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