Monday, 26 December 2011

Ho ho holds! & I'm dreaming of a white christmas BOARD!

I spent all of November working in Scotland, bolting bits of steel together. In total I climbed twice through the month; once to check out the new Climbing Academy in Glasgow and once to compete in Climb Newcastle's winter series. The Climbing Academy is a really good wall, very impressive and to my eyes the biggest bouldering wall in the UK. They've certainly got tons of space should they want to go even bigger!

The Climbing Academy, Glasgow

The comp at Climb Newcastle was fun, though I was pretty tired after working a full day humping steel in Glasgow then driving home before the comp. I also had a horrendous blood blister from dropping a large bit of iron on it. (Winge winge excuses excuses). So after getting my excuses out, I managed 2nd with Nigel Callender coming first.

Oww! Mega blood blister

As for real climbing... It's been very few and far between.

After watching Chris' vid:

Chris Graham's crazy toe hooks! Good effort Chris.

I got psyched and went to try prep H at Hepburn. I spent quite a long while trying to use his beta before realising it was crazy and sacking it off. I kinda figured out my own sequence I think but ended up too tired to make any serious headway. Will have to go back for another session on that one.

Heading south, we had a fun day at Caley the other week. I was keen to try Zoo York. After much ado about toe hooks (I'll come back to this) I found a sequence I could do that didn't use any. I was really psyched to get it done in a day for two reasons:

1) I've never done an 8a in a session before
2) Caley is rarely in a condition you can climb on it

I didn't manage it. I just felt too tired to link it. The moves are awesome and I'm really keen to get back again for the link. So keen in fact that I returned the day after next... to find the top of the problem literally soaking. I spent a while drying it to a reasonable level (though my hands were very wet after the test climb). This was my best effort of about 4 goes:

Chubublu, The heel goes UNDER the hand dumby!

I felt even more tired than I had done at the end of my first session! Weird? Oh well one for next time it's dry down there!

I can't do em. It's always been in my mind that they're not my strongest point but only recently have I noticed just quite how bad I am at them.

In the second round of Climb Newcastle's winter league there was a problem with only toe hooks on the arete for the start and it really stumped me. I found it really really hard and didn't even do it never mind flash it! Two days later I was at Zoo York figuring out the moves. I think it is customary to toe hook at least once on the problem but I just couldn't get them to work! Thinking back there are a long list of problems where I couldn't get anything off the toe hook and ended up trying to find a different way or just simply not doing it: Zoo York, Queen Kong, La Pelle, L'apparement, Prep H (Chris' method).

Out of these, L'apparement is the only one where you really need to toe hook. Unfortunately I really want to do that problem so I better work out how to train to get better at it!

Now, to address the title:

I've taken the Christmas break as a good time to refurbish the board. It's been stripped:


and I've starting making some new holds

including a mono-pinch!

I'll post a pic and maybe a video once there are some holds on it! Just a case of waiting for the paint to dry...

Here is a vid of my previous hardest problem before the big change up:

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Lots of coaching at Durham

The staff and management at Durham Climbing Center have been really proactive of late to try and improve their clients' experience of using the wall. Although this wall maybe doesn't have the highest volume of climbing in the UK it is really good to see the team trying to give their customers a great experience. Once a wall is established then regular high quality route setting is the most important thing in my opinion to keeping people coming back and Durham have recently been employing myself and Mick Page quite a lot to ensure that this is the case. On top of that there have been a number of events such as adult and junior competitions, informal Tuesday night coaching and also a workshop on how to use their latest bit of wall, the "Beastmaker" training board.

When I was asked to put together a 2hr coaching workshop I was at first a bit daunted, however, after taking the first step of putting pen to paper I was amazed at how much I had to say about the subject - maybe using all my spare time researching the Internet for training advice over the past 10 years wasn't such a waste of time? I kicked the session off by gathering the group round my laptop screen for a youtube viewing of Splinter (below).

With everyone suitably psyched, we went through pretty much everything to do with using this style of training device, from the blurry distinction between "training" and "climbing" as the video of Malcolm displays so well, to the relative merits of training on a board rather than other tools such as fingerboards or campus boards and not forgetting the specific aspects of actually training on the board itself! The session went really well and I think everyone came away a lot more confident to take a more structured approach to their training and start really getting the most out of this great bit of wood!

