Thursday, 15 October 2009

Turning 26

I turned 26 on Monday. I nearly missed it though. Since the moment I stepped off the plane back from Italy, I've been rooted to my drawing board and desk immersing myself in the realities of second year architecture. My dad phoned me on Sunday night as I was sat in studio working away and asked if I was coming to visit the following day for my birthday. I assured him that my birthday was on Tuesday and that I'd see him then. Turns out it was the following day.

I haven't had time to recapitulate the amazing time that I spent in Florence and Siena but for those of you that a)know Lorenzo and b)spend any amount of time in his company, you can imagine how good a time was had. That's a lame attempt, I'm sorry. Dinner in Trombicche with Lore's good friends, crushing at the newly developed boulders at Amiata top (between some pain from training on wood and having poor skin), chatting to many people, drinking great coffee, wine and liqueurs. I could continue but you must get to Florence and Siena and see for yourselves.

Currently, I have just finished a two week project designing a house. The brief stipulated a number of criteria must be adhered to which although presenting some difficulties, made us work within a framework to produce a building 'type'. It's definitely an up of the ante in terms of the time given to complete projects but one can notice an improvement in skills across the board developing in tandem.

I need to mail Lore some short video footage and snaps giving a very vague hint at the beauty and quality of Amiata top so you can see what goes on.

Stay cool.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Girls only want guys with great skills

Will make amends to talk less about inane fingerboard movements now the new beastly macbook pro is through and post some multimedia. Not used to this level of computational efficiency.

Spent ages trying to get blogspot video upload thing to work but it's not playing ball and saying my tags aren't closed. I have no idea what to do to remedy this so if you know the score feel free to let me know. Pointless putting a lot of things on youtube.

Some small rung assists with bungee. Feel ten times stronger since the board has gone up doing this simple basic exercise in conjunction with overload sessions. Donnelly's coming over tonight to play. That should be fun.

I also wish I was this man who looks like something out of Napoleon Dynamite. And wears weird gloves.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Rock boulderising

Determined to escape the sole confines of the garage and touch rock, I've managed to hit three venues of altogether different rock types and climbing styles. The week before last was Burbage, the week past Kentmere and on Saturday past it was Rubicon.
Amazingly non of these venues feel like polished wooden crimps and they make huge demands of me such as that of using my feet to propel myself up or across a rock face. The fingerboard makes less demands and asks only that I contract my digits as hard as possible for a pre-determined period of time. He gives me wonderous gains and quick recourse to the in situ Gaskins action shots prevents any potential premature ejection from the rungs. Quite apparently however, he does not gift me in any way shape or form with the mandatory motor memories needed to ascend the rock.

Two days spent at Kentmere permitted a full tour of the venue without needing to thrash about before heading back down the M6. Conditions were less than ideal in the blazing sun but it really didn't matter on many of the wonderful easy problems. Quite simply it was nice to be on rock and in the most beautiful of surroundings. I warmed up on Badger Arete and then the more satisfying Badger Arete SDS. It's a sublime problem and I'd say is quite representative of the techniques that start to become requisite in climbing mid grade problems and includes a joyous pinch on the arete in the most perfect of positions. The Hole was a very basic and Swiss style pit problem involving some long pulls and satisfying moves. It was also thankfully very well shaded and the conditions in the pit were very reminiscent of the micro climates in Magic Wood. Naturally I made some non climbing friends that had come for the ride witness the sheer brutality of Shadow Play. They seemed about 15% in awe and the situation was likened to the journeys they used to go on with their mother to Roman forts and Wattle and Daub museums. Irrespectively, I took a minute out to imagine G on the send locking hideous micro flat pinches and edges doubtless without emitting a single sound. Truly mindblowing.

Saturday past, Matt and I awoke at 5.45 to head to Rubicon. I was approaching the route scene with an open mind and no expectations but Matt wanted to crush Zeke once more. He's been training hard and it's a real pleasure to watch someone who hasn't been on this route in over a decade take to it as if it was a trade route. Of course he had to familiarise himself with the holds and a very specific sequence and it was probably only a wrong hand movement that stood between him and the crush.
In the cold temps of the early morning it was a little difficult to awaken the body for both of us and it probably wasn't ideal that the warmup consisted of some brief jug pulling before hopping onto an 8b. After Matt had spent time ascertaining what he needed to do next session, I felt I should get a taste for what I would be in for should I commit to sport climbing.
To me, Peak limestone is a little like looking at a TV screen of that visually caustic white noise once found on 80s televisions. I can't differentiate one hold from the next let alone decide where I should put my body. From such little outdoor climbing of late my skin was horrendous on the sharp edges and incuts that feature on some of the holds but I still dogged through sections of the route and slowly began to see where I needed to be to link certain moves. It was perhaps slightly foolish for me to jump on this route but currently my fingers are at their strongest ever and no hold felt in any way bad apart from the most knacky pinch/crimp hold at half height. I walked away from the morning feeling a strong urge to rack up the route hours and work hard on improving the elementary skills required for hard redpointing. It's perhaps slightly foolish to have jumped in at the deep end grade wise but it really does feel like a simple matter of accruing a lot more rock hours and listening to Matt's voice of reason who clearly believes in my capabilities and is keen for me to succeed.

And so the campaign to reinvigorate my regimes, rock types and motor memory has begun. Rather than returning week after week to the same old venues, it's clear that the way forward is in seeking out all that is new and listening closely to the feedback from talented peers (as is ever the case).

Yesterday I acquired my new MacBook Pro and it's very alien to be able to interact so comprehensively with the internet and architectural applications. The unexpected death of the ibook G4 has been a blessing in disguise and gone are the days of waiting an hour for a pdf to open. Expect to see much more video and imagery here from now on.

Happy crushing to you all.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


I walked away from writing the last post and felt something was missing.

I set this blog up purely as a cathartic means of voicing my aspirations, concerns, and priorities. I'm fairly sure the former and the latter are catered for and only until they become manifest will they readjust. But what of my concerns? Since I left a relationship which was just shy of 7 years, I've found it increasingly difficult to sustain climbing motivation in a consistent sense. Perhaps the stability and regularity of everything facilitated a 'schedule', I'm not too sure.

When I consider my climbing peers, where we were all at and what we wanted to achieve two years ago, many significant developments have occured for them. Around this time, the gulf between myself and an esteemed friend and climbing partner was not vast. As my motivation levels have undergone fits and starts, inevitably I have inflicted a sort of dual effect upon myself whereby because of this inconsistency I've left myself a giant hole to dig myself out of and I have become aware that the time that has elapsed will now delay some of the aspirations that I would have been seeing lately.

Thankfully, a recent month and a half of unerring dedication to the beastmaker propelled me past something of a plateau but again, I veered from the path of consistency to one of hedonism. That's not to say that this is a bad thing but I must realise that the one constant that's always been in my life has been that of climbing. Even despite a lengthy hiatus in my first undergraduate degree I still ventured out on occassion to the Yorkshire crags. The hiatus was in many ways very neccessary for me to focus upon my supreme goal at that time - to gain a first classification in my study. I acheived this and I immersed myself wholeheartedly in doing so but at the expense of acheiving any climbing goals. I stand by the priority I accorded here.

