Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Better late than never?

Two in a week and then none for yonks. Anyway.
The climbing. Did loads more at Roddellar. Then went to Terradets and did pretty much all the classics and some random ones (which were pretty classic too!). favourites there would be Flix Flax, Latido Del Miedo, Xarapo De Basto and LÁnarkista, but they where all pretty worldclass sport routes. Didn´t manage any more 8a onsights here (managed a second one in Rodellar), but onsighted two 7cs and five 7c+s, so can´t complain. Mid way through our Terradets spell we took a week out of the routing to go bouldering in Albarracin, the climbing was great, as was the company. Have now moved on to Montgrony, a high altitude, sunny tufa crag. Have only climbed two days so far. Did a few nice easier things and then went for the classic of the, which various folk had mentioned to me in the past. Aromes De Montgrony 8a+ is a classic pure tufa line in the Dinosaur (Seynes) mould. The first half is steep up a pair of very flared tufas, the second half is up one fat trunk with the crux at the top where the tufa gets very wide and blank and you are forced to maul up the slopey sides. Great route with a gritstone-esque crux! Worked it the first day in nice cool weather, but was to forced to do the redpoint in the blazing sun. Something of a contrast to the last route I did at Terradets which I ended up doing in a stupidly cold wind, 30 metres of 8a vertical wall climbing (a route called Millenium) and a slab crux when you can´t feel your fingers was pure pain! Generally seem to be going ok, am one route away from my thirtieth 8a-8b of the trip. Sorry if that´s all a bit number orientated, but trying to shoe-horn the news in so haven´t got much space for eulogising.
Fi has also been going well. In Terradets she did her first 7b+ plus a hideously hard 7a+ which felt even harder than the 7b+ to me (Jam Session and LÀnsia).

The van. The van had it´s problem when we were on the way back from Albarracin. It stoppped dead in the middle of nowhere and refused to start again. Ten days and two thousand euros the Bubble Goose (Swift Gosling seems a bit poncey and the reg is BG5) was back on the road. Fortunately the insurance paid for a hire car, but we had to spend some very cold nights in the tent, not nice. All seems well now (touch wood). The heater is proving to be well worth the effort and money. There is no way we could stay up in the mountains without one.

Elusive things I´ve seen in the last few days: A wild boar, a badger and Stefan Glowacz!

Friday, 28 September 2007

Wow two blogs in a week

Have been doing more of the same since the last post. Three more 8a and an 8a+, no flashes though. Feel like I ought to try and spending some time on something a bit harder now rather than just bagging quality volume. Will maybe try Botanics 8b+ or Espirit Rebeled 8b.
It´s getting cooler here now and the place is pretty quiet. Funny how everyone goes home just as the conditions get good. I guess folk don´t book holidays at this time due to the risk of rain and wet tufas.
The van has been excellent so far with no mechanical probs and all fittings working as hoped for. the solar panel has been very useful, meaning we can park up for ages without having to drive to charge batteries.
Will probably stay here for another week, maybe two(unless it craps out) then head on to Terradets via Alquezar and Riglos (for a couple of days each).

Monday, 24 September 2007


We ended up staying at Ceuse for about two weeks in total. Was keen to get down to Rodellar in good time to avoid a repeat of 2005 wet tufa disasters so headed to Spain in the first week of Sept.
Did lots of classic stuff in Ceuse, but didn´t really aquire the requisite stamina for anything particularly hard until the last few days. But did manage one 8a (Collonetes with bloc start) and flashed a 7c (Blanches Fesse).
The Ceuse stamina and general fitness from the walkin has proved pretty useful here though. My ultimate goal on this trip was to flash an 8a and i managed it last week. The route was one of the areas best - Corredor de Muerta, a massively steep 40m line (of mostly jugs) up the middle of a big yellow wave. I saw the line on our last trip in 2005 and have been wanting to do it ever since.
Other than that have onsighted a few 7c+s and lots of 7cs and 7b+s, almost all of them brilliant routes. I love this place.
Have been climbing a lot with Mr Mawson who has left now but had a great trip flashing or onsighting a fair few 8as and redpointing a couple of super classic 8bs.

