I backed off when I last investigated. So, with the draw in place, I do the move - its easy. I take the top draw off and come back to the pocket. Having a moment and telling myself just to go for it I crimp through the crux moves and with slightly more aplomb - launch to the jug - yes! its allright! I dont collapse in a trembling mess of jelly, I do it! awesome! I get lowered off and set the stopwatch to wait.
Some time passes, some general nonsense, some israeli chocolate spread. Now I feel nervous. There's really nothing between me and it - but I have to actually get it right this time. Doing my best to empty my head I set off. It goes well - as I pop to the pocket the holds are all alright and have beans to spare. Crimp, crimp, stab and I am at the high point. I dont allow myself time for consideration, slotting my right hand up into the locky jam thing, and then up come the feet, I try not to allow myself to get bogged down in the minutae of foot position - what I have is good enough, so I make my move, and its like its above the mats at the climbing works and is 6a - I reach out to the jug! get in! Delighted, I lower off and share congratulations with Nedward who is so enthused by my success that he's already squeezing his tootsies into his boots for a go.
With no warm up his first go is a fumble. He swings around a bit, works out what to do and where to hold the holds then comes down for a chill for a minute. As he sits on the ledge surrounded by murder weapons he steels himself for the rat crimps above, then, like a fox pouncing on a chicken he goes - pow pow pow! he's at the crimp, the fox looks to be less pouncing, more having a swat at, but a swat is enough and with the culloden chicken in his jaws he scampers to the jugs with his tail in the air - BOOM! A ned o dob o log tag team ascent!
Back to the tor... Dave Musgrove and Miles are wandering about, and the crag is still reasonably quiet - certainly compared to how it has been. Dave is on one of those routes above Pinches wall, Its not little extra, and it looks hard. Ned gets on Revelations. He does the move to the pinch every time he tries, but never the move after it. Poor Ned, he's getting cross with it but I am so convinced he is going to do it that I wont let him off the rope. In short, he doesnt ever do the go again move off the pinch, but the bit I thought was hard he makes look easy!
Miles is having a look at evolution. Bear in mind that I saw who I think was Markus Bock on it last week, and he was having a hard time - Miles was all over it. The moves which I have seen other people struggle with looked like jugs to him, but the easy roof bit he seemed to find difficult. Suspect theres some trick we didnt know about.
I have a go on Mecca. I feel good before I set off, and I sort of know and expect to get into the groove this time. As my right hand snags the horn and I walk my feet through, I think the difference is one of attitude. IN the past when I have been in this position I wimp out and grab the draw, but buoyed with the success around the corner and some encouragement from below, I walk my feet out and get into the egyptian. I match and actually shake for a minute before taking a hand off to clip. Whilst it doesnt feel easy, I do it and go back into the semi rest egyptian. I have a shake and look up the groove. Then decide to rest on the rope. But this is still progress.
Into the groove from the deck is a gateway link. The climbing changes at that point from burl to technical, and the groove offers some respite, whether from a kneebar or an arse bar which ever way you do it. I did have a little furtle at the knee bar last night - blimey, the first ones not great is it!
Friday, 20 May 2011
We had a wedding in Croyde (well, in Saunton, but you will have heard of Croyde), so with a fair group of others, we trekked down to North Devon. Rather than camping we had rented a house in the village, and although the weather would have been ok for camping it was pretty cool, and rather breezy, so a house changed it into a pleasant experience rather than a trial. I mentioned that it was windy, and this all but did for the waves. There was scant little swell anyway, and what there was was blown flat by the wind. That said, there was occasionally a rideable wave surface, but it was small and short lived.
Just like you wouldn't go to Stanage in June (unless you were getting up early and going to do snatch), so a good surfer wouldnt even paddle out in conditions like these, but a punter can still learn things. Which is another thing about learning - there's something to be gained from having a go. The water was conspicuously quiet, and there was a definate lack of good people, but of course there were - you won't get Ed Robinson in the water unless its at least 3ft, >10secs and light offshore. I on the other hand, went out every day and did a bit and loved it.
So, what were these lessons then? I got to ride a mate's fish - this was the first revelation. First of all, I could duck it, which meant getting through white water became less daunting. Less daunting = greater willingness to try. Then when up on my feet it was more responsive, allowing more precise control of direction and enhancing my ability to be in the right place to prolong the ride. I managed to both bottom turn and get between sections which I havent yet done on my own mini mal. I also learnt that having a watch is a great thing, as it feels like you have been in the water for hours when its been 30 minutes. And finally, i learnt that when paddling out, you dont need to paddle as hard and fast as you can - save that for catching waves. A more relaxed stroke on the way out allowed greater longevity of session and better recovery for those explosive bursts on the way back.
So, back to sheffield, back to the tor, back on the route. First day on it again since Croyde tomorrow.