Monday, June 28, 2010
I've been climbing outside solidly for the last 2 weeks as a kind of summer break from training and just a general chillout relaxo time. Its been great to make use of the stable weather and get up to the highergrounds. One brilliant session (more so than usual) was last wednesdays. With our bunch of overpaid, undertrained ball chasers distracting much of the paunched population from leaving the house I made an afternoon sortie up to Ravensheugh with man of the match, triple daddy, Rob Fielding (hi Rob!) robs new approach is to fit a weeks worth of climbing into his 1 free afternoon and he's recently been taking up the torch in the inspiring lines department.
check this shid out:
I can confirm, despite the heat flies and midgies which would normally have sent me home, that this is a cracking bloc, it climbs like you want everything to and the hold texture and curves are like a sandstone Nigella Lawson.
Anyhows we busted upto Ravensheugh, the Ceuse of the county, as i had an eye on a line i'd tried months ago with Ned when there were snow drifts on the ground. We arrived to a belting wind and cloud, which provided some poff like conditions. It took me ages to refine 1 move in the roof the rest of the beta coming from my previous brainstorming session with Ned. Which was handy as this move was hard, if i was just a bit taller and stronger and my second name was Adams then i might have been able to stretch off a good foot way back, instead I ended up smearing in the roof and slapping off one vertical sidepull into a slopey dish, the only thing keeping you on being a slopey heel. from here a series of 1 foot slaps between boat keels and letterboxes get you out the underbelly of the 9ft high roof and established on the lip, with 1 arm, a big lock off out left then sees you on a small but ok hold staring the last moves in the face. After tweaking the beta and shifting up a gear i found myself at the end move again and again with a wilting lat and some strange noises coming out my mouth. the sound of weakness. Gaskins just squeeks, no sound is strong enough to fully escape him. I was howling away and back on the ground. The two being correlated. I pushed on and emptied the tank, whilst having the most fun i'd had in yonks, about 3 goes after I shouldn't have been able to pull of the ground i was still getting to the last move and wilting. I'd given it my best shot and it'd won, i worked the end moves, found better beta (as is always the case) and returned on saturday with bullit.
where by i got hot, shutdown and fustrated at not even sticking the dish for a whole hour. I sacked it off cleaned up billy biscuit a cracking E5 (which is now climbable rather than being a gallery of lichen) and it gradually clouded over and rained. This cooled things off just enough for me to be able to stick the dish, 3 goes later i was dragging the last 2 holds swinging out, silent and possessed by pent up expectations. Job done, it was more like a job on saturday than wednesday too, wednesday was fun and frolicks, saturday was pressure and grease. I finished off by ground upping billy biscuit, although after cleaning the holds on the abb that term is a bit loose but i had no other choice the route was unclimably filthy.
The next day we decided to mix things up a bit and remind ourselves why the county is so good. So a long steep walk in was called for and a venue with yawning chasms for landings and rock with the texture which could only be replicated by mixing a tray of concrete and chucking in 2 boxes of assorted screws, smashing 5 champagne bottles into the mix, and about 3kg of rust shavings. Which is a shame because the lines at the Lad stones are stiking and compelling and the situation alone is worth the walk if your eyes appreciate being massaged.
I had a fairly decent day anyway, did groove armada ground up, and had a bit of a "moment" turning the top slab, would have been useful to have the holds chalked and looked at after an ab but instead i ended up crimping bits of fossilised broken glass and embracing the security of searing pain before cutting and getting my foot up, where after all the holds revealed themselves from their hiding places. Tom's new additions are good fun too even if the pockets on smoking guns are proper dog mouthers. I might have added a new line... not sure, it was quite nice though on small pockets (again sharp). I think i'm addicted to the smell of cordite, which certainly helps with patioing :)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Escape to the county
Northumberland is without a doubt my favourite place to boulder in the country, It embodies nearly all the reasons why I like bouldering outdoors so much, with striking lines beautiful scenery, skin friendly holds which tease the layers off gradually with each failed attempt rather than ripping away big chunks all at once. The weathering of the features produces some incredible formations too. I've been revisiting queens this last week, trying to mop up the last of the lines I want to do which'd burn a hole in my mind if I sat back in sheffield leaving them undone. Of all of these the Crackline on the main crag at Queens stood as the last of the big 4, It is also by far the biggest at just over 8m. It is a fantastic feature, a meandering crackline flows down from the top of the crag before completely disappearing at about 4m, leading up from the ground is another crackline and a micro break stopping at about 2.5m in the void is a 1/4 pad sidepull, and it looks at you like it is being generous for leaving you anything, basically the problem comes down to using this sidepull and putting your foot in your armpit on the micro break and rocking it out until you can jam your thumb in the bottom of the crack, the climbing after this is still hard, but compared to a 1move 7c+, it is alot more do able. This would have been a hard trad route years ago, especially if it was housed in a trad crag of other E numbers. But i'm claiming this one for the boulderers. "the Crack in the shadows" highball font 8a to ground up I imagine and a good representation of the height standards can be pushed to. Unfortunately I had to clean it on abseil or it would have still been unclimbably scrittly as much of Queens lies dormant in this state, but I kept working it to a minimum on the ab rope. Queens now has one of the best wall problems (it doesn't climb like a crack as there isn't a proper jam on it) in the UK, as well as arete, prow, groove (how soon is now), and lunge (slot). Which isn't bad for something so small in length.
