Monday, 5 December 2011

A collection of autumnal thinkings

Once again there has been a break in the posting for a while. I can only apologise, its mostly because ive done feck all really, getting out climbing only 3 times in the last month which is more than a little distressing for me. It all comes down to the now shitty british weather. Continuous rain or high winds have put to bed any ideas of rock or winter climbing so instead a slow slide into mild depression. However after becoming a shell of my former self my boss saw I needed a break so suggested I go to Sheffield. So that I did, once again no climbing was done but ive discovered a type of adventure I can do in cities even when its raining.

Urban exploration. Now this is highly illegal and will get classed as attempted burglary or trespass if one is caught. Part of the thrill I guess- real and tangible consequences, something that isn’t  easily experienced in normal everyday life…unless you crash your car. So on Saturday we did a little research on the interweb finding some buildings around Sheffield we could go and visit, and try to get some good pictures of. All in all a success was had. I found out that my love of climbing and mountaineering is based on my interaction with people, friends and the discovery of my own limitations mentally (its pretty intimidating trying to get into an abandoned building) and also my interactions with other people. These are pretty much the same reasons I go climbing, obviously im not going to stop climbing in favour of this but have found a way of stopping myself getting so down in these autumnal monsoons I always seem to encounter when I most need to get out climbing.
Chafe gazing out across Sheffield from 9 storeys up

Silhouetted figure with Sheffield lit up like a circuit board

Also whilst in Sheffield I did a fair but of drinking tea and chatting to old uni mates who have subsequently gone onto masters or other education forms. Its odd I do miss uni a fair bit, the most flexible work time im ever going to have, and loads of good interesting people around me all the time. Naww bit sad really, but everyone has to move on and the place im in now and the plans for the future I have (well next 3 years) im super keen for. I definitely needed to get out of the cott for a little bit and interact with humans again, not just read and talk to myself, that’s how people go loopy.

On an aside I watched ‘Black Mirror’ by Charlie Brooker last night, that guy is fucked up. The drama documentary show revolved around a plot which culminated in the fictional prime-minister fucking a live pig on national TV, pretty messed up. But the ideas behind it, that anyone can blackmail famous people if they have enough leverage (a princess and youtube in this example) and a fucked up mind, although far fetched is quite disturbing. The effect of a computer game generation I guess.

A wet and windy Higgar Tor

A chat about the social interactions between people and how- as the internet/ facebook/ texting has taken off massively- people have forgotten what it means to stick to their word, a simple sorry cant make it text sufficing now. This can only be a bad thing as people forget social graces and begin to talk in para-phrases, you can see it daily if you talk to teenagers/older kids. The interconnection online between people is forcing the normal social interaction between people to become electronic and so the physical voice on the phone or person sat across a café table is being lost, well to many it is. Now im off to put the kettle on for a brew.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Ghostly happenings

Living as I do in a very old building, inevitably noises are constantly echoing through the walls- the mice do add to this effect. But yesturday morning I had more reason to believe in the stories about this house.

The story goes that many many years ago (like 150) the house was a coach house, and as such sold beer. One cold winter night a gentleman (of sorts) stopped by at the coach house on his way past and indulged himself in a few beers, this turned into a lot of beer. As the weather came in during this bitterly cold winters night he slouched further and further into a fuggy pit of alcohol fuelled sleep.

However as the night closed in and the dawn rose the next morning. It was to his dismay that he discovered his daughter missing. Where was she? He searched high an low throughout the house and eventually found her propped up in the door way of the house, a snow drift acting as her blanket. But all was not well. Her cheeks were sunken and no response came to ease his frantic heart. She had died from his drunken neglect.

Anyway that is how the story goes. Now I'm not a massive believer in ghosts and ghouls and had always managed to reach a logical conclusion to the noises and shadows in the house up until yesturday. When I woke up I found a small hand print (much smaller than my hands) wiped down the window. A print that hadn't appeared ever before since I moved in (8weeks ago). There were no other signs.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


The past weekend has tested any of my countrymen (and women) to the limit with optimisim. Wales lost the semi-final of the world cup. Massive bummer. But from this loss already, even as the final whistle was blown thoughts turned to the next stage. The fact the team is young, the 6nations will be a time for revenge, the next world cup will be won!

All this, and then going climbing on a glorious sunny day (who would have thought it!) at Tremadog had me pondering about the Welsh (in terms of rugby) and the the British (in terms of mountaineering). In this country we get 300days of rain a year (slight exaggeration for most parts but not the good ones) and yet some how the vast majority of active climbers and hill walkers get out week-in-week-out. Trying to work out how we as a nation manage to do this, the same reason keeps popping up. Optimism. People, particularly British climbers, always try to find out where the best weather for the holidays / weekend / evening / afternoon / lunch break will be and will spend any amount of money or effort to get there. 

Its crazy really, how we'll travel for hours to get a few hundred metres of climbing in. If you told a local football team to drive from London to Manchester- as that was the nearest place they could play- I'm pretty sure the team would disband rather fast. But as climbers especially those that live in the flatlands, this is what we choose to do. And if it wasn't for our eternal belief in good fortune and optimism, our game of climbing would all to quickly come crashing down.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

States of Mentality

This post will probably come out as a bit waffley but what can you do.

A few days ago I found out that a friend of mine has developed physcosis and is in intensive care after taking some unknown (to me) drugs in Amsterdam. This came as quite a shock firstly as I didn’t know what physcosis was and secondly taking drugs is part of growing up, something pretty normal amongst my generation . Testing your boundaries I guess. Ive never been a proper user, dabbling in my fresher year but nothing more. So for someone I considered mentally stable and well adjusted to basically lose the plot was quite a shock.

