Sunday 24 December 2006

Ben Nevis Xmas sunshine

It's a bit of a tradition for myself and big Pete to escape each year for a day in the mountains on Christmas eve. The CIC and Ben Nevis are just so damn good that we headed back there this year for what is usually a bit of a swally followed by a hungover stumble up some munros. Not so this season...

Nevertheless, the forecast was for an inversion with summit temps at plus 8 degrees, so we thought we better take a good supply of alcohol up to the hut as the prospects of climbing looked bleak. Above is Peter trying to get his money's worth out of the supply at 4am. Time for a kip mate, and don't let the CIC mouse bite!

Unfortunately for our hungover bodies, we woke (at 10am) to blue skies, frost and the sight of some ice hanging in there in the Coire. So after an unhealthy breakfast we racked up and rolled out, headed for Green Gully.

Peter motoring up the start of Green Gully. He did take the fancy to stop and make a belay after climbing 110 metres.

Lovely neve heading off into the sky.... ice climbing heaven.

A stunning topout moment into the early afternoon sun.

A better way to spend christmas eve than the shopping frenzy that no doubt raged in the cities.

We had time for brew sitting outside the CIC hut before heading home, soaking up the warm inversion air, and looking longingly at the plethora of projects in the Coire.
A great day, until I arrived home to find my new wee Micra broken into and smashed up. Oh well...

Its been an interesting few days. I've managed to clear off a lot of my backlog of work, just about 20,000 words of overdue writing tasks to nail before proper climbing resumes. In between I nipped out and finally did the move that would'nt go on a 'last great' Dumbarton bouldering line. So the psyche is on to begin some more focused attempts. I'm glad about this, it will really help me train here again and avoid the climbing wall gravity for another winter. Anyway, tomorrow is Christmas day and its time to eat large chunks of meat at my mum's and then learn how to fix my broken car. Best go now and hit the fingerboard to earn tomorrow's calorie blizzard...
Happy Christmas all

Tuesday 19 December 2006

Christmas deliveries

Just a wee note to say thanks to everyone who ordered E11 from my webshop and that I'll be dispatching UK orders until thursday 21st by special delivery so they will still arrive before Christmas at no extra charge.

If you haven't been to the shop page in a while, I've added some new stuff like Cubby's Scottish climbing calendar and logbook.

I was thinking the other day it's been quite amazing setting up this website, a huge amount of work but good fun too. Apologies for not having time to add more training notes to the online climbing coach page for a while - its been impossible of late to find a moment! Thanks to everyone who sent me comments about the site!! There will be a lot more to add in 2007.

Monday 18 December 2006

old venue, new possibilities???

The view during the last endurance lap of the day. Better than the climbing wall...

Dumby - more of the same - am I psyched? Am I not psyched?

With the bandages off yesterday I had to get outside for a few hours so took advantage of the first break in the continuous 2 months of rain (evry day - no joke!) and headed round to pull on some very small holds at Dumbarton.

When I arrived I felt very much like I did 4 years ago after climbing everything there up to Font 8a; that the remaining projects were too hard for me even to work on. So I didn't climb there for 2 years and intended never to go back. But a couple of years later when I returned I found I could begin to pull on some previously impossible holds and from that eventually came some harder problems completed - lines I could never see myself climbing.

Today I felt the same sense of the remaining things being too hard to bother with. But it's funny how it only takes one move which felt desperate in August and felt easy today to reverse that feeling. The Watson was out too and beavering on another arete line I'd dismissed. After an hour of us both scrapping with it, I could do most of the moves. All of a sudden things are possible again.

Really I want to be living near some other pieces of rock now. I seem to be quite impatient for it recently. But the job market in the west highlands is not being forthcoming for Claire, so this will be my local crag for a while yet. So maybe I should just go ahead and get stuck into another scrap with a graffiti covered roof.

Saturday 16 December 2006

Out of action

Getting bandaged up - health problems suck!

As they say it's easy to take your health for granted until it fails you. I've been away on a bit of a tour of the UK coaching climbers and giving lectures, trying to fit in training and everything else - generally burning the candle at both ends. There is always a cost to behaving like this somewhere along the line. The body does not thank you for being abused. I just got home from the tour and was all set to leave for a short climbing trip, but had to cancel due to health problems for the first time in years. A skin problem (eczema) on my feet which has been there all my life doesn't normally get in the way, but tends to get worse at times of extreme busyness. The last time I remember having painful walk-ins to crags was during my finals. Anyhow It means I am not in good shape for getting a pair of rockshoes on my feet and will have to go back to wearing socks with them all the time.

