Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
On Sunday we were joined by Simon Yearsley, Malcolm's long time climbing partner, who has recently started a camper van hire business http://www.bigtreecampervans.com/ This was a novel bonus as we got a full nights sleep in warmth and comfort, tea and bacon for breakfast and the dubious pleasure of a bottle of Slovenian Death Juice. We opted to avoid the forecasted 60 mile an hour winds and lightning! with a visit to Beinn Dorain in the Southern Highlands. We climbed Messiah (VII,7), a great line and a truly mixed climb, lots of ice, frozen turf and snowed up rock. Highlights included the committing crux traverse on the first pitch, half our belay ripping out and one of my front points collapsing at the start of the third pitch.
Creag an Socach with the line of Messiah marked
Myself on the final pitch
Simon and Malcolm appreciating the luxury of a post match brew in the van. The Slovenian Death Juice in the foreground isn't standard issue on all rental vehicles.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Rich posts about his and Al Powell's adventures on their company site here http://alpine-guides-blog.com/2009/12/04/scottish-winter-season-arrives/
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I bumped into Guy over the years on the festival circuit and had the privilege to share a rope with him for a couple of days ice climbing in the Canmore region. His skills as an ice climber were truly the stuff of legend. Aged 54 he'd racked up an incredible list of first ascents and repeats of seemingly every top ice route. Extraordinarily many of those climbs were done alone, unroped solo. Name a world class ice route and it's quite likely that he had soloed it Hydenfossen, La Pomme D'Or and The French Maid all tough grade 6s for example.
Guy would often work through the summer as tree-planter so that he could climb for 60-80 days each winter. I climbed with him at the beginning of one of his mammoth seasons and it was notable what a calm and cautious approach he took, wanting to build up a base of moderate routes well within his ability, to fine tune his "feel" for the ice. Guy reminded me of both a master craftsman with his deep love and understanding of the medium, and of a high-dan martial artist in his humble respect and dedicated preparation. By mid season this dedication would yield phenomenal results such as his solo enchainement of Terminator, Sea of Vapours and The Replicant in 5 hours.
But Guy will be remembered by those who knew him not just for his climbing but his exceptional qualities as a human being. Softly spoken he would draw you in with his warmth of spirit. During our short time climbing I appreciated his generosity and support as I was feeling my way (i.e. climbing badly) on moderate routes, down playing his own efforts to raise my confidence. Guy made many friends where ever he went on his extensive travels around the world in search of the perfect line. He will be deeply missed by the whole ice climbing community.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The following day we headed back up a little worried about the MWIS forecast which had the freezing level at 1250m. The reality was closer to the Met Office's projected 700m and if anything the cliffs were even whiter. We headed up Ventricle which turned out to be super sustained, luckily once again Rich was firing on all cylinders and did the bulk of the hard bits. I got the last pitch in the dark which had many "moments" including an off route lob when a block pulled and a particularly terrifying last move.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
More details here http://www.boroughtheatreabergavenny.co.uk/event.php?eid=475
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Anyway should be a good night. More info here http://www.speakersfromtheedge.com/events/evening-with-andy-kirkpatrick-and-ian-parnell-thurs-26-november-sheffield
Thursday, November 19, 2009
But I got a good kick up the posterior yesterday. Andy Kirkpatrick mentioned that some of the Inverness boys had noticed my pull up post and had been training hard. Andy reckoned that Pete MacPherson was doing 270 in half an hour. Which would match Guy but in half the time. Now numbers aren't Andy's strength it could easily be 27 or 2700 but exactly how many isn't that important. What was important was to know that there were others training hard with the hope of big things this winter. I'd also seen in some of Dave MacLeod's recent blog posts http://www.davemacleod.blogspot.com/ that he'd been having to get his training in at around midnight after 12 hours of writing his book.