So with all these thoughts wirring through my head up here in the wet, lonely, empty hills of North Wales I began piecing together stuff in my own head about peoples states of mind and how they vary from person to person and that very often it is these states of mind that dictate our paths not out societal constraints (although these often affect out minds) or physical limitations. On a minibus ride to the coast on the way to work I was talking to some guys from work about stuff like this and one of them described a story which I feel helps describe how much peoples minds vary and its this variety that brings life the spice that it needs..

When he was younger he was known as a bit of a nut job, not having any fear and doing stuff for the craic. So a friend of his wanted to see if he could freak him out in his new car. He got in the car and drove around the lanes of Snowdonia at break neck speed. Pushing and pushing the limits of what he as the driver and the car could take. When both gave out and could go no further he pulled in.
 Turning to Dave he told him what his plan had been.
To which Dave said plainly “You could have crashed for all I cared”.

It was this statement that got me thinking. This was someone who had kayaked off the waterfall round the back of joe browns in capel curig, something people couldn’t understand not because of his physical state (he likes a beer and a pie) but his mental state when he did it. He must have honestly, deep down not cared whether he lived or died. And that not caring allows people to achieve such incredible things that it begs the question what could I and many people achieve if we gave up holding onto the belief that we are something special, our lives worth more than just to reproduce. To get a state of mentality where we can achieve what me most desire. Because in the end our lives can only be measured in the number of people we have touched, the memories in others we instill.

Getting back on track. Up here in the Cott I get a lot of time on my own, a lot of time to think and be on my own walking in the hills. Feeling the rain and wind lash against my skin. Something my friend probably won’t feel for a while, something that he probably won’t miss. But I hope he does I hope he gets his mind back, and gets back out on the crags soon. Theres a hole in the scene that wont be filled.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

New Beginnings

Well yer, the whole more posting thing didn’t really kick off too well. In my defence I have been climbing and also moved house.

The new mansion is in the Ogwen Valley in North Wales. Its pretty ideally located and the work is not too bad either. Sound people and that.

Before actually starting work I managed to get into the cottage a few days early and so got some good climbing and bouldering in before it all kicked off. Carreg Hylldrem bouldering will no doubt become a regular place to train, its steep and full of eliminates.

In moving to a new place you have to find new people to climb with which is much harder than I first thought. My first port of call was friends of friends and when that failed (they have families and are much busier than me) UKC. This is something I didn’t do lightly, there are some proper weirdos on that website. I should know, one of them went to uni with me. So I first met up with one of the UKCites, and to my surprise he was oright, a bumbly but an eager bumbly who can belay. All I ask really. So managing to get a few routes in with this guy, Sam. And also some really good hill days in (Snowdon via Crib Goch and Crib y Drysygll in 2hours then onto Moel Elio and down to Llanberis in 5hours total time, with winds at 70mph on the ridges and tops, and persistent heavy rain…its one for the logbook and sheer audacity.)

But the highlight / brain fuck was trying to solo superdirect on the Milestone buttress of Tryfan. After a training day in Birmingham (causing a 5am start) I wanted to take advantage of the first dry weather since I got here a week ago. So running to the car and nailing it down to the car park I looked up to see trees on the buttress being flung about like pieces of cloth in the wind. Not exactly ideal but I thought it would be ok. Ploughing up the first two pitches was fine, whenever the wind picked up more than usual I could hunker down or torque my arm into a crack an hold on through the worst of it. By the time I reached the final crux pitch the wind was really going for it, clouds of spray could be seen curling around the lake 100m below me. A tad disconcerting really. Never-the-less I began the crux, fingertips curling behind a thin flake, edging upwards I began to think it wasn’t the right choice. But no time for that now. Before I knew it my right foot was up high and transferring my weight onto it I edged up the wall. Just as I started inching my way out left to the blunt arĂȘte and safety of the corner (I think its safe not been up there before) the wind hit me. Pushing me bodily off the wall. I was in trouble. The ‘ground’ below was a long way off and a green corner would undoubtedly make sure I didn’t hit it pencil straight.


Just about clinging on I managed to swing back right and make a dash for the ledge. Sitting down looking at the route, I was being shoved with great force off the ledge! Enough of this shit, I was out of there, traversing across the VD and HS wall to the decent gully back to my bag at the bottom of the route. Fuck! Fucking Wind! I kept shouting at the air around me! Willing it to stop just for a moment for me to finish what I had come to do. But we all need to learn lessons in the hills. Having the audacity to try something out there for yourself and properly commiting yourself and reap great rewards, but the punishment for failure will be certain. Learning where the limits are is a valuable skill in the hills, when to push through and when to leave it for another day.

My aim this year is to push the boundaries I have in my mind. To climb harder, run faster and go out into the hills in the worst possible conditions I can. To test myself. To find myself wanting.

Photo: The Front garden

Photo: The Back garden

Friday, 19 August 2011

A week to remember

Well what a week ive just had!! In climbing terms it has been phenomenal. In general terms its been more jokes than live at the apollo.

Spending the week at Pembroke with a good tide and weather forecast was always going to bode well but as we left Cardiff, we were a bit hesitant as to what was in store for us. The first few days of the trip were spent hiding from the rain in the abandoned firing raid shelters that scatter the Range East coastline of St.Govans head. It was whilst walking back to the car after a pretty successfull day that the first occured. I heard a voice say my name but assumed Liam was just catching me up, but when it was shouted i stopped and turned around. Just in time not to be run over by a mahoosive bull full on charging me. It must have been my red tshirt.... a little more than a bit of poo came out and we carried onto the car park as quickly as we could without looking like weirdos running from cows.

