Monday, July 16, 2007

The Darkness Beckons

Now that I'm nearly through my couple of weeks off for the finger injury, I'm starting to get excited about going climbing again. Everyone seems to disagree with me on this one but i reckon going bouldering is probably the best option as i'll be able to pick the moves i'm doing more easily than on routes. Unfortunately it's mid summer, it's wet; not ideal conditions,and just as i start climbing again I'll be back to work. Not to worry. I'm going to get into my summer night bouldering(might have to get a big group-kyloe could be scary at night)! The video is probably a bad example of how to push your grade as a lot of booze had been consumed and, well, you can't see very much but this IS footage of Matt of Penrith doing his first 7a in font.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face- for ever.” (1984) Part 2


The next day was spent resting my finger and watching some damn yanks climbing. They were all there. Dave Graham was trying the Biographie Ext. at 9a+. He was getting pretty close and I’m sure he’d do it if he wouldn’t insist on talking the whole time, even mid-crux. Just spraffing shit in several languages all the time. So much so that from about 3pm onwards (when he started trying his route) the overhanging walls of Ceuse would reverberate with echoes of Dave Graham’s whiny voice. One day Nick, Ben and I made the fatal mistake of catching him up on the walk in. All his ‘friends’ had run away and he trapped us behind him. He then proceeded to talk at us. As I didn’t get much of a word in edgeways, after a highly political rant of his, I got the chance to have a ponder. In conclusion I found that the political spectrum is not a linear thing with right at one end and left at the other but rather a circle where right and left meet at their extremes. I’m still undecided whether he was a bit too far left or a bit too far right for me but he was certainly pretty open with people he’d just met.
That afternoon I watched Chris Sharma doing an 8c+ called No Future. He’d done it before and so the film crews weren’t watching. Pretty impressive but something was wrong. Where were the power shouts? I’m sorry to shatter some people’s illusions but Dosage films are the WWF of climbing. Everything is staged. A definite low point came when Josh Lowell (the film maker) shouted down to Chris “could you do that again without your top on?” Something which is real and which I’ll bet you heard here first is Dani Andrada’s girlfriend running away with Chris Sharma ( sorry if you’re reading this Dani).
For all their flaws those guys are actually quite good ambassadors for the sport at least when compared to B-list celebrities like Shawn Diamond (yeah I’d never heard of him either). Don’t be fooled by his Hollywood good looks which disguise an impenetrable heart of solid ice. He is the most elitist prick in the whole world and he just stares blankly at anyone who tries to talk to him of my standing in the hierarchical grade based stratification that exists at crags like Ceuse. I didn't realise he was famous when I did this so I just thought it was quite funny that he was so unfriendly.
Anyway my finger didn’t get better so, after one and a half days climbing in nine I came home. I don’t reckon it’s too bad, I’ll start climbing again in a few days it’s just ceuse isn’t that much fun when you’re injured. By the time you read this. Nick should have done scary classic Femme Blanche 8a+, Ben’s probably done l’ami de tout le monde and Donald will probably have sent 7b after a year of climbing. On my last day he cruised the 7a Ananda on the cascade which involves some serious power endurance for the grade and certainly would not be my recommendation for a first 7a. Dave will probably/hopefully have realised by now that if he can do a 7c it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over graded and Iain Pitcairn will hopefully have done away with Arnaud Petit and stolen his women.
Ps. If anyone knows of any routes/blocs with no pockets for the left hand and no crimps for the right let me know.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face- for ever.” (1984) Part 1


Every journey has a beginning and mine began on the number seven bus (I just missed the 11). I was on my way to the train station where I caught the train to Newcastle followed by the metro to the airport at which point I met Dave and we caught a plane to the south of France; the sport climbing capital of the world! This all passed in a haze of euphoria and before I knew it things were going wrong.
It began small and gradually got worse. “No train to Gap tonight…. (O)nly as far as Marseille tonight.” ‘Oh well’ we thought ‘it’s only a morning less climbing, we have three weeks’ and off to Marseille we went. Judging by the view from the train station Marseille seemed nice, like a sort of Mediterranean Edinburgh, hilly with a castle type thing. It was late and our bags were too heavy for a walk so we contented ourselves with lazing around in the waiting lounge of the train station. Well we would have but Dave made a horrible miscalculation in the properties of glass windows and failed to walk through one face first. The cataclysmic bang sent the kids inside into hysterics and Dave decided he couldn’t face sitting in the same room as them so we headed back outside. It was getting darker and the beautiful city of twenty minutes ago had transformed into a ghetto with packs of rabid dogs, prostitutes and gangs of scary yobs wandering about. We bottled it and in a fear induced illogic we decided it would be safest to go and hide in the bushes at the end of the road. Surprisingly we managed to get to sleep; I was quite comfy. I was sleeping good until 4.17am when a homeless man tried to steal our bags and simultaneously Dave was attacked by a rat (presumably part of the homeless man’s evil army of the night). After that we decided to stay awake till our train and off to Gap we went.
We arrived at Ceuse in the late afternoon and so decided to head up to sector demi-lune for some easy mileage as we were a little sleepy. Being as ridiculously psyched as I can sometimes get we decided to take the long route, passing all the sectors from the cascade along, mainly so that I could wallow in self obsession and talk about my epic struggles on routes and I suppose also to show Dave around. Any survivor of the Ceuse walk in will tell you how preposterous it is to take the long way anywhere. But we were psyched.

That evening I did the classic 7b, Lapinerie, which I’d fallen off the last move of on a previous visit but which felt more or less like a flash. I also did that nails 6c slab just to the left which I’d always been too scared to try. It was actually quite easy for a slab in France.We headed down for the night and having forgotten a head torch headed to the barn to read a book. As I walked in I was surprised to see the quickly mutating Inverness crew of Ben Lister, Nick Dubhost and Donald Slater. That day Ben had sent the 8a+ Seurs Froids and nick had done his first 8a Carte Blanche. Ben was telling me about a route he was trying called L’ami de tout le monde which was a route I specifically wanted to try so the next day after a morning session at the cascade Ben and I headed over to have a play. The route follows a pretty cool line, so much so that I’d picked it out as one I’d love to do before I even tried it, but I think what makes the route so world class is the funky moves. It’s basically three boulder problems on top of one another each of which finishes with an all out dyno to a jug and then a pumpy finish above. In between Ben and my attempts Yuji Hirayama popped in for an on-sight ascent. Even as 8b goes Ben and I agreed that all the wild precision dead points and slaps would make it desperate to on sight. Yuji however has some sort of divine connection with the rock and seems to know where all the holds are anyway before he even pulls on, pretty mind-blowing. Any way at some point I tweaked my right ring finger trying this route.....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Things looking up


Good news. My passport came and i'm going to ceuse. Better still my sister bought series 4 of 'The OC'-oh boy!