Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Still Raining

Still pouring - Still Running in it - Still need to finish that bloody assignment!
But on the plus side i have now booked flights to Ireland and a lift to Fairhead allowing me 3 days climbing with 'The Power' and a chance to finally look at 'the Complete Scream' amongst others - unfinished business
A very imminent short term target... it this doesn't keep me keen for the two weeks before i go nothing will!
Neal - I'm preparing my game face - i AM a tiger and the rocks' a bunny rabbit - Tigers EAT bunny Rabbits!
The psyche is on!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The question is…

It’s Tuesday now, I’ve just spent far too long Blogging and I’ve a 3000 word piece on “the pedagogical value of questioning” due in on Thursday

Yes, It’s still raining (which is actually a good thing because I don’t want to go cragging as much – but I still do of course)


A wise HAP (you know who you are) recently typed something about the act of writing down your goals representing letting the universe know what you aim to achieve. I liked this take on things. It comfortingly reinforces the idea that what goes on in our heads is still private, our own, untouchable, measurable, infallible – even beyond the comprehension of the universe. By committing these mental cognitions to motion through, typing, writing, speaking – these thoughts are then made part of the universe, recordable, known. Theres something about all this that I like…

Anyway – goals are good – I like these

So heres a few of my own – revamped, and part of the universe for the first time

- climb 7c at Dinbren
- Try an E8 this year
- Run a sub 2min 800m this summer
- Run a 16min splash 5km this summer
- Try an 8a seriously
- Take more pictures
- Phone a friend

Cabin Fever

Friday evening the rain came again (had it ever left?). Aside from getting out on Saturday for a running session (a real teeth-rattler by the way!) and on Sunday for a good drenching on the hills (12 miles never felt so far before! Horizontal rain and sleet – 10 yards visibility – shorts, Inov8’s and a Nike jacket!) we didn’t leave the house as a result of the rain and some fast approaching deadlines for both Caroline’s and my own, Uni course. I think Friday’s taste of the Limestone added to my frustration coz I was going berserk! The training board got a good hammering and I messed around with the camera a bit but other than that we just read, highlighted and typed.

A few positive things did come out of it though – it was the last straw – I decided I’m not working the summer, I’m going to take a loan out and climb, run, train and sleep for 2 months uninterrupted (hitting as many UK, European and Irish Crags and races along the was as possible) – also I got some good training in both on and off the wall.

Oh, we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean – nuf said

When Friday comes…

A few weeks ago I posted about having tried the 3 7c sports routes at Dinbren – Well Friday I managed to get back on one. The prolonged absence from sports climbing didn’t seem to have too bad an effect on my climbing but the few weeks since trying the route did result in me totally messing up the crux foot sequence to the high undercut! Doh! Yep, despite bleary-eye syndrome (tiredness or hay fever? Although I’ve never had hay fever) I made progress on my first redpoint attempt. Made it to the crux fairly easily and then just forgot the foot sequence, decided on one that seemed vaguely familiar, committed to it, growled a bit…. And fell off! Getting back on it I made it to the chains fairly quickly – hopefully I’ll get back on it soon enough to remember the moves. Like many of the UK sports lines, it’s compact, devoid of any holds and complicated beyond whats really necessary – again, having played on it for the second time I am now sure that there are at least 3 or 4 moves on that route that are Waayyy harder than any of the cruxes on any of the 7c+’s I tried last year in France or Spain. Like my current mantra goes – “ these routes don’t suit me, if I can climb these\ routes at Dinbren I can climb hard anywhere!”Aside from that it was a regular Dinbren evening – Caroline didn’t climb – just growled at her 7a project as she walked under it – she was having an easy evening after a hard week of her own. I did a couple of warm ups and cool down routes and we hit the road again.


I am noticing a pattern here …. Dave makes it to sanctuary of weekend and manages to post prolifically on Monday – life sweeps Dave off again – blog remains untouched – Dave makes it to another island of peace and cycle repeats.

Well here is what happened last week – it’s been another one of those! Again! YES, I know – I’m beginning to think I’m just making it up aswell!

