From One Decade to the Next…

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So…with my birthday approaching, it was time to decide what I wanted to do for it. I could do the usual night out round the corner from work, which would have no doubt been a good night, but I thought, with a weekend off, we should do something more fun. So a weekend on Portland it was, and what a good weekend it turned out to be!

After a day of being spoilt on my birthday, Cailean and I made our way down to Wey-hey-mouth (as our friend Paul likes to call it!) and set up camp late on the Friday night. As much as I love camping, the early wake up call from the sun came all too soon…but that did mean one thing, it wasn’t raining!! We got out of the tent to find the most perfect conditions (in my opinion)  for a day of climbing, the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in sight! Perfection. We headed to the Blue Fish for breakfast, where we met James, Gav and Lisa, and decided that the days destination was to be the Battleship sector. I was happy as I had a long list of routes I wanted to try there. First of all, we got on a route called ‘The Ghost of Saturday Night’, a fun 5+. My first attempt was appalling. After having not climbed on real rock for well over a month, it felt very weird. I couldn’t get my head around it at all, but after coming down and having a word with myself I got back on and got to the top no problem. It was a good fun route and nice to have made it to the top to get out of the shade, even if only for a few minutes!! We then got on a 6b to the right called ‘Borstal Breakout’. I decided to go for the flash after Cailean saying it was quite straightforward. The majority of the climb was, and I got to the last clip fairly quickly. But from there, you had to traverse out to the left and do, what was probably the crux, which I managed to do, and reverse, about 10 times. I was to scared to commit to the very last move, which was to a jug next to the lower off. After all the attempts, I gave up, one move away from what would have been a flash. Very annoyed, I came down and had a go on top rope, the move was quite simple, but just a bit run out, nevermind, there were plenty more routes to go at!

The View

We then moved along to try ‘Bouys will be Bouys’, a top 50 6b+ on top rope. I got on it feeling quite overwhelmed by its height, slightly higher than I’m used to finding in Britain, but the climbing was amazing, some amazing moves, none particularly hard, just quite pumpy and sustained. I got to around 3/4 of the way up and got to the crux section, which I puzzled over for a few minutes, but couldn’t work out what I was to do, so came down. It was beginning to get late, so I decided that it could be a long term project, and we headed to Chesil Beach for a BBQ.

Sunset from Chesil Beach

On Sunday, after 3 breakfast, we headed to Blacknor North, Cailean wanted to try a route called ‘Freaky Ralph’, and I was too full to even think about climbing. After being at the crag for about 3 hours, I decided to try ‘Monsoon Malabar’, a fun looking climb up an arete. It wasn’t fun, not after a few metres of climbing. I got myself into a right pickle as I was too scared to commit to a move, that was slightly above the clip, so stupid. After a couple of tears, I decided that I didn’t want to be down on such a nice weekend, so backed off the route and headed in search of something more fun! And that I did. I got on ‘Very Sleepy River’ on top rope, a route which Gav claimed to be the best 6b on the island. The first half of the route consisted entirely of laybacking up a massive crack, something I thought I didn’t like, but on this route it seemed to be a lot of fun! At half height, there is a massive break where you can have a good rest, and then it goes into some amazing flowstone features. It took me a bit of work to find out where all the good holds were in amongst all of the flowstone tufas. I got the route clean second go on top rope, and was super psyched, possibly the best climb I’ve ever done? I thought I should have a go at leading it, but the bolts were around 3 – 4 metres apart, and so I decided maybe not, best to end the weekend on a high rather than feeling miserable after failing to lead it – I was happy with that!

So we headed home after a lovely weekend in the sunshine with some good friends, with an even bigger list of climbs to do than we went with…always the way!!

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Not much climbing…

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Since the beginning of the month….climbing just hasn’t happened. The weather went pants and I’ve been pretty busy with work (at times), and my priorities have slipped. I have managed a fair few indoor training sessions though, especially bouldering! I seem to have lost all psych for routes indoors, but bouldering still is providing much fun and I am feeling strong(ish)! I have tried to make an effort to head down to TCA in Bristol at least once a week if I can, as I am usually pretty psyched for it there, with lots of fun problems to work on.

I feel as though I need a bit more to keep me motivated for indoors, so I am trying to create a training plan in order to get me ready for Europe, we will have to see how that goes..! My aim is to climb at least 3 times a week, 4 would be ideal, but working on different things each session: strength, endurance etc. I think at the moment, my biggest weakness is my power, I’m not a very dynamic climber, probably due to the fact that I can often lank past the hard moves!! But that needs some work, along with my mentality towards my ability and falling off!

The past few weeks, I have been running the team sessions as Cailean was working in Nepal, the pressure was on to make sure all our kids were ready for the 3rd round of the BMC YCS 2012 at Undercover Rock. They all did so well in all the rounds, and we ended up with some good results, even one of the boys got into the final up in Scotland in June, so we are very proud of them all for their fantastic efforts!

