Thursday, 30 September 2010

Double Barrelled Fun

A weekend of contrasts both climbing and weather wise. I actually managed to get out climbing both days for once, it's only taken all summer!

Saturday saw Simon and myself umming and ahhing before heading to another recently developed crag, this time it was Comb Hill which is in the dry valley above and behind Malham Cove. I'd run past this several times on my training for the Bob Graham and had given it a quick once over but hadn't really thought about it. Times and tastes change and after parking at the top of the Cove road we headed down to the crag, maybe ten minutes walk tops.

The place was Baltic!! The thin north wind was whipping down the valley rather than over the top of the crag. Still while we were here might as well get some routes done. Two F6a+s and a F6b later and we decide that we'd be better off out of the wind so it was down to Giggleswick South.

Two groups of friends were already there so it was quite sociable. In the sun it was warm but there was still a distinct lack of heat once the sun went behind a cloud. Another six routes and we've had enough as it's getting towards evening and cooling down.

The following day I have the car so it's plan A for Gaz and myself, down to the Peak and gritstone at Burbage. I hadn't climbed in the Peak since my accident so the first few routes solo (deja vu!) were a bit tense and I was definitely happier once the ropes went on. By the time we'd done half a dozen routes including some delightful gritstone HVS cracks with all they entail :-) it was getting time to go given it's a two hour drive.

This week has been a bit topsy turvy - the cleats on my road cycling shoes were wearing thin so time for a new pair. One trip to the local bike shop and they were fitted Monday evening. Tuesday morning and the weather is fine so I head off to work on the bike. Or rather tried to. My feet were flying out of the pedals so it's the car again. Asking around at work it seems that Look changed their pedal style, or at least the size of them, around three years ago! Brilliant! One web order later and I've the original style heading my way.

With the lack of exercise on Tuesday I actually went for a run on Wednesday evening, only two miles and very slowly but it was a run. My knees haven't felt too bad over the last couple of days though there is a bit of delayed muscle soreness. Today has been fine weather so I went to work on the bike, at least the cleats fit.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Lazy days.

The weather played up a bit at the weekend so I didn't really get much done. We were intending to do the Bronte Big K on Sunday but we hadn't pre-entered so it would have cost us an extra fiver (making it £30 each) which we wouldn't have minded but when we woke at 7am it was chucking it down so we thought better of it. As it happened, it rained all day and we hardly went out of the house. Saturday wasn't really much better, just lighter rain and a few gaps between showers though it really depended on where you were.

Biked in to work most days this week, Thursday being the exception due to the forecast but as it turned out, it wasn't that bad a day. At least I'm getting some exercise even if it is of short duration.

Following Andy's suggestion of high dosages of Cod liver oil I've been doing a bit of investigation. For once Wikipedia didn't come to the rescue as it appears that the relevant article is currently a thinly disguised advert! Once you've got past the pseudo scientific stuff on the first page or two that Google returns it becomes quite interesting.

An Australian paper looking at the effects of Cod liver oil states that certain oils - namely 1n3 (the omega-3s favoured of advertisers) are beneficial but that it isn't just augmenting your diet that needs to be done, rather you need to alter the proportion of these fats to their close relation 1n6. Guess which society has got it wrong? 1n6, is everywhere in western diets. Margarine, mayonaisse, you name it, it is likely to be based on the 1n6 fats.

The upshot of all this is that taking cod liver oil while not having been proven beyond scientific doubt to be of help, it is not going to be harmful. Though it seems like I should have been taking it for the last thirty years as it's more effective in prevention rather than cure.

Away from all this, my knee has definitely been hurting for the last day. I think it started when baking a cake, actually gingerbread (don't ask!), last night and it locked in a funny way. One one positive side effect of not running is that I'm becoming more flexible in my right hip which has been significantly less mobile than my left for a while. Quite probably because I've been adjusting my gait to avoid stress on my knee.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

All in the Mind?