If I am to attempt a self critique, I can say that although outwardly I am confident, I've become aware over the past couple of years that inwardly, I can lack self-confidence in my ability and potential ability. It's sometimes too easy to say that ''I've left it too late'' or rather more simply "I'm not good at this and can't see myself becoming good". Whilst nothing I hear from anybody be it close climbing friends or a new acquaintance can shape my personal goal setting agendas, it's horrible to hear people say about a climber that "I don't think he's actually that good, he just trains a lot". What aural detritus! I should come to appreciate that the type of person that would make this comment will never fully satisfy what potential they might have. It is a comment that is simply too foolish to reflect even briefly upon.

So to vocalise to myself how I will (and I desperately want to) sustain my motivation for climbing whilst stood at the door of an imminent intense two years of academic study; I'll continue making and acheiving micro goals in the home setting away for the majority of time from the climbing wall. Unlike the public realm, I dictate the atmosphere that I wish to operate within and I control my session away from the external influences of children wandering freely underneath falling climbers. Here, I free myself from distractions and commuting times. I'm also freed from the pressures oft felt at the climbing wall by the gaze of others. I'd not be freely exposing to myself my concerns if I didn't include this particular issue.

In summary I hope that the hermitic (of course not totally) decision I've made rewards me with some goals that I now know can be acheived. I won't apologise as perhaps I ordinarily might for you reading this and know that the peers I value will be able to succintly translate what I am saying.

It's good to talk. To yourself.

Getting all Zanussi

After two days on training at home last Thurs/Fri, I gave the weekend over to socialising and a catchup with Donners. He's been training pretty hard of late and suggested we hit Rubicon up on sunday past. Alas conditions conspired against us and instead of a long haul futile journey, we spent the day relaxing and reclining at his gaff.

Had the third garage session yesterday and despite feeling a tiny bit rundown got through it ok; trying to focus on ironing out some of the inconsistencies with the left arm. Added a 4mm edge this morning and plan to incorporate this into an adapted training routine. Much like repeaters simulate the application of contact/pressure on a problem or route, I've figured out a useful means of training for some of the shorter harder sport routes I'd like to give a bash. The idea being a hang of 8 secs on the main rung, 3 secs rest, 8 secs 5mm rung, 3 secs rest.....
It should prove useful in quantifying gains throughout the month and when I can do this for a considerable period will start to introduce the 4mm edge into the equation.

Off out to the Lake District tomorrow to give a few new (to me) areas a go with Paul. Haven't been to Cumbria in a long time so am looking forward to it. Some pictures to follow.

Friday, 4 September 2009


Perhaps an American style term for "getting your life organised". Had my fill of constant partying now and it's time to focus on making some gains; be it reading new books, devoted evenings of training or actual boulder problems. After some time spent mounting the new board in the garage I took to it for it's inaugural session last night. Am sort of amazed how I can possibly be this ecstatic over a few pieces of wood and incisions into a piece of plywood but there we are. As much as I miss access to the Beastmaker, I've the added bonus of having a beam to suspend a bungee rig from at home and it's pleasing to see that two one armers on the top rung required only a smidgen of a first joint index assistance. It wasn't sadly the case for my left arm where I needed almost every finger to haul myself up. Good to have identified a weakspot but sad to have lost a lot. In any case, it seems like the pullup bar work is helping a lot.

Format for session one went thus:

- Three sets of warmup pulls and finger stretching
- 1 set of repeaters on big rung to get blood flowing
- Small rung hangs (6 x 8 secs)
- Assisted one arm deadhang on small individual edge (x 3 each arm)
- Assisted one armers on top rung (x 2 reps at good quality x 5 sets each arm)
- 3 sets warm down pulls (x 8)

Added a couple of symmetrical wooden pinches afterwards that are a bit more generous than the current 'bounty' pinches. Speaking of the bounty system; I've put two very thin 70 degree-angled pinches at each side of the board next to two very shallow monos routed into the ply. To hang off solely pinches or solely monos results in buying an MPC. The idea being I would like an Akai MPC so badly that I'll be forced to squeeze them into the next side of tomorrow. Sort of an inverted, more appealing version of the seminal glacial swim system Keith and James have been pioneering in Osterreich (braver men than I!). In the meantime the little bastards serve as useful assists on focussing the deadhang load through the other hand.

Going to venture out to a crag at random shortly. Bring the noise!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

All I ever wanted, all I ever needed

Was a means to train my fingers at home in the safe isolated sanctuary of the Wirral peninsula. As the only Beastmaker I have access to is some distance away in Liverpool, I was glad to see senor Doyle link to a picture of a simple solution for mobile training without needing to make any incisions in the parent's prized door jambs. A quick rummage in T Mills snr's workshop led me to all the materials one could need to make a simple similar fingerboard. Just need to stick these Gaskins photos above the big rung and I'll be back two bustin til the break of dawn.

Thanks Christoph.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Like a child at Christmas

Rather tragically I've been feeling like a young boy the night before Christmas about going back to university at the end of September. It really can't come soon enough. I desperately miss design and the antagonistic atmosphere of the crit. Nothing quite beats the feeling of having done your technical homework and rubbing the face of a critic into the dirt. It's especially nice having served a summer of labouring at the sharp end to inform my working knowledge.

I spent the weekend with two friends helping one of them move into his new abode in Sheffield. Friday night was spent in the worst club I have ever been to and will ever go to. I'm having trouble trying to remember the name of said putrid place but it'll come to me soon enough in a nightmare. After an inadequate lie in, Paulo and I decided to call in to Burbage North for a reunion. Conditions obviously weren't primo but it was nice to be out on the edge and take in some fresh air. A short while later we headed to meet Jim at Burbage South. Everyone was feeling knackered from either work or an uber late night and so the team plan to set some new 8c's didn't unfurl exactly as we had hoped. We all still had a laugh and at least felt like we were climbing 8c in the physical and atmospheric conditions given to us. It's ordinarily against my personal ethics to climb on gritstone but it's time to change that mindset and get involved.

Felt suitably spurred on by a day out yesterday and after a mandatory viewing of L'Etranger neccessary to dig out some type 2 muscle fibres, I enjoyed a bar session at Paulo's. Just need a few weeks of power training to catch up with last month's finger strength gains and it'll soon be time to flex a crush once more. Going to rest tomorrow and train tuesday.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Made a pigs ear by overwriting some code so header isn't as it should be. Will fix it soon.


An enjoyable week past. Went to a whisky tasting and fine dining evening at a friend's parents abode last weekend and discovered the joyous Lagavulin. This was a nice way to bid farewell to frequent drinking and I think I'd much rather spend my money on a nice bottle here and there than continue to line the pockets of Liverpool's many unscrupulous bar owners.

The week in summary; had a few more sessions down at Devil's gorge, caught a 6lb Thornback Ray at New Brighton, mixed some new records and am compiling a reading list for the year ahead. Fishing's been a nice cheap rest activity of late and it's nice to know self-caught fish cost nothing to eat!

Given the page a bit of a revamp so I can link to anything worth checking out on youtube. Best I can do for now given I may as well be accessing the internet on an Acorn. Some content to follow in a few weeks when new computer arrives.

Big up to Crouch for dispatching Never Ending Story pt 2 last week. Have to head out to Swiss with you at Christmas and get involved!

