Saturday, 1 December 2007
Monday, 19 November 2007
Just when things are beginning to take shape and you allow yourself enjoy a glimpse of hope that some day you'll actually be strong.... someone comes along with camcorder and shows you what strong really is! - This is my closest bouldering crag - 10 mins by car from my house. Without trying to sound cocky or anything - i've not been to many crags where there just isn't enough holds for me to pull on! I can only do 2 or 3 problems here! This is how it should be done - i feel some new projects are in the pipeline :) Thug Mentality looks insanely powerful - bring it on!
I feel weak!
Check out the excellent NorthWalesBouldering.com for all the latest bouldering news in the area!
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Crags visited include:
The famous 6b+ “Extremoduro” and the 6c+ “No dans bolsa”.
Grau Corral nou
Any of the golden wall routes – over a dozen to choose from between 7a+ and 8a+. The lads enjoyed onsighting the steep, long 7b+ crack in the middle of the crag. But be warned some of the 7a’s felt harder!
Everything! Apparently this place is home to one of the areas nicest (softest?) 7a’s. Plenty to go at here at all grades but really opens up to the conpentent 7th grade climber.
Any of the longer routes are excellent and will usually be in full shade for most of the day – brong your down parker and at least a 60m rope! “Jeronimo”, 7a, provides a welcome respite from the powerful steepness characterising the areas routes with beautiful, technical groove climbing after a face climbing start. The easier, shorter routes to the left of this sector are probably better left to yer mates :)
Grau dels Masets
This is really a cluster of 3 crags – all worthwhile! Kev got on and enjoyed “La muerte del sponsor”, 7b+. This route is fast becoming the new 7b+ of the area, overtaking the famous and sadly now polished “Mandragora” as the testpiece of the grade. Also of worth here is “Pluja de padres”, 7a+ and “Kebreales”, 7c+.
Everything!!!! This place must be ticked! Caroline especially liked onsighting “Guate, aqui hay tomate” 7a. Even more after I nearly came off the top reachey move and Toni told us that Jerry Moffat had famously said after leading that route – “Now THAT’S a 7a!”. Apparently Toni reckons many of the 7’s in Siurana could be seen as ‘gifts’ but not this one! We’ve been on most routes here up to 7c – from the intensely fingery, mono-cranking 7a’s to the short steep power pieces like “Bistec” and “ya os vale” – they’re all great!
Can Toni Gros
This is the suntrap of the area – yes! It’s even hotter than the rest of the place!! Don’t be fooled by the topo – the short 6th grade routes pack a punch! They are not easy ticks! Be prepared to pull through short sections of 7a climbing on these wee beasties! And Toni’s new 8a/+ is no exception to the standard here. I tried it on Toni’s recommendation. An intense, dynamic, precise and beautiful boulder problem to the 2nd bolt will leave you shaking out on a sloper before launching into 3 bolts of delicate face climbing leading straight into a horizontal roof linked by 2 pockets and some fancy back-stepping off a dihedral. WOW! I’ll be back for more of this one!
Can Piqui Pugui
….wkefhjnoiuolkremg…. Sorry! Let me just clear up that drool! Oh My God! Do em all!! This is deservingly one of the areas showpiece crags and home of countless legendary routes up to 9a, including “Anabolica” 8a. All I can recommend are “Cruela de vil”, 7b, “Gamba Gamba”, 7b, “Rodriguez & Rodriguez”, 7b+ (Worth a 4th star! Literally has everything! Knee bars, monos, two-finger pockets, toe hooks, crimps, deadpoints, undercuts, jugs, fingerlocks – awesome!) and of course… the king, “Anabolica” 8a. Very much a defined crux route with the crux arriving at the 4th bolt in the roof. Precise footwork required and good conditions. I spent one day working on it including one trip to the chains to try all the moves and 4 redpoint attempts – all ending in frustration at the crux. All I can say is that it was my 5th day climbing and Toni’s 8a had trashed my skin the day before. Man I want this route! Ah well next time...
If you’ve never been here before – go! Just go! The place is great and constantly developing. During our brief visit, Toni bolted and lead a new 60m 8b, Sharma lead a new 8c+ and was working another unclimbed project around the 8c+ mark and loads of other climbers, both male and female were working their own respective projects around the 8b mark! If like me you’re a human sponge for motivation, you’ll be guaranteed to go home topped up for the coming months of hard training.
