Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Beney and the Bowderstone

They like familiarity round here, as opposed to unfamiliarity. They don’t do that particularly well...  creed, colour, sexual preference, intelligence, humour, conversation, happiness, sporting activities other than fussball, hair length & colour or just general possession of if male.... anything outside of their norm... it usually provokes a response of resistance and hostility. Hard to live with and be around but such is life.

There is always though the exception and that is in one particular familiarity, and I can't take it away from them... Benedictine.   D.O.M. Benedictine to be precise, the liqueur consumed in vast quantities in the east Lancashire area. DOM or "Deo Optimo Maximo" is translated as "to God, most good, most great".... an 'interesting' statement, no doubt conceived as a watertight contract with his greatness by a bunch of shit faced monks trying to stay shit faced.  
Originally introduced into these parts during the First World War when a Battalion from Burnley based in Fecamp, the home of the Benedictine Monks, got a taste for it and immediately started carting it home. The ingredients are a closely guarded secret, but supposedly brandy based with a great deal of herbs and spices added. Its tastes very medicinal and is sworn by in these parts as a cure for colds and essential for healthy living.
My point is, this stuff is actually pretty good, and worth a tipple for those evenings out prior to a cragging day. You know you always get it, have a brandy, have a port that'll sort you out... yeah yeah, as you wake up the next morning with rod in your head. But... their point was proven over the weekend. Feeling a bit under the weather on Saturday, I resided to the pub for a few before bed then drag my arse out Sunday to the stone. Anyway come lock in time, every man and his dog went on the bennies so feeling decidedly worse went for a few knockouts, no loss.
Sunday I got up, a fair bit fuzzy obviously, but physically feeling ok. No sign of the cold, and actually feeling quite psyched for a bit of cranking. Remarkable. Even more so 'cause we were at the stone and the lump usually requires a fair bit of eye popping squeezing to get any success.. not a good situation after a night on the spirits.
So there be my sermon, benny not bourbon!

Anyway it was a good craic, loads of usual banter and quite a bit of effort going in to stuff, and plenty of excuse tourets going about.
I've been really psyched for Phantom, the Gaskins 7c+ that crosses from Picnic Sarcastic into Grand Opera. Had a play last week and it felt close. Its a cracking problem, powerful and crimpy as hell. Brill. Well I was feeling a bit stronger and after a couple of goes knew it was in the bag. So went for it and got to the move to the jug at the top, but it looked absolutely gopping wet so dropped off not fancying an uncontrolled fall. About 5 mins later the ankle bitter dispatched Grand Opera hitting the same jug only to discover it was pretty dry and thus hung it. Back on then. Next go up and I was pretty psyched, managing to use some Jedi mind control tricks to block out some full on distractions (note to self to remember to put pool ball and gaffa tape in bag in future). Got to the move out of the letter box. This is where you grab a small two finger intermediate with the right and swing your heal over into the ramp on Grand. Well I think Pete might have smegged up the letter box 'cause it felt shit, so I was having to really pull hard on the right hand to stay on and whap! next thing I know I'm on the deck, a bit winded and fingers serious ragging. Snapped the flipping intermediate hold. Gutted. Did well to escape without injury as fingers recoiled with some right force. So I was pretty pissed to be honest and still am, I should have done it the go before, and now you’re looking at it being 8a and a whole harder ball game. And, there was no chance of that happening that day. And, needing to come up again to start all over again. Oh well not ideal but no point grumbling.
So apart from that it was a fairly good day. Stuff getting done, sun was out, nice little breeze, birds tweeting in the trees...

 About to bottle the top on Phantom.                               Just before the hold blew.

Pete on Grand, he'll be good one day
that lad when he gets acquainted with
his lower limbs.


Old man slappy french start Ainsworth, inaudible vaudible payback time.