Michael Daglish was also on hand playing with his cameras as usual so lookout for a bit of footage from the session soon...

Additionally I've also been at Durham for the past couple of Tuesdays to lead their informal, open to everyone coaching sessions. The relaxed atmosphere with these session doesn't really make them feel tat much like work but I suppose thats an advantage of your job also being what you do in your free time anyway! It is really cool to be able to help people out in such an informal manor, with different people after different levels of coaching ranging from beta / demos of a problem to specific advice on how to address their weaknesses. This all being in a friendly chatty atmosphere makes it great fun and I look forward to doing more of these in the future!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Website is live!

I've been meaning to get this sorted for a while now, so it's great to finally get a website uploaded to the internet. Lots of work still to do but I think it's a good start!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

An evening at Shaftoe

Last month I went out to Shaftoe and managed to get these two problems on video. The quality seems to have been reduced by vimeo for some reason. I'll try and get it sorted for next time.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Wainstones

Today me and me da headed up to the Wainstones. Steve and Karin had mentioned that there had been a flurry of activity recently. I always like to try out new crags and this place is only 45 mins away from my house so we thought we'd check it out. For some reason I never head down to the moors but I might start checking it out more.

The problems... We warmed up around the boulder with the easy crack (pic) problem on it, doing some fun eliminates and sit starts. Notably just to the left of the crack, the left arete/pillar climbs really well. I then did Redhead's roof, which is fun and necky. Very good at the grade - 6bish.

Then it started raining so we hid under the bivvy roof. A local lad, Sam had told us of a problem coming out of here at around 7b which I then flashed. Start on the bloc in the back of the roof with hands and feet. I then went straight to the lip but there was chalk on an undercut in the roof if you're that way inclined. Throw your heel round and a bit of a thrutch and bobs your uncle. The wet slab topout was interesting! I thought 7a for that one. EDIT - Just found this problem in this video - "Hand to hand combat"

I then tried The Hollow Sit Start from this video. Nice little prob, around 6c or + To the left of this there is a problem called the finger (pic below). At first I thought it was nails and couldn't do the first move into the mono. [I've since found out the established prob starts at the mono, not the ledge.] I thought I might as well try the move from the mono and got it about 3rd go. The pic was meant to be a vid but dads can't work cameras :p In my opinion there is a good crouching start at the lip which I tried a bit but couldn't work out the move to the mono. Someone taller would be able to lank it with their feet under the roof but I couldn't reach, maybe 8a ish from there?? I think the grade is a bit of a purely belter, about 7b from the mono. Fat fingers need not apply! Someone had also started cleaning a problem to the left again. I had a quick feel but couldn't work out a sequence. It felt hard. The ground was really boggy underneath so I didn't pursue it.

We then walked down to what was to be the main event... The big prow thing. 7a+ on one side, Cruel Intentions - 7c on the other (also featured in above vid). Unfortunately the rain came back and this time it was heavy so we had to bail. Fortunately though, this group of boulders are at the bottom of the hill so next time the walk in will be a little bit easier. Hopefully get back to them soon!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

New sets at Durham and the Matrix

Last Friday I'd been asked to do a reset at the Matrix in Sheffield. So Thurday evening I travelled down for a quick session at The Climbing Works, it's always nice to check back in and see what's changed since my time there. Not finding anyone I knew to climb with I got stuck in on the comp wall. After about an hour and a half I was totally spent, having despatched a fair number of the 7's (though I avoided the hand jam yellow) and thoroughly enjoying the death star volume bloc through the roof. Anything that goes feet first gets my vote!

I was up bright and early the next morning and working by 7.30!! I met up with Kook, Diego and together we stripped and reset the wall. 75 probs in total. Not bad for a days work. As it's the first set of a new university year they had requested an easy set but I did stick one 7b+ in there on the woody ;-)

Yesterday I was once again up bright and early and setting at Durham by 8am. Thankfully no stripping to do here... and a good job too as I moved a load of the volumes around before setting 35 problems ranging from 4-7c This bell curve of difficulty for this set is once again shifted to the right (they're all harder than last time), however, there isn't anything as hard as the two hardest problems from the last round. So if you're looking to maximise your score, it's concentration and session stamina that are important rather than maximum strength. Have fun, any feedback welcome and encouraged...

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The last couple of months...