Friday, 24 August 2007


MW was good, but rather spoilled by the weather. Bagged lots of lower end sevens, flashed an overgraded 7c Fool Fighter and got very close to doing Sofa Surfer. Did overlapping halves on SS in a session, but after that it was wet for three days so we left.
Drove through some biblical storms in Swiss and Italy to get to a very damp Ceuse. Thankfully the sun came out the next day and im on a rest day now after two days of greqt conditions at the crag. Have done a bunch of stuff, all great up to 7b+ on Berlin and Cascade. Met up with North Country Boy again (he was in Germany at same time) and the psyche is flowing. Bring me the classics. Stamina is not quite up to scratch yet but should get sorted soon enough.
Allez oop

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Hello at last

Sorry about the lack of update. Unfortunately there was only one login available in the Frankenjura, it was utter pants and I couldn`t do blog on it. Also my old camera bust, so we have no picks from Germany, but have got a very nice replacement, so will put some picks up of elsewhere.
In the end we spent three and a bit weeks in Germany and mostly had good weather. At first I was not totally taken by the climbing in the Frankenjura, but after a week or so and visits to some of the better crags it started to grow on me and eventually I think Ive become a convert. As I was told the beer and the cakes are exceptional and the campsite is a classic among climbers campsites (excuse lack of apostrophes, I cant find them on this Swiss keyboard).
Got a fair bit done routeswise. Onsighted some 7cs and a 7c+ (Ekel at Eldorado - just like climbing on the 50 degree board). Redpointed an easy 8a+ and would have done 3 or 4 more but was thwarted by shit weather for the crucial last few days.
We have now moved on to Magic Wood in Swiss. Quite a big UK crowd out here at the moment, Joe Le Sage, Vicky Barret, Tim Stubbly, Dave Mason, Andy Banks & Emma, Keith Bradbury and more on the way. Up to now the bouldering has been great, but the weather has just crapped out and looks set to stay poor for a bit. Nothing hard bagged yet but lots on the list. Had a play on a new think today on a boulder about a mile from the main area. More like a route thank a boulder prob. Amazing line up a pair of aretes and grooves. Got to the last move but ended up reversing. Eee well, nearly a brilliant E5 6a.
Will post more when I have more time.... could be soon if the rain stays. See ya

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Ready for the off

Well we are out of the house now, the van has had the last finishing touches added and we are sort of on the road. We are infact dashing about visiting family before the trip proper and it doesn't really feel like the journey has commenced yet.
For anyone thinking of doing the van conversion thing i'd say the following. If you intend doing anything half decent it is far from inexpensive or straightforward. The whole business is costly and time consuming, both in terms of labour and research/ searching for decent cheap materials. I was lucky in that I could get stuff via work, including good power tools which are a must, you are not going to get far without a good battery drill and a jigsaw. All things considered if you include consider the value of your own labour it is fairly finely balances whether for most people a home conversion is cost effective. I would certainly not recommend it to anyone who does not have a lot of time and energy to put into the project or someone who doesn't already have a good set of tools and plenty of houshold storage. That said I have enjoyed the build enourmously and learn a a hell of a lot. A few months back I knew a whole lot less about gas fitting, auto-electrics (I didn't even know the difference between AC and DC), joinery, using ebay and many other things. Doing your own van your own way means you know the thing inside out and should (touch wood) be able to sort out any problems without resorting to the garage. It means you have exactly what you want where you want it. For example I have have a huge battery bank, a box of tricks which means the alternator charges the batterys five times faster and 20% fuller, low energy 12V only fittings and a very good solar panel, all of which make for an energy independant home which can be parked up for long periods whithout need of mains hook-up. Commercial motorhomes/campervans just aren't made this way, they are all geared up for mains hook-up on campsites and only very short periods without. The insulation I have added is way over what most motorhomes have so we should stay cool in summer and warm in winter with little need of heating or air con (both of which we have). Here's some pics:

We've got one more family engagement, a weekend camping with the huge Fullwood clan in Birchover and then off down south to Dover, a SpeedFerry to Bologne and Frankenjura....

