Light, responsive, magic, very expensive, makes steep ice more pleasurable.
Allows you to understand ice more and therefore climb better. You can climb ice rather than smashing it to bits, you use features rather than creating your own ladder of holes. For me it makes ice a little more interesting again, and has rekindled my awareness of what is possible. This axe will easily allow others users to break into a new grade, but beware it doesn’t come with a full set of experience and survival knowledge. Maybe I’ll do a full review somewhere, but basically my advice is get some, and go somewhere, and climb something real steep an Alien looking.
I like running, trouble is I like other stuff too. What to do with your time, how to divide time, share it, apportion it, is always a major problem. I try to keep a lot of time for myself, but seem to be running out. And of course the worst is that some activities are counterproductive, they don’t actually help each other or go hand in hand; you know all this. So the other day when I went climbing at a hard venue I couldn’t get my lightest harness on because my legs are too big! Too much pizza, too much running! So what? Well I like being reasonable at stuff, I don’t like being a total woose, and the other day at the cliff, I could barely lift my treelike legs to the appropriate footholds. Yes so I am ok at running you say, well not exactly, I am worse than a scrubber at running. I was a few months ago just below the top standard in climbing and now I have screwed it up. To become a reasonable runner I would have to do some serious redesigning of the Haston chassis, so will I?
I have some desire to enjoy this incredible winter, I live in an astounding place, with extraordinary mountains all around, but in which way shall I enjoy it? I was invited to race an 18km run over snow the other day and knew I would come nowhere, so declined. I could have done it for the camaraderie I guess. It boils down to ego and wanting to look good, and it’s sad that I am not over it at my age but there you go.
Big legs, alpine climbers legs are not compatible with hard rock climbing. Rock climber’s spindles don’t work well potholing thru sodden powder at 3000 meters. Flexibility is not normally encountered in runners, you just can’t seem to be very good at more than one thing, it’s a big pain, and my body doesn’t help, it wants to be big, it doesn’t want to be light. So much sport seems to be dependant (to me) on being an exact shape or weight. Anyway going back to when I used to do a little Marshall arts I only did well at welterweight, when I ran at my best I was 8 lbs lighter, When I did my best Alpine climbing I was 128 lbs, hard to believe when I look at myself in the mirror, but easy to understand when I look at my watch at the end of a run. So the answer is simple, get rid of zee fat, that’s right folks, I am going to chop off my head, 16 lbs of useless fat.
This snowboard took my eye and opened my mind. Made in Austria by the reputable brand Volkl, it uses natural materials like bamboo and hemp in its construction, and also has an interesting curved base and a good flex for powder. The base is very fast and the board altogether is very light. Its well worth checking out, and maybe buying if you want to support this kind of environmentally friendly product which also rides very well. At 162cm it is very good for most people and also comes in a shorter length for smaller and lighter users. I have tried the longer version which suits me more in the deep snow we have (another foot and a half of fresh this morning), anyway all in all, an interesting board.
The guy with me is Lorenzo Belfrond, he is a master photographer and his work is much in demand by snowboard mags, apart from that he is very handy on a plank and is one of my few mates.
Happy Xmass, from the International Jamaican Federation of Ice Climbers against Global Warming, please donate generously. At this precise moment in time (somewhere in December) we implore you to cut your carbon footprint by not exhaling, and of course by not using de car to go to work, in fact don’t work cos it is bad for the environment.
At this time of year many members of our community have trouble with frozen dreads. There is no easy solution, but it is recommended not to dance too crazily next to people without eye protection.
A big thank you to our brothers in Scotland who sent over those men’s skirts, we have sent over some banana hammocks over in our colours Black Yellow and Green, small size is not too big, we hope.
Finally Ali G came over to show some solidarity, he did some rye fooling and has shown no inclination to go back to North London.
Finally plus 1, we are urgently looking for more female members, no previous ice climbing experience necessary but must be fit if you know wat I mean.
Remember our motto dont worry about a thing, be happy.
It’s snowing, its dumping, and its only November. There’s ice, frozen waterfalls to be climbed, and a question that I need to answer. Will I climb in the mountains this winter? Yes or no? I am living in Coumayer, Italy at the foot of Montblanc and every day I stare at some great routes that I have dreamt of climbing and some I have climbed but wouldn’t mind doing again. Shall I stay or shall I go?
I left the Alps because it’s too serious for a man who loves mountains, steep powder, and wild ice. Somehow I am back here earning money and trying to admire from a distance, but I can feel myself loosing my grip, the urge is like the heroine itch, it’s more than a reminder.
Worse, is I am fit, fit for mountains. Anyway as they say over here, what will come will come. To be alone in a cruel winter, traipsing along those great ridges in splendid isolation is more than my heart can bear, so yes I guess I might do some.
But what and which and how, because I know why, because I never liked alpinism I always loved it. So I was up dreaming, planning and scheming, checking maps, guidebooks and photos. Making plans, appointments with destiny. Dramatic nonsense, overblown soliloquies with my own half listening ego. Yes ,yes, but there are routes that aren’t very hard, routes that are just exciting exercise, still memorable, and since the Tour de Giants I really feel the need for accomplishing slightly more grandiose things than short climbs beside the road. My time is running out, between earning money and pleasing other people I have hardly any time for myself.
