Thursday, 28 June 2007

Great News!!

I Nailed my Interview and have sealed the deal on my first teaching post due to start in September in North Wales!!! Sweet!

Now that pressure is off and i've finally sorted out my funds - 10 week off for the Summer!!! Now where to go? When to Go? and for how long???

Ireland (of course!)

France? (Ceuse, Gorge du Tarn, Boux)

Spain? (Siurana, Rodellar)

Italy? (Arco)


Germany? (Franky? Can my fingers take such a beating?)

Woo frickin Hoo!!!!!!!!!

Picture of one of the places closest to the center of my universe - the Burren, West Coast of Ireland - Awesome climbing, Awesome Smells, Awesome Air, Awesome People...

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


While killing time during Monday in Llanberris and trying to avoid the rain I nipped into V12 outdoors for a tea and a nose around – ended up picking up a copy of Nick Dixon’s new Nesscliffe guide (complete with promotional homemade DVD!). Droooollll…. fwefhrjfrgrjgne210o3wlndf!! Sorry, better clean that mess up!

Man, It’s about 30 minutes from my house and I’ve never been there before despite hearing rave reviews from Pat ‘The man’ Nolan! Mainly because I couldn’t find a guidebook for love nor money. Well I’ve already watched the 35min Amature DVD twice – it’s awesome looking climbing – vertical, clean sweeping walls of red and orange sandstone – arête, corners, cracks and walls. But back to the aretes! Man – the DVD shows plenty in the E6-8 range being lead – a healthy project culture seems to be adopted by the locals and the gear looks inspiring (well compared to some of the shit I’ve fallen onto anyway!). I suppose I could adopt his mail into a sort of review – a pre-visit review. On first glance the guide s nothing out of the ordinary (except for the DVD wedged in the back cover) but even after a brief scan through the pages it starts to paint a pretty unique picture. This thing is a labour of love – a family enterprise and a detailed catalogue of lines and holds. Nick has gone to great lengths to give the reader as much information about every line as possible even to the extent of showing the crag’s warts and all. He talks about dodgey gear, dirty sandy cracks, brittle holds… but then again he can, because his love for this place is so obvious through the book that none of these negatives would even come close to putting the reader off visiting. The crag itself comes across as something out of the Robin Hood era – very esoteric and ye olde worldely… I’m looking forward to seeing what it climbs like asap!!!

Expect a post-visit review as soon as I’ve been….

Training and Motivation

Another nonsence nothing fact is that I can now lock off one-armed from my campus rungs! May not seem like much but I’ve never been able to do it before and I can do it now – progress, and it’s the little gems of progress that occasionally shine like tiny diamonds in a bucket of shit that keep us training – especially when every inch of rock within 300miles is saturated and you’ve no recent route sends to prove that you’re training is paying off! Other than that the only climbing news from my end is that I’m still hanging and pulling from the various bits of wood on my board as if I’ve something to prove.

During the week more inspiration came through the world wide web from Neal – this time he went and posted a vid clip of him attempting a crazy looking 8a route in Oz called Koala. The dude styles the crux (although it does look desperate! – Neal informs me later that he missed the obvious easy sequence - typical) rests on some undercuts afterwards and then rips off after greasing off a damp undercut on easy (er) ground! A Few things about this fuelled me – firstly, hes climbing solid – great to see a route dialled and Neal cranking. Secondly, takes guts to post a clip of an almost send but that’s part of the redpoint head set which neal has learned – a fall is not a failure, only another landmark on the way to a new level.
Check this out...