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Moving swiftly on

No recent blogage as i've been running about like a blue arsed fly attending to the gosling. Since last update i've added the second fridge vent, completed the boarding, added an over-head locker above the cab, added trim between roof and walls, completed dressing around the windows, stuck carpet to exposed metal bits (it stops condensation), painted stuff and wall papered the walls. No time to talk, but here's some pics of progress so far.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Swift gosling

Have been cracking on with the van, which I was going to call the Bubble Goose until I checked urban dictionary , instead it (not sure of gender yet) is to be known henceforth as Swift Gosling - master of wind and road.
Since the first lot of photos I have fully insulated the roof, walls and doors with cellotex of various widths, PU foam and foil backed tape. This was a long, fairly tedious and messy job, but should along with double glazed windows, silver screens blinds and an extractor vent help keep us cool in the south of France and warm in Font. I've added two vents to the roof, one with a 12v, three speed fan which can be set to blow air in or out, this is above where the cooker will be and is to vent off hot air in summer, as well as food based effulgence from cooking. Before I could start boarding I ran out various cables to where I thought lights, solar panel, heater etc would go. Now I'm onto boarding out all the insulated surfaces. To keep down weight and to follow the curved interior I am using 4mm exterior grade plywood. This stuff is tough and flexible but can be cut to shape, with some effort, using a stanley blade, which makes getting a neat edge much easier than sawing. The boarding is half done and hopefully will be complete (except for a gap where the fridge goes) by June when I quit work to spend a few weeks full time on the van before travels commence.

Omnistor extractor vent

Boarded out door and sidewall

Unboarded sliding door and wiring

The cluttered untidy work space

Other than managed the classic Grooved Arete at Kilnsey t'other weekend. Midweek has been all about peak lime bouldering in an attempt to keep fingers strong for the Euro trip. This week has also seen the rope come out with me and Nige trying the mighty Revelations. So far it's going pretty well, Thursday we figured out the sequence on the crux (credit to Harris for useful beta), then worked the top and tryed to redpoint yesterday. Got through crux and into the groove on the third or fourth attempt, then fell off going right due to pump and bad sequence. Will go back Tues with fresh arms....

Friday, 27 April 2007

All in the mind

After a couple of weeks feeling like the climbing is slipping, due in part to spending much time on the van, as well as various unplanned stuff interrupting what climbing time was available, I all of a sudden feel back on the up. Went out to 'the-place-of-which-we-must-not-speak' last night after feeling mediocre at Rubicon and managed my project of four session, The Hulk. Hurrah. It's funny how my perception of how it's all going can be almost instantly turned around by success on one problem. I think it's this pattern of motivation which generally leads me to avoid 'working' problems, as opposed to trying harder stuff sporadically and going for the one day ticks. I find it hard to believe that I'm climbing ok and making progress when no new probs are getting done for a few days. Maybe this ticking addiction gets in the way of bagging the bigger numbers.
As ever I'm torn between the going out and having as much fun as possible game and the working hard for rewarding longer term goals approach. Having experienced a little success with the latter I think I'll carry on with this for a while and hopefully that way use what climbing time I do have available to get some finger strength together for the big trip. Hmmmm, so what next, The Pinch, Tsunami.....?

But bouldering's for midweek at the mo, and Saturday the plan is to get back to Kilnsey. Had a play on Grooved Arete two weeks ago and was surprised how ok it felt considering it's endurancey nature. Brilliant climbing and I figure it's a good one to kick start the season. Reckon it'll take two-three more visits, but often guess wrong. Will be trying to redpointing tomorrow anyway, so you never know.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Some van pics

The van as purchased....

....with big hole in the side....

