Friday, 28 December 2012

When will it end, soon.

Christmas is generally a time of great happiness and great anguish, the peaks and troughs of the year just gone gather up and mimic the pulse readings of a cardiac patient.

Meeting up with my dad for Christmas number one he was sporting a full and multi-coloured beard, the spectrum going from grey to dark brown to highland ginger. I looked at it intently as I have always wondered where the tinge of ginge comes from in our family. I think somewhere in the South African and Kentish there is an Irish line.

I spent Christmas at the traditional family epicentre, My Uncle and Aunt's in Felixstowe, South East Flatlands. I met my Cousin's baby Owen for the first time and he was every bit as brilliant as the pictures I'd seen. Pretty little chap all the time rather than parents just getting lucky with the photo. Presents were given and received, food slaved over and served, a great day and no television in sight.

Climbing has been non-existent for a week, a strange feeling and possibly time to reflect, I'm so happy that I climb, no regrets, reflection over.

Before I started travelling I had met up with the Barr and gone to the Foundry, everyone seemed to be climbing strong and the vibe was great, crag style wave action. It's a funny old thing feeling weak as piss in one area then better in another.

We are all plate spinners, the variables in this task are the size and quantity of plates. I don't have many so the task is relatively easy – bouldering, stamina, head. Others have larger plates – rock, winter, alpine, bouldering. These plates are expensive in both money and time but ultimately you get a big meal off each one and god damn you must feel nourished. Some have lots of little plates like 7” vinyls – aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, power, endurance, recovery, finger strength, core. These people dine tapas style and to feel truly full will smash in all the plates at a given point (obviously in a pre-planned frequency) . I'm bored of this metaphor I’ll go somewhere else.

I had a plan to climb with Steve and Alex at Caley but as I arrived in a very wet Hull my bubble of positivity began to lose shape, finnally bursting when I found the lads slept in the back of Al's Van. To top it off the pair of them were absolutely ruined, they smelt like Yorvik Viking Centre on a rainy day. We went for a greasy spoon and decided a plan of action, with climbing off the menu the obvious choice was to go shoot stuff with the Ramsden Gat. That was fun for about 35 minutes, balderdash – 45 minutes. I finished my hull trip with a few pints at the Adelpi, a little extension to someone’s house that some big names have played in through the years, Nirvana, Oasis, Me, all the greats.

It is not time for new years resolutions yet, there's still a weekend between now and the end, my only friend, the end. 2013, I don't like the number, not for superstitious reasons I just think it looks naff, like an 80s film's stock future date and we sure don't have a cure for aids and jet packs yet (soon though right?)

RAIN RAIN everywhere, RAIN RAIN all the time. This is England.  

Friday, 7 December 2012

The hang man and padded grit

I thought I had got over this stage of my life but staggering out onto the street into the waiting car my body held a familiar nausea deep inside. Mark and Chris had turned up a bit early on the already hellishly early start*. The night before I’d wandered out of the work Christmas party drunk off a free bar into the Harley where I enjoyed myself for 10 minutes before a hard case/soft twat gesticulated wildly in front of me with his forehead. He was asking all manner of searching questions, “whereyafrom?” and the evergreen “you a fuckin’ student?”, when I replied ‘Hull’ and ‘no’ he seemed to calm down to psycho level 2. I walked home before I became his ‘pal’ and he told me about his problems with the country.

