Friday, 29 November 2013

Something was different

I woke up on that morning frustrated that I had not done any sort of climbing or exercise during the week. I was eager to get to Alsmcliff. Something was different that day. I did not know why but I knew I would do it.
I had spent so much time on the problem over the last 18 months full sessions climbing, falling, resting, climbing, falling. This had almost become a weekly experience.
I roughly remember my first session on it. I spent the session trying to pull on and work out a foot placement to get to the sloper. My core was saggy and I was not doing well. The second session involved me trying to keep body tension and throwing for the sloper. The third session went better and I hit the sloper 3 times but did not get the pocket.
Back on those first few sessions it was just something to do to kill time. I did not really have much I wanted to do at Almscliff till I got stronger and my mates all had projects. On my forth session on the problem I got the pocket once. At this point I was sure I could do the line.
I must stress this is by no means the hardest thing I have done but It was possibly the hardest I had to try to do a project. The focus and effort involved was draining mentally and phsyically and even when not under the overhanging face I was thinking about it.
Then next few sessions came and went getting the pocket more than once in the session then  failing on the top out usually too exhausted to move hanging on by my pumped tired arms, grit rashed wrist, sore fingers and strained shoulders. I just kept throwing myself at the juggy pocket.
Then something changed the weather it got warmer and we went to cliff less. I was spending my time hanging on ropes and placing metal. Improving my grade in other parts of my climbing but always having this feeling something was not complete. I have other projects I have not done but this was different. I guess I wanted it more
Different guides say different things. Yorks grit boulder 6A+, Rockfax says V4 6b, New Yorks Grit says 6B+. All I knew was I wanted the tick. It would be always lingering until its done. The grade was not my hardest the line was taunting me.
I kept going back having full sessions getting to the top and feeling lost. Lots of people gave me different advice, telling me what I was doing wrong and what I should be doing. It was all white noise as I was stuck in my sequence and the 6b crux drained me to the point I was barely holding on for the top out.

Time went on I was confident but I was not doing it. I kept falling off the top hitting the pads feeling frustrated. Falling off the start as my focus failed. Falling off the middle as my shoulder ached from the strain.

But I kept going back to suffer battle on. The temperature dropped agian. Grit season was back and I need to start it. I need this tick. Getting through the crux became standard occasionally I would miss the pocket. I worked out why and changed my sequence minutely. Then the top out just remained.
Overall I probably spent 10-20 session on this and 10 goes plus a session.
Last saturday something was different. It was a slightly warmer day. Probably a good Caley day but me and Tom were keen for cliff. I went there knowing it would not take me long. First go of the day I was at the top out and the usual happened. Flop, bang, mat.
Tom pointed out a higher foot hold. Next go I used it set enough got the two finger pocket turned my right hand and I was higher. My weight was over my foot my stomach on the upper slab just rock further my left foot slipping right foot on nothing not able to move.
Flop I hit the mat from higher than ever before.
A proper rest was needed. I swapped my shoes and went for a short walk, had a quick drink, chatted to a few people and other little tricks to make me rest longer when all I was wanted to throw myself back at it.
It was time pulled on throw for the sloper, missed and was back on the mat. Er ... arse. 30 seconds rest. go.
Pulled on digging my toe in to the polished pocket. Throw hit sloper generating moment from my shoulders and hips threw for pocket. LF high matched juggy pocket. Set RF and throw to the rib at the top. Focus. Rf on the high foothold and flag left. Lh in the two finger pocket, turn rh to a cusp. Sucking in my hips lf on the lip and rock left ward lh match the rib keep rocking. Then. I am there ..
I turn and just sat there. No cheer. No screams. No strong man pose. No other overly expressive gesture. Just pure satisfaction. I just sat there enjoying the day it was still early in the day. The sun is still low in the sky. People are arriving at the crag. I am allowing myself the joy just sitting enjoying all the beaty I could not see while single mindedly focusing on flying arete.
Its over. It was never about the grade. It was a battle of me against the line. Something not my style, not my strengths. It was something I liked the look of and wanted to do. I wanted to do it for me. I could of spent the time projecting a hard problem. Something that would mean I moved to another level. A new grade to brag to friends about. Instead I continued with this battle. Falling over and over. Hours of driving. Probably a few hundred quid in petrol. What was different about saturday? I don't know but some thing was different.
Was it worth it.
If the feeling at the top out is anything to go by ... yes.
it is over ...