I have been waking up at 6 at the latest every morning doing some yoga, and then either training or going to work. Its working in many ways, this routine. Discipline is key, a monks life, Spartan flat with wet running shoes, damp sweaty clothing, rotting in corners. How fit am I? Very, but not as fit as I would like to be, can I get fitter? Yes, more hard work, more discipline.
So what’s with the Yoga Stevie? Laurence my climbing partner is training to be a Kundalini yoga teacher and I had in many ways exhausted my own possibilities, so stretching is replaced with Yoga, as it’s my mind that needs to become supple and my breathing that must come under my control. Laurence is happier and I am happy for her, the mountains have their winter sable wrapped around their shoulders and look majestic. Running is at the moment replaced with uphill walking it’s called Denivelé in French, I did 4000 meters of snow covered hill twice this last week and felt my body waking up, I will do more.
How would you like to run for 330 km? You probably wouldn’t, no sensible person would. Would you like to do 24,000 meters of ascent and decent? No definitely not, you would have to be out of your mind, right. The Tor de Geants is a race, or event, that takes in the 330km and 24,000meters of up and had 380 entrants of all ages, who thought it might be fun. Surprisingly they all seemed fairly normal to me, a bit passionate perhaps, very fit and eager, but no they weren’t out of their minds. Don’t get me or them wrong, none of them thought it would be easy, and they certainly knew it would hurt more than a little. So why did they do it? Well for a start the TDG is held in some of the most beautiful valleys of the world and they were arranged in a logical way to create a journey that showed this beauty off, but also paid homage to the local people who try to live within these mountains in a peaceful and harmonious way. The TDG takes high level walking routes around the mountains of the Aosta region, starting and finishing in Courmayeur. Courmayeur is well known to the climbing community, but in the last few years it has become a great centre for mountain running. And this is where I personally got involved, as I know these valleys intimately from climbing in them for 30 years. I noticed the TDG announcement 5 weeks before its start and was seduced by its magic and its provocative challenging allurement. All that beauty within a scant 7 days, was it possible? It was apparently possible for non professionals, but was it possible for me a rock climber who hadn’t done any endurance for a few years. I had been looking for an excuse to take a break from climbing, and the more I thought about all those lovely valleys in the race, the more I was hooked.
If you break the Tor de Geants down into stages, it sounds logical and simple and this is what fooled me, although I guess I must have been willing to be fooled. Each day you would do a mountain marathon with 4000meters of ascent and descent, how hard could that be I reasoned? In truth this would be hard enough but the tricky bit about the Tor is the lack of sleep, something even the good competitors had trouble with, but of course they were at least clever enough to understand this important factor. I also desperately wanted to see some good guys and girls running hard, to inspire me. Sport for me is about people who try hard. The motivation and passion among mountain runners has always cheered me up especially as it is a sport that doesn’t get much mainstream attention. In my cynical eyes they would be freer from the nonsense that sometimes surrounds climbing and would give me a boost. After really looking at how the Tor broke down and its apparent lack of sleep I did want to back out and thought just about watching it, I was scared by the sheer hard work involved, the pain, the lack of glory, the night marches into your own private purgatory if not hell. Did I back out? No I didn’t , because in 5 short weeks I morphed into a runner, I turned into an endomorphine junky, like I was when I was a kid. The enormous joy of travelling fairly big distances over fabulous mountain terrain bit into my soul and wouldn’t let go. In training around the lovely hills of north Wales I met great warm generous people who helped me run. When I went to work in Courmayeur I met more gentle loving people who helped me run, the sun shone and those mountains just begged you to walk trot or run over them. Six days before the race I met Marco high in the hills at a refugio, a chance meeting of like minded souls, he gave me a schedule for trotting the race which helped me greatly and was sad that he was going to pull out of it because of overtraining. I tried to keep him in the race and said my good byes. On the way back home 50 kms a cut developed in my heel, I would have to cancel my race, and I developed Marcos visage, sad miserable, like loosing a lover. 5 weeks work down the tube, Marco had invested more, I was lucky I tried to tell myself I had a good excuse and wouldn’t have all that pain, but neither would I have the joy. In the six days before the race the cut did not heel and then I did what a lot of endurances runners would do , I just decided I was going to enter and every mile I did would be a victory until I gave up.
On race day I walked the 2 kms to the start and got excited seeing all the great athletes and all the ordinary runners who were about to try really really hard just to finish. The excitement was really extraordinary, the organizers put on a great start and everybody was pumped up with the music and the enormity of the distance. Before I knew it we were off, and because the first couple of hours were uphill only there was no painful landing on my heels and I started to gain places from my back of the pack start. The weather was glorious, the mountains stupendous, and the feeling among the runners was uplifting. I felt no real pain that day and ran a fair bit, the crunch came later that day at the end of the days stage. We all had the opportunity to rest eat and sleep in a so-called life base, these were entirely adequate indeed excellent and with lovely volunteers but due to the runners nerves the coming and going of people and your metabolism being all over the place sleep tended to be impossible. Indeed the good guys and girls didn’t stop, they just pushed on, it was something I didn’t really understand and even if I had I would not have had the confidence to do. This was my first race, and I had jumped into a big one where tactics and experience counted even more than running ability and things like VO2 max. In this race and others like it, sheer grit and being very tough count very high, I was finally ahead of better athletes than myself and I in turn was placed lower than some ordinary but fantastically enduring people.
