Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas climb, mistletoe and wine (‘cliff richard)

M62 has lights all the way until Hull where they dissappear, the road becomes the A63 and repent! signs appear with a backing of accordian music. I was home for christmas. We had planned to climb on christmas eve but everyone seemed burnt out from the working week ending with a massive meal on the friday (a fish pie, 3 portions). It was crumby weather anyway so I sat out christmas eve struggling to figure out Sony Vegas 10, I know it has the potential for great things but at this early stage I am leaning towards my old Premier Elements 7 as it fulfills my editing needs with user-friendly ease. One thing in favour of Sony Vegas is that it renders like a demon and I think I have my settings on lock down now, still room for tweeking. Short term goal by the end of 2011 is to learn how the fuck keyframes work without silly flying text like in the video below (defence: Steve did it).

Alex Mason, Hull’s 6th/5th best climber, sent me an excited text early that evening explaining that his grandad had kitted his van out and did I want to spend the night of christmas day in it with him and Scoobie his terrier. I was already keen before he mentioned staying at Ilkley so this just sealed the deal. After christmas dinner (standard, 2 portions, 1 cheesecake) we headed out. Ilkey moor was dark ,mild, very wet and our intended session on ‘Ringpiece’ did not look promising - it looked like a log of turd attached to a block of algae. It was a comfortable nights sleep for two below average sized males + dog in Mason’s little van, the carpeted capsule, good cubby holes and wayyyyyy cheaper than a T4 etc. I’m psyched for my own but just need to drive first, slight niggle.  

In the morning Ilkley was still grim but drying, however the wet had set in deep and ultimately Ringpiece was fucked, we left after climbing a beautifully chipped V4. Caley was green and soggy as went passed so we drove on to Almscliff, perma-sweet. Almscliff was blowing like a french hooker in a hoolie and mother nature got some note worthy takedowns on me, meeting the other Hull lads we went over to the roof while Alex set camp on Underhand. We had a team re-send of Dolphin Belly Slap, a technical gem and then moved onto Demon Wall Roof. Noaks managed to finnally end his efforts on this and got it done 3rd go whilst Billy and I failed in the usual spot (left hand on crimp rail, hand on undercut bringing inside right foot to flake). I thought I might have been too stretched out for it and had the height/flexibility excuses prepared, but prior to our burns Ben Bransby climbed it with the undercut method, so I have no height excuse. I need to to get full crimped on left hand not just hang it and also not wear rock star 501’s (kind of an excuse), as soon as the right foot takes weight on the flake its on as I feel good on the crimps to the break where the difficulties end. 

Venturing down to the Virgin boulder I reclimbed the boulder start to the gypsy with a close spot, this felt quite nervy as last time I went on this a year ago I slipped from the undercuts with the heel lock in and swung upside down listening to my ankle make some horrid cracking noises (blurghhhh), no such dramatics today. The day ended with a team faliure on Syrett’s roof (tired) apart from Mason who also did tea spoon variation which looked shit to me but I had forgot the crazy heel over your hands beta which makes it classic. Over all it was a good day but the wind was particulary brutal and  the temperature mild to the point of warm so the rock didn’t feel in a good way at all. That said, checking my logbook I hadn’t been out since the start of December so I really was rather happy to be out rock climbing again.

Got back home to Sheffield, and it does feel like home now, to find an obviously pinched christmas tree in our living room decorated with rock shoes, crabs and a tin foil star. It is good to be back. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Bad skin days

Structurally my fingers have never really let me down, they are getting stronger and progress has been good but the fleshy glove that covers the mechanics has always been a major gripe of mine. I have always had naturally sweaty hands; nothing too dramatic in normal life but in climbing it definitely holds me back and I have gained a fairly deserved reputation for my hands ripping off holds in all manor of cringe-inducing ways (a personal best being the crimp on razor roof, see previous blog and bloody knuckles). The other issue is that my skin has been getting calloused like a rookie and cold weather seems to create sharper edges on these due to a lack of blood in the hand, these then crack creating a little crevasse of hate I attack with re-active sanding. Both these poinst can be addressed easily with anti-hydral and pro-active sanding. Im unsure with anti-hydral because people who don’t have a major problem seem to use it and fuck their tips by being over eager, does anyone else have experience of it's use? (That’s if anyone else reads this blog other than me).

with the top rope practise over it was time for the headpoint

The weather has been well and truly wack the past few weeks, this coupled with work and parties meant little has been done. Went to the Roaches with James and Jo last Sunday, I finally did the outstanding stretch ‘n’ mantel, submitting to a double handed pop from undercutting the break rather than a stretch in the end. These dynamics felt memorable, controlled and I think it’s a better method as it simply has more steez than fumbling around for nothing positive at full stretch facing a gritstone goatee if your foot pops. We milled around here for a bit while Jo clocked pad time on teck crack direct and James went upside down ticking the funky ‘Thud’, a problem with a problem start is more ways than one (the sufficiently nerdy will get this). There was notable tick for James here as he flashed Inertia Reel, which requires a typically Dawsian approach in order to tick and so it’s quite a cookie to snaffle first go. We headed over to the Tetris bloc, climbing Joe’s arête on the way, an over polished low grade beauty, so quite like Tina off Corrie. At the Tetris bloc, there was a Polish crew on the title problem; by hanging back and watching Jimmy gave a valiant flash attempt getting left hand on the crimp and going for the jug sidepull but sliding off with the high heel, some foot knowledge was found and the problem sent packing around 20 minutes later. I failed on Trust again; it wasn’t so much about trusting the smears as trying to engage them as when you pull onto the slab - using one of the best sequences at the roaches - your body position makes it feel like you are front pointing crystals. Ahhh back again then, oh what a shame. NOT. James flashed it (he didn’t flash Nadin’s traverse though, this is a bitter word-punch to the kidneys on the Noble so I hope he never reads this as I will in turn receive a physical one).


