Sunday, 27 February 2011
Friday, 25 February 2011
On the interweb this week - A really honest question and answer session between Pierre and Dave "the short span" Bouldering guide Ireland. Nice to see him getting some credit for his obsession and hard work and great to see Pierre taking the initiative and doing an article for the French mag Grimper.
And now the Psyche!!
The Stuff dreams are made of?
Who needs chocolate?
Check this out... probably why he made Dreamcatcher look almost do-able :o)
Monday, 21 February 2011
Back to writing about what this blog was intended for! It’s been a good weekend. Firstly Jo and Steve arrived for a small bit of half term R & R in the sun. Straight away we hit Sella Wildside. Last week I put our draws in two 7c routes that were not my style. Steep tufas and slopers with a small amount of resistance climbing to the chains. Both felt hard at the time and I figured I’d need to work them quite a bit purely to build up enough stamina to redpoint them. Saturday morning I tied in at the base of the first one and swung my arms about – 10 times. Fully warmed up and with not enough quickdraws to lead anything else I started up “Keep the Faith” 7c. Moving into the crux my hands felt cold but I was calm and just shook them out a bit and kept going. The crux passed in a blur and before I knew it I was in a kneebar shaking out one clip below the chains. Relaxed and enjoying the unexpected progress I hung out for a minute or two and then climbed on to clip the chains. Lowering off from the warm up and stripping a project. Brilliant! Next up was Caroline’s turn on “Cuestion de Estilo” (Question of Style). This route has the reputation of being Sella’s hardest 7c. A tricky to unlock section through some steep tufas requiring the use of a two finger pocket and excessive drop knee’ing. Caroline lead up to the crux and began working the moves. Every attempt ending in a fall and slightly refining or eliminating a potential sequence. By the time she had finished the route was looking ready for a send and she was looking tired. I tied in to give it a bash but didn’t expect much. Fighting through the crux whilst making up a sequence got me to within a fingertip of the send but trying to unwind from a deep dropknee with my left foot too low left me hanging from the first pad of my middle finger. Basically mono’ing the base of a crack instead of sidepulling it. I cam off, lowered off and pulled the rope – left foot higher! Next go it sent without a problem! Two steep 7c ticks at the Wildside in a day was an unexpected and awesome start to my Sella climbing. Psyched!! Before leaving on Sat I tied in and tried an 8a+ with the draws in – brilliant climbing! Like Dinbren but 30 meters long and without much of a break. I lowered off before the top but loved the climbing on it so will be back for the send. Sunday morning and with only a little time available for rock, Caroline and myself returned to Sella and I warmed up by going bolt to bolt up a fantastic 8b, “La Criatura”. Superb!! My new project!
Thursday, 17 February 2011
And of course, the wonder French Kid Enzo Oddo climbing a V11 highball in Bishop. Camped beside him and his family for a month this year in Ceuse while he worked and sent Realisation 9a+. Nice people and great sends!
I’m going to try and bring a few threads together here...
Firstly Steve from climbing.ie replied with similar feelings to my own. He’s really behind praising any and all achievements on rock but he did make the very valid point that if people don’t make the effort to report their climbs than nothing will ever get said.
Then Pierre summed up the Irish catch 22 very succinctly in his post titled Achievement. Yes, I suppose it really is that simple – it could be down to a cultural mind set.
Meanwhile the grade debate raised its head on Trish’s blog but in a very good and positive way. It seems to me looking at the scene with an outsider’s perspective that the excellent work Dave F has done in producing and publishing his bouldering guide to Ireland is playing a crucial role in the evolution of Irish climbing. The first print edition of grades will no doubt motivate the masses to go forth and repeat all those lovely problems, talk about grades and things should settle – just like what happened with Mr. Pantons first printed guide to North Wales bouldering – Guide gets printed, people get psyched, crush, discuss and guide becomes out of date very quickly. Good news for guide writers :o) They get to work on version 2!