At life base one I tried to sleep, I squeezed my eyes shut for 2 hours, but no sleep, not a wink, so I got up and started walking in the rain, in the dark. And here I learnt another lesson, you must have the right equipment, a good system of clothes and be familiar with it, and know how to use it. I wasn’t on top of this and changing waterproofs every 5minutes costs you time, and all those changes and little rest stops over 330 kms add up to about a day, a day that you can’t get back. There was a tough Col at 3200 meters and here again was a lesson despite being someone who climbs at medium altitudes this is not enough and I visibly slowed down above 2500meters. So acclimatisation is very necessary on this race. Some of the downhill sections from Cols fully taxed my mountain craft in the rain, and I was grateful of my decision to take poles. Walking poles were in great evidence, and let you use different muscles as well as helping you maintain stability in the dark and when walking downhill half asleep. But they do need practise to use well.
At one point a good Italian runner paused to cheer me up before he over took me. Come on he said a bit more and a lovely smooth decent for 14km. And he was right, a smooth even path but I couldn’t do it justice, a slow dogtrot was all I could muster.
Another similar night in a life base and I was up before I’d rested, talking to Mark from the Lakes. He was going to quit due to a wrenched knee, I tried to keep him in the race, and he helped me with my cut, but he reluctantly pulled out. So I was now fully into a cycle of trying to sleep, but only resting for a few hours. Having a warm meal and then off again. The uphill ascents, however hard were fine, and the down hills were often agony. I had to develop different ways of walking, or trotting, which didn’t involve heel strikes. Somehow I kept going. The fourth section was 56 km with about 5000meters of up, it went on, and on. I started just before sunset so that my feet would be colder and wouldn’t get as damaged. At the Refugio de Coda in the dark a sparkling view over the plain of Piedmont, town lights 50 km away were like a fairy tale and then afterwards endless rocks. I overtook a young lady who was having an asthma attack and tried to assure her it was fine and then rushed on so I could tell someone. An hour later I bumped into Pascal who was looking after a few runners including the girl I’d just seen, it was at a windy col as the day broke, and she was overjoyed to hear I thought her pal was fine, she trotted down the hill like a spring bunny with some medicine. Pascal will probable do the race next year, see you then eh? Anyway this stage nearly broke me, but after a short rest at the next life base I carried on, I didn’t trust myself to sleep now, thinking if I found sleep I wouldn’t wake up. Now then, this next stage was supposed to be easy, but I found it very hard, my feet had both got really bad, and there was a huge unending rocky descent to finish. A lovely airy series of cols worthy of Lord of the Rings, and then downhill torture for 1500 meters. It was hell, I did some of it asleep, on auto pilot. The last 2 stages I knew, because I had done them in practice so I thought I had the race in the bag. But my feet got worse and worse till finally I needed a lot of work from a doctor and a nurse. L would like to thank the nurse again, she was from Spain and was very empathetic when she was lancing the cuts and blisters, I really did know it was hurting her more than me. Finally I was on my feet but I couldn’t get one of the shoes on so we had to cut that too. In the end I limped off, it turned into a hobble after a few kms and somewhere along the way I did about 14 kms of running. From the final Col I always knew that it would be ok as the view of the Monte Bianco is one of the most magical this planet offers, with the ridge of the Noire like a great flying buttress soaring to the roof of the mightiest cathedral of Europe, it is simple sublime. I finished 82nd to a lovely warm welcome, and met the two leading girls who had come in a day and a half ahead of me, seriously good times not like mine. Julia asked me what I had been up too in all that time, cheeky little Imp, she was great, hi Julia next time! Some of the runners of course did excellent times, some just scraped through, but many of the more experienced ones said it was the hardest race they had done. This is not a warning, it is merely so you know, in my humble opinion as I am a novice, and the joys seemed equal to the effort. The bonus is you get to see the best from people the warmth and generosity of the locals and the right stuff by the competitors,all in all very life affirming.
The Tor de Giants is a fantastic run in superb mountain landscape, but it is much more than that, it is the spirit of 1200 volunteers –incredible- its local people who walk up hills in the middle of the night to say bravo- and competitors who aren’t your enemy, they are your friends. You visit differing valleys who speak three different languages but all love the region and respect it and protect it. I am incredible lucky to have been tricked into this celebration of mountain life and thanks once more to the organisers and sponsors. A special personal thanks to everybody who gave me a helping hand and there were many, very many grazie. The Tor de Géants is finally over, long live the tour, do not hesitate make your date with the Geants.