Other stuff to report...
I'm still getting a considerable amount of interest in the blog from a place in Russia no doubt a result of putting 'blue' in the last blog... oh shit done it again oops. I'm also pretty chuffed with the interest in my finger boards coming from outside of the UK, it appears I've a decent following in Norway at the mo  :) 

Also for any Brownstones devotees who are reading this, I've starting cleaning up the long back wall. Really only because I use it every year to get into routing, and get more comfortable moving about when you don’t really want to fall. Think it was Geoff Hibbert who cleaned it all up about 7 or 8 years ago, which must have been a monster job, so it’s done well, but it has been getting a bit overgrown on top last few years. So I've ripped some of the bracken out and cleaned of a few top outs so it should be right if anyone fancies a few high balls.

Anyway that’s all for now, happy cranking, get the bennies in.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Post Font Bleau's

You see what I did there... Bleau's .. Blue's.. eh.. eh?

Ok it’s been a while since last blog; I have made attempts recently to write a few but, well got bored to be honest. Not much use if there's no substance. I tried over the weekend also, sat in the Vaynol in Nant, but the level of the Welsh variety of that intoxicant somewhat similar to our alcohol made a mockery of my attempts. Interesting reading in the morning... each sentence bearing some resemblance to queens english, based around some form of subject or random boggled thought/rant but only linked to the next sentence, inextricably, by location alone.     In fact this not wholly true...  space and time was shared on quite a few occasions, understandable, but more strangely others appeared to have quite clearly continued of their own accord entirely out of controlled space and onto, who knows where? The bar?    

Anyhow, I'll try again.
So what’s the score in the Crusher Holds Fingerboards daddy’s world? Well I pulled my finger out a bit, kept with the new training regime for a good two months, trying to use my cellar for sessions and the body tension exercises... also opposing muscles exercises... and try and not hammer finger strength, to coax the tendonitis away. Also the plan to stay away from the local wall is paying off, training on plastic... eesh.. nice skin friendly, tendon friendly wood for now thank you. I also managed a few days on the grit, and managed a couple of Wales and Lakes trips, then hit Font for a week...

I didn't really manage to much on the grit, burbage was a laugh, did a good circuit of problems, had a play on the 7c Talk to me Martin, got pretty close but the sharp right hand crimper was soon eating skin. Defo one to go back to. Then nearly had a spectacular dismount off the top of the Sheep, the classic 6c+... somehow got in a right pickle, brought my feet by my hands thinking it was all over.. and to be fair, also a little flustered by a rather good looking lycra clad lass sat basically on the finish holds.. anyhow with right hand greasing off and imminent back flip on the cards.. much shouting from below ensued and I managed an all out get as much skin on rock, fore arm, elbow, knee manoeuvre, which managed to udge me a couple of inches up, back in relative control and enough to save face.... oh how close I came to asking for a hand..

Wales trips were good, I've got the bug back for the bouldering there. Crimpy power stuff, pretty uncompromising and not very friction dependant. Welsh grades can be a bit all over the shop, and I guess for the power reason alone, you can either pull the hold or you can't... and maybe a bit of morph as well. But it is pretty stiff on the grades sometimes, which suits me.. you know you’re getting a good tick if you’re chasing a grade...   So I got pretty psyched by Ogof boulder and Sway on. Also decided a bit of Jerry’s Roof action would be good. Managed to bosh of Bus Stop 7c pretty quickly on about my fifth or sixth go (all that body tension training working out). Then had a look a Mr Fantastic, did some really good links on it, then spent a while sorting the start moves out of Jerry's into it. Right up my street, big spans and gurns between descentish holds. Whether it will go is another question but I can see how it would. Is it 8a+ now the footholds broke? 8a+ would be nice!

Lakes trip was good, bit of Bowderstone action. Not been up for a long long time. Maybe the year living up there and being 5 mins away had killed some of the psych for it. Anyhow it was good to go back and relight a small flame for it. Managed to knock of the normal stuff, power pinch, statstick (which I'd not done before), picnic sitter, inaudible vaud, then following in the footsteps of the performance of the Burnley ankle biter Wilkinson, did Impropa Opera 7c... minutes before the X hold bust. Then had a good go on Phantom, nearly sorted all of it, just needed to be fresher I think, so that’s another one on the ever increasing list to go back to.