The next day dawned clear and bright so our faces dropped when the spaz wagon refused to start. A rapid hunt around our campsite found some jump leads and a famous climber helped us jump the car. When i say helped, he did everything whilst we looked on in awe at how long his arms were and big his hands are!!

As soon as the car was back up and running we hit the road to Mothercareys, a magical place where another adventure ensued. I had just finished leading the first pitch of Deep Space and being a little pumped i wanted to just get into the half way cave and set a belay up to bring Liam up. But my plan was foiled by a fulmar in the little cave. A fulmar for those that dont frequent the sea cliffs of the UK, are a sea bird that when disturbed projectile vomit with great accuracy at its 'attackers'. I happened to be that attacked and recieved on a number of occasions a spurt of acidic fishy orange liquid fired in my direction. Wonderful! The smell stayed with us all week, mostly as Liams leg got nailed and he had trousers on so they stunk to high hell for a good while.

After a couple of days more normal cragging we headed down to Trevellan as the tide started to come in. Liam quickly dispatched the classic Trevallen Pillar. But it once again wasnt the climbing that stole the show. A pair of other climbers (a short dude with shit loads of hair on his head, back and chest - Little, and his tall, bald tin friend- Large). Little decided to scuttle around the bottom of the crag as the waves broke around him cackling in a high pitched squeal. This was just brilliantly funny and made another normal day turn into something special.

Our final escapade of the trip was a daunting one that we had postponed all trip. Preposterous Tales, is a route that begins by traversing into the mouth of a blowhole. And then with headtorches on, you venture into the bowels of the earth in search of a way out. No doubt to say that it was wet, greasy and the most awe inspiring place ive been for a while. It was crazy, the sea was crashing below us into the back of the cave and shooting water up into the void we filled beneath the grounds surface. A shaft of light, snaked its way down into the hole and this is what we followed out into day-light. If you want to understand in your adult state what beign born is like, jsut go down there. It gives you all the ingredients, wetness, dark, the foreboding nature of your setting and the movement toward light and a new life. Its fucking mental!

Unfortunately the escapades ended here as Liam had a coach to catch but what a trip. The people we met were amazing! And really did make a climbing trip into something more!

Liam fiddling in gear on Bloody Sunday (E4 6a, Huntsmans Leap)

Large getting his gurn on (Fascist and Me E4 6a, Trevallen)

Bird puke belay (Deep Space E2 5b, Mothercareys Kitchen)

A pleasant E1 arete at St.Govans

Space Cadet (E3 5c, St.Govans)

Psyced for Preposterous Routes (Preposterous Tales E2 5b, Bosherston Head)

Entering the Blowhole (Preposterous Tales)


Friday, 5 August 2011

Domesticity or my lack of.

Over the past 10days ive been house sitting for a friend, with this house comes 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 horses and a snake. Its not your average domestic setting but it does represent the standard. Now up until now I assumed I wasn't the kind of person to enjoy normal life with 2.5 kids cats, dogs, house plants and neighbours, and i was right. Its been a good learning experience, I definitely don't want to do all this in the near future! Since my relationship broke down with my now ex-girlfriend, I've been able to go climbing, take pictures, go running and listen to music. But my god its good to be able to have a simple life. So the plans for the next few years (a good 5 or 6) is to try and maintain this simple life, maybe introduce some responsibility towards the end but nothing as hard-core as kids, mortgage and pets. Our generation can't do what the previous ages have tried, we don't live in a world with an economy to support us buying houses and still living a life worth living.

And so we come to the crux, a life worth living. We all could try and jump on the property ladder, pay our wage to the banks and have a 'settled' existence. But that is not something I can see me doing or something I would be proud of doing if i looked back on my life on my death bed. I want to hobble into the light of death, with new knees, hips and a mind full of memories of stuff I have achieved in my life and people I have met. None of this try and preserve myself for old age, fuck that. Old people should be fucked, they should have lived a full life! (This sums it up).

Annyyywwaaayy, my cameras coming out of the cupboard soon so hopefully ill be posting some good pictures of my travels and a life lived, not endured.

Edit Note: After writing this post i came across this article which claims that many people being born now will live until they are 100. Is it just me or is this a bit disturbing. We often see our relatives getting a bit old and decrepit at the age of 75 onwards. Our medicine may be improving so that people survive longer, but it does seem that after the age of 80 people are just surviving, there aren't many elderly people who are rocking the boat. They seem to be just there. Now I'm not proposing euthanasia, that would be ridiculous! But would more people reaching 100 be a good thing? For me I don't want to live that long, becoming a burden on my family and most probably the only one of my friends left alive. No friends and subject to mind-numbing day time TV, no thanks.  Going out with a bang, yes please.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Once again lack of posting....

Once again, a lack of posting on my part. What can i say, its summer, ive been climbing...and drinking. Mostly drinking to be honest....whoops.