After my fix of climbing last weekend I was set for a good week – I managed to get some long needed trad climbing in and even got to check out two new venues while doing it. Resulting in me having dusted off the trad rack and tested the systems on routes up to and including E5 – results? All systems are go – everything felt easy and more importantly, it felt good!

Right then – Monday…. Cant really remember Monday other than I was a bit tired.

Tuesday – Tuesday morning began with the usual 6am 5 miler before work – feeling good. Work passed as it does – then I got home to find 3 missed calls from an unknown number – I return the call and get through to a school. A school looking for a maths teacher! I have been head hunted – sweet! They want me in for a tour of the school to see if I would consider working there so I hesitantly agree before rushing out the door to the Athletics track for a Tuesday night lung bashing. I swear that was the closest I’ve come to heaving on the track – perfect conditions just make the training harder! I get home and call my university mentor about this school thing and she informs me that another school had gotten intouch with her asking about me! It was a head hunted double whammy! Grand!

The next day some wheeling and dealing takes place and the result is I view the first school on the Thursday and go to the second school on the Friday (prior to an interview 10 days later) – a nice short week! Both visits went well with the schools being at opposite ends of the spectrum regards finances and achievement – but saying that I could happily work in either – I’ll post agin when I have some concrete news on the job front.

Thursday track training was another killer but it marked the first full weeks worth of training I have done now in just under a month as a result of interviews, deadlines, assignments and people visiting. 55 miles, 2 track sessions, 1 UK fell championship and a long Sunday hill run (15miles). Back on track!

Monday, 21 May 2007


Sunday i drove back out to meet the guys at the Roscolyn campsite where i had left them the night before - We packed up and hit the crag - this time a propper trad sea cliff. Yadda yadda... will write about this more when i can - here a pic of the best line we did - "Electric Blue" E4 - Nice!

Perplexion, shadows and Wallabies

Saturday morning I sliced a malt loaf, packed my climbing gear into the car, kissed goodbye to Caroline as she went off to the track for a hard training session and I hit the road for Anglesey. Kev, Rob and Squib were over for some Gogarth action – it was going to be the first trad weekend of the year. I made it to Nigel’s new place (a class little stone cottage in the countryside) for around midday and met the lads. The weather looked very mixed with some big swells and clouds aplenty. Somehow after half an hour or so of faffing we ended up going towards the Dinorwig slate quarries, in the middle of deepest, darkest Snowdonia – complete with heavy, black, laden looking clouds. Go Figure!

Thats Snowdon in the background obscured by cloud

I have never actually climbed on slate before so was letting morbid curiosity get the better of me – I was looking forward to seeing the place more than anything. Nigel gave us the tour and we ended up climbing a few routes in the Serengeti area before heading down to Vivian Quarry to see the enticingly named Colossus wall. At the first area I managed a nice E2 warm-up followed by a neighbouring E5 6c – now retro bolted. Was happy with being able to pull a British 6c move off on slate during my first visit but it was a sign of the technique that would be needed on every route here – precise footwork, balance and tiny holds – Have I ever mentioned that I hate slabs??? Well I do! Uggghh!! But climbing is climbing and I had fun. Next I did another slab – this time just for it’s name – “Watch Me Wallaby Wank Frank” was a thin E4 6a slab that I seem to have forgotten already. Good name though isn’t it?

Watch me Wallabie Wank Frank

Next we headed down into Vivian Quarry to seek out the colossus wall as me and Kev couldn't stand the sight of any more gay slabs! Unfortunately there was a couple of wet streaks down this but a steep complicated looking E4 beside it, “Jack of Shadows”, looked game so we tried that. Kev was first up and he got stomped at the first crux. A bizarre sequence around a strange slate hanging arête, into a bottomless groove. Perplexing! I get on the sharp end and manage to onsight it but have to admit I didn’t have much left in the arms by the top! A classic 50/50 moment above the last bolt when I found myself in a strange position, feet on slopers, right hand on a big undercut near my knee and left hand equally low on an edge – I then swapped my left hand for my left foot and had to slap at full extension for a flat slate edge – the top! Thwack! … a satisfying little chalk cloud as I stick the unknown. “Didn’t like the look of the big obvious crimprail out right then?” shouts up kev laughing – Doh! Had the blinkers on and was aiming for the top!

