Monday, 25 February 2008

Double Gardom’s

Ended up going to Gradom’s Edge both days this weekend.
Saturday after a lateish start I headed out on my own to Gardom’s South to meet up with team Dobbin and the Beekeeper. I arrived before the others and warmed up on G-thang and the sitter. It was overcast, mild and windy with dampness in the air and the rock didn’t feel too grippy. I’d moved on to half-heartedly trying Barry Sheene by the time the Beekeeper arrived. The Beekeeper is a friend of old who I’ve climbed on and off with, shared houses with, been on many skiing and climbing hols, but don’t see so often now he’s moved to Tideswell. Got word from Ben that they’d pushed on to Eastwood thinking Gardom’s could be wet. Barry Sheene wasn’t going too well in the less than prime conditions so showed Beeks some of the other probs in the area including the pocketed wall on the opposite side of the Sauvitto block. Did this and then spent a while cleaning and climbing an extended finish up the rib above. The new bit is really good fun in not too hard but a bit scary way. No change to the grade, but makes for a much more complete problem.
Then took Beeks over for a look at English Voodoo. The top bit felt a bit too easy for the 7a grade I gave it, but I couldn’t touch the sitter I’d given 7b. Just goes to show how hard and imprecise an art grading new things is. Went away thinking the stand-up might be 6c+ and the sitter 7b+, but they could feel totally different again on another day, hey ho.
Feeling fully warmed up I was keen to get on this project of sorts I’d tried a few weeks back. I say of sorts as it is eliminate in that it tries to climb an established problem (Rob Smith’s problem Dirty Business) without a pair of large hand holds out right. A lovely sharp, smooth, quarried arête, vertical on the left and overhanging on the right side up which the line goes. The handholds amount to one positive headheight crimp, low friction arête pinches with very little for thumbs and small well spaced footholds close to the arête. The difficulty ends at about 4m with a big flat break and a fun easy high bit. When you see the feature and try the moves it seems much more of a true line than the description suggests. I’d go as far as saying it turns a fun but relatively trivial none-eliminate, into a brilliant, utterly absorbing eliminate. Truth is that I’d not spotted the possibility until Adam mentioned it (hope he doesn’t mind me pinching it). On the previous attempts I’d figured a way to get a fair way up it by whacking a heel round the corner, pinching hard with the left hand and crossing over to a thumb down pinch with the right on a high sharp bit of the arête which has a smidge more friction than the glassy rock around. On that day I’d been completely unable to move anything from that position without barndooring off. Session two and I was getting easily into the position, but still struggling to do anything with it. Poor old Beekeeper was forced to stand around getting cold while I repeatedly barndoored off the same move time and time again. Stopped for a rest and got a text from Dob who’d moved on from Eastwood via Calver café to the Sauvitto end of the crag. After making an attempt at stepping right foot high onto the start crimp I figured out a possible way to move up. From the heel-hook, pinching both arête holds hard, lean out and carefully slide left foot to a small notch on the arête. At this point you are teetering on the edge of barndooring off leftward with only thumb friction keeping you on as you stand onto the notch and step onto the start crimp to stop the barndoor. Then it was back to barndooring off time and again, this time one move higher, trying to figure a body position that would allow progress. I figured it might be possible to do a crossover slap to the break from these holds, but couldn’t get set properly. Tried getting pushed on and after a few goes manage to land the slap to the break from the same holds but with right foot off completely and a left knee tucked around the arête. However try as I might I could not climb into this subtly different position from the deck. It’s starting to feel like this Saturday is going to be a repeat of last Saturday, totally knackering myself out on a project and then not doing it.

Here's a pic from session one on Plan D. Thanks for pic go to Cofe

Beeks was cold and ready for home by then and I needed a rest so I let him off the hook and ran over to Sauvitto to see if I could blag Ben into spotting me. I arrived just in time to catch him cruising Sauvitto after having done it once already off the boulder. Good to see him looking confident and fluid on the grit and loving it. He’s happy to spot we rush back to the arête with maybe an hour of daylight left. A bit of a rest, better nick and some Morton psyche and I get to the move and latch the crossover slap on the first try. Get in! Ten minutes later and the sitter is added too. The sit doesn’t have any hard moves but does make the top a bit harder. We discuss grades and I’m settling for hard 7b+ stand-up and 7c from sitting, but as ever it’ll need repeats to confirm this. Ben tries for the repeat in the failing light but is struggling with the tenuous step-up before the slap. It’s the sort of move that takes a few goes to get the feel of. He agrees the climbing is class anyway. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to give names to eliminates these days, but feel this one deserves it’s own identity. I’ll call it Plan D after a Bill Fay song I can’t get out of my head at the mo and see how much stick I get for it.

