Wednesday, 28 March 2012


I must have hurt my back last week as getting out of bed Saturday morning for work it had stiffened up to pensioner proportions. I couldn’t find any ibuprofen so took 3 paracetemol instead and thankfully Ally gave me a lift to work. I waddled back home after feeling a bit better so we went to meet Steve at Curbar. It was hot with insects were everywhere and the annual death of grit bouldering could be seen on the horizon. We saw what appeared to be a walrus soloing the classic VS climb The Brain but quickly rubbished this idea as they’ve only been spotted on well protected Severes. On closer inspection it was merely a topless Ramsden and holstering the spear gun we made our way across to him. “What Ho! Fellow clamberers!” Steve said as he boulder hopped towards us, “I’ve got a bully idea”. Steve’s idea was, in short, that we climb on god awful crumbly greasy grit in order to appreciate better conditions. “No” we said, “lets go home” and with intrepid expedition leader Wood at the helm we roped as a three and moved to the summit ridge path back to dear Blighty.

It was slightly odd watching Ally walk around Curbar as she, like previous non-climbing friends had been, looked really unnerved by anything other than a well maintained flat path. It’s an extreme example but it must be strange being scared so easily by so little. Don’t get me wrong I can get as scared as the next wo/man but irrational fear is crazy, I tell myself this when I go above a bolt but it still somehow creeps in “How long has that bolt been there? How will I swing? Why do I always grab the quickdraw?”

Went to the Life on Hold Premiere at the works that evening; enjoyed the movie and the lectures before. The film was different to how I had imagined it from the 2nd trailer with hardly any narration or interviews but with a lot of great footage of problems around the UK, Northumberland being a highlight (gutted footage of ‘The Young’ was not in the main film but will be in the DVD extras). Filming has always been a minor passion of mine and I enjoy teaching myself new tricks, so I have been hatching a plan for a while now (financial fingers crossed). Luckily Adam Bailes is a massive geek and is guiding me through this DSLR video path like a shorter, more flexible Gandalf.

Sunday came and feeling a bit groggy we headed out to the southern peak, getting a bit lost on the way, heading towards Beeston Tor at the base of the impressive Manifold Valley. I hadn’t been to this area before and walking along the dried up limestone riverbed it all felt rather foreign. More so when we started pulling up Buoux-like fixed ropes to the belay ledge of several routes, we were not alone here and so started a busy day of the cliff. Steve lead up the 4c approach pitch which on its own would justify every negative stereotype of UK lime trad. vegetated, polished and not cricket.

I headed up the E1 Pocket Symphony and really enjoyed the pockets with the polish not being a problem as I think I would of got lost without it, 3 star pitch.

next we adventured over the roped 'path' to the right hand hand side and Steve dispatched the E3 Majolica which gave threads galore and a really impressive set of moves for the 5c grade. I was a bit apprehensive but a little pressure helped and before I knew it I was all up in the first hard move with a two finger pocket stretching for the bottom of a big pod. this pod has a giant thread and 'pint'pot' handle to shake out on, with bad feet. A few deep breaths and it was in to the crux, with an undercut mono and shallow dish for the right hand, as I pulled up my crimps rolled on the tiny ball bearings of dirt and I felt unsteady but I pushed through with my head like I was swimming for the surface, breaking through onto jugs and an archaic lower-off. Steve then went to the classic of the crag Black Grub E3 5b looking for a battle, but didn't get one as he cruised his way tot he top, telling tales of its wonderful sustainedness. I declined the lead as I want to come back and was feeling happy with my day. I'll be back for Grub and the Beest!

Chris locking on undercuts to crimp problem
Driving home in the sun I wondered whether I should go and try weedkiller but the long dy had taken it out of me and we fell asleep wartching a film within 5 minutes and a beer. knackered.

Guardian reader
Last night I headed out with Bob, Tash and Chris to the Tor for the first evening session and even with a late start it was chilled and getting shady. I did the last 3/4 as a warm-up convincingly and felt like it was on but after 2 attempts I had slapped the top jug twice and felt drained. Chris gave me some beta to kake the last throw less powerful with an intermediate pinch which looks good. No problems though as each go was a personal best and the power endurance is coming along thanks to the attempts. Planning to go friday evening and end my siege, feed thy people, and hopefully set Jonny up for the flash.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

dying days

Happy spring reader(s?) (Hi Mum!)