Contemplating moving around the frictionless arete...

We tidy up some neighbouring E2’s and 3’s while Squib (slabmaster) took rob around to do Poetry Pink E4 6a.

Squib on Poetry Pink

A good day out – and I even managed to place a few wired too!


After my last post I began to feel more and more tired until eventually I made it home from work… We aren’t exactly flush with funds at the moment and Caroline had a big deadline on Friday so I didn’t expect anything for my Birthday other than some tender lovin' care – but I came home to a cheery Lover – Birthday Dinner, followed by Birthday Cake and a lovely card and pressie - I honestly don’t know how she managed it all – I was chuffed!! Eventually after we had enjoyed dinner and cake I found out Caroline’s day had been a complete horror-show and she was the one who needed a shoulder to cry on and some attention, not me! …but she was holding out on me because she didn’t want to ruin my day – obviously it didn’t! It was a really unique birthday for me – no frills or extravagance, just a moment of calm in the stress-storm that has been the year so far and some genuine gestures and effort put in from the person closest to me

Friday, 18 May 2007


I love the way sometimes the smallest things can have the effect of picking you up all of a sudden. Not but a few hours after typing my last wallowing moan I arrived at the athletics track in Deeside in beautiful sunshine after opening some birthday cards that had arrived from home. It must have been weeks since I had completed a decent track session between interviews, rest weeks and assignments so needless to say I was restless. I know myself well enough to realise that in situations like that I’m prone to going ballistic and trashing myself. To combat this I had a strategy in place – Run on Mikes back, don’t lead the session, don’t get in front no matter what (anyway the head cold should take care of that). I felt brilliant – we just did 5 x 800’s after the usual 1600 warmup – finished the lot and felt great. A good evening!

I’ll only briefly mention the fact that we were up literally ALL NIGHT until 5:30am working on a presentation for Caroline! 55mins of sleep – yes – 55mins and it was up and out to work on my Birthday – I am now officially 25! I must say I do fell more tired than usual – does that happen to everyone when they turn this age? Haa!! It’s gonna be a big year – loads of goals need achieving and there’s always plenty more where they came from once they’re done!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Christleton again…

I got a surprise through my letterbox the other day in the form of an invite for an interview at one of Cheshire’s top schools – Christleton, a specialist Maths college. I prepared for it, went to it and didn’t get it. It came down to a split decision apparently between me and one of the other candidates. But with the entire fulltime staff currently employed in the department being male they chose to employ a woman. The feedback was all great – another Interview where they said I didn’t do anything wrong and would be hard pressed to improve my performance … but didn’t give me the job as a result of factors outside of my control.

It’s becoming a grind and it’s taking its toll on me – no denying it.

The actual teaching is great, I love it! It’s just the associated stress that precedes it that is bugging me. Assignments, reports, interviews, standards logs… everything that makes up the PGCE

It’s still raining in North Wales – seems like it has been all May!

Fingerboarding is keeping me sane, but only just!

