Thursday, 29 October 2009


After a lot of dicking around, I have finally got basecamp established approximately here (approximately, I don't actually live in the train station, and yes there is a reason for the strange name, but I've forgotten it). It seems a pretty pleasant area of Glasgow with decent immediate surrounds and good access to stuff. However it's fair to say the city of Glasgow has no specific appeal to me (although it's interesting trying somewhere new), it's all about location, location, location. Specifically a location that allows quite a few Scottish outcrops in a day trip, most of the Highlands in a weekend trip, and the mighty north west of Scotland in a long weekend trip.

Naturally in this context it is pissing down and forecast to do so for the next 90 trillion days, however this is to be expected, I am fat and weak and could do with training in the meantime (more on that later).

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Rogered at Ratho.

I was planning to do a whole series of the new "Fiend with fucked fitness in Scotland" blog theme, but I doubt I'll be arsed to do it retrospectively, so in summary they would have been:

Analised at Aberdeen - Nice sea-cliffs but got utterly thrashed on the easiest of routes.

Weak at Weem - Managed to get so pumped I was dizzy and nauseous....on an easy slab.

Relief at Rockdust - Despite the 10 minute walk-in feeling Alpine, I managed to climb okay, climbing as a team of 3 gave me longer rests and I had better route tactics.

So, back to Ratho. Normally of course indoor walls wouldn't be worthy of mention, but Ratho is Alpine in a whole different way - it's MASSIVE in both scope and wall height - bottled oxygen would be welcome. I was very impressed, it doesn't feel like a UK wall, but rather something of the next generation. And for me, at the moment, it's very good training. The routes go on for ages and I got pumped and pulse-racingly tired on every single one which is partly demoralising but partly inspiring that it's a good facility to get my fitness back. The next stage of course is to go with the pump and start falling instead of resting...

Things are (very) gradually settling down in Glasgow so I can focus more on training (all with the hallowed goal of exploring as much Easy Trad as possible ;)), and I suspect Ratho will play a large role in that.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

You can't have fun when you're weak...

...and bloody hell I didn't know it was possible to get THIS weak!! I should have paid more attention to The Path Of Weakness when I was hanging around with Duncan Disorderly... I've been out climbing a couple of times in Scotland and it feels any progress I'd previously made has been swamped by the logistical mess I'm trying to sort out moving to Glasgow, and the subsequent distressing lack of climbing and training.

The mind is willing, the desire is strong, but the flesh is oh so weak - or more like, oh so unfit. I'm getting unfeasibly pumped on routes I would have considered beneath my dignity as gentle warm-ups a few months ago, and have ended up slumped on a rope or collapsed at the top of a route, hyperventilating with exhaustion on a few occasions. When I'm nauseous with the pump and my vision goes funny on a slabby F6a+ (do grades really go that low??), there is definitely something wrong. And this wrongness is definitely down to my legs and the aftermath of the DVT clots (steep walk-ins are still a multipitch affair), and it is becoming clear that I am hanging on to what little fitness I've regained by a thin thread. I obviously need to keep up with exercise and realise what a long and uphill journey (although I'll stick to flatter walk-ins) lies ahead.

However, there is some hope. This situation is fairly reminiscent of when I broke my foot in summer 2005 and was hobbling back to fitness in the autumn - about the same time as now I was struggling just as hard on routes just as easy... And over winter, I trained, got my strength back, climbed well in early spring and then started my best climbing years ever in that next spring. This time, regaining CV fitness might be a lot harder, but my summer climbing experiences have been a bit more consistent, I've got several years more climbing "wisdom" (yes, really!) and I'm in an area with a better choice of mileage routes (in 2005 I ended up going to Clwyd limestone for a long weekend's mileage....Glen Nevis or Gairloch are somewhat more appealing choices!).

And of course, there's a follow on motto to this blog title:

You can't have fun when you're weak...

...But the great thing about being weak is you can get STRONG!

Monday, 5 October 2009


All Aboard! Not that I'm the biggest fan of Dillinja, but it seemed to fit.

The good ship Fiend is setting sail for new shores - specifically imminently mooring at Glasgow docks! I'm moving up there for a variety of reasons, of which the most relevant is to sample more Scottish climbing close up. I figure with weather, conditions, and vast amounts of driving all stacked against the enthusiastic explorer, living considerably closer to the Highlands for a while is a sane plan. I also have some life plans tied up with this move, hopefully that will come to fruition too.

Unfortunately due to some slight issues i.e. losing a month of my life with the hospital stay and subsequent slow recovery, this isn't a smooth sailing and there is indeed a fair amount of turbulent tacking required, not least alternating between Sheffield and Glasgow too often for comfort nor relaxation. Hopefully things will be sorted out soon and I will be able to attack autumnal suntrap crags, fitness recovery, and climbing training with renewed vigour.

Until then climbing and blogging might have to be a bit sporadic...

Once I have a base in Glasgow it will be open to any friends who want to visit and climb, with the sole condition that you take me with you :).

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Our stars, our sky.

The recent weekends of getting back climbing on proper weekends away has reminded me of the things I love about climbing, specifically the things that aren't climbing....the beauty of the mountains, the tranquility of hidden valleys and quiet venues, the unexpected wildlife, the sun and the wind, the burnt face, the chapped lips, fingers curling into claws, bleeding hangnails on most fingers, simple camp cooking being the most delicious meal ever, falling into a sleeping bag bed and falling into sleep from pure and positive physical tiredness...

...and the skies, the vast, diverse and spectacular canopy that is so much better appreciated from the active lifestyle of a climbing trip than with furtive glances from a hospital bed:

...a burning, broiling cloud layer over Manchester, reflecting a distant sunset...

...swirling tendrils of cloud wrapping around Snowdon, tempting our burnt bodies with the promise of imminent shade that never arose...

...the joyous twinkling clarity of a star-filled night, bisected by the Milky Way and stretching into incomprehensible infinity...

...the fading of a dusky navy blue into a deep sullen red over the Lleyn Peninsula...

...a vividly sunny autumn afternoon in the Rhinnogs, with a blue sky so pure you could almost steal some to paint with it...

It's good to be back, and it's good to have this appreciation, maybe stronger than ever. Oh, and this was Aberdeen last weekend:

Friday, 2 October 2009


Hmmm... Things are moving on, a bit too rapidly for comfort. I'm quite busy with a lot of different and scarcely compatible things at the moment, and unfortunately climbing isn't one of them, neither is blogging. More information "soon".