This weekend was a weekend of firsts, first time night bouldering and first time at the tor this year, both were great and bode well for the future.

Jo has been trying and nearly doing Dick Williams at Secret Garden for a while now but hampered by the weather it’s not been the fairest of fights. On Friday we packed my lamp and headed to chase the sunset with an ace up our sleeve. I was worried the lamp would be wack and the ace up said sleeve would turn out to be a soggy bus ticket to Wigan but all was well and it works, the pictures don’t really do it justice. Ideally you would want two and then a head torch to blow out the shadows. Its not overkill environmentally light pollution wise and pretty light. I am happy with the purchase and am glad I read the associated UKB forum thread before I made the leap and parted with my £40,8731.msg334047.html#msg334047 (cheers guys)

Beach ball 

Jason's Problem

Both Jo and I were not successful, I on the first move and she on the last. We were well lit though. I have never attempted Beachball so moved onto that, I can get both hands to the first set of slopers but with left heel locked in and right leg flagged under my hip gets wedged against the lip and I can’t get any udge at all to gain the finishing flatties (positive thinking). After very nearly flashing Jason’s problem Jo came over and got to the same point using her right heel and in my opinion a lot more burl. We’ll be back but it’s a skin eater and nearly ruined the rest of my weekend’s climbing! We Blair witched it back home and had a noodle inn dinner, followed by a healthy dose of STI at the Redhouse, Bailes and Pete were super drunk for his Bailes’ birthday.. Me and Steve walked 3 miles at 4am. Not psyched.

Thomas the tanked up engine

Sleeping in ‘till one on Saturday we nipped out to Curbar; having conveniently missed a bit of rain in the morning. Steve wanted to do Lepton ultimately so we started on ‘Thomas and the tanked up engine’ which I’d seen in the guide but not been to. It’s a lovely piece of climbing on sidepulls with the direct ‘Phat controller’ offering more of the same quality with crimps to start direct. The little quarry here at the very end of Curbar is a hidden gem and offers a great circuit of positive holds. ‘Seams simple enough’ looks hard though. Moving on Steve onsighted Lepton which looked as described, V5 hard and scary right at the top with a bouldery landing, using Adam Long’s proposed grading id say a !! rating as you could get away with falling off but really wouldn’t want to. I declined my go and was worried I had lost a bit of boldness, but any fears were alleviated as I flashed a pretty scary arĂȘte called ‘Vain’ a bit further along. After a few more climbs the rain shat it down so we left.


Sunday brought the first day of the Tor and official springtime. James had started work on Keen roof while Jo was working through Ben’s roof. I wanted to work Weedkiller and thanks to Shrewd beta (this is a fucking hilarious joke) for the finish I can do it in overlapping halves, thankfully I didn’t drop the first crux move once in all my goes so I am looking to end this siege in bloodshed next weekend. I think it’s a good choice as the length leads into routes nicely. To top off my weekend I finally did the direct start to Little Extra and felt strong on all my goes. Its coming together!

And now a word from our non-climbing self:

I think that I talk a lot in awkward or new situations in order to fill the silence which I am not comfortable with. Others are. As time goes by I get familiar to the person or situation and I seem to get quieter, the polar extremes of this theory being silence with my family and virtual white noise in the opening days of a new job. Is this is an excuse? Possibly this may be true that I am just lazy with my language, but lets just for a second settle down on this appealing idea. If I am quiet with you, take it as a compliment for now until I can speeka da English more.

I used to think I had low blood sugar, so I ate a bag of wine gums and nothing changed. I had an inkling I may be a ‘victim of the modernity’ and had lost my verbose posturing through the use of electronic communication, but disproved this when I realised every time I answer my phone its like someone is squeezing my bladder and I just have to go go go. “Oh no no no”, I thought, “I am depressed” so I thunk positive and it worked I was happy but still no sounds came out, just a massive grin and the same Vonnegut quote running through my mind “if this isn’t nice, then I don’t know what is”.

