Monday, 29 October 2012

Training season begins...

Got the Ratho for the first time in a very long time. I actually can't remember the last time I did route training. I'm sure it was before the Pyrenees....before pre-trip TCA training....before the days pottering around the Central Belt and Sheffield....before the punter-flu bollox....before Cornwall radness....before the nice trips to the ' was sometime back then, possibly...

Suffice to say it is feeling rather wintery out there (wet today!) and it is definitely time to keep training and keep active. That is my general plan for the winter - keep active at the wall, gym, outside bouldering, routes, trips abroad, short runs, swimming, anything. My elbow is still injured, obviously, it may heal soon or it may not, but it means I just need to do general training rather than pushing myself hard. Indoor routes, the gym, and outdoor climbing fullstop being ideal, rather than the dubious temptations of TCA.

So it was good to get back to Ratho. I thought I would both be out of practise due to the lack of wall training, and feeling on reasonable form due to a week away. And thus it was - I did fine. My fingers struggled a bit with the cold, I got pumped as always, and also my lungs were aching from the general effort. All to be expected although the lung thing is a bit weird....then again my fitness is a bit weird i.e. completely fucked. Despite that I did a few challenging routes and felt like I was treading water okay. So that's fine for now.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hello from errr sunny Glasgow.

So I'm back, from the Cavallers trip that turned into an Ariege and Cavallers trip, which was actually pretty good given the diversity of areas we got to explore. The last couple of days were a great day on some classic Cavallers routes (a mixture of delicate slabs with funky chickenheads, strong cracks and flakes, and towering 40m pitches) and a draining day driving 360 km in search of dry rock (we found a tiny bit) and general recceing (had a look at the Santa Linya cave....shockingly impressive, a humbling experience).

Overall it was a good trip....the cunning plan of retreating to the Ariege worked well, the days on Cavallers granite were great, and the variety and some fine routes were rewarding. I climbed okay during the trip, I didn't push myself very hard, partly due to moving around a lot, partly due to the often slightly greasy conditions, partly due to initial unsurity about the granite climbing (I'm pleased to report that both Cavallers and Auzat have proper grading rather than Pedriza-style nonsense). But I did some good challenges and felt fairly climbing fit, also my elbow and shoulders felt better throughout the trip with the more mileage I got in.

Now it's back to cold wintery Scotland and coming up with the next cunning plans. I definitely want to get abroad more this winter, and also get more climbing done in the UK overall, seeking out the warmth and suitable crags rather than just restricting myself to Scotland. More on that later. As always I will be looking for syked partners to explore with - often the biggest challenge!!

In the meantime, the grand total of 4 self-explanatory photos from France and Spain:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Hola from Spain, at last.

We are now in Spain and have indeed been in Cavallers, after a gruelling 6 hour drive (3-4 hours on windy mountain roads) due to missing a road junction, nearly getting swept away in a tsunami of sheep, trying to get settled into our booked accommodation with the Catalan owner's dad and a total of one word comprehensible between us - "hola", and finally climbing beneath the bloody massive dam at Cavallers. I am so tired I can't even be arsed to have a second beer, so am blogging to pass the time until 10pm bedtime!

Our stay in Ariege was both pleasant and worthwhile in the end. The climber's gite at in is a real treasure: Comfy rooms, good kitchen, ace shower, breakfast in the morning, even decent coffee if you double the amount of grounds the friendly owners put in ;). Definitely a base I'd come back to. We made the best use out of the weather - hearing about floods in Lourdes and rubbish weather from Siurana to Costa Blanca reassured us we had made the right plan B. Combining late starts, some optimism and a bit of luck, we were able to avoid roof-angle rotpunkting in crusty caves, and after a couple of damp starts managed to climb daily and sample limestone at Sinsat, Rochethingy De Chateau and Carol, gneiss at Appy, and in particular granite at Auzat.

