Friday, 25 November 2011

Out of the woods??

The woods of injury were dark and scary; wondering how long I would be out for, whether I would tweak my finger again, how much I had set myself back if I want to improve and reach new (so far unset) targets? On top of this, everyone was keen to get out but I either couldn't as they wanted to climb hard or just plain and simply didn't want to! This time of year always sees a slight drop in trad climbing psyche, the dropping temperatures and rain meaning you have to pick your crag carefully and risk getting wet halfway through a route. I absolutely love trad climbing, but once autumn sets in, I begin to feel the psyche for bouldering grow, warm and fuzzy inside me.

However, the woods weren't all dark, scary and depressing; they gave me another view into my mountainous world through fell-running. I doubt fell-running will ever be as strong a passion as rock climbing is for me, but nevertheless it is always good to keep cardiovascular fitness up, and it allows you to go into the mountains when injured or its wet and keep in touch, maybe even check out new crags you've never been to before but normally wouldn't risk wasting a good, dry day on... Plus its just good, plain fun pelting it down hills and staggering back up the other side! By no means am I the best rock climber in the world, but with fell-running I am probably far worse! Still, maybe one day I will do the Paddy Buckley Round in the beautiful Northern Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park... A tough round, with roughly 100km of distance to run, and 8,500m of ascent taking in a lot of summits along the way, all in 24 hours if you can!

Check out the stats here:

The PBR makes up the Welsh contingent of the UK's big 3: The Lake district offering the Bob Graham Round, and The Scottish Highlands offering the Charley Ramsay Round. All of a similar distance and ascent. Some nutter called Mike Hartley did all 3 back to back in 3 days, 14 hours and 20 mins... RESPECT!

However, I have been doing some climbing recently, and some of it I'm even quite chuffed with! The last weekend of October I spent most of my time working, but on the Sunday after planning a wall session it brightened up beautifully over in Ogwen Valley so housemate Ollie, Rich "McLovin" Kemble and I went for a quick session at the Milestone buttress boulders. Not much actually ticked but I tried a few things, getting close on an unnamed V6 that Kemble crushed with an almost unavoidable 'dab' on the pad. I did manage Jez's Arete a highball yet shortlived crimpy V4, which got a bit gripping on the topout! Tried a few other bits but a nice afternoon out nonetheless.

Once the week ended the weather brightened up and I headed off to the Orme with Mason, Drew and Owain. We were destined for Pill-Box Wall, a short overhanging wall on the Northern edge of the headland. However, on arrival we were greeted by shade and a very cold wind, still we warmed up and started trying Pill-Box original, V6. Drew showed us the beta, Mason managed a quick repeat, whilst Owain and I had a slightly tougher time. After Mason and Owain valiantly tried Mr Olympia, whilst me and Drew played on Pillbox Original, we decided to head down to Parisella's due to some fabled warmth...

After running down to warm up, we set up our pads below Parisella's Original, a V6 first put up by Jerry Moffatt and Ben Moon back in the day. I had wanted to try this problem for a while, so suddenly got keen, especially with the amount of pads on offer! Mason stepped up and having done it before, despatched it first go, effortlessly revealing the moves for me. As nobody else had their shoes on, I thought I would have a go, expecting it to be a lot harder than Al made it look I grabbed the starting jug with both hands and jumped my feet into position. Moving my hands the way Mason had, involving a tricky crossover, I placed my right heel perfectly and stretched for the next hold... everything felt totally rubbish, but luckily I was directed into the good hold before I committed to one of the poorer ones. A hard cut-loose and a few more goey moves later, I was eye-balling the finishing jug, but could feel my strength dropping... I lunged and grabbed it, hanging there for a second to make sure I had actually finished and dropped off. Flashed! My first proper tick in the Cave and its a bloody flash! Apparently it's V6/7 but I don't believe that for a second, V5/6 more like, the holds are all good, and if you get the heel right and know where your hand is going it doesn't have many hard moves. Mason sent a V8 and a few of us had a play on the start to Left Wall Traverse, which is proper hard!

Sunday dawned bright once again, and Ollie Burrows, an Ogwen Cottage CA picked me up for a Roscolyn hit. As niether of us had been there before, it took a while to find it, but when we did it was totally sheltered from the wind and bathed in sunlight! To start we did Icarus a 2 pitch HVS, I led the easy first and Ollie the steeper 2nd pitch. We then went back in and I led Wild Rover, a brilliant little E1 5a slabby wall climb. The start was a bit bold, but the climbing was positive and open and soon enough the gear got good, and I began enjoying it. I dropped the ropes and walked back round to belay Ollie on it. Soon enough it was my turn to climb it again, it was just as good second time round! Despite racking up for Savage Sunbird, I totally wussed out and we pottered up a wet VS topping out as the sun set, so maybe lucky we didn't do the E2.

It looks like I am nearly out of the woods of injury, though looking back on it, it has given me another interesting and healthy aspect to my life, given me some rest from climbing and allowed me to crack on with some of my 3rd year work...

Then there was the BUMS Peak trip! First thing Saturday morning, Rich K picked me and Jess up from Glossop and we headed to Stanage Plantation. Rich and I then spent the rest of the day looking for dry rock, heading to Curbar, then "Burbage South" (Millstone). A few good easy problems were done but Trackside and Gorrilla Warfare were both damp/totally wet. So we headed off to somewhere new...

"Excuse me, nice lady, which bit of Burbage are we at?"

"You aren't at Burbage, you are above Millstone at Owler Tor..."

"Oh, right, woops! Thanks"

So yeah... but it all worked out good because we ended up at the Mother Cap, where Rich got on better with the Font 7b than Conan the Librarian, a tricky V4 (What the flip!?!). I got super inspired by Conan, getting pretty close to ticking it but alas it wasn't to be... I just couldn't quite latch the sloper after the small slopey crimp rail! Rich then put in a mint effort on a V6 sitter at Mother's pet but couldn't quite do the top out! We left the crag super psyched to return the next day, send our problems and then head on to Curbar for some trad...

Unfortunately after having a tame night out, we awoke to thick fog in Sheffield, so headed to the Climbing Works and bouldered our little hearts out. Not the perfect trip but not a bad one either, always good to get a good spanking!

So here endeth the lesson:

Don't rush through the woods of injury, but take the time to stop and admire the flowers and those cute little squirrels and rabbits along the way, just be careful not to rush out, as you may find yourself in deeper, darker woods... Sometimes you burn all the brighter in the sun having strolled through the woods a while...