Managed to get over to the Frankenjura for a couple of weeks before my graduation which was jokes. Got some good routes in and keen to go back for a longer stint next time, project some steep bouldery limestone. The 'jura is really really cool to climb in, its all reasonably close to the campsite (Gastof Eichler) and so we managed to limit driving to every other day when we visited some further away crags or we were feeling uber lazy. Climbing wise managed to get a few 6c+'s done and a 7a second go but as they use the UIAA grades they were all 8- until we got home to check. Anyway here's some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

When it rained, it rained....(Photo: O.Burrows) 

Steep pockety limestone...gorgeous!! (Photo: O.Burrows) 

Paul hanging out on a F6b+ (Photo: O.Burrows) 

The Team Assembled on the Ferry before the 15hour drive......Autobahn!! (Photo: O.Burrows)

Since the 'jura ive managed to get to Pembroke a couple of times, hitting up the North for the first time. Carreg y Barcud being the highlight. However the South still holds my heart with the proper routes, steeper limestone, bigger seas and awesome beer in the Inn. I can also finally understand peoples enjoyment of coasteering on the North. Its the perfect setting, loads of little islands, clear sea, reasonably sized rocks to jump off and obviously the sun. Still shit myself when i jump in, not from fear of hurting myself (although it does hit a chord with this time last year) but because of the fucking seals! Saw a couple and their HUGE! I know they wont eat me or anything but my god they scare me. Massive pussy but hey we all have our weak points, mine is animals, especially those larger than me that are in water (this includes sharks especially basking sharks, they have massive mouths!).

Back to life, I'm house/dog/cat/horse sitting at the mo (yes a bit ironic considering the last statement I made) to earn a bit of dollar so i can go back to Pembroke and have some petrol money for my new pimp mobile (M-reg astra thats literally amazing!) when im in North Wales in september! Life is looking up, how does the saying go.....Young, Free and Single. But instead of chasing girls perpetually i think my heart lies in chasing routes and the 'buzz' of being alive.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Its been a while....

I havent posted for a while for a number of reasons. Firstly i had a job interview at Ogwen Cottage in North Wales, which im glad to say i got :-) so as of September ill be  the trainee instructor there! Literally can't wait! In less good news i basically flunked my dissertation and so had to stick my nose to the grindstone to drag my degree back upto a 2.1, I dont know the outcome as of yet but have got all my digits crossed.

During all this time i did manage to get out climbing and partying a bit, spending the bank holiday weekend in North Wales getting some good climbing done in even better locations. And also getting the last taste of the grit i'll have for a while, finally ticking some classics like Long Johns Slab at Froggatt and Eliminator at Stanage. As there are too many tales to put into this post i thought id describe it in videos and pictures.... Enjoy.

 The 5b Slab pitch on Superdirect (Dinas Mot)

 Guns out for the Rainbow, a rainy and blowy evening at Froggatt

 Getting the good crimps on Long Johns Slab (Froggatt)

My Honary 21st Dirty Pint.....It was drunk in one.......

I will endeavour to keep more upto date with bloggings from now on as this summer should be a good one, as  its all about getting good at climbing!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Living the B-Team Dream

Hope you enjoy. We certainly had a good craic. What every trip is remembered for!

A Holiday Squat

The first night in the shed was the hardest. Trying to get used to the idea of the place was probably the main reason my sleep was not ideal. That and the mice scratching on the wood and foam roof.

Arriving at the shed your presented with ramshackle ‘building’ that has over 50years worth of accumulated tat lining its walls. A place that smells of wood smoke and candles. A place that seems to attract the standard odd-balls, and the travelling seasoner. Some of these have been at the shed on and off for nearly two decades! That in itself completely baffles most people when you tell them about it when you get back to uni. But as you spend more time sat in one of the plastic chairs on the decking looking over the hills, or crouched next to the stove on a stool, you learn to love the place, gain a bit of understanding. The shed is a squat for all intents and purposes, but it’s not a squat you see on tv or read about in books. It’s a commune for the free spirited not the alcoholic tramps. It’s a place of simplicity. You own everything and nothing all at the same time. It’s a place of contradictions but that’s what makes it special. Meeting people that come and go over a trip you exchange the standard small talk but everyone has a sense of belonging. We’re all in the shed together.

At night beds and chairs are moved out the way to make way for the people that come not just to stay but to socialise. A buzz comes over the place as people from all over come to eat and drink. Swedes, Aussies, Slovenians, British. Food is put on the BBQ and shared, nothing is yours alone. Stories cast out over the firelight shadows. Laughter is the currency of this place and other places around the world like it.

Now it might seem strange to have spent a holiday living in a squat but not only did it mean board was free. It means you value the comforts of life more when you get back. Water from a tap, light switches, warm food. All the commodities we take for granted in the western world become sensational! Now I’m not suggesting everyone go find a squat and settle down. That would be ridiculous but spending a few days ‘roughing’ it makes the rest of life that more vibrant. Try that sometime. It’s well worth the effort.

Photo: Having a bath in the Shed (S.Bennett)
A video of our alpine trip this Easter is to follow when I get the music sorted.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Coming and Going

The past two weeks have been pretty hectic, with increasing uni workload and trying to get out climbing at every opportunity ive managed to get some good routes done. Ive also managed to lose my head a bit but have taken some biggish falls to try and sort that out.

Am still trying to get out as much as possible but with my trip to chamonix coming up tomorrow ive got less and less time. Going to get out on the grit once more tomorrow afternoon i think for a quick blast before hitting the road for 2 weeks.

Friday, 1 April 2011

High Peak Triathlon 2011

Last week with the prospect of the weather turning sour myself and Sharpie decided to  get on with a plan we've had on the abck burner for a while. To enchain 10 Eastern Grit crags in a day by bike and in doing so climb 20 routes from S-E1 (it was up to E2 in the end).