The Pic shows the arete of glorius which climbs up on the LHS of it in its entirety from its base, which arguably supercedes a fine (glorius) E5 from last year which climbs the E2 gloria on the right arete on the right for 1/2 and uses gear on this before turning the arete to finish. On the left all the way it is a magnificent new school 8m high font 7a+ highball (it's protectionless anyway) The crack in the shadows is takes the centre of the shady wall to its left all the way, this pic doesn't even approach doing it justice but should help to place it
I also climbed a nice new 7bish thing out the roof near the wall staying on undercuts the whole way until a pinch is reached on the lip where you come into a flat undercut and lunge round to a nice edge
In other news, Cumbria's fastest fisherman, mr Bullit, nabbed an ascent of queen kong whilst it wasn't looking. Immediately he questioned the grade (Rob only ever lets himself climb 7b+), it certainly is a lot cleaner these days and could quite easily be 7c+ (I think it is). It seems pretty hard to regrade anything these days without getting branded a willy waving sandbagger or spoilsport etc. The fact is that the problem is about 75% cleaner than it was 5 years ago when i first did it, and it was originally done with double toe hooks by me and chris where as nowadays heel hooks on the crux make it a lot higher percentage, new beta (if it makes a difference) should always lead to a new grade otherwise there is no point in grading something for the easiest sequence, bradpitt is the textbook example of this, if someone did it with a heel first and gave it 7b+ it'd be a completely different problem historically.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
a bloccy exit plan
First of all thanks to the army of adoring hot asian birds who have left comments saying how amazing their new beastmaker is (I cant read the comments but I reckon that's what they're saying) but by feeling the need to make us feel insecure by hotlinking to some cheap viagra site, you've gone a step too far. Anyway thanks to this spammy crap i've disabled comments except for blog members.
We've been having some right good weather lately. And whilst it has been a bit waarm some days it has mostly been an awesome year so far. To top it off Swizzy and central europe have been getting all the crap weather we normally get as the mighty Icelandic high has been funneling all the wet lows into an already warm central europe. I've heard the Jura has been consistently rainy and magic wood looks biblically wet from the blogs i've seen. GREAT, now they might realise how lucky they are most of the time, maybe they'll learn to knuckle down and do some hardcore training rather than climbing endless amazing font 8s. Come to England foreign wads, it might be a little off Fred Nicole's radar but at least its dry. Our holds tend to be smaller so they don't get as wet so easily ;) (both those facts are way off the mark mind)
I've mostly been hunting down new peak blocs in the last month, and thanks to some great finds, my brain seems to be more psyched to get the last few (cough several) lime boulders i haven't done in the peak finished off. In hindsight I think the reason why I was leaving a few things is down to not knowing what to do if I had've got on them properly and done them (yeah bullshit excuse i know), so instead i've always dabbled on things like superman and keen roof with the odd sporadic session a year, yet always lacking the drive to actually see them off. It's like the brain needs an exit strategy or it'll just fizzle out of motivation after you tick the last thing you care about doing. luckily for me I'm not too picky so long as its either good or hard or independent. It doesn't necessarily have to be both. So I'd like to climb everything which isn't a linkup or traverse (unless its a great traverse). there are about seven 8's left on my peak list which i'm hoping to see off in July and August but we'll see.
Now that I have a bunch of new blocs to get spanked on hopefully I can see off these old "nemesises" quick smart to give me time to start anew, but who knows or cares for that matter, at least it keeps me busy...
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
We've been busy of late. Ned's in worldcup mode and has been on the plastic, but his fingjury isn't helping things much.
I've been getting out a bit here and there, and finally found a nice way of climbing keen roof, as this problem has annoyed me in the past by always feeling dicky for my height and like i'm missing something. No proper tick yet though as i'm starting from the ben's roof sit like a good boy, then going straight into keen roof via a big move like a logical person might. Hopefully my exit strategy for peak lime bouldering will all go to plan and i can just be on projects by the end of the year, fingers crossed.
Whilst heading back up to Cumbria the other day I met up with luke and finally managed a visit to Earl crag, which has been the most glaring omission burning a hole in my bouldering crag ticks. Luke was an awesome guide and we just ran round in the belting wind like kids in a playground doing classic after classic, it was one of my funnest evenings bouldering in a long time despite totally randomly opening up a massive flapper on my index finger on a crystal in the start hold of lager lager lager. This was nice but i preferred close range and underworld on the whole as the moves are better and the blocs bigger. It's a fantastic crag though and what it lacks in big lines it makes up for in quality moves and wall climbs. Ned's off in vail hucking for some sickrad fully awesome crazy holds next week.