Thursday, 31 July 2008

Climbing 2008 Plan B



Read it and vicariously despair at the low ambitions and the minor crags I'm scruttling around at, then get in touch and email me and arrange to go out climbing (subject to weather of course) - fiendophobia [at] googlemail [dot] com

Feel free to suggest areas and crags I should add to this (in comments maybe). As long as it's somewhere inspiring (doesn't have to be a mundane honeypot tho), good choices around HVS-E2, not too much of a mission to get to, and most importantly that I haven't done loads at already (which covers most of the Peak and many crags elsewhere).

The Plan ("B", you may have noticed) is: trad mileage, choice of routes, keeping my hand in, not re-injuring my elbow, keeping familiar with trad skills, doing easier routes in good style. In general, preparing for progression when my fitness eventually allows it.

I've realised I have much to learn and put into practise in this challenging period of my climbing career... Usually I climb for pure inspiration and desire, not as a means to an end, and definitely not climbing for the sake of it, but climbing routes that I just really want to do. Climbing less-inspiring routes as part of a practise/recovery plan is something I struggle with, unless it's in an amazing area with lots of choice of easier but inspiring routes (i.e. not really England and Wales). With less inspiration I have less interest, less pleasure, and less determination. So the challenge is to summon those up and to make the best use of this time and the best use of the routes I'm now restricted to....for the greater good ;)

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

I went climbing...

...last week. Woohoo. Yeah. In the Wye Valley where I've scarcely visited before.

So would you like to hear a happy tale of escaping the heat in wooded vales, of plentiful choice of mid-grade routes, of getting some good mileage in at new venues, of having a reasonable buffer of confidence from earlier in the year, of relishing being back on the rock again, of being able to climb okay on my elbow after several weeks of rest....??


Well I did a few pleasant routes, and I enjoyed what climbing I did, that much is true. But... It was stinkingly hot, proper sweat-dripping muggy. The area wasn't as inspiring as I'd hoped, especially at bimbly levels. I felt rustier than a very rusty thing and correspondingly deficient in confidence. elbow was still tender, even on easy stuff, so I didn't feel I could start progressing again...

Hell, at one point I struggled and rested on an E1. E1 I tell you!! If I can't even climb something that is really just a descent route, what is the point!!!!

*strops* *stamps feet* *etc etc*

However, the general debacle has made me realise that I need a Cunning Plan. So I'm coming up with one and posting it soon.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


As promised....easy trad and exploration here we come...

Right....after enough rest and some recuperative exercises, I'm ready to start exploring around and doing some proper climbing hopefully. Hence posting my ticklist (wish list - inspiration list) for the latter half of the year.

This is my climbing ticklist for 2008.

To sum up that page I am keen to go to:

Mid-Wales: Craig Y Aderyn, Craig Y Llam, Craig Y Mwn, Rhinnogs, Nesscliffe

North Wales: Craig Doris, Cilan Head, Pen Y Cil

Devon & Cornwall: Blackchurch, Cow & Calf, Kellan Head, Tintagel, Baggy Point

Scotland: Glen Nevis / Polldubh, Creag Dubh, Caithness, Aberdeen Sea-Cliffs, Central Outcrops

Elsewhere: Anywhere exploratory....or unusual. Lakes is always good...

Not Stanage Popular End :P

Three things:

1. I only have a ticklist because I am senile and tend to forget what I want to climb.

2. If anyone is interested in doing a trip with me to any of these venues, please get in touch. I like having people who are keen to explore.

3. This doesn't include going abroad. I'm often very keen for going abroad, particularly to unusual locations.

Fingers crossed!!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


This blog might seem a bit negative at the moment. Sorry if that makes it less palatable. To explain, it is mostly a reflection of current events / current status and how I feel about them.

I am not really a negative person, but I'm not specifically a positive one either. I think I am fairly neutral, and fairly prone to both negative and positive moods, often (but not always) dependent on circumstances around and how I deal with and react to them. However, at least I am usually aware of my moods, something I've learnt (and continue learning) and something well worth striving for.

So the current circumstance, particularly in the climbing arena (this a climbing blog....but with reason, climbing is a massive part and pleasure of my life) is a difficult and sometimes unpleasant one - hence my mood in response to that can be negative. Although I try to seek positives (in it....or instead of it), not always successfully.

Thus what I write is a fair reflection of what IS, NOW. But hopefully that will change and improve!!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Climbing with friends??

There shouldn't be a question in the title, there shouldn't be anything to write about, one climbs with one's friends, amongst other people, as simple as that.

Except, for me, it's not as simple as that, particularly not at the moment. At the moment, my climbing has tended, when it happens, to fall into the category of: getting away and exploring some adventurous trad. My friends tend to be in the follow categories:

1. Keen on sport climbing - well I'd love to do that but my elbow is injured, so I simply can't.

2. Keen on bouldering in general - well I'd love to do that too, particularly to different and burly places like North Wales, but my elbow is injured so I simply can't.