So on the wednesday night in the pub (location of all of the best hatched plans) we decided to go for it the following Sunday. Planning at this stage wasnt our fortey and as such we left the crags, routes and road journey till the next day. On the thursday night we got together and planned to hit up Bamford, Stanage, Burbage North, Burbage South, Millstone, Lawrencefield, Yarncliffe, Baslow, Curbar  and Froggatt (the routes are listed at the end of the following video).

Needless to say 40miles cycling for me personally was hard as i havent ridden a bike for a long time and my bike wasnt really up to the challenge but we both came through unscathed but needing a break in our relationship. So that we didn't bottle it we ended up collecting some charity money for Edale Mountain Rescue in the process (we raised about £40 in the end, not amazing but something to give back to a service i hope i never have to use). It was a good laugh and was something I'm sure I'll look back on fondly. If the routes had been ones i hadn't done before it may have helped in this respect but visiting 2 new crags was a nice change.

In other news i have been address my scaredy-cat-ness by getting on steeper more well protected routes. Going to Higgar and taking fake falls then doing the HVS, E1 and quality E2 (The Mighty Atom) helped get my brain in good order. Following this with a quick hit at Stanage yet again one evening and ticking the brilliant route Desperation (E1 5c) has started to build my belief in my gear and improve my comfortablilty with the idea of falling off. So at the moment am looking for safe 5c/6a routes to have a bash at in the Peak. Any suggestions?

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A lot of pottering

Since the Roaches day out i managed to get out on tuesday and wednesday to stanage and curbar racking up another 30 odd routes (all Lead or soloed) Great couple of days out.

Stanage started lateish at 1130 with a lift from Bamf to stanage popular, the soloing started in earnest as we needed to get at least 20 routes done for Marks birthday. Notching up 15 routes we then decided to stick on a rope for harder routes that were beyond our soloing abilities. First for the keen kids was Hardings Direct off Robin hoods cave innominate. Really good route combining two 3* routes. Next came Tower Face Direct (another on my list) which fell easily as i had it in my head that i was going to get it done so i didnt give up an focused properly! Then we moved back along the crag to meet up with Matt and Sam, still soloing we ticked another 5 routes until we got to the tippler buttress. Mark was adamant on having a crack at the direct as its on his list for 2011. I was cool to belay and matt took up camera shots. Mark had a good few goes at the route lowering to the ground and pulling the ropes each time, and every time taking a nice fall as well. But as the light started to fade we retreated home happy with our collection of 23 routes (18 of which i hadnt done before).

Photo: Mark gurning before lurching for the next hold and taking flight

The next day with a lunch time lift out to curbar offered me and Mark dragged ourselves to Matts house to get into Fattys car and trundle out to the crag. Feeling slightly worse for wear but keen we headed to the Barons wall area, ticking a few VS' and HVS' (hard for the grade!) and then qucikly getting on the E1 Lamebrain, a definate classic E1 that seems barely climbed purely because of the stars i nthe guidebook, or lack of. Also a rareity in that its quite soft touch. Soon We headed over to the L'Horla area to try Maupassant and L'Horla. The Maupassant was a good fight even on second and L'Horla went badly. Climbing like a spesh i managed to get to the notch on the arete after much faffing. Getting there my arms couldnt pull any harder and my head seemed to not want to be there so i had a pussy attack. Bad timing so i slumped onto the bomber cam and lowered, pulling the ropes and going again cleanly soon after. Trying to salvage something of my brain i got straight on Kayak an easy E2 5b slab further along the crag but it didnt seem to do the trick, because as i sit here i feel like a massive girl.

Being scared of falling is pretty shit as a climber, means i cant push myself properly. I seem to treat all routes even if they're 'safe as houses' as death routes. This shouldnt be the case and im making it my priority to get on stuff slightly too hard for me so im forced to take the plunge and fail from falling not wimping out. Should be interesting!

Anyway for tomorrow ive got an epic charity / training event to do. 10 eastern grit crags and 20 bike! That should be fucking hard work but a good craic hopefully!

Photo: Me on L'Horla the second time around (M.Sharpe)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A Week Of Life

The last 7days have been some of the best ive had in a long time. And it was all down to sacking off all my uni work and jsut getting a 'normal life' for a bit.

On the friday i managed to get on a cheapish train back to Cardiff for a weekend of climbing before my volunteer work kicked in on the monday. As my partner for the two days only had a few hours to spare each day (it was his sons birthday- thats dedication!) we had to go in all guns blazing. So the saturday started us off with a sport climbing session, dogging and attempting a soft touch Fr7b, which i didnt make in the end but got later in the week. The sunday was more of a proper day out as we only had 3 hours and a high tide to play with we did Exposure Explosion. A route ive been meaning and attempting to do for a good few years, despite its easy grade (HVS 5a) i had never managed to get the partner, weather, or tides right before for this 7pitch, rope drag mammoth.