The Ray.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


I've had a pleasant past fortnight. As bad weather forced a lethargic state of affairs in the labouring department my leisure time increased. This was nothing short of amazing and I'm happy to be poor for a relative short term. I've managed a couple of gorge sessions and been given some compulsory reading to do for the design studio. Initially at the commencement of the summer vacation I didn't need any stimulus to motivate me into reading upon on the subject but as time away from the studio has passed, I'm actually thankful for being given some mental fibre.

I'm pleased to report that after a fortnight of no climbing my fingers felt stronger than ever late last week. I've become amazed at how a prolonged rest after a month cycle of committed finger boarding has permitted the tendons to up the ante. My back two feel solid on small crimps and my mono strength has gone through the roof over the past 6 months. I'm fully aware that the past 12 months have fluctuated dramatically in terms of commitment to training and climbing with short cycles of intense focus followed by short cycles of partying. I made the decision last week that the 15th August MuMu warehouse party would be the last for a good while. I stand by this and have begun to think deeply about how the next 3 months of training will be tailored to some specific goals. As of today my diet has seen some drastic alterations; I'm at heart a healthy eater but must make some drastic omissions - that of beer and trans fats. I won't miss either in the least and have exhausted my interests in both over the summer months. In all fairness in fact, I eat hardly any fat but would still like to cut out the bad stuff and offer only goodness to my arteries.

I think one of the major problems with me gaining any specific focus with climbing over the past few months has been my time spent back on the Wirral peninsula. Very very few of my friends have remained here and so most of my days have been spent commuting to Liverpool and dossing at friends houses. Those spent at home have involved prolonged sessions of watching Fashion TV drinking various worldly coffees and listening to around 8 hours of new techno a day. It's a good combination but eventually the mind has come to crave substance.

The past five days have yielded some wonderful news for me. Since I am now 25, the levels of funding for university for which I am eligible have gone through the roof. Ambiguities about being able to afford the course have drifted into the void and I'm thankful at my persistence and belief that all would come good once I had passed through the first year of study. A chance call to the university funding department with regards to the level of one of my bursary's confirmed that as I am now assessed upon my own financial means, I will automatically receive the maximum amount of support unlike last year. It's been a struggle to subsist off very little but the goal posts move closer.

I sound like a scumbag but I can assure you I'm not. Time to achieve.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Since I started labouring a few months back I've not really been able to train properly despite my best intentions. Have been partying a lot when not working but this is no bad thing. I hadn't climbed at the wall or indeed any wall in over two weeks but yesterday managed a new personal best on the beastmaker managing to deadhang the smallest pockets on my back two for 6 seconds. What surprised and shocked me was that a month or two ago when I was hitting the fingerboard hard I couldn't really get close to pulling on yet all of a sudden could do this comfortably for a decent amount of time. I find it hard to explain how incessant partying and labouring can have helped me remotely to do this.

Jim called at alpine o'clock this morning (OK 11.15) and despite feeling the dregs of a late night sesh has somehow persuaded me to head Wales bound with the fonz. Be nice to get out eh.

Nothing to report at the moment really other than some welling psyche for the next warehouse party with Sebo K and And.Id a week on saturday. One time.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The sum of the whole

If I were to describe each day, I would describe it as an existential nightmare. I really would. I'd like not to be misconstrued as suicidal when I say that; I say it because almost every hour of every day, I wonder if what I am doing is what I would like to be doing. If I don't like what I am doing, why should I continue to do it? Naturally , I appreciate that it is very difficult to convey one's worldview and that is precisely the frustration that I am encountering here in trying to say to you what as a variety of abstractions, I say to myself.

I lost my other grandmother last night and witnessed my father cry for the first time ever at her bedside. It's now not the first time I have witnessed someone close to me become painfully frail and perish slowly. I think, in her own way, she thought similarly to me. I can't remember an occassion in her life where she would fail to relish an opportunity to experience something new or somewhere new. This is how to live and it's really quite simple. Rest in peace.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Italians and the art of fun

There is nothing like a night out in Italy. Nothing. The night begins as you awake with that excited realisation as you rub your eyes that the evening will be long and every last sense stimulated. I remember distinctly the day of our night out to Tartana. There wasn't an alarm clock in sight, only the waft of fresh Italian espresso when the first of us would decide to roll out of bed. With electric energy levels, this was inevitably Ricardo. On most days he would be so excitable as to arise several hours prior to myself and bring the coffee to me in a bid to get me motivated for the events of the day ahead. Knowing the day would consist of a lengthy day out to Amiata and Sassofortino followed by an aperitivo and dinner then on to the club, his efforts weren't required on this particular occasion.

I could continue to reminisce to myself and regale every last atom of my memories of that day but what would be the point? I can remember it like a father remembers the day of his newborn's entry into the world. And who would derive as much pleasure from reading my memoirs on this particular matter as I would? Certifiably, nobody. I think I'd like to revel in the human capacity to selfishly 'own' memories and their associated sensory details and instead write no more only to say that Lore, I'll think today of that amazing day last year and you'll be on the terrace in spirit with us.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

de nada

Attacked fingerboard with Pemb again tonight. Both felt pretty sore from Tuesday's extended session so limited tonight's session to just a fingerboard workout. The scales are proving useful and 25lb was my average required assistance to deadhang the small edge for circa 5 seconds comfortably. Managed to hang the slopers which are circa 45 degree flattys with the middle two fingers of each hand on the edge of the sloper. Felt pretty psyched about this as managed to do it for around 6 seconds. Loving the fingerboard cycle at the moment.

Just scheduled a cobble trip with Jim for next week so plan a light fingerboard session monday to rest nicely for the crush. No point even pretending I might be able to climb at the weekend.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Back two bustin, I ain't got time for dustin

Thankfully weather conditions have mellowed out over the last two days and putting the roof on has been a relatively simple task in comparison to lifting thousands of blocks in high 20 degree heat. Realised I've learnt so much doing the job so far and know it's definitely going to help come returning to the drawing board/CAD suite. Incidentally that reminds me to pull my finger out and carry on learning AutoCad.

Last week, Pemb and I decided we might as well begin to train in his garage. Granted it has no beastmaker (yet) but he has the largest available Metolius simulator. It's nicely located on a concrete lintel and is great for doing one arm work as you can pull above the height of the holds without any restrictive problems. James showed me the numbers on the workout Neil Gresham did for him last week and I used this loosely to evolve a current training plan. He reckoned you could do this pretty much most days and takes 20 mins at max. Last nights session was probably closer to an hour and a half but expanded upon a few of the basic exercises. I read something someone wrote on UKB recently about one arm deadhanging technique and decided it's long overdue that I learn this important training exercise. After a few recent fingerboard sessions, I've finally begun to master the art and clocked a solid second on the smallest edge of the simulator. Was quite pleased with this as I was exhausted prior to commencing the session and now I've got the technique dialled, one second ought rapidly to become 10 seconds. In theory.

Last year at Lore's I proposed a sketch of what is my conception of the uber fingerboard. It included a set of fishing scales attached to a multi-knotted sling which would allow for a greater empirical understanding of the exact forces at a given time needed for assistance with one armers and one arm deadhangs. After trialling this last night, it seems to provide a useful indication within the 'peak' period of the hang as to the poundage needed to assist in the hang. You can soon tell when failure is occurring due to the wavering needle and I think it's pretty useful to jot down the ballpark poundage required for future reference. I'm very fond of any scientific approach to training as it allows the closest possible means to monitor just how much you're improving rather than getting disillusioned with simply pinching a tape or knot without ever feeling like you can do it without. Am going to continue doing this and will feed back my findings..