3. Not people I go outside much with but people I have fun hanging out indoors with - again, happy to train when it rains, but elbow injured cannot do.

4. Only available locally (or most keen on that anyway) - well, I can do a bit of this, and indeed I have done, mostly to spend time with them as friends rather than my actual own climbing, because I don't climb on grit outside winter and there's not that much that I actually want to do locally anyway.

Ummmm which leaves....well the odd oddball friend or two (hello Pylon King) whom I can hook up with when they escape family committments, and a few friends further afield whom I like climbing and exploring with but don't tend to hang out much with normally. I'm grateful to any friendly partner I can climb with, particularly further afield, but it's not quite the same as hanging out with day to day mates.

One could say, well, compromise your climbing just to hang out with them - well I can do that to a certain degree, I can do, and have done, easy stuff locally, and I've even had the occasional day just belaying or spotting, but the harder sport / bouldering I simply can't touch. One could also say, "just hang out", and yeah I do that. There's not a problem with friendship here, just this curious discrepancy that I have some close climbing friends that I don't really climb with....hmmmm. Time to convert them to Easy Trad™ you say?? I've tried, believe me I've tried...

Monday, 14 July 2008


Painting toy soldiers doesn't really "go" with climbing, AND it's generally frowned upon as nerdy boring etc etc. Which naturally gives me some encouragement to celebrate my enthusiasm for the hobby out of sheer perverse belligerence if nothing else :). Anyway this is something I've done instead of climbing recently (it really isn't bad for my elbow). It took a long time but I like what I've done. More pics here.

As you can see these things are pretty small.

That's all for now.

Saturday, 12 July 2008


I've decided I really don't like this "being injured" business.

Aside from the obvious issues of being unable to climb properly, unable to push myself, unable to do many of the more physical facets of climbing, unable to train when the weather is poor, of being
hampered in my desires and plans, of struggling to stay fit and physically active, and of not having the FUN that a climbing lifestyle entails... Aside from all that, it is more detrimental than I thought.

Firstly, I feel increasingly distant from the climbing scene and climbing community (I have less to discuss and share as usual and less lure to being involved) and sometimes from some climbing friends and acquaintances too, whose company I'm not sharing because I can't share what we most have in common. It seems strange how quickly one can go from feeling involved to feeling almost forgotten.

Secondly, I find it frustrating just how much a proper injury hampers you. I still keep up with the climbing media, obviously, I read and watch and learn and feel inspiration. But it is all for nothing if you can't actually do it. All discourse on training and progression and psychology and is all irrelevant if you literally cannot get on rock and pull hard.

Thirdly, not climbing is not good for my well-being. It is an activity and lifestyle I find enriching on many levels, from the pleasure of movement to the personal progress of tackling challenges, to the richness of being involved in an intense activity outdoors. Without partaking in it....I feel somewhat diminished.

ON THE PLUS SIDE however, at least the weather is variable enough (it seems the same pattern as last year - very good late spring, poor and showery early summer....will it have the same glorious dry autumn?? I hope!!) that the all-important exploratory away trips would have been a bit tricky anyway. It is as good a time to rest as any (i.e. not really a good time, but a better time now than back in May when Scotland was on the cards). And I've got other stuff to do and some friends around and's okay I guess.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Strengths and strengths.

A curious revelation occured to me earlier this year (when I had any strength to speak of....or at least when my body could take using it :S).

I've always thought that my strength - stylistic strength that is - in climbing was simple: crimpy walls and slabs with sharp positive holds and stiff pulls between them. Sort of slatey quarried-grity culm-coasty stuff, which is what I've tended to do best in on trad. Perish the thought of steep, bulging, roofy stuff, let alone that combined with slopers and friction (although the latters being a pure physiological issue of sweaty hands). Too intimidating, too immediately pumpy, too committing, too blind, too easy to slither off.

Now, bouldering (I like it! When I can actually do it...). My stylistic strength there?? Hmmm, well judging by my hardest problems: Steep, bulging, roofy stuff, combined with slopers and friction (and a fair bit of areteness thrown in too). I guess burly bulging rounded ribs would probably be where it's at for me. As for crimpy walls - ouch!! Just can't seem to crimp hard enough, I tend to lag behind by a grade or so in the genre I *thought* was my strength.

Weakness is strength? Strength is weakness?*

Well, it's not that obtuse: Overall climbing / mental strengths of onsighting trad vs. purely physical strengths of worked boulder problems. Hanging on a trad route on bulging slopey ground is well harsh - blasting through it above a mat is quite different. Alas little mystery there! Chalk and cheese. Mmmm cheese... ...mmmm chalk!!

And little to learn from this for the future either. I always try to progress and improve my confidence, however gradually, anyway, and that includes pushing my naturally lagging stylistic weaknesses. As for bouldering....hmmm. Get uninjured....get strong! LOL.

[* - from a novel I'm reading - anyone reading the same one, tell me about it!]