Photo: Puling through the wet look cave crux
The route went really well with me getting the crux wet 5a pitch through wet look cave, it probably isnt 5a moves but the fact its always wet even in the sun makes it feel committing, especially considering you relaly dont wanna fall off at any point on the route. Finishing up the final corner i was pleased that i had finally put the route to bed and get started on my 2011 challenge ticklist..only 24 left to go....
On the monday my volunteer work started at Cardiff Outdoor Activity Team and it was really good, finding out about play centres dotted around cardiff and the work the people in them and behind them do is really inspiring stuff and makes me want to go and help out more there during the summer, which at the moment looks like it might happen. My volunteer work only lasted 3 days and so kind of stopped climbing play aside a quick hit tuesday night where i onsighted my first Fr6c at Taffs Well the route called Daggers goes up a faint groove line and provided ample interest in our game of grab and pull.
After my volunteer work ended on the wednesday i was keen to put Rise Fr7b to rest so phoned around everyone i knew in Cardiff and managed to drag Gary out of his sick-bed to come hold my ropes in exchange for a lift to Cwmaman to tidy up a route that was falling to bits.
After dogging up the route with 2 rests to put the quickdraws in i lowered down the route, and popped on another to get warmed up (only in South Wales do you have to take trad gear for sport routes- am gunna redo the route with jsut trad gear at E2 5c at some point). Had a rest and cruised the route, it felt easy! Redpointing makes stuff that seems impossible, possible. It did all feel a bit hollow though. Ah well another rotue down on the only 23 to go!
Once i was done and had stripped the route we headed over to Cwmaman to do Garys bidding. But when we got there the route was still in the shade, so whilst waiting around i abbed down a Fr7a, his mate had put up the previous summer, to give it a clean. Then did the route on the second attempt with no Top Rope practice, i must either be getting better or jsut hadnt cottoned onto this sport climbing thing before. They were both soft touches and it did feel a bit hollow but was in numbers terms a pretty good day out.
We then got down to the business of cleaning his route. Im not going to go into detail but i climbed it (about Fr6a) and lowered down as someone had said it was in a bad way. I thought it was a bit sketch but made nothing of it. Gary then jumared up the rope and pushed a lot of big blocks off, including one that had previously had a bolt in it. Nice. Heres a video of him cleaning...

After a day of rest i headed back upto Sheffield, the promise of a lift to the Roaches and glorious weather enticing me back up north. Getting to the Roaches on the saturday morning i held a sight before my eyes ive never seen before. The place was crawling. Like Stanage popular on a bank holiday but more so! After eventually doing Valkyrie behind some utter retards (from a London Uni club i might add) we ran away to the upper tier and had a much nicer day soloing about and occasionally getting the rope out for dirty or harder routes.
Good week in all, but am coming crashing back down to Earth now with the prospect of all the work i need to get done before my spring trip to Cham hits home.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

High Peak Marathon 2011

Well, its all come a bit quickly really.
On friday morning after a getting up at 9am to work i attempted going back to sleep for the afternoon so the HPM burn out wouldnt come to quickly. That failed so instead i read and got keen!

All too quickly 630pm came around so grabbing my kit and stuffing it all in a box headed over to Sharpies house for pasta and films. For some unknown reason we ended up watching Four Lions so our heads were full of quotes for the next 12hours of fun. At 9pm we got into the car and headed off, all getting slightly quieter as we approached Edale, especially matt the fresher who went visibly whiter...I dont think he realised it was as big an event as it is.

In the village hall we sat around chatting to people we knew an eating the last of the decent food before GO bars and energy gels became the diet of choice. All too fast though we had to don our ronhills, lycra and cats tails and ears (we were the Pussy Cat dudes so fancy dress became mandatory). At 11.16pm we left my cackling laugh echoing across the cold, crisp car park.

Hitting Hollins Cross we knew the race had begun and the miles started drifting by. Talking and singing became our way of coping, not sure many teams appreciated our recitals of four lions quotes and drunken sailor but it helped lift our spirits. Prior to the race we had instigated a competition with the people manning the checkpoints that they should theme and dress up to make it more interesting for the runners and that we would be judging them along the way for the Individual choice awards. Lose Hill got our vote as they had suits, top hats, an ironing board and an iron..Completely random but fucking hilarious!

From Edale to Outer edge the route went well and our times were pretty fast for a team of non-runners (i had been on 10 training runs, and Sam had been on 2...) but going upto Swains Head our navigation got a tad way-laid and some sightseeing took place, nevertheless we got back on track and found the checkpoint, a tad slower than anticipated but a good craic. Over Bleaklow we got back into the swing of things however when we got to Bleaklow head and they were cooking bacon we couldnt smell we did begin to wonder if we were really ok...

As soon as we got to Snake we knew it was game on!! We had 3hours to cover about 15miles and get back to control to get under 12hours..our target. Racing speed ladies.

We got faster and faster as we motored along Kinder and down to Edale cross. Rushup passed in a blur, although their checkpoint was apparently well decorated...we could only hear them singing and screaming from miles away! Running down from Hollins Cross to the road i managed to pass 4 teams, the finish line was in sight!!

We finally got into control after 11 hours 36mins of running 42miles over bog, hill, rock, sand and grass. What a way to spend an evening / night / morning! It was brilliant. A massive thank you to all involved for making it such a special event and one i hope to continue to do in the future!

Somewhere over Brown Knoll....Im not lost Honest.....

Fighting the bog monsters! (Left to Right: ?,?,?, Me, Matt the Broken Fresher, Sam)

This video shows our madness at running this most enjoyable of ultra-marathons.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Keen for life....

As im back 'learning' and have injured my A2 ring finger tendon i tend to spend a lot of time trauling the interweb for things to distract me. Things on twitter do a nice job of this and this morning, whilst waiting for my mate to turn up to go cragging i read this poem.

I found it on Vince Andersons twitter (absolute lege!) and its about how in life you have to go the whole hog and to succeed you will sacrafice, but it'll be worth it in the end. Sorry the poems quite long but its worth reading it all.

Roll The Dice (Charles Bukowski)

If you're going to try, go all the way,
Otherwise don't even start.
If you're going to try, go all the way.
This could mean losing girlfriends,
Wives, relatives, jobs and maybe your mind.