This is my final blog as a 24 year old

Kev and Rob are over this weekend for some trad climbing action

…and I’ve caught a cold

UK Inter-counties Fell Championships

Sunday morning myself, Caroline and Mike hit the road for the Peak District – Just north of Glossop to a place called Cowden – Venue for the 2007 championships. Caroline and Mike were selected for the North Wales team and I entered the race as an open runner – didn’t make any difference – we all ran it together. 8 miles and a few thousand feet of ascent over open peat bog, marshland, dozens of rivers and crags.
Over 300 fool-hardy idiots charging down a farm road and over a wooden bridge from the start line. The sound as we charged over the bridge was like a battle charge. The early nervous banter from the runners soon dies out as we run off the end of the road after only 200m and straight onto a steep muck track leading up to a dry stone wall and the first bottleneck of the race. Chaos ensues – I nip over the wall and charge up the steep grassy bank that followed, depositing me onto a well used but pathetic trail known as the Pennine Way. This was little more than a sheep trail with deep rutted grooved warn into the peat punctuated by sharp angular rocks jutting out of the ground and the sides of the rutts. Perfect for twisting ankles and gashing legs.
We contour around the valley, gradually gaining height all the while with the occasional steep climb until we level out above a small grit stone crag known as Laddow Rocks. To the non-climbers in the throng the proximity of the cliff top forces them to slow down but it’s not a bother to most with a healthy love of heights. After a while the terrain changes again to marshland and theres half a dozen river crossings before the race runs onto stone paving slabs to the summit.
Up to this point I figure Caroline and Mike and all the county runners have blasted off ahead of me and are on their way back down – Wrong – Turns out I’m in the top 50 to the summit and have beaten a load of Championship runners (nice!) – No time to enjoy the moment though – the decent – off the flagstones and onto bog again – this time it’s wet and claggy. The uneven ground and consistency of the bog slows everyone down but we’re on the downhill now so things are feeling good. Then it happens – Glass ankle syndrome! I land awkwardly a couple of times on my right foot and think I’ve come close to injuring the ankle again (Not another Cankle!!!) so I have to slow down. The ankle gives a pang of pain with every impact but theres nothing I can do now but slow down and finish it. I was about half way down from the summit when this happened so only had to keep it together for 2 miles or so. It’s only now that I can appreciate how Nuts dedicated fell runners are! They cant run uphill for peanuts – but they can sure as hell throw themselves downhill! They’re nuts!!

It’s hard to take people streaming past me but I felt happy with a good, strong run to the top (and half way back down) before I had to give in. After crossing the line it started to lash rain – didn’t matter – was soaked and muddy all over anyways! So scrambled down, under the bridge, to the river for a freezing cold splash around and washed the heaviest muck off before going back to the car and getting changed.

A good day out!

Fortress of Snowdonia

Saturday despite the best of intentions and efforts (I drove past EVERY Crag in North Wales looking for some dry rock and failed! It was chucking it down!), we ended up in Caernarfon near Anglesey. Amazingly it was dry with the odd bit of sun poking through the clouds.

We took advantage of the break in the rain to walk around the impressive Caernarfon Castle. One of 6 Castles built around Snowdonia along the North Wales coastline by King Edward 1st to try and keep some sort of control over the Welsh. As the Welsh only ever respected the Romans the King even based the design of Caernarfon on the legendary walls of Byzantium with angular towers and layers of different coloured rock in the outer walls, finishing it off with 3 carved Eagles (Roman style) on the highest towers. Nice try matie – the welsh still hated him. But the Castles are well and truly impressive. World Heritage sites and brilliant examples of medieval construction.
It made a welcome break from the Train, Work, Sleep, Eat routine we usually revolve around. After the Castle we drove back home in another downpour and took out the frustration on the board in an extended training session – Excellent.

Christleton 5km

Well Friday’s race came and went – I was right – it poured down and I was disappointed – but I was also released. It well and truly marked the end of last week. I totally underestimated the toll the week had taken on me and I was close to dropping out and retching in a ditch plenty of times during the 5km. I finished in under 18 mins but I was a long way off my target time – Nuf Said. I was exhausted before the race and shocked at how quickly you get soft – only after one week of non-running I had forgotten how to go through pain. Getting freezing cold in the wind and heavy rain didn’t really help things either but hey, I got out and did it! Roll on the training again!

Friday, 11 May 2007

Finger boarding

Like I mentioned way, way back – I’m now doing most of my hanging from me small rung. And here it is – 17mm of ply perfection. Awwah…. I know it looks massive but it actually isn’t – and I think I rounded it a bit too much coz I really have to brush it between sessions or I just grease off!

Anyway – it’s great – and being able to hang from it is great too!

Be patient Dave – in time the results will come – just keep hanging!


