Saturday, 18 July 2009

This week I have been mostly listening to......

This'll be a new regular feature for my blog. I love music almost as much as I love climbing. So here's what's been going through my ears while I've been jogging for the past week:

Langhorne Slim: Americana at it's best. Music snobs please turn your noses up now (I heard it on an advert for Pedigree Chum)

The Bronx: My favourite band. This vid is hilarious. Best dancing since Napoleon Dynamite....

Ghost of a Thousand: The greatest punk rock band in Britain, bar none. This is their new single.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Risky Business...?

I had a cheeky day off work so took the new climb-mobile on a day trip to north Wales, and baked in one of the hottest days of the year so far. Which is great if you're sat on your arse, not great if your slogging up scree slopes. Especially not great if you're a fucking idiot like me and decided to NOT bring enough water, but also to only include the 'feast' of five Jaffa Cakes, having reasoned on the way out, 'it won't take me long and they sell pasties at Ogwen Cottage...'.

I ended up climbing/scrambling up Waved Slab in Carnedd y Ffilliast . It's a Mod climb, looked easy in the guidebook AND on the walk up to it from Ogwen Cottage, so I gave it a go.

Knackered at the bottom. Changed walking boots for rock shoes. Looked up. No rope. Bash on...

It was a superb route, and exhilirating without belays: despite the fact that the climbing was straightforward and the angle was easy, it's easier still to look down and think, 'One false move....' and imagine your body cartwheeling down the face.

Which brings me to the crux of the problem. I went to visit a friend in Brighton this weekend and got into a heated debate with his girlfriend about the merits of climbing/scrambling without a rope. I reasoned, without bragging 'cos I'm not a knob about things like this, that because it was easy and I was relatively experienced that it was a calculated risk, and one I was prepared to take. But her - very good - point was that YOU'RE ENGAGED - it's not just about YOU any more. If you mess it up everyone pays, not just you.

And I sort of agree with her. You can be Tenzing Bleeding Norgay and still pull on a crumbley hold. But will I carry on enjoying myself when the limits of what I'm 'supposed' to do are drawn in around me? I don't know the answer yet, but I guess it'll come to me the next time I'm out on my own and I see a buttress to have a play on.

In the meantime, here's the vid:

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Sun, booze and bouldering.

Bloody sun. Never thought I'd say that but there's something about being hot that makes me wanted to drink cold lager until it comes out of my nostrils.
Hence, I've not really been doing much climbing to speak of, other than the odd session bouldering. But I have been feeling very hungover for a very long time. Need. To. Stop. Drinking. In. The. Week!!!!

Anyway, one session that warrants a mention is a recent return to Pex Hill, one of my favourite old stomping grounds when I lived in Liverpool.
If you've not been, go. And be prepared to have your arse kicked. Not by the hoodies who seem to like smashing glass bottles there, but by the routes. I could barely get off the ground. My fingers ached like a bastard and what I did do was by far the easiest stuff there. But fucking hell if it's not good practise. I'm going to make it a priority to get back there and do as much as I can to improve my strength.

Also, and whisper it quietly so JT can't hear it, may have spotted an E1 potential. Although it'll probably chew me up and spit me out if I ever got on it, as most Pex routes do.

Even more exciting, though, is the fact that I've got a car! I had my last one nicked by thieving scrotes in Manchester when I was in LA with work back in July last year and replaced it with a motorbike. As I've discussed before on this blog the bike, while awesome for commuting, isn't really the best for carrying heavy climbing kit. Or ferrying girlfriends around. But, and this is typical of the truly amazing people I share a street with, my next door neighbour GAVE me her old Volkswagen Polo! GAVE me it. Unbelievably generous.
Sure, it stank of sweaty dog, it's R-reg, the red paint is now a weird off-pink colour, it's only one-litre, it needs new tyres and there's a massive sticker in the back of a smiling pooch's face which never fails to make onlookers do a double-take, but I fucking love it! It's like when you're a teenager and you've got a shit car, but that little chugger will completely broaden your horizons. And keep you dry when it rains, unlike anything with only two wheels. Plus I couldn't give two shits if I pranged it, which is a pretty liberating feeling too.

The good news continues: JT and lovely woman friend are back from holiday, which means he's keen to get out climbing this week. Awesome, can't wait.

The only down side to the past two weeks is that I played badminton twice this week with the following results: Played seven games - won two, lost five. And one of those was to my missus, who won't fucking shut up about it. And no, I didn't let her win. Going to have to seriously reconsider the sports we play together. Anyone for boxing?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

engagement vid


It's been a while since my last post, but there's a good reason for that: I've just got engaged and have spent the last two weeks fretting about where/how/and when to do it.
She said 'yes'. Which is good. But now I'm bracing myself for the reality that every spare penny I have will now go into some sort of wedding fund. I guess that trip to the Himalayas will have to wait....and so will the new motorbike. Ah well, it's nice to see her happy.

Eventually popped the question in north Wales, near the lovely village Beddgelert, which is famous because of a dog (look it up on the internet...) Walked to the shores of Llyn Dinas, up onto the mountain to a disused copper mine, then down into the gorgeous Cwm Bychan. There's a little waterfall in the valley so got down on one knee there. The weather was baking. We sunbathed. I had a swim in the river to celebrate. It was, in fact, perfect. Couldn't have been more relaxed. It's an odd feeling, having done it. But you're filled with a certain smugness for a good couple of days.

It was a tough weekend, if truth be told. I'd worked two weeks straight and I could feel my body shutting down before we'd even set off to Wales. By the time we got to our accommodation - an awesome tipi near Carno - I was already coming down with flu. The Saturday morning was like waking up with the mother of all hangovers even though I'd only had two beers, then had to drag myself up and somehow turn my rotten mood into the best day of my girlfriend's life. Felt like utter warmed-up, two-day old shite, but think I convinced her otherwise.

Anyway, now that's over I can concentrate on climbing again. So I'll hopefully be out again this week, just as soon as I've shaken off my man-ebola-plague-swine-flu. Urrghhh.