Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Swizzers 2012

Switzerland. The land of soft grades and the easy 8a? I don't think so. Things get done in switzerland not because they're soft, but because they're basic, and because basic climbing you can replicate indoors. And the weather is better. It doesn't mean the grades are soft, just that you're successfully able to precondition yourself to be able to do the climbs there. Of course, as with any area there are sandbags, and there are soft touches. Could this be the set up for me justifying a big holiday trophy I've bought back? I wish! more like it's I want to feel better about not doing anything! 

You watch the videos on the internet of people doing hard things, and they make them look so easy. You forget that the people in these videos are the international wads, they are eight stone, 6ft4 and have practically unlimited time reserves. Expecting yourself to pull out similar performances on a week long trip is expecting a lot. I was laboring under the pressure of matching the last trip. Two 8a's, each in a session - surely 8a+ would be possible with a bit of grit (and cherry picking) and determination?

Me, Ben Pritchard, James Foley. Switzerland. One week, a whole host of hard things to do. I'd been dedicated, made sacrifices and felt strong on the board. My pre trip board project had gone down, the signs were good. We get up ludicrously early to catch a plane. Spend that afternoon having a potter around to get moving and shake off the fog of travel. 

Next day we go up to Cresciano again to meet the other team (Sam, Lu, Rubber Chicken and the illegal immigrant). The first sign of a problem is that my wood soft skin feels sore on the warm ups. Bendy gets on La Pelle and does a couple of really good links. It looks like he could do this classic problem. We have a go on Franks, and I quickly realise its not something I could easily do ever. James looks really good on it, getting his heel in and coming off matching. Then we go up to Stinky Pete, which is one of the lines of Cresciano. Its high and with a bad landing, so you need a team to do it, and finally I'm in one. Three of us keep getting up there, but bailing out before the top. It takes a 14 yr old tree frog to show us the way, but noone else summits. An italian midget in a muscle vest turns up and I get told off for grooming him. We go to la proue and I make a try. These holds are jugs. Honestly - they are. But that foothold is shit. Its like a quarter of a marble. I manage to take my weight for a millisecond but cannot move. We go to La Boule and those two do la boulette, Foley with an alarming flourish on the rounded top out, uttering the immortal words 'I'm sketching' as he scrabbles for purchase. 

The top thing on my list was the Freak Brothers. And on paper this one should have suited. I reached into the crimp and it felt good, I was suprised. The problems I had been setting on the boards had smaller holds than this, but it wasnt linear, it wasnt a simple function of finger strength, it was a wierd body position thing. I experimented about with it for a bit but my skin hurt and I didn't really get very far. Shit. I really wanted to do this one. I think its a great looking problem and it should have been up my street. Hmm. Talking of good looking problems - boogalagga! wow. 

Next day we go to Brione. James is to get on Fake Pamplemousse, I want to try ganymede takeover, and then we plan to explore some of the bits we havent been to before. I feel whalloped. Ganymede feels more basic than Freak Brothers but everything hurts and I dont get too far. James makes progress on the pamplemousse. Bendy and I rest. We go to Molunk, past the cellar door. Molunk looks brilliant. I'd deliberately left my boots in the car, but it looks so good I run down to get them. Leaving James to work out the sequence. I end up doing it in the dark illuminated by my friends headtorches, and with a madmans 8b sequence. 

Bendy had rested completely at Brione. And I needed to rest today (wednesday). He had looked so good on La Pelle, that was what he wanted to do. A lazy start to let it get out of the sun, then we started him off at Hannibal Lecter. Very quickly he was getting to the lip, but didnt feel it was coming quick enough but that he was warm, so we went over to the main event. He seemed to struggle to get going, but eventually put in some really good links - I know he still felt there was quite a lot to do. We head over to la nave va to finish. 

Somewhat rejuvenated, i return to Freak brothers on Thursday. I feel good and immeadiately the difference is obvious. I get closer, but am some way off the pace still, and eventually realise am going backwards and stop. Dammit! We go to find Dr Crimps and Bendy and I manage to scratch our way up razor blades. Hideous. Now we drive back to Cresc, and this time me and James go to Hannibal Lecter. I manage to session flash it, and James gets really close. Bendy makes another try on La Pelle, but is more tired than he realised, and despite eventually battling through to put in some good links, it doesnt come together. I had a half baked idea about trying the direct, but its fully 8a+ in a move, so I stop. 