So last night I had no excuse and was down in my cellar at 10pm. It was incredibly hard work to be honest and I struggled to get through, sometimes yawning, sometimes feeling faint. But with the extra motivation I managed 100 ice axe pullups. For me it's not a competition thing really but more a desire to be part of this wave of enthusiasm. If we actually get any conditions this could be a pretty impressive season. Last year I think about 5 people climbed grade IX (Dave was too busy attempting grade XIIs!), but this season there are at least 20 folk with the potential to get up that grade.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Rather than an hour I went for 30mins (I didn't want to write off my season before its even started yet). Every minute, "on the hour", do a set amount of pull ups (between 2 and 6). This first session I did 3. Now doing 3 ice axe pull ups seems pathetic on its own right but by the end of the 30 minutes I'd done 90 pull ups, and if you can build up to doing 6 pull ups on the minute that's going to be 180 in 30 mins - a respectable tally for even grade IX monsters. If you find yourself doing more than 6 then you'd probably want to add a weight belt/vest. I think this session works well in that it replicates what you might expect in Scotland where you'll often get a tough physical section for maybe 10ft, followed by a decent rest. Having to do each set on the minute gets surprisingly tough with the last 10 minutes seemingly like a battle against a racing clock.
Also added yesterday is a gallery of winter shots on UKC http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2235
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
A week or so ago I was musing on how you gauge success, and for me on all the achievements I'm most proud of it's where "I've emptied the tank". It's that feeling that you just couldn't have done anymore.
Well I had one of those days today when I ran my first half marathon over at Worksop. It was a beautiful sunny day, but quite a challenging course, with some tricky hills (hills as in a road race not a fell race or mountaineering stylee). The Good run guide claimed it was equivalent to running a 13.7 mile race on the flat (so maybe 3 or 4 minutes slower than a super flat course at my pace). Luckily you run down the biggest hill in the last mile and I think this is what pushed me right to my limit. It was a bizarre feeling falling/running as fast as I could but desperate for it to be over. I almost completely blew a gasket and the involuntary noises I made provided plenty of entertainment for onlookers. The result 1.29.44 (chip time) and 112 out of 1509 runners. Well Chuffed!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
The busy forums of runnersworld make UKC look like small pub chat although much of it is really only relevant to specific races. One archived thread that I thought was fascinating involved Mike Gratton (London winner 2.09 in 1983) who gives detailed feedback over a 6 month period for those trying to up their mileage to 100+ miles. Imagine having someone like Ben Moon giving daily detailed feedback on UKC for 6 months? His proposed training schedule is above and the forum posts are here http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/forum/forummessages/mps/dt/4/UTN/50224/
with some of the most pertinent questions summarized here
This is a great list of training resources sourced by Tony Wilson at Glenhuntly, an Australian Athletics Club. Lots of middle and some longer distance stuff by stars such as Coe, Ovett, Snell, Michael Johnson, DeCastella.
This is a fascinating site - basically a blog by 2 Sports Scientists one a South African and one an American. Most of their posts analyse research and races and then translate their detailed opinions into plain English that we all can understand. Some great stuff on pacing particularly in the marathon, plus a very interesting look at doping, the forefoot v heel striking debate, Oscar Pistorius' prosthetics, as well as cycling such as the Tour de France.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
It turned out that he'd had a fantastic swim (4th out the water) and started the bike like a demon, taking the race lead. But around mile 50 the wheels began to come off metaphorically speaking of course. His eventual bike split was a long way behind the leaders and his finishing time for the whole race well over 9 hours, much slower than many had predicted. From afar it all looked a bit of a disaster and some web pages hinted that he'd been taught a lesson etc....
It was interesting to hear a little post race interview on imtalk with him that put a very different slant on Graves performance. He seemed genuinely up beat, as he said he got to feel what it was like to lead the world champs, he also picked up a prize by Timex for the fastest initial bike split and as he said perhaps in 4 or 5 years time he might be able to get the bike record. Graves of course could have paced better and perhaps come in 30th instead of 50-0dd and been anonymous during the race, instead he got out in front of the world's best and learned an awful lot for future Konas.