Stevie has been taking a rest from climbing and his training in Italy for the Tor des Géants, an other crazy idea of his, he hope to finish the race, but he has some bad blister already from his training,
Went to northern Italy for work and pleasure again, both good. It rained again also, but the flowers were bright and plentiful and the mountains looked very big with their mantle of snow on. I did my normal run passed the Jorrasses and for a few moments had a bit of static as I looked up at an unclimbed couloir that was claimed and named as a route the other week. So three nice guys fail on a route, but decide to claim it anyway and there is a report in Planet Mountain and UKC web sites condoning it. Gee, is there any point in actually doing anything anymore. Come on, the thing is still waiting to be done. I paused, shook my head, and then I thought about the talented sport climber who just added 70 bolts to the Maestri route on Cero Torre, the climbing world is loosing its senses and it’s getting worse. Anyway the north face of the Blanche got a ski decent just this month, first time since the first, 30 years ago, so on the way back down I paused, thought about that, and it cheered me up. And strangely enough, a few days later I was up at altitude in a hurricane doing some film work, which although really unpleasant made me feel a lot of respect for people who do give mountains their due place and respect and don’t stop before the tape looking around for applause.
The big personnel news which is pretty depressing for me, the route I really want to do is humiliating me, and it looks like I will have to get better or more likely just bin it, because its too hard for me. I have made no head way on it, created more mental barriers for myself, and worse, realised it’s super morpho for me. So in reality, I am on to a thrashing to nothing. If it wasn’t for the fact that its brutal character has imprisoned my desire I would defo say I have given up on it, but I’ll try a bit more just to hurt myself. It’s only had two ascents by two of my heroes at the peak of their game, both lads with a bigger reach and 15 pounds lighter than me. Think about those facts, and you might be as depressed as me! They both regularly placed high in comps and this power endurance kindda route was there bread and butter. However to justify the likely hood of failure I have convinced myself that it could be beneficial in a training way rather than an ego way, just use it as a gigantic exercise machine and a mental game, and award myself points for doing bits of it, or good links. As its on the way from work to the apartment its almost sensible. This route is defiantly tilting at windmills at the moment, but I always did like that book.
Met a great guy called Max who was trying a very nice power endurance 8b+, he was helping his mate do a route and between burns sat in a fold up chair reading a book on Adolf Hitler. It turned out that he was the same size as Laurence so with his help we were able to convince Laurence to try a route she had secretly had an eye on. Max was also able to give me some great beta despite being 5 inches smaller than me, grazzie. His optimism and happiness were contagious even though I was tired and I look forward to seeing him get his route, which he most defiantly will unlike me! We were discussing how hard it is being mountain climbers who are into redpointing and how are habits of security impede our ability to take risks and climb well on sport routes. Anyway his ability to switch on was much better than mine but I am having a bad patch, this bad patch doest extend into me being sour though and I am getting a lot of pleasure from other peoples success, just wish I had some of my own. I’ll have to start training with Ernest and stop eating and become obsessed and mortgage my soul again.
My boss was a demanding tyrant as usual, but I love him like a father. Once at a meeting 10 years ago I doodled a cartoon of him, a distorted huge head, large hands, small ears, and one of my sub bosses looked over my shoulder and started giggling and then big bosses son started laughing too until the meeting was disrupted and I was dragged over the coals. But to this day on his door he has the cartoon, a big brain and small ears is no good, so he altered the cartoon to a big brain and huge ears because that’s what the boss should be. Bravo Boss.
Because of work my head was always full of great gear, work, more design, efficiency, costs, communication, too much coffee, so I would run a bit or do a lot of Yoga to try and relax. But to very little avail, I’d wake up at 5 am and start thinking or wanting action of some sort. In the end I looked at my training and decided to work a couple of things in a complicated exercise plan and cut down on duration but up frequency, day on day off, but each second day on different by 50%, in exercise and intensity. This is to try to iron out my weaknesses, by sacrificing some of my strengths; loose some power and hopefully gain some power endurance. I need more crimp strength too even though I have gained,. If I make a small gain and loose 10 lbs, I might become an interesting mutation. Lets see, 12 weeks or more, and the transformation to wingless bat, half gibbon, should be complete.
Miha you died two years ago on Cho Oyu, but it is only today I finally understand that you are not here. You were so young, and full of promise and fun, uncorrupted and hopeful, your death has robbed me today of some of the blue sky, and I will try to paint it back in because I know you would want me too. People reading this will not know you or indeed sadly, may never have even met someone like you and your passing removes one less chance for bright sparks like you to fly. I remember a conversation with you about how you were going to knuckle down and do less climbing and more money work, and you laughed, ordered another beer for us, and now that I think about it I cant remember if you winked at the waitress or it was the sun in your eyes. ‘Do free Rider’ you said with glee, ‘I have done it, not soo bad, and it is good, and you haven’t, how can this be?’
We all met in Kathmandu to do a remote mountain and there you go, I just remember the good times, the bouldering in the flowers. At the airport when we couldn’t get a helicopter and you were getting miffed I bet you beers that I was heavier than you and I won though you were so much taller than me. Do you remember we called ourselves the ‘happy morons’ and how we laughed, do you remember me cello taping my eyes all slitty to be funny?
