Friday, 5 December 2014

Lacking in inspiration

Much like this blog, my mind has been lacking in inspiration for the last few weeks.

I've been working all of the hours under the sun (or lack of) in Llanberis as it's the busiest time of the year for us. The one week of perfect cold and sunny weather passed by outside as I was in every day until after 6 and the motivation to get out with lamps into the hills in the dark was lacking!

This has led to being a bit knackered, not helped by the dog waking me up barking around 4.30-5.30am most days, and I've managed to pick up a grim cold which currently lingers at just over a week.

A rare day out

I attempted to get outside a last Sunday with Paul and Matty D. The warm ups on roadside face felt ok but then I got utterly spanked by the Sting and ripped a fingertip wide open. A bit of taping to stem the tide and we headed over to Gallt yr Ogof.

Split fingertip aside, I got back on problems I thought should go down with 6 years more climbing under the belt (and a bit of improvement in strength/movement skills) but every single problem on this boulder is still hideously desperate! I failed miserably on regeneration and smackhead, so didn't even bother looking at Sway On. (Paul later linked a video which helped lift the gloom of abject failure, showing I was starting on the wrong holds/in the wrong place, making them harder than necessary, so I'll return again in 6 years time)

Indoor stasis

Although getting outside has been a bit tougher, I've managed to retain a tiny bit of motivation for indoors, as the setting down at the Indy wall is excellent. Although I don't feel like I have gotten any stronger, the lure of not getting too far behind in the aggregate and trying to hang on to the coat-tails of Pete Robins and Ducko has kept me going back and trying hard to drag my out of shape withered corpse up some of the harder stuff.

I'll hopefully post about amazing days out on the next blog and be a bit less depressive. I had a laugh with Matt the other day about moving closer to decent climbing and sacking off climbing, much like in his Sheffield days, but it won't come to that... There is still some unfinished business in a certain polished limestone cave :)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