Saturday, 30 January 2010


10 - Ten - Tenerife...

Awesome climbing trip out there. Good to glorious weather, good climbing partner, good, varied and distinctive climbing (my inspiration about it being different to the Euro-lime norm being proved right), lots of great routes (42 in total), F6c+ being the highlight quality grade of the trip (including several F6cs and F7as that were actually F6c+), climbing at 2100m in a vast crater of lava fields beneath the dominating volcano El Teide with a fierce sun and icy crisp air was an amazing day, every breath up there was a delight. Drove straight from the airport to a crag on the first evening and got up early on the last day to squeeze a few great routes in before our flights back. ACE.

Here's a photo diary:

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Shit, is that the year already?? Time flies whether you're having fun or not. The trick is to fly along with it and ride the temporal waves....maybe this year I'll learn it??

2009 brought some interest: emotional ups and downs, a return to climbing strength, a return to trying to sort my mind out, a brush with serious illness, a move to Glasgow, and a whole lot of upheaval....and a whole lot of potential that may as yet be realised.

2010 will bring....Christ, last year has made me even warier of predictions or expectations!! But I do have some aims (or are they resolutions?? well I resolve to try hard to do them...), of which the most interesting are:

1. Life live with passion and inspiration.
2. Follow the path of action (which isn't just "doing stuff").
3. Continue trying to sort my mind out.
4. Continue my post-DVT recovery fitness with determination.
5. Explore as much Scottish rock-climbing as possible.
6. Meet more Scottish rock-climbers to do that with.
7. Improve my social life in general.
8. Climb as many interesting places abroad as possible.
10. (The last one might not be entirely serious).

N.B. These aren't S.M.A.R.T. goals, in fact they are mostly habits to get into rather than specific goals, ways of life rather than ends to aim for.

Anyway, I'm off to do participate in one of those now. Back in a week!

Saturday, 16 January 2010


Zero - the visibility at Glenshee, measured in whatever unit you choose, it doesn't really matter, it was still too damn foggy to see let alone ski...

Although that didn't stop me amongst others, though it did restrict one's options and hamper one's style, not that I have much of the latter in the first place, although I am very proud of my £90 jacket and trousers combo from Decathlon, not least because after a day of marinating in the perverse blend of rain, sleet, snow, drizzle and mizzle, I was probably the wettest thing in Glenshee on the outside, but still tolerably dry on the inside.

Anyway despite pretty grim conditions it was more skiing, more practice, another resort checked out, another pretty easy last minute trip, and I got to see a gazillion red deer driving to Braemar SHYA in the evening. Look!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

2.1, semi in the suburbs, family Volvo. Well I have the family Volvo at least, used traditionally to transport 2.0 kids and 2.0 golden retrievers around, now handed down to myself for which I'm very grateful. Semi?? I prefer fully auto...."When you absolutely, positively, gotta kill every motherfucker in the room...". I don't, however, have the 2.1 kids and don't have any intention of having them. It's just not me, no desire for them and plenty of reasons against. Of course this could change and I could change and if I changed into a different person that would be fine, but the person I am now isn't one who is having kids.

I'm finding it really rather weird how so many people I know are now having children. I know it's what human beings do, but I never really expected it to happen to people I know - friends, acquaintances, and climbing, well bouldering, peers (I mean peers in terms of rough age and passion for climbing, not peers in terms of ability nor social status!). But yup it is happening, more buns being baked than Greggs on a busy morning. I'm not quite sure why it seems weird given it's natural - perhaps I thought dedicated climbers would be immune?? - so maybe it's my perspective and thus me that is weird. Don't answer that.

Anyway, my bets are that DOB is next, I am really surprised he's held out this long given what a soppy git he is ;).

P.S. I do intend to have puppies though!! And piglets!! See I do have a soul...

Monday, 11 January 2010


Small numbers!! Bit cold even for bouldering although I bet my usually sweaty paws wouldn't be much of an issue. Even so any boulders around Aviemore (where it apparently reached the aforementioned temperature) were buried under 2 feet of snow. Thus the only sensible plan was to go skiing at Cairngorm Mountain, taking advantage of the currently-better-than-alpine snow and the novelty of the last minute weekend trip - even manageable (although typically expensive) by train:

Definitely the end of the line.

Scottish skiing....small, badly organised, and COLD. But fun for all that.

Things I liked:

1. Snow is good this year.
2. Red runs were fun for cruising.
3. Resort's tiny enough to be easily tickable in a weekend.
4. Ski hire decent value.
5. Lift staff mostly friendly.
6. Easy to get chatting with fellow punters.
7. Very easy to hitch up to the mountain station.
8. Some services at the top ran smooth.
9. Very easily doable in a weekend or even a day.
10. Old Bridge Inn - good beer, great food, nice staff, eye-opening waitress.

Phone home?? Unfortunately we had lots of time to do that on the first day.

Things I disliked:

1. Rubbish cock-up with snowclearing on the first day that left everyone stuck in a 3 hour traffic jam despite them having 4 weeks of this winter freeze to practise getting it right.
2. Lift pass disproportionately expensive - near Alpine price for 1/6th the area.
3. Lift system slow, crude, and badly connected.
4. Arctic death freeze winds on t-bars / buttons.
5. Resort's tiny enough to be easily tickable in a weekend.
6. Good looking harder slopes closed.
7. Everything (including kit hire) somewhat dated.
8. Not much provision for storage at hostel nor hire places.