It's been a fair while since my last blog. Here is a round up of what I've been doing over the last couple of months....

Firstly I sold the van. Sad sad times but after a little bit of renovations I ended up making a slight profit on it, just like property ladder but with vans!

Rosie was accepted to Durham University to study a masters so that meant we had to be located in the North East for at least the next year. With this in mind we swapped wheels for walls and moved into our quaint little bungalow in the suburbs. I've been keeping busy doing various bit of renovations and such like.

Not long after I'd been home the management at Durham Climbing Centre contacted me about building a symmetrical systems board in the centre. Training on boards has long been the secret of the elite boulderer as revealed in Jerry Moffat's autobiography - revelations. After deliberation on the all important angle, the board was built. 45 degrees and 8ft wide. Hayley, the manager had asked me to set the board so it was perfectly symmetrical which was something I'd never done on this scale before but was up for the challenge. The holds were delivered by Dan Varian from Beastmaker on Friday ready for a full day setting on the next Monday. After lots of measuring with tape measures and spirit levels (not the usual tools of a route setter) I finished it and set some preliminary problems. I'm rather pleased with the result and have regularly been lured out of my own garage to train on it, high praise indeed!

One of the sample problems I set

Soon after the board was finished it was time for Durham's summer bouldering ladder. Round one kicked off with a delivery of some brand new volumes. Myself and Michael Page set the 35 problems which competitors then toiled away on for the next few weeks. I have since set the next two rounds on my own and have been pleased with the feedback from the competitors.

People trying the comp problems

I've also been training fairly hard, and eating hard too. I've gained about 5kg which I'm happy with. The standard train heavy in the summer and climb light in the winter technique will hopefully pay off once the weather turns cold.

The project, more on this later...

Oh, and I heard the weather man say it's officially autumn in meteorological terms. Woo woo! not long till this dastardly heat buggers off, what what

Monday, 2 May 2011


Well, we're back in the UK. The time has come to sell the van. If you're interested in buying it then send me an email or a facebook.

Small enough to park, big enough to live in!

Santa Gadea was really fun. The temperatures stayed hot which meant climbing hard was limited to the early morning or late evening. In the end I didn't do anything worth noting. I kept trying Yogano over and over but despite continually having my hand on the jug I just couldn't keep hold of it. Perhaps I should have left it and tried other things? It's incredibly hard to leave something you could do on any go though, and I think it is the best line in the area. I did do a lot of other cool problems but nothing that hard. I came close to Killer Eyes - the 8a at Resconorio but fitness, skin and heat were all against me and I couldn't close the deal on that one either. I did brush a project but didn't do that either. No doubt that scoundrel Richie Patterson will get it done while I'm away!

Lots left to go on this wall. Richie eyes up his next target...

The tone of this blog might sound a bit depressing but it's not meant to. I genuinely enjoyed ticking a lot of slightly easier blocs in a stunning location with no crowds or polished holds with nice people -oh my god I'm turning into a climbing hippie- Or perhaps I might have had I not returned to font

We got to Font in the middle of the Easter holidays in sweltering heat. Awful conditions for climbing. Though Adam Watson did manage a repeat of Elephunk, top effort young lad! Anyway we met up with my parents and decided to just embrace it and do some circuits. Circuits were fun for a while and then I decided to try some harder things and ticked some 7a's which I'd never done before but didn't really have the motivation or the means to try harder stuff once the sun had set. More than anything the general atmosphere of the place was more like a Eurocamp holiday club and I didn't like it. Quite a culture shock from the past couple of weeks.

Quite the family affair, we exchanged my parents for Rosie's sister Katie, who wasn't really interested in spending the whole time climbing so we adjusted our usual regime to show her the sights and sounds of Fontainebleau. At the same time Disco Dave Yarwood arrived ready for a slightly different tour of the forest (involving more boulders). Together we climbed a fair bit but on the whole it was just too hot. Dave did supply us with some lovely Mammut treats for which we are very grateful, thank you Dave!

Dave under and on Egoiste, Apremont.

To summarise, I'm a cold weather climber. I'm a sweaty bastard at the best of times. No hard problems were sent towards the end of my trip which is a bit of a waste of a golden opportunity, however, I did have fun watching my skin disappear in the heat falling off 6b's.

I should have gone to Magic Woods but the tale Spanish weasels scared me off.