Monday, 21 October 2013

Isle of Man - Is it crap?

in short no.

Before I went out to the isle of man I had lots of people telling me that the climbing is rubbish, it all loose choss, nothing there. One person kept on telling me it was brilliant. Then again he lives out there.

So I booked a cheap flight and flew out to the isle of man for the weekend to climb with Nik.

When I arrived I was presented with torrential rain ... But it was friday night and the forecast was okay ish for the following day. 

Saturday morning came and we headed to the chasms. In hope of dry rock. This is what we found at the car park


We set off down to the crag in hope of dry rock .. Sadly we did not find any. So after a tour to admire all the potential that people have not developed yet. I decided to try a wet E4 on top rope with a thought of leading it later. 

The route goes up an awkward but easy slab then kicks back with difficulty. it follows a lovely groove feature.
I managed to do this pretty quickly but was limited by wet rock. I did it a few times in hope that other stuff dried out. 

It didn't so we went for cake with Nik and Dougie Hall. 

After the cake the crag was in a much better state but still pretty damp. Instead I decided to try an E3 on top rope. I did the crux clean but fell at a bit of blind climbing near the end it was too wet for a lead sadly. 
Next up I tried a E5 on top rope with poor results. After this feeling fairly beaten up from climbing hard all day I tried to lead an E2 I pumped out fast and slumped on a cam. Gutted I rested a bit and decided to lead an E1. As i set off it started to hammer it down. I topped out on some gopping flatties. lovely. 
We called it a day as the rain seemed set to stay and we were drenched. We went back for more cake.

Sunday came and the walk in was a little bit clearer to say the least.

However we were still treated with damp rock. I decided to go for the E4 so we set up a top rope to make sure the moves were still fresh in my mind and check the gear. I did the route bottom to top twice but the top out was still soaked. I decided it was not on as I could not physically top out on those conditions. 
I then tried bits of Dougies 7b+ traverse. It was nails! He was doing laps on it chatting to us as he went. 
Next up I top roped another wet E2 and went for cake. After more cake we came back and I tried an E3 on top rope thinking I should try lead it. I was right I should of lead it flew up it no worries it was dry too. 
Anyway I was knackered from all the climbing so I called it a day. 

So the climbing style at the chasms anyway is steep on positive holds. The established routes are on good solid rock. The torque test wall is a really nice quartz and fun crimpy climbing with a nice angle to climb. 

I will be going back and hopefully leading everything I blew my onsight on and to find dry rock.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Squamish - My review

So I have been back a few days now.
Looking back at squamish I have absolutely no regrets giving up almost a years worth of holiday on one trip. So here is my breif take on the place.
Ease of Access - the boring stuff
Once you are at squamish everything is a short drive away. I imagine without a car it would be difficult to do everything with out a lot of motivation. For example seal cove is a long way down the road from the cheif campground/squamish down town. It is an amazing and quiet location for an easy day. Hitching would be a possibilty but the notice board might not get you a lift easily (having not used the notice board I could not say).
Also if the weather craps out cheakamus is a drive away so agian with out a car its a hitching job or notice board for lifts.
Most of the crags have a short walk in which is always nice but the car park areas can be a little crowded. I went at the end of the season so probably missed the worst of it.
From the air port the drive is reasonably straight forward but I took a wrong turning both times trying to get through down town vancouver. The sea to sky is a great road to drive on.
The Crags - My take
While in squamish we tried most of the crags. Here is what I though of them.
Murrin park - It was a nice introduction to granite lots of low grade routes with harder things next to it. Also it had a really nice lake for swimming in it.
Seal Cove - beautiful but lacking in steeper angles and harder climbs. Great for a hot easy day pottering.
Cheakamus - I only went to forgotten wall but it reminded me of giggleswick south which I always thought that in another country people just would not bother with it. It is a wet day option as it stays dry but it was shit! However there was a nice 7a
Smoke Bluffs - Good climbing but too urban I felt I was climbing in some ones garden.
Shannon Falls - too busy (stupid 5.7 crack)
Bulletheads - Not the most inspiring from the base. However I did one of the best pitches of climbing I have ever done there.
Base of the grand wall - Again not overly keen. There is no real warm ups. It all starts at 5.10b but the routes look amazing if you are climbing a bit harder than I was
The Apron - A great place to get into the multi pitching. Nice easy grades did not feel too commiting and a fast drying option. Gets a bit warm in the sun.
The Chief in general - The best place I have ever climbed in my life. Brillinat climbing at every grade. Every type of climbing and amazing views. Easy access and fantastic situations.

