Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Eating Dirt

Sunday morning ride was on the cards and I was pretty excited to get out on the trails at 'The LookOut', Swinley Forest. 

The ride started well and the tracks were in superb shape, they felt sticky and positive which gave me tons of confidence on the bike. 

We were having a lot of fun. I was popping the back wheel out, jumping and bouncing down the trails.

We approached one of my favourite parts of the trail and I took off. I felt I was going faster than ever, a few tail flicks over some bumps made a table top, 2 monster burms without tapping the brake, then I took another jump, landed, popped it again and then to be honest the next thing I remember was thinking, what's broken?!

I went over the handlebars and landed on my shoulder and face, eating  dirt! 

I was instantly worried, tingles down my left arm. Gideon then flew past me and slammed on the anchors. He checked my collar bone, and that was fine... And then he went into photographer mode trying to capture the moment.

Shirt torn and face full of dirt!!
What Just happened??

My left shoulder was killing, my left knee would not bend and my face was all scratched up and covered in dirt. A few Haribos later and I started to feel a bit better. 

It was a long ride back to the car, where I had the drive home feeling everything swelling. 

I rested all day and took an early night, but when I woke up the next morning (not that I got much sleep) I felt like I had had 12 rounds with Tyson. My neck was chronic, with no movement at all. My knee was also swollen and wouldn't  bend.... 

The Aftermath

I'm now sitting in A&E waiting to have everything checked.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Suns out, guns out....

The hottest day of the  year so far and Natalie, myself, Robin, Rowland and Marcus headed to cheddar gorge for some bolt clipping.
The journey was made more luxurious by having a Land Rover Discovery; a car I’m really impressed with, the perfect vehicle for an adventure athlete.
My training has been going really well of late and I was in search of another push of grade and wanting to try a spicy 7b+ called ‘Insatiable’ (a wave classic).
After a warm up on ‘Toxic Shock’ 6b, Rowland and I started to look at our project for the day. Rowland worked it move by move, breaking it down and it looked like a fun climb.
My turn came and I pieced the first part together with no problem. In the middle of the root you reach for a two finger side pocket and you really have to be accurate with the placement and from here it was great climbing to the top.
Now all the moves were dialled, it was time to try and send it. The big move to the pocket was our hurdle, time and time again it tripped us up. Just not hitting it right.
I’m thinking of the next visit when this will go and I’m really excited to get back down there and climb it.
Robin and his father were on an 8a, called ‘Sweet Tufa’. ! Apart from the line being wet,  it looks like it will get the tick when it’s not leaking water!
Natalie had a lovely day in the sun, grazing all day and taking some great pics. Thank you babe ; )

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Red Point Project

With a good weather forecast, myself, Robin and his father Marcus, headed to Cheddar Gorge. 

We headed straight for the Landslip Quarry, where a few weeks ago I lead my first 7a ‘Raw Deal’  on the ‘Wave’.

I warmed up on ‘Dead on Arrival’ 6a+ and then repeated ‘Raw Deal’ 7a twice, before moving to ‘The Remnant’ crag where I would start a red point project on a 7b called ‘Skullduggery’.

The route guide summarises the line as ‘fast start; brain-teasing finish straight up groove to jug above belay’. I found the first few moves tough, powerful and bouldery, with not great feet. I made things harder for myself with terrible foot placement unable to move confidently, but clip by clip I pieced the route together and topped out. 

I seem to have all the moves, just not the strength endurance to stick it all together. The thing about red pointing is it’s a project outside your comfort zone, so it’s beyond your limit and something to work towards, although at the time it feels like your getting nothing but fall practice and frustration management. The muscle movement and memory that is developed during a session like this, means the sequence training will only put me in good shape for a lead attempt next visit, which I’m confident I can achieve.

I remember watching Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra on ‘La Dura Dura’ and these dudes tried this project over 125 times, before sending it. With perseverance, practice and patience, oh and power you can push your limits.  

Robin and Marcus were on ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 8a. They were working together to suss out the route. It was great to watch the father and son duo on this project, inspiring stuff. Marcus has a lot of experience in the mountains and on vertical faces. His knowledge and experience was encouraging and motivating. 

So, we need the weather to come good for a return trip to the Gorge in the coming days/weeks, but for now it’s back to the training wall for some hard sessions. Fun times ahead working hard to tick this project and hopefully many others.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Everest Closed for 2014.

It seems the latest news from Nepal, following the serac fall and tragedy last week, is that Mt Everest is officially closed from the south side for this season.

My thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones and the Sherpa community at this time of grief, uncertainty and anxiety.

I also spare a thought to those who have gone on a life long journey to climb Mt Everest this year and who face the news at Base Camp, that climbing will not commence this season. 

I do hope that these events and reactions don't create scars in the future of Himalayan climbing, but I do believe changes need to be made and we must think long and hard about how to move forward positively when it comes to the future of climbing Mt Everest.

The mountain is a hostile place, but also incredibly spiritual. Is this event a sign that the mountain isn't happy with what it's becoming, where commercialism and monitory gains made from its land are taking over purity and respect?

As more news and information is made available and a final decision is confirmed, I will expand on my thoughts on the future of Mt Everest.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Playing Truent...

