Tuesday, 29 March 2011

St Beefcake united

This extra hour knocked off has knocked me for six. I feel exhausted, but then I suppose I did get up at what my head thinks is 0445.

I last wrote at the end of the Mega week, and I am saddened but not suprised to report that that was indeed the end of any greatness. The void of obscurity beckons!

The night after I was last wittering, I got called out at 0300. I was then working right through till 1300, when I took my leave and headed out for some fresh air. I was rubbish. Felt really strange and nothing worth writing about happened. The point in telling you this is that whilst I am fortunate enough to sometimes get to do stuff midweek, I do pay for it occasionally with out of hours things overnight.

She and I went to the Lakes for the weekend (19/20). We drove up friday morning, arriving beneath clear blue spring skies, the summits jagged across the horizon and the ODG glinting in the distance (we were in Langdale). Set up camp, and legged it over the hardknott pass to the coast. To say St.Bees was further than expected would be something of an understatement. Granted, we had taken the direct but twisty route, but still - an hour and twenty minutes! Anyway, it was a nice day for a drive, and very stunning situation. Turns out St Bees isnt actually at St Bees, but north at Sandwith. Anyway, the PDF on lakesbloc is spot on, and with exellent, clear directions we arrive and pay for parking at the farm. A short trot up the track to the light house, and I can't emphasise enough quite how beautiful the setting is - 270 degrees of sea, clear blue glittery sea. Wow. Then a death track. Well, actually we had a refusal on death track one which lead to trekking off round the head towards whitehaven to take an easier but still deathy track down. Then once you get down its epic getting around, slippery and involving tottering across a rocky platform over death chasms. And, going down on that path isnt even where the boulders are! Eventually we get back to the original path, which is right by where we need to be, and the first impression is on how incredible the rocks look, and of how amazing the shapes the water has carved are. But there isn't much. Plus, its 1630, and we have to leave at 1730. I do about 45 minutes worth before we trek back up the cliff to the car. A dash back at lightspeed ensues and we arrive at the campsite, mildly car sick and having missed our table. We have no signal to phone through, but after a moments deliberation get changed and decide to try it anyway. We arrive and there's space, and they fit us in. Both finally relax and have a lovely evening.

The saturday isn't as stellar a day as Friday, but its still good. Bowfell is in cloud, but the crinkles occasionally come into view, so up we get and off we go. I think we left at about 1030, and we were atop bowfell by lunchtime. Then back along the crinkles and down back to the pub for about 1600. That first pint was brilliant. We had another, felt quite pissed, then went back to the campsite to get showered and wait for them to start serving food. Went back to the pub, ate, drank a bit more but by 1930 we were bushwacked and back to the campsite we went. Now dont think of us struggling into a tiny tent, oh no - we had rented a wooden camping pod. Which is basically a wooden tent. The plan was to watch a film on the iPad, but by 2030 we were both fast asleep. Sunday it rained, so we left early and went to see my sister's new baby.

So, i got back to work on the Tuesday to find out that one of our suppliers had been hacked and that I needed to spend the week sorting all that out. This was last week, and that consumed most, if not all of my time. I did make it to the pass on tuesday afternoon though, and set about working Mr Fantastalog again. Ultimately, I didn't get anywhere, but I feel like I learnt a bit about what will be required. Popped in at the cave on the way home and worked out a method of starting halfway, then back to Chester where I was stopping that night.

Finally, to finish off this rambling tirade - at the weekend I met Neddy, Nick Brown and Micheala (caminati, not the bleached climbing works stalwart) out at Burbage. Old Micheala wanted to get on Voyager, I wanted to do the Sphinx, Nick was up for anything, and Neddy wanted to sit and think about football. Micheala had just done Full Power. We both did the Terrace again. That shot hole is loads bigger than when I first did it. Then I did the sphinx. Nick and I fumbled on Giza and Micheala furtled at Voyager. Michaela got me to push him through the start, and the thought which struck me was how ferkin hard his back was! it was like benching a granite man! he is the most ripped man in the universe! You could cut yourself on his abs! His torso is like a badly peeled potato. Thats what you get if you climb 8c I suppose. Anyway, it starts raining and we end up back in Fritzl's champ chamber hanging off strips of wood.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


"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."

A week ago on Tuesday afternoon, after years of on and off trying I finally did Zoo York at caley. I wondered if the 'mega week' was here. But, as thursday passed and was rainy, I thought there was no way. Thursday was the Low rider window and it'd rained. I had no window at the weekend, and Monday was the day before my cave chance. In my head, this meant I wasnt going to get lowrider within a week of Zoolog. Anyway, the whole thing was just a ridiculous joke anyway - theres no way I'd end all my seiges in a week... was there?!