Probably the highlight of the session (yes I'm thinking about compiling a highlights TV package) was the discovery that I can indeed deadhang the smallest pocket with my back two and can do this for a pretty long time. Never really tried before but intend to continue working these frequently overlooked little doigts.
Was nice to see Pemb looking solid and psyched. Nice also to hear he found the only physio in the world that seems to be able to keep him in one piece! Keep at it bestia.

If any dear home boys and home girls are reading and around this coming weekend with an inner techno beast to feed, then come stay in Liverpool for the 4 parties in 24 hours party. I urge you.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Calm down

I need to calm down, calm the whole deal right down. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment and living with one's parents at this age no matter how temporary the whole situation might (supposed to) be is hard.It's nice spending intermittent periods at home but also obviously pretty stressful given our contrasting lifestyles. Still, this is part of the bigger plan and the eye must remain on the finish line and an optimistic outlook that society will soon once again need architects. I say this given a seemingly weekly update from the Royal Institute of British Architects under email headings such as "Apply for your practice crisis pack". They're trying quite clearly to convey a positive spirit but it's hard ignoring the fact that so few of Liverpool's construction sites are unpopulated at present. Let's also not forget that buildings don't spring up overnight. The whole procurement process is a long, contrived and complicated affair. Perhaps then in this light the recession might force a more fast tracked procurement method that isn't so bound up in red tape and conflated legislation? It'll be interesting to see.

For the past few weeks, labouring has been tiding me over for a bit of cash towards the 3,000 pound fees target and so far I'm just shy of 300 pound. If this trajectory were to continue, I might stand to make half of that which is a slight concern but I'm confident that hard work will seal the deal. It always feels a bit strange going from working so intensively in an academic environment to scrounging around for shitty admin jobs.
I have to admit that although it's been an intense experience and genuinely back breaking work what with the oversize concrete blocks the architect has specified, I've developed some useful muscle groups and also received a lot more sunlight hours than I would normally. Similarly, I'm grateful of the work whilst many around me struggle to find even the most menial casual work. Mal (my boss and family friend) has mentioned a few times that I can work on future jobs with his company which as well as being a vital source of income is also good experience at the other end of the construction process.

Tuesday past, I was able to enjoy a day off and a day out to Parisella's with Ricardo, Smooth and O. It'd been a year since I'd last been on the Orme and it certainly felt like it. I managed to get to the usual end point on RA which I was quite pleased with and was comforted to see I had at least retained some form of base level for outdoor climbing. Very keen to not veer from the path of motivation this time and get it done so I can move onto something else in there. Was super impressed with Ricardo's form and even more so with his ease in dealing with the Pit of Hell start in the most disgusting conditions. O and Pete finally decided to embark upon their RA campaign and were doing well stringing together much of it despite humidity.

There's a cave trip tomorrow but I need to work through until Saturday for the 4 parties in one night party. Two friends have emptied their uber stylish dockland apartment and moved into a new abode. With another week's lease still on the property, this affords us a venue for the Mumu Moon Harbour pre pre-party. Then on to Peacock pre-party before going to the party before the after-party in what has to be one of the biggest and best new abodes in Aigburth. I'm psyched.

Lastly an apology to anybody losing minutes of their lives reading this. I'm aware that I very rarely link to any photos or video. This is due to the medieval ibook being unable to process more than the most basic CPU operations. I'd also like to apologise for the abysmal standard of writing and content. Ordinarily, I enjoy writing and am fairly satisfied with it but looking back through some recent posts, I'm wondering if it's worth continuing to write if it stays like this. I suppose there's not really anything of interest even to myself in my head at present. In any case, it's just some words on a page that seem to come out.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Be like Jerry

I was surfing a wave these last few months - a wave of low motivation. Being the somewhat fickle character that we can all be at times, this all changed when I read Jerry's book. I realised that on an altogether different level, I have been suffering from similar self belief problems that he encountered in the early days of competing. Since emulating his tactics, I'm finding myself feeling every atom of wood/resin or in tonight's case , metal under my fingertips. A surge of motivation has begun to coarse through my veins once more.

Currently, I have a goal in my head that would once have appeared perhaps too grandiose for me to entertain. Now that I have seen what I must do, I no longer have been wasting time wondering and instead spend my time doing. Tonight, a late call to Pemb heralded a cancelled training session but my motivation led me to my fathers garage where the only edge to hang from was a small rounded metal one. I can't believe just how perfect a training hold this actually was and I devised a toe -on, toe-off deadhang session stepping between a bandsaw and a lathe every 5 seconds. Where there is a will to train, there is indeed a way.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Brush with death

Was royally dissapointed this morning to find out I'm very much needed this coming saturday on site. This is something of a downer as I mistakenly thought Cocoon in the Park was in July and only found out last week from Em that it's this month. Pretty gutted that I've tried to see Luciano three times now, each to no avail. Alas, there is to be a 12 hour warehouse party with Martinez playing in Liverpool in July. That's not a bad substitution and I'll live with it.

Had something of a brush with death today. Two Welsh scaffolders were on site with just myself putting the third and fourth lifts in. There I was merrily brushing up detritus when a common brick came whizzing past my ear landing just next to my foot. Now it's lucky that I made a strange decision to start brushing up early in the day as if I would have remained in place painting the I beams, I would now be very much braindead or dead. They neglected to tell me that they were above me otherwise I wouldn't have been anywhere near their clumsy hands. Still, it was nice talking fishing with them.

Felt somewhat dreadful yesterday with a bit of a cold coming on. Ignoring my own wisdom of avoiding training in this state, I couldn't resist going for a potter. This of course led (as it always does) to innane feats on the fingerboard with Crouch and Crypt project time. Spent some time with softlad trying to stitch together a toughie in the Crypt before heading up to the beastmaker. After toying with the idea of making up some circuits on it, I managed to dispatch a front lever on the 45's into a deadhang to a pullup to a double to the 30s. Whilst not impressive in the least, it's nice to know that if I'm feeling ok on an off day, I should be able to perform better in subsequent sessions. Also managed to deadhang the 45s for 17 seconds on the warmup which wasn't too shoddy all things considered.
I suppose in many ways I should be thankful for a stint of manual work which is essentially a 9-10 hour workout every day. Training after doing this is no mean feat but it psyches me up all the more for needing to invigorate my training beast within.

Rest tonight and session two of the guru's masterplan to de-punterise me tomorrow.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Labour of love

I'm pleased to report that my examination results for semester two just came in and I passed the year with 58, 63 and 76. I'm a bit dissapointed that I only landed 58 percent for my studio projects but I know that leaving a lot of drawings out in the pinup assessment from project one cost me dearly. Not fussed in any case as it's a solid pass and I've learnt so much since that project. I can't really complain with 63 for structures/environmental exam either considering that was the product of two days worth of revision. 76 was something of an unexpected whopper for Architecture and the Built Environment and I'm pleased to know that I can still write essays reasonably well.

