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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Fast Twitch/Slow Twitch

Been to the Mill a few times this week in an attempt to shock myself into better shape. Instead i just shocked myself with how weak i am! I haven't bouldered properly since the Dulas campaign in June when i was doing some extra training in the Cave. In the Mill i was struggling after the warm ups. Strange you can be close to your hardest ever route and yet be completely weak as piss. I always think though that it doesn't matter whether your weak, unfit or whatever at a given moment as long as you can climb what you want to climb at that time. This is always how i've worked anyway. A lot of it is about timing and getting on the right things and making sure you finish them at that moment. As some small consolation i was better on the circuits in the Mill.

Friday, 24 September 2010

I'm Not Giving Up Yet!

Well since my last post i have had two weeks without even pulling on - which is very rare for me. I went to the Lakes for a weekend with the missus then a few days later went to Belfast for four days. During this time i consumed much tasty food and did some cultural stuff, the highlights being William Wordsworths house in Cockermouth and then filling in my knowledge on the Troubles in the Belfast musuem. Also caught up with Irish Jap si and his lady wife who were over from California. When i got back i struggled to get a belayer then last wednesday i made it down the Diamond but it was raining and thus was gopping. Throughout my time off i couldn't help but think of the strength and stamina that was slowly ebbing away and also of the weight that i was inevitably putting on. I knew logically i couldn't lose much in this time but i'm used to climbing all the time so it felt like a big lay off. I could tell on my one go up on Wednesday that i hadn't lost much strength. Today was cold and windy and it looked like we could be getting wet on the handline as the waves battered against the cliff. I could see the chalk on my route as we approached and sure enough it was dry as a bone. When you know the crag you can tell by looking at the colour of the black streaks how greasy it is. First redpoint i felt good but my heel popped off. Quick rest then managed to get to my highpoint which was confidence inspiring. I had definitely lost some fitness and didn't feel as good as i did but it should come back soon enough. And then it got dark so we left. I'm hoping to get down once more before the tides change and then i plan to train really hard and push on next time. I really need to pull my finger out and put some effort in. I've felt like quitting so many times. Life would be much easier but then it would also be more boring and i do like a challenge!
The dreaded redpoint crux. 34 moves in, 7 moves to go! Pic by Dave Redpath.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Adversity is what i'm facing with regard to this Diamond route. It has dawned on me this week that is probably one of the worst places for climbing at your limit. Ok so Sharma managed to do Jumbo Love half way up a mountain in the desert but he is Sharma, its his job to do shit like that. The Diamond is only 20 minutes from civilisation but this is all it has going for it for multi session seiges. I think its a fabulous crag for going and doing some routes in a session or two. It is one of the most impressive bits of sport rock in Britain without doubt. By the time i get back on the route i will basically have had 11 days off. I have been away a few times and the weather has been shit here. Now my names not Cattell or Dyer, those boys can warm up on Trigger Cut after 5 months off. 11 days is significant for me! So the place is tidal (obvious disadvantge), you can only climb there 2 months a year, any kind of atmospheric ming and its unclimbable, it can't be raining and you need partners on the good days. Its getting dark at 7.30 now and you can't go before 12 cos of morning grease. You will never do a route at your limit there if you have a job. I have been putting off working to try and do it. This doesn't make you rich and is a bad way to be. I'll see what happens in the next tidal window but with all these problems and my continued psyche dip its not looking good!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Bastard Grease

Last two days on the Diamond have been too greasy to progress. Yesterday a temperature inversion was responsible but today was breezy and clear yet the grease still prevailed. Don't know why it was like that today, can't think of a logical explanation. I knew i'd cursed myself when i started telling people how reliable the conditions had been this year. The last good day i felt stronger than ever on it too. Is weird i'm getting to the same place as last year but i'm significantly stronger and more solid on it. Good and bad rolled into one. The redpoint crux feels like it may go soon though. The good thing with a route like this is that every good go is money in the bank. And it all builds up to that go when everything's right! I might not get down there again til the next tides now which is frustrating. At the end of the day i had a flash burn on Hysteria which i reckon is far to burly for 7b. I fell and it was very greasy but a cool route.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Monday, 6 September 2010


Just got a txt off Pete Robins who has finally managed to link Lou Ferrino into The Incredible Bulk (Part 2) in Parisellas. Pete has been battling with this link ever since he did the first ascent of the stand start last winter. So its 7c+ into 7c+/8a with no rest. He didn't mention the grade but it will be at least 8b and one of the best lines in the Cave. So aswell as being strong, fit and talented Pete also knows how to seige - a dangerous combo! Some footage of Pete attempting the stand version prior to the FA.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Thank You Rock Climbing!

In a previous post i talked about psyche problems that i've been having recently. Throughout my climbing life i've felt inspired and driven and if you read this blog you will know that climbing rocks is a big part of my life. When the inspiration left things weren't good. I've had some traumatic problems with the missus also which has added to things greatly. I think usually you climb best when your in a good place and your happy. Relationship problems felt like the final nail in the coffin for me. I couldn't really be bothered climbing but i knew that my climbing life had been building up to this Diamond route for years and i would regret it if i didn't give it everything even if i didn't feel like it. With the tide in and having no motivation for the Mill i headed to the peak with Mule to get on a very dry, re-bolted and chalked Cheedale cornice. I was well and truly going through the motions. I felt weak on the stuff i tried and seemed incapable of trying hard. I couldn't get high enough up anything to get a significant pump so in terms of Diamond training it was a waste of time. Doom and gloom! The final thing i did was go bolt to bolt on Nemesis which i really enjoyed. What a route that is!
Ben on Nemesis (he did it the next day)

I headed back to Wales for the next tidal window but i was actually dreading getting down there. I'd hardly climbed for over a week and after the last session being good i couldn't afford to go backwards. This would of screwed my head up even more. I wasn't sure how i'd climb on the route, surely i was in to much emotional turmoil to perform. I set off and soon found myself at the crux, i really wanted to get through this first go to help my confidence. I crushed the holds and soon found myself at the flatty just shy of where i fell last time. This time things were different, i felt stronger here than i ever had before and i knew this could be a good go. I powered through the big move that had stopped me last time and fell on the high redpoint crux. Yes! Back to last years highpoint. 7 moves to go. Last year i only had it in me to get to the RP crux once a session so i was surprised to find myself there again on the next two goes. The last go was actually the best and i had some strength left-was inches from the hold. All my worries evaporated momentarily. Usually i would be so desperate to do well and try and do the route i would create nerves and pressure for myself which would often adversly affect my climbing. Today i climbed unencumbered with nerves and pressure and it was one of the best i've ever felt on the rock. I hardly put a foot wrong in 3 redpoints and the endorpins really made me feel better. I think the climbing lifestyle i've lived for the majority of my 20s may be coming to an end but i know i'll always be a climber. Such a special sport, thank you rock climbing!