23 June 2011

Worth waiting for?

The rain relented on Wednesday and we found our way to Shipley Glen, again. The northern contingent had to avoid the cycle racing in Otley so we started later. John joined us at his local crag and made short work of the conveniently named John. The throng warmed up as the threat of rain lifted  and the impeccable slab problem of Reach for the Sky was crimped and padded up by us all. Meanwhile Rob arrived predicting rain but after he had warmed to the task me and him headed off for to have a look at the arete of Adolph. It was no Blitzkreig, in fact it was greasy, reachy and frustrating.

Eventually the rest of the throng joined us and we played around on the lovely Bonnie's Wall. It then seemed rude not to have one more  go at Adolph. With the best spotting team available and enough mats I managed to get my thumbs over my fingers and crimp whilst at full stretch. I thought it was hard, so I was chuffed. Finally back to Leaper roof to pull on large but steep holds. Rob did one of his levitation tricks up the front face and the Ladies argued they were rubbish but ultimately evidence suggested they weren't. Oh and Stu fell in love with a boulder problem and lapped it again and again and again...

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22 June 2011

More less than more

Given that midsummer has just rolled on by, I thought I would post my two pennorth from a recent Facebook debate on the merits of rock vs plastic climbing:

"I think Bryn summed it up best with his point by point summary. I didn't expect many would vote for indoors, but climbing would be a significantly worse interest without it. It frustrates me to have to go indoors on a rainy summer night, but I'm quite happy to have some plastic to hang off in the winter. And I would say that indoor climbs have produced some memorable moments - the green cave problem at the Depot that took about 6 weeks to crack, the purple overhang in the comp that Bryn softened up for me. For the climb, I don't yet see that man-made is inherently worse than natural - I often find unreality has its advantages over reality - though being out there in the world is a beautiful thing that more people could do to experience."
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20 June 2011

Get orf moi crag!

One of my favourite things about skateboarding was the places it took me- down back streets, multi-story car parks, flyovers. Not only was it discovering and exploring cities, it was also taking me to places not many people go, or are allowed to go. I was reminded of this when I got bollocked by a farmer this evening for some illegal bouldering.

After finding 'Yorkshire Grit' in the library I have been searching more places to go and play. First of all it tempted me back up to Little Almscliff, which I really enjoyed. I then noticed on ukclimbing that there was a nearby
crag over in the wilds of Haverah Park , and that it had an (albeit empty) entry in the guidebook as well. So this evening I parked up in Beckwithshaw, walked in to the crag and had a play and and an explore. I will refrain from saying much about it, or showing any of the pics as I got busted walking off the crag by the aforementioned unhappy farmer, and he wasn't keen on me telling anyone about it. Not sure what his problem is- maybe he's worried about it turning into a free festival up there, but I can't see it somehow. Either ways, it's his land so off I go.

So I then stopped by Almscliff and we got gradually, and then persistently, rained off the crag. But I managed to sneak in a bit of a tick, so it wasn't all bad. And it certainly hasn't stopped my lust for adventure- got Brandrith, and Eavestone lined up in my sights. And possibly even hitting Adel when I go there to do some training, just because its there.
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19 June 2011

A little more eccentric a lot less pain

I suffered from Golfer's elbow this winter,  not I hasten to add from playing golf. The cause was my Peter Pan complex convincing me that 42 was a reasonable age for a twelve stone man to start training on a fingerboard. By mid february  all but jug pulling was causing quite sharp pain and I assumed the cure was a long rest and layoff, with my paranoia suggesting the end of my middle aged comeback.

Googling round the issue eccentric wrist curls were getting some attention. These exercises seem to be working for both Golfers elbow -  pain inside of the elbow and Tennis elbow where the pain is on the outside.

The exercise involves strapping a couple of one pound weights to a one ft length of broom handle. You then sit at a table with the broom handle sticking vertically upward like you are giving the worlds most extreme thumbs up. You then allow the weight to fall outwards slowly until it is lying parallel to the table, your wrist and forearm having twisted under load. You then lift the weight up and return it vertical with the other arm. The weight is lowered internally for Tennis elbow by the way.

Two weeks of doing 20 or so of these a day and I was symptom free. It has flared up  once or twice since then but the exercises are managing it nicely.

Update 22/11/2012
here is Tom Randall of WideBoyz fame arguing for a different lying down technique

Here is a video from UK Climbing showing what I have probably not explained that well.
This is  Dave McCloud explaining why it seems to be working as a miracle cure for lots of climbers.

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15 June 2011

Rain and two halves

Rain again and a big sulk for me as I headed for the Harrogate wall. An hours pulling on convenience plastic in sauna like humidity was at least exercise and the company was amiable.