Tough Team

So thats me finished my teacher training – woohoo! Now back to the real training! A few motivational words later from Neal in the outback and I’m dangling off the fingerboard and running to beat the band! Its been a great training week. The weather has been dire – literally non-stop rain for the entire week! But im not too bothered as we’ve had a few loose ends still to tie up around Chester and Bangor Uni before we can begin our 10 week summer holiday for real – did i mention that already? 10 weeks of training and climbing! Ahhhhhh! :)
This week saw us clock up a healthy 55+ miles of running to include the 9 mile Tattenhall Tough Team Challenge on Friday. Basically, 2.5 miles of hilly road into 4 miles of forrest and off-road steepness, back onto another 2.5 road miles to the finish. Must be ran in teams of 3 with the slowest runners time counting as the team result. Myself, Caroline and Mike ran together. Having done it last year in 70 something minutes I was keen to let the legs loose and try and beat my time. Turns out the training must be paying off as I ended up leading the race through the forrest and back to within a mile of the finish when I relaxed and waited for the rest of my team. The eventual winning team contained runners who all run sub 16min for 5km and sub 33min for 10km! These guys were good… and I was beating them! Finished the race in 60 mins and was only 1 min 20 away from the course record! Not bad considering I took it easy coming in and the conditions were horrendous after all the rain… I’m still not quite sure how it all happened. Anyway – will keep an eye out for any pics if they get posted online and link to them here....

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Un-directed Mojo!

Eh up!

Been a hell of a week or so this end! After weeks of psyching meself up for a big long weekend up at fairhead I get a last minute call from a school I had applied for asking me to attend an interview the Monday I was due to be hanging off some columnar dolerite – plus my teaching, professional standards and development files were due in in Chester so I had to call Kev and cancel the trip last minute! After calling him I was gutted! I dont think I had ever mentally prepared for a trip (one route in particular) like this before – I had lived through the crux and fall from the crux dozens of times in my sleep – I was familiar with the exposure, above irreversible moves, committed, pumped, scared – Go for it! Relief! I had even bought hardware for this route! Two skyhooks (Pictured right), a talon, a knife blade and two rip-stop ‘screamer’ draws… and the crème de la crème – a new pair of 5.10’s. Anyway – frustrated, psyched and flapping. I didn’t know how to channel all this energy out of myself – I just kinda hit meltdown – imagine standing ontop of a cliff, staring down at the water below – preparing to jump, you’ve even began to fall a few times, building up the sensation through your spine in preparation for the point of no return and then just as you go for it for real someone removes the cliff and you’re standing in an empty carpark – nothing, not even a step to jump off or a car to vandalise to release your buzz upon – well times that by about a million!

Anyway – I got over it … turns out the weather crapped out big style anyway so I didn’t miss much and I got a load done and handed my files in on time and in good order. The interview on the other hand was a different story, unlike the other interviews I was ready for this one but the minute I was in the school I began to question if I wanted to work here – I didn’t. I realised that by this stage I was desperate for a job purely for the security it offered and not for what I wanted out of it. A day wasted but without attending the interview I would never have known – the search continues.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Pictures From Frogatt

Well Ian has come up with the goods and sent me some sweet pictures from the climbing at Frogatt in the peak District on Saterday. Ian had a new camera and was playing with the Black and White setting - came out kinda cool and captures the feeling of the day i think...
First Picture is of Ian himself - mid Crux of Tody's Wall - a famous HVS with a brilliant move onto a hanging slab

The Next Picture is of me at the end of the Day on a climb called "Strapiombante" - a real classic Grit route protected all the way by bomber Cams.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Saterday i took a trip through heat wave conditions here in North Wales to the Peak District - Mainly to catch up with a good mate of mine who has recently relocated from the Netherlands to London and was climbing for the weekend on Grit - but also to do some supply shopping before my trip to Fair Head this weekend.

It's not supprising the looks you get when you go into a decent gear shop looking like a vagrant and buy a small knife blade Peg, two screamer rip-stop draws and a new pair of Anasazi Verdes... I know what yer thinking - dont't worry, the skyhooks are in the post (had to order them online).
The Grit itself was stinking Hot! Completely frictionless and sweaty - but Ian had chosen a crag that i had never been to before and i enjoyed the climbing alot although my mind wasn't really on it - as is known to happen, while walking down a descent route from the top of the crag a steep, blankish wall winked at me - Bugger! Before you know it i was hanging off the hot, slopey, font-style topout with only a DMM 00 wire in a crimp between me and the deck. Hung around in the sun for a bit - ensuring the desired pump and pants-filling before topping out and lowering off to take me one and only bit of pro out. Still, an onsight of a Grit 6b friction move at the top of a slightly overhanging wall with shag all gear was just the right level of test that i was after.
Aside from that the other best bit of the Day involved just generally not bringing gear up routes and going off route at the top of a Classis Steep E1 - Ian, the Legend, Took a propper style whipper off this route and is now fully back into Trad!
I'll try and post up some thoughts about all this new shiney gear as soon as i've given them a propper thrashing at the head - But on first impressions - I LOVE the NEW ANASAZIS!!