She and I went for a lovely and long walk on Sunday. We parked at the Strines inn, walked up to Back Tor from there, along the top of derwent, passed the Salt Cellar and down over the moor to Moscar. As you know, it was a stellar day and we revelled in our beautiful surroundings. On the way down towards Moscar heights, you can see clear across to Lowrider, and it looked beautiful. The late afternoon washed out winters sun bathed everything in a Constable-esque glow, and I loved living in Sheffield at that moment. We stood together looking up at Stanage and thanked our stars that we'd ended up here, and all was well.

Monday was also lovely. As the day went on I wondered whether there could be a synergy of intention between my desire to not do too much today (as preparation for the cave) and my dream of getting lowrider done. I realised that if I went to the wall at 1500 then I could warm up there and still get to lowrider for 1630. That, I realised was enough time to have a couple of goes, plus - the having to drive and walk up the hill would mean i wouldnt thrash myself on the board and potentially be in with a chance tomorrow too.... Perhaps the mega week was still open! At the wall I recruited Geordie Tom, and together we marched up the hill to Stanage far end.

The problem was all dry, it looked like someone had been on it over the weekend - the holds were chalked rather than washed clean. I wonder with hindsight, this made more difference than I realised? Anyway, pulled on and did the end. Felt good on that top seam thing, so I did it again just to reinforce. Brilliant. Set the old stopwatch, brush the holds and sit down to admire the other aspect of the walk we went on yesterday. Beep Beep Beep! I pull my boots on and take some breaths. My expectation is to fluff it on this first go, after all thats usually how it works on the first redpoint of the day, but not this time. I turn the lip of the bloc and I feel good, I know I have enough beans to do it, and as I latch the seam i feel good. My left hand comes in and I just feel i have the hold better than when I tried before, and I dont feel tired. I dispense with all this clever left foot beta - which just feels unnatural. Without allowing myself time to think about it, I squeeze my toe into the hole and feel for the position. Like a shift light in a racing car it flickers on and I reach casually into the jug! Awesome! felt so easy when it finally went down as well!

Tom is well psyched, and I wonder about doing it again, but getting him to film it? but he reigns me in - as I am climbing the next day, it would be folly to do it again for the camera. I see the logic, pack my stuff and walk down. Drop him off back at the wall and am home by 1800.

The forecast had warned that yesterday would be foggy and not so good, but it was down to 40 on the snake at 0620. My journey to Chester took ages. I didnt get to my desk before 0815. Had a busy but productive morning, finished at 12, jumped in the car and inbetween lid fulls (forgot spoon) of pasta salad, completed a conference call and hurtled down the a55. Lets just say that the weather wasnt promising. I'd spoken to Rupert who mentioned that at the weekend it had been like this but that it was actually quite good in the cave. And on arrival it sort of was. certainly there were people there, and the holds were the right colour and so on, perhaps there was a chance.

Gangly scouse cave lord Rich Hession loped around the classics with the energy of a man full of caffeine, Rupert and I scuttled around the wings trying to get some warmth in our bones. Realise as I start getting sucked into elimanates at the RHS that its time to start Trigger, so I pull Dylan's mega pad into position and set about creating a platform. Leah, Ste Mac and the Gresh arrive. My first go is log, feels wierd dropping in to the undercut. Second go is better, but I dont get the second hold right and therefore its hard. However, it sort of shows me what I need to do, and on the next go I get that second hold really well, I bone it and it feels good. I twist into the egyptian, take the undercut, turn the gyptian back and have a pat at the shothole. I have the height I have the speed, but I dont actually hold it. This is food for thought, I realise that to get the shothole you dont have to lock to it (unless you are Ben Bransby), you have to slap it from the position I have been in so many times. I start again, this time I just decide to go for it, I will try and hold on if I hit it, and hit it I do - bang! its a flippin jug! I dont believe it! You know how in videos everyone rinses to the top from here? well I know why - its easy!

Well, I know what it is - compared to what you have just done it feels piss, but pulling on there its still quite hard. With the shothole nailed, i rinse to the top basically footless in a trance at having done it. Wow wow and triple wow. I am so pleased, but in the back of my head I want that digital prize, I want it on film! exchange pleasantries with my chums in the cave, and have a few goes on halfway - which feels desperate! Then I decide to try it again for the camera. Once again i hit the shothole, hold it and rotate out to the side pull. I keep getting flummoxed with my feet, but as my left slips off it forces me to adjust. Fighting to hold it together I manage to get to the strong position and lurch through the jugs. Phew! thank goodness for that.

Here's the video of this second lap :

So there it was, the three nemeses crushed! the mega week was reality! Imagine for a moment, being Mick Page - mega few years! Anyway, diminutive geordies aside, I was happy, three great and hard problems done, on to the next goals. Which are? well, I was thinking about this on the way home, and theres halfway in the cave. If the block goes back on then theres in hell. Also, Ru and I tried Clyde - which is actually really good. So maybe that (scary). Over here theres HTY sit. Those things at Curbar - plenty in short, but the main event - Mecca, is what really looms in the distance. So I need to up the PE training I think.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Zoo Log

Doing well in competitions isnt about being able to climb 8b (or even 8a for that matter), its about being able to flash 7c all day. Sadly, I'm really bad at flashing problems, hence I got to the top of a lot of things on Saturday (CWIF) but not in as few goes as were possible. The problems werent actually that hard, they were just easy to fall off. This was a comp which rewarded climbing ability over strength and training. Splitting the qualifiers was a great move and it made it much more palatable going round as a competitor. However, the new holds soon took their toll and many people were wincing as they reached the latter stages of the morning. If I climb well then I love comps. If I make silly mistakes then I spend ages kicking myself and remember why I dont do them any more.

