Friday, July 11, 2008

“Thoughts jostled for space inside my crowded brain as I struggled to give them some order which might serve to motivate my listless life"

(from Eurotrash by Irvine Welsh)
Okay, I’ve actually got it pretty good. I go climbing loads, work and go to university pretty sparingly, have a roof over my head and too much to eat. My Mum asked the other day “why are you so miserable?... It could be worse”. To which i replied “of course it could be worse. It could always be worse, at least on paper. In practice, if it really was that much worse I probably wouldn’t expect so much from life and my misery levels would remain pretty much the same. Wouldn’t they?” I don’t reckon the third world is as depressed as the developed. Well maybe but either way I was born a half-empty kind of guy also known as a prima-dona.
In June I went to Ceuse in the south of France; The Best Crag in the World tm. I’ve been there four times now and I would have to agree that it really is something really special; miles of unbroken, immaculate limestone, no choss and a huge variety of styles from pumpy slabs on crimps to pumpy roofs on pockets, all guarded by a walk in steep enough to get your aerobic kick: bliss. If you haven’t been, go. Unfortunately I just wasn’t that psyched. Guess I’ve done it to death a bit. It probably didn’t help that it rained for the first 8 days and I’d been on placement for the 6 weeks leading up to my trip which had meant I wasn’t really able to train and was therefore not feeling too fit. By day 12 it got really muggy and I begun ripping a flapper each time I went to the crag. By day 16 I was just fed up and bored so I booked a flight home. Everybody else was on form which, being an evil sadist, made my trip even worse. Yes Donald, Penny and Helena, I wish you’d all blown your 7a flash. Mwah hahaha. Ross Hunt is ripping it up out there too, on-sighting 7c’s and cruising hard 8a’s with veins bulging from his pecs. I must admit I liked him better when he was tubby and weak. Unfortunately he’s a nice guy and I’m yet to find a legitimate reason to ditch him as a friend.
My plan when I got home was to get strong and/or do some classic mountain routes. It was raining quite a lot so I got stuck in to some training which is going okay despite feeling weak. No one-armers, unassisted deadhangs or heavy weights for me. However I had a good day up the Brack in Arrochar last Saturday with flatmate Sarah. It kind of started drizzling as soon as we got there. Luckily, with strength being no match for lank I managed a quick repeat of a v9(hmmm) on the Kennedy Boulder before the rain got too heavy. Then the rain did get heavy which was a pity as it meant I didn’t get to finish off what seemed to be the classic of the area, Mike Tweedley’s awesome Trigger Happy v8. Keen to go back. Good burly problems in the mountains.
On Tuesday I went to Glen Coe with Barney for a couple of days of **** mountain routes. I have done quite a lot of trad at the less adventurous end of the spectrum but I must admit my experience in the mountains is limited to say the least. Day 1 the plan was to do Yo-yo on Aonoch Dubh which looked dry from the road but after a rather unnecessarily treacherous approach involving abseils, sketchy scrambling and much wetness the route was definitely wet. So we scrambled over the top of the hill, walked past Stob Coire nan Lochain and made a beeline for Lady Jane and Solitude but by the time we made it there 8hours after leaving the car, we were totally knackered. Yes that’s right 8hours (we might have taken some wrong turns along the way)! So we decided to save ourselves for the next day which was forecast to be better weather anyway. So on day2 we went to the Etive Slabs. What amazing climbing. No chossy rock here- super solid granite (I didn’t make it as far as the top rock-band). It is so solid in fact, that it has no holds. Very frightening. Barney made a very impressive and bold lead across the friction slab crux. Scary biscuits. Anyway we got 5 pitches up The Pause before the skies turned black and it started to rain. Sod’s law it had cleared up once we made it to the ground.

Hardman of the mountains- Stephen Barnes

I do sometimes wish I still had my focus for one discipline of climbing. I do find it quite frustrating losing strength while in routes mode, etc but not nearly as frustrating as I would trying to boulder OR trad climb OR sport climb OR winter climb year round in Scotland.
To be continued...


donald said...

Nice post Sam, made me laugh (and not at your misery). There's loads of sick rock here in Poland, coming back on Tuesday but then I'm going to Shetland for 10 days which I'm guessing has very little or no rock. Oh well...

sam clarke said...

pretty sure there is loads of trad in shetland. well there's definitely some. let me know when you're accessible for some climbing. have fun in poland

Dave Redpath said...

Not surprised you lost psyche in Ceuse, that walkin in the summer is hot headed murder. Hope you find something to get psyched for soon :)