How remiss of me?! I never mentioned much about the best concert I have ever witnessed! Rodger Waters: Dark Side of the Moon. Monday I was so stressed about my impending interview that I almost didn’t go to see the gig! Man I am glad I did – An awesome visual and auditory experience completely throwing my mental timeline all over the shop between songs. Many of the Pink Floyd tracks were played around my house as I was growing up by my Dad – certain albums reserved for lazy summer Sundays spent pottering around the house – other tracks for wild winter evenings being whipped into an excited frenzy by the weather and the music – others tines that were always played as I slept – this music has been engrained into me since Day one and yet before this concert I have had only the slightest inkling of the power behind it. I cant really say much more – there was spacemen, lasers, explosions, flames, Giant Flying Anti-War Pigs, comics of travelling with mates to foreign countries, film sequences capturing the mundane 9-5 that made me want to pack it all in and go and live in a cave and climb in nature, Drugs, depression, growth, and the feeling that everyone there felt the same one some small level.

Musically it was impressive – perfect – fantastic. This was Rock!

Me likes!


I’ve a bit to post since my last blog – After I collapsed on Tuesday after my interview I had a bit of a shitty day on Wednesday (as you could guess from my previous post) and it was all capped off with a phone call from my University Mentor informing me that I was to get my final formal assessment on Thursday morning. Great – That meant that I could no longer use Wednesday evening to get started on the 3000 worder that was due in on Friday. Anyway – with the help of some kind words from a few people (you know who you are! Thanks a million!!!) I was shot out of the murky depths and back on top of things and riding the flow once again – Oh yeah! I enjoy working under pressure – gives me a purpose – Guess I’m a goal driven person – no denying it! Anyway – I planned a corker of a lesson, sorted out all my files etc… Got a great review from the Mentor… Got home and hit the research journals on the “Every Child Matters” agenda and by midnight I had produced what could only be called a miracle – another essay in the bank and not a bit of time wasted. Ok – you’re thinking I’m a slacker – perhaps I should explain.

The Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is the basic teaching qualification – although it equates to one third of a masters Degree it is only assessed as a Pass or Fail Unit. Where’s the challenge in that? Like I said I’m goal orientated. If there’s no score system and hence no competition, I’ll just do what I have to in order to pass and use my time better for training etc… Anyway – the first assignment took me completely by surprise way back in late 2006 when I was genuinely struggling with the change in career and workload. I stayed up all night and produced an essay that I doubted would pass but it was all I could manage. I felt I had let myself and my Mentor down – I didn’t want them to think that I was as dense as the assignment may lead them to believe. Well – I got the highest score out of the Course – up in the 80’s – that was that – since then I don’t try.

One very enjoyable side affect of this is that the lady I typed about in my previous post is quite begrudging and also an academic snob. She looks down her nose at people without her qualifications and results etc… I really hate that shit. I have seen that attitude everywhere I have ever worked – even when I was first in University going out on an engineering experience block I was shocked to listen to my classmate’s anecdotes about bossing technicians around – as if they could learn nothing from the old guy’s vast experience? I enjoy hanging out with people at all levels – they are the people who know what’s really going on – and quite often why things aren’t working that big-headed young guns think should! I love that! Anyway – Missy spends weeks researching and drafting again and again – and all the time rubbing the fact in that I’m gonna fail or something and then I go and do it in an evening and get a better grade – Hooyaaa!! One for the team!

So that’s that – I hand that in this afternoon and then shoot off to do a 5km road race. It’s kinda overcast here and it’ll probably rain but sometimes that a great feeling after a shitty time – when you feel light – bursting with energy after letting your standards and outlook slip and get affected by the nastiness of the everyday mundane – a rain on your face is like a cleansing, washing away the debris of the week. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll not be looking at a PB (personal Best) tonight but I would be happy with anything around 17Min20sec – It’s hard to type this kinda thing here and risk coming back with bad news but at least its honest!

Tomorrow I’m going climbing – Even if the heavens open and it downpours – I’m going climbing – indoors if I have to!

Oh yes!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Dark Side

There is definitely a Dark side ….