At the beginning of this year, I set out with the goal to lead 7a. With this in mind, I called on Robin O'learly (Climbing Performance Coach) to put together a plan to achieve this. 

The training has been going really well and although I have missed the odd session, I have kept to the schedule and seen dramatic progress. 

I managed to manipulate my work schedule on Friday and play truent to head to Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. 

Robin and I got to Cheddar around 1 pm and started climbing. First, we climbed a nice 6a+ called 'Dead on Arrival', then the focus turned to my first 7a. 

Robin thought 'Raw Deal' at 7a would suit my style of climbing. So we got to work. I broke the climb down and managed every move. The top 2 moves being very dynamic, with the option to cut loose (hanging with one arm and no feet).

I took some time off and we moved to a project Robin was working on, an 8a. Then I returned to lead 'Raw Deal'. I managed to piece it together and get the tick. I did pop twice for the last move and so glad after popping the first time and missing the top hold I managed to stay on the wall. 

Psyched and ready to return in search of more 7a's. 

So the training will continue and hoping to head to a crag this easter bank holiday Monday, in search of some fun on vertical faces.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Gritstone & Claret

Hitting Stanage, Peak District a few weekends ago, I got home psyched for a return trip. The weather forecasts got the weather completely wrong the week before last, so we didn't venture back up. But when I saw last Sunday was looking nice, I was determined to make a run up north to jump back on the gritstone. 

My wife Natalie and I got up early and hit the road, straight up the M1 to Stanage and straight back to the plantation boulder area. This was Natalie's first boulder session outdoors and she was really up for it. 

I warmed up on a few easy problems and then had my sights set on ticking 2 problems I did not get to tick last visit; 'AB Top' a V4 (6b) and 'Business Launch' (same grade). I played around and was struggling, the problem was my fingers, which hadn't fully recovered from my last visit and I was shredding through the skin very quickly, especially at the top outs.

My Fingers

I moved on and started ticking other problems and the fingers just continued to get worse.  I tried tape, but this just kept rolling off and was ineffective, so I continued to climb bare.

I took a moment off and Natalie had a play with a problem, she pieced the puzzle together managing to climb her first boulder; a little celebration at the top pulling the lightning bolt. Awesome effort and her first problem ticked, 'Black Wall' V0.

Following a rest, I wanted to get on 'Green Traverse' V6. I managed to piece the first half together and I think this will go next visit with a bit more persistence. I got back on 'Deliverance' V8, but with no joy and tried 'The Thin Slab' V5, but again, the fingers were not helping me.

I decided to head back to 'AB Top' and 'Business Launch', managing to tick them both, with encouragement from Natalie.

I wanted to try 'Bull Flake', a V5, but after a few attempts it was time to retire with my fingers, now bleeding and extremely sore.

A good day, ticking many V1s, 2s, 3s and 4s and again psyched for a return trip next weekend.

I'm really proud of Natalie, ticking her first problem, which I'm sure is the first of many to come and looking forward to spending many days together on the crag.

Me on Pebble Flakes 

Natalie pulling the 'Lightning Bolt' after ticking her first problem

Natalie climbing 'Black Wall'

Nearing the top out...

Setting feet and moving well.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bouldering in the Peak District - Stanage Plantation

With a great weather report forecasted, we decided to head to the Peak District for some bouldering at Stanage Plantation.

During the long drive up the M1, with the sun blazing, we talked climbing and how psyched we were to be climbing in the sun for the first time this year. But we arrived at Stanage, greeted by grey skies and bitter gale force winds. The forecast could not of been more wrong.

Not to be beaten we headed straight to the crag and started to warm up. The boulder mats were being lifted and blown away by the huge gusts of wind, it was going to be an interesting day climbing, as we needed people to act as pegs to keep the mats down. 

Keeping warm was also a challenge and keeping the the hands protected from the wind was essential. The only bonus to the epic weather was with the chill created great friction on the grit -  a silver lining!

After a good warm up we tried some tougher problems and then headed to an ideal project for the morning, a classic line called 'The Green Traverse', a V6 grade. A tough traverse made tougher with it being directly in the firing line of the wind. But after a few attempts, we decided to head to a more sheltered face and find another challenge, one were we could concentrate on the climbing rather than the weather.

I managed to flash a V3, V4 and a V5 and worked the first section of deliverance V8. I just need to get my feet into a position to have a big pop to the top. It will go, but question is when? Practice, perseverance and patience.

It was a great day out in the Peaks and looking forward to returning once the fingers have recovered. A tick fest of lower grade problems on the cards and I have my eye on some V5 & V6 projects. 

Big thanks to Robin, Rowland, Sam, James and everyone else that we climbed with, a good day and psyched for more.

Sam crushing!

Sam planting the heel on "Green Traverse" V6

Rowland on "Slot sit down" V4

James eyeing up a dyno

Me ready to dyno to the lip

Me on "Business Launch" V4

Sam on "Deliverance" V8

Just to cool for school.

Robin Letting the wolfs out!!!

Robing on "Deliverence"

Me on "Deliverence", what a setting!

Sam traversing "Not to be taken away" V4

Epic setting

Me Flashing "Jerrys Finnish" V5

Close up 

Having a crack supporting Climbers Against Cancer