My tick list (exported from UKC)

Climb name Grade Style Partner(s) Date Crag name
Any Lip'll Do V0   Sent O/S simon 19-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Any Rock'll Do V1  * Sent O/S simon 19-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Flourescent Black V0   Sent O/S simon 19-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Sphinx'ter Quits 5.8  ** Lead O/S simon, bex 18-Sep-13 Little Smoke Bluffs
Quarryman 5.8  *** Lead O/S simon, bex 18-Sep-13 Little Smoke Bluffs
Health Hazard 5.10a  ** Lead O/S simon, bex 18-Sep-13 Little Smoke Bluffs
Popeye and the Raven 5.10d  *** 2nd simon 18-Sep-13 Little Smoke Bluffs
Fun Gus Arete V0   - 17-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Rambles 5.8  *** Lead O/S bex 15-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
Bronze Traverse V0   Sent O/S bex 15-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Ain't Easy Being Easy V0   Sent O/S bex 15-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Banana Peel 5.7  *** AltLd O/S hobbit 13-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
Squamish Buttress 5.10c  *** AltLd O/S hobbit 13-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
The Butt Light 5.9  * AltLd O/S hobbit 13-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
Granville Street 5.8  * AltLd O/S hobbit 13-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
Zoe 5.10a  *** Lead O/S simon 11-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Jugs, Not Drugs 5.8 Lead O/S simon 11-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Squamish Days V0  ** Sent O/S 10-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Fried Ant V0  *** Sent O/S 10-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Easy Peezy V0   Sent O/S 10-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Bob Barker Cut My Dog's Nuts Off V1   Sent O/S 10-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Spotters on Strike V0   Sent O/S 10-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Squamish Days Traverse V2  * Sent x simon 10-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Bubble Buddy 5.8  ** Lead O/S simon 09-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Lost Horizon 5.10b  *** 2nd simon 09-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Future and a Hope 5.9  ** 2nd simon 09-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Barknuckles 5.8  *** Lead O/S simon 09-Sep-13 Murrin Park
The Seal Cove Traverse 5.9  ** Lead O/S simon 09-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Summer Vacation V0  *** Sent O/S hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
The Warm-Up V1   Sent O/S hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Superfly Slab V0  * Sent O/S hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Dyke Surfer V0  ** Sent O/S hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
One Track V1   Sent O/S hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Nick's Idea V1   Sent x hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Easy Traverse V1   Sent x hobbit, bex 08-Sep-13 Grand Wall Boulders
Bullethead East 5.10c   Lead simon 07-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
Forgotten Realm 5.10a  * Lead O/S bex 06-Sep-13 Cheakamus Canyon
Shaggy 5.9 Lead O/S simon 06-Sep-13 Cheakamus Canyon
Cornflakes 5.7  ** Lead O/S bex 05-Sep-13 Little Smoke Bluffs
One Scoop with Delicious Dimples 5.10c  *** Lead O/S bex 04-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
The Bottom Line 5.9  ** Lead O/S bex 04-Sep-13 Squamish Chief
The Boot V0   Sent O/S bex 02-Sep-13 Apron Boulders, Squamish
Stinky V0   Sent O/S bex 02-Sep-13 Apron Boulders, Squamish
Holiday in Cambodia 5.8  ** Lead O/S simon 01-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Power Smart 5.8  ** Lead O/S simon 01-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Oscar's Slab 5.8  ** Lead O/S simon 01-Sep-13 Murrin Park
Thriller Off the Void 5.11b  *** 2nd simon 01-Sep-13 Murrin Park

Favourite Routes

Bulletheast east first pitch. Completely brilliant route lovely moves about 40m of constanstly amazing moves.
Zoe - After not trying it on the first day to go back and do as a warm up was a fantastic feeling.
Banana Peel - As good as everyone says
The Butt lite - Exposed HVS pitch laybacking then traversing over a massive drop. Then a chimney with one of the best views in the world?