Time to train. Time to work. Roll on an early cold Autumn.

See ya'round yeh!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Santa Gadea part the first

On the morning of leaving La Pedriza our gas bottle ran out. The last time this happened was in Font last year and caused one of the biggest stresses of the trip so far - it convieniently happened when the fuel strike was on so we had no gas or diesel. After last time we thought it couldn't be that bad again and promptly headed to the petrol station to get a new one.... Only to find they didn't have any. The girl behind the counter did say the next one down the road stocked gas bottles so we went there.... To find they only had one type of bottle which wouln't fit onto our regulator. At this point we started to get worried, our bottle was a french one bought in France, what if you couln't buy the same brand in Spain??? Surely not we thought, and even if it were the case we would just buy a Spanish brand and re-plumb the van (I'm a dab hand at van gas plumbing since the font fiasco.)

As we were about to drive to Santa Gadea anyway (3hr drive), we thought we'd just stop in every petrol station along the way until we found a garage selling gas. 3 hours later we arrived in Santa Gadea with no gas. Shit. Fearing the worst we stopped in a Mcyd's to check the on the internet stockists of our particular brand of gas bottle. Typical French! France only! Shit! So again we set off on the hunt for any gas, any gas at all that would fit in the van.... Another 3 hours later we had reached the French border. Massive gayness. The very last garage in Spain sold a Spainish brand of gas bottle!! Talk about kick in the teeth! We nipped into France anyway and bought a french replacement for our french bottle. 7 or something hours later we reached Santa Gadea again. Lesson be learned people.

Rosie on Gadea sandstone
Rosie crushing a 6c

This is what we found! We had a good day pottering around Santa Gadea, which is really nice. The boulders are hard sandstone, not to disimilar to Northumberland when its good. The shapes and problems feel very different though.

Next day we met up with friends from Pedriza (Talo, Roser and Dhana) and headed to the "gritstone" venue Resconorio. The rock here felt quite similar to Slipstones to me and the problems and shapes quite similar too. Resconorio is a bit higher up so it was colder, though we still went through lots of skin. We didn't take any photos but will go back. Lots of cool problems were done and I nearly did an 8a second go but right at the end of the day so just left it. We'll go back no doubt.

I think its really cool here. We're staying at Santa Gadea, which itself is a very very small village (church, town hall, 1 bar, 4 farms, thats all) We can park in a lovely spot right next to the climbing. Very nice place to be if a little in the middle of nowhere.

The best problems so far... (that we have photo's of)

Angel 6c+
Angel 6c+


Yogano 7c, there is also a direct 8a to do
Yogano 7c. There is also a "direct" at 8a

Unfortunately its really really hot. I got sunburned the other day. Its even worse than heat on granite in a way because at least with granite there are usually holds to pull on, here its just friction keeping you on. Hopefully it will cool off soon.

There isn't lots and lots of hard stuff here but I think that's mainly because it's still waiting to be climbed. The amount of rock around everywhere is staggering. I've been given this:

P1000318 by michaelstainthorpe

and been told to use it. There are a few things I want to get done first but hopefully I might yet get to do some cool first ascents. Richie P was here on the weekend and did a first ascent on the crag above Gadea (which had lots of lines left to go still). Always good crack and on hand to tell you how many apples is too many apples (its a kilo if you didn't know), he's heading back over for a few days soon so that should be fun.

The only downside of climbing here would definately be the remoteness. The nearest big town Reinosa is 30 - 40 mins away and is the only place apart from tiny rip off corner shop in Arija to buy stuff. It seems like they've only just invented the wheel in this part of Spain, nevermind wifi. I'm writing this in the local library :(

Anyway, enough whinning. More climbing. I promise to take some more photos. The more intelectually gifted among you will have found links to my flickr page via the above photo's if you want to see the rubbish shots too.