On a personal level I've got my first half marathon coming up in just over a week and I've no idea what time I'm going to manage and what should equate to success. I went to the track today on a rainy Sheffield day and again didn't know what to expect. I'd just returned from a weeks holiday in Cyprus staying at a fine hotel with amazing buffets of food every night. I'd managed quite a bit of running and swimming in the sea but my legs felt as heavy as my belly. It was a nice lift therefore to find that I'd made good running progress; repeating a session I did a month ago of 1600m reps and managing each "mile" at an average of 12 seconds faster than last time. Secretly this is what I'd wanted to do, but didn't really want to admit it to myself in case I was setting too high goals. Ive an equally ambitious time in mind for the half marathon and hoping I'm hoping I can surprise myself again. We'll see in just over a week.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
At this point it I was probably in about 30th place. Luckily for me all the good runners were doing the long course - 20 miles! - and so they all turned off leaving me in 3rd place. Yipee!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Is this the greatest track distance run of all time?
Current world marathon world record holder Haile Gebreselassie back in 1998 when he was setting the track alight. Here breaking the 5k record after his pace makers muffed it at half way leaving him 6 laps to go alone and needing to run 3.58 for the final mile! The title of the post is from the commentator who on almost every lap suggest that it's not possible to break the record from the position he's in. Hard to think of a climbing comparison but it would probably be onsighting an E10.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Training for winter is relatively simple, you need plenty of puff for the walk in (hence the running), bags of stamina as your average lead of a hard pitch will take 2 or more hours, controlled strength such as lock offs (hence the axe pullups), a wide range of "traditional" techniques (luckily I'm a born thrutcher) and know how to use yer loaf (both in terms of problem solving and keeping going when things are less than perfect). Perhaps I'll do a proper post on mental training at another time.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Of course with all races you like to compare where you finished and this one had a high proportion of climbers. I was 62nd out of 286 just behind Al Williams - guidebook design guru, and about 2 1/2 minutes behind Ron Fawcett, who I'd put as a good proper runner, although rumours are that he was recovering from an injury. I was pretty chuffed to beat Neil McAdie by nearly 7 minutes as he'd goaded me into doing the race, but very humbled to be thrashed by a similar amount by Alpine guide Jon Morgan who finished in 3rd place!!
The Struggle's website has results, pics and more info http://www.fbrc.co.uk/
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Relatively close to home, Jack Geldard ground up repeated Stevie Haston's new monster of a route at Doris. There's been lots of forum discussions about this route, which I briefly got involved with. These reached a hilarious peak when Stevie declared that both Adam Long and Ben Bransby didn't have enough ground up experience to offer a valid viewpoint! Much more interesting though is that Jack has blogged about his training, to achieve onsighting an E8's worth of Choss and muses on what is required for loose climbing.
Will Gadd is a very astute Canadian who excels at excelling. Doesn't really matter what it is mountains, icefalls, rock faces, thermals or raging rivers Will is top draw material. One of his recent posts on his blog caught my eye, where he contrasts the positive fun approach of a new generation of young adventurers with the doom and gloom negative psyche of his generation. The same generation that shaped my own early days of alpinism. http://gravsports.blogspot.com/2009/08/power-of-youth.htmlSpotted this superb effort by Max Turgeon, a softly spoken Quebecois lad now based in Cham who I had the pleasure of climbing with in Scotland last season.
And finally a little more running I'm afraid. Seems Al Powell has been up to his usual tricks with some monster endurance races. It's been truly humbling to spend the odd day out in the mountains with the likes of Al, to realise just how unfit I am in comparison, and one of the main motivators for my recent running efforts.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Obviously you can't really talk about Ovett without mentioned Sebastian Coe. Here's his phenomenal 800 world record of 1.41.73 from 1981. It took 16 years for his time to be bettered! Again brilliant commentary by David Coleman "And now he's really got to hurt himself"
Apologies climbing readers for my recent running obsession I will actually get out on the crag soon!
As a nipper I used to run for Swindon athletics club and we'd train on the local cinder track at the Oasis Leisure Centre. I'm sure I've got rose tinted specs on but I used to love that feeling as a 14 year old accelerating into the final bend on our 300m reps. I can just picture now the clouds of moisture from our breath being picked out by the floodlights on a winter's evening. However today I could definitely feel the difference between a 40 year old has been and a lithe teenager. But there was still something of that magic as I walked out onto the track.
One of my most memorable days with the Swindon Club - for mixed reasons, was when our Coach managed to get 4 of us onto a junior race being held as part of a senior meeting at the legendary Crystal Palace in London. I couldn't believe my luck, as while I had no chance of a win (the fastest of our 4, a lad called Andrew Stanley was 2nd or 3rd ranked in the country for his age and I was usually half a lap behind in a mile race) but just the chance to run on the same hallowed tartan as my hero of the day Steve Ovett was a dream come true.
