Friday, 14 November 2014

Usual November

As per November is a busy month for me between work, sponsor stuff, family obligations, training, partying and of course trying to climb. It started with our comp at the Ice Factor which went well and we raised around £600 for the Glencoe MRT. The following Friday was helping set at GCC for their comp then on the Saturday to Snow Factor with Rhona for her first shot at ice climbing. 

Monday morning was an early start with Joe and Conor to pick up Jeff Mercier who was visiting from France. First we headed to Lyon Outdoor HQ so I could do a short talk and we met Steve Johnstone there too. After this we had an epic trying to find the Works but got there eventually to find Greg, Masa and Will already there and everyone got stuck in. Watching these guys is a real eye opener to how strong the top boys are and it has really made me want to train harder.

Cave full of psyche

After a first day where I felt the effects of sleep deprivation and horrendous recent epilepsy side effects hitting me I knew I had to try harder the second day. After a good warm up I tried the route below but came frighteningly close to breaking my left arm and became very dejected, definitely the low point of the trip for me. 


Seconds before nearly breaking my arm

Severely scunnered and thinking of selling my DT kit

I kinda just walked off myself for a few minutes after this told myself to stop being weak and just get back into it. Shortly afterwards Jeff sent Powerdab (hardest route there)  first attempt which seemed to psyche everyone up, the guy is a machine. 

Jeff on Powerdab D13

Next day was our last visit to the cave and with everyone keen to finish routes and some good patter with Ian Parnell the mood in the cave was good. Joe sent First Blood in an impressive battle and its his hardest route to date.

Joe on First Blood

A mix of French, Polish, Scots, Irish and English accents made conversation interesting.

After numerous attempts at First Blood I was feeling strong and on my last attempt I got to within one move of the finish and dropped my axe, denied :) 

Me on First Blood

Jeff laughs as I try stretching and Joe takes the piss, humour soon killing my feeling of defeat.









Thursday, 16 October 2014

Extreme Gardening and TV

It's been another busy stint again with working on arranging the DT Comp, training and more cleaning at Wave. Steve and I were both busy there last weekend cleaning new routes and also cleaning heather, muck and sludge from Teenoso (VS) and from Ziggy (HS), rarely climbed but now looks like a really nice route, may take a bit of rain/wind to finish the clean. The base of the crag was also becoming boggy as the last rocks put in place by whoever and whenever were sinking so we dragged some more over and have placed them there.

Steve cleaning heather away to make a safer top out

Also this week EpicTV posted a short interview I did with them last week and the response has been fantastic, none more so than this piss take picture from Steves fiancee Jane :) The vid is here....

This cracked me up!! Pic from Inside The Lens

Monday, 13 October 2014

Stupid Hand

Last Thursday Joe and myself headed to Newtyle to get on Fast And Furious once again with the intention of Joe getting his first ascent of it and for me to improve my style on it. Fergus came along to film and Simon Yearsley  and Susan Jensen also rocked up to work on a new line.

Joe and me in matching Rab breeks chatting about the route- Pic Fergus Faulds

I got on the route and climbed it easily in my original style using multiple Fig 4 moves but I really wanted to cut down on using them so treated this as a warm up. Joe was up next and went for it but got stopped only a few moves short of topping out. I tried to sort out climbing it in better style but without being able to switch or high axe there were more than a few stopper moves and I lowered off frustrated. Joe also had a frustrating battle getting to the same point close to the lower off multiple times.
Getting the rage with disability-Pic Fergus Faulds

After that we were both fired up to train, I've been beasting myself and eating salads since :) Wee montage of the day from Fergus here... 

Sometimes my disability really gets to me, especially when its something that really means something. That can range from days like this when the physical aspect of it hurts then there is the mental aspect like when I see people look at my hand then make eye contact and I feel like I should be in circus freak show. There is also the frustrating question that I cant help asking myself what I'd be capable of with two hands, it'd certainly be a lot easier to carry multiple pints!!!

Also to help with motivation we have our annual comp coming up so get your entries in folks, all in aid of Glencoe MRT this year.....


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Nevis Days and Video

I've been spending an increasing amount of time on the Ben this past fortnight, some good, some not. It started the other weekend with another clean up but this time we approached from the CMD direction with some local students, good to see some of them getting involved to help out. The stuff we collected on the summit would've gave most people the boak but it has to be done unfortunately.