Its not all a tale of woe on the climbing front though. At least I can still hang off the fingerboard and time stuck at hoe at night with the bandages on will mean the rest of my work gets done and I'll be ready (and hopefully a little less weak) for new year climbing trips.

Should still be OK for mountaineering boots though, and there are signs of winter waking up!

Monday 4 December 2006

Claire's first event!

Claire MacLeod about to tuck into lunch at sector cascade, Ceuse. I've been looking for an excuse to use this photo!

Claire was feeling the stress last night - it was her first ever effort at organising an event, a lecture by me and screening of E11 in Inverness. Thanks to everyone who came and made it to within a couple of seats of selling out! Well done Claire too! We drove home afterwards in the worst torrential rain I've seen in years and marvelled at the frighteningly high rivers (read raging torrents) all the way home. It's tipped it down almost every day in November so not much is happening with outdoor climbing here right now.

My recent visit to Siurana reminded me of how desperate this country can be for climbing at times whether its midges, rain, thaws or whatever. Climbing is so easy on the continent by comparison. All you have to do is turn up and pull hard. The Scots love a good moan though so it's not so bad. Interestingly I was talking to Iain (who's blog is here - BTW Iain, the pic of the rockshoe selection reminded me of myself) who is taking a career break right now from a good London 'proper' job to travel the world climbing and he said that he missed the feeling of 'having to earn' his climbing. He reckoned an endless road trip can feel like too much of a good thing... sometimes. Its true there is nothing like the feeling of luck when you turn up on the Ben or the Anvil or whatever and find your project in perfect condition. The realisation that you have to do it today or else... is a strong motivator.

Hot Aches have started up a blog on their site which is looking pretty good already. Its their job to film and photograph interesting climbing, so no doubt there will be much interesting stuff on there. Their next film idea is taking shape nicely, and I'm certainly looking forward to my wee bit. It seems Dave B had the right idea this weekend by hitting the Birnam cave for a spot of tooling. Love the photo of the two female climbing stars reading the sunday papers!

Maybe see some of you at the Glasgow lecture and E11 screening on Friday night. If you need the details they are here. Still tickets left at the moment. And yes there will be a bar at the venue to kick of your friday night during the break! [note to self - I'll have to consult the oracle that is Big Ric McGhee for his recommendations for drinking venues afterwards...] No doubt Claire will be getting the stress again.

Friday 1 December 2006

Siurana escape

Happy to get the flash on Anabolica 8a (photos: Hot Aches)

After the madness of the past month with doing all the work that came with E11, I escaped for 6 days to Siurana in Spain just in time. Going on a short trip when you haven't climbed for a month is never good for the ego and I got slapped about a bit by the routes there. After another night of fighting with hard routes I decided to take a breather and try to flash something easier. I haven't really tried onsighting on bolts since 2002 so I was a bit rusty. But I grunted up Anabolica for my first 8a flash. I should do more of this type of climbing. It feels much less stressful than hard redpoints! You either do it or you don't. With redpoints there are no excuses in the long run. If you fail it means you didn't put enough effort into your preparation.

Overgripping big time on the crux of Anabolica

Dave Redpath was also on Anabolica and made an inspiring redpoint on the last go of the last day. There is nothing quite like last day pressure to make you finally lose your inhibitions and nerves and just fight 'a muerte' as they say.

Something hard to go back to...

It was interesting for me that the moves on several hard routes I tried didn't feel so bad. I can see a possibility for me to increase my sport climbing level next year if I can make the committment to train for it. I think I'll be back on the Ryanair website soon.

Toni Arbones being filmed by Hot Aches on an attempt on Kalea Borroka 8b+. Toni and his parnter run the Refugi in Siurana village. He is Mr Siurana and can be called upon at any time to provide the correct beta for your holiday project. If you drop into the Siurana camping site bar any evening you can join in the year-round 365 day 'Siurana film festival' with each film being introduced by Toni. There was a good buzz around Siurana with manyof the world's best sport climbers in residence and the routes were going down.

The trip as usual was all too short and just as my body was learning how to climb again it was time to go. Sharma made me especially jealous when I asked him how long he had and he shrugged his shoulders and basically said whenever he had done what he came for. Now its two weeks of frantic lecture touring and catching up with writing before I can climb something again. Maybe I'll see you at one of the dates...