I started labouring on a two storey extension opposite my parents home a few weeks back. The house is owned by some good family friends and Mal (who lives there) is a director of a construction company. At only 35, it's been impressive to see how much he knows about many different areas of construction and I can see from the rapport with his colleagues that he's a well respected boss. It's been a pleasure working for a totally likeable guy and he's been keen for me to be involved with the whole process as an aid to my own education. It's also been physically intense and after working 8am to 6pm I'm feeling battered and broken. This seems to be having some repercussions upon my climbing performance but it's also giving me a pair of shoulders I thought I could never own! It's been good getting the tick as the only worker to lift two of the oversize concrete blocks at a time. Even outside of climbing, it's still nice burning people off.

I was introduced to the project architect on Friday who seemed impressed that I wanted to work at the other end of the drawing board and he was keen to take my phone number with the prospect of working for him. I hope this follows through as I need the work badly and would benefit immensely from working with him. We'll see...

After promising to visit Casa di Pearnall for a long time, I finally managed to summon some funds to board the train to Manchester last week. Was super impressed with James and Em's pad and particularly the Cadbury's outlet bulk purchases. Anyone that thinks a top level climber eats only grass and dandelions should check out the size of the mini egg shipment in situ! Had a delightful few days eating nice food and talking dirty so thankyou both!

Headed out yesterday with Matty D at our usual alpine start time of circa 3pm. Despite both of us feeling exhausted from a late night, we eventually ended up at Beginner's Wall pulling on some holds until deciding we were both too tired. Called into crag x on the way home as I've wanted to see it for around 15 years. It lived up to my expectations and I'm fully psyched to get there asap (preferably not after a days labouring!).

In the meantime, if you would like to pay host to a nomad for a night or two, drop me a message and it'd be good to talk to you.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Raging psyche

Was another edition of the beastmaker last night and by shit did I feel good. Really starting to notice gains from a few weeks of concerted effort. Feeling stronger than ever on monos and introduced the weight belt for some exercises last night. I'm really very psyched at the moment and hope to unleash it on some rock soon. Financially, I've not been in a position to leave the house for the last week save for venturing to the wall with senor Pembridge. I'm using this period of dire financial ruin to put the blinkers on and concentrate on what is actually available to me - training. There's a few things I'd like to tick off over the course of the next month and am super keen to revisit the Flashpoint sector on the Orme to take a look at the highball Seaview Prow thingamawhatsit and Doyle's majestic problem up the scaled down LPT. There's some unfinished business too at Beef and some things there I'd like to open an account with.

Spent an hour today taking my first AutoCad steps. It's been pretty boring but hopefully a few hours of this can at least give me the beginnings of a basic grasp for what I'll need to do with it next academic year.

Boring as sin sorry. Will engage brain soon.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


Commenced regular training as of this week. Feeling pretty good on the beastmaker and after printing off the 321 article have begun to think more strategically about training specifics. It was useful to see where my micro weaknesses lie and where I felt better than I thought I might. Felt pretty broken yesterday morning and shoulders feeling nicely sore from weighted typewriters. Have decided this is a useful exercise for me since gangly people tend to have to work harder to climb 'open' (in the words of Mal). Really enjoying being back in action though am pretty worried when I sit down and think about it that I think I prefer training to climbing. Hmmmm. This wasn't supposed to happen. How is it possible to prefer the means of facilitation rather than the mode of climbing? I'll embrace it anyway and if nothing else aspire to the graded feats listed at Beastmaker HQ.

Managed to score some minor hours of work at the Wirral Environment Centre last week. Was interesting to see what they do as much of it is relevant to my study modules. Got a day of power cleaning coming up this week before I start labouring on a new build on thursday. Quite looking forward to pinching some stacks of bricks and seeing how to work to plans; something they don't seem to emphasise in the ivory towers of academia.

Not much else to report really. I had a sort of moment of clarity concerning my thoughts on minimalism in context of architecture the other day but am too tired to unfurl these today. Next time.

Last up, congratulations to Mick and Debs with their newborn uber beast Jack. I dread to think how soon he'll be burning everyone at the crag off! Best wishes to you both.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Rave Mears

So, that concludes the end of year one Architecture. It should have been the end of year two save for a disastrous year of external mishaps last year. With hindsight, I think it's preferable to be in a greater position of recession proofness (a word?).
I wasn't so sure that two days of solid revision would see me through but I came to experience a position of what can only be described as mental weightlessness; that is to say, the textbooks had embedded themselves deep within my pyche and poured themselves out through my pen and into the exam book. Suffice to say, I'm hopeful that I've at least acquired the requisite 40% for entry to year two.

Now that the academic year is over, the summer job hunt and the hard training is on. I've gotten what post exam partying I needed out of my system and it's now time to turn back to a more wholesome path. I was a little bit puzzled today to read a thread on UKB that had mention of my esteemed Germanic friend Holger crushing my project. At first, I have to be honest and say that I was a little dissapointed that I'd worked hard in university all semester knowing that summer could be dedicated to training and trying to realise this as one of my personal goals. Ultimately though, I was psyched to hear that a fellow partner in crime had stepped up to the oche and crushed (as every good man and woman must). I saw this evening that John mentioned Holger thought it to be V5/6. This confused me a little as a) it's a route and b)I know I'm not the mighty Jonathon but I'd have made no progress since 4/5 years ago if it turned out to fall in this region! I can only assume it's something else that's been done and irrespective, it'll be nice to be back involved with it.

Only other thing of note is the motivation that seems to be welling up for our self-initiated entry for the Liverpool School of Architecture contribution for the 2010 biennale. I'm looking forward to what might come from the team and am very much motivated to have conceived of this independent of the university. The lack of collective impetus within the faculty for anything that isn't spoonfed is insufferable and it's a brilliant feeling to know that we might be snowballing something that might inform future years of LSA-Biennale involvement.

Just returned home from seeing Ray Mears' talk on the environment as part of a new free university lecture series. His enthusiasm for his subject knows no bounds and I was impressed (but not surprised) by his eloquence in addressing a public audience. Very much worth watching as a speaker should the opportunity be presented to you.

Here's a toast to training.

Friday, 22 May 2009

test image

Never seem to get round putting any images up but here's a condensed watercolour synopsis of my final concept which inspired the eventual design. Should hopefully be able to link to some renderings later...

It's hammer time

Today's the final test; how much have I absorbed in two days from across the course of a year's work? A lot I think but my propensity for seizing up in exam rooms is common. What would Gaskins do? Well, he'd probably take a moment to compose himself before opening the paper, say a quick prayer and then proceed forth in a spiritually wrapped cotton wool ball of confidence. If it's good enough for Johnny, it's good enough for me.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Last push

Blogging has been at a bit of a standstill of late owing to some consecutive late night uni sessions but I'm pleased to say my end of year assessment pin up is finally past and all that remains is two exams. I was pretty happy with the Eno house in the end and as long as I've not failed the studio module, I'm happy.

This week is the final push in revising for the exams. Should really keep my head down and stop bumbling about coffee shops like I'm some sort of flaneur. There's work to be done yet.

