Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Something to train for.

I've always needed goals, aims in life, little targets - all very un-zen I know. But I struggle for motivation and get a bit lost without something driving me on. Luckily I've two interesting possibilities on the horizon. The first hopefully a return to Chamonix and the Alps, and a chance to hook up with Jon Bracey, who I climbed the Grand Couloir on the Plan with in the Spring. The ticklist as ever is enormous, it would be great to make it one or two routes shorter.

The other trip is a maybe for January - ice climbing in Japan! Which if it comes off should be very exciting - adventurous as there is little info in the west. Markus Bendler and Albert Leichtfried made a trip a few years back which looked amazing - here's their short film.

As a result of those two goals I've got inspired to start training - and so in the last few days I've had my first White Goods (the Welsh border dry tooling crag) visit and dusted off the 'fig fours' for a spin at the wall. There were a couple of new lines at White Goods - three on the left side of the Apples and Pears area (we did the one just left of the big tree - nice starting moves then horrible - definitely not one to go back for). Much better was the new M8+ in the main area which typically for this crag is 'solid' for the grade. I didn't have the guns or the skills for the roof, but enjoyed working and linking the lower section - which flows superbly on big moves between deep positive hooks - definitely one to go back for.

Talking of getting inspired I'm doing a show at the Covent Garden Snow and Rock Shop on the 14th September. I'm going to be presenting some new images, films and stories - more info here: www.snowandrock.com/pws/UniqueProductKey.ice?ProductID=DUM002000

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Old Magic

'Lets see some of that old magic' was a phrase Matt Dickinson used to me on one of my first ever expeditions - the first ascent of The Thumbnail, a giant sea cliff in Greenland. I was trying to gather my nerves to lead a bold looking blank wall about 15 pitches above the fjord but despite Matt's encouragement I ended up bottling it and handing over the lead. Matt committed and found surprisingly reasonable climbing opening up the way to the upper headwall of the route.
That was back in '99 and whilst the expeditions went from strength to strength it was in inverse proportion to my rock climbing. The good news is having had most of this year off climbing due to injury and an attempt to be a runner I'm back searching for the magic. Whilst I'd love this blog to be about how I've suddenly remembered how to climb E6 again the reality is its going to be a long process. But just that feeling of heading out and getting scared has reminded me that the magic might not be at the end of a big E number but as likely to be found as you take that big gulp of fresh air at the end of a sweaty run out.
Talking of big E numbers the family camping holiday saw Steve McClure and me sneaking off for a couple of early mornings cragging. He catching my lobs off E2s and me holding his ropes on E8 onsights. Both of us searching for the magic, in our own ways!