La Pedriza mola

The end is nigh, tonight is our last night here. We've had a really good time climbing here. The park, called la Pedriza, is simply beautiful, full of pine forests and rivers and of course tons and tons of granite boulders! There is loads of potential for new blocs and even opening whole new areas. However, we had been rather preoccupied with trying such classic lines as "I want to believe", "el groucho", "el chulo", "air"... the list is rather long! At present there is no guidebook, (something which our wonderful hosts Talo and Roser are currently working on) but the website is fantastic for topos, news and general information. So come and have a go, if you think your (skin is) is hard enough ;-)

It's fair to say we were a bit unlucky with the weather, a rather unusual amount of rain and a couple of really hot days (see below)

On the plus side the granite dries out really really quickly, so we've managed to get some really good problems done. For me the standouts were: El Chulo sit, 7a (below)

P1000232 by michaelstainthorpe
P1000232, a photo by michaelstainthorpe on Flickr.

I want to believe 7a+ - stunning (below)

P1000269 by michaelstainthorpe
P1000269, a photo by michaelstainthorpe on Flickr.

At 7c "Air"

was the only hard thing I did, though it wasn´t for lack of trying. Groucho 7c, Far West 8a and Viajero 8a? all had one sessions work (though not in good conditions!!) but eluded me. I guess it just means there are things to go back for!

A bit of info if anyone is considering a trip:

-March was a little hot and wet for me so maybe go a colder month, though watch out for snow!
-Staying in a van is fine, or there are hostels and hotels and a campsite in the nearest town to the park, Manzanares el real. There is also a good supermarket there (Eroski) and plenty restaurants/cafes etc and also a very well stocked climbing shop. The town is quite small so you can just walk around till you find what you're after.
-La Pedriza itself is a national park and can get (very) busy with walkers on a weekend if the weather is nice so watch for that, weekdays are fine. Also, there is a handy stream running through if you are staying in a van.
-There is no bouldering guide as yet but this website has lots of topos and even a cool interactive map on it. There is a guide being written and I'm sure that website will have info on that when it is published!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

La Pedriza is hot hot hot

You´d have thought we might have guessed it but we were lied to by the weather forecast! Indeed La Pedriza is awesome, there is so much rock here it´s amazing. However, the rock is very rough and considering I was struggling with skin in font in colder temperatures it´s no surprise I´m a bit hesitant to do too much at once. Goes are precious. Rosie is already climbing with all her fngers taped (though because the rock is so rough you can still climb quite well - I flashed 7a yesterday with this method). I think if I had a full "proper" session on a problem I would be bleeding from every tip.

The first day here was really nice, very cloudy and alot of wind meant it was seriously cold. I did a cool 7c roof thing called La Belen. The ascent was just in time to make it into this video, which also has some other cool things in from La Pedriza:

Granit Playground from Talo Martin on Vimeo.

Other good lines we´ve seen here are:
I want to belive 7a (Amazing. Hopefully have a video of Rosie doing this soon).
Groucho 7c (vid here)
El Chulo 7a
And one I´ve only seen a video of but want to try: Far West 8a

Unfortunately though on the morning of my birthday I had a wee look at my thermometer and it was reading 45 degress C (in the sun). Apparently it was forecast to snow the other day too? I hope it does cool down but at the moment I´m in full summer gear (shorts t-shirt flip flops) and more motivated to sit and eat olives and drink beer. Hopefully it will turn cold again!

Speaking of colder temperatures here´s the vid of me doing Les Beaux Quartiers in Font.

Les Beaux Quartiers 8a from Michael Stainthorpe on Vimeo.

If you are interested in bouldering in La Pedriza check out
Also, thank you very much to Talo and Roser for cooking me a lovely paella style thing for my birthday the other night, it was lush! And also thankyou for being our guides. You have been amazing!

Thursday, 17 March 2011


We just arrived in La Pedriza, north of Madrid. There looks to be about a million granite boulders here. Can't wait to get stuck in.
The last day in Font was really good too. We got up early for some cold conditions and I did Beaux Quartiers first go after warming up which was nice. Then a little later on Rosie did Lapin ou Canard (vid below) which she had been trying a bit. After that we headed to Rocher Canon and I did Les Câlins de Kim which was nice. I walked up to Baleine but it started raining. Roll on Spain

Lapin ou Canard 7a from Michael Stainthorpe on Vimeo.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The 8a Saga!!

Conditions have been really good recently (right up until Mina and Kook left and Fontainebleau decided it was summer!) It hasn't rained in 10 days which is a little unheard of!

It's been a really fun few weeks actually, we've been climbing a lot with Mina, Kook and Scott and I would also like to thank them for all their hospitality and letting us use their shower. Really appreciate it guys.