On personal level I learned a lot this trip – I confirmed in my mind that the routes I had lead in the UK were indeed deserving of their 8a grades when compared to the routes I tried in Spain and France. I learned that I can’t give up on a route just because I think it’s “not my style” – I better feckin MAKE it my style then! I had a stark reminder of the difference between my first exploration of a hard route and my subsequent attempts. It’s such a huge difference! Don’t be put off by a difficult first attempt! That’s the whole beauty of redpointing – a previously impossible combination of holds soon become usable and even easy to climb through! It’s soooo satisfying! I also realised that I need to adapt my training to a more power-building, bouldering format if I want to progress further – I’ve stamina enough for what I need – I need more power to pull the moves of harder Lines... I'm feeling a new Goals Post is needed ala Wasatch Girl's Style. Watch this space
Monday, 5 November 2007
Siurana is a climbing heaven. We climbed there for nearly two weeks last August and fell in love with the place. The tiny stone-built village sits on top of a limestone ridge overlooking a reservoir and it’s nearest town, Cornudella. The village is surrounded on 3 sides by sheer sports climbing perfection in the form of vast amounts of terraced limestone steepness! Looking west from Siurana village you are faced with it’s considerable valley crags – home of the famous La Rambla, 9a+. The village has a refugio and campsite which are both owned and maintained by the Arbones Family. Toni Arbones (Jnr) is a famous climber in his own right having climbed in the high 8’s and established numerous bigwall routes all over the world and is still the areas most prolific new router. During our previous visit to the area both Caroline and myself became friends with Toni through our running and enjoyed being shown around the beautiful surrounding valleys by Toni on numerous, torturous, multi-terrain runs. The mans a beast! This trip to Siurana was to prove no less inspirational and motivating.
Siuranella North as seen from sector L'Olla
The first night set the standard for the trip. While driving up the hairpins to the village I had to brake suddenly to allow a family of wild boars to cross the road infront of our rental car! Toni had told us of the areas wildlife before but we hadn’t expected to encounter them like this… it was great to see. Less then 5 minutes later we had pulled into the familiar car park of the campsite bar and restaurant. As usual it was fairly busy but we squeezed in and seeing Toni at a table full of people I decided not to disturb him and to go to the bar to try and check in while the others waited near the door. My pigeon Spanish didn’t get very far with the barmaid who quickly shouted over to Toni for help. Toni turns around, recognises Caroline and myself and comes over with hugs, kisses and slaps on the back as if we had known him years – it’s such a friendly, genuine place – you gotta love it! Only then did it strike me who was at Toni’s table! None other than Chris Sharma and Daila Ojeda. Having watched and read all about Sharma’s exploits ever since taking up climbing it was weird to see the guy in the flesh. Toni lashes straight into catching up with us, talking about running, climbing, races, new routes, wild Boars – everything! Before long Sharma and a few others are gathered around us before they leave, chopping and changing between English and Spanish while telling us about the nasty stomach bug running rampant through the area. Weird! Eventually things settle down and we get treated to a substantial dish of Toni’s Mams Paella before getting the key to our home for the next few days, the cabin. I could tell from everybody’s grins that evening that it was going to be a good trip.
More to come…
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Me above all the hard climbing on Anabolica, 8a, while working the route before going for the redpoint.... I came off the crux move 4 times on the final day (my only day trying it)..... Neal stayed in Spain to finish it off (He'll of redpointed this classic by monday for sure!)
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Saturday, 6 October 2007
"There is something both graceful and barbaric in Sharma's climbing. He couples a child-like playfulness with ferocious grit that leaves even his peers in awe and the rest of us inspired to reach a little higher and hang on a little longer.
When you do hard routes, you have to try hard. They’re not easy routes. You have to give everything you have. You have to get totally animalistic. When you’re super pumped, I have to yell to bear down."