So roll on Font! What a week! Again, font is another place I've given a wide berth for a few years... 9 in fact! Hammering it in early twenties kind of took away the magic. Anyway it didn't take long at all for that to return... couldn't get my boots on quick enough...  it was kid in sweet shop all over again.
I did try honest, to pace myself and be sensible, but yep what ensued was 6 days on 6 or 7 hours a day, relentless pig in shit, don’t care my toes are bleeding never mind my tips, one knees fucked, and the other legs got groin strain... and Font elbow... shit... forgot about that one... when it takes 20 minutes between goes just to let the pain in the bicep dull enough that you’re not gonna vom onto the starting holds next go, you know your int zone! Really the last day was pretty much that. 

All in all no idea how many problems I did, all a blur, but there were a few good highlights.
The biggest issue was the weather... 20-25deg + with not a cloud in the sky for any day. Not ideal for cranking hard stuff at all, but just ok to get away with dropping the level and going for some classic ticks, chasing them into the shade.

So we went to... some random place first day I can’t remember the name of, Roche aux Sabot, Isatis/ Cuisinière, 95.2, Roche Fin then Rempart/Cuvier.
Sabots was good on the 2nd day, got warmed up then had a good bash for an hour at Sale Gosse, like you've got to if your there. Did ok on it, was getting up on the dish and getting left toe up in the pocket, just couldn't really do anything apart from try and go left hand, and let my right hand rip from the dish. Maybe friction? My excuse. Anyhow nipped around then for the afternoon, Graviton 7a & Jetset 7a being highlights plus a great effort from the drew and myself for the last hour trying was is quite possibly the hardest 6b on the planet, the slabby arete opposite Jetset, can't remember the name but it involved rocking onto a high left foot smear on the slab with right hand on the blunt arete... along way from the top, which is where you needed to go next... impossible. (update.. cheers Mr. E.. its
L'angle à jean-luc, red 25, and is 6c... sandbagged again!... )

Cuisinière was good, supposedly the rest day but, quite quickly got psyched by the chaps trying a couple of 7a roofs, can't remember the names but they were over the right of Beetle Juice, relatively new problems, rounded roof and slopey heel hook top out... this lead to boots coming out and some gurning and slapping, and whale style belly flop top outs by everyone. Then it was over to Isatis late on and I got pointed in the direction of Les Deux Font la Paire 7a+/7b a cracking problem, the old subtle power and finding the sweet spot problem again, managed it in a couple of goes so was chuffed. Then onto yet another problem I forget the name... some 7a behind Les Deux, a sitter into a short crimpy arete. More mooching about followed and a couple of easish problems to finish.

95.2 well was warm! Very warm, a tiny hint of wind but probably 25 in the sun. Anyway I set to on a mission, I'd never been to 95 before and the guide was lashed with quality looking 7s and most of them sat in the shade. So dump the bag, top off, grab pad, boots, chalk, water and smokes and sorted for an afternoon of wandering, discovering and working on a tan. A quick couple of warm ups then I jumped on Miss KGB, a 7a+/b wall, not uber classic but some great long moves on opposing holds. Subtle, powerful, stretched and needing body/toe power... just like brownstones ;) Anyway it had just come out of the sun and wasn't happening. So onto Le Mur de la Fosse aux Ours the little 7a two move wonder. It was sat in the shade and friction good. Cracking little problem, one of those layaway pull and push of a shit smear altogether jobs, try and over power it and it won’t work. Get some momentum and find the sweet spot and just go with it, and plop you hit the top.
Then wandered over to Retour aux Sources again a cracking 7a, over hanging/arete, bow of a ship, prow thing. Now this was 'in the sun' it was like hanging onto a hot pan. So first go for the flash I was pulling pretty hard, I stuck my left heal on the obvious jug and hoiyked for the left side pull... bang! Shit! Pain! Knee. I knew what it was straight away. Done a similar thing a few years ago on Mira Hindley at kilnsey. When you twist your knee and load it heal hooking, a tendon can ping over the top of your fibular on the side of your knee... usually with an almighty crack. It flicks back straight away, but you are the left with a fair bit of pain and a knee that won’t pull back for a couple of weeks. Not ideal half way into a trip.
Anyway the pain went quickly and I was able to tentatively still heal hook, managing to finish off Retour after a few goes. Really top problem.
Onward with the wanderings, then bumped into Drew n Helen who doing the red circuit, played about a bit ticking a few, then headed back over to Miss KGB. Friction was up and after a few plays with different sequences managed to do it. Not without feet popping as I hit 2nd to last and last move for the top... skin of teeth job. Cool. I then gave the route to the left, Mister Proper 7a+ some attention, well some attention meaning about 30 goes. Found a horrible pressy sequence requiring a lot of toe power to stay on the foot holds, but it was working and getting me into the top crack. Could I do it though? No. Solid. So that was that time to stop. 95.2 another cracking crag for a low 7s climber.

