Monday, 28 February 2011

NoRider again.

Well, the weather was wrong then wasn't it?! It was supposed to be shit on Saturday and nice on sunday, and whilst Saturday did start off meeting expectations, it then went on to exceed them by the afternoon. Figuring to make the most of the drying effect of the wind, I dragged Ned up to Lowrider on Saturday afternoon. To be honest, with hindsight, my undoing was my lack of preparation. The warm up was the hike up the hill through a bog and head down into the wind. A few pull ups on the jug at the start and then quick ascende of the end. Felt grippy. I felt good, it was surely on. We quipped that I would have to be quick about it before we both got frostbite. Which was to prove prophetic. Had a fanny go, forgetting the feet and making it hard on myself, called it a warm up go and sat down to rest before a proper attempt.

This came, and it went well, but not well enough. I turned the lip and got eyeballing the jug, but things were slightly not right and I couldnt take a hand off to go for it. Started the waiting game again. Shoes off, trying to keep warm, even hiding in the green cleft with Nedward for warmth. None of it worked. Body heat was departing fast. Squeezed bloodless white paws back into the teams and set off again. This time it was solid. I rinsed to the jug, sorted myself out and locked up to the rail, feels good, taken it in the right place for once, and then my left hand comes in, and its better than before, I know I've got it, and I can weedle myself into position. I kick my foot off and round to the unhelpful hole thing. It actually feels like I'm going to do it. Start to udge for the sweetspot, looking for that position where you are assured of success, and just as I find it - POW, off blows my foot and I am earthbound, suprised, gutted and cross.

Further attempts come and go, and I get back there about four or five times, but never quite as well, and I leave empty handed. My right foot is so cold that I am back in Sheffield and home well before I get feeling back. So, lessons learned : warm up properly - and possibly somewhere else. And, Lowrider could be one to leave until May.

I am surely due a mega week of account closing. So much failure recently, but so close and so many irons in fires on a number of things. Imagine the mega week - Lowrider, Zoo York, Trigger! That would be a takeaway curry and beer justifying weekend.

Monday, 21 February 2011

More from the cave

It appears that North America has a much more stable, predictable, and more importantly - dry weather system. You can probably pick any weekend in the right season in Colorado and just organise a weekend away with your chums and get to go rock climbing. On actual rocks. All that can be certain for the UK climber is that nothing is certain, and that you shouldnt commit to anything until the last minute. Which, when you need to book your time off with the wife, is tricky. I had the weekend arranged months ago, and all that we said we would do is choose something to do as late as possible, to avoid last years wet county weekend.

As the week wore on (and it did wear last week), the weather looked definate. Definately shit! A big bank of wetness was set to sweep east across the country, but as it was a band it would leave Wales first of all, so it had more time to dry out before we got there, and so thats where we went. Only getting out of Sheffield was difficult enough, as it was impossible to get up out of Ranmoor! Down worked, and we were soon on the way.

The cave was busy, and cold. And damp. Although, not so much so that nothing was climbable, and we set about trying to do stuff. I witness a chap making the kneebar look easy on Trigger, some chaps from UKB on the right hand side, and lots of scary wet holds and unexpected dismounts.

Finally manage to close the Left Wall high account, although make no more progress on Trigger. I think i need to be pushed through the move to the shothole a few times, as I just cant do it.

Sunday went to CityBloc for a change. It was cold when we got there, but soon warmed up. The problems are good. I am tired today. Martin Smith is a good climber. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


It was a funny week last week. Volume of work is ramping up at work, but thats really not very interesting, and as we don't dwell on the humdrum, let's talk about rock climbing. Or at least, a very small amount of rock climbing. And cafes and cake.

On the subject of which, I took my young protege cake testing in the new Oakbrook tea rooms. Which is a nice cafe, new, and on Oakbrook road. It has good coffee, and does homemade cakes. On a lesser, but still important note, it has nice wall paper on one of the walls. I dont think they ran out of money and couldnt afford enough for the other half, more that if you put it everywhere it would look busy and might induce a migraine. What cakes do champs eat? Pecan brownies. What cakes do aging hasbeens eat? Lemon Polenta cake. I took the monster for a coffee on Friday and had a walnut and coffee cake. Polenta was better.

That same day I met with UKB's, and the internet's Italian ambassador - Lorenzo Frusteri. What a nice chap. With wild intense eyes! And re-met Michelle Caminati. We met at the Climbing works, warmed up and then drove out to try lowrider. In short, noone does it, and it was a bit wet. But the interesting thing is that finally I tried it the 'other' way - i.e. feet one side, hands the other - its loads easier! punter! So, three or four times I get to the end, but never do the last move. Its quite annoying that I have had to spend so long going on about it, and walking up that hill, sloshing through the bog to get there and try it a brutal but ultimately duff sequence. Ah well, thats the way it is sometimes.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sea Fog

If climbing on the gritstone can be compared to smoking weed, then the cave must be to climbing what crack (or crystal meth) is to drugs (i imagine). Hard, manufactured, crushing, addictive and with a faint stench of burning plastic. But to the user - its brilliant. And yesterday? soggy.

I wanted to go to a wall somewhere but they persuaded me to stay. It did feel tacky in places, and with a lot of work, and the adoption of far out new techniques such as chalk damming we made it just about climbable. If nothing else, it gave us a leisurely warm up. In the style of Jim, almost right out of the car - Bendy shot across halfway house, a quiet fell as he dropped into the undercut, turned and slapped for the shothole - good effort! but sadly he missed, and this was the best go of the day.

Dylan and I make tries, a bit of progress but noone does it. With so many pads we can make a platform from which to try the top. Its not easy! when you see videos of people doing it, they romp up it when they get the shothole, but its not as easy as it looks.

Jim, meanwhile, has set about Left wall high which is soaking. He manages to make it climbable and busts out some good links. I join him at the end and have to say - I recommend the climbing on this little sideways shuffle - its brilliant.

We leave, broken after a good day and doing some hard moves. Jim and I discuss how the reasons you go climbing dictate whether or not you will like the cave. Adam describes people training on boards as weightlifters, and to some extent thats what cave lovers are. For me, climbing is about pushing myself and doing hard, previously thought impossible moves. I want to feel like i have done something at the end of the day, I want to feel like I have had a workout (hence the weightlifting analogy), but for others thats not the way it works. I suppose we all like to push ourselves, but some revel in the physical challenge of overcoming a sequence of moves you arent strong enough to do at first, and some in solving a technical challenge.