Saturday, 29 September 2007
List of Covers
Friday, 28 September 2007
After catching up with Lee and hearing his Beta for Elite Syncopations i decide it's worth getting on again and seeing if it feels any more doo-able. This is another 8a at the crag and has a wicked hard crux at the second bolt. The frustrating thing is that aside from this section, the rest of the route is fine and dandy! I had tried it a few months ago and decided that it didn't suit me and left it at that. With Lee's new sequence it seemed possible.
Sunday we return and after watching Lee's successful ascent on youtube the night before i was psyched to give it a propper working! Man i got spanked! if you look at the video it looks like a path! it just highlights how tall Lee actually is! I've never before been outreached by anyone but he manages to do it! It's a git of a move but workable all the same - Very powerful lock with the left shoulder on a crimp with only a very low right foothold while you reach for a distant sloper with your right
Meanwhile Caroline continues her training by working the harder 7's at the crag. The line pictured above is a brilliant 7a+ but a bit reachy! I can honestly say that i reckon the sequence Caroline has crafted out of the meager holds on offer to her looks more desperate then the 8a crux i was on.... reach huh?! Not the fairest thing in the world but makes for great grading debates!
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Anyway, I pull the rope down and tie in… the route begins with a boulder problem involving a shallow mono and a slopey matchbox pinch that has to be deadpointed from to a sharp two-finger pocket that you have to catch as an undercut at full stretch. From there a few non-descript moves lead to a good hold and a rest before a long crux sequence out under and through a blank-looking bulge. Left crimp, high right gaston, left to intermediate thumb-catch, foot up, left again out to wide, beefy pinch, right toehook in the good hold allows me to release the gaston and catch a high undercut below the crux bulge without swinging off. Then the scary clip from way above the last bolt.
Now the strange bit, previously I had been sketching by this stage due to the pump and nerves but this time I’m solid enough to relax and chalk up my left before reaching over the bulge to the slopey two finger scoop… normally this feels desperate and I have to snatch out to the right hand mono sidepull but today I can actually lock-off and chalk my right hand (I actually thought to myself “Why are you chalking up for a feckin mono?”) and then wipe the excess chalk off on my trousers before holding the mono. Next I’m adjusting my feet, ready for the deadpoint to the Killer mono with the flapper-ripping tooth. From here on things get a bit Vocal as I know I’m fresh and I really want to stick this sequence. I reach high to the mono and it feels good as I stack my thumb and index finger onto my middle (just like I practiced on the board during the week) and step up my feet. The slap to the sloper happens perfectly and I’m on the bulge and further than I’ve ever been on this route.
The footholds are rubbish at this point. Basically I’m standing on a quarter of your little fingernail with my right and a rough patch of vertical rock with my left. The handholds are slopers. The higher you stand up, the more likely your feet are to skid off and theres a bolt to clip infront of my face but I cant let go of either hand! I hop my left up high and have one of those on-off moments where I’m a gnats left testie from peeling off backwards. I’m on, stand up to the undercut above and the final easy bulge after skipping the last draw. Clipping the lower off I’m shocked. 2 weeks of board work and the route felt like a path compared to how it felt before our trip to Ireland. After stripping the draws I was at a loss as to what to do next… I was all set for a full days battle and I sent it in one! We kept busy – no shortage of bolts to clip
My second 8a …
Sunday, 9 September 2007
Séan had this to say to me about it all:
Without the Peg and without duck tape... I think duck tape is unethical! don't you think? :)Awsome route... though the skyhooks are pretty bommer... You'll love it, big moves on small face holds...excelent technical face climbing
Also did Bad skin day, not as scary but really nice route too. and this route called Men of kerow, nice stemming and jamming.
Was climbing in Freyr today with Tom and the lads...feels funny to clip bolts again but Freyr is really good climbing.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Sean and his Whistle
Monday morning we woke to some sort of demi-hell – millions of the nastiest, most ferocious midge seemed set on devouring us piece by piece so we packed up out tents in a flurry of arms and curses and speed towards Fanore beach for a swim to steady our nerves and clear the midge from our skin. After the swim it was time to climb… as I mentioned earlier, I got hit with some sort of bug just before we made it to the Aran Islands causing me to loose my voice and leaving me totally wasted – I know when I’m sick as my shoulders just feel like lead weights! I really wanted to jump on loads of the lines I had on my tick list but didn’t want to waste them if I wasn’t feeling right. I end up trying ‘Quicksilver’ E5 6a on the far end of Mirror wall. Now I’ve heard someone say that they reckoned this was a soft E5 or maybe even a hard E4, Well I have always had a hard time on this one, well just one move to be honest but it just pumps me silly! This time I cruise it clean as a warm up and Sean seconds me and reinforces my opinion on it’s grade, Its an E5 alright – Phew! I’m not that soft yet!