*8.30 on a weekend, I’m not a fucking alpinist

We picked up Barrows and drove to North Wales. The cromlech boulders looked a bit damp but seemed ok. Whilst climbing on grit it’s easy to forget there are numerous types of holds on other rock types rather than subtle undulations. Warming up on the roadside even my dried-up brain was appreciating the grips but every time I pulled on I got a rush of blood to the head and a flume of sick to the throat. I couldn’t really move in a human way so as everyone moved over the Jerry’s Roof I got my camera out and filmed for a bit. No-one did anything except Barrows, nonchalantly dispatching Huffy’s Problem, however I missed this due to taking pictures of a dry-stone wall and a snow capped mountain, dewy eyed idiot. A man walked past with his dog and was asking about what we were doing, must have strong fingers etc etc I asked him what he was up to, he was at the end of a recuperation period having been shot in the knee whilst on tour in Afghanistan , the man was a very jolly Ghurkha, he said he liked these small hills and the snowy tops reminded him of home. It started raining and combined with the bitter wind we retreated to the Orme but not before I bet Chris he wouldn’t dunk his head in the freezing river, he did and I lost 5 quid – idiot.

It was dusk as we pulled up at the cave, the one problem I wanted to try had a wet crucial crimp so I filmed again, my head thumping so bad I wanted to cry,piss or shit, anything to decrease the pressure. Mark made a good link on Rock Atrocity and Barrow boy attempted knee-sex with every unwilling angle he could find. Once again Barrows sealed his own fate of us all hating him by being the only one to send something. The not so wobbly block start to Rock Atrocity after tommy dick fingers broke it some years ago. We drove home and I started to feel ok in bed.


The morning was crispy and blue, like an old crisp that’d gone blue. . .with mould an’ that. I planned to get a lift out to Stanage with Oli’s dad but Chris had seen the light and decided against lime on such an obvious grit day. It seemed a bit on the busy side as pulled into the plantation car park, what did I expect? It’s a dry cold December Sunday at the plantation, the Bas Cuvier of the Peak. Jon the bastard and the Chris the Barr went to captain hook, Oli and I went to warm up the head on crescent arête. Two goes then up to Archangel, normally I leave the ‘big’ things until late in the day but Oli was keen so I decided to just go with it. Sorted the pads out and made a nicer landing, the Grounsell flashes it with a few skittering moments. Nate Dogg turns up with a crew so after putting some more bedding down I set off, make 3 or four moves and fall off. Nice one. It’s a good job I hadn’t been thinking of this route for a million years or else I would have slightly gutted! I waited for a bit then set off again, every time you looked up the sun would blind you while it warmed up the fingers side of the arête. The smears were cold though, the smears were more important. I went up in normal shit style and felt ok bar one strange feeling moving my right high onto a good edge, I never felt in danger due to the pads, just a bit excited, I wish I’d done it without pads. Everyone else goes up and we’re all happy.

We had loads of pads and after the gully of Archangel the landing on White Wand looked friendly. We put them all down and had enough for a reasonable size WWF match but before I could suggest this Nathan had set off to show us the sequence for the crux. I’d watched Steve on this before and knew it revolved around getting your foot in a pocket and matching the arête. I’d also seen Steve and Nathan fall off this quite high up without much bother so I was ready for it. I set off and used a toe round to keep me close as I reached up to a really good pocket, high left hand on the arête where it starts to get good then a right left smear combo to match right foot to right hand in the pocket, it felt like a mirror image of the same move on Acid Rain at Rivelin, as I stood up in balance I realised what I’d done and said “Shit, why am I here”. I fell upwards climbing the arête but thanks to how sharp it is and convincing myself I was safe I had my hands on the break and gave out a shout. I knew beforehand I would traverse off as Steve told me the top arête, E1 in it’s own right, was a precarious number better led for the likes of me. I wanted to top out though so traversed for a mile and went up my favourite VS Fairy Steps. I will go back and lead the whole thing, to experience White Wand the route rather than white wand the amazing highball. Happy. Burnt Oli off as well, finally.

The day was still young and I was done so spent the rest of the day milling around, chris was trying Brad pit and looked to be making progress. With the amount of pads we had it seemed only sensible for us all to try Big Air, I jumped and failed, as did Oli. Then jumped and caught the hold then failed, as did others. Ben got really close slapping(!) for the final pocket and hang back harry Nathan only went and flashed it.

A great day, only marred when I left Chris’ boulder bucket and he had to run back for it. He didn’t even call me a cunt.