You did so much climbing after you decided to do less, ha! All the 4000-meter peaks in the Alps in one winters season must have been good, a good one, bet you had some liquid carb, eh? Fitzroy, Nameless Tower, hard sport, what were you going to do when you were old?
Tomas and you are dead now, two funny guys less from that table which crumpled with beer glasses, I was injured and you wondered how I could be happy in crutches, and I said that it was because I would live to see another Spring and you demurred.
Miha Valic thanks for making a ‘happy moron’ laugh, a bit easy though, now if we were intelligent climbers that would be hard! In remembering you I will paint the sky blue, I will turn all slabs into overhangs, and make Laurence smile and laugh like you did. See you on the other side, Miha.
I have just spent a week working in northern Italy, so I am tired; I have some lira in my pocket, met some new people and was generally more alive from using my brain, normal for northern Italy! If it wasn’t for the coffee, which is reason enough to go, I would be I in need of a sanatorium like in he Magic mountain, kinda consumption of the brain has taken place.
Wake up sometimes was five, stare at the wooden beam, make a pot of coffee, actually that should read, choose a coffee pot from the five in the cupboard, then watch it do its stuff, fill the nostrils, eat some carb and pop out for a run. Most days it was raining, but a few were clear, and they were divine. I would run up the hill, till I was opposite the Grande Jorasses, pausing to check gullies, dream a little, sometimes my whole person would inhabit a thought and I would take wing, flying up the snow slopes, swooping around the granite, going right at the hut, straight up the Tour du Jorasses up the route of the Etoile, then on to the summit and let my sight stretch its way around the big glacier basin and on towards the Dru. Wow! Turn around bright eyes, go to work! So around I’d turn and do big imaginary snowboard turns through the slightly heavy spring powder until I’d have to jump the huge seracs, and soar gaining a lot of air and wonder how I could ever get down to the road again. Spiralling down, an air corkscrew, Id lightly land on my feet and jog down to the apartment and a yawning Laurence eating her muesli, trying to do some yoga. Naturally she wasn’t the slightest bit interested in my Wizard of Oz reverie.
Off to work. Working with good, intelligent, gifted people is not so bad; it’s almost a pleasure.
Lunch, and watching other people eat, not so good! So what that the Balsamic vinegar is brill, I want the pizza del Mari and the Anti pasta of God. More work.
One morning we went climbing instead, because we needed to work our arms, A cliff with a view, yet urban and two minuets from the car, a crazy overhanging cliff, so good, so steep, happy, yet not in the groove, timing wise. We got a bit spanked, but it didn’t matter. Met some local lads, all lovely boys, who showed us a bit of skill. A very enjoyable morning, and then a really productive afternoons work.
I have thought about living in this valley, and maybe I will one day, it does suit my personality, but I miss Ariege. Anyway in an ideal world I can have both, and life is not being unkind to me at the moment, even if I am not climbing so well. Have ‘golden dreams’ as they say in Italian, and I look foreword to returning to a climb I can’t do.
Whether it is nobler to blog, or to suffer the slagging of arrows, or work power endurance, is the question. The weather is up and down, mostly down. I don’t know if this has affected my mood, probably, as I do need a lot of bright light, or I get depressed. A meter of snow fell in May and its burden of heavy snow broke thousands of trees locally, a sad thing in deed. My garden suffered, so the roses are late, and we will miss about half our flowers. I felt like crying more than once. To top it all, one of my favourite cockerels drowned in a water bucket, his name was Napoleon, and he was a dwarf, with the spirit of tiger, his little harem miss him awfully.
Anyway that’s not the point, the point is to blog, or not to blog. As a diary a blog s good, it’s good but not private, it takes time, and is a burden, there is little up side. I have been working a lot recently, mainly writing and some working on climbing products, which has meant little time for other stuff and yet I cant help but say, that the people who have written and told me they enjoyed my writing have cheered me up. So I’ll try to blog for them.
There has also been the problem of the month of May itself. May is so blooming pollen crazy that it’s had me ill. I love May, but am allergic to pollen. Here’s a funny one, all my life I wanted a Wisteria, I adore their blossoms, and for two years my Wisteria didn’t blossom and I was sad, but since then its gone mad and pumps out huge quantities of mind numbing, heavy pollen. Every day is a battle not to chop it down, a bit like this blog,
I love the people who enjoy my stuff, after all they must be intelligent, and like-minded, and obviously if you don’t like my stuff you are clearly of an ugly disposition, and are dumb, and do not disserve Tiramisu.
Laurence warming up on an 8a-progress for her!