After that we had to pack up and split if we were going to catch our ferry but just had time to drop Sean to Doolin where he could wait for Tom to Arrive. We dropped Caroline’s sister home in Offaly on our way back to Dublin but the motivation to catch the ferry seemed to evaporate the closer we got… I’d had a taste of the Burren Rock and I needed more!
Tuesday morning and we’ve missed our ferry and are still in Ireland – Damn! Off to Glendalough! Sean had been filling our heads with talk of Big Walls and Caroline wanted to do some multipitch climbing. We end up climbing on of Glendalough’s most celebrated lines, ‘Spilikin Ridge’, 85m of E3 5c crack climbing in spectacular positions. This was only Caroline’s second ever multi pitch and she loved it! Stopping for lunch at the base of the crag we hatch a cunning plan to miss tonight’s ferry and head to the Burren for a couple more days!
Room with a view - Notice Toms makeshift bivi shelter to the right of Seans silver tent!
The next morning I woke up first and chilled out in the light breeze that kept the midge at bay. Eventually everyone rises and after a prolonged breakfast we all head to Fanore for another Swim, Tom is sceptical at first about swimming in the some what less than tropical conditions but we convert him to our ways and we have great craic body surfing the waves. Funny seeing the horrified looks of the onlooking wetsuit wearing surfers! Right then, What to Lead?
Gearing up - This felt very heavy after all our recent sports climbing!
Everyone is feeling a bit tired at this stage but we gotta do something! I set an Ab up and we go down to try ‘Sharkbait’ E5 6b – this is an awesome line but I had seen some very strong crack climbers get spat off this one over the years and stories of a pumpy, goey, 6b crux had put me off trying it before now. I tie in and cruise to the top – nothing stands out as being too difficult. Was that really E5 6b? I must be feeling good. Meanwhile Tom leads ‘Black Barron’ E2 and Sean belays while watching me on Sharkbait. Caroline seconds me and realises where the route got its name (See pic below). Caroline in typical stubborn form refuses to leave any of the gear in place and cleaned the line while seconding - before this Caroline had bee struggling to get to grips with pure crack climbing, well something clicked! Caroline seconded the route cleanly to the 6b crux before comming off due to a foot slipping and a reachy move. Once past the crux Caroline cruises to the belay - After finishing her crash course in crack climbing! Tom makes it to the top of the Black Barron and looks like he needs a drink. “I Nearly Shat Myself!” he says… bit of a contrast to sports climbing alright!
Caroline became Sharkbait after seconding the E5 6b
Sean gets psyched and goes for ‘Jokerman’ E6 6b and gets it onsight (possibly only the second onsight ever of this line).
Jokerman E6 6b
Then before leaving Sean wants to try Sharkbait – afterwards he tells me that I made it look too easy – he thought it was going to be easier – infact both himself and Tom said that it was as hard as Jokerman! Tom even thought it was harder – They reckon I should get on the E7’s...
The Lads starting up the awesome line of Sharkbait, E5 6b
Their encouragement is much appreciated and now I feel psyched for some hard training and confident that anything is possible if I want it! Alas we have to get going and end up driving the Lads to Andy’s gaff back in Dublin (Andy, I know you don’t read blogs but Cheers for the Tea!! And your Gaff and Pooch are both Class!)
And that’s a wrap!
Back in Wales now after an awesome trip home! I didn’t get to meet up with half the people I wanted to but nothing new there, haa! I recharged my flow and had a great time with the few family and friends we actually did catch up with.