The latter we'd recced on one of those damp starts and estimated it was worth prolonging our Ariege stay for - and damn right it was. Granite slabs....but unlike the low angle large crystal no holds horrors of Pedriza (and probably Cavallers from first impressions), the Auzat granite is fine grained, with positive holds, and the perfect steep slab angle that makes those holds necessary - big rockovers on crimps and nubbins, none of this padding bolleaux. Some of the most fun granite I've been on, and another reason to come back to the area and combine it with some of the more imposing limestone we didn't get to.

We have two days (in theory a possible morning en-route to the airport if I can persuade stinky fox that a 6am start is really a sensible plan). At least one of those will be a full day at Cavallers, maybe the other will be too or maybe we can mix it up with a bit more Cavallers and a bit more limestone. The very typical granite at Cavallers is a good change but not my favourite rock so can work as a good combination with the lime....we shall see...

Friday, 19 October 2012

Hola...err...bon soir from Spain...err...France.

Desperado Red Edition, random French lager, and Kwak 8.4% this evening, so this blog post might be even less coherent than normal...

We are in France. Not Spain. Nor Glasgow. Spain was the plan - inspiring Pyrenean granite up at Cavallers. Slabs and features and all the usual granite goodness (not my favourite rock but I find it intriguing enough especially on sport climbing) all scattered close to a mountain reservoir. A cheap apartment in the local village and plenty of winter sun limestone nearby if it got too cold or rainy up in the mountains. Plan A seemed infallible...

....except for a swirling miasma of hurricane strength low pressure grinding it's way across Spain and spewing it's torrential rain showers over the Pyrenees like a bukakke shoot on a Ferris wheel. Arse bugger wank etc etc.

So Plan B has been to cancel the apartment and retreat to a climber's B&B in Ariege, crossing the border which was characterised by an ancient outpost in a random village and an incredibly fluffy rug dog on the French side, into an area forecast to be sheltered enough to escape the worse of the deluge.

Maybe it has, but there has been enough of a mild deluge today to restrict activity to a recce of rather good looking granite slabs at Auzat, and then some bog-standard Euro-lime at Sinsat. Still we did some climbing, it's quite muggy which while unpleasant for climbing is beneficial for my elbow and shoulder tweaks, and got some inspiration....

Since Cavallers looks to be getting a lot of rain and thus might take some time to dry, we might extend our French border crossing for a couple of days into next week, then head South. Or we might end up rotpunkting polished bollox in chossy ever-dry caves and watching more Starcraft 2 videos WHO KNOWS.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The punteration.

I have recovered from the punterflu but not from the associated residual (or is it chronic?) punterdom it seems. I've managed to keep active and get out climbing a few meagre times, but it's definitely been ticking over at a subterraneanly low level rather than ticking the all important Big Numbers *snort*:

Weem: Slogged up to Aerial Crag. Super grim as I hadn't been active for two days and my legs wouldn't work at the top. Easy mileage in a pretty nice situation. Did the job.

Glen Ogle: Slogged up to Mirror Wall. Super grim as...errr my legs are fucked. Got pretty angry and thinking a lot of FUCK YOU thoughts at the world and society. Lovely situation and a nice bit of rock, but some problems with seepage so had to faff around a bit. Learnt that I don't like leading routes if I've inspected them, even if it's only to dry off seepage. Okay day.

Trowbarrow: No slogging! Warm day at a sun trap. Haven't been there for years. Did a couple of steady routes, tried something a bit steeper, got pumped, got fucking cowardly and slumped onto a peg instead of doing one move to easier ground. Disgraceful. But okay day apart from that.

Houndkirk Tor: First time on grit for years. Cool day but still vest-on conditions and pretty greasy. Didn't expect much and just went for an easy circuit, which worked fine. Ended up with my skin more trashed than my elbow for the first time in ages.

Plus some sessions at TCA trying to redress the fucked skin / fucked elbow balance, and a couple of gym sessions confirming I am fat as well as weak. Moan moan whine etc ;). Still at least I am moving so if I keep at it I'm sure I'll end up getting some fun stuff done soon...