Saturday, 31 December 2011

Annus Demi-Horribilis.

Or should that be Anus Demi-Horribilis??

This year has been a year of two halves for me:

Part 1:

Malta - great
Later winter bouldering at Ruthven Boulder, Loch Sloy, Clashfarquar etc - very nice and satisfying
Pedriza - great
Long weekend in Mull - superb, best Scottish trip all year
Long weekend in Gairloch - very good
Long weekends in Caithness and Stranraer - good
Sweden - super-awesome
Brief trip to Creag Dubh and Camel - good
Generally maintaining an enjoyable E3 standard every trip out - pleasing
Losing a few pounds in Sweden - reassuring

Part 2:

Terrible weather all summer - suckage
No trips to Lewis / Skye / Ardnamurchan / Glen Nevis - suckage
No Indian Summer respite - suckage
A couple of decent trips to Aberdeen and local crags - pretty good
2 weeks of dry weather in November - some respite for bouldering
Increasing weight gain - very demoralising
Decreasing fitness - very demoralising
TCA opening - great training and a useful mercy
Exploring the County bouldering - good
Hard work changing medication to reduce weight gain - just plain hard
Persistent man-flu / throat/chest infection - suckage

It's pretty simple:
Good weather and trips away = good health and good spirits = right.
Terrible weather and less climbing = bad health and bad spirits = wrong.

Incidentally, my other interests have been pretty fun this year - have painted some cool figures, listened to some great drum'n'bass / hardcore / metal, and played a lot of good PC games - all of which is nice and passes the time during the incessant rain / rest days, but as fun as all those things are, they play supporting roles, not the main performance.

I've realised that the regular climbing lifestyle is not just important to me as it's the biggest inspiration to me, it's essential to me as an active lifestyle that balances out my mental and physical health issues. I am who I am and that is what's right for me.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Festive fun.

Balls to Christmas, but at least en-route South to meet with friends, family, and food, I got to briefly indulge in the fourth festive F - fun climbing. Northumberland was, as usual, the only dry place and the obvious choice. Bleak grey weather made everywhere much of a muchness, so I decided to explore esoteric Edlingham, a useful recce if nothing else. In the end I only recced the Homo Horizontalis and Whale buttresses, which was enough. The latter was dry but a bit "under-appreciated". I got to work with chalk dusting and gentle brushing and the holds started feeling good. Just as I got it clean enough, it started raining. Woo-fcuking-hoo. Homo Horizontalis turned into Homo Coweringus Shelteringus and luckily it passed. A quick romp up the Harpoon problem, a quick fiddle on the harder wall next to it, and that was enough.

The next day I visited my old haunt of the Climbing Works. It's getting very grubby but the atmosphere is good, the amount of problems is vast, they keep tweaking it and the comp wall structure is ever-fluctuating. I had a pretty good session there, which made Christmas sedentation more tolerable. I think the latter has outstayed it's welcome with me so I need to get back gymming/training/climbing ASAP.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Misanthrope Mission 4.

35 days since I last got out. Yes the weather and my gayflu (still persisting, on 2nd course of antibiotics now) have been that bad. Jesus. This mission took some effort, I really didn't feel great trying to wake up early and get going for it. So it was a late start, a LOT of driving and a bare minimum of climbing. But still good - back in touch with the purpose of winter and my purpose in life.

The forecast was good all over the County, so after much East vs. West deliberation, I decided to take advantage of the dry West and give Queen's another go. It was very crisp and bone dry....and completely snowed under there. Hmmm. I'm not having much luck with Queens! Onwards to Shaftoe which has everything facing in every direction and that worked pretty well as the sunny stuff was warm and dry and the shady stuff was cold and frozen and when the sun went down there was stuff that was cold and dry yay for friction. Before that I pottered about and recced Shaftoe South and came to the following conclusions:

Cafe Noir - worth a lead! Good line and obvious gear in a flake.
Antler And Deck - looks good and quite feasible, need mats and spotter.
Butch Cassidy - ditto.
Little and Often - crude but okay but top was iced up.
Pocket Rocket - looks crude and bland and too hard.
The cave stuff - very trad looking, best for summer power training.
Duvel - too small.
12 6c - too small and wrong on topo (shown perched over 10m drop!)
Slim Shady SS - looks good, bigger than it seems and perfect landing.

After that faffing and not climbing much I ended up in the Central Area to try to maximise the conditions on some of the sloping walls. Buford T Justice (not Belford, oops), I very nearly flashed by sheer determination but muffed my foot on the last move. Boo. I then ended up working it with the camera battery in my pants to keep it warm. That helped as I did it in the end. Despite being an eliminate it's a cool problem with some miserly slopers! Moved onto Smooth Wall, after a few goes this seemed impossible - similarly poor slimpers but this time with a bulge in the way. But! Lo and behold I worked out a foot placement and suddenly it seemed very feasible - this was exciting. Unfortunately despite getting super-close, I had to keep waiting for my skin to cool down in between attempts, and while I had the patience for that, the daylight didn't and buggered off leaving me to walk out in the pitch dark. But not before I saw a mouse scuttle across the frozen marsh beneath the wall (presumably very cold) and an owl swooping around (possibly solved the mouses coldness permanently).

So yeah. Another day with an epicly b0rked driving:sending ratio, but cool to get out at last!!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Walking Corpse.

^^^ this has been me in the last few days. The gayflu has been especially gay and seasoned with lashings of a mild throat infection (feeling a bit like the Brutal Truth vocalist sounds) for the optimum blend of crappness. I've turned down wall sessions and good forecasts in the County and have been set back a good week in general logistic progress, so I feel like a walking corpse mentally too, BLUURRRGGGGHHHHH. Hopefully I'm getting over the worst and will be able to get back into things with renewed energy soon.