....and with brand new Seitz window in.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Ultra busy

Haven't posted owt for ages for two reasons. First I was away on hol, grit bouldering in Yorkshire and since then I have been busier than I can remember with the van project.
Come July this year me and Fi are off around Europe climbing for six months. The original plan was to get a cheap, reliable and comfortable van to live in during our trip. After a fair bit of research it became aparent that such things don't exist. Decent campers/motorhomes big enough for a comfy six months come in two varieties, fairly cheap (but still £5-10k) but ancient and with huge mileage or good nick but ludicrously expensive (£15->30k). Nothing I could find in our price range seemed worth the money or reliable/long lasting enough not to be a risky investment. So it was with some great trepidation that I have embarked upon the task of making my own camper van. Have bought a good solid base vehicle, a 2001 long wheel base, high top, Ford Transit, with a mere 60,000 miles on the clock.
So far I have stripped out the original floor and partial ply lining, installed two openable double glazed windows with integral roller blind and fly net, added an immobiliser and installed a new ply floor with underfloor insulation. The next bit to go in will be a 12v rooflight/extractor fan to help keep it cool in the euro heat. Bought and ready to install I have a three way (gas,12v and 240v) fridge, a propex 1600 blown air heater, two 110 amp-hour leisure batteries, a grey enamel sink, a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher. I'm also going to be fully insulating the walls and roof, installing a solar panel on the roof, adding two gas tanks, a hob, cold water with a manual pump, lighting, a big bed and lots of storage.
Quite a huge job and very time consuming, both interms of labour as well as research and materials sourcing. To make this possible in time for the trip i will be leaving work a month early to work full time on the van (even with the loss of a months wages it's cheaper than getting a ready made van).
As mentioned above this was not the original plan and it pretty much means I will have bugger all time to do anything with the boltfund prior to my trip. Someone will need to look after it while i'm away anyway. Basically the money is there, it just need some suitably able and keen people to do something with it. I feel a little bad for starting something and not fully carrying it through, but that's just the way things have turned out. Ultimately i'm not any more responsible for the state of peak bolts (other than the ones i've placed) than the next man and the fact that i've set some wheels in motion for a peak bolt fund doesn't change this. If anything I could fairly say that having put in a lot more effort than the next man and it's about time more people took a share of the load.

Friday, 23 March 2007

A goose chase

Here's an account of doing a new boulder project. I started rambling and it turned out quite long!