Some of the delights we shifted from Ben Nevis

Today I was up with Dave to try get Castle Ridge done before the forecast winds kicked in. It was great to get back here as the last time I was here I was concussed after a fal and am short of the memory. Cracking morning.

Dave on Castle Ridge

Me with the ridge behind

Lunchtime selfie before crappy/interesting scree descent

After that it was time to go check another potential new rock route before the rains arrive. It looks to be technical, little to no gear and scary, ah well once more into the breach :)

Also here is some footage from the first ascent of Smackaroonies last week..... 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Back To Basics

After years of slagging my mates who left climbing for MTB I've started to drift to the dark side too, though I've no intention of anything distracting me from climbing. MTB has fear, speed, fun and bars to get bevy at lunchtime so whats not to like. With my hand, one brake and crap eyesight I knew it'd be challenging but if I wanted easy I'd do normal boring crap. 

On Thursday morning I teamed up with Scott Kirkhope who had kindly offered to show me the basics and we did go right back to braking, cornering etc, even down to stuff I'd never have thought of like seat height.

Proper punter-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

The downhill champs aint gonna lose their crown anytime soon

Next day was down to Glentress with Rhona, Fergus and Gareth, great trails and some amazingly unprintable banter, great day.

Myself, Rhona and Gareth- Pic-Fergus Faulds


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Back to the pain cave!

Yesterday saw a change in weather and thoughts turned to winter. So Dot, Dave and myself headed down to Al Halewoods basement for some training/suffering. All pics from Dorota Bankowska.

Myself and Dave in the pain cave

Dave focusing
All the training helps toward an upcoming trip and this seasons DT comps. Our comp at the Ice Factor this year is in aid of Glencoe MRT so a very worthy cause so if you or anyone you know would be keen then get yourself along on 1st November for a laugh.

I look like a Swan Vesta with my red face an white body

Dot looking too fresh after a burn on the wall

Using the "B*****d stick" on Dave






Friday, 19 September 2014

The Season That Keeps on Giving

It's been another busy stint here in the Highlands between one thing or another. The main thing for myself was getting another new route climbed. While belaying Steve on his project at Wave I noticed the arete to the right, it didn't look amazingly inspiring or clean but I reckoned it was worth a punt. A quick look on top rope with a brush and it revealed itself as an amazing route with some great moves. As usual with the lines I seem drawn to the gear was bad, half placed wire and a couple of cams behind a loose flake all in the same area and almost guaranteed deckout from most of the crux moves. 

Dave, myself, Steve and Dot-Pic- Sean Bell

For some reason this route gave me the proper fear, maybe just a different style from my usual or something. I went to go on lead the other day first thing but knew I was rushing so backed off and waited another wee while. 

The dulcet tones of Slipknot getting me psyched-Pic-Sean Bell

As usual getting the mind where it needs to be for this stuff provided a battle but the a dark cloud blotted out the bright sunshine and I knew the time was now, get on and commit. The sun hit me just as I got the only gear in, too late to turn back, nothing but succeed or fall, simple. Make the first really hard move, in a bad position now, to fall would mean breaking bones, bile in my stomach rises rapidly, struggle to maintain composure.

 Committed mid crux-Pic-Sean Bell

Now I know it's serious I relax more as I know what failure or quitting means and the moves that really scared me flow by in a state of total focus. The feeling of nothingness I crave takes over, pity I have to take such risks to feel that peace but then again it's bloody great fun :) Cheers to Steve for the belay, Sean for pics and Dave and Dot for filming.

Very relieved at the top, miles away from gear-Pic-Sean Bell

Yesterday was Steves turn on the sharp end, we headed to Lochailort with the intention for Steve to get on the E3s but after only a few top ropes on my E6 6b The Rebellion he decided all the ingredients were there for a go at his first route of this grade and he cruised it, one of the most impressive bits of climbing I've seen in recent years and the second ascent in the same proper bold style as the first, well done Steve.

Steve high above the gear on The Rebellion-Pic Dorota Bankowska

Chatting and chilling out, relief and smiles all round after another success- Pic Dorota Bankowska