Monday, 24 November 2008

Winter Weekend...

Prior to the weekend.

Duncan Disorderly, whom some of you may recognise from hanging off the 5th bolt of Body Machine, has come with the cunning plan of a boys own climbing weekend in North Yorkshire, involving Brimham on the Saturday, beer and camping at Masham Saturday night, and Slipstones on the Sunday.

The only slight spanner in the works being it's forecast to be -2'c on Saturday night and then sleet and snow on Sunday (oh and a bit of wind too). And out of the posse going I don't know of any of them whom regular camp out in summer let alone in winter.

None of which would be much of a problem except he's invited me...

Well at the last minute the forecast changed to sleet over Saturday night and dry with sun and cloud on Sunday. Thus there were no excuses, well apart from the accomadation issue, but that was solved as you'll see.

Saturday at Brimham - possibly the worst bouldering venue available at the moment for my injured elbow, given that everything seems to be a steep rounded prow. So I stayed in full on loafing mode for most of the day, the only thing I climbed was a tree to get some photos. Right at the end I put some effort in and did a couple of problems to earn my half of ale.

This was a fun little problem.

Saturday evening had a pretty interesting revelation. The posse (henceforth known as the Shackleton Posse, so named because Dunc has been reading too much of Shackleton's biography recently) was not lacking in strong climbers. In fact those who regularly tick Font 7b-c and/or F7b-c at points outnumbered those who don't. These boys aren't weak, particularly not Tom aka KnitwearMassive (woolly vests and cardigans also being in fully effect). Anyway Tom had a grip strength meter to do some research for something or other, so naturally we all had to test it out:

First go, most of the posse got around 90-120, with Tom on 130-ish. I came in at 145. We all did two more goes to get a consistent reading, again most people stayed around 90-120, Tom on 141....I got 151 and 158. This is on dominant arms i.e. uninjured ones in my case. Most of us tried the other arm and got comparable scores to the dominant one, I was wary at first due to my elbow, but it didn't seem to produce any pain at all, so gave it a decent go. Started around 130s, and on my third go got 142 - higher than anyone on either arm :S. There was speculation that this was all due to me climbing very little during the day. So the next day when I'd well beasted myself just before dusk, I had a brief go again, and got 155 straight off on my right...

The obvious conclusion - given these boys are "not weak" - being that pure pinching grip strength plays a very small role in climbing strength compared to the many other forms of hand/arm strength, and an even smaller role in overall ability...!!

Saturday night and the predicted big freeze had come along, but also SLOPAAAARRRRRRR had come along and despite being well insulated with years of port and foie gras consumption, he had no patience for this Boys' Own Arctic Survival Camping nonsense. Thus armed with a cunning plan, Sloper, Butters, and myself ended up in a B&B room above the evening pub we retired to. Not cheap but also not freezing cold and snowing either. The only slight drawback being a worrying risk of bummage from those two disreputable chaps - I took the bed next to the wall and slept with one eye on the nearest escape route, and I'm pretty sure my own "escape route" remained unsullied...

Sunday dawned to snow, sure enough, but also to rapidly improving clear skies. Stuffed with hot meat (errr....full English from the pub I mean), Shackleton Posse braved the Slipstones. As is always the case with the Slippys on a winter's day, it was baltic in the wind and balmy in the shelter - I alternated between 'skins' and 4 layers including downie. There's much more choice for me there so I pottered along nicely until realising that for once Sulky Little Boys might be in (suitably Arctic) condition. Sure enough it was and despite it involving a fair amount of hanging on hard with both arms, I had an instinct that it wouldn't pull too much on my elbow. Bizarrely enough I think I was right as it only got a bit tender and feels okay today. It's a nemesis of mine, mostly because I never find it in condition (too sheltered), and because I have to do a desperate series of very frictional moves that other climbers lank past. This time....soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo close. I finally got the upper gaston, and was unexpectedly faced with the quick left foot up before getting the pocket. I dithered "heel...toe...heel...toe??", dropped off, and never managed to get the sodding gaston again. Gave up when I could hardly pull on and two tips were bleeding.

Wot a gaylord!!

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