Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Last one of the year.

Off to my parents in London to eat loads of nice Christmas food, off to Spain to tick big numbers errr climb something or other. Back and hopefully syked on the 1st January. Big year 2010 I think.

Had a last minute visit to Dumby before I left. It's very snowy up here which is very pretty but also very damp for climbing. Most of the V1s would be more like VI ;). But there were a few dry steep bits and I played around in the setting sun. I'd forgotten just how HARD Dumby was. On the plus side I did see a fly-by of five geese the size of Hercules transporters. And I got inspired to train a bit harder.

Bye for now!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas Number 1

RATM always overrated, half decent music but not much flow and predictable attitude. Strictly Come Xhoad-factor I disdain as does any sensible human being.

My vote is for (in honour of it's 20th Anniversary):

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Back in the game...

...the training game, at least. Although last weekend I felt back in the trad game (the game that actually counts) too, and was pretty natural and comfortable despite being rustier than a very rusty thing. Anyway since last weekend I have been both struck down with a brief intense bout of Deer Flu, and been rather busy with stuff. Both of those have now cleared up (thanks in part to a daily diet of green tea, dinner with chilli and garlic, and whisky before bed), and I was even able to get out for a run on Thursday - that went okay, by my extraordinarily low standards, again 13/18 minutes in 2/1 running/walking intervals (and yes that is plenty fucking hard enough when your leg veins are fucked).

Last night I was back at Ratho, -20billion'C in there but it didn't seem to affect things too much. I do like in there, a lot. Even though I've failed to flash a lot of routes already, it doesn't matter so much as they're so bloody long you can forget them in a few weeks and effectively retro-flash (or is it amnesia-point??) them, which of course is better training than knowing the moves by heart. I like the grey coloured walls, the wall angles, the subtle rests that merely get you more pumped, and of course the sheer scale. Pity local authority's demands means they fucked up wasting £££ on fancy curved walls and massive atriums instead of the bleeding obvious expenditure of INSULATING THE SODDING ROOF *rolls eyes*.

Last night was good training for a few reasons: Firstly I flashed a couple of F6cs which is meaningless numerical gibberish as all grades are except it indicates relative progress compared to previously. Secondly I felt more comfortable and relaxed pushing myself on lead. And thirdly the reasons for both of the above was I did some good falling practise. I've been reading Arno's new book "Espresso Lessons" (essentially a practical summary of The Rock Warrior's Way without all the hippy / lifestyle / attitude shizzle, personally I miss all of that as I liked it tackling the deeper issues) and trying to implement not just falling practise but good falling practise, i.e. feeling more controlled and comfortable falling. Taking a few 5m falls whilst looking down and calmly letting go rather than shutting my eyes and flinging myself off in despair is in accordance with his principles and likely a step in the right direction. I can feel myself being more comfortable on lead AND more comfortable falling, now that IS good training :).

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Giddy at Gruinard, And at Ardmair.

Giddy with delight - the mission worked!

Actually I can't be bothered to do a write-up, so here are some pictures:

Saturday morning at Sail Mhor hostel. £13 a night, warm, comfy beds, good kitchen. Definitely the key to good climbing in winter.

The errr lovely Lyons at the gorgeous Gruinard bay. A minor crag but such a nice spot, this bit also wins "crag base of the year award 2009".

What Scottish winter climbing is all about!

Moody posy bollox.

Gairloch church. Drove over for a nice meal at the Old Inn. The hostel was surprisingly busy with a large hunting party who were culling deer, so I had wild venison steak at the pub in their honour.

No sun but still warm enough at Ardmair. This is Sculptress, on one the nicest HVSes in the history of mankind, go do it!

But bloody freezing (well -2'C to -5'C) around Inverness!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Train for Spain.

Am going to Spain for New Year! To Costa Blanca, not my first choice as I've been already and I like exploring new areas, but it's still nice to get away, particularly from the persistently soggy Glasgow. Hopefully it will give a good boost to my climbing. Of course to maximise that boost, I'm aiming for a pre-boost boost, and thus am training for Spain.

As often the case with homogeneous Euro-Lime trips, in the absence of new rocktypes or climbing styles, I like to have some crass, meaningless, egotistical goal to aim for out there. Previously that was F7a, and ideally I'd like it to be so again, mainly because F7a is a nice, neat, round number (and corresponds to Font 7a which I believe is what V6 is and what I can boulder). However God only knows what I'll manage this time. Wall training is going okay but my fitness is still bollox, maybe F6c (round enough) will turn out to be a bit more realistic. Well I've got another 3 weeks, just need to keep at it...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Is it worth it??

So last weekend I painted...

Figure by Games Workshop, base handmade out of plastic bits, wire, and a spare model.

I like painting toy soldiers (sometimes the painting itself isn't fun, but the end result is satisfying). I was doing it before I started climbing, I'm relatively better at painting than I am at climbing, and I'll probably be doing it after I stop climbing (assuming my tendons go before my eyesight does). Regardless of outdated geeky connotations, it's good to have something different and creative to do - and very good to have something to do in the stupid pissing rain that all too often characterises this country's pretence at "weather".

The problem is like many things in life it requires a certain balance, and due to my ability to focus on things but my inability to switch focii comfortably, I don't always get that balance right. Thus I was finishing off painting this figure last Sunday, when the weather was really rather fine (a rarity) and there was no doubt some dry rock to be climbed and taken advantage of before the next deluge. Admittedly I was finishing it for an online contest with a Sunday deadline, but even so my organisation is sloppy enough and my prioritising perturbing enough that I was left thinking "WTF am I doing??".

Is it worth it getting het up about meeting an online contest deadline (I've entered and won a few already) in a hobby I do for fun and satisfaction, at the expense of other hobbies I find more rewarding. Hmmm. As I say, balance... Preferably a balance more climbing, more training, more painting, more socialising, more activities, more phat drum'n'bass etc...;)

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Stumbling around at Stronachlachlar

Bit of a mouthful eh. Popped out for a quick boulder the other day. In the abscence of a vaguely useful climbing scene in Scotland I'm trying to get to grips with the local bouldering. This first taster (apart from the mighty Dumby of course) was not the most encouraging: "local" translates to "an hour and a half's solid drive" and "bouldering" translates to "staggering around a frozen boggy hillside feeling sick and dizzy with exhaustion to discover that the two great lines at this supposed 'ideal in winter suntrap' are both seeping like a squid's snatch".

On the plus side, the hillwalking was tiring enough that I didn't need to go for a run, and the two classic lines looked cool and worth coming back for. Also, I managed a cool, classic V1. According to the guide it's Font 5 which is vague at the best of times (not least that Font 5 slabs are invariably harder than E4 6a slabs or Font 7as of a different style), but apparently roughly translates to V1 or English 5a. Hmmm. If I was pootling up an HVS 5a and found this at the crux, I would be somewhat perturbed... posing, I was struggling to hang on!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


December has started quite literally and punctually with winter: 1st December, -4'C this morning. Pretty nice, although it didn't feel much below -2 to my senses ;).

This means I've kinda missed the boat for regular trad - although I did get out for a bit of bouldering yesterday (and a run, gentle antagonistic weight session, and good stretch later on, which I'm happy with), and although it was freezing in the shade, the rock was genuinely warm (not "normal", but warm) in the sun on the South face, which shows some potential. Anyway I can still go bouldering for training - if I can find something slopey enough to be worthy of -4'C.

This month has been mildly notable with things vaguely calming down (externally, not internally) with my move to Glasgow, and other than that solely notable for one wall bouldering session where I felt Not Weak. I best try to recapitalise on that feeling!