Go all the way,
It could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
It could mean freezing on a park bench.
It could mean jail.
It could mean derision, mockery, isolation.

Isolation is the gift.
All the others are a test of your endurance.
Of how much you really want to do it.
And you'll do it.
And it will be better than anything else you can imagine.

If your going to try,
Go all the way.
There is no other feeling like that.
You will be alone with the Gods.
And the nights will flame with fire.

Do it, do it, do it, do it.

All the way.
All the way.
You will ride life straight to perfect laughter.
Its the only good fight there is.

I hope despite the way the poem is, it speaks to a few of you out there that are trying to live everyday. Dont give in, you will get there, and any doubters will be left in your wake. Love life and do something with every day that will take you closer to your ultimate goal.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Back into the Swing of Things

Since the challenge has been laid down ive not had many opportunities to get out, exams, work and rain being the main excuses. However since last week ive managed to get out a few times.

Firstly ot Rivelin, climbed ok again jumping straight on some E1 slabs, but they're my bread and butter so quickly went off looking for other things to play on. Mark tried Too Much an E2 6a slab and crack at the far end, he hadnt managed to get the crux gear placed. So coming on to sub him in, I climbed through the 6a crux placed the gear an promptly fell off. A mixture of laziness and lack of any other gear on my harness aside the RP crux gear hastened my decision. Mark pulled the ropes and headed on up quickly clipping the gear and pushing on up the higher crack. Screams of pumping out were squealed and just as he was making to clip his next and last piece of gear he came off. He fell the all of 5m ripping the RP (the metal sides sheared off, oops wrong size) and scraping the deck. nice try though. He seemed to enjoy this falling off malarky as he later took 3 falls off The Eye.

After the antics at Rivelin we headed to the corries on the weekend. Brilliant day out saturday, not so good sunday but all goes toward the logbook.

Bowel Explosion Pre-Climb (Photo: M.Rankine)

Heading out early saturday morning, we started the walk in to sneachda at 7am hoping to beat the crowds, which we kind of did. Getting to the bottom of the Message we were keen as we were first there, so began gearing up, but unfortunately the nights food had my stomach in uproar so i tended to the call of nature firing off some logs. By which time 2 people had passed us and got on route, so hoping our other route choices were free we ran along the bottom of the crag to Pateys Route. It was free, but did look suitably buried. Ah well, Onward! Mark climbed the first pitch which was maybe tech 4. to the first stance. From there i collected the gear and headed up to the crux pitch. What a crux. Clipping the insitu gear under the huge chockstone and trying not to completely destroy my powdery footholds i swung over the bulge. Bridging as far wide as i could i managed to get the tip of my front points smeared on either side of the gulley. Pullinh hard on my left axe i reached up high. But just as i swung with my right axe to get a placement, both my feet slipped simultaneoulsy...Fuck!

Heading up to the Chockstone Crux (Photo: M.Rankine)

Getting a tad scared, i managed to crawl my feet back up onto the wall and pull back up to get established above the chockstone. Gave so much to that pitch i was very relieved to reach the stance further up.

Once we had ticked this route we traversed the snow-choked gullies of Aladdin and headed to the toe of pygmy ridge. It was in beautiful nick, bit lacking in turf but quality route. Mark led up off the crux pitch as i had the crux of pateys, he did well climbing on sloping holds and spaced gear. Finishing the route was a pleasure as the technicality dropped but was still engaging and thoroughly enjoyable. Getting to the plateau we realsied we were an hour late for the bus already so ran down the hill via point 1141. We got down to only be told a group of walkers sharing the bus were late as well so we sat down to wait. 4hours later with no communication they text us saying they were on the plateau.

The next day on the basis of the shite forecast (70mph winds, white out and lots of powder) we went on a reindeer safari round the hills behind Glenmore lodge. Needless to say we saw no actuall reindeer, just some foot prints. But it was a pleasant 13km walk that is good for the logbook.

All the money i had left.....(Photo: M.Rankine)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The 2011 Challenge

This is only short but just to mark the start date of a challenge myself and a few friends have challenged ourselves too. We have made a list of 25routes around the country (rock) that we want to have done by the end of 2011, the last one to complete buys the first round of drinks at xmas this year. Mine isnt spectacular as i dont want to lose but it is a brilliant list, includes stuff like Scoop Wall at Stoney, Exposure Explosion at Ogmore, The Bludgeon at Shepards and the list goes on. In all it includes one E5, four E4's, five E3's, six E2's, five E1's, one HVS, one VS, a 7a+ and a 7b. Should be an awesome year if i get them all done, 69stars worth to be exact. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Bit of climbing minus the light

Been trying to get out as much as possible and to train a bit but with exams and my dissertation being in for next week things have been limited. Managed to get out on the rocks last night. Was a good laugh, didnt do anything of note, just made up eliminates and had a mess about, nice to be outside again though.

The aurderves of the night bouldering video. Im sure bamford will get together to make a cracking video in the end of this grit season.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Scotchland 2-8 Jan

I left my girlfriends house on 2nd after New Year celebrations in search of a good time in scotland. That people is exactly what i got.
After the long journey north to glasgow i piled off the train into my mates skoda and sped off to Fort William. Only managed to grab a MaccyD's for tea before bedding down in the Ben nevis north face car park for the night.

