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!?