There is another problem, my climbing is in a hole. My climbing is vacillating, and lacks true direction. And I can’t enjoy it in the way I can a run in the woods, or a bit of caving. I keep wondering if that’s it, it will just decline. I so enjoyed being good a while ago, it was such a rush, I thought it would continue. But it’s very much like my garden I am afraid, it needs mucho work, and the storms will do their damage wont they. While in Italy, I tried a route I would like to do, but of course the problem is that it’s hard, and very much not my style. It’s 28 meters long, power endurance all the way, no rest no shake out, start and go till the chains. It’s magnificent in its simplicity, but it will require a lot of effort from me if I am to be even a serious contender. Still there is a similar route for Laurence on the same cliff at her grade, so it might be interesting for us both. Perhaps she will drag me up out of the little quagmire I have sunk in. I don’t know if any of you have done power endurance, but its weird stuff. If you have done any running I would compare it to running an 8OO meter race, you can give out anywhere in the last half, absolutely anywhere. Its also funny in that old age, or any age other than perfect age, is supposed to affect power endurance. You get vets still good at longer distances but not at the 800. In climbing there are good examples of many older climbers being very capable but not at super power endurance, or comp type routes. So it might be interesting if I knuckle down and try, cos I think it’s a hurting thing, it’s a terribly hard thing to do and train for it. I need courage to start it, and courage to train for twelve weeks, all to then probably fall off just short of the chains. I’ll have to mortgage my soul to the devil, where is the horny red blighter when you need him.
A tip for running in the rain, drizzle or snow, is to use Gore-Tex running shoes. I have been using them a lot recently and think they are ace. Even when its not raining but there is heavy due in the grass they are great. They are a little warmer too. As soon as it warms up change to a more breathable light mesh if its dry, because hot feet are worse than wet feet in my opinion.
Years go by, and you do little. A whole life can go by in the blink of an eye, without a single glorious moment. Even when you do climb well, most times, it’s just filling in the dots, and dashes.
The last new route I did, is different from the ordinary, it’s very fine, interstellar, galactic, cosmic even. Why so?
It’s a 70 meter pitch,
It overhangs 20 meters
It is on wires and friends on loose rock
It finishes with 15 meters of ice
Yet you do two thirds in rock shoes
For me an it’s an amalgam of everything that best in wild rock and ice
I am proud of this little gem, happy that I made the considerable effort to do it, happy I did it ground up, and took many falls.
It’s called Cannibis, and there must be other routes to do like this.
I very rarely do anything significant, but this is a masterpiece. If all our days were this productive, it would be more joyful for sure.
Question, Is it a mixed route? Ans, Yes
In future we might get a crampon that will be fixable with one hand more easily, and very complex hybrid climbing might be easier. At the moment boots and crampons take a bit of time to fit. On this route I was lucky to have a ledge to change, otherwise this route would have had to have been, dry tooled, and aided , or 1 point of aid to change shoes. Also this route may have been too hard for me to climb ground up with the additional burden of a pair of axes, and a pair of crampons, additional 2 kgs + rack of friends, draws, etc. This additional wieght is getting too much of a charge for a route over 8a. Well for me, it is! However on easier routes many things should be possible. Climbing is still evolving, eh?
This book is about the great climber, ‘Big’ Ron himself, it was written with the help of Ed Douglas. It’s very good, down to earth, and deals with very real things, besides the climbing. If you were a climber during these years, 70s thru to the early 90s, it is essential reading. If you are younger, it will defiantly help you understand this important era, and one of British greatest climbing statesmen. Well done, top marks. A longer review of mine can be found on a UKC.
Perhaps the greatest runner this planet has ever seen who is human, but more likely, he is superhuman; his name is Yiannis Kuros. He holds nearly every running record between 100 to a 1000 miles. When he first won the famous race the Spartathlon, the Yanks put in a complaint, and accused him of cheating, because they had never heard of him, and he was so fast. The Spartathlon is a race of 156 hilly miles in Greece finishing at the statue of Lionidas in Sparta. Kouros holds the record at 20hr 25mins, a fantastic time by a fantastically different man, a happy poet, who is an inspiration to amateurs and top pros of ultra distance. His record for 24 hrs is 303 kilometres, and just like the bullet, that distance would kill 99.99999 % of humans. Keep on running. An indefatigable spirit, matched with great running skill, producing inspirational performances.
Tools of the trade
For not the strength of lions or of bulls shall hold him.
Strength against strength, he has the power of Zeus.
So check Mr Kouros and his life out. And think about doing 303 km on a bike within 24 hrs, if you need it simplified for you, let alone on a track on foot!
Thank you Yiannis, thank you very much indeed for being so strong.
Please read, and fill in the following questionnaire. Equipment necessary: a pencil, a piece of paper, a brain, oh yes, some honesty. And, if you fail the test, an extremely sharp knife.
Do you wish to climb all grades, not just easy ones?
Would you like to be able to do only a few climbs, because of lack of ability, or being able to do nearly all the beau routes anywhere in the world?
Would you like to be stupid, or intelligent?
Would you like to be a hunch back with a foot long nose, or ok looking?
Is a crowded beach in Benidorm, the same for you as a deserted beech in Madagascar.
Is the climbing wall you go to, the same as Ceuse in the early spring? Which do you prefer?
Have you ever snowboarded the Mont Blanc in a foot of powder with a blue sky, no tracks?
Is Ben Nevis as awesome as Lhotse South Face?
Are you happy when you work in a stuffy office staring at the clock?
Do you like Columbian Cocaine, German motorcycles, Swiss trains, French wine, sunsets over the Utah desert towers? Or are you happy with instant coffee, and living in a cockroach infested bed-sit in Glasgow?
