Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hot work!

Last Saturday was spent helping out on Nicky's BGR and it was a scorcher!

It was 13 Celsius at 2am Saturday morning (it's now 2pm Wednesday and probably cooler!) at Dunmail Raise. Having kipped out, uncomfortably, in the car getting hotter and hotter with the passing traffic occasionally shaking us, we finally got out at around 0130 to see who else had arrived ready for the next leg. It was rather busy as it turned out that a group of 16 contenders from Pudsey and Bramley were heading round.

Nicky turned up about forty minutes ahead of schedule, so it was about 2:15 when we began the slog up Steel Fell. Despite a good pace we lost a minute or so on her schedule to this and also to Calf Crag.  Dawn was on the horizon as we approached Sergeant Crag, a navigation error of turning left too early lost another couple of minutes. High Raise was reached on schedule as were Thunacar Knott and Harrison Stickle, despite not getting a good line on the latter.

It was fully daylight by the time we were crossing Martcrag Moor and we gained time getting to Rossett Pike. Things then suddenly went a bit silly - there's a big climb on to Bowfell, then it gets rocky heading to Esk Pike - Nicky upped her pace and took ten minutes out of her scheduled hour. All this in increasing heat plus the fact that she was suffering with bad guts and couldn’t take food or water for most of the leg.

After a bizarre snowball fight just below the summit of Scafell Pike, it was decision time - do we go via Broad Stand or not? Well it was dry so no real choice. Roy had brought a couple of slings for moral assistance and we were soon over the tricky part (Inov8s may be good for running but unlike Walshes they are useless on rock) and heading up the slabs. It was somewhere near the top of these that the heat and distance got to me and once I was sure that Nicky was on her way down to Wasdale OK, I backed off and just walked down the last steep bit.

In the end she got round in 22:42 - a really good time given the heat. Some photos here .

The following day I went climbing with Steve and Gaz at Attermire but I'd have been as well going sunbathing as I was still suffering from the efforts and heat of Saturday. Still, got some routes done.

The coming weekend may well see more BGR support, certainly I need to recce the Skiddaw leg as I'm supporting on that leg in about five weeks' time and I haven't been on that ground since my own round five years ago.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Summer's here!

Finally all the sprains seem to be going! A run up the local fell on Monday evening resulted in no after effects, well apart from the copious amounts of sweat now that summer seems to have arrived. Hopefully no more need of thermals. Even better was the fact that my time was quite reasonable without pushing too hard - not helped by the fact that I came across the cow (bovine variety) that attacked me last year and had to make a small detour.

Headed out for a longer run this evening along the Pennine Way. Everything felt much easier though there are still one or two tight spots. What's remarkable though is just how dry the ground is, there must have been a total of 5 metres of damp ground in 11 miles! Mind you it did mean that normally springy peaty ground is now like concrete - you can't have everything.

Climbing wise, I was out both days of the weekend - one day in the Lakes and the other on bolted limestone. Climbing quite well both days though I probably should have had another redpoint attempt on the 6C on Sunday.

We had intended to go to Stonestar Crag in the Duddon but on getting there we discovered there was a bird ban. A quick discussion and we went for Troutal Gorge - we only had the current guide and hadn't got any printouts of the newer developments so were slightly limited. I'd done quite a few of the routes shortly after the place had been developed but hadn't been back since nor I suspected had many other people. I was a bit dubious about how clean/dry things would be but since it's only 5 minutes from the car park  there wasn't much to lose.

As it turned out, it was pretty dry, it was however fairly dirty. One HVS then we top-roped an E2, neither of which I'd done before - Mike hadn't been there before so it was all new to him. Mike then did (top-roped) an E3 before we decided that there wasn't much else we could do without a complete cleaning kit. Since there was now bright sunshine we headed across the valley to White How Crag where there's a reasonable selection of routes from VS to E1. I'd done everything, again just after the initial development, and again Mike had never been there before.