Next day was Roche Fin, home of the minotaur. A remote venue about a 2k walk and just after Diplodocus. Being such a walk means its dead, and you can guarantee you'll probably have it to yourself. First off my knee had ceased up over night and walking was proving difficult. So I grabbed the guitar and followed the others opting for an easy one munching quality bread and quality Philadelphia. Within minutes they'd jumped on Mémoire d'Outre Tombe, classic roof with a couple of variation around 7a/7a+ & 7b, one flash ascent by Andy and a lot of slapping and grunting by the others. Quality efforts.
Anyhow not wanting to get involved I went for a wander leaving them to it, no chance my knee could cope with hooking in a roof. Pretty quickly I noticed a massive amount of really good looking problems on the red circuit. Most of them 5s and few 6a's & b's. I mean circuits are good, very good, but you usually have a fair deal of none problems, those that just make up the numbers. This one is the total opposite. Everyone is an absolute classic and I can highly recommend. Check it out if you fancy... So on with the boots and try pottering round to see if the knee can handle it. Well after about an hour, it was warmed up and ok, bit of hobbling but nothing to moan about, so I went for the Red Circuit. I probably did around 30 of the 35 problems, some steep juggy stuff, slopey font rounded technical stuff and a few proper nose grinder finishes. Got to say it was class, best circuit I've done, not too taxing but needing to be on the ball with technique.. So what was looking like a bad day turned into probably the best day of the week.

So last day was a quick visit to Rempart then into Cuvier. Bizarrely it was really quiet. We decided to have a burn on a few classics and goes without saying finish off on the carnage block. As always last day of the hol I was starting to really get into the font style again, moving quick and pretty smooth. Had a crack at La Balance, I've done quite a few of the tougher problems round there before but never got on with Balance, struggled with the first move so I've always avoided it.
First go I'm up shared on the big sloper staring the next slopey layaway thing out right in the face.. hang that and it’s done. Well I shit myself. Virtually flashed the thing. But, that hesitation was enough and bumf I'm on my back side. A bit of a shocker, felt a totally different problem than did years ago, obviously something was working a lot better, maybe friction, maybe power, or maybe just not hesitating and moving quicker. Psyched again, and up for a battle. I probably gave it a good hour and after getting up on the sloper a good few times it just wasn't sticking. Anyhow close but no cigar, one to defo go back for now.

After this time to go at the classics, team onslaught style, Abbetoir, Carnage, Charcuterie, Cortomaltese, Berezina, Holey Moley, all getting done or not done in some form or other. Plenty of pain and sado finger masochism all-round, amazing how you still enjoy this stuff, especially as when you hit the finish holds minor implosions go off in your biceps and your elbows try to eat themselves.

The highlight of the day maybe the week was Helens ascent of Fissure Morin, the minging crack to the right of Cortomaltese. After many many attempts, last gasps of the day, ready to leave, no skin, no strength, no chalk, sliding and skitting, feet nastily high by hands, one move from the top but poised for a horrid lob, plenty of grunting and screaming, this is really last chance saloon, all out do it or go home... and she throws a proper gritstone jam into the top of the crack to save the day.. and thus foot up and swing into balance and the top... everyone explodes.. fucking brilliant. Happy home time.

Well nice one of you got to the end of this, bit of a holiday tick list blog, but hey if it’s your sort of read hope you enjoyed.
I'm endeavouring to write a short story of tales of woe, bravery, youthful stupidity and lakeland classics... stirred up borrowdale memories from yesteryear, so hopefully this will be up next for your perusal.