I first discovered this lovely and extremely well hidden roof a month or so ago. It had been snowing heavily and all the crags were saturated with slush and snow melt. Fi was working over the weekend and I'd already tired myself out at the wall on the Saturday, so decided to drive out and have a nose around at Turning Stone and Cocking Tor. I remembered spotting a few likely looking buttresses at CT and there was the long standing project dyno at TS which needed some Rhododendrons cutting back. Whilst at Turning Stone I decided to abseil down the big unclimbed roof to see if it would ever go (it will). After questing through bushy tunnels to where I though the roof should be I threw down the rope and set off. To my great surprise I discovered that the roof had an upper tier, totally inaccessible on foot due to the thick Rhodies all around. The rock was clean and immaculate and there looked to at least one vaguely possible line up the side with a landing (the front side being perched above a big drop). I left the crag intrigued and keen to return as soon as the rock dried up.
Well it took a while for the dryness to arrive and it proved as difficult as ever to drag anyone out to a 'project' crags. But in the end it only took minor arm bending to get Dense out for a look. Most of the day was spent clearing up the Cocking Tor circuit and a very good time was had bagging fairly minor but still very worthwhile probs all along the little buttress dotted between the main block and Turning Stone. It's a good little circuit in it's own right and an ideal warmup for the harder stuff. Feeling fairly tired and getting late we went over for a look at the roof.
The trusty bow saw was wielded and we managed to sort out a non-abseil way down to the block. With the worst of the dreaded Rhodies cleared it's a great little spot, perched on top of the crag with clear views across the valley to Ogston Res'(a regular stop-off for migrating Osprey!) and Eastwood Rocks.
Much effort ensued on the top move which looked to be the meat of the prob. With stacked pads we could pull on using a slopy three fingertip pocket for the right and a devilishly marginal pinch for the left. Initial attempt to do the move as a slap fell way short of the top and we concentrated on trying to lock out to poor intermediate slopers on the vague left hand rib. After numerous failed attempts I switched to trying the start. This went fairly quickly but was still hard enough to make the as yet un-done upper move even harder. After getting the two key holds from a left heel-toe it is necessary to cut loose, pull up high and step your right foot onto a good lip hold, all the time creeping a little on the poor pinch.
I took one poor photo of Dense on the crux, which he said reminded him inexplicably of Salle Gosse the famous 7c at Sabot in Font. After that there could only be one name, Salle Goose it was.
Got up Sunday and looked out the window to see wet roads and driving hail. There had been bold talk down the Sheaf on Thursday night of a trip down on Sunday to try Jame's masterpiece River Of Life, but things were not looking good. Expecting a late afternoon potter at the Works I was surprised to receive a call from James saying he and Dave Mason were at the crag and ROL was in perfect condition. Jeepers. The team was duly assembled, me, Nige Kershaw and Andy Banks would be there in an hour.
ROL was indeed in perfect nick and with good psyche, some roaring, and beta from Keenus, me and Andy both got it done, with Nige and Dave coming close.
With plenty of the day left attention turned to Salle Goose. I was slightly reluctant to let such a strong team see this project which I dearly wanted to do first, but thought sod it, I'll just have to pull hard and get in quickly. I'll tell them they can work it but not link it until after me. To my horror Andy pulled onto the crux move after watching me fail, and dispatched it via the slap on his second shot!! Damn this was looking like another one lost to my impatience. I continued to try to link the problem, telling Andy he couldn't try the link until I had bagged the FA. After much frustration and failure it looked clear I was not going to get it in a hurry and I was feeling bad about keeping Andy off a prob he was clearly well capable of doing. Attempts were interrupted by snow showers requiring the holds to be taped over with green army issue tape (awesome stuff!) and the top draped with a rag (see pic on previous post). Belatedly sticking to my principles I let Andy loose on it. Perhaps due to me keeping him stood in the cold for ages or due to wetness on the holds the link didn't prove to be the formality I think we both expected. Andy must have hit the top ten times but not stuck it by the time failing light, a split tip and more snow finally stopped play. Feeling a mixture of relief and disappointment for Andy we went home, both still well happy to do ROL but keen to return for the goose.

Andy hiding from the weather

Arrgggh, this was starting to stress me now. Mostly I don't get possessive about probs, but this one felt close and was such a good prob. I was keenly aware that the weather looked good for the week while I was stuck in the office and Andy had some free time. I dare say in hindsight that Andy may not have decided to try it, but I was feeling paranoid. Bollox to it, I had to get there in the week, after all I'm off to the Dales for a week come Friday. After some jiggery pokery a late visit on Wednesday was engineered. I was to meet up with Rhys and James for a last try before the week away.
Conditions were nice but the sun was on the goose so we warmed up with a solo of Overton Arete and Hugo DeVries and Rhys got some footage of James cruising ROL.
First go on the goose felt good after two rest days, but I still couldn't get the height needed. I could just touch the top but my left leg was stubbornly holding me back from making the distance. Over and over again I flopped onto the pads. Finally I managed to do half the last move after getting a push on from James. This was from holding a nothing intermediate sloper. Progress at last I thought, but could I get this sloper on the link, not a chance! With hope fading I decided to give it a break and we went down to the lower tier to try a smart looking highball I'd spotted ages back.
The highball line is a roof some way above a big Rhodie bush. You cross the roof via a slightly flexible flake, a heel-toe and a blind reach for a rugosite edge. You then make a spectacular but easy cutloose and press on up tiny jugs edges to a final awkward mildly gripping move to a break, from where you can finish up a very overgrown VS, escape left or dive off onto the pad/bush trampoline. James got it first, then me after a few test launches onto the springy landing. Finger Bang (blame South Park!) generous 7a+ (I found another hold, with James original way being 7b)is a corker and another good reason to visit the crag.

Finger Bang!