At times like these I can feel myself being pulled towards it…

Things build up and nothing seems to be going right – mostly due to the fact that I have an inconvenient first instinct to try to help people out. There is a very noticeable urge at times like this to turn – to become selfish and mean – get what I want – I mean its there right in front of me – why don’t I just take it? Oh… and I hate being taken advantage of – especially if the people in question don’t give me the kudos to realise that I know I’m being taken advantage of – they think they’ve pulled one over on me and I’m oblivious and/or ignorant

I’ll give you a small example coz I realise this sounds like a rant
I drive a women to school every day. She has no car. I pick her up and drop her home to her door, saving her the hassle of public transport. Although on a map, as the crow flies, I might pass that direction, in reality I could go a much better route – avoiding all the traffic and saving myself 25 minutes. I have tried and failed to find anything in common with this being – not only that but there’s plenty about her I dislike. To steal a quote – she’s “in possession of all the virtues I despise and none of the vices I admire”. If I was driven anywhere I would be thankful at the very least and also feel obliged to chip in for diesel and the inconvenience of the driver – this yoke doesn’t – it pisses me off. I enjoy taking a breath - reminding myself that I’m doing something nice and that she’ll never change from being a cow – and exhale.

What would I be like as a nasty? Putting my wants above others needs? I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it to be honest (I’ll only get jealous) – I just want to be finished this course, have a job to start come September, and be able to enjoy my free time in the fresh air with good people.

It’s funny, but before starting to teach I was concerned about how nasty the kids would be – I couldn’t have been more wrong! It’s the adults that display all the negative traits in education – there are some serious cases of power tripping, Napoleonic little bastards in every staff room – seemingly determined to make the kids life hell. It’s the little gems of encouragement from the Kids that give me the kicking I need sometimes to wake myself up from a funk I may find myself in as a result of being flabbergasted at the mind bogglingly closed mindedness of some teachers.

I think I’ll be staying on the brighter side for a bit longer

Note: I think my blog reads like a series of highs and lows – am I manic/depressive or just typing what I feel? Don’t know really – but it feels ok – typing about negative thoughts actually helps me see how futile and insignificant my problems really are, which is a good thing – and riding on a wave of psyche is a good thing too – revelling in the joys – making them outweigh the lows of life – excellent!

P.S. I need to climb on rock BIG TIME! It’s been over a week due to this and that and I’m as keen as a dog with 6 cocks right now!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

What a weekend!

Friday night i help Caroline with an impending assignment - we dont stay up too late as she's got a big race tomorrow but i get no climbing in

Saturday Morning I wake up and find a message on my phone telling me that i have an interview on Tuesday for a maths teaching position in Denbigh - Arraagghhhh!

I then drive Caroline and Mike 400miles to arrive late to a race that we had been training for for weeks to find that it had been rescheduled last minute! Grrrrrrr...... Absouloutely nothing we can do about it!

Sunday morning I vent some frustration by beasting everyone on the 14 mile hill run - I lead all the way and we clock up a new best time

Shower, shave & Grub - Then tidy up the house because my folks are arriving from Dublin in an hour to stay the weekend

Cook BBQ feast - watch Kung Fu Hustle with Caroline and Folks

Monday morning get up early for an 8 mile road run before the rain comes

Take my Dad up to the summit of Moel Famau - Caroline entertains my mam and Rocky down in the forrest

Drive everyone back to the house for lunch while i hit the books and start getting ready for my interview (Tomorrow!)

Mike turns up and myself, Caroline, Mike and my Dad go to the Manchester Evening News Arena for a sellout Rodger Waters Concert (Pink Floyd!) Awesome!!! But i dont get home untill 1:30 am and i stay up planning my lesson until 4:40am - Plus i have mild tinitis

one and a half hours sleep and i haul ass out of bed, shower, dress and hit the road for the interview after saying goodbye to my parents

It takes all day - I am being observed and assessed from 8:30am till 4pm

I Ace the interview infront of a board of 6 governors and senior staff but only come a close second out of over 25 applicants due to some slight oversights in my lesson - If they only knew what i had done and how tired and physicially ill i felt in order to even be standing infront of them!