So, after what was ultimately quite a disappointing performance at the CWIF I didnt think I was climbing very well, had lost sheets of skin and was a bit down in the dumps. Watched the finals on Sunday and wished I was there, cos its always a great atmosphere, but Sunday night is about drinking wine and winding down, not getting hyped up, so I watched on the internet. Monday was the first chance to get back in my corner, and who should I find there, looking on misty eyed, but the godfather of 7b+ himself - John Welford. He's torn a bicep tendon and is rehabilitating, so isnt actually on the board, but has naturally gravitated in that direction. The final problems are still on the wall, and I am excited to explore the new surface - which, I have to say, is brilliant. Gone is the impressive but too steep bennett corner, gone as well the barrel, the corners of which saw many a knee wedged against them. In is the multi-faceted more reasonable angle and with it a totally new experience. I think its a big improvement. Considering it wasnt planned and Andy Long and Pickles wouldnt tell them what they were getting, what they came up with is great. Quite competent that team.

Busted out the womens final problems. Including the one none of them did. Felt dead tough, until it was pointed out that A) I had seen 3 of 4 done, and B) I only flashed one (thanks Graeme). Did no mens! The far right one which the slovenian man flashed - so impressive - this is about 8b! Nearly did the next one in (the one they all did), and nearly did the mantle the box on the slab on the far left, but got the fear and bottled it. Used more than my share of beans and didnt really go on the board.

Which meant that Tuesday was actually the second day on. Another corker of a day, but I hadnt wanted to climb outside on Monday as i was trying save skin. Finished work and drove to Caley. I think the problem with me and Zoo York has been that I have been quite close for some time, so I have had the attitude that I 'will just get it done' and then do something else. When actually problems dont reward presumptuousness, and I kept getting things wrong and getting shut down. This time I warmed up properly, took my time and only headed up there when the idea of swinging around on that tape box edge didnt sound horrific. I also prepared properly when I got there. I marked the holds in the right places, cleaned everything and took the time to set the pads right - giving me confidence that all was in order before starting. Finally, rather than just starting it, I did it from standing first. To reinforce the top. Then I did it from the undercut, to further reinforce and to get the idea of doing it in my head. It felt good, I felt good, but the edges of tiredness were present. Doing all i could to ignore the signs and empty my head of everything I set off from the start, and didnt take the edge right although tried to continue, nearly made it as well, but it wasnt to be. On the next go I didnt get one of the toe hooks right first time, and had to weedle it in, which took the edge off and I failed again.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for me with this problem was in my head. I had to work hard to totally empty my head of everything before setting off. I had to get myself to stop thinking about what I would do when I had done it, stop thinking and wondering whether i could do it, and believe! Emptying ones head is actually harder than it sounds. I actually didnt feel as good as I started as I had on the go before. Before, when I got to the undercut, I felt strong! I thought I was going to do it then, but this time was more ragged, I felt a bit wild as I took the undercut, but managed not to think about the consequences and carry on. Boom, hit the edge, not got it right, managed to adjust it - which is incredible! ,kick the toe up into the toe hook, spend a bit of time weedling it into position and take the hand off - it holds, I get to the sideways nubbin in good control and start to take the swing, working hard to scum my right foot against the wall as I go. It feels wild still, but I kill the swing and slap my heel on, before I have time to think, to wonder if I have the holds right, I slap my right up to the ear and again, get it boned. I dont stop, try not to take stock and lurch rightwards for the sidepull, the problem here has been that this is a bit of a non hold. Its not very helpful and it points the wrong way. I dont actually really stop on it, just tag it and bounce on to the jug - cos I know I'm coming off I think.

As the fingers of my right hand close around the jug, the thought that I dont have it properly and I feel a bit pumped flash through my head, these get brushed aside as psyche takes over and I kick my foot up to the tape box edge. For a moment I think I'm boxed and wont be able to get to the top! This fleeting thought goes the way of the other fleeters as my palm sinks over the top sloper - thank god I marked them! I match up and mantle to glory. As I do so, all I can think of is Martin Smith who fell from here before he did it. Thankfully this doesnt happen and I scamper over the top delighted to have ended this siege. I slump back onto my pad and compose a text message. Its 4pm and I have an hour to go, but I almost want to stop now and go home.

She and I go out for dinner tonight, and have a lovely evening, but I wake up the next day with a cold! must have been trying hard!