Do you think it would be handy to have a few stray millions of euros knocking around in your account, so you could eat well, house your self well, look after your neighbours a little? Or do you prefer scratching a living from day to day, worried sick?
Do you occasionally wish your wife’s bottom, was less like an overstuffed leatherette sofa, complete with button dimples?
If you would like to be an elite person with an extra ordinary, multi dimensional life, take the blue pill. If you truly wish to be boring, I advise you to ritually eviscerate yourself.
Sticks and stones may hurt your bones, but words will never hurt you. You’ve obviously heard that one, haven’t you? Well when I heard it in a class room, I quickly interjected with ‘what about giant turds’ I was six, my deaf teacher asked me what I meant by ‘thirds being able to inflict harm’, I gamely repeated ‘turds’, ‘ah turds’ he uttered witheringly, full comprehension dawning, ‘yes indeed’, and here pausing for breath, he clouted me a good one behind the ear, ‘turds can be hurt too’. There had been giggles at my childish interdiction, but now large guffaws where everywhere.
Today many people act and talk in a completely different way to how they think. There is a tyrannical political correctness, and a false faceness everywhere you look. Even when you look in the mirror?
Any way don’t mention the War.
In 1889 the Mauser riffle was introduced and it passed into a deadly service thru two world wars, and was even seen in the hands of the Muhashdeen more than a century later. I have been handed a Mauser that has passed through generations of hands by a Pushtu in Pakistan, and told with gleeful pride of its use against the British. It’s a nice practical breach loading riffle, but its date of issue has now passed into the German vernacular, as a term of bog-standardness. So if you are described as a 1889er, you are ordinary, a kind of dumb shmuck. We are all ordinary in some way, we are all 1889ers! Most climbers in Britain of course, are 1889ers, you know just punters! So anyway, the Mauser, was a word that could, and did, and still does kill you.
Testing the climbing WC
So, back to, turds. In Yosemite national Park there are lots of regulations about stuff, including them making lots of money out of fat people driving around the place in petrol guzzling cars, and motor homes, in a permanent head to tail conga of pollution and congestion. Climbers of course are not even welcome, despite the fact, that fatso from Fresno wants to see dudes hanging off their fingernails, as free entertainment. Anyway you are not allowed to shit in the woods like a bear anymore, but have to dispose of it in a thoughtful and prescribed way. So if you are on a rock climb you have to excrete into a bag, and then carry the turd in a ‘plumbers plastic pipe safe’, and dispose of the odorous contents down in the valley somewhere. The non-carrying of a plastic poop rocket opens you to prosecution. The old method of dunging, was to lower your keks and bombs away. You also had a private chuckle as you watched Fergie from Phoiniwx’, with her expensive binoculars flashing in the sun, as she watched you from the valley floor.. If you were a more concerned individual, you did your number twos into a brown paper bag, which you could save, or jettison onto some poor passer-by. The latter was deemed the more correct method of dispersal by a high percentage of the best climbers, none of whom, would of-course admit to doing anything so utterely disgusting and childish now.. At night the tipsy, or completely boxed out of his cackling brains climber, might add a glowing touch to the ensemble by setting fire to the brown paper bag before flinging it into the void, thus he would create a ‘Shitorite’. Several Shitorites together would constitute a ‘Shitorite shower’, which would then streak thru the azure Californean sky to sublime effect, and to wild cheers from the loons on El Capitain. Similarly, ‘Gardeloo’ from Gardez-vous, was the cry in London centuries ago before fitted toilets, when the uncouth would throw out their night soil, and other unseemly unmentionables, This, is where we get the word ‘loo’ from. It is very sad in my opinion that Loo, and Dream Canyon Handshake, have passed into our lexicon, but not the sublime, Shitorite Shower.
It’s dumping, and I’am writing indoors. Three writing assignments this week, seriously thinking I might go back to building, the stress man. I just got a face facts, I hate any kind of work, or routine. My Jamaican DNA with it’s work ethic completely striped by partying away in the 8Os, is slowly surfacing once again. Bummer dude, I was just getting into looking at catalogues and dreaming of that fitted kitchen. Slipped out from work like a naughty child, walked the hill did a couple of little runs, jumped some barbed wire fences. Chickens are wondering what the pecking hell is going on, and so am I. The daffodils were just about to blossom. Maybe do a little ice tomorrow.
Ooogeling thru a climbing catalogue, I came across what I though might be a useful device for Scottish winter climbers. A new product from Dark Sapphire training and gear Co, called Rime Rimed Tec Specs. Looking a bit like old glacier glasses, these handy, if expensive devices, allow you to winterise any situation. First intended for military use, they could change a pavement into a glacier, if the user was of low intelligence, or on medication. All very useful I thought, for Scottish people who haven’t been to the Alps. But this isn’t its prime target area, dry tooling is deemed its real niche, and I must say its brill. Around the rims of the spectacles is a bit of rime, not too much you understand, just the right amount for you to be deluded into thinking your rock climb is in condition, but not too much rime, so you can’t see the hook placements. Brill, certainly a five star product for virtual climbers. Worth every penny, especially to tight fisted Scots who don’t wish to travel, or wait for better conditions.
