Monday, 31 January 2011

El Roacho

The interweb was full of people blathering on about how good the weekend was going to be. You couldnt fail to feel at least a little bit excited by all the hype, and i just hoped the weather delivered on the promise. Which it did. Didnt have time to go to the Roaches, but I went anyway. Its fine to go places and try stuff on your own, but once a week is more than enough, and although it meant i wouldnt have long, I went where my friends were. Glad I did too, as it was a beautiful day to be driving down through staffordshire, que misty eyed daydreaming about living in a farmhouse and having dogs.

Anyway, back in the real world I arrive at bloc centrale and bump into some girls who I always see at the wall. Mild abuse of one another and I do some fun problems to get on it. Meanwhile my chums are nowhere in site. But with good reason, as Ed is having his last go on Tetris, and they have warned its 15 minutes walk from where I am, and in the sun is making it greasy. I set up camp beneath mushin. The last go is enough for Ed, who, like a prize fighter arrives victorious but covered in blood. Videos of this problem look fab - i would be keen to investigate for myself.

Mushin has always been on the list, but its a line of drainage and was wet the only other time I went to the roaches. And I think it might have been a little bit that way on saturday, although its meltwater this time. We start off reaching the jug dish with our left hands and then attempting to toe hook our way out to the right hand jug. I hit the jug a few times, but suspect I am moving too fast to actually hold it should i get there. Try going with the right hand a couple of times, and it takes a bit of work to make any progress, then I manage to get to the left hand dish above, and suprisingly theres a little mono thing in it, and the toes feel better somehow - more straight on perhaps? anyway, so suprised that theres actually a hold up there I dont get it right and fall off. Turns out that this is the way. So, another project added to the list!

To our right a pad hurtles from the top of the crag, bouncing down through the trees as though some hideous accident has taken place, but theres noone attached and its all benign. 'Isn't that stone's pad?' says James, then we realise that there has been a hideous accident, but its one of navigation - Sharples, Rae and Stone all clump down the path towards us, hopelessly lost and in search of a crimp to swivel around on. We set them back on course for Millers Dale and start packing up ourselves. Beautiful day, and -3 just outside of buxton on the way home.

Friday, 28 January 2011

HIgh zoo

I always thought caley needed a couple of preceding days of dryness to be worth visiting. So when Thursday started damp I didnt have high expectations. Through the morning I kept making excuses to leave my desk and walk past a window, and suprisingly things looked bone dry. Lunchtime came and off I scuttled to Caley, which had obviously been wet, but felt ok. There was more of a wind than last week, and I thought it felt a bit warmer at first. The wind soon put paid to that, as although the air might have been warmer, it soon stripped you of any body heat. It was hard to warm up, and harder to keep warm. Have come to the conclusion that although in great condition, it may actually have been too cold.

First goes went badly. It hurt to have to bone those little sharp holds. Went off and did some crimping. When I came back, did the top again. Then did it from the undercut move - felt good. Just three moves to put on the start and that was it then...

Got chatting to lad called Si from Middlesborough trying Ben's Groove sitter. This looks ace. very different to Zoo log. Managed to get my interweb scoop filled and we watched the vid of it which is on pootube. THe man who does it there must be both very good and very tall. Anyway, I have a couple of goes where I fall off taking the swing from the cut loose. I'm struggling to make the first toe hook work. I stop the process and take the time to work it out properly - marking the notch so that I can see it when on the problem. Also someone has put chalk marks in the wrong place on the undercut, so i brush these off and put new ones where I use it. More goes take place and I feel like a bit of a warmed up too fast pump, and I decide to pop back to the car for some food and to get a brush.

