Sunday, 28 March 2010

Fuck off finger injury.

This odd finger thing I have is becoming persistently annoying. Right hand ring finger (mmmm, ring finger......), tweaked it on Monkey Spanking a while ago, and I'm not sure how. It's a bit of an odd one: sore-ish when crimping, but sore-er when pressed or twisted or crammed into a pocket. Sore around the sides as well as in the middle. Responds well to arnica, massage, and sometimes to "clicking" it. It could be that I've bruised something as well as / instead of tearing it??

It's possibly the least problematic injury I've had compared to a middle finger A2 tear, golfer's elbow, shoulder impingment, broken foot etc etc, all of which properly stopped me climbing and required a slow return. However it's still of some concern not least because I am syked, doing pretty well, and keen to train as well as climb. It seems pretty managable for Easy Trad (tm) when it's scarcely affected, and even some bouldering or sport is okay. Harder stuff and indoor training seems a problem, partly because of the "pressure" issue and partly because it's hard to predict what will worsen it.

So I should be looking at ways of less damaging ways of training of which I suppose there are many: falling practise, laps for stamina, focusing on technique / steadiness, flashing easier problems, swimming, running, hillwalking etc. Not as much fun as just being able to go for it, but some of those are actually more beneficial to me anyway!!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Really quite good fun at Ratho Quarry.

As good as the indoor climbing is at the Ratho mega-wall, it's important not to forget that it's actually built within a proper traditional crag and thus there is proper traditional climbing on the outdoor walls outside the indoor walls. Although, hmmm, the Ratho lead walls are pretty pumpy... Ah fuck it what am I say, of course the quarry is miles better!! Yay for Easy Trad (tm) in Grotty Quarries!!

So, another afternoon, another couple of decent trad leads, in fact two that I'd been wanting to do since I recced it years ago, when Ratho wall was just a twinkle in the receivers' eyes... Shear Fear, the apparently fearsome flake crack that actually turned out to be full of big holds, good gear, and good rests on jugs and jams. Not the battle I expected and nice interesting climbing. And Gruel Brittania, an odd semi-fridge-hugging combination of an arete and thin crack, which turned out to be the hardest trad lead I've done since before my DVTs. Hard technical crux low down, harder psychological crux high up, and great climbing using all the available features.

Two routes, both classics, both photo-ticks in the old guide. Both apparently stern challenges, one wasn't and went smoothly, one was and made me try hard, both good experiences, both good training for the greater ranges of Gairloch etc :).

Monday, 22 March 2010

The usual consolidation at Upper Cave Crag.

I had a pleasant day out at the weekend... Summer has truly arrived - evidenced by sunbathing on Saturday and pissing bloody rain today. This was Saturday:

Anyway I was at Dunkeld again, to combine trad and sport. A nice spot to do so, although I am getting a bit bored of the best lines at Upper Cave Crag still seeping, and more bored of pottering around on the local-ish schist when I really want to get away to the North, West, East, sea-cliffs, gneiss, sandstone, dolerite, granite etc etc. Fingers crossed for some away trips soon!!

Still, I did one good trad lead, and pushed myself a bit when I felt nervous. I also tried another trad route but backed off cleanly due to a desperate crux move, a finger-tweaking slot, and not wanting to faff too much. Finally I got on a rope on one of the classic sport routes there, and couldn't even dog the start. Nails!! As usual at the time I just thought "fuck this, there's no way", and now I think "I'd like to give it another play, I reckon I could even link a move or two". Hmmm!! Will have to be careful with my finger though.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


When I arrived back in Glasgow prior to the Official Lads Bouldering Weekend, I had arrived back from Geneva and thus Brides Le Bain and thus Meribel and Les Trois Vallees, where I had of course been skiing with Madamoiselle Rogers.

It was an awesome trip. Great weather, good company, I skied loads and slept equally loads (I love the simplicity of this), we covered a vast amount of the Les Trois Vallees (including one day when I skied from Meribel to the far side of Courchevel and then back to the far side of Val Thorens). The only downside was the snow was quite icy which limited the offpiste options (too crusty) and made for some hard landings, but I'd take hard snow and good visibility over good powder and a whiteout.