Been managing the odd beastmaker/wall session combo and managed a new best on the 45 degree slopers last week which was nice. I heard from Mick that apparently Jennings was sniffing around the Beastmaker HQ when Hession's board was being made and that it's possible that some angle exaggeration has occured to rich's board. Whether this is true or not I don't know, but all these tales of people doing doubles between them and the other holds has me at a loss. By all means, I acknowledge I'm far from the greatest climber but I can still deadhang pretty well. Now although I can hang them, I can't ever envisage being able to double from them to another set of holds and back. Either the ply board it's mounted on is warped or Jennings has had his way with the CNC settings and/or both or I really am destined to be this punter forever. In any case, I love that fingerboard.

So, by Friday the academic year is over and it'll be time to give myself a few precious days of mental recovery before the hunt for a full time summer job job starts. I've etched some time staying at Father Doyle's in the diary to slay some Orme beasts immediately after and I can't wait.

Last thing, I'd like to congratulate Crouch on his uber quick ascent of Monoblock once more. It's been amazing deriving inspiration from one of my very good climbing comrades. I recall a few years back we were both stood at the bottom somewhat aghast and not entirely able to spot too many holds. It seems there are indeed some holds and that little thing called belief (with a dedicated dressing and a motivated sauce) can send one upwards. Let's see what some dedicated time and early summer mornings can do...

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Psyche, but on a leash.

You remember that feeling you used to get in primary school when the teacher asked a question and you were the only one who knew the answer and you knew that you were the only one that knew said answer? Well do you remember how frustrating it was as the teacher hushed you as she could see you bursting at the seams desperate to tell her how to spell 'crustacean'? I remember that moment in a spelling contest tie breaker. If it was not for being obsessed with marine biology and herpetology in my youth, I would not have known how to spell 'crustacean' and I would not have won the contest. That restrained excitement is excrutiating yet euphoric at that moment of denial isn't it? That's pretty much the closest analogy I can give to how I feel at the moment. Don't get me wrong, I adore architecture and I'm really enjoying the current domestic scheme for Brian Eno but it's hindering me somewhat in my climbing development.

I ventured to the wall tonight and set about session two on the beastmaker with Pemb. I'm a bit dismayed that I started to develop the beginnings of useful power for harder problems but seem to have lost much of it through the lack of psyche over the last few months due to uni work commitments. If I'm to be honest with myself, it wasn't just the university work responsible for the downturn but a lack of interest in slow progress. This is foolish and I've always set about concerning myself with activities which require gradual gains over long periods that require sustained commitment. So why did I lose interest? I think probably because of a desire to party and immerse myself further into the depths of the city's developing and flourishing techno scene. It's just been too hard to swerve away from seeing some of the best producers work their magic on my doorstep. There has to be balance however and my psyche has returned. Come end of semester on the 22nd May, it'll be time to get back to 4 times a week training. My ultimate goal is to tick my short route project; something that has what I know will be the single hardest move I will have to work for. I suppose it's very difficult repeatedly having to shun outdoor trips with the clan every weekend in favour of slaving over the drawing board. Consider this less of a moan and more of an expression of intent that I so badly NEED to reinvolve myself with the sport and get back out with you hommes. Thus for the next few weeks the psyche will be restrained by his leash and the inner beast will be tamed. Keep pulling friends.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Return to outside

Currently on easter 'vacation' (though it's no rest!) and managed to get out a few times within the last seven days to the South Lakes with the usual suspects. Lost a fair bit of gas in the tank but starting to feel a surge of motivation once again. This is particularly good news as it's never easy just 'ticking over' with a wall session a week here and there. Been good to see Crouch flying high on form and improving as much as ever. Also a sad reminder that I've shunned living the dream any longer with him! In all seriousness, the boy's motivation is infectious and I can tell he's keen for me to stop under achieving which spurrs me on somewhat. Right now I have a million drawings to do and a lot of exam material to revise so I'll keep it short and sweet. I've not forgotten about coughing my lobes out here and will try to mention anything of note to you holmes of mine amidst the maelstrom.

Keep improving...

Friday, 20 March 2009

Goethe and the experiment

It's been a while since I've posted as nothing of any relevance to climbing has occured of late. I've just 'finished' (they never are until final pinup) a scheme for a land yachting and windsurfing centre and I'm pretty happy with it. I made a decent model out of 3mm laminated hardboard and it ended up looking fairly fly for an architectural model. I managed to skip the review which was silly of me but I'm confident what I have is beyond satisfactory.

The last two weeks I have been making something of a return to frequent climbing activity. It's always nice in the early part of a project to have relatively little pressure upon oneself and to focus some much needed attention on training for a summer of project crushing. It turns out I hadn't lost too much and only really feel something of a power endurance drain present. It'll only take a few dedicated sessions of volume to correct this and I actually feel slightly lighter and stronger on crimps than I did when I was training 3 times a week. I have some psyche to get back to the cave and mop up some unfinished business as well as to forge connections with other classics in there.

The post title is dedicated to something from yesterday. Whilst strolling through the Sydney Jones library, I started to wonder what cluster of knowledge I might gain if I was to indulge in a chance experiment. What might be the learning outcome of walking down a random isle of old books, picking a book at random, a page at random and a paragraph at random? I started to walk along a level (at random) and made a sudden left turn after some 30 paces. I continued forward for about 10 paces, picked a shelf, picked a book and picked a page. The book was published in 1849 and was an account of Goethe's travels in Italy and his letters written in Switzerland. Upon turning to a page at random and glancing at the first paragraph in the middle of the page, what I read had a particular poinancy; it was an account by Goethe of the condition of the 'youth' at age 25. This is of course my age and I read with great interest what the polymath had to say. He spoke of every last attribute of two young men he was to draw in great emotive detail concerning their physical attributes and their spirit. I felt an eery sense of self conveyed through his description and after the extended paragraph spanning a page and a half had finished, I walked away completely stunned by the outcome of the aleatoric process. I'd like to return to the library today to take out the book and transcribe it here.

Lastly, I'd like to pay formal homage to Lorenzo Frusteri's ascent of the pure direct roof line at Amiata. This is a very impressive feat of climbing, especially considering the man's occupation and time allowances to frequent the crag. Rich and I witnessed it the summer past and acknowledge the dedication Lore has given to the line. His unwavering commitment to such an aesthetic and perfect line is inspiring and I hope to emulate this performance in time on projects of my own. Congratulations Lore, I know but just the surface of the attention this problem commanded.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Commenced the second installment of return from injury last night and for the most part felt OK. It's amazing how much gas was lacking in the tank though after 3 weeks. It was a case of feeling light as a feather but having no muscle to lug the feather up the wall. Finished with steep incline press ups to try to iron out imbalances.

I've just hit another of many brick walls I'm likely to encounter over the next two years; that of paying fees on time. Thanks to the classy fuckup of the LEA in not generating my Financial Notification on time, I've just been hit with a bill of £1,572 and told essentially that if I can't pay it, I'm likely to face problems. Naturally, this moves away the laser like focus I have for my studies and transfers them back to more sleepless nights amidst spiraling visions of figures and failures. I've been advised to send an email to the head of fees and explain the inadequacies of the university admin system and my LEA. I've been somewhat foolish in thinking that I'm guaranteed a high level of support from the RIBA and the ALF (but I should be) and I'm counting down the days until they get back to me. Nobody said this was going to be a stroll in the park and I knew I'd be facing many more situations like this. I just have to accept that glory will come in a couple of years and all this CAN be overcome through persistence and a reliance on that of the pen as the sword.