Steve has been selling/not selling Christmas Trees in exodus back home in Beverley, poor Steve/Boycee. I cannot wait for December to end, what an expensive short day month.


Inertia Reel Traverse

Monday, 12 December 2011

a dip in the font

In early October this year I Went to the Fontainebleau forest for the first time with
Tom, Liz and Mikey. We stayed at ‘The House’ in Tousson owned by
the English climbers Ru and Andy. We caught the ferry from my old hometown of Hull and sailed overnight to a very boring part of the
world, drove in the rain through the centre of Paris which was a rookie error (exits on both
sides???). The weather in Font as we arrived was warm, pretty damn warm,
pulling into Tousson around midday we had an afternoon of climbing ahead and
headed to nearby Roche Aux Sabots. As we arrived in the crag car-park I
couldn’t see the boulders yet but I could see the trees around and how
very flat this place was. Walking up the path I could see boulders on the
right, then some more, some more and then a fuck load, I was shocked as my only
other experience of a boulder field was Burbage south. Regardless of climbing
the shapes of these boulders are fantastic, they must have been sculptured to a
design set by a clued up municipal council board, they must have (cemetery
boulder didn’t look so unrealistic now)

The main area looked busy so being the shy
English types we slinked off to the wings. The first problem was something like
4a or lower and nowordofalie it was the best problem I had ever done up to that
point in my life, perfect sandstone jug sidepull - smear out left – bossy
sloper – top – magic. The next problem was 4b and it had my
trousers down, ‘oh no’ I thought ‘so it begins’, I’d
been told and read that I would get spanked but I didn’t realise it was
going to happen on 3s and 4s, there were some 5c slabs I couldn’t even
start. Humbling.

The next day it rained in the morning so
we headed where the sky looked less dense and ended up in some forest near
milly-la-foret looking at wet boulders, the rain and falling leaves made it
feel like a scene from cult ‘nam film hamburger hill, so obviously I was interested.
From here we screwed on heads straight and went to 95.2. That is to say we went
after a mahassive walking session down the rural autobahns interspliced with
more rain and a general group sense of disillusionment as we looked down the
barrel of a potentially washed out trip. Complete melodrama based upon past
experiences as it stopped raining pretty quickly, faith was then restored after
Tom threw a wobbler and stormed off with the guide capturing hill 95.2.
Following the red circuit round here it felt that climbing on fingery limestone
and small feet back home was better practise for font than any gritstone. This
was due in part to our habit of orbiting around slabs that gave off the false
impression of ease but were in fact hard, very hard, a lot of the slabs have
tiny egg shell edges that are similar to that dyno problem on the Eagle stone
at Baslow, which is hard.

On the way back from 95.2 we went back to
sabots as I really wanted to try Graviton, which is known to be a quality easy
7a. Those who know me will testify to my lack of flexibility so it was bizarre choice
for me as the beta for the hard of strong is a mental mantel using a big heel level
with your head. You run your hands up a baguette type flake and latch a
beautiful sloper pinch, Pete Whitty your right foot onto the slab above your
head and mantel it out so your right fidgets onto a moyenne crimp which by
crimping the bejesus out of brings you flailing onto the top. Spiceworld. Riding
the wave of success we went to try cul di chien which we then failed on, I couldn’t
get my foot on the piton or flex it to the top of the flake (gutted) I wont be
going back until I can touch my toes or im strong enough to do Eclipse,
whichever comes first.

Waking up on our second to last day I could
see clear blue skies and with an exciting chill in the air we headed to Istasis.
Starting with the steeper faces we climbed reds on the broken ivory panels that
adorned most of the boulders here, it felt good to be pulling with my fingers
rather pushing with my big toes. Walked up to l’angle bens but an aggressive
looking dog and 3 Spaniards camped out put me off being the socialite I am. I can’t
remember which day it was but one time from the same parking we went to Cusinierre;
this was my favourite setting as the boulders were spread about on an idyllic hillside
browned with nature’s needles surrounded by high waving trees. Tried and
failed on a few things here in amongst the reds and blue victories, but all the
while I was overawed by the giant hanging arête of misericorde (7c+), this was
the most impressive problem I saw in Font this trip and I will do this, so help
me Goddo I will do this one day!

The last day was a Saturday and we had
been warned against Bas Cuvier but I wanted to go, even after capitulating and
heading to Buthiers I still got my own way and we pulled into the grotty cuvier
lay-by a bit late on in the day. Buthiers had been a bit too high for the group
- there are some seriously impressive boulders there which would have enough Es
on them to give kids migraines if they were in the peak. I can’t wait to
get back as Attention Chef d’ouvre is face climbing at a great height and
when im not shit I can fail on the certified off the chain arête of Partage. Anyway,
Bas Cuvier on a Saturday is pretty grim, there are used condoms in between
boulders and millions of people of all nationalities, from quiet to shouty. I still
like it though as again the boulders were mental looking. If you’re a bee
at the honey pot you better get stuck in and this particular bee prides himself
on being able to fall well so I headed straight to the carnage bloc and tried helicopter.
As this bloc has partial tree cover and It was slightly drizzly the whole world
was there which is good for pads (it was like a hippy commune) but bad for
psyche (I’m a climber, get me out of here). When it’s this busy I feel
a flashback to being at the skatepark as a kid, waiting your turn to drop in
and land your trick or slink away having bailed and avoiding the next skater. So
it was here, I had pathetic attempts on helicopter dodging people on Berezina,
carnage and l’abbatoir, with a particularly annoying pissant Parisian lad
who would fail on carnage assis on the assis part then make a grunting noise
and storm off in a passionate rage.

This was just a recce