Thursday, 7 June 2007


Hmmmm…. What else? Oh, yeah, interviews! Man they are testing me! I’ve never really failed at something. If I have, I’ve always made the changes and fixed it. These interviews are pushing me to my limits and I’m learning new stuff about myself as a result. I suppose I’ve never had to work hard for anything before – well now it seems like I’m working for everything – relationship, career, climbing, fitness, friendships – the one thing that keeps having to suffer for all these things is me – but that’s the thing that also gains so I guess it works out like a trade in or upgrade – I swap a piece of the old me for a new enriched me! Anyway – been on 3 full day interviews – came second choice in all of them with glowing feedback and essentially being told I gave a perfect lesson, provided a great role model both on paper and in person and aced all the interviews! The first one I lost to a local welsh speaker who knew half the staff of the school (… do I hear banjos?)… the second one came down to a split decision among the panel and they gave it to a friend of mine from my course (Linda) –basically I didn’t have the ovaries! It was comic though – I got a debrief from the deputy head that took over an hour – first thing he said was – I wanted you!…. the most recent one was in a nice school but I had been warned that they were looking for someone to handle the worse sets in the equivalent of Irish 4th, 5th and 6th year! They appointed a woman with 8 years experience – a real mean machine – that’s just not my style – again feedback was “you’re a great teacher but we don’t need a great teacher for THIS vacancy, we need crowd control”… Needless to say I’m getting fed up with having to explain to people that I’m a failure but the interviewers tell me I did nothing wrong and I’ve nothing to improve on. Slightly frustrating would be an understatement!

Luckily for what remains of my sanity I happen to think everything happens for a reason – only after the last one, driving home, thinking about paying bills etc… I realized – I’ve never had to work like this for anything – this isn’t coming easy! I’m adapting, learning and I’m gong to apply this and more to my climbing. I got home in a grand humour and the freaky thing is, the next day – two positions popped into existence in my IDEAL two schools! They’re both in Wales and they are where I have always wanted to teach over here – I’ve not got them yet but it just highlighted that things can seem so futile when stuck in the middle of them at the moment things are happening but ultimately there’s a point to it all and plenty to learn along the way too.

Sad and hippy – possibly

… but it’s keeping me going for now and I like it!

Plagiarised Update #2

One week left of teacher training now and then I’m a free man for 10 weeks – yeah, 10 weeks of climbing, training, and running. Plenty of sports is the order of the day before going forth and seeing what that can translate to on the trad front. The sports is still the main measuring stick of progress and ability but the trad is just feeding me the buzz that I’ve only just realized I crave from it. Throw in the potential for new lines and I nearly cream my pants at the prospect!

Opps!…back again… just drifted off into flicking through guidebook land….la la la. I don’t bother reading any text anymore - it’s all in there already, memorized. I just scan the black and white topos for potential blank expanses of virgin ground… I’m a freak.

Anywho... Nope, just drifted off again…

right. Back, brrruuuaaagghhhhh! Ok, The other interesting thing is that I’ve actually just found out what the internet is for. I mean, I’ve always used the net for finding info, researching, news, emails but man was I missing the point! I found BEBO and facebook and all of a sudden I’ve been flung back into the thrawl of a virtual Dublin – within 6 hours of tentatively and sceptically signing up I had been contacted by the bulk of my old university classmates that I had totally fallen out of touch with! It was amazing! Pictures on profiles from my freakin graduation that I had never seen! Faces I had forgotten and the weird thing is that they hadn’t changed! And they wondered what had happened to yours truly! I has been a seriously eye opening experience not just regarding the whole net thing- but about what we gain and also miss by being climbers – I remember having a similar experience back in third year – just looking around at my classmates and realizing the bonds and friendships that had formed and feeling accepted but at the same time a kinda outsider on account of being so obsessed with the climbing and the gang that we hung out with at the time. I was like their freaky cousin – still family but not as refined or smooth around the edges as they had become in each others company. Well this was kinda like that again. And not just Engineers, Climbers too! They’re everywhere! It’s class – anyway, all it does is remove yet another excuse from my arsenal about not keeping in touch (damn it!) so I’m hoping I’ll just have to face the music, and try and improve (not another thing I have to improve at!!!!).

