Monday, 19 November 2007

Dear God!

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!

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Thursday, 15 November 2007

Frodsham Bouldering

Some pics from our recent attempt to awaken the power needed for the winter's bouldering ahead...

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Spain Part II

The conditions for climbing at Siurana at this time of year are perfect. Cloudless skies, 20 degrees, plenty of sun but not too hot – ideal! Caroline and myself started every morning with an hours running around the numerous dirt tracks interlaced around the village and it’s surrounding hills – even from a running perspective this place kicks ass! After our run we showered and grabbed breakfast with the lads either back at our cabin or in the restaurant on the campsite with Toni’s mum providing the grub. Not forgetting the now legandary "Hornimans" Tea! Then decision time – where to climb? With dozens of huge crags all within walking distance from the campsite this decision can make or break the day’s climbing!

Crags visited include:

Can Marges
Recommended routes:
The famous 6b+ “Extremoduro” and the 6c+ “No dans bolsa”.

Grau Corral nou
Recommended routes:
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!

Siurannella North
Recommended routes:
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.

Reserva India
Recommended routes:
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
Recommended routes:
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+.

Recommended routes:
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
Recommended routes:
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
Recommended routes:
….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, Spain - Part 1

The mission: to try and get on some decent Spanish sports routes to keep the motivation high before ploughing headfirst into the winter training. Caroline, Neal, Kev and myself were all wanting to climb as many hard routes as possible in a very short space of time.

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


Back form Spain today after some much needed sun and pocket pulling - Lots to type about... catching up with Friends, being inspired, being smacked down on routes, succeeding on routes, meeting hero's, breaking mental barriers, sunsets, wild boars, missing ropes, new routes, beautiful chicken, running, climbing, breathing, being...

I'm off to bed!

Soooooo much to type about!

Siurana is a special place

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!)