Saturday, 1 September 2007
We eventually made it over to Inis Mor on Saturday morning and met Kev and Belgian Sean at the Dun Aengus Coffee shop in light Drizzle… yuk! We hop on our bikes and explore Poll na b’Peist… the lines I had lead 5 years ago look so pathetic now… Jeeze! We explore some new cliffs and unearth two great lines, a New E3 6a and an E5 6a. The next day however we went exploring Scalp na platti and it’s considerable 70 – 80m cliffs. The outcome was ‘Tom agus Mick’, E4 in beautiful sunshine on perfect rock up steep cracks with bomb proof protection. 2 pitches and a 10m scramble up a groove to top out. Bliss! Now theres only the other 1000 or so other unclimbed lines to be done on the island and we’ll have a mega crag on our hands! Pictures are on Kev’s Camera… I’ll post them as soon as I get them!
Blazing Saddles, E2
I reckon some local out there could probably tidy them off in under an hour but it would be interesting to see…
Give em a go! They’re a great few lines!
Imagine the pitch if they were all stacked one ontop of each other!
View from the Quarry
The Rest before the final 6c sequence on CHOMOLUNGMA SANS O2
Another interesting hard line that I spent some time on while in the quarry was bitter aftertaste. This route has an interesting history… originally bolted, it breached the overhang left of tower ridge. Causing considerable interest, then controversy the bolts were eventually removed and it’s first ascentionist placed a single peg and then lead the route traditional style at E6 6a. Firstly, it’s not 6a… Infact it couldn’t even pretend to be 6a with powerful moves on small but positive crimps up an overhang with it’s only protection a fair bit below and some nasty looking angular ledges not to much further below that! This is a serious route, made more serious due to the fact that originally there was a thread near the lip of the overhang, which has now crumbled and disappeared – does this add to the difficulty? Maybe not, but the route has still to receive a repeat and I’m at the point where I may step out of the queue for it. In all honesty I think the bolts belonged in it. It is not a traditional climb, the style of the climbing the terrain it goes through… had the bolts remained it would have added something unique to the quarry and probably gone a considerable way towards removing the glass ceiling currently putting a cap on Irish climbing standards. Some lines should remain as hard trad testpieces – and some should be opened as sports lines allowing Irish people to experience hard SAFE climbing on home turf… The deciding factor should be the style of the climbing and the natural protection available. Currently the route remains there with it’s one peg and empty boltholes – seldom touched and wasted. After spending 4 days out in the quarry I came away from it wondering what the MCI or the climbers put back into the place? Is there money available for replacing fixed protection? If it was replaced would it spark interest in the great lines again? Who would be willing to put the time into doing it? I would and probably will once we move back home in the future. As it stands, climbing one of these hard lines in Dalkey requires a lot of time, effort and preparation… factors that actually add to the experience and make every hard ascent something special.
Friday, 31 August 2007
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Probably 6 years ago at this stage I had the luck to climb with this guy at an international meet held in Fairhead to promote new routing in Ireland and really showcase Irelands potential for hard trad climbing. Both Dave MacLeod and Cubby attended and as luck would have it … so did I. At the Time Dave was just beginning to make headlines over in Ireland. In a weird quirk I ended up sharing a dorm with both himself and Cubby (3 Daves), neither of which I knew anything about other than the fact that they were sound blokes and as keen as myself to climb at Fairhead. At the time although I had climbed some mid E-grades at my local crag I was basically a fat, weak HVS climber. During the course of the weekend I watched Dave Lead the Classic E5 of the Crag – Wall of Prey. This was the first time I had seen anyone climb an E5 and it stuck in my brain. Next he methodically abbed and inspected the line next to it – Above and beyond, E6 - before deciding it needed more cleaning than he had time to put into it and decided to try some other lines. It was great to see someone using a sensible approach to these lines and I think it left a mark on my climbing to this day.
Before the end of the visit Dave explored some of the impressive boulders at the base of the crag and I joined him – Curious. The first instinctive reaction of the Irish climbers with their Trad-or-Dead ethos would be to mock such ‘pebbling’ below the immaculate, multi-pitch cliffs – but in the company of a proven climber I guess I sensed I could get away with a bit of bouldering. Dave was sound – we had no pads so just took turns spotting and climbing – Dave sent some quality crimpy lines and I even made it up one or two aswell – what was obvious straight away was his love of the sport, something that he puts across very well on his blog. Since then I’ve grown as a climber and even returned to the head and climbed E6 myself – adopting a very similar approach to Dave’s during that meet. Without being reckless, inspecting the line and weighing the risks.