All this expanding of my digital footprint has also given me the momentum to start openly sharing my blog – up until now I had kept a very low profile – in fact I think only 2 people knew anout it and they had the consideration to keep it to themselves. Maybe it’s a coming to terms with myself or maybe I have just begun to crave hits – I cant in all honesty say but the result is I am comfortable with people knowing a little more about what I find important – granted this knowledge will inevitably result in me being no longer invited to social gatherings but I don’t go to much of them as a rule nowadays anyway – I may also get attacked in public for my crimes against blogging! Haa! Ah well, best press on….
Wish me luck!

Self Plagiarized Belated Update About Nothing

I’m some fecker alright! I’ve just this minute typed out a much delayed email to the Primo Buddy extraordinaire Neal ‘the sharp pointy bit at the front of irish climbing standards’ McQuaid – Ever sharp, ever keen and ever bloody making me feel like im not doing enough to get better! Am I earning it??? Am I earning it???…. so long story short I’m going to chop up my mail to himself on my comings and goings of late and deliver it to you lot (whoever you are – I realize some of ye are new as I’ve just come out of the blog closet so to speak – type – whatever!)

Anyway... Been yonks in the making this post has – I’ve been meaning to post more during the last 2 weeks at least but although I’ve been on the net for short periods of time I’ve not had long enough to sit down and type anything meaningful! Anywho – sorry! But heres where I am at the mo anyways…. Not quite stressed but close to it.

Could do that like a weather forecast couldn’t I? Todays outlook – Haa! Anyway…

It’s been a fortnight of Final exams, job interviews, presentations, assignments and illness. Caroline has just yesterday finished her final exam at Chester University and is glad to be rid of the place! Those took a fair bit of combined cramming for (you know how it is!) and the week before this (one that I had off may I add) was spent working on two formal presentations Caroline had to give and my final 3000 word assignment on the pedagogy of questioning! Blah, blah, blah… I managed to get out climbing on rock one day, and that was Friday almost two weeks ago – and have been just training ever since – feeling great though.

Heres the key to it all… I Booked flights to Dublin for next weekend. Me and Kev are hitting FairHead for a 3 day extravaganza! It’s been burning a hole in my mind since I booked the flights! Seriously – I’ve been carrying the guide around with me in classes!! I think I’ve gone nuts! I’ve actually found myself stressing…. Actually thats not the right word…. It’s more like re-living although I’ve not lived it yet – through the routes I’d like to try. These are graphic sensory perceptions I’m talking about man – I mean I can feel the rock… not just the rock but the thinnest layer of dust on the holds, the smell of the cliff-face, the feeling of the breeze, remembering the sense of space and openness behind and below you on the bigger lonely pitches…. But most importantly the thoughts and feelings in your arms, forearms, fingers, spine, gut that you go through while preparing to commit to the crux sequence. The excitement before switching off the brain and going for it. It’s been livid in my head. I feel like I’ve already lead the feckin routes!! I am soo Psyched!! It’s not even funny!

It has now been exactly two years since I’ve been up the head and I feel like a totally different person and climber in every sense – I don’t feel so ignorant – I feel, I know I can pull if I have to and I’ve still had no sign of the headgames that used to be present on all my older trad leads – I’m just enjoying the moves, holds and situations and the thought that I may fall off never enters my head! I know it might happen but I’m just not bothered… During that trip two years ago I managed E6 so I’m keen to test my limits this trip and see whats out there – the only problem is deciding what to invest the time into? The routes no longer justify the question of ‘can I do it’ … it’s more just a question of worth? Is it worth it? The line, the runout, the dodgy wire etc… I’m in a seriously fucked up frame of mind but it’s all good!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Oh yeah!

Say what you will bout my taste in movies - but Don't knock John J.

Nige's Ploy

Nige on the 1st secret ascent of hit latesy V9/10 in Ogwen North Wales