They offer me feedback - it's all good but i just need sleep now - i make the tired drive home slowly - straining not too fall asleep at the wheel of the car as i take the hairpins up over the Clwydiand backroads.

My eyes close once or twice on the drive home but i make it

3000 word essay due in on Friday and i need to get that started

Tonight is training night on the track and theres an important race comming up this Friday but i dont fancy my chances at either at this stage

Caroline goes Training - I stay home and type this before crashing in a heap on the bed

Chances of climbing before Saterday - Nil

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Something’s brewing

…and it’s taken me quite by surprise! All year I’ve been focused on improving my fitness and applying any gains in my sports climbing. I’m almost afraid to admit it yet but I can’t deny that I’m feeling stronger, lighter and more solid on routes that I could never have even dogged a year ago. I’m a bit disappointed with myself for feeling and thinking what I have begun to over the past few days but I know I shouldn’t be. I mean its a natural thing isn’t it? I just wanted to prove to myself that I could be dedicated to something that I found hard and stick with it until I achieved the goals I had set. I’m not giving up – NO WAY! It’s just that I had envisioned myself concentrating on purely sports climbing until I had built up a considerable reserve of strength, technique and endurance and then unleash it on trad. I suppose I need to be flexible and moving with my wants and the seasons is a good and healthy thing. Plus, the training is going so well I know I’ll keep that up no matter what I climb

Basically – I’ve begun to think of trad again. I’ve not done a trad lead in… er… Hmmmm…. let me think… since July last year?!? I mean I went out the odd day during the winter and found myself at the top of an E6 or two after that dark part of my brain once again hotwired the controls and made me solo something stupid – but I don’t consider that trad. I’ve kinda grown to fear trad – especially over the last year or two. Not Fear Trad itself – more a fear of letting myself loose on Trad. I think this has come about as a result of a number of things. Firstly, even though I did next to no climbing early last year I was managing to solo routes harder than anything I had ever climbed before and secondly my brain had switched off… I was awake, dialing crux sequences, placing my feet, enjoying the feelings and the movements but I felt nothing in the danger part of my gut that used to let me know I was on something hard. Days like this happened with increasing regularity until as luck would have it life took over and I never got a chance to test the limits of this new mental playground I had been released into. Well I’m stronger, fitter and more experienced now and things are conspiring towards getting me to rack up again… knowing how I have always climbed on trad (i.e. at my limit) I’m fairly apprehensive as to how all this will work out.

How do events like this get set in motion? Gradually of course… like a ripple in a pond or a snowball placed ontop of a steep powder slope…

1st I watched E11… and I realised how much I enjoy the prospect of a good winger!

2nd Kev Mailed me asking about a North Wales climbing weekend and before I know it we’ve arranged to meet up and hit Gogarth – I’m not really thinking about that though because my mind is on other routes

3rd Neal starts mailing with type of trad protected routes in Oz and strange frustrating half-breed trad/sports routes that confuse and over-psyche the mind

4th Enda mentions that people were muttering that I had given up climbing? ME?!?! Then I calm down and realise that in Ireland “Climbing” refers to trad and trad alone – to them my adventures on bolts equates to nothing.

5th James Pearson repeats a Leo Houlding E9 in Llanberris and the web is flooded with pics that have really stoked my fires

6th Polish Gregor repeats forbidden Kink in the Burren – Ahh… the memories – Man I was weak back then!

7th Kev mentions driving me to the Head and already im dealing with the mental crux of the Complete scream

8th … a new E7 6c goes up at the head!

9th I stumble across the Pic of the first ascent of “Bad skin Day” (below)

That’s it!

Theres a whole load of new goals that need ticking along with my local sports ambitions!


No brains no headaches!

Viva la Training!

I’m being called back!