Sunday in brief. It looks set to rain mid-day but decide to go out anyway and try Heartland and Mark’s Roof Direct at Gardom’s North. Climbing with Fi initially, Katherine and Vicky B turn up later as the rain starts. We hide under Mark’s roof and eventually the rain stops. Nearly bag it off and head indoors, but find one problem nearly dry, the 7a left of Heartland and persuade folk to have a play on this and see if other stuff dries off. Manage the 7a, then try Heartland as it dries. Have to keep shielding the slopers with various items to keep more rain off. Andy H pops by on his way back from an out of nick Raventor and gives me some beta, I also phone Mawson for beta, but end up doing it in a completely different way to both the suggestions. Not a bad problem, some good moves, but pretty soft for 7c when you get it figured. Then try Mark’s Roof direct which feels hard, but mostly very scary due to having a very solid heel-toe and shit handholds. Visions of dangling head-first off a broken ankle prevent any real commitment. Fi pulls it out the bag again and manages Mark’s Roof Left Hand and is well pleased. Good weekend all round.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Rock bouldering

What I did last weekend.
Saturday was a trip up to Yorkshire to try a bouldering project, up early and head out with Fi and Vicky B. The project is one I’d spotted last year and have spent a session on already. It involves pinching along a sharpish hanging lip from right to left with ok pinches but hard footwork, to a hideous rockover onto a heel-hook. On last year’s attempt I could do everything on it except for one piece of footwork in the middle. At the sticking point I’d end up stretched out and horizontal with hands crossed and feet either side of the lip in opposition. The problem being that the feet need to be released but I couldn’t take one off without breaking the opposition and cutting loose uncontrollably. After quickly re-learning last year’s sequence I’m back to pondering the foot moves. Unfortunately due to the way the thing climbs I can’t pull on and work this move in isolation, rather having to get there from the start every time. After lots of foot squeezing, shoulder wrenching effort, trying all my mind could muster, I find I can get a very poor left toe jam in a pocket in the roof and ‘walk’ the right foot (heel, toe, heel, toe) along the lip to a small toe hold without ever releasing pressure. Pushing hard on this toe then allows the toe-jam to be released in a semi-controlled fashion. After several more goes I’m through this sequence and onto a biggish dish and little edge, with just the last rockover to do. Rock up as high as I can and attempt to flip right hand into a palm-down, but haven’t got the height. Slump down, take a breath and try again, but gain even less height. Damn, it’s not to be, the final deep locky rockover, which is hard in isolation, is just too hard for my tired shoulders. After that I’m broken and don’t manage to get through the move again, although I do manage to improve the sequence some more. Oh well, it will have to wait till next time, whenever that might be. Retire to Sheffield for fine curry and beer at the Sausage’s house.

Sunday comes and the skin is thin and everything else hurts from too many goes on the project, but the weather is amazing again and I really want to get something done after all the fruitless efforts of yesterday. Nearly go to the Roaches, but ended up at Burbage S with Mr Mawson, figuring that shady rock would be more forgiving on skinless fingers than warm sunny slopers. End up going round most of the edge circuit and a bit on the boulders, showing stuff to Neil who then proceeds to do them all on the flash or second go. He has a good day bagging Little Gem, Zorev, Electric Storm, Yoghurt, Alliance SS, Little Rascal, The Rib, Desperate and the 7a slab on the Pock Block. Not bad for someone who hasn’t climbed a lot this year and claims not to be much of a boulderer. I’m pleased enough to get two new ticks with Zorev and the 7a slab on the Pock Block. Zorev proves to be one of those problems that feels horrendous on the first few goes, but gets gradually easier, eventually feeling ok on the se… ascent. Then injured Nige turned up and made some gentle faces...which was nice.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Hot grit

Initial plans to go to a certain Yorkshire grit crag to try a project ended up getting shelved due to lack of team. It’s hard to drag people a bit further a field at the best of times and most of the usual suspects were away, injured or likely to be too hung-over to get up in time. Next weekend hopefully.
Decided I needed some morale boosting successes so opted for a quick trip to complete things on Mossatrocity and then over to try Dick Williams which I’d heard was steady at 7b+. Met up with Dave Parry at Grindlewald and set to work on Moss’. Warming up was hard work but got there in the end and managed to improve my sequence a fair bit. Did the top bit once, then went for the link and got it on the second go. Pretty much did it all off the left heel as per Adam’s beta. Funny how the heelhooking wasn’t hurting my hamstring this time, but had been too painful to use last weekend. Great problem.