When I come back up 15 minutes has passed and I am again cold. The next go is rubbish. Wait 4 and back on it. This is the one which should have been. The toe snags behind the undercut perfectly, I am able to drop into the edge perfectly, my fingers arranged in the optimum position - i feel good, the thought dances through my mind that this is the one. I step out and onto the nubbin, bang - up goes my left hand to the tape box edge - got it on three! its ok though, feels like a crimp jug for some reason, I bone it and ninja my right foot into the next toe hook, my left pastes around the arete and I move my hips into balance, this time perfectly finding the point of balance and casually reaching into the high sidepull (at least, thats how it felt!). As I take the hold i have time to settle my fingers perfectly on the hold and I feel attached, dare I say, actually quite good!

Engaging my core I release the toe, and some how I manage to kill the swing, scuffing my right up the wall and placing the heel on the pound coin - is it ok? is it on? dunno, but I dont stop to worry about - go for the move and hit the top left flake - its not quite right, but I have enough - i think, I fight to get it back in control, moving to try and try and mitigate the position and whilst its not perfect, my left is splayed across the hold. I can't bump it or change, but perhaps its enough? I lurch for the right hand intemediate and take it badly, my right foot scuds off the toe hook, with my dying gasp I slap at the top jug and miss! oh Shit! That should have been the one!

back on the mats I am kicking myself. I think thats it basically, I have as good as done it. Surely go down next time wont it? I rest properly, but make mistakes. Goes come and goes go - I look like I am going to do it, and I get worse. Never does everything line up perfectly and I never make it back to this new high point. The tipping point between thrashing myself and making progress passes and I am still deluding myself that I'm in with a chance and its well past the point of sensible stopping when I eventually admit defeat.

On the plus side, when I next get chance I know I can do it, but it would have been nice to have actually got it done. Oh well.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Logridge - cha cha cha!
Logridge - cha cha cha!
Logriiiidge - cha CHA!

Such myth, hyperbole and vitriol surrounded the place in the week leading to our visit that I wasn't sure whether or not we should even go. However, crossing the peak early on saturday morning it became obvious that the chances of action closer to home were going to be seriously limited by damp.

And anyway, what's better than a guidebook? a tour from a local. And not just any local, but Preston's answer to Peter Andre - the mighty Adam Lincoln. We arrived at a damp crag with damp in the air and damp all around, but the rocks were dry. Ish. It was brutally, mind numbingly cold and for a moment the line between keen and stupid seemed perhaps to already have passed.

Adam demonstrated the proud independant line which is the eponymous 'Vickers eliminate' before our hard wired quality control kicked in and over rode the desire not to fail. We moved to the business end and investigated big marine, then submarine then super submarine. Big Marine is ok - everyone romped up it. Submarine is about 8b+ and even Adam had to have a few goes. Super Submarine - hmm. I think its possible. Hard, but feasible. Noone does it.

Boasting some of the 'best movement' on the crag, we move right to Rupert's In Excess sitter. The hype is justified, its a bit damp, but the combination of wide pinches, slopers and drop knees gets our interest, and we both manage it. This is a good problem. Next we do Delta Force which I think we both flash?

I have a quick look at the pot of gold start to Colon Power, but its unpleasant, and success revolves around a factor of your willingness to lurch from a wedged knuckle to a jug. Finish with a quick rumble along the Bend of the Rainbow, which is as fun now as it was 18 years ago when I first tried it.

So who was right? what was the verdict - were the doubters on the money or is this a gem in the crown of lancashire? We had a fun day out and big props to the Lincolnator for showing us around (and Grimer and Dribble, I have things for you) but in many ways the advice was right - if you are in the area its good, and if i lived there I would be all over the place, but I dont think I would recommend driving all the way from Sheffield especially.

Friday, 21 January 2011


There used to be something we called the 'January two week weather window', only the month could've been dropped as it kept moving about. But now I feel like weather patterns are so out of kilter that I dont know if we still get that and as to when, well - its anybody's guess. This week has certainly had potential, although, its felt like perhaps its condensing - things in the shade stay wet, and flat surfaces feel damp.