We spend the final day up at Brione again. I get closer to Ganymede, but skin is really hurty, and despite doing some more moves, I cant bear the pain and give up. Bendy suddenly has a Pamplemousse epiphany and works out how to do the first move. He's getting up there on every go, and even gets his left over the top at one point. Sadly he doesnt finish it and comes away empty handed. James makes good progress, has more goes than jim, but misses out as well. We go to find General Disarray and marilyn Monroe. That hold on Disarray is brilliant. What a nice piece of rock. The spoog is out in full force and we cant remember what Sam said to do. Make progress, but a confusing sequence and bad conditions stop play. Finish the day, and the trip up at Molunk where I realise my sequence from the other day is a very hard way of doing it, and manage to find an easier method. James and Bendy get close but dont do. We walk out broken and ready to be going home the next day. 

So, lessons learnt : Its good to be feeling strong on the board, but you also need to be outdoors rock climbing to toughen your skin and deaden your finger nerves. Pick your battles - get on them early in a trip. If you can't at first then either use will power and don't do anything, or pick something else you can get on. Know when to stop and when not to try. 

Be realistic about what you can honestly expect to achieve in a weeks holiday. Remember you're not an 8st professional climber and set your goals appropriately. Or, set stretching ones, but dont get down about it when you dont achieve them. Most of all, remember that its just climbing and that you are on holiday. Have fun with your mates. Take the piss, get drunk, eat party food - life's too short!

Monday, 16 January 2012

90's computer games

I remember when I first met him. It was at the Edge comp, and he was 16. I burnt him off. I managed to keep doing so for perhaps as much as a year after that. But he pushed me. I had to try really hard to keep in front, and then suddenly, he was ahead. We were friends by then though, and I considered him my protege. I was pleased, and I bathed in the reflected glory that he brought back. All he had to do was accompany me to the nineties hotspots which I remained obsessed with, and try to stay awake on belay duty. 

I am of course talking about Leicester's answer to Fred Dibnah - the three times British Champ Nedwin Van Der Freewilly. The point of this misty eyed reverie was that he seems to have made another leap forwards of late. He's gone from being good to in another ballpark good. I'm psyched for him. He flashed who needs ready brek on Saturday, and Tetris, then took a few goes to do Columns. I was impressed. Then he nearly did that thing of Dan's round the corner. All this whilst injured! 

Ned's always maintained that he is a behemoth in the weight stakes, and he certainly is heavier than some of the stick thin teenagers we see flinging themselves between crimps, but that's because he's a solid clod of milky white muscle. I've gone really hefty since xmas, and seemingly no amount of being good is helping. That said, I am being good, but I could be better. Life's too short to deny yourself everything, but with Switzerland at the end of the week, I could just do with dropping a few pounds. Wonder how heavy i was last year? it doesn't say on the blog either. 

Anyway, this all struck me after meeting Ned and Ben Thompson (ripped face) at Tetris along with just about everyone else in the western world. With Mushin wet it was a bit mobbed. Although a cold day, the sun was out and it felt greasy. Didn't stop Ned flashing it though, and Ben doing it and Columns too. Watching Neddy on Columns made me appreciate how good he's gone. I don't think he comprehends the many ways you can fail which I can think of. I mean, I look at something and think that looks hard, I can't comprehend of how to do this bit or that bit or whatever, whereas I think he looks at things and thinks - that looks ok, and can just do it. Little shit. This was how it was with me and the alphane moon last year - I'd watched the videos, knew I could pull on those holds, and so I approached it thinking I could do it. And do it i did. Self Belief is an under rated component in success. I'm not saying that if you believe you can do anything you can do it, just that approach things with winning in mind, and if they are realistic you WILL succeed. 