On Thursday at the Works I’d had to leave after less than an hour due to a pain/pulled muscle in my left peck. Had hoped the hasty retreat and a couple of days rest would have sorted it out but this wasn’t so. Trying hard on the last bit of Mossatrocity caused it to flare up worse than before. But weather was too nice for home and rest so I decided to push on with the pain and then take a week off training down the wall and hope it’s fixed by next weekend.
Dave wasn’t feeling it on Moss so we moved on to Secret Garden. Lots of folk there (Joe L’S, Vicky, Jo W, Jim, Tetler, Joe B and about four more) and just missed Dobbin. Managed Dick William quite quick without too much pain. Brilliant problem, can’t believe I’ve never tried it before. Had a brief go at Zaf’s but it was hurting too much so wandered over to Mother Cap, where it was boiling. Greased my way up Conan before deciding to sack it off for somewhere cooler.
Spent the last of the day at the Plantation. Deliverance Traverse seemed like a good one to try that wouldn’t hurt the peck. I’d tried it a few times before but always given up before really getting to grips with it. Watched Si piss across it with a Dawes/R-man-esque side leap, which I totally failed to duplicate. Managed to do it in the end by squatting down very low on the smears, kicking a limb out, pushing a pebble and shuffling about a bit until I could grab the sidepull. Another class boulder problem and pleased to do three new things in a day. Good to bump into ozzy Si/Rubber Chicken who’s over for a couple of weeks.

The pulled muscle felt well sore on Sunday and thought it best to take it easy. Fi wanted to try Gorilla Warfare so I went along as spotter and beta monkey. She’d got close earlier in the week and was well psyched. After a slight tweak to the sequence she bagged it on the third try. Good effort!!

Had abortive attempts on Ben’s Wall and The Art Of White Hat Wearing, but boiling temps and the injury prevented any serious effort. Think it’s time I had a few days off now.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Normal service resumed

Well, I’ve been back a month now and it feels like I never left. Back to work, back to weekends on the grit and evening down the wall, back to rain and Tesco and traffic, back to the Sheaf, the Mangla and proper beer.
At first it’s downright depressing, but soon enough the mind adjusts and finds ways of spinning out what fun there is to be had across a week mostly spent behind a desk. Mid-weeks are survived with the help of the interweb and daydreaming about new lines, or stuff to try as highballs. Endless three star 8as are swapped for “can I do that 7C on the 50 degree board?”, but still I’m pysched. I’ve got a list of over fifty projects, mostly on peak grit that I need to get round to trying and there’s always more to find, as proved by the excellent looking Mossatrocity recently climbed near Grindleford Station. Not to mention all the route ideas I never get round to trying….

Had a good weekend but haven’t got much to show for it except worn tips and sore arms. Saturday was a snowy Rivelin with Nige, Si and team beardown. Played around on various variants on Acid Reign, then had a go at Chimp A, a likely looking highball rib. The bottom bit was nice and not very hard for the V7 that it gets in the guide. The last move proved to be the meat due to scrittle rock and a rounded top. Nige had a near miss when half the flake he was pulling on snapped and Si was the only one to top out with the help of a very bendy branch. Next up was Sparks 7b. Had done a RH version of this line years ago but hadn’t really climbed the feature properly. With all six of us seiging it a sequence was eventually cobbled together, Cofe being first past the mark. Quick repeats followed from everyone else I think. Having done two of the at least three different ways up this I’d say this one is THE line and a very good tricky 7b. After that me and Nige went to try Master Kush while the others did Moontan start. Conditions were good and we were hitting the lip every time. That’s the easy bit, the hard bit is holding the huge swing when all you have for the right hand is a tiny slopey dish. Mighty frustrating, but feels tantalisingly feasible, who knows…. It certainly merits a bit more attention. Latching the move would be amazing.
Wasn’t expecting to get out on Sunday as the forecast had been dire all week. In the end it was overcast but dry so I rang Nige and we headed out to try Mossatrocity at Grindleford Station. Appearances are not deceptive, this is indeed a fine new boulder problem, very pure fridge hugging on good rock in a lovely setting. Adam turned up and swiftly did it, having been on it the day before. Adam’s beta was good and Nige soon bagged it too. Then Sam arrived and made it three ascents. Unfortunately I couldn’t get to grips with the beta they used as it put too much strain on my left hamstring which is still dodgy from an injury in 06 (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). Did manage to figure a sequence which worked for me in the end, but didn’t have the juice to link it and my best shots saw me falling off going for the crack just below the top. Oh well, can’t wait to get back on it, maybe I’ll take the lamps out and have an evening hit with Si.