Anyway, climbing...
Rosie has started to crush, finishing off everything she tried in the fall and making quick and impressive work of graviton (I still think the 7b grade in the old blue guide isn't far off!)

Now, about the title. At the start of 2011 I'd never climbed anything given the lofty 8a grade in the forest. This past month I've been trying quite hard on lots of them and its been lots of fun. A few weeks back we were sat in the guys' gite watching the rain outside discussing quick drying areas. Scott mentioned Rocher Fin and a new problem called Starting bloc - 8a. This was previously a 7b which a hold had broken off. Next morning we were watching a local, Kareem? trying it. He seemed to be having a bit of trouble and after a few unsuccessful goes he told us he thought it was soft and left. In went the Kook machine, who after a few grunts and a bit of squeezing was using his knee to full effect on the top out. Me and Scott were having trouble with the bottom moves (the top is actually a red) and then Scott spannered his leg. As I was the only one left trying it I was almost about to throw in the towel until someone, Kook? suggested a different heel hook and I was also quite quickly on the top. Yes! An 8a in font. But no, a little while later Simon and myself had a little chat and thought the problem to be around the 7c mark. Nevermind.

A short while later we were all at Petit Bois looking at a fantasic line no one had ever seen before (how did we miss it??) - Paddy, 8a, FA Dave Graham. It looked amazing and we were all keen to try it, surely Dave wouldn't have over-graded a problem??? Kook got involved while the rest of us were at La Baleine, Mina and Rosie climbing, me and Scott spotting. After a while Mina and Scott moved onto Paddy and I spotted Rosie a few more goes. When she eventually ran out of gas we walked up the hill to catch Mina topping out Paddy! Fast work indeed! Among her first words were "thats not 8a!" though Kook seemed to think otherwise... Whatever the grade it is such a cool line and I had to have a go. Using Mina's beta and with some excellent blind foot guidance by Scott and Mina I dispatched 3rd go. A very happy man on top of the boulder but I knew I don't climb 8a in Font 3rd go. Damn it! As for the real grade... who cares, just go and do it, it's mint.

Next up Scott introduced me to this lovely lady.
Vague Pataras, 8a.
Again, this is an awesome line. When you walk up to it (from the right direction) it stuns you. You will be compelled to climb. Scott had already tried it and was making the bottom look really cool. After a while trying his beta (and Mina's) I thought it might be a little out of my reach. Then I decided to just try and climb it how I would on my own and found a much better sequence for me. At the end of the second session I was close, but no cigar. I went back a few days later and fell off the last move due to repeated foot popping a few times, changed shoes and got it done. Amazing. The downclimb is also 8a (really) :p

Some time in the middle of all of that we went to Franchard Haute Plaines, just the two of us. I had a good day flashing Lapin ou Canard and Ah, Plus facile! 7a and 7a+ and then doing Deux plats something reels 7b+/7c? Rosie will do L ou P next time for sure. All top notch climbs. Millenium looks good there too but needs a clean, probs with a ladder. Next trip may be.

The only climbs I have done of note and not mentioned are L'oeuf 7b at Petit Bois (really fun) and Le Chainon Manquant 7c+ at Rocher Canon which is on that grade if you "don't heelhook the arete". Neither myself, Mina or Kook could do it the easier way but me and Kook managed to scramble up the harder way? Wierd and I'm not sure of that grade too. Not the best line anyway. Try La Baleine instead (at Canon). I did and got shut down, must go back for it, well cool.

I'm also pretty close to Beaux Quartiers which feels like the easiest out of all the 8a's I've tried, though I somehow haven't done it yet. grr. I guess it's more like a traverse so you can pull on any move and they all feel fairly easy but it's a hard link. So maybe it is hard. Strange one. Pic below

Next up is Spain I guess. Hopefully we might get some more cold weather here but the past 2 days have been roasting! That's all for now folks

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Fontainebleau Part 1


We've been in Font for two weeks now and conditions have been ok-ish. A little warm for my liking and some rain, but not too much (although the 10 day forecast looks awful).
To what we've been up to then.

I've been trying a few different problems at once and not really getting anything done. I'm putting this down to having a couple of weeks off climbing before I came out, not brilliant conditions and a sore wrist. Excuses excuses ey.