Basically this year, snow good, infrastructure still unreliable - BUT being able to ski all day, get the last lift up, the last run down, hitch back to Aviemore, sort kit and hostel out, buy food, get the train back to Glasgow, stop for a quick half between stations, be unpacked and in bed at 10:15 on Sunday is pretty damn cool. As is simply skiing itself!!

Incidentally my legs did okay, got tired quickly on individual runs, but lasted well throughout the day. So that's cool, I might go again soon.

Here's some more photos.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


...the clarity of hindsight. This is what I see:

I had an interesting opportunity at the end of the Costa Blanca trip: A couple of recent friends were staying out there and as well as meeting up climbing they'd been pretty keen to have us over for dinner and even stay over with their family - a welcome and positive invite! I came up with the cunning plan ("pin a tail on it and call it a weasel"...) to prolong my side of the trip by seeing if I could stay with them (apparently again I was welcome for this too!) and climb with them for their remaining few days, thus requiring changing my flight, extending car hire, and arranging transport in Glasgow. At it happens I balked at the extra costs and flew back as normal.

This was fine of course, I'd still had a great trip, but with hindsight I pretty soon realised the other decision, to stay for a bit, would have been the better one.

Why?? Not merely for a few more days climbing, that's for sure. What would have made it worthwhile would be the overall path of that choice - a small step on the path of action, the path of doing, the path of going for it (obviously in quite a minor way!). Doing more climbing, hanging around with different people, soaking up more Spanish vibes, the interesting social situation of staying with the folks of someone I hardly know, the whole experience being probably worth the extra cost - and making a positive decision on the path of action. A path that I often struggle with for various mostly internal reasons, but a path that, when I follow it, is distinctly "true to self", something I've realised quite strongly recently.

(Actually had another minor example of this recently - I was out bouldering near a trad crag recently, and as I was packing the car up, I saw two people who were unmistakably climbers coming back to their cars. Said a quick hello, yes they'd been doing routes, yes it had been cold, but yes a nice day out. Fair play to them. However the path of action I DIDN'T take was to ask them for their numbers, I had a brief umm and ahh and just drove off. Which is pretty daft given how much of a frustrating struggle it is finding regular trad partners up here and any chance to meet more people would be worth taking. If in doubt, do, rather than don't...)

Monday, 4 January 2010


The number of the beast except of course I'm not very beastly at the moment hence ticking a load of 6s in Costa Blanca instead of the socially more acceptable 7s, HAH.

The trip was good, 5 days of weather ranging from fresh and breeze and great for climbing to roasting warm and good for lounging in between climbs. The total amount of daytime rain was about 3, not hours or minutes but droplets whilst driving to a crag. 5 days of short climbing afternoons, long nights asleep, and pretty good sport climbing mileage. 6 things of note:

1. I really really really like going on climbing trips abroad, even just a short trip, even to the Costa Blanca (a relatively "standard" area). The first day I was a bit jaded with the rock "same old Euro-lime", but after going to a couple of different areas, I properly got into the vibe out there. Lots of climbing, lots of choice, different settings/culture (again even if it is fairly standard) climbing each day, just pure simple fun and pleasure. I could have kept going longer and nearly did (more on this later).

2. 2005 when I was still just puntering along, I went to Costa Blanca and ticked some F6cs. 2008 when I had an injured elbow, I went to Costa Blanca and ticked some F6cs. 2009/10....I went to Costa Blanca and ticked some F6cs. Hmmm. What does it all mean?? Not much progress overall, but then again 4 months ago I could barely walk... And I think I'm putting the effort in - those challenges of some F6cs were genuine and were really enjoyable to climb. It's cool, it may not seem like progress but it's part of the process...

3. The (few) routes I failed on and the routes I found hard were mostly, surprisingly, due to finding crux moves hard, rather than being pumped out of my tiny wee mind. This is quite unusual and obviously means I am WEAK as well as merely unfit. Which gives me a good excuse to go bouldering ;).

4. I had a little shoulder niggle before going away. Over Xmas I tackled it with plenty of massage and stretching. On the Costa Blanca trip with 5 continuous days of climbing, it felt fine. After coming back to the Glasgow freeze and sitting in a coolish room for an hour, it felt achy and tweaky already. Maybe not surprising since Scotland is where Siberians are going for their winter chilling out holidays at the moment!

5. My fitness was generally okay - I didn't get too tired on the routes, and actually after 5 days of climbing felt fine and could have kept going easily. Walking up hills is still FUCKING DESPERATE. I really can't convey in mere words how hard it is to be walking for a few minutes up a hill and feel sick and dizzy with exhaustion. This is despite very slow but actual progress with running. I really need to tackle the uphill walking thing more directly - therefore in addition to bouldering I shall try some hillwalking. Choadtastic!!

6. I still really really really like Chorizo.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


First installment of another 12 months and God only knows what this one will bring, last one wasn't exactly conventional. It will bring some proper New Year ramblings from me in a while, I have a bit to muse on... But in the meantime, I am back from Spain which was lovely and warm, it is ridiculous winter here, very pretty but very icy and cold. I am SYKED as ever but I have no idea if anything is in condition, and am tempted to bugger off skiing instead!!