EDIT - Just realised I said 3 months at the start of this post. 3 weeks I meant! Shit what would life be like to a dedicated climber with 3 months of one's climbing life missing? Answers on a postcard!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Lull a bye

Well, the last month has been a period of gross climbing inactivity. I've been sucked back headlong into university and motivation has been pretty low for climbing. I think my attitude towards climbing has changed a lot these past few months from that which it has been over the last year. After a difficult time early last year, I 'lived the dream' subsisting off about 5 pounds a week for much of '08 and consequently got pretty light and made great gains. Alas, as I started to drift back into a clear state of mind, I saw that this wasn't the path I wished to carve for myself. To the contrary, I think I have elected for one of the most difficult and time consuming paths. It is one I know will grant me economic as well as personal satisfaction and it seems a far cry from scraping rent pennies together and knowing the intricate differences between various supermarket value ranges. I know I have made the right decision and as soon as I'm settled in the city centre normal service will be resumed.

It's an interesting agglomeration of people on the architecture course; all with varying intentions and motivations for being here. Personally, I can cite my own but chiefly I'm interested in the contribution I can make to social housing and the lives of people who are not accustomed to the sort of attention to detail the middle classes receive in their living and working environments. To the simplest extent, architecture is about the manipulation of space and for me, giving integrity to form through materials. It amazes me that this prime consideration seems to be factored into the mix as a sort of afterthought in the design school when in reality it should be articulated with a much greater onus in the early stages of design. Perhaps if this was to happen students might grasp a better idea of working with cheaper materials and gain a better understanding of the ways in which to harness their properties and qualities. At a greater level, it may then ultimately make a difference in the drive to banish insipid and depressive Barratt style housing. What a naive notion I hear you cry! And you're probably right.

Climbing wise, I was invited to the Portland trip today for Mick's birthday. Sadly I've had to pass on this attractive offer in favour of a fascinating day of U Value lectures and will thus probably try to pull down somewhere locally tomorrow.

Last thing of note is that the Jennerator and I have agreed on a King's palace of a residence on Gambier Terrace. Situated on the top floor, the view is astounding and offers views of Clwyd and Snowdonia. It's so clear I can even see your micro Doyle!
Stop by for some sea bass and a tipple won't you?

Thursday, 5 February 2009


The saturday before last was the last time I managed to get out. Hit Tremeirchion with John, Doylo, Mule and a welcome rare siting of the arachnid! 36 Chambers is an awesome problem on a clean sweep of compact limestone. Sadly, being a vertical pinch punter, I had to eliminate 3 powerful movements and instead perform a deep lock off a shallow and sharp mono to reach a decent crimp. Felt a little stiffness in the palm the next day (yes Doylo, I knew this would happen) and so took the week off. John managed to fight on through the power sap to bag a second ascent of the problem and I made some agreeable progress but need to give a little more to the sloper slap next time. Pretty confident it will get crushed soon.

The palm soreness presented no major tears anyway as I've been getting settled back in the studio. It's so good to be back.

Might try to venture to the wall tonight after studio but am slightly put off by an epic snow journey to get there. M. Chadwick called last night with news of board building this weekend. With Friday night being 161 time again, I'm not sure I'll be any use but should have some time to invest in the space when settled back into study.

Sorry this has been a piece of shit to read. Will write soon when something is worth mentioning.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The surprises within

Hit the board hard on Monday. After a step wall warmup and managing to flash some nice little crimpy numbers, I turned my attention briefly to some of Crouch's sandbag efforts. His grading has now gotten truly stupid and it makes me laugh. I assign no meaning to their numerical value whatsoever and it's funny to hear others expressing genuine disdain at their inability to climb a V4 when they "can climb V6 at other walls". Welcome to the nonsensical side people. Your heartache will only continue!

In essence, a Crouch V6 can be anywhere between V9 and V12 if you buy into the idea that you can grade problems indoors. I don't actually believe it is possible to grade above a very easy level as there are generally less ways to climb an indoor problem than an outdoor one.

Managed to make some good progress on the board project and it's now the last move that is the crux for me which involves a big move from a slopey pinch with a slight catch to a distant slippy wooden pinch with no catch. I feel some way from actually being able to helicopter my foot back on and match to glory but isn't that the joy of a project? Was very surprised to climb well considering I was on a mega coffee comedown when I got there. Oh the inconsistencies in climbing, how I love and hate you.

It's perhaps indicative that I am rambling about a board project of the fact that I haven't been outside in quite a while now. Wonder what the saturday crew have planned this weekend? Would be nice to get involved.

I'm finally pleased to report that the LEA woman called to tell me she has received my return to study form which means my financial situation is going to look rather more rosy in the near future. Also of great delight was the news in the RIBA student newsletter that they are practically throwing money at architecture students in this time of financial hardship. On the cusp of handing in my application, this made me smile.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Bouncing ball

I feel like one. The University of Liverpool is staffed by defective robots fuelled by rohypnol tea. They seem to delight in bouncing me back and forth between endless sub-departments. I have had a wrenching feeling in the chest for 3 weeks now thanks to these fucking morons. Anyway.... Breathe. Nearly there.

Alora. Under the Bridge beta to failed wet finish moves.

Under the Bridge beta snippet from Tom Mills on Vimeo.

Board tonight with a huge onus on power endurance and core work.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Movin on up...

Time to break free, nooooothing can stop me. Sorry. That's the one ridiculous and frankly inane song that has somehow remained in my mind since it's heady days in the charts. I want to shake it so bad but can't seem to. Must try harder.

Talking of trying harder....

The day begun at the leisurely time of 11:00 AM this morning as Mr Pembridge arrived for his first visit to the mighty Mwyn. Approaching Deeside, we remarked upon how the clouds in front us were some of the most ominous to be witnessed by man. I optimistically declared that we were located beneath a fat but localised band of dark cloud that we would soon escape from as we dropped down into the neighbouring valley. Sure enough, and despite a relative lack of meteorological comprehension, my prediction was right and we were lucky for the best part of the day in avoiding any prohibitive showers. A nagging fine rain kept plodding away into the gorge for much of the day but thankfully, this never became truly enough to saturate the majority of holds I needed access to. After a warm up of champions (i.e. Mr Bradbury) proportions at the right hand end under the bridge, I devised quite a cool sequence for a relatively independent up problem. One of the crucial starting hand holds and some of the (already poor) upper holds were slightly sodden which meant no real ascent in the end. There's a jug on this line at a nice finishing height and it's probably worth doing this if it's dry enough next time.

And so to the main meat - the project. In order to warm up for the very small and sharp crimp on it, I decided a quick repeat ascent of Under the Bridge would be worth capturing on film and for the sake of encountering it's joyous and wonderfully subtle moves. After a few warm up goes of pulling on to the guppy, I was getting the violent crux toe hook to fit in place nicely. I'd forgotten just how slow and controlled the release from the heel-toe to pure toe-hook had to be but upon this recollection, no further problems where encountered. I was left with two attempts at hitting the flatty but was sadly thwarted continually from the mist-like rain which was by now starting to take it's toll on the slightly slopey and unusually polished handhold. After conversing with a few familiar local faces who had come to enquire as to the condition and for beta on the problem, my attentions turned to the matter in hand.