545am the alarm went off. A bit of organisation the night before meant we could have breakfast in bed, and we were away on the track up the hill by 615 keen for a days suffering. Walking into the foot of the Ben the light began to cree its way through the grey cloud. Contouring around past the CIC hut we sped upto the foot of Hadrians wasnt there. Point 5? Tad avalanchy but a possibility. Observatory ice. Point 5 it was.

After gearing up and sorting the ropes out a the foot of the gully under a rock prow i began climbing. The ice was in good nick and the metres sped by, i only managed to place 3 screws in the first 50metre pitch. This however wasnt due to some noble sense for the need for speed more the inability to see upwards for much of the pitch and my distaste for being battered by the spindrift avalanches that were now turning into full on snow ploughs smacking into my head. Getting to the belay i brought James up and was sat next to Pete, who was belaying Jim up after him. At the belay we decided to carry on would be proper type 2 fun, somehting we werent massively keen on as a first day out. So we drilled some abbaloffs and ran away.

Pete hanging out in Point 5

Drilling Abbaloffs, living the dream (Photo: Jim Callender)

Once we were down, we had a lot of wet kit so remembering i had a mate staying in the Glen Nevis YHA we decided to pay him a visit, drying our kit out at the same time. Getting there we realised this could become an integral part of our stay in scotland. Free left over food, drying room, kitchen, and a dining room were all availible to use for a little discretion. Settling in for the evening, we ate well (potatoes, pasta, salsa, tuna and mayo) and discussed our options for the morrow. As it was our first day back in scotland we were gunna take a rest day and do some work on a trip we've got in the pipeline for june. At around 10pm we began wondering where we would sleep, Pete and Jim would use their car but me and James were less keen on this so drove down the road a little, and thankfully stumbled upon the visitors centre. We investigated and the toilets were left open, but more specifically the disabled ones had locks on so no one would disturb us sleeping in the morning. We bedded down for the night- after ditching the car in the local cemetry- in the ladies. It smelt nicer.

After a rest day pestering the Fort William librarians for more time on the computers, we headed back to the YHA to grab our dry kit, eat and then head to the Creag Meaghaidh car park a 45min drive away. Pitching the tent that night you could tell tomorrow would be a good day, all the stars shone jsut that little bit brighter. As they always do when things come together.

Waking up at 545am again we had a slightly slower start to the day and left at around 630 due to the tent being frozen and us being reluctant to move from warm down bags into the cold morning air. The walk in went without hitch and we found ourselves and the bottom of the Pumpkin at about 9am. Pete and Jim had gone the other side of the buttress from us to do Last Post. The route was brilliant, the ice was in good nick, little slushy on the lower pithces and thin in places but where it was needed it was bomber. The last pitches had less gear, keeping you thinking until we pulled over the cornice at 330pm into the sunset. Perfect day out. WE degeared and decided to descend down Easy gully underneath Pete and Jim so we could say hi and tell them our plans. As we bum slid down the gully in deep powder we could see them 3/4 up the route and that they had been joined by another group. So we shouted over what they had left and then carried on our way to the car. Heading back to the YHA when we got to the cars, as we reasoned there would be 4 of them, at least one should have a phone if anything had happened to them. It also meant we could get tea on. We reckoned they would be 4 hours behind us.

At 1030pm we started getting worried so rang mountain rescue to see if they had had any call outs that eve in the area. They hadnt, so we went back to the toilet thinking they had been knackered, slept in the car where it was, and had no signal. We slept thinking they were fine.

The next morning after still not having heard anything we drove the 45mins to the meggi carpark and found their car in exactly the same place. With no one in it, or any sign of life. SHIT!

We rang the mountain rescue again and got fuck all help from a cop who was an utter douche. Eventually he realised we werent tools and sent a cop car out to us. We had subsequently heard reports of an avalanche on meggi the previous eveing. Our thoughts went into overdrive. After hours of useless talking to an anally retentive cop we left the car park and headed to Fort William police station, still ringing Pete and Jim and we did. Still nothing. Then at about 630pm we got a call. They were fine, Jim had lost his bag, the car keys and phone as he had left it at the bottom of th route and it was subsequently covered by a falling cornice. Me an James went straight to the pub for a pint. It tasted pretty fucking good.

The next day i was due to leave for home and the examness of uni to restart. So having one last meal in the YHA and a good kip in the toilet we got up at 7am and headed over to Aonach Mor via the Gondola!! Its quite ironic how we refuse to pay for accomodation or food, but anything that lets us climb is a given. The cornices overhanging the descent were a little unreasuring, but by skirting around the right of them we were able to reach the start of our route, White Shark. This route is much shorter than anything on meggi so suited our needs for the day as i had a train to catch at 530pm. So heading up the perfect snice i was happy with how the day was going. This only continued as i reached the belay, brought James up and watched him lead off on a hard pitch (was at least V). As i left to second i got into the groove well and fully enjoyed the climbing and exposure, finishing the steep ice you are faced with a massive cornice. As i looked across at this monstrosity i saw that James had dug a small tunnel through at the left hand side. Following the rope to this tunnel i pushed and shoved until i got through. Bursting out into yet anohter perfect end to the day.

Getting changed quickly in Morrisons car park and jumping on the train to glasgow i thought back on how much i had enjoyed the craic of the last few days despite the one day fear fest when Pete and Jim went missing. 22hours later i arrived back at Cardiff after a 6 hour stint in Glasgow sheltering under a bus stop, I was a bit hungry, sleepy and thirsty. But my soul had been nourished just that little bit more than it would have been had i stayed at home and gorged as xmas celebrations dictate.

(More photos to follow)