Favourite Boulders
Summer Vacation - A classic for a reason. It's high ball 5-6m but you dont realise as the moves are so good!
Superfly - I would of done it if I tried it more but was pretty intense for me.
Fried Ants - Nice easy moves and a fantastic top out
Probably the length of my ticklist. I forget when you do a big route that you normally only get one tick for it but it does reduce the number of different routes you have done.
My performance on Khalanie Crack. I can try use the hang over excuse but really I was just a punter.
Smoke Bluffs urban situation
Not swimming in murrin park lake (I did swim in Alice lake though)
The lack of sharp knivies in the apartment
The price of beer
The quality of the bouldering. I knew it was going to be good but it was ... Possibly as good as font!
Seeing a bear late at night in a carpark.

Best Part
Topping out the chief after 19 pitches by soloing a 10m slab at 600m above sea level

Other Cool things

Howe Sound Brew house - Quality!
The apartment - More like a house
The kitchen in the apartment - Massive
Making a roast dinner - I love cooking roast pork and potato's
How friendly everyone was
The people I was with

Pub - Howe Sound brewery
Breakfast/cafe - Big D's
Route - .. too many but probably Bullethead East P1 as a single pitch the upper pitches looked amazing too.
Boulder Problem - Summer Vacation

The Cost

The trip was expensive.
Flights were £600 return
Motel for 2 nights $90 each (split between two) (£55-60)
Car hire £170ish Each (£670 for three weeks)
Food £15+ per day
Drink £5-6 per beer

Would I go back


Would I go Back Next Year

Probably not.
To justify the trip you need at least 2 weeks which is half my years holiday allocation. I will go back just not next year .. unless someone turns round to me and says I am booking a trip do you want to come ... I would strongly think about it.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Everything has to come to an end

The day after the Rambles the weather came in. It was really wet all day so climbing was written off. We did nothing just sat around the house. We did nip to the adventure centre to buy gifts but that was it ..
The day after that it was still wet. So we decided to check if the boulders had been shielded from the rain. Which they had so we checked out the boulders. 
I tried lots of things with not much luck. Most of it was damp so some stuff I did not top out as it was not worth the effort. others I could not get going on. Did not feel like a spanking though. I did make progress on easy chair which was good. 
Me on Easy in a Easy Chair V4
Nice Overbite

On the wednesday the weather cleared. So we went to fast drying Smokie bluffs. I warmed up climbing a top 100 5.8 corner crack then got on a 5.10a trad route which I did with no real issue. After that I followed Simon up a 5.10d techincal corner which climbed amazingly (also top 100). The route combine a series of chimney, slab, bridging and balance moves. To make a true un british classic route. 
I ended the day doing a 5.8 with really run out bolts (you are supposed to take some gear I did not bother). It was a nice day to end my route climbing just pottering ticking a few nice routes with friends reminded me of great grit days at the crag with mates taking the piss and climbing stuff.

The final day in Squamish for me was spent on the grand wall boulders again. I fired out a load of easier problems and tried a lot of harder ones until my skin gave up. The tick of the day was probably climbing Any Lip'll Do. A great natural line using good heals and toes which are not my sort of thing to climb the problem. 

Bex on Any Lip'll Do
It has been an amazing trip but it was time to leave with the forecast coming ending the season. The pub and the crags showed the season was over in a few days the numbers dispensed so fast. I was very happy with myself on the trip I never really climbed all that hard but I got the big tick which was my main goal. To climb from the car park to the the peak of the chief over 600m above.

Friday morning I set off early to my cousins wedding near toronto. I wont give too many details of the wedding more of a story for the pub but it was amazing great to see my family and great to meet Katie and her family. 
The Happy couple
Katie and Adam
I am now in the airport waiting for my flight home. I am really looking forward to see my cat, my bed, my family, friends and the grit!! (the season cometh)!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Rest day and Tiredness

Rest Day

So the day after the chief I was exhausted. So was everyone. 
We decided to head up to Whistler for a easy day. We got there with the intention to head to the beer fest. We got there and it turned out to be $35 to get in and all you get is a pint and a quarter for that and a tiny plastic cup. 
We grabbed to some lunch and took in the views. Bex particularly liked all the bikers ... 
Anyway we quickly got board of Saturday tourist hell and headed to a local lake to rent boats. We ended up with two man canoes. 

