Tuesday, April 24, 2007

North Wales

I went to North Wales with Ali and Dan last week which was fun. On the first day we went to Gogarth. Ali and I were a little over ambitious with our plans for the day. We wanted to do Positron and Citadel, both extreme rock, main wall, E5s, before lunch and go to another crag in the afternoon. We flipped a coin over it and got the lead for positron and ali for citadel.
Ali set off up the start of poisitron confidently stringing the two easier pitches together. While I was belaying the tide was coming in at a startling rate. This coupled with the fact that after pitch one the route overhung the sea considerably, made the climbing pretty intimidating. On second I found myself battling with the first 6a crux, a wet jamming crack, where falling may have left me hanging in space with no prussics. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little psyched out, scared even so when I made it to the belay ledge I was overjoyed to find that ali had missed it and was belaying 10 ft along the crux pitch. This gave me the perfect excuse to pass the lead over to him as it would have been awkward climbing around him and he was pretty un-comfy there anyway. Ali cruised the pitch which was pumpier but less awkward for a wall rat like myself than the smeggy crack on pitch 2. Still I don’t regret giving ali th lead. We then made the epic HVS girdle off the crag to find it was 4.30 and the base of citadel was now in the sea. Instead I led the classic E2 the Strand. I placed most of my gear in the first 3rd of the route and began having to force myself to run it out between placements. I topped out with no gear left. Thankfully there was an in-situ belay.
A couple of day later we went for a short day at the cromlech. Ali warmed up by cruising right wall in the most blistering heat which I made him strip on the ab. I did Left wall which is the best route of its grade I’ve done. I made a special effort to take more gear on this than the strand but once again I managed to top out with no gear left. Monster pitches. Had a quick look at the bouldering and then we headed up the road. Cool place need to go back.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hard Grit

Was down the grit for a couple of days this week staying with my mate neil. I was pretty concerned that it would rain and we wouldn't get anything done but it was worse than that- IT WAS SUNNY. First day we went to burbage south in search of the cold. The boulders were in the sun but the routes werent. Warmed up on some classic e2 called zeus (i think) and another called the sord. Then we went for the onsight solo of equilibrium the e10 at burbage. unfortunately for me and my dreams of fame and glory i fell off getting to the ledge which is a route called yoghurt in its own right and the route we were really trying. i gave myself a fright and decided to go bouldering in the sun.

I nearly did a problem called Zaff Schynlhvrlnvl/v;l? but kept greasing off. one for next winter.

The next day the bad weather we were wishing for arrived and we went to the climbing works which is better than grit anyway. Did loads of problems there.

redpoint heaven

My finger is still buggered on pockets which is crap for my sport climbing aspirations but good for my crimp strength. I've some how gone from needing 10kg assistance to hang a half crimp one handed to being able to do (unconvincing) one armers on the small rung of the campus board at the wall. Thanks to this i managed my bug bear 'in bloom' at dumby which is for me the hardest piece of climbing ive ever done. Later that week i also did crouching tiger ss at kyloe in. On my first day trying it i managed to catch the finishing jug, swing out, swing in and then snap part of the hold off (leaving a razor lip which ripped 6 flappers in a one-er on michael's hand). Whether or not this counts i went back a couple of days later and sent it first try of the day. Feeling tip top but yorshiremen ss and the crack are holding out for the send. Need stronger shoulders!


It's been a rollercoaster of emotions. highs, lows,scares, laughs. I got back from spain and got straight into training for my trip to France. Was climbing rubbish and had been for a while so was a bit down as I often feel climbing is my only reason for continuing with this futile existence. Well i didn’t understand it. i was training hard, not that overweight-maybe i was passed it. I just felt drained all the time. One day through sheer boredom i decided to read the leaflet that comes with my food supplements and to my horror (or relief?) i had been taking this thing called Manganese that has a side effect of causing muscle fatigue. I have since disposed of the offending pills and started reading small print. With Manganese out my system things were looking up and i was psyched for my trip to Fontainbleau near Paris. Perhaps a bit too psyched?
My travelling companion began regularly calling me in a state of distress. "that's another person who says we need a car to get there sam" they'd say. I'd reply "calm down, I’ve been 3 times before and i know what im talking about" By this i meant 'i can't afford to hire a car but we might be able to walk'. To make matters worse we were scheduled for two weeks of solid rain and our planned accomodation was a small cave we may or not be able to find. Un-deterred, on the 10th of January we bounce landed into Paris Beavais airport after being ripped off by our 'cheap flights' new policy on the shape of our bags. We then paid over the odds to get an overcrowded bus to paris. A quick walk with all our stuff and we were at the subway. A quick journey and we reached Paris-Gare du Lyon Station. An hour and a bit later we were in Fontainbleau-things were going pretty smoothly. It wasn't even raining! According to my not to scale map we were only a short stroll from some of the worlds premier climbing venues. As we began to walk there was a crash of thunder and i felt a drop of rain. After a while it was dark and we were stilll walking and it was still raining on and off. After a close encounter with a very friendly old man we gave up lay down on the side of the road and fell asleep.
Thankfully the next day we awoke to blue skies and I even knew where we were. To round things off we made it to the climbing and had perfect weather for the next week. With our stuff safely stashed in the forest we were able to hitch into the local town, Milly la Foret. In fact we were probably hitching about three times a day and so it was inevitable we would meet some characters. A cackling drunk lady who wouldn't let us out. A really hot mum and daughter(apparently "she was too old and she was too young" but i couldn’t tell). A power-sliding homeboy complete with bandana, heavily reclined seats, a pumping sound system and a disregard for safety. When we got out he shook my hand, slapped his chest and help up a fist. "later" i replied in a squeaky voice. We even met a pair as lost as us. In fact by the time i realised they were asking for directions i had already climbed in their car and gestured towards the cave. They reluctantly drove onwards and even more reluctantly stopped when we asked as i clearly had not taken them to the high street.
Evenings in the cave were equally exciting. I invented a new sport called 'French Sticks' or Crack-a-stick as it became known on the street. Basically through a combination of skill, determination and finger strength you and your partner take it in turns to crack bits off a twig. eventually it becomes so small that it becomes un-snapable and the player with the stick at this point loses. It's important to pick a dry stick but dont worry about your twigs girth as variety adds spice to an already spicy game. When we exhausted ourselves playing crack-a-stick we would kick back and make animal noises or have a thumb war.
After being charged more by ryan air my low budget trip became quite an expensive but i enjoyed it although next time i go to font i'll get a car. I returned home to find that my university interviews started that friday so i had 4 days to prepare referees instead of 3 weeks it was stressful but I pulled through and i think they went ok. I felt on the best form of my life climbing but then disaster struck and my finger exploded. I decided i needed a vacation or at least something to take my mid off things. Perhaps something like Series 3 of the OC on DVD. But i was skint and no1 i knew owned a copy. "i know" i thought ill ask my friends on the scottishclimbs.com forum. To this i got replies like "Maybe someone could loan you a sharp implement and you could remove yourself from the genepool?" and my favourite, from the articulate BH, "Would someone please delete this shit". I never thought my fellow climbers could be so cold.
And so this brings me to right here right now.In the last few months what's changed? I'm poorer and my finger hurts.