The last week I have been off work, using up some holiday days, but unfortunately still not much climbing happened. I spent the week getting ready for a 3 day trip to the Brecon Beacons with a school group that I am going on a 10 day trip to Scotland with in the summer. I was quite nervous about the trip, as walking is not my strong point… in fact, I don’t like the thought of it all that much!! But, my bag was all packed and food was sorted and I was surprisingly looking forward to it. We left on Thursday morning and the weather was behaving, until we were about 5 miles from our drop off point, where it started to rain, and did not stop for the next 24 hours! It was cold and the rain was horizontal, but still, the spirit of the group was fairly high, until the end of day one…we had lots of soggy feet and not waterproof waterproofs!! On the Friday morning, it was decided that the group had tested their kit as much as they would ever need to, and that there was nothing more to gain by staying out, except for Hypothermia!! So we ended up coming back a day early, which the majority of the group were happy with. Even though walking isn’t my favourite thing to do, and the weather was shocking, I did quite like the trip, and am pleased with how I coped with the walking and carrying my bag, just need to learn how to cook in the pouring rain now!!

Coming home a day early, did mean we could make a trip down to TCA yesterday though. I wasn’t feeling very motivated as I was quite tired from the previous days adventures, but it turned out to be a good session none-the-less. I did however, manage to tweak a tendon! First ever finger injury from climbing but I am hoping that it is nothing too major, and a few days off will do the trick! Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to anything!!

Round 2 at Cheddar

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After having a good day at Cheddar on Monday, I couldn’t get it out of my mind… I was desperate to get back down there. With a weekend off, and with Cailean having one more day left before he jetted off to Nepal, we decided to head on down there.

Once again, it was hot! Not the best sending conditions but nice nevertheless. We met James and Shane down in one of the car parks and then made the compulsory trip to Costa, whilst we waited for the sun to make its way around to The Wave (as it was still pretty nippy in the shade).

We got up to the crag and had a relaxed start, as there was someone on ‘Islands in the City’ so I was happy to just sit and watch to refresh my memory. We had a play on ‘Toxic Shock’, the 6b to the left of it to warm up, and that was Shane’s project for the day.

Toxic Shock photo Shane Dawson

Toxic Shock photo Shane Dawson

I decided that I was just going to get on ‘Islands in the City’ on lead straight away, as I was in the leading mindset after the warm up route, but it was a big failure. It felt so much harder and I faffed A LOT! So I thought maybe I should just get back on it on the top rope and get it sorted. As much as I am trying to get out of the top roping habit…I’m finding it really hard!! But we still have a good few months before our Europe trip, so there’s still time!

I got back on the route on top rope and it seemed to fit together so much better, I got passed the hard move going into the back of the roof and managed to get my leg out to the left, which is the bit I really struggled with last time. It was all going well, but I was really pumped, and couldn’t quite make it to the top. It was a shame, but it left me feeling pretty positive about the next try!

Islands in the City photo Shane Dawson

Islands in the City photo Shane Dawson

However, every try after that was worse than the previous! It was hot and I just wasn’t really feeling it, so after my 5th try, I decided to give up on it for the day. I had a play on a few other routes, but didn’t get anything done. I was more interested in a trip to the Ice Cream shop by that point. Cailean tried a route up on The Tsunami, but wasn’t really feeling it either, So we headed down to the opposite side of the gorge, where he climbed ‘Shangri-La’, a techy looking 7b+ second go, followed by ‘Sherryland’ a 7a+ to the right of it. We then headed to the yummy Ice Cream shop and then back to Stroud for Cailean to finish getting ready for Nepal.

Today I gave Cailean a lift to Heathrow, as he is off to Nepal for nearly 3 weeks. I have decided that I am going to make the most of this time to try and catch up with him!! Unlikely story, but I can still try! In between work and running our Junior Team sessions, I plan to be training for our European trip, keeping me busy so I don’t miss Cailean too much!!

Today

A Quick Trip to Cheddar Followed by a Trip to Ban-y-Gor

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After a busy weekend in work, whilst the sun was shining down outside, I decided it was my turn to have some fun! So Monday morning came and we headed on down to the gorge for my first session of the year. We met Gav and Pip the Pup in Costa for our morning caffeine intake before heading up to the Wave to try out a route that had caught my attention a few months back. The route in question was ‘Islands in the City’, a short, techy 7a+, which kept standing out when I looked through the guide. As we got all of our kit together by the car, the butterflies in my stomach were getting worse, I had ultimately made the decision of what sector we were going to by wanting to do this route. The pressure was on! As we walked up to The Wave I was quickly getting more and more anxious about getting completely shut down and not being able to even pull off the ground.