After slight detours to avoid dead sheep(!) we got to the crag and it was my lead. A HVS at the left seemed like a good idea so once I'd kitted up I set off and soon came to a halt - I hadn't read the guide and had just headed upwards! A bit of sideways shuffling and I scuttled back to the deck. After reading the description I set off up the right line and didn't have too much trouble with it. Next to this are a couple of E1s so Mike headed up one of these, Natural Progression, all went well until the last couple of metres when his foot slipped. Fortunately he didn't fall but there was more gear in the route from that point than in the the previous 20 metres! Amazing that even after 30 years of climbing we still don't trust ourselves placing gear.

Since Mike had to be away early we just had time for one more route so I headed up a VS. Not in any way difficult, it's just good to be climbing away from gear, especially when it's not bolts. Even though the gear will hold, it is just somehow different being above a wire than a bolt.

Which is ironic since the following day I was back on bolted routes. Sunshine, showers and a thin wind drove us to Giggleswick North again. A couple of warm-ups and we decided to have a look at one of the F6Cs at the left end of the crag. I went first and ground to a halt at the second bolt. After several attempts at leaping for the holds it was Simon's turn - he managed the move statically but then couldn't figure out the following bit. After a bit of faffing he got to the lower off. First redpoint attempt and I got the holds I'd failed to grasp earlier but fell off just as I was getting my feet sorted, back on the rock I figured an easy way through the next section. Simon succeeded on his first redpoint. I wasn't too bothered about another go since it was hard on the fingers so we headed off for some footage on slightly easier stuff. My fingers definitely felt the extra effort the day after but it's over a year since I last attempted an F6C so pretty pleased with how I got on.

Now looking forward to helping Nicky with her Bob Graham attempt, though not the 2am start!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A long time coming

For various reasons I've kept putting off adding a post, none of which make any real sense in hindsight. So what's been going on? Well my appointment with the specialist down in Sheffield got put back by a month for some reason and along with that my official physio sessions have come to an end; my climbing has come to the fore once again while running seems to have taken a back seat due to other injuries.

My, hopefully, last visit to see the specialist in Sheffield was as short as ever. His prognosis was that the elbow is unlikely to improve much but that given I can work around the issues caused and that I'm back essentially doing what I want there is little need to operate as the benefits would be balanced by the risks of any surgery. Next appointment in a year if I feel I need it.

The groin strain that I sustained on the Wadsworth Trog at the start of February has proven hard to shake off. Perhaps more worrying is that my body's attempts to deal with it have lead to tendon strains in both my knee and the back of my leg which in turn have lead to an altering of gait which has meant that more strain has gone on to my knees exacerbating the arthritis in those joints.

Despite this, I have been getting out, though not racing,  I've committed to support a couple of Bob Graham attempts and potentially an attempt on the Ramsay Round Round in Scotland. Two weeks ago I went for a run round Langdale and died on my feet after a couple of hours. Short runs on the moors in Yorkshire are no substitute for big days out! Last weekend I was out on the Grassmoor fells and felt much better. Another long day and I should be OK for the first support stint in a couple of weeks time. One problem is that it takes several days for my knee to recover from each run. Will just have to take it steady.

On to more positive things ...

Slowly I've been building my climbing stamina, not been doing much trad but that is as much to do with weather and not being in the right place etc. as anything else. Normally we have been going to Spain in April for a long weekend bolt clipping to get ourselves set up with some fitness. This year we decided that we'd go to Portland instead. It worked out well in that the flight disruption from the ash fallout from the Icelandic volcano was the week before we were heading away. Fortuitous or what! We had three good days on Portland plus a not so good day at Swanage - at least for me. The day was misty with little sunshine to dry the rock. Now I really dislike damp, greasy rock and this combined with some dodgy rock and gear meant that I got a bit spooked.

Back in Yorkshire, I've been getting quite a bit done and starting to go for it again. Overall I'm about a grade down on last year, so not too bad given the total lack of training over winter. I did have an offer of going climbing to the Lofoten Islands in June but after initially being keen on the idea I've now settled on a week in Scotland getting some classics done.