Monday, 31 August 2009

The Hurt Begins

Tonight I headed straight down the wall after work for my first axe training session since March. Luckily Blair and Johann were psyched too and helped me motivate myself. As they bouldered I sharpened my Fusions in prep for what would be the sketchiest holds I have ever trained on.

Trying hard not to fall off

The training hurt but I managed to stick all the sketchy holds now all I need to do is attempt to link it all , so I need to lose a bit of weight , work on strength and fitness and sort out my diet...........

Blair showing the effort

Johann on the steepest board

Moving up here , bringing up the wall and all the training is pretty much all for one reason. That reason is one particular winter route which , if i manage to climb it , will mean I can hopefully get peace from myself. It will take me to a level , physically and mentally , that I find hard to imagine right now. I really wanted to do it last year and I got physically ready but mentally I wasn't prepared. I was still hanging onto the past in some areas of my life but I've cut away from that now and have a fresh outlook on my approach. The route is the most serious thing I've ever wanted to do and its the first time I've actually been afraid of a climb , even soloing M10+ feels easy in comparison to how this will be.

Last year I thought that if I was depressed then I would approach the climb with a 'who cares' attitude but the depression started having a physical effect and I had to battle a bit to break out of it. I've realised though that I have to hang on to my dark side so I can tap into that to allow me to climb solo near my limits , I've also learned how to effectively control the depression that I get as a side effect of my epilepsy now so I can use it to my advantage. So heres hoping it all comes together this year..................

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Mission Accomplished

It's been raining for what seems like an age now and frustration was setting in. I wasn't sure if I would settle in the Fort when I moved here but theres so much to do so it seems like the logical place for me to be. With that in mind I decided to move my climbing wall from the garage back home up to here. Al Halewood ( offered up his basement as an area to build it so my Brother-in-Law moved it up in his trailer two weeks ago and work began. Dave , Rob and myself trying to figure out a plan

So a few days later Blair , Rob , Dave and myself spent an afternoon figuring out angles and attaching some support beams to the walls.That weekend my Dad , whos a joiner to trade , turned up for the day and progress went into overdrive.
Dad gets stuck in

Plenty done in a day and the promise of more help next weekend so Saturday arrives and so do my parents and my mate Johann and everyone got into the work.

Myself , Johann and my Dad grafting away

Two days later and the wall is up , holds on and ready for training to begin tomorrow night, cant wait..................

Mission Accomplished

Monday, 17 August 2009

River Race

The Glen Nevis River Race is an annual event where a bunch of dafties jump off a bridge, climb onto lilos and make their way down two miles of river with sections of rough and calm water. The Saturday it happened this year the lads and I were working but decided to go out and do it some night after work. So on a sunny Thursday night the 'team' had dwindled to 2 swimmers (Keiran and myself) and two spectators (Julie and Dennis). So off we went and got ready at the bridge, Keiran executed a perfect backwards flip into the water and I did a very unimpressive impression of a depth charge.

Keiran leads the way into the 'rapids'

As we got further down river we decided it would be wise to scope out the section known as "The Legbreaker" . I had already decided that no matter how bad it looked I had to go for it or face being labelled soft.So we stopped and Keiran showed me the best way to go, where i should aim to land etc, no bother I thought, how foolish...........
Looking on as Keiran makes the "Legbreaker" look like a breeze

I go over,the wrong way, wrong side of the river

As I jumped in the current immediately dragged me to the wrong side,wrong direction and I went over sideways without my lilo,a few litres later I surface bleeding and in a bit of pain, proper fun.

Keiran once again making it look easy

As we approached Lower Falls we once again jumped off the lilos and took another big jump with similar performances as before. As we rounded the next corner a Father and young family were having a 'nice' evening by the river and the last thing they were obviously expecting to see were two numpties appearing round the corner on lilos. They were sat next to the last whitewater we expected to see but as I approached Keiran stood up to the side of the river and in a horrible moment of realisation I knew he was stopping to check the drop, i could only look at him in resignation as I floated by once again to a spectacular sideways tumble and re-surface still gargling and trying to swear, as i got back on my lilo and turned to see the families faces, priceless...............