A bit of a quiet week really. The usual one day out climbing on Sunday saw us visit a new (to us - it's actually about 200 million years old) crag - Castlebergh at Settle. Developed by the Leeds Mafia a couple of years ago, we'd heard varying reports about it not all of which came from reliable sources. Plus there is a lot of The Emperor's new Cloth about new developments and it's usually best to let the hyperbole settle (no pun intended) before trying it for yourself.

So it proved - those routes to the left of the steep part are mediocre at best, crap at worst, definitely not worth the multiple stars that the download from the Leeds Wall website would have you believe. Perhaps more of note was the average age of the teams there - probably close to sixty - we felt quite young! The youngest person there was in their forties.

By the time we'd worked our way in to the steep bit we didn't feel up to the bouldery starts so decided to head over to Giggleswick North as there were some friends there. As it turned out there were lots of cars at the layby so quite a busy day. Our friends were on the first buttress so we nipped up an F6a we hadn't done before and then wandered over to the further buttresses which to be honest offer better climbing.

It turned out that we knew most of the teams on the crag, again most of those present were in their fifties, the only people that weren't were those in the only team we didn't know. A sign of the times I suppose.

Simon fancied Bad Genie at F6c. We'd looked at the start of this before and couldn't figure out just how to make it go at the given grade. Moving a metre or so to the left proved easier. I seem to have trouble with getting going on F6c, I'm fine at F6b+ but as soon as I move up a grade all the smoothness and ability seems to desert me. It has to be a mental problem as the moves themselves aren't difficult but I don't seem to be able to convince myself of this. I couldn't work out the final move over the final bulge on to easy ground so lowered down. Simon managed to get it first go, making a move out right at the top rather than straight up as I'd been trying. I was definitely tired though as even on a top-rope I struggled. Time to call it a day.

I don't know if my knee is definitely worse or I just think it is now that I know the problem. It may be that I sought medical analysis just at the time it was getting worse. Alternatively I may just be subconsciously focusing my attention on it. Whatever I'm wincing at times even when walking and occasionally when setting off cycling. I still haven't settled on a strategy to handle the arthritis other than continue to lose weight.  Joint supplements are often recommended but a recent study casts doubt on their effectiveness. Best save my money then. Maybe it's all in the mind.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

An Anniversary or Two

It's been a year since I had my accident. I hadn't realised until Cath started going on about not falling off before I headed out to climbing on Saturday. Perhaps not a brilliant year, frustrating definitely but one that just needed working through.

As mentioned, we headed out climbing on Saturday. Given the recent fine weather we were going to chance Trow Gill, it takes a while to dry out and it was getting late in the season so there might not be another chance to get up there. Another reason was that Simon had never been. We were going to meet Mike and Gaz there.

The crag was rather dirty, perhaps not surprising given the rains through the middle of summer, also it's a 40min walk which puts many off. A nice F6a+ warm up then on to Alick which I've done before but for some reason I though was F6b. At the top I thought I was struggling but then after his ascent Simon felt it was F6b+. A quick look at the guide confirmed it. Doh! Close by were a couple of routes that I hadn't done before so we ticked them off.

Mike Bullough on the crux of Alick at Trow Gill

A bit of lunch and we reckoned that we really ought to get on something harder. The central corner of the face is taken by Clink - F7a and equipped with staples rather than mechanical bolts so bailing out would be a bit easier. Simon had a really good effort, only needing to to rest on the top bolt before working out the crux sequence to the belay. I was feeling a bit jaded so tried it on a top rope. There was a really tenuous move at half height but I couldn't even make the move to the top bolt and struggled with the move past it. Mike and Gaz also had a top-rope on it. One more route and we were ready to head home.

I've been biking in to work most days - the only day that I didn't, Tuesday, the trains were late! This extra bit of exercise combined with being quite strict about what I'm eating means that I've lost quite a bit of weight already. Just need to keep going with it though it would be better if I lost weight at a slower rate so that the body can adjust rather than react. Even on the bike I can feel my knee playing
up at times. Will just have to see how things go.

25 years ago! Dai Lampard on "The Ramp" on the Original 1938 Route on the North Face of the Eiger.