Then today I read Kev’s reply on Stone boulder. "I have heard no song, seen no dance and seen no article in the Mountain log or Outsider mag noting this achievement. People like Caroline, Michael Duffy, Nigel Calendar, Rob Hunter and several more are becoming legends in the ghostly sense - sometimes thought to have been seen out in the boulder fields and crags doing something amazing but how often does the ghost turn into vivid 3D in the climbing consciousness?" I had to smile when I read this. Aside from putting Caroline along side such wads as Michael, Nige and Rob, Kev picked a mental scab of mine. Living away from Ireland the past few years has meant I rarely get a chance to flick through Irish climbing media in its printed form. The last time I did was in Dublin Airport when returning to Spain after Christmas. One article interested me. One. A single grainy picture of Nige at a comp and a small write up about his recent success. Aside from that I couldn’t find much other mention of rock climbing in the issue. Not enough for me to warrant parting with cash to buy the mag anyway! Why? Is it like Steve said – are people hiding their achievements? Are they supposed to write an article and submit it incognito under cover of darkness and then cringe when they see it in print? I don’t know.
Anyway, it’s been interesting reading people’s views on the topic and ‘ve no doubts that with the strength of potential out there things will change in the near future and we’ll be fueling off Irish send psyche in cyber land soon enough. In the meantime and getting back to climbing, here is probably our last vid from the short and sharp Los Pinos crag. This is JogPat a link up of a soft 8a and a stiff 8a+ first climbed by Gaz Parry. It’s brilliant, technical and sustained.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Grade Whore seems to be the phrase of choice at the moment back home but I suppose that’s a good sign. The fact that the phrase is being used more often means that people are putting some effort it, meaning standards are being tested. Brilliant! Anyway, was there a point to this? Not really. I just felt like voicing something I thought about and in a way asking the question of “What have we done?”
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Since Caroline managed to dispatch her project last week we've been free to visit any crags we want to. No choice really is there? It has to be the Wildside! This place is magic. An awesome fin of rock overhanging in it's entire length with heavily featured walls up to 40m in height. Tufas, crimps, pockets - it's got it. Located in a hidden valley and with access conditions that require climbers to have respect not only for the surroundings but also to limit the noise they make while climbing. It is a very special place indeed. It also represents the embodyment of everything I'm shit at. Stamina. Steep climbing on rounded holds and pinches. Nothing i can get my fingers behind or even stand on! Its like someone giftwrapped a crag to work on my weaknesses and put it around the corner from my house. I've so much to learn from this place. New types of footwork. New redpoint tactics. I'm so Psyched!! We've been a couple of thimes this week and I've been enjoying getting some mileage on the longer burly 7b's and 7c's. Full respect to Mr Barbour for his impressive list of Wildside sends! 8b in a day! Wow. I'm so far off the fittness needed for that type of climbing but I'm looking forward to working at it and seeing the improvements. All the routes are all so good that for now i'm going to enjoy doing some ticking. All the 7c's are the targets for now :o)
Our first visit to the Wildside this week we got chatting to the bloke in the picture above. He was a bit quite to start with but the reason became clear - he was redpointing the 8c+ pictured above. Awesome to watch. Every move dialed, he made it look effortless and then out of the blue his foot slipped and he took a huge lob from right at the top. Yesterday we were entertained by another super nice local redpoint Pinoreta 8c! Awesome fight. I saw him work this route on Tuesday evening and he looked miles away from the send but on Sat he made it through the crux and shook out before falling up the remainding 15m of sloping pinch tufas. at least twice the whole crag though he was off but he managed to keep squeezing, totally inspiring!! Venga!!
Heres the online Guide Wildside Topo
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Day after day we returned and each day some form of progress was made. A new highpoint, an improved sequence or even just managing to give it 3 or 4 goes despite sore fingers. I think Caroline suffered from the typical trad climber syndrome of wanting to static every move. I’ve thought about this a lot and I’m not sure what causes it to be honest. Is it the serious nature of trad requiring you to make every effort to achieve every move in balance, meaning that if the hold you’re reaching for isn’t good you can feel around for a better one or even reverse to safety without falling? Or is it a lack of commitment? Dynamic moves are only really required to carry you to a point outside of your static reach bubble, aren’t they? Their very nature means commitment. You target, you sway, you kick and throw! If you miss, you’re off. I think Caroline’s height requires her to develop a more dynamic and aggressive style otherwise she won’t be able to reach things. On this route Caroline got a chance to work this… a lot! Once Caroline had exhausted every possible method for negotiating the lip of the roof it became clear that she would have to deadpoint. To throw for the hold. That one move took a session to figure out and many more to stick on lead.