Saturday Night Climbing

A week after the E5's another team from Nevisport (Andy, Keiran and Charles) and Diff from Hotaches Productions (who was there to film for his latest DVD "Monkey See, Monkey Do") headed up the Glen for an attempt at another of Cubbys routes, Jahu E6.This seemed like a fairly big step to up my soloing level 2 grades within about a week but I felt good and in good company again so thought "why not".As Diff was setting cameras I had a top rope on the route and all too quickly it was time to try the hardest technical climb of my life with no room for error.For the first time in my life I actually walked away to take a few minutes to myself and contemplate the risk I was about to take,after about 10 minutes the sky was becoming increasingly menacing so I dropped my mind into the place it needs to be to do these things.Dark skies and dark thoughts, perfect for these things as long as you can maintain the balance and find joy in the place you are, the company you are with and in the actions you are taking.

Suddenly I'm taking the first few steps up then as I approach the crux I realise somethings wrong, I dont feel right.No panic though, no missed heartbeat and its only in my last 2 close calls have I found this level of control which has almost the same level of satisfaction as the climbing.

I down climb and shout to Diff and the lads that I'm just going to chill a bit when the rain starts, no second thought now, time to go as I'm too psyched not to.Into the crux and my heart is thumping now.....

On the crux moves(that is the 'hold' for my left) of Jahu

I feel the holds get wet but I'm well focused (as you can see in my face above) and hit the crossover move, it goes smoothly. Tiny holds for my left, I dread any kind of epileptic tremor at these moments, feet sorted, big reach for my right hand, maintain balance and I'm at the jug and the same finish as the E5.Raining a bit heavier now but it doesn't matter, its over, I didn't fall, it's all good.
Mantelling onto the jug at the end of the hard moves (pics Copyright Hotaches)

After I got home that night and relaxing alone with a brew I realised how much my life had changed in the last few months since I left home for the Fort.Its a Saturday night and I'm out climbing the hardest route of my life whereas a few months before I would've been wrecked in the boozer and as much as I miss partying with my mates I know I feel more at home out on the crags and in the hills these days, amazing how quick not only times but also people can change. All this thought from a 9m solo..................????

Friday, 14 August 2009

First E5's

A few weeks ago after work a team from Nevisport including Gaz (pics) Keith (belayer) and Kaye (supposed moral support) headed up Glen Nevis for me to attempt my first E5 lead and solo. The heat on my proposed lead route made the friction for my left hand crap so instead it seemed wise to solo the E5 in the shade first. Gaz got into position for shots as Keith belayed me on a top rope warm up and Kaye watched from the distance. I dumped the gear and went through the now familiar process of switching off to all outside distractions, emotions, calming my mind, heartbeat and stomach and set off.I got to the point of no return and took a minute (I love this point in soloing) then made the committing move left, as I moved up with my right I could ,expectedly, feel my left hand coming off but caught the hold with my right, one more hard move and its easier ground,its over quickly. Brilliant route.

Soloing 'Where the Mood Takes Me' . All pics: Gary Caswell

Next up was the lead which I was strangely more nervous about. We headed down to Scimitar Buttress.We ran through the same prep as before, but while focusing on the route and doing a mental rehearsal Kaye sneaked up on me and scared the s***e out of me , not good for controlling my heartbeat.Anyway I chalked up, Keith prepared for probably his easiest belay ever, Gaz got ready for shots and Kaye sparked up.

Heading into the crux, Keith 'belays' and Kaye looks for a lighter

I took off up the route feeling fluid and comfortable.I get to the break for bomber gear feeling only a little tired,place it and get a rest on good holds.

Jamming my left forearm in to allow me to miss out a hold i couldn't get with my left!!

I crank my left arm in the jam and move off, very concious of the fact that a slip here would mean a certain compound fracture.I start to feel the pump on the remaining moves but try to remain smooth, I get to the top and it feels amazing to have done 2 E5s in a night. Credit has to go to all those with me though as without the right support these things just aren't possible

Intro Blog

The purpose of my blogging is as much reporting on my climbing as it is to remind myself of what I've done. I dont want to write constantly about 'what' I've done but as much ,if not more, of why I do it.It will also look at the general frustration of being a disabled climber. Maybe I'll unearth the answer myself as to why I solo as much, who knows. It'll be as much a diary as it is a look at my past and whats helped or hindered me in my climbing.........