Another anniversary that I missed was the twenty fifth anniversary of succeeding on the North Face of the Eiger. We actually completed the route on the last day of August 1985. Given the increased summer temperatures in the alps summer ascents of the Eiger have become increasingly rare and it is more likely to hear of a winter ascent than a summer one. So I have to say I feel lucky to have done it when I did. Definitely one of my life changing moments, as was last year!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Blue is the Colour!

Well the bike ride went OK apart from the weather which was a bit pants! Some big hefty showers combined with a strong, ahem, breeze made for interesting riding.

Our route was out of Embsay, home to most of the participants, over Halton Heights, down to Bolton Bridge then along to Ilkley via the steep hill of Langbar then over Addingham and Silsden moors before heading up to Lothersdale then back through Skipton. Quite hilly then! Halton Heights and Langbar weren't too bad as the wind was behind us but heading down in to Ilkley was quite dicey as the wind was now coming from the side and gusting through gates and gaps in the hedges. Heading out of Ilkley we were heading directly in to the wind so it became hard work, as was the climb up on to Addingham moor. We then cut round on to Silsden moor where the others headed straight back towards Skipton while Steve and I headed home - uphill and in to the wind again - it was a struggle to keep moving even on the flat. A total of 26 miles in all. No idea of the average speed but not huge I would have thought.

Sunday was climbing with Simon again. A late start given the showers during the morning. We took a punt on Blue Scar being dry, and it was! Apart from a couple of small streaks it was bone dry. After a couple of warm-ups we headed underneath the arch, an area I'm not too keen on as the path at the foot crosses the debris of a fairly recent rockfall from said feature - gulp! Our target was Scarface - F6c. I headed up to see how far I'd get as much as anything.

Getting the clips in almost proved to be the hardest thing, the bolts were just too high for comfort from the good holds. Consequently a couple of rests later I was at the lower-off. Simon managed it first go. However in the latest guide to the crag this is now given F6c+ so I don't feel so bad, definitely (another) one for the redpoint. After another (undergraded) route we were done.

Monday was climbing with Mike and Steve. They wanted to go to Blue Scar! Slightly different this time in that we headed to the left hand side for some trad routes rather than the sports fare we've been doing on previous visits. It's a long time since I've climbed on this bit, about twenty years in fact! First up was the only real option for a warm up - Some Blue For You at E1 5a. Steve set off first, Mike and I were going to lead on his gear (the craftiness of age!).

Steve leading Some Blue for You at Blue Scar

Now Steve hadn't been climbing for ages so took a while to get going, in fact he probably took longer for the first ten feet than the rest of the route. The upper wall is protected almost entirely by threads, one of which needs two 8ft slings to make use of! After Mike had done it, it was my turn and it did feel very easy climbing, there wouldn't have been much difference in putting the gear in as most of it could be placed from restful positions.

After threading the belay we decided to top-rope an E3 to the left and since I was already tied in then I may as well go first. Let's just say I didn't climb it in particularly good style, though Mike and Steve did. Mike and Steve then decided that they would top-rope Unreal but that meant climbing a grotty VS to set up the ropes so I ducked out of that. Given that I'd struggled on the previous route I wasn't too keen to do so again, plus I had done it several times in the past.

With a little time left we headed over to the right wing and did a couple of sports routes before the midges started to get bad and Mike had to get back for his wife's birthday.

My knees were a little sore after the bike ride - possibly because of the steep climbs and subsequent effort involved - so I don't think I'll be doing much running for a while as that is only likely to exacerbate the condition or at least have me hobbling for a day or two. Have done a bit of internet research on arthritis it seems that one of the best things to do, and one of the simplest and cheapest, is to lose weight. The best way is to take it easy - a pound or two per week at most - cutting out snacks and the like is also an easy hit. I'll just have to be strict about things. Trying to do too much will just cause the famine response where the body hoards fat because it thinks you are heading for a lean time.

With the good weather I've also been biking in to work and so far there hasn't been too much complaint from my knees. Looks like the good weather will continue in to the weekend so more biking and climbing ahead :-)