Back upstairs I pulled on, did the start with the pinch feeling good, twisted the pocket a little to get more inward pull for the slap and latched the top first go! Phew, at last! And caught on camera, looking forward to seeing the footage.
Strangely managed to do the last move first go again for the camera, funny how these things go. It's hard to say what made the difference in the end. Maybe better friction, maybe the rest, maybe the little twist on the pocket, or maybe just better concentration. I opted to give it 7c+ given the amount of effort and time it took compared to the 7cs I've done this winter, but probs which boil down to one move can feel so different to different folk and different builds. Hopefully it will see some repeats and we'll see if it sticks, whatever the grade it's an ace prob and deserves attention. Given the current popularity of ROL I dare say it should see a quick repeat, I'm sure Andy will dispatch it in no time with fresh arms and new skin.

James on Salle Goose

And that's that, apart from to say soz to Andy for not telling him I was going there on Wednesday. Soz mate (if you happen upon this blog), a bit underhand, but I wanted it for myself in the end...

Monday, 19 March 2007

Risk and reward

In keeping with me and Dob’s cross blog musings on all things climbing related I’ll attempt to expand on my outlook to climbing in a country renown for it’s unpredictable weather. A quick disclaimer here, I’m not trying to diss how other people approach climbing, just explain my own philosophy.

Ben’s comments about not wanting to risk a wasted day got me thinking about what a fine balancing act the grit season can be. Given that time available to climb is limited and the ultimate goal is to climb good hard problems, what is the best strategy? From Paul’s reply he seems to favour the climb loads inside and unleash infrequently outside when conditions are perfect approach. Whilst I can understand the logic behind this I’m not convinced it’s the most efficient way forward. On the other hand you have those who never go indoor climbing, just go out a lot and get very good. Again I’m not convinced this is the most efficient strategy either. One extreme seems over reliant on pure strength gain and the other over reliant on skill gain. The latter approach might work for Sharma, but if you have a full time job and you live in Sheff it's not going work like that. Both elements are in my ever humble opinion, of even importance if your goal is to climb hard across a range of styles.

One of the main inefficiencies of the former approach is that you are reliant on predictably mint conditions arriving at the same time as your available time slot. The UK being as it is, this will happen very little. However, good conditions are far commoner than people think, they just require a level of knowledge, flexibility and risk to access. The risk is of a wasted day, but really this risk is a lot lower than people often think. Yesterday is a prime illustrative case. The forecast was for high winds and frequent snow and hail showers. On the face of it a total non starter, but with several key bits of information we managed to find the correct problem in extremely good condition. The key information being that the days prior had been dry, the wind was a strong westerly, the crag was east facing and the problem was a roof. Coupled with insider info from James who lives close by, the odds looked worth taking a drive out for. After all, if it doesn’t work out we could always fall back on a wall sesh. People often seem amazed that A I bother going out on days which look awful on the face of it and B that nine times out of ten I find things in good nick. It takes some learning but eventually you get a feel for what will be in on what day. So long as you keep your ticklist long and open to adjustment there is pretty much always something to go at. So many people get fixated on one or two probs and have a hideously frustrating time going to the wrong crag in the wrong conditions. Bend with the wind, grass-hopper.

With a long ticklist and an intimate knowledge of which crags suit which condition you also develop a hierarchy of condition scarcity which allows you to maximise what you get done. Put simply each days weather will allow a certain number of crags to be worth going to. Some crags like Almscliff or Cratcliff are much more likely to be in good nick than crags like Caley or Burbage South. The rule of thumb being that you always try to go to the crag with the narrowest conditions window that the weather will allow. In so doing you catch the rare good conditions at places like Caley and you don’t run out of things to do at places like Almscliff, saving it for iffy days.
Or alternatively you could txt me.

I’ve kind of lost my thread now and I have to do some work so I’ll leave it there.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Brother's work

Seeing as i've posted some of my drawings, I thought I might as well pop some of my brother's up too. These three are some of my favourite sketchs of his that I have.
When we were kids my strange mother used to throw away all his drawings because see considered them 'unwholesome'or the work of the devil or something. It got to the point where Matt would draw something (he loved to draw) and then screw it up and throw it in the bin, most times without ever showing anyone. i managed to salvage a handful of these and kept them in a well hidden folder. I'm really glad I did! shame I don't have much of his more recent work.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

A nine to fiver's lot

This is a reply I posted on Dobbin's blog . I thought I might as well stick it up here too given that it took long enought to write. It's written in response to Dob's musings about the difference in performance between full time climbers and full time workers:

I tend to agree that training around work is a serious limiting factor unless you have very flexible work with low hours. Being a full timer or on an extended trip means you can climb often, when you feel energised and when conditions are good, rather than trying to cram five days worth of training into two shortish high intensity evening sessions, then do as much as the weather allows on the weekend.