Unfortunately when we arrived we found out that the event had been shifted to another track and so we'd missed the whole meet. Obviously gutted we moped about until our coach managed to get us a chance to at least have a run. So the four of us did a kind of time trial, I think I came last but it's still something I treasure.
Today it was odd to come out to an almost deserted track. There was one sprinter just finishing his session off and then I had the whole stadium to myself. Considering it's the UK's biggest athletics stadium it felt a little bizarre, but I believe it's fairly typical that these facilities get under utilised. If you're into running I'd recommend searching out your own local track, there's a neat site for doing just that http://www.runtrackdir.com/
You'll almost certainly end up with lead legs like me but hopefully come away with that little bit of magic.
Friday, September 11, 2009
How everyone imagines the Lleyn - a coastline of fear!The reality? a seaside holiday venueJohn at the top of the "perched block" pitch the third on the routeJohn having reached the belay of pitch 4, great steep guano encrusted jugs.The wonders of an Indian summer Jon on the final technical pitch with sweeping panoramic views.The surprising finale along the crest of the quarry seals the alpine feel of the whole route.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Here's the link
Sunday, September 6, 2009
- finish without breaking myself
- finish in the top 1000
- try and prove my first run (when I did 42.02) wasn't a fluke and get within a minute of that time
The previous race had been with a field of 450 odd so I wasn't sure what to expect with such a massive amount of other runners. We had been asked to give our estimated time so that we could start with similar paced runners. The start was a speedy downhill section which unfortunately also had to be climbed at the finish. My guess was that everyone would get over- excited on this start and that I should be ready to let most pass me initially and burn themselves out. The reality was surprisingly different, Boxed in I couldn't believe how slow most had started. It felt like I was in the wrong start group, although I suspect many runners had just dreamt up a fantasy finish time. As a result I had to weave in and out like a slalom skier for the first couple of kilometres quickly falling behind my hoped for pace. Luckily the middle section of the run went much better with the finish my usual gasping painful misery compounded by the brutal hill finish. However going back to my pre-race goals
- I did manage to finish, and although very stiff and sore I don't think the hamstring i further damaged.
- I did manage to finish in the top 1000. In fact almost unbelievably I finished in 160th place! and 20th in my age group (younger old men!)
- I also made it within a minute of my first 10k race time, but this time 46 seconds faster 41.16.
Definately well chuffed - half marathon next!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Anyway I was reminded of that attitude when I read about the top female "Ironman" triathlete of the moment Chrissie Wellington. Recently she broke the female world record for an Ironman by over 13 minutes. That's an incredible margin equivalent to the sort of thing Usain Bolt has been doing at the World athletics championships, but that's not why I think she's a contender for the world's greatest athlete. The reason why is that as far as I can gather at the end of every Ironman race, which she wins - i.e. everyone she's ever entered, she stays on at the finishing line congratulating every single other competitor who finishes right to the last, often around midnight. Read more about Ms Wellington at her rather entertaining blog http://www.chrissiewellington.org/blog/
Monday, August 31, 2009
After a brutal bramble thrash we found drier rock on the main edge. The wide cracks of Presidents Crack and Kremlin Krack provided fine entertainment, the latter being superb. We finished off the day with Groove Route which was supposed to be hard for HVS and 5b but proved to be neither with well protected technical mincing. All in all it was fantastic to be grabbing rock again, here's hoping I can stave off anymore growing pains and keep the body intact.
Jon's ankles after some "wide work"
Friday, August 21, 2009
Another hidden gem Grand Junction HVS at Frontier Zawn with Gabe Masini climbing.Tea time at Ma Weston's an essential part of the Pembroke experience.This shows Barry Bazza Durston moments before a big whipper on Chupacabre an E8 in Huntsmans Leap. A pic that reminds me of exciting and eventful days with the Bristol crew.Relaxing at the campsite. With wall to wall bank holiday sunshine there's no need to rush to the crag (here's hoping).
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A little personal lesson in not taking for granted what you have on your own doorstep