My ears, whilst selective, work well in normal conditions and I do enjoy stories of all kinds however minor they may appear on first recital. I enjoy what you have you say and write as long as it’s got passion (not Mills and Boon)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

no summits

I feel on the verge of something good, possibly an improvement. I am a good weight, I feel strong in areas where I was weak at and spring is just about sprung. But mentally I am low, in regard to climbing anyway. Since my last update I have been out twice, that’s twice in three weeks, owing to a move into the new flat, family commitments and an expertly timed solid two days of rain.

Noble on some squeezed in 7B left of crystal

Before the moving Saturday and hospital Sunday I had anticipated a shit fit if I didn’t climb so on the back of a good forecast I booked the Friday off work. Sure enough the forecast changed midweek and it was raining with moody skies all around. Discussed options with Jim and he was keen on climbing at Roche Abbey after a brief look earlier in the week. I had heard of the place a while back because due to it’s location it was popular with Hull climbers. Driving towards Barnsley for climbing seemed odd but after a bit of a deliverance village we pulled up at the Abbey parking. One buttress is directly behind here and sticks out the hill like a miniature crag, it looked quite French for reasons I don’t really know (the whiteness maybe?) We walked further along to the buttress with the problems Borg and Crystal; Borg was slopey and hard whilst Crystal felt undoable after the initial pulls. I did neither. Jo has climbed them since and says she found some good sequences so not all hope is lost, I was following noble beta after all. After James cleared up we moved back to the first crag, there are a number of 6 and 7s here along with some desperate problems. The rock is nicely featured with crimpy breaks and water worn pockets but some of the pockets are really painful, more to the left hand side where the lime is textured rippled, one of the crimps felt like it had the point of HB pencil in it. I flashed the two 6C’s, one went well while the other was sent in rather more dramatic style involving a dynamic fingerlock to keep in the slanting crack. That marked my highpoint and even with James showing the methods I just couldn’t figure/do any of the 7s. We ended the day by locating the serendipity crag, a sweeping wave of blank rock with some very very hard problems on.
looks like the famous painting

start undercut crimp on serendipity

The next weekend I had work and then a plan to climb on Sunday, chips were pissed on as it rained on my parade in grand style so I went to the foundry with Barr Bar the black sheep to climb routes for a change. Predictably I was shit and 6b+ felt like it used a monumental amount of energy and my soul to climb, but it did feel very good to be doing moves on a rope, especially on crimps. Need to fall off though, haven’t addressed my shit falling technique yet.

Im bored.

Competed in the CWIF this weekend with Jonny, failed on a lot of problems so I came very close to last, fun was had so I don’t mind so much. Part of 9/10 climbers says to climb in social situations you have problems with so this was quite the deep-end for that exercise with big crowds and pressures. Sunday was a beautiful day and quite warm so with Steve, Al and Laura went to Burbage south to seek shade. I have wanted to do the Knock for a while so held myself back from other problems only for the sun to have baked the top-out to a lovely finish so my balls shrinked and I ended up doing nothing all day. Steve wanted to climb ‘Above and Beyond the Kinaesthetic Barrier’ and after a few goes at a duff sequence we watched the beginning of a gritstone year on YouTube where Jordan Buys goes tumbling down the hill, this provided the beta and Steve got it next go. Watched the CWIF finals in the evening and had 3 free burgers (thank you works) so the day was not a loss.

I feel like it’s about to kick off but something is in the way that I can’t describe. Reading 9/10 climbers I think I may be in the dip of the curve where I can’t see where I started trying harder or where this is all going. I need to keep going even if it feels pointless and all will reveal itself. Because I believe I started climbing late on (22) it feels like a race against the clock to be at a level where I think I should be, I can’t help the feeling starting but its getting easier to dampen it by seeing how long other people have been climbed and how they have developed (I am not alone). The climbs don’t change (much) and will still be there when I am ready, and I am getting there.

Oh, my dads got a new hip and the flat is well nice if you were wondering.