Monday, 31 December 2012

....of 2012

To mark the march of time I'm compiling a list of 2012's finest.  The fire is glowing in the grate, the glass has been charged with an Ardbeg (the bottle's close to hand). Time to reflect.

Book of 2012:  The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt.
It was a fierce contest with Ross Raisin's God's Own Country but Byatt clinched it.  The Children's Book follows the fortunes of several families over the tumultuous 25 year period around the start of the 20th Century.  Personal stories of individuals set against a backdrop of the changing times: the Arts and Crafts movement, Queen Victoria's death, Suffrage, the rise of European Socialism, the First World War. A complete novel.

Tune of 2012: Bob Holroyd, African Drug (Fortet Remix)
Listen to this loud. 

Trad Route of 2012: Megaflake, E2 5c, Creag Rhoda Mor (aka Supercrag).
As single pitches go, this provided everything.  Long, sustained, brilliant rock, terrible rock, good gear, shonky gear, exposure, and a tricky finish.  And all on a sea cliff in Wester Ross, surely the finest place on Earth.

Sport Route of 2012: Snowflake, 7a+, Goat Crag.
The ego was tempted to go for Jam Sesion at Terredets but that was just a lucky holiday tick. Snowflake was an affair drawn out over several visits, requiring a fair effort.  Besides, the climbing is just plain fun, yarding on the biggest holds in the Highlands, and still getting pumped senseless.

Boulder of 2012:  Road to Domestos, 7A, Scatwell.
This one was hard to pinpoint as there aren't really any problems from the last year that really stand out.  Despite probably bouldering more than ever, I'm constantly trying problems and rarely succeeding. This one got the top spot as it was something I'd tried a few years ago and couldn't fathom, then tried again last Spring but didn't finally see it off until this Winter.  Great rock, classic moves and a lovely spot, but not a king line.

Spanking of 2012.
Where to start?  As an occasionally lucky boulderer, getting a kicking is a regular feature of my climbing.  The list of things I've tried and failed on is doubtless longer than the list of successes.  I think this award will have to go to Malcolm's Arete in Torridon, purely as it's the problem I've had my sights set on for ages, tried hard on, and still can't do.  No doubt it's hard, and harder the shorter you are (I'm not that short, but definately not tall!), it's very conditions dependent and, recently, it's been drenched.  2013 is the year.

Run of 2012
I've not run as much this year as normal, in an attempt to climb more, but I did have a few good days out.  The best (and hardest) was an attempt to link the last two Northern Cairngorm Munros I'd not done: Cairngorm car park to Beinn Bhreac via the Saddle and Fords of Avon, then up Carn a Mhaim via Derry Lodge, then back across the plateau via Ben Macdui and down the Goat Track.  The last 5 kilometres back to the car were messy.

The traditional dash to Dartmoor when visiting my folks at Christmas and last day out of 2012.  Amazing conditions in a strong wind meant the year ended on a high(ball) after I finally shook my way up Aerobic Wall - a long held ambition and quite exciting on my own above 2 small pads.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


It's a virtue, they say.

I feel like I've been tested recently. Since coming back from Spain in late November I've only managed one day on dry rock. It's not that it hasn't been dry at times, it's just been a timing issue. Despite having 3 day weekends the dryness has always been midweek, when I'm normally waist deep in a bog, being paid to count deer shit.

I've got bored of checking the forecast, of driving out and waiting in the rain, of trying to dry holds, of asking around for conditions updates.  So, instead i've tried to make better use of my time, to be ready for when the stars align.  Every day that I would normally be trying to get out I've tried to have a good session on Richie's board or at the Inverness wall, tried to work on some specifics.

So, I'm down south for the festive season and the theme continues. My normal day at the Roaches has given way to a session at Mirf's Redpoint wall in Birmingham. I'm holding out for some Dartmoor granite when down at the folks' in Somerset but expect I'll be in TCA in Bristol.

Hopefully all these intense sessions of movement on a variety of steepness will be what's required for progress on the projects.  Let's hope the seasonal eat-athon isn't too detrimental to the regime....

Merry Christmas!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Torridon Diaries #3

It was wetter than forecast.  The snow flurries scurrying up Loch Torridon sent Richie and I bailing to the cafe in the village, to nurse a brew and wait for the weather to pick up.

Everything was still drenched when we made it to the Jumble, even Slot Crack, so we warmed up lapping Slot 1 then hid down in The Pit.  It's a reliable hideaway when everything else is wet.  I'd tried The Pittance before but a lack of ability and skin and the fear of the looming block to the right stopped me in my tracks.  It almost did again, but a lurching jump high above the pads eventually saw me at the finish jug.  Screw Rich's technique.

That previous try on The Pittance - don't hit the block! (Photo: Richie Betts)
The Ship was still wet so we went upstairs for Rich to have a tickle on Stokes Croft, DanV's 7c+ prow/arete thing.  What a problem, and what a location.  Rich is getting close, and it seems right that Mr Torridon should do one of the hardest problems there.

After diminishing returns started to set in we went back to the ground floor, spread the tarpaulin and I started to re-warm for the familiar attempts on Malc's Arete.  I'd heard there was the potential for going from an outside right edge on THE move so felt I had to try it before ruling it out.  Like all the other potential methods, it was no better than a straight up throw.  After studying Rich on his eight thousandth lap of it I had a go exaggerating the bend of my right leg on THE move and found my fingers over the hold.  Over the hold...  Of course, I didn't hold it, but it was clear that this has to be the way.