Tetris is a good looking rock climb. Would benefit from being overcast though. I do it in the full sun, but compared to going back on it to showboat later on - it feels a different kettle of fish when the sun has set. And what a sunset! I have no concept of how to do Columns. I just can't compute the motion required.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Dick Splinters emails - episode 2

Dick Splinters sent me another one of his long ranty emails. I thought you might like to read it, so here's the best bits : 

"I fucking love it when it rains. It means I can go on my board and PULL DOWN! Its always in condition my board. When the weather's fine, I feel obliged to go out with my 'friends' and lurch between gritstone breaks whilst my feet scrabble uselessly behind me. They're not real friends, if they were they would come and sit in the sofa behind the board and coo as I flick effortlessly between glued on matchsticks - 'oooh Dick you're the best' they'd say, as my legs scorpion kick behind me, 'gosh Dick, it looks really hard, you should be able to climb 9a now', and then I show them the first hour of my fingerboarding DVD - including the bit where I do three back two one armers holding mum's Metro Vanden Plas with my free hand...." 

I've seen it - this is impressive. I haven't seen a vanden plas in that condition for some time. 

"I went to that 'Climbing Works' place again. It's ok like - i mean, the two corners are, but there's this whole punter section in the middle which is baffling. What training benefit is there from slabs? who climbs slabs? Yeah, Adam Long - and look what became of him. Anyway, I saw that Chris Webb-Parsons guy there. I think he works on the desk or something - he had that vacant stare only reception will give you. I think he's got a tattoo of a manatee on his paunch or something? I'm going to get one this lunchtime. Man, that guy has a hunchback almost as pronounced as mine. I went up to him, and I said - 'Hey Parsnip - how many tens have you done?' he didn't know what I was talking about, so i said 'You know, v10's - bet you've done at least three haven't you? which ones? is it the terrace? I've done the Terrace. Have you seen my video??, is it true you had to have four goes on Deliverance?', he started trying to walk away, but I rugby tackled him and tried to pull his trousers off to see if it was true that he had bulging muscular thighs and a tattoo of Pat Butcher on his thigh. It wasn't."

I think he must have been thrown out after that, as there was some sort of commotion there the other day. Anyway, he's got community service to do, so he had to cut it off after that. And anyway, those were the good bits. The rest was just agonising about wooden crimps. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sparkly Duds

I got this message down my internet pipe yesterday. It's from my old mate Dick Splinters : "Yesterday I went on the board. I felt pretty strong really. I think I was probably the strongest man in a vest since Keith Bradbury did Il Partner on that telly video of Creschironico. I've got massive guns. Then I didn't acheive my potential at some esoterica outdoors and finally I went rowing. It was brilliant." Great update there from Dick. Think he is bound to have a good year. 

Once was the time when there would be almost daily updates on this blogroll. But then again once was the time when it didn't rain every day. There've been opportunities of course, dalliances and odd scuffles but nothing worth writing about. Then came Xmas, and with it annual leave, everyone off together and more time for everything. I managed to get out once. Once throughout the whole break! It wasn't lack of chance, it was just wet everywhere. 

On that day I had heard that the great Jon Barton was going to be at Rivelin, and I thought if I could just get to meet the great technician, maybe I could push into the upper 5's. Ed and I cracked open our autograph pads and set off. Extreme mud scene on the approach. Cheeks and beaks wet, as was the thing to the left. Nik's wall also wet (i think this looks doable! that so many capable people have failed suggests it must be harder than it looks), then we went up to Faze action which is good (didn't do it). It's all a a bit wet really. The wall won't be a bit wet. The wall will be dry - and we can have a coffee. Only got a short time - want to make the most of it. But the sky is clear, and it feels like copping out going to the wall. Perhaps we should stay? yeah, but this is the last chance before xmas, and we both want it to count. If only Jon Barton was here - he'd know what to do. 

Master Kush was wet when we got there, but drying out and probably climbable if you are really good at rock climbing. If only Jon Barton were here. We mince around dancing to Shakira's She Wolf (aroooo!) before heading off on a recommendation to look at Sparks. And there he is, the technical master - poised on the mats beside a complaining Dolly. In a mere hundred and fifty goes he has dispatched the complex and brilliant Sparks with an implausible 3D sequence straight out of the climbing works (literally). The day ends and we head off on our respective christmas holidays.