There's been little to write about of late, as I've been indoors, scuttling around on the board and whilst some wild new shapes have been created and radical moves thrown down, this doesnt make for interesting reading. Had been supposed to go to the cave yesterday, but with people posting on the interweb that they had ended up at the wall the day before, and Doyle not having eyewitness accounts, we sacked it. To Caley.

It felt like a treat not to have to sit through the a55 boredom. The excited babbling on the way there, the broken mono-syllabic muttering on the way back. Brown rocks instead of white, slabs and aretes instead of ribs and rooves. Finesse instead of Force!

Gritstone was a harsh skin wake up call - blimey! And it was brutally cold, but totally dry and possibly the best nic I have had Caley in. Tops of boulders had not frost, but a cold suggestion of moisture, so topping out was fine - you didnt need to resort to Bradbury tactics, but felt a bit spicy. Thankfully, topping out wasnt going to be a problem.

As is the law, we started out down at Fingerknacker crack and Rabbit Paw wall. What a charming rock climb. As Ned pointed out - its jugs up a wall - whats not to like? We moved straight up to the main event and found some other cave regulars up there. Bendy busted out Ben's Groove, Ned followed - Me and Jim floundered. Jim and Ned tried Secret Seventh, Ned did it. Ben and Ned start working the BG sitter. I move to Zoo York. I feel stronger and more capable than last year. The moves feel harder, but I am doing them and keeping going rather than being in extremis on every one.

You know when you are trying something and it goes from you doing some moves to actually having the concept of doing it? when you can actually concieve of doing that day? well that happened yesterday. Two or three times I climbed from the ground up into the top cut loose and either fell trying to get the heel in place, or fluffed the cut - whatever, anyway, got hugely excited about the prospect of doing it and am keen to get back. By god its sharp though!

Felt like a wonderful afternoon, and one with the promise of actually acheiving something. The crag hitched up its skirts and I saw the promised land. I didnt manage to get there, but I got an idea about how it looks - and I liked it! I enjoyed myself so much I wondered how I could do it more often, but when thinking about that this morning I realised that precisely the reason it felt so special was that it was a treat and that I dont get to do it all the time.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cognitive Boning Therapy

Some of my friends have been experiencing motivational lulls. One such person sent me a message to ask how I managed to maintain my own enthusiasm, and I started to reply, but then Doylo posted about his own apathy, and I thought it might be of interest to a wider audience, so here follows some of my philosophy on the subject :

Climbing, although fun is not all there is to life. It can appear to be, and perhaps it will be for a few years, but ultimately it doesnt fill all the gaps. If you always eat cake, then cake ceases to become a treat. So dont always eat cake. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If I always appear psyched when I am climbing its because I dont always get to go whenever I want to, so that when I do its a treat - of course I'm in a good mood!

If you do feel down in the dumps about it all, dont sweat it, just go and do something else for a bit. Part of climbing and climbing hard teaches us not to lie down and accept defeat, to battle on when the chips appear to be down and the quest hopeless, so your instinct is to push on even when you dont really feel like trying, but... there's a difference between going and training when its cold and rainy and you cant be bothered to making yourself try to be psyched for something that you arent really bothered about. Your heart wont be in it, and at your limit it needs to be to summon the force to do the deed.

Goals are important to maintaining psyche levels, and goals should be achievable, stretching and measurable. For instance, me saying that I want to do Voyager would certainly be stretching, and measurable, but perhaps not acheivable. If I said I wanted to do the Green Traverse then this would certainly be acheivable but its not a stretch. You get the picture. When I went to swiss before xmas I wanted to do three things, and I set my heart on them - I studied the videos on the interweb and watched what others had done and then when I got there thats what I did. I had a goal, I trained specifically and I was lucky and it paid off.

If you feel uninspired, a trip is a great thing to give you something to get excited about, but sometimes the lull runs deeper and maybe you need to walk away and do something else for a bit. If its true love then you'll be back!

(am full of cold and havent been climbing since before xmas)