HOWEVER as good as all that was, the highlight for me was how well I did with my legs. They might be fucked for walking uphill and running but evidently they are fine for skiing, despite how thigh-intensive that usually feels. I skied as well as I ever have - hard and fast (for me) all day every day, did all the blacks in Les Trois Vallees easily (although they are all well soft-touch apart from Le rather cool Grand Couloir), and had no more thigh pump than usual. Walking a few mins to the lift in the morning was tiring, but skiing all day was fine. \m/ yay \m/

There was another highlight too, the roaring success of my attempt to liven up my boring but very cheap and very functional Decathlon ski jacket with a pimp orange camo headwear combination (which was supposed to match the jacket but I'd forgotten it was more red than orange)...

...and yeah I know I need slicker goggles, I'll get some for next year. I had to order the beanie via express delivery from the University Of Minnesota, the only place I found doing a proper orange camo one, and I'm sure you'll agree it was worth the effort. Or maybe not.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Bumbling around at St Bees and Bowderstone.

This weekend, shortly after arriving back in Glasgow (more in this later), I whisked myself off to the latest round of banter and buggery that masquerades as the Official Lads Bouldering Weekend (aka "What Happens In The Bunkhouse Stays In The Bunkhouse (especially the stains)"). Standards and my 100% attendance record needed to be maintained. St Bees was the main destination and a break from shitty schist sit-starts was somewhat appealing.

I'd never bouldered at St Bees before, only done sport routes (which are pretty cool), and the Lads decided to head for St Bees South on the Sunday. The seemingly endless gruelling boulder bash (alternating V0- mantles with two pads on your back, and skating across lethally slippery rock-slime) to reach it means we'd be unlikely to head for it again, but once at the area it was all rather fun. Nice lines, nice rock, nice colours. I did some nice problems, including this easy but sweet one:

Notice that I'm trying out some new styles (more on this later). I reckon the no-t-shirt + sleeveless fleece + ned tracksuit bottoms could be a winning look. Or maybe not.

The chalk-crusted Clam Chowderstone was a considerably less aesthetic experience, it's much renowned main face combining the worst of Dumbarton's ugly brutality with an almost limestone-esque linelessness. Good training but not quite the experience of carefree bouldering joy. A few hardy souls braved it en-route back to the M6 - including myself, spending most of my time struggling to move on the easiest warm-up on the main face. Eventually I sulked my way around to the more enticing side-wall, flashed the Crack Direct (apparently harder than the main face warm-up), felt chuffed, and called it a day - a day that took a lot of driving, but a fun day.

Next: Routes. It's mid-March, warm enough to get the gut out at St Bees, light until after 6, definitely time to get routing properly.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The map of syke.

This is on the wall opposite me, I just have to move my eyes approx 12° up and right, and there it is, clear, colourful and prominent and reminding me of what great potential and great cragging there is up here in sunny Scotland. Plus useful to correlate with forecasts, work out trips and travelling, etc etc.

Pink - suitable cragging in winter/spring.
Large inspiration: Erraid + Scoor (Mull), Creag Dubh, Aberdeen North granite, Gruinard Crags, Inverpollaidh, Caithness area.
Small inspiration:
Creag Nam Fithich, Glen Croe, Glen Ogle, Glen Lednock, Cave Crag, Glen Clova, Pass Of Ballater, Aberdeen South, Reiff, Ardmair, Ardnamurchan.

Orange - suitable cragging mostly in summer.
Large inspiration: Wave Buttress, Earnsheugh + Floors Craig + Craig Stirling (Aberdeen), Duntchelaig, Rosehearty, Loch Tollie + Loch Tolldaih (Gairloch), Sarclett, Latheronwheel, Mid Clyth, Suide Biorach (Skye), Dalbeg + Mangestra + Painted Wall + Magic Geo (Lewis).
Small inspiration: Iona, Glen Lednock, Polldubh Crags, Covesea, Reiff, Diabeg area, Sheigra area, Staffin Slip + Neist + Rubish Hunra (Skye)

Green - sport climbing.
Large inspiration: Elephant Rock, Camel Rock, Moy Rock, Gruinard River crags.
Small inspiration: Glen Ogle, Strathyre, Cave Crag, Weem, Angus quarries, Rob's Reed, Arbroath.

Blue - climbing with large walk-ins (can't do yet).
Large inspiration: The Cobbler, Aonach Dubh, Gharb Bheinn, Sron Na Chich East, Beinn Eighe East, Stac Pollaidh.
Small inspiration: Bonaid Dhonn, Creag Ghlas.

(Plus various lesser Central Belt and Lowland stuff when time/weather preclude travelling elsewhere).

Geeky?? Maybe. It took me all of 40 minutes - I often have longer shits than that. Admittedly I'm usually reading guidebooks on the bog....