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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Fresh Meat

Back in 2011 during the new route boom on the lime I was filming Sam Cattell on his project at Dinbren and thought it would be cool to go back to some of the new routes to get some footage and make a little video for the web. I thought it would be good to showcase them in a 10/15 minute short and would give me a little project. I started taking my camera out to the crag to document what was happening. The new routes came thick and fast that year, development was frantic on the A55 crags and the Ormes alike. One project in particular would be quite a coup and I spent a month filming Pete Robins and Neil Dyer on the project direct finish to Walking Mussel. I filmed countless attempts and progress was slow. Filming FA's takes such a big investment as you have to film every single go, sods law means the one time you're not up there the climber will do the route. As it dragged on I couldn't continue going down there for every attempt, i had some climbs of my own to do! Another month past and the route was still not finished. One day I was working the finger crack of Over The Moon which is just to the left of the project headwall. Dyer was having a redpoint so I clipped into a bolt and pulled up my camera. Low and behold despite not filming for weeks that was the succesful redpoint and I'd got it on film! All of a sudden I had a showpiece hard route for my film. I kept on filming bits and bobs but as time past I struggled for inspiration and ideas and my film lacked a plan or any structure. 2012 was a washout and not too many new routes occurred. I'd edited bits and bobs such as Megalopa but my Adobe Premiere timeline was not advancing too much. 2013 brought with it some better weather and the new routes started to pick up again. I was out filming a lot, I wanted to do justice to the lower grade stuff too as those boys are just as much part of the scene as the harder climbers. Pete Robins did the best roof climb in the country down Pigeon's Cave and Ben Bransby climbed his Diamond project - The Beast, one of the best routes in the UK. Capturing Ben's ascent was one of the higlights of the whole process. It was amazing being up next to him on such a significant FA and on such a stunning route. All of a sudden I was glad the film had taken so long, I wouldn't have captured these stellar FAs otherwise. The structure started to come together and i had a definite plan to finish it. It was surreal getting to the finishing point but very satisfying. Nowadays so many people are producing beautiful slick films for free. I would like to say my production values have moved on this my early stuff but it's not really the case. There is plenty of crappy audio, and shaky camera going on like my other vids but hopefully there is enough good stuff in there to make up for it. Some of the older footage is not as sharp as the newer stuff as I got a new camera halfway through and had to mix Mini DV and AVCHD on the same timeline. My main aims with the film were to showcase the routes and to give myself a 'little' project and I think I've achieved that. It's been a labour of love, taken 1000s of hours but its there as a historical record of perhaps the last big wave of development on these crags. The final 'locals' version was 1 hour 28 which I realised was a bit long for the masses but even with some ruthless editing I only managed to knock 10 minutes off it, oh well! North Wales is back on the Sport climbing map, the new hard testpieces coupled with the easier crags give enough good climbing to last people a very long time. It's fucking amazing!!!!

Fresh Meat:

Fresh Meat from Chris Doyle on Vimeo.

Friday, 4 October 2013

What a year!

I spent the start of the year on a gas plant wondering if my project down Pigeon's Cave would dry out. Now I'm there again with the route in the bag and I've been pondering those emotions we go through when trying to finish up these new routes. Most redpoint seiges are stressful but it always seems more heightened to me when the route in question is a new line. I personally always feel extra pressure with a new route, it feels part of your local legacy that you really want to get finished especially with new guidebooks coming out! It occurred to me that quality new routes on British limestone are scarce resources that are inevitably going to dry up at some point and it's important to try and enjoy them even when the going gets tough. Pete Robins said to me after doing Dark Energy: "you spend most of the time worrying about not doing them". So true! When you're in that moment of stress and despondency on a project you crave closure. But i think its important to try and cherish the whole experience. It can be a rollercoaster but ultimately the lows make the highs.

The sport season is winding down and what a season it has been. After the washout of 2012 we really needed a year of good weather and boy did we get it. The amazing first ascents kept on coming. Pigeon's Cave got the shortest 8c in the country and one of the most impressive, unique hard routes in Dark Energy. Ben Bransby completed The Beast, probably the best 8c in the UK and also a hard 8b+ to its right. A list of the new grade 8's so far:

Pump Up the Jam 8c, Pigeon's Cave. (Pete Robins)
Follow Your Heart 8a+, Pigeon's Cave (Ben Bransby)
Dark Energy 8c+, Pigeon's Cave (Pete Robins)
Speckled Jim 8b, Pigeon's Cave (Chris Doyle)
The Beast 8c, The Diamond (Ben Bransby)
The Pink Panther 8b+, The Diamond (Pete Robins)
The Tide is High 8a+ (dws) , The Little Orme (Pete Robins)
Cherry 8a+, The Diamond (Tommy Chamings)
Beauty 8b+, The Diamond (Ben Bransby)
Hades 8a+, Devils Gorge (Owen Davies)
Cerberus 8a, Devils Gorge (Ally Smith)

That's 11, a couple shy of 2011 which was the most frenetic year of new routing ever. More importantly every route is 2 or 3 stars. Cerberus is the only link up and it's a pretty good one. The Beast and Dark Energy are nationally significant hard routes.

My own climbing has had a bit of a disappointing end. I felt really good in early September but i hurt my finger doing Moonwalk down LPT. It felt better a few times but always stiffened up again after getting on something hard. I was very close on Insomnia at Dinbren in quick time and Masterclass on the Orme but work and injury have put an end to them for now. I checked out Owen's route Hades last weekend, its very cool and the should become popular. The first half is a 7c called Undwerworld and that is excellent in itself.