Saturday, 27 September 2014

Back To Basics

After years of slagging my mates who left climbing for MTB I've started to drift to the dark side too, though I've no intention of anything distracting me from climbing. MTB has fear, speed, fun and bars to get bevy at lunchtime so whats not to like. With my hand, one brake and crap eyesight I knew it'd be challenging but if I wanted easy I'd do normal boring crap. 

On Thursday morning I teamed up with Scott Kirkhope who had kindly offered to show me the basics and we did go right back to braking, cornering etc, even down to stuff I'd never have thought of like seat height.

Proper punter-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

The downhill champs aint gonna lose their crown anytime soon

Next day was down to Glentress with Rhona, Fergus and Gareth, great trails and some amazingly unprintable banter, great day.

Myself, Rhona and Gareth- Pic-Fergus Faulds

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Back to the pain cave!

Yesterday saw a change in weather and thoughts turned to winter. So Dot, Dave and myself headed down to Al Halewoods basement for some training/suffering. All pics from Dorota Bankowska.

Myself and Dave in the pain cave

Dave focusing
All the training helps toward an upcoming trip and this seasons DT comps. Our comp at the Ice Factor this year is in aid of Glencoe MRT so a very worthy cause so if you or anyone you know would be keen then get yourself along on 1st November for a laugh.

I look like a Swan Vesta with my red face an white body

Dot looking too fresh after a burn on the wall

Using the "B*****d stick" on Dave

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Season That Keeps on Giving

It's been another busy stint here in the Highlands between one thing or another. The main thing for myself was getting another new route climbed. While belaying Steve on his project at Wave I noticed the arete to the right, it didn't look amazingly inspiring or clean but I reckoned it was worth a punt. A quick look on top rope with a brush and it revealed itself as an amazing route with some great moves. As usual with the lines I seem drawn to the gear was bad, half placed wire and a couple of cams behind a loose flake all in the same area and almost guaranteed deckout from most of the crux moves. 

Dave, myself, Steve and Dot-Pic- Sean Bell

For some reason this route gave me the proper fear, maybe just a different style from my usual or something. I went to go on lead the other day first thing but knew I was rushing so backed off and waited another wee while. 

The dulcet tones of Slipknot getting me psyched-Pic-Sean Bell

As usual getting the mind where it needs to be for this stuff provided a battle but the a dark cloud blotted out the bright sunshine and I knew the time was now, get on and commit. The sun hit me just as I got the only gear in, too late to turn back, nothing but succeed or fall, simple. Make the first really hard move, in a bad position now, to fall would mean breaking bones, bile in my stomach rises rapidly, struggle to maintain composure.

 Committed mid crux-Pic-Sean Bell

Now I know it's serious I relax more as I know what failure or quitting means and the moves that really scared me flow by in a state of total focus. The feeling of nothingness I crave takes over, pity I have to take such risks to feel that peace but then again it's bloody great fun :) Cheers to Steve for the belay, Sean for pics and Dave and Dot for filming.

Very relieved at the top, miles away from gear-Pic-Sean Bell

Yesterday was Steves turn on the sharp end, we headed to Lochailort with the intention for Steve to get on the E3s but after only a few top ropes on my E6 6b The Rebellion he decided all the ingredients were there for a go at his first route of this grade and he cruised it, one of the most impressive bits of climbing I've seen in recent years and the second ascent in the same proper bold style as the first, well done Steve.

Steve high above the gear on The Rebellion-Pic Dorota Bankowska

Chatting and chilling out, relief and smiles all round after another success- Pic Dorota Bankowska

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Full Circle

I left the Fort early on Sunday to meet Rhona in Arrochar in the hope the weather would be good to get on the Cobblers South Ridge. It turned out to be a fine day and we had a chilled ascent and good banter.

Rhona on the ridge with the South Peak behind

The main reason for heading South was to head to Arran to explore options to start the 'Full Circle' project which is supported by my sponsors Rab . As my climbing career may end at any time with this injury I want to climb a hard new route on the island as it's where I started to go after becoming epileptic and probably where climbing really started becoming my way of life. It'll be good to climb something at my limit here as I was a total punter just chancing my luck on my own over there in the early days doing scrambling or easy solos hence the 'Full Circle' name of the project.

Steve came down on Tuesday night and we discussed plans over a few ales and then headed over for first ferry on Wednesday. The clag really dropped as we made our way up Glen Sannox and as we stopped to scope out one or two crags we got absolutely mauled by the worst midges I've experienced in years. 
Steve getting midgied in Glen Sannox, Cir Mhor ahead

Respite was only found on the Saddle between Sannox and Rosa and that allowed us to get the binoculars out to check various lines. We then headed round under the other side of Cir Mhor to check it out. So all in all we've found plenty to go at, just need the weather, midgies and injury to play the game.

On The Saddle escaping the midgies