More recently I’ve taken inspiration from Dave’s training tips, articles and advice – He really does know his stuff and has an impressive string of ascents to prove what he says works. Since dedicating myself to loosing weight, running and finger boarding religiously I’ve seen huge gains even since February! 7b to 8a in 5 months! And I’m not stopping there… It’s just the beginning. I’m going back to the Emerald Isle for a couple of weeks and hope to visit and climb on all the Trad Crags that I learned to climb on years ago and I’m sure I’ll end up wanting some new line or other (there being at least half a dozen E6’s and 7’s permanently lodged in my brain, ripe for the reaping) I’m sure I’ll be giddy with excitement at leading some awesome route and will have to weight up the odds – hopefully realising where I’m at and where I want to be in a month, a year, 2 years... Whether or not I commit to any big leads will depend on how much within my current ability the route actually is. Thoughts that I’m sure MacLeod will be thinking this weekend before his live Climb Broadcast. All I can say is Best of Luck man!!
I’ve had this in the alps, at altitude, in thunder storms, on beaches… hell, I’ve even driven over it accidentally two years ago while driving the length of France and it still works without a bother… MSR, I Salute you!
After a days rest we found ourselves back at Dinbren again on Saturday. This time the curiosity gets the better of me and I jump on the other 8a, Elite syncopations. Totally not my style. I spend what seem like hours working out the moves and making sure I’ve tried every possible sequence and found every single nubbin and edge on the route. I get to the top and lower off and we go and do some miles on other lines before I come back for round two and work the line some more. After the second session I am sure I’ve not missed anything and know whats needed. The route is basically a 2 move desperate to get off the ground and then a 7b+ to the chains. But what a powerful 2 moves they are! I can do the moves but they come with a high risk of injury as they are dynamic and involve deadpointing through a roof to a crimpy pocket from a knee level undercut, bearing down on the pocket and basically doing a one-armer from it to a pinch above the second bolt – after that it’s fine to the chains. Right – I can do this but it’s not a route that will crack simply by spending time on it – I can train that kind of specific strength at home on the board and come back to it ready… that’s made my mind up for me anyway – Highway, the John Dunne 8a is my current project…
Monday and we’re back. This time we waste no time and after clearing a wild rose bust from the starting holds I find myself linking huge sections of the route 1st attempt while putting the draws on. I get to the top and come down – the “Bassa” has already made a nice little incision across my two finger tips but not quite cut through the tough layer of skin yet… we go off and do some 6c’s and 7a’s that Caroline really enjoys (Caroline has the extra difficulty of having to overcome the often reach dependant nature of some of the routes – but she’s adapting to it much like meself – moving through the myriad of emotions from depression, anger, determination, to joy once you crack a move!). It’s time to give the 8a it’s first real redpoint effort. I tie in and blast through the boulder problem, shake out at the rest hold and move under the bulge… Crimp, high gaston, thumb-sprag as an intermediate, onto the wide pinch, toehook in the rest jug locks me into position and I can reach up to the undercut in control, feet up, clip, left over the bulge to the two-finger, adjust feet, mono, adjust feet, stab to “Bassa” (Ouch!), feet under the bulge and slap! Some airtime follows…
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Dave's Tips for Climbing Skin Care
1 - Get the chalk off your mits as soon as possible once you've finished your climbing! Whether its at a wall or out at a crag - Wash your hands! If i'm out at a crag i'll use a stream or the left overs from the days supply of bottled water. Using some sand or grit mixed in it helps too. At home i use any kind of soapy hand scrub. The idea being you're skin needs moisture to heal and regrow - chalk is there to DE-MOISTURISE your skin and it does it very well. if you can get it off your hands asap - you;ll start healing quicker
2 - File or sand off any lumps, tears, flappers. use whatever you got - even a abrasive piece of stone
3 - Moisturise. During Summer thats easy - aftersun works just as well on your tips as it does on your sunburn. ClimbOn cream i've found is great too for the drive home or in the evening time when you've finished cooking and dont have to do anything dexterous and can just let it soak in.
(if you've an extreme flapper and want it to heal as fast as possible - full a cup with water - and Cary it around with you all day with the offending digit submerged in the water - it works)