Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Chamonix Hit

After having only been back at home for 2 days after a school trip I headed back out of the door for Chamonix. Ive been going back and forth for nearly 10 years now which is a massive shock but in the last 5 years Ive only been once much to my own sadness but I am changing that habit now.

After getting to the Shack (see video below) we headed straight up the Grand Montet lift and climbed the Chevalier Coulior and Pepite on the Aig. Caree which is a subsiduary ridge of the Aig. Verte. Spending a few hours trying to hide in the lift we then discovered the lifties there actually didnt give a shit and so we spread out in the rather warm and luxurious toilets. A night spent sweating in our bags left us poised to try the Couturier Couloir on the Aig Verte proper. Unfortunately after spending a good hour wading toward the bergshrund getting hit by lots of mid size snow sloughs we decided to turn around, if this wind continued to push snow down the couloir and we continued to wade we'd be knackered out pretty quick. So we bumslid our way out of there. As always happens a few friends were up there a few days later when the wind had changed direction and found entirely different conditions. Ah well, all's well in love and climbing.

A day spent "shopping" for the cheapest post-season ski's with a better forecast and a lift ticket up the Midi. We got a rather leisurely start and headed toward the Petite Frounet on the left side of the Tacul Triangle. Hard grey ice and a bitter wind made the going slightly less pleasant than other experiences of this enjoyable little playground Ive had, however a route was ticked and we walked back across the Midi Col in a pea-soup which had me wandering down the Vallee Blanche until Joe noticed our mistake and directed us toward the lift again. A less welcome lifty greeted us at the door and said we could be terrorists or something but seemed to see sense and left us to get reacquainted with another lift toilet and a much warmer sleep.

A final day was spent cragging up on the Cherserys above Argentiere, a very pleasant way to end a reasonably productive few days in Chamtown. We didnt get everything we wanted done but that never happens. Psyce for the summer is at an all time high! Well buzzing wicked mate.

Joe approaching Pepite

Joe experiencing his first toilet bivvi.

Helmet bowl - it was a bit frozen as the lifties put the bag outside....

Last day. Psyce buzz!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Spring time cragging

Every year or so a few friends write a list of routes. Now these can be any route we choose, however the other people writing their own lists can veto them if they think you're selling yourself short or will complete your list too easily (and of course win the coveted and seemingly unattainable prize money of ~£20). My list last year got off to a good start but a lack of motivation and life events conspired to put me out of the game with only 50% of my list completed.

This year seems to be a better bet. The routes on the list will push me, hence some training over the winter rather than the normal running, and are a little far flung from sheltered South Wales but so far I have had a great time chasing these lines around the crags of the country. Starting with Chullila down at Brean and yesterday getting Propaganda done at Cwmaman. The routes between these two (all 5 of them) have all been ambitions for a while.

The biggest of which was the Assassin down at Gogarth. This route used to intimidate me somewhat, the picture of Lee Roberts in the Ground Up guide making it look "way out there" and above my pay grade at the time when I lived there. Years passed and that ember to climb it and the shadows that scared me were still present but on a glorious weekend in late March I had a brilliant couple of days mincing my way up various routes with good friends both old and new. I finally got on the Assassin. It was amazing, both the climbing and the situation in the middle of Main cliff with the sun on the sea and hunger in my belly adding to the atmosphere of a great day. So here's to more brilliant days this year and the years to come.

Me seconding the Strand as our warm up before heading over to the Main event (© Tom Ripley)

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Do the small things well.

"Do the small things well".

I really like this quote having only heard it for the first time on Monday as it can be applied to almost anything or anytime. When you plan or execute a trip, a climb, a run, a piece of work, a video, you need to ensure you do every little thing as well as you can to stack the odds in your favour of a positive or desirable outcome. You want to make sure you do your laces up well before that 30km run; that you have chalk in the bag for that redpoint attempt; that your kit list for a trip is as comprehensive as you can make it. All the little things- the minor decisions and tasks- add up to a sum. And as some cleverer person than me (potentially Steve House) said "We are all the sum of our past decisions".

I want to take this idea forward more, to bring it's ideology back into my life. To make better use of all of my time. To make the little steps so that the bigger ones will be easier to take.

St David or Dewi Sant, was a saint of the Celtic Church. He was a real person, the son of Sandde (Santhe), Prince of Powys and Non, daughter of a Chieftain of Menevia in West Wales. St David is thought to have been born near the present day town of St David's. Today is St.David's Day, the Welsh patron Saint. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Lost Years

It's been nearly 4 years since I last put anything on this blog. Looking back I can see why. Not because I haven't done anything but because I didn't feel as if it was worth it. For the last 4 months of 2013 I was in Patagonia and the USA, when I came home I had a full intention of writing down what had gone on but all the excuses came into play life, a girlfriend, work, seeing neglected friends, training etc etc etc. But I don't think this was the real reason, I was ashamed and disappointed in myself. I had dragged my heels, complained, let the little things get in the way of the pure joy of the experience I was living at that moment. I was a fool and let a great opportunity to pass me by. And that is what I now know is the real reason I couldn't put it down.

It's been long enough now and I've started to try and take more control of where my own life goes. I have been in some dark places mentally for large parts of the last 4 years, wondered why to bother; to keep trudging the same path. Not going where I wanted to be going, not living what I believed was the life I should have. But I was unwilling- and to some extent still am- to give what was/is required to get there. I am now starting to get there and take those steps (2 year plan). This isn't a miserable post of self pity; it is a full stop on that period in my life. I am now working full time, my free time to live out the rhetoric I spoke of in my older posts has dwindled to 1 day in 7, maybe an evening or two. Yet despite that in the last 12 months I have climbed harder than ever before, I have run 2 ultra marathons and come in the top 10. I have made new friends and tried to keep good ties with the old.  I have bought a house, a van, a bicycle. I have travelled to new countries, and returned to others. It is scary how life is moving forward at such a pace these days (I definitely sound old and apologise, Im not but might be mentally) it takes events around you for you to realise what is going on and see how far you have come from those youth filled idealistic days.

A week ago I went out with some friends, we drank, some smoked, others took drugs. We stayed out late, chatted drivel and watched the sun rise and our eyelids close. As the hours moved on the conversation inevitably turned to our childhood and then where we are now. Little nuances in conversation concerned me, they worried me. Worried for my friends, for my generation. We went to a decent state comprehensive, got a good set of grades, worked hard in college, went to university and got decent results. We got decent jobs and paid into bank accounts to get on the housing ladder as the rents were so high we couldn't eat at the end of the month. But my friends- the same people who followed these steps much like I have- are lost. They are drinking a bottle of vodka on their own on a Friday night because they don't know what else to do. They take cocaine on their lunch break just to splinter the monotony of the working week. What has happened to us. And yet as I look around bars, coffee shops, music gigs, the same look of loneliness and abandon that has settled in my friends eyes, is in other's. But my friends aren't alone, they aren't abandoned but the sentiment of being lonely amongst a crowd is building. We are becoming a generation of lost boys with no future and no understanding of how to escape the cycle without help: economic help.

This blog is going to be my way of communicating a path through this system and my attempts to get myself out of it. I am not rich, I am not poor. I work hard but never get enough done. I want to be something better than I currently am, and will try my hardest not to be disappointed in myself again.

I came 8th in the Gower Ultra (50miles in 9hours something)

Fitzroy under incredible clouds.

Dave on the top pitch of Yellow Wall ( I went back and did both pitches of this great route yesterday).

Lost Boys