My year away did result in a personal jump in standards (not sure i'd class as great!). The more time you spend climbing the more time on rock your body learns to take. Once you can tolerate a higher volume you can effectively do more training
[ By training I mean all climbing which acts to improve a persons climbing ability] per week so you improve past your normal plateau. As climbing is more of a constant pressure on your system rather than a short spike of activity every couple of days you don't risk injury by pulling harder, as much as you do by increasing intensity without upping the volume. Nine to fivers basically have to binge climb in the time available.

On top of that you have more chance to travel and take advantage of conditions so you get super psyched for things you wouldn't risk wasted effort on as weekend efforts. I think this motivation boost is almost, if not as important, as the physical side. Climbing around a full time job is a delicate balance and I personally tend to avoid projecting boulder probs which might take ages without certain success. Too many confounding factors mean you could just end up empty handed, frustrated and demotivated. As a result I pretty much stick to projects I can do in day.

On the upside things are much more predictable as far as sport climbing goes. Due to crags being dry in the rain and daylight allowing after work sessions during the summer months, it is actually worth putting in the effort on projects. I think weekenders can compete on a slightly more even playing field when it comes to bolt clipping.

Anyway, rambling aside, I reckon you'd benefit by and nodoubt really enjoy a big trip. Do it asap if at all possible before you get anymore rooted in place my mortages, babies, job etc. You're a young chap with the sort of job that I imagine you could easily take a chunk of time out of without any negative consequence. Do it, do it, do it. HM can be your roady!

Weekenders on tour

Saturday, 10 February 2007

A couple more scribbles

I don't often get round to drawing. Had an unusually productive spell of it a few years back now and here's a couple from around then.

You'd look pretty bemused if your boat was gone too.

And a laydee.

Friday, 9 February 2007

The mighty Titan

Manage to wangle a sneak trip down the UK's (relatively) newly unearthed biggest cave. By biggest I mean the biggest vertical drop in a single cavern. Titan beats it's nearest rival Gaping Ghyll by a waping 44m and resoundingly steals the flag from the dales cavers.

This isn't my pic BTW, I didn't want to risk my camera getting wet.

The top of the cave is a big scoop in the middle of a field with a bunch of scaffold over a gated shaft. The locked gate leads to the first abseil pitch which is a 2m by 40m tunnel dug straight down into the solid rock of the hill by the digging team. Going down this you get a real insight into the vast amount of effort, ingenuity and resource this dig must have taken. This shaft leaves you at the junction of a stooping passage. One branch leads to the site of further explorations, the other way lead for about 15m through a small muddy pool to a window into the main chamber. Pearing over the lip of the pool you are faced with the dizzying view seen in the picture above. Photos do not do the place justice, this thing is massive and very gob smacking. To discover something of this grandeur is on a par with stumbling upon Malham Cove, it really is that spectacular. If these rock faces were exposed outside they would be the best limestone crag in the country. Huge flakes, arete and sheets of flowstone all around.

From the pool the bottom is two abseils away, one of 80m to a slopey ledge know as the event horizon and one of 65m from here to the boulder choked floor. Strangley I found an un-opened sachet of brown sauce at the event horizon and an un-open sachet of red source at the floor, what can it all mean?

We lingered for a while at the bottom watching the waterfall cascade down the back of the chamber. After a cup of coffee (cheers Mr Crome) and a slug of sloe gin (cheers Mr Beekeeper), we set about the huge jumaring slog back up. With two on a rope to save time this is a very strenuous and uncomfortable business!