Anyway, First off I had a go at Eclipse (below). "A friction problem" - J. Godoff. I found I couldn't reach the starting holds, so not to be outdone I decided the locals were wrong and it should actually start from a few moves back along Total Eclipse (where Arabesque starts). It's a few extra moves and one of them is hard. Maybe it deserves a plus to the 7c. I got all the moves sorted on my first session but noticed the "moon" hold was hurting my wrist a bit but didn't think anything of it.

Next session I met Mina, Kook and Scott up there as Kook was trying Total Eclipse as well. Unfortunately this roof does have a bit of a habit of staying wet and your feet keep dragging through wet patches. I felt rubbish anyway, and even with a strapped up wrist it still hurt so I decided to leave it for a bit. This one will have to wait.

Next up was a super cool arête called Appartenance (right) at Buthiers. I've wanted to try this for sooo long after first seeing it in the film "Tour de Blocs", where the first ascentionist Christian Roumégoux pisses up it only to fall off really high up where it looks like all the hard climbing has been done. In fairness after trying it I can see how he falls.

My first session went really well. I got up on to the sloper at the top of the arête on something like 4th go. The upper holds were wet so I jumped off and went round the back to brush some chalk onto them.

Unfortunately I could only get there one more time after tiring myself out with all that brushing! My lower foot popped just as I was about to rock on a high heel. Which was slightly unnerving.

Next time I went the lower feet were wet but I tried anyway (and predictably failed).

I then had another session after 2 days of no rain and it went 3rd go. Really chuffed with this one. Tres Beau.

Haute Tension (below) is another one I've had a few sessions on, but not done yet. I spent a session sorting out my beta and thought it would go slapping left hand to the top hold. After a session trying this and failing, I decided right hand was the way and have had a couple good goes but  it just feels a bit hot on those tiny crimps every time I go up to try it. Hopefully with some colder conditions it will go. It feels like it.

 To relieve a bit of project pressure Rosie and I went to Mare a Piat, a rather less popular area than most. It was nice to go somewhere new and it is home to this gem; Orgasme Cosmique (below). Rosie demonstrated she is a bit of a pro with the camera and snapped this beauty. It's well worth trying if you fancy something fun and different. Don't try the 7a wall round the corner though, I couldn't get off the floor on it!

Other things I've tried and not done are:
L'Apparemment (hard toe hooks, harder hand movements)
Mandarine (not sure about this one)
Charcuterie (TOTAL sandbag, easily 8c)

There are plenty of other things on the list to go at. I'm psyched.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Lets fire this bad boy up again...

Well I had just about forgotten I had a blog. Hardly surprising as my one and only post was slightly on the mundane side. I have decided to try and write a few entries on here about what I'm up to (especially while I'm away) in case anyone cares.

A quick re-cap of what I've been doing: Last year I bought a beautiful blue camper van with my girlfriend Rosie. We set off in said van with a view to travel round Europe climbing as many bits of rock as we could. Firstly, we visited Fontainebleau. We got there half way through September and it was still really hot, but we managed a few good problems at lower grades. Stand out problems for me were L'Etrave 7b+ at J.A. Martin and Arabesque 7b+ at Cul de Chien. Then the weather cooled down and we were able to pull hard on stuff, though I did not really manage to get much done. Noir Desire and Ecaille de Lune, both 7c were all I could manage. Tried lots of other hard things and have many projects to get back to. As usual the same excuses come out; weather too hot, weather too wet, slicing finger open cutting sausage, crashing the van into a deer... etc etc

We then went to Ticino where we were even less prolific. I really only did Dr Med Dent 7b+ and Komilator 8a. Both outstanding problems but a bit pathetic really. Must try harder. The only other thing I came close to was the Alphane Moon ~7c?, which I should have done in a session but had to leave early on the day and never went back!

Switzerland and the van didn't get on and the weather was pretty dump (always the same story). We ran away to Nice / Monaco for a bit of warmer sport just before deciding to drive home for xmas and to get the van fixed and to do some setting work to pay for said van fixings and the like.

While I've been home I've managed a few 7c/+'s: Transformer lh, Yorkshireman ss and Hitchhikers ss at Bowden / Kyloe in

We hope to be off again by the end of this week. I plan to be a little less fussy about what I do when, as I think it may have led to the lack of quantity of hard climbs getting done. Don't get me wrong, the above aren't lacking in quality, I'd just like to do more of them.