Mid session fluid beak and out the window the sun was breaking through. I suggested the crag and received looks  like I had offered everyone a rhino horn smoothie. Anyway off to the crag I went to work that wall left of the Matterhorn. Good progress, feet are now leaving the ground and I'm not far off the top so one for sooner rather than later. Then a pleasant warm down as the sun headed for the horizon and everything went orange.
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12 June 2011

Lord's Seat all nighter

Somewhere in the recent past Bryn decided he wanted to go bivouacking. Lords Seat fitted the bill. It is relatively inaccessible, there is a good range of easyish problems and it looked likely to have great views from your bag. We met up near Appletreewick at sixish on the Saturday and walked in.

Cosmo and Mrs Prince swelled the ranks along with an oft present but nevertheless apprehensive Stu who seemed to have a slight air of the condemned man about him. The walk in is steep at least initially and the guide book time of 35 minutes a little ambitious.  We doubled it and we didn't really dawdle.

The beautiful summer evening was turning a little fresh by the time we got there. We managed an hour of bouldering. The rock is fantastic; rough as rhino hide with huge pebbles to help you out. It had a real adventure feel about it. Instead of the well worn landings you get used to at Yorkshire's bouldering honey pots, there were bilberry's and heather at the bottom of the problems, the holds had no shine with a coating of lichen and many had tiny millipedes curled up in them.

Nobody really set the world alight but we had some great bumbly fun just trying a few problems and enjoying the enigmatic, wind sculpted rock and soaking in the all enveloping silence. There was an area called the jumble which had a few nice problems and a few to go back for.

It dropped cold about nine and Bryn and Cosmo headed back down. Despite the whole escapade being Bryn's idea he had dogs to walk and couldn't stay. He looked a little disappointed and I think Cosmo though getting cold by now would have a happily stayed too.

Rachael, Stu and Myself passed an agreeable hour nattering. I then failed to ply them with whisky and was left no option but to drink it myself. Rachael suddenly invented extreme knitting and the weather threatened to turn nasty but decided not to.

 Night didn't exactly fall but it went a bit darker. The lights on Emley moor transmitter mast reminding us the world was out there. That and everybody on Facebook "liking" Rachael's knitting photo.

A grouse woke us at 4 a clock so we got up, had a brew and headed for the car. We walked through a beautiful mist on the rocks with sun breaking through kind of dawn. Stopping at Simon's Seat for a Geocache.

I was trying to remember how wonderful everything looked in the warm light. It was one of those "never to be forgotten" episodes that are actually really difficult to remember. Maybe thats why I keep wanting to do it again.
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6 June 2011


I hadn't planned on climbing this weekend, as a couple of unexceptional weeks at Almscliffe, and an ache in my arms and shoulders, had left me feeling the need for a break. Of course, my resolve not to climb is vulnerable to anyone taking the radical step of suggesting a climb, so when Bryn let me know that a mutual friend, Anna, wanted to take to the rocks for the first time (or the first time in some time, at least) I figured that it would be good to go along and help with some nurturing.

And then it turned out that Anna wasn't going to climb, by which time I was already set upon my path to Bryn's house. It was Anna's presence that made this trip to Almscliffe appealing, so I proposed an alternative to Bryn - not having been there myself, I suggested that we take in the lie of the land at Norwood. Being a bit further afield I would have been happy to drive, but Bryn elected to take the dogs along for the ride. I was happy with this arrangement - an elevated view of some very scenic countryside, followed by an easy-going tramp around some new boulders.

Having previously made attempts at mountain biking at Stainburn/Norwood, I was a little confused by the layout - further exploration may be necessary to reconcile where I used to ride with where we walked and climbed. Nevertheless, there were plenty of spots that I identified as bike trails which drew forth astonished "No way!" comments from Bryn - and rightly so, as those mountain bike maniacs aren't far off riding down some of the things that we climb up. And fair play to them! After a brief dabble within touching distance of the road - Bryn "The top's positive.", Me "It's more the pre-top." - we decided to have a look around further up, near the transmitter that sits in station over the landscape. More "They ride THAT?!" amazement was mixed with some cultured boulderer banter. Aiming for the trig point on Hunter's Stones - probably the outermost point of the mountain bike trails on this side of the road - we found some interesting problems. Having left the bouldering mat behind, we were more limited than we might otherwise have been, but we still managed to entertain ourselves. The wall below the trig point was tackled, both successfully and experimentally, and in the - relatively - outlying areas of the... 'crag' seems almost too strong a word... we found some fine cracks and faces to play with. And one devilish semi-dyno... nubbin?... sitting above a particularly sandpaper-like crack with a slight overhang. Attempts to progress up this climb left me with plenty of rock rash on the arms, a nasty gash on my right knee, and the longing to return one day better equipped, perhaps for a circuit of this and other nearby rocks...

The dogs didn't climb anything, by the way. And here are some photos.
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