In the photo is a little unrecorded route. This pitch starts classic mixed then goes into an M9++ bit finishing in a very dangerous way. It’s a few big pitches off the ground and is delightful. This year has seen a lotta good routes, stay safe.
I hate the web. On the other hand, I love some of the stuff, that sometimes finds its way to me thru the ether of the web. Anything to do with Kids, cats, skateboarding, and snowboarding. This blog/diary is a way of communicating with my grandchildren, family, and friends, and so yes it is utile. Kids climbing, yea. When do Kids not climb? I climb, therefore I am still a Kid, right on. The family Raboutou is, it seems, a climbing family. Mum and dad, both great climbing champs, and now Brooke and Shawn just like them, except more didi than Didier. Check them out on the web at Hueco tanks, made me happy. I got on the phone talked to my grand Kids, and got them watching. Their Mum, Katie climbed just like these Kids, when she was a Kid, straight arms, week, all akimbo, and forging onwards with gusto. Yesterday I climbed like that on a route and nearly got it, climb like a kid, that’s what I say. Mr Raboutou has always impressed me with his strength, apart from his flawless technique. He was a native of Ariege where I now live, and is typical of the region, strong and straight.
Kidding. By Stevie Haston
Where have all the flowers gone?
Here’s a couple of my favorite bits of Kidding:
Scottish Mixed being pure *****
Ground up ascents that have been abbed and checked****
Ground up ascents that are actually Mat up ascents****
Mixed routes in Scotland that have less ice than a cocktail****
Discreet climbers that have helicopters in attendance****
Being thought a good climber in Britain when you would be rubbish in Europe****
Climbing E2 and having an opinion on climbing****
Climbing lower than grade 6 and having an opinion****
Climbing lower than grade 3 and having an opinion****
The list could go on.
Banning climbing on cliffs because of birds, which are not even there****
Bears in the Pyrenees, when we don’t want them****
Wolfs being reintroduced when we don’t want them****
The so called War in Iraq***********
Oh sorry that one’s not Kidding, that’s an outrageous, shameful war crime.
Some presents from my sponsor arrived and I cant help touching maulling and fondling. Some really great quick draws, which are easy to put to use, but the problem lies in the ergonomic carbon fibered mixed tool which to be honest is a bit too good for the likes of me, my car used to be a BMW M3 and this is a Ferrari. What to do? Over the years I’ave had alootta arguments with sponsors (and myself) about what constitutes self advertising and gear pushing. Years ago I loved mixed climbing, and it was easy to be good, even when it got harder I could always steal a march because I designed gear that made it easier. Now its getting harder to cause a splash because the gear is so good its reduced alotta mixed to pulling up on vertical jugs. You can even make some tough rock routes easier in winter because its easier to pull on an ergonomic shaft than a minging crimp. About 1979 in North Wales I realised that to do harder routes I needed to get away from drainage lines and attack walls but of course these walls already had nice rock routes up them like Lord of the Flies. Now then I am a greedy money grabbing working class scoundrel but I wouldn’t dry tool my way up the likes of ‘Lord’ even if it would be easy with axes. Over the years some of the younger lads came to me for advice and after a quick chat they seemed to think the same. So really you are left with dry tooling venues and some of these are really good fun but its hard to make money out of them or weave a legend. So what can I do to get publicity?
Well I have found a crag with great routes and hanging ice daggers on but the rock is so good I think Id rather bolt it and make good 8bs. Maybe go to Scotland there’s only one good climber there the net keeps telling me. I don’t even like Scotland but Scotland so the Scots tell me is the best and the hardest and the purist so I gotta do it there right. Plus I heard of this ultimate trad route there called Eco wall which might be hard to dry tool but will win me euros. And to be honest it looks like a decent bold challenge with rock shoes on and with axes I can cut into the crimpy bits, cause although my open hand strength is great, my crimp is still a limiting factor in my climbing. Yes man what a great plan, and so what if I ruin a good rock climb, I desperately need the publicity man. Idea number two, head to Craig Doris in Wales, trash my own routes, they are soft and the bird shit looks like snow anyway, the dumb flockers who read mags, the net, listen to the radio wont know the difference anyway. Hey man its just about selling thermonuclear proof cags to hip shoppers anyway, so who cares. No my heart wont allow it I am just doomed to go rockclimbing and fail on routes.
There are some people who I simply wish to meet shake their hand, pay them a compliment, say thank you for inspiration and leave them to it. Climbers are sometimes on the list but they are eclipsed by some one of the athletic stature of Stephan Mifsud. Stephan lives in the south of France and likes to swim and dive underwater, he also loves to chase fish. I share his loves but at a very punterish level and am very impressed (astounded!) with his accomplishments. He currently holds the world record for breath holding underwater at 11 mins 35 sec, he has an estimated lung capacity of 11 liters. Clearly he would at this body type make a good climber. Anyway please look him up, and admire his work. And so, thank you, thank, you very much Stephan, if I have trouble training, just thinking about 11 mins 35 secs will get me back to the job. I really would like your autograph to put on the wall next to my pull-up board. Good luck.