I told Pemb of my previous progress to a distant left hand diagonal small crimp. He humourously questioned my statement remarking that "I don't think you can get to it". "Behave" I told him and then proceeded to forget all useful foot beta and question whether or not I had dreamt of locking this hold. It looked a million miles from where I was and I thought some time out for a small flapjack was a necessity. Thankfully, the anti-amnesia properties of the Fabulous Baking Boys kicked into touch and I had flashbacks of a high right foot. From the ground, this appeared an unreasonable proposition for a man of my height but in reality, this was to be the dealbreaker with this particular move. The first move involves a mid-height left juggy sidepull and a similar hold but higher for the right. One pulls on with a left foot on small slopey edge, and wraps the right foot around a similar but slightly better hold at a height level to it. Standing up, a reach is made into a joyous horizontal quartz pinch above the head. A little flag with the left leg and space can just about be made to match. (N.B. I know matching is not macho but I challenge the G to find something for his left!). Upon the slightly burly match, the left foot 'wraps' and torques into a decent slot out left. The right foot is bumped a bit higher and the left hand makes a big lock to a piece of shit (N.B don't fall for moving out to the red herring diagonal crimp in future, this is NOT the way!). I say piece of shit and I mean piece of shit. I manage to lock it at full extension and use this moment to capitalise upon the lack of a step ladder which for further future reference is too big to fit in the Clio. Balls.

Whilst frantically scanning the blank wall in front of me, I saw a right hand flatty sidepull that if cleaned, would probably afford me just enough purchase to make the super crux move of getting my right foot up to make the dynamic left hand press into the finishing slot. Basically, a ladder is needed to sort this and the finishing slot out. Upon re inspection of the wall above, I'd say that it is very much possible to finish it as a route should I get to the boulder end point. It's probably still not a total path but it doesn't look enough to upset me. Thankfully, there are two lower off bolts in place. Perhaps somewhat dubious looking but at least they seem to be rust free.

Sorry if you trawled through all of that, but I need it on file for future reference!

I took some video for you Lore but it's not too exciting I'm afraid! Also have enough footage for tall beta on under the bridge slapping the wet flatty to upload. Will hunt out firewire cable tomorrow.

Very keen to look at 36 Chambers at Tremeirchion soon. Could be an aim for this year whilst the crimp is on heat, although a 7c+ (I think it is?) of Danny's is guaranteed to present some difficulties! After all those footy shirts I gave him, you'd think the lil bastard would give me a soft touch somewhere in Wales!

Tomorrow see's flat hunting for a property in the delightful Faulkner Square, some more watercolour action and a finalisation of the ALF form.

Bring tha motherfuckin Ruckus.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The prize

I made a vow to myself that I wouldn't engage with discussions pertaining to "controversial" issues on UKB and yesterday and this morning I did just that. The reason I don't ever contribute is that a) who am I to be involved with them? Especially given I rarely route climb anymore. b) I have an incurable propensity for wandering off topic both in print and in speech. In a debate which I shouldn't even be in, this is no use to anybody. It just seems a tad tragic to see some probable talented youngsters going about things in all the wrong ways. It's an innocent naivety and it should be acknowledged as such. I'm of course no agony uncle...

Tomorrow I go to try the project I have been training HARD for. Based on the recent board performances, I hope to feel better on the first of the two (and only) hard moves which involve the use of a very specific (and painful) small quartz crimp and undercut pinch. It might transpire that the project is either still way above me or indeed a non-entity. It was when I mentioned to Doyle and Mule some time back of my intention to clean and climb this line that they commented upon a lack of holds. To hear those words from that company was slightly disconcerting but I think the project encapsulates every single element of my strengths in the sport. There are two hard moves which lead to a natural finishing point at a relatively comfortable height to dismount. It's a cloudy memory as to whether or not the other half-height (+) of the wall will make it a potential sport route but inasmuch as I can remember, this could well be the real prize for me. It's nice to have something to invest a real amount of energy into and even nicer that it would be a first ascent I would very much cherish.

I'm packing the step ladder and some serious quantities of Strappal. Can I envisage a potential grade for this? No. I have climbed a problem to it's left in good time which felt significantly easier than in attempting the first of the two moves on my project to it's right. Essentially, I'm sure it would possess no real difficulty to a crimping beast but I am confident in my own ability to retain contact on small holds and know that only through repetition will the project holds come to feel comfortable. They might feel so now but I can't say as it's only been tried in the heat and grease of last summer.

University wise, things are feeling much less stressful thanks to the help of the disciple. He also informs me that over the summer period, I am fully entitled to university financial assistance which would allow me to work in practice over the long summer months. This would also free up time to go to Berlin and Tuscany spending happy hours cleaning up lines at Amiata with Lore , Ricardo (and Keith?) and killing it on the terrace. So Bruno might get Richie Hawtin to Tartana!? Shit Frusteri, that is heavy!

More green tea, watercolours and the Bauhaus this afternoon. Rather pleasant.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Meditate or menstruate

Ventured to the board last night with Pemb again. Felt decent and managed to stick what I thought was the crux move from small sharp left hand gaston to the right hand deadpoint every time I tried it. It's a problem which focuses intensively on working my left hand crimp strength on small holds at a steep angle. I realised recently when an old ring of my mothers would only fit to size on my left hand index finger that the lack of bulbousness in my left digits means they need a workout.

The other problem locking to the mono and then a further deep lock to slopy flatty is starting to feel better by the session and I'm becoming pretty happy with specific mono training for the Charante trip. It's amazing just how hard one can crank through on a shallow mono if time is invested. I always thought the prospect of gaining mono strength was an intimidating one but am really enjoying working this particular area.

Resting today and tomorrow in anticipation of a trip out on sunday. Asked D if he wanted to head over to hook up for a reunion with Master Doyle but the man is quite rightly psyched for some things in south Lakes that he's very keen for.

Was extremely grateful for the help of a family friend's friend who came over from Liverpool to help me with the Access to Learning Fund. We worked out that inclusive of all fee's, rent, materials etc, my budget needed to be £260.00 per week to successfully sustain myself. Quite a sum! He seems to think that my track record from degree one, current university results and the design competition success should be more than enough to substantiate my need. Feeling much more at ease with things now thanks to the work of this kind disciple!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I don't get it..

Hit the board with Pemb last night. I felt light before I got to the wall and felt light climbing. I can only imagine this is a result of losing some muscle mass as I've eaten horrendous amounts over the festive period. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that my current board project will probably go down in a few sessions. This left hand middle mono strength is getting a crazy work out for Charante!

Also managed to find a new project with a tricky first move on little crimps. A big lock to a reasonable edge, lock tiny sharp gaston with left hand being at full stretch with feet still on kicker and make right hand deadpoint to reasonable edge. Just so this project doesn't get forgotten, it's on the far left of the board.
Temps at the board were out of this world. -5 degrees outside meant crisp, non-sweaty holds. Imagine if these board conditions were 365!

Been offered a hookup with O Bling to head to cave this afternoon though think I'll have to venture to the delightful Birkenhead to have some beaureaucratic intercourse with the LEA.

Have we ever known such a run of sublime winter conditions incidentally!?