Exited the cave to a perfect clear night and frosted fields. A good trip all round. If you get a chance go take a look it's one of the peak's most impressive sights! I'm keen to go back but this time do a long trip either finishing up Titan or preferable going down the big one and popping out of JH, Peak or Speedwell.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Gleadless happenstance

Nothing in the way of wisdom or story in these quarters. Here's a child wearing a milk shirt all the same.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Nice weather for slugs

A juicy black mollusc enjoying the slopers at Robin Hood Stride.
Quite tempted to head that way myself this weekend. Maybe check out Bransby's new thing, try to link the top bit of Chess Boxer onto Babu Yagu, get a load of pads down under the arete right of Kaluza. Hmmmm, ponder ponder.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Pitter patter

Monday, 15 January 2007

At last a weekend day where it didn't rain!

Throughout the week we feverishly check, recheck and check again the forecasts. Fragile hope against the odds that this foul wet winter might relent for at least a day and let us release our pent-up reservoirs of grit juju.
This winter, if you can call it that, has been an unusual one and a break from the few winters previous. Two factors have changed the dynamic somewhat. Firstly the weather. You don't need me to tell you it has been bad, very bad, exceedingly wet, grim, unpredictable in all respects other than it unremitting foulness. Perhaps a few more precious crag hours might have been squeezed out of the weekends/xmas break had it not been for factor two. The Works. It's all been said already elsewhere, it's a fantastic wall and rightly popular. Hence the change. Where last year there was always a hardcore out on all but the very worst days, looking for elusive dry rock and then as often as not all meeting up and having a big team day, this year the weather has just been so bad few have even bothered getting in the car most days. Other days have been bad but not insurmountably so for the persistent, but the lure of great problems, music, coffee and social down the wall has tipped the balance for many and the 06/07 winter has been dominated by indoor sessions, reveling in shared woe and seemingly distant memories of dry days out. I'm certainly not complaining though, the Works boys with their audacious venture have saved this winter from being a totally joyless experience. If the weather ever reverts to something like the usual passable mix of good and bad then i think we will all pour forth onto the crags massively psyched and technically honed in a way no other wall has ever done before. Every goose has a silver lining maybe after all.
This Sunday was a foretaste of this. One good day saw the crags busy with people pushing themselves and getting stuff done in a way which is unusual given that many had not touched rock for weeks. James succeeded on what must surely be Burbage Norths true last great project, I can think of no big lines left to go now routewise on the crag. Fine effort yoot and all the more so for the purist approach. Bransby dispatched what I had repeatedly touted as the last great line at Cratcliff. Perhaps a touch OTT given that it went at a mere 7C, but an awesome looking climb nonetheless. Yet again appearance prove deceptive and many locals, myself included, will be kicking themselves they didn't give this one a go.
As for my Sunday. Well it started badly with the wind giving us a thorough beating at Slipstones. Duely chastened we beat a retreat, in convoy through flooded backlanes, following Ham's sat-nav to Brimham. This turned out to be a good move. Quite a few of the large group which assembled agreed that Brimham was loads better than they had remembered and I think we all probably ended up doing loads more than we would have done at SS. The days haul: various warm-ups on Joker's Wall V2-V5, Acme Wall V3, Happy Daze V5, Happy Daze trav V8, Bilge Pump V4, Ritornel V3, Successor State V6, a good crack at James Ibbotson's new line Inner State (second ascent from Johnny Brown), the delightful Bellyporker's Progress E76c....ok V7 in the real world, Whisky Galore V6, Pair in a Cubicle V6 and a good go at a very scrittly V9 to the right. Followed by beer and curry, what more could you ask for, except maybe more next week!

A blog you say!?

Well I always fail to keep a diary so I might as well throw some word nourishment at a blog and see if it sticks. I could say that it's here for friends and family to keep tabs on me and Fi when we are on our travels, but that would miss the main point which is that it's another opportunity for me to blather on about me, my friends and wot I did on the weekend. To be fair it seems mildly less egotistical to spray about what I've been up to on a blog rather than thrust it onto on a wider public a forum. Enough angst ridden excuses, behold my string of mind-farts.