I decided to warm up on ‘Toxic Shock’ a soft 6b route, which I had attempted to top-rope several years ago, but to no avail. I set off up it first, with my previous failure at the forefront of my mind. I had to rest once as I am a scaredy-cat when it comes to leading, especially when there are no quickdraws above me! Cailean and Gav also warmed up on this, but with much more ease than I did, and then I decided to have another go at it. I faffed a lot on it and subsequently, made it feel much closer to its supposed grade than it was, but I still got to the top and clipped into the lower off. Psyched! Even though it was my warm up, successfully leading any route for me is a big achievement, especially one that is so say only 2 grades lower than my hardest ever outdoor lead (Coral Sea – 6c, at Brean).

Buzzing from that success, I began to feel slightly more optimistic about ‘Islands in the City’, so asked if one of the boys could put a rope up for me to have a play on it, the idea being to try to get all the moves done on top rope today so I could come back and lead it another day. They both climbed it, so I had a great advantage of having two very good climbers giving me two quite different lots of beta! I pulled on to the climb using a good left hand side-pull, and a minuscule crimp with the right, and moved up to a good jug. It was going better than I had thought, I had managed to get off the ground! From here you had to move out right to another good crimp, and then with some delicate footholds, pull up to a good ledge. Still going well, hadn’t fallen off yet! From here, it looked like it got hard, you had to move off the ledge up to a left hand side pull and then to a slopey right hand ledge, followed by a long reach (even for me!) up to a shouldery right hand press. I was off! I was happy with my effort as I had got a good few metres higher than I was expecting so I tried to get back on, which was harder than I had hoped due to the top rope going over the overhang. I managed to do the move into the press next time, which was followed by bringing my left hand into a crimp next to my left, a very tensiony move. From here, you reach up over the lip to an intermediate pinch with the left hand, and then up to a fairly good three finger crimp. Then comes the challenge of getting your left foot higher to enable you to move off the crimp. I was off again, but quickly pulled back on, not letting it put me off. Once you have your foot high, you can go again up to a good jug with the left. After this, there are a few crimpy but ok moves up to a big move to a jug, and then to the top.

I came down feeling pretty confident that I could climb the route clean (on a top rope!) It was then the boys turns to have a play on their routes for the day ‘Bursting the Wave’ 7c+ for Cailean and ‘Liquid Crystal’ 8a for Gav. It was so warm that it made it even harder to climb, but we all persevered and had a good few goes on our routes. I tried my route 3 more times, each go finding slightly different ways of doing it, making it better each try, but by the fourth try, my back was burnt to a crisp and the sun was blinding my view of the holds, so I decided to call it a day. A Mint Choc Chip ice cream was calling!! I’m already on the case of getting back down there to get back on it, maybe on a slightly cooler day!

The next day I headed out to Ban-y-Gor with my Dad and Gaz. I’ve had a route on my to-do-list here since New Year’s Day, ‘East of Sweden’ a really pumpy, powerful 6b+. In the past I have got to the last hard move but just not had enough juice left to do it. Rolling on from the previous days psych, I decided to give it a go. I asked my lovely brother very nicely if he wanted to have a go at it first to onsight it, which would also mean that the draws were in there for me to have a go. I had one quick go on top rope to remind myself of the moves. It felt desperate!! I played around on the moves a bit and worked out a way to do it. So I came down and pulled the rope to have a go.

I started up the route again, this time on lead, butterflies out in force once again! I got to the start of the crux and tried to reach up to the sidepull/crimp, but it wasn’t there, I had my feet in the wrong place and so couldn’t reach it! I sat on the rope, gutted. I carried on to the top from there, just as another reminder of the moves, and then came back down, determinded it was going to get ticked today! And it did. I had a short break whilst Gaz climbed another 6b, and then i got back on. This time it just seemed to fit into place from the start. I got to the break half way and had a long rest. I  then went for it, up to the crimpy rail and up to the sidepull that wasn’t there in the previous go, feeling pumped I carried on, all the moves feeling so much more intense than before. Trying to match the jug before the big throw was a big challenge, my hands were both uncurling from the holds, the moment seemed to go on forever, but I eventually swapped hands and then found myself holding onto the big jug. I’d done it!! just a couple of easy moves to the top, but with the heart beating so much faster than it should have been, they felt harder than they should have, but I lugged myself to the top! So pleased, and so exhausted!

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We then headed down to the Main Crag so Gaz could try ‘Pet Cemetery’ a 7a that he has tried a few times. He had a good first attempt but with one rest at the crux to remind himself of the sequence, and then one more rest when searching for the hidden lower off. I had a go at seconding him, just for a final burn, and got further than I thought I would, but not quite managing it. Then we pulled the rope for Gaz to have another try, in which he flew up it, making it look so easy! He came down very psyched and we headed home all on a high! Looking forward to the next day out!

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