Ricky Bell on the first ascent of "Bad Skin Day" E7 6c - Fair Head

Mesmelf on "Primal Scream" E6 6b - Fair Head

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Solitude and Crimps

Monday came and went and despite being held back at school for a surprise department meeting we made it out to Dinbren by 6pm with Rocky in tow. Caroline was beginning to feel the pressure of impending deadlines and race stress so decided to only toprope a few warm-ups so after that I Bit the bullet and jumped on “When Saterday Comes” the Final 7c recommended to me by Lee and one that was supposed to be the hardest of the trio – Guidebook description full of “…strong fingers required… crimp up lower steepness… hard move…harder move… harder still…spectacular finishing moves through roof…” yadda, yadda, yadda. Gulp, here goes nothing. One word – Mint! Super-nice climbing on edges, gastons, thumb-catches and undercuts with an awesome crux deadpoint to a Verdon style closed crimp edge from high smears for feet! Afetr that there a bit of a move to a rest and a wild finish through the capping Roof! Hell yeah! I’s got me a line! Woo-Frickin-Hoo!! Daddy Likes!

Heat Wave!

Saturday morning we got up early for an 8 mile road run around Airbus – it was beautiful! No cars, no people, just blue skies and freshness and sunshine! After breakfast we packed a lunch and hit the road for Dinbren again – actually on that note, I woke up with really tight and pumped forearms from the evening before! Weird! All that undercutting and what not really took it out of me – seriously, don’t think I regained full range of motion in my wrists until a good while after the run. Anywho, Dinbren again – this time it was packed (well, for Clwyd at least!) 3 other groups of climbers! Haa! It was beautiful and sunny so we warmed up in the shade on a 6c and 6c+…Caroline cruising both on a top rope before moving along to try some of the bigger lines in the sun. Not to be. The layout of Dinbren pretty much guarantees shelter – today that meant that there was not even the slightest breeze or shelter from the sun – it was searing!

I tried to plug another hole in my tick list with “Orgasmatron” 7a – the guidebook never mentioned that it was half Trad!! I pass the 3rd bolt and keep climbing – the onsight is going great considering the heat… but then I start to get pumped… looking down for better foot placements I notice that my last draw is a long way down – WAY Down infact! Actually, if I pinged off now I’d deck! Shit! The next piece of gear is either the top bolt on the lip of the capping roof at the top of the crag or a neighbouring line that doesn’t look the easiest to reach. Decision time – run it out through the roof into and beyond deckout-ville or downclimb – downclimb. Lee than come over – “Er, meant to put in the guide that wires are needed on that Route Dave – not too popular that one – Sorry, My Fault!” Haa! Classic… Epic avoided – down climbed the 8a to it’s right taking the gear out – holds felt good * Mental note: must get on that at some time*. After that Caroline had another go at her project making progress on the powerful roof undercut moves. Hesitant to go just yet I try a 7b on another of Lee’s tip offs. I make the initial crux span through to roof to a hot undercut but the heats too much and we pack it in for the day – yes, that’s right I have now been Sun’ed off a Brittish Crag for the first time! It was too hot to climb – it was almost too hot to breath, walk, anything!! Incredible!
I still have not been back onto “Cured” the 7c I fancy with the dyno to the ‘teeny’ edge – it’s not going anywhere… I’ll be back

Plugging Holes

Friday we headed out to Dinbren again… this time I fancied building up a bit of stamina and plugging some obvious gaps in my tick list of the crag. After the warm-up 7a I tried its neighbouring route – an innocuous little 7a+ called “Silly Games”. Man! Crimpy McCrimp! Felt like a very intense crux sequence from the moment you pulled on. Powerful stabbing between tiny crimps and undercuts with lots of blind footholds and a very non-obvious sequence higher up with no rest to be found anywhere. I was happy that the fingers and technique held out to the top - a tough little number.

Next up was another route that I had assiduously avoided since first seeing it – another 7a+ this time called “Heinous Undercling”. Despite its appearance it felt and climbed much nicer that the route I had just been on. Weird climbing though as all but 3 of the holds on the entire route were undercuts leaving me with a considerable pump!

Caroline started to work a 7a with a very non-girly start sequence through a roof. The low crux slap to a pinch is giving her trouble but she cruised the top of the route in style – something to work towards…

Oh yeah, We had the crag to ourselves again – as usual