Bex working hard

We spent about an hour out on the water before we got board of not having any swimming gear or at least a towel. So after getting attacked by a giant dragonfly we headed back. 
As we were returning to shore Simon jumped out and pushed me back out so I was floating away without a paddle. I made it back in and they sent me back out again ... Cheers guy.
We then headed to the pub. Me and Bex had a drink by the window while Simon and Hobbit played pool. After a couple we got bored and headed home leaving Hobbit and Simon in the pub (till hey got asked to leave). We headed back home and made a Spag Bol which was pretty good.


Yesterday I was still exhausted so I was not in a rush to get out. We eventually headed to the base of the grand wall where I was really unmotivated. So I watched Simon fire out the first pitch of Exasperator.
The low cloud making Exasperator look more intimidating

Simon nearing the end of P1 on Exasperator

Simon Still on P1
Me and Bex feeling uninspired headed off to look for an alternate route. We got to the boulders at the bottom of main wall path were we did a couple of problems with out pads and Bex tried to show her artistic side:
Not quite sure what is going on ... 

We headed to the lower apron where we did The rambles a four pitch 5.8. 
I did it in two pitches. 
Bex seconding  P1+2

Bex seconding  P3+4
As we got to the top just as a loud thunder clap hit. Bex seconded P3+4 fast and we abbed down fast in fear of getting drenched. We got down in 3 abs.

We got down as it was spitting so we headed back to the boulders and waited for Simon and hobbit to come back. Where I did a couple more easy boulder problems.
It gradually built to a heavy down pour then hammered it down all night today has been written off by bad weather however I did buy myself a shiny new cam though so to a total waste

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Climbing the chief

Thursday was a well earned rest day. Fridays plan was to make up for it. 
We all woke up before 7 (except Simon). 
The plan was to climb from the apron to the top of the cheif (circa 60m above sea level to 610m above sea level). 
this is the route I had planned on thursday night:
Banana Peel 5.7 8 pitches
Granville Street 5.8 3 pitches
Squamish buttress 5.8 (first) 4 pitches
The butt lite 5.9 3 pitches
Total 18 pitches.
We eventually got to the crag at 8.30 where me and hobbit set off up banana peel We linked pitches to save time I took P1+2 5.4 + 5.2, Hobbit then linked P3+4 5.5 and 5.7, I then linked P5+6 5.4 + 5.7, at which point we got stuck behind a group so we did two 5.4 pitches to the top. Nice easy warm up probably HS/VS mainly for the turn outs (20-30m at a time in places). 
At the top of Banana Peel Hobbit with the guide book
Looking down banana Peel
Next we wanted to fire out boomstick 5.7 but had a Spanish team on it so we did the same start and headed left up granville street. Hobbit did the 5.6 first pitch and I did the 5.8 second pitch. Hobbit then did the top easy pitch. Again felt VS ish maybe soft HVS. 
After this we had to walk to the base of squamish buttress. Which felt the hardest part of the day. Straight forward but after about 300m+ of climbing my legs were feeling it. We got to the base of squamish butteress to find a group on both starts the 5.8 and the 5.9. We decided to do the 5.8 start as it looked better and it was brilliant. I got to lead it and I linked with P2. TO make a nice 60m pitch. There was a thin crux by a bolt then straight forward climbing. 
Me starting Squamish buttress following a Uni Group
Hobbit then linked P3+4 together two 5.7 pitches. which felt pretty soft for the grade. but still a nice HS/VS. 
At this point we were stuck behind the queue again. We decided to do the Butt Lite which goes left and avoids the crux pitch of Squamish buttress. (Still a three star finish and has Ben Moon the First ascentionist list hero) 
I got to lead the first two pitches of this 5.9 and 5.8 which were fantastic. The crux pitch had the hard bit at the start. 
Me after the crux section on the Butt Lite Crux Pitch
It was probably HVS for the first pitch and solid VS for the second pitch. Hobbit then lead the last pitch of the day. a 5.2 climb to the top of the climbing. 
All that was left was to scramble to the top ... or so we thought. To get to the top we had one more piece of climbing. A nice blank slab to solo 5.5/6 ish 
Hobbit soloing to the top of the chief
We topped out at 3.30 pm ish pretty tired. We could probably been done a hours earlier if not for the queues on the route. 
Top out photos.
Me and Hobbit looking tired at the first peak
Bex and Simon join us at the top about about 40 mins later

We then pose for a team photo some one said jump ... 
We were all pretty tired
then we had to walk down its about a 40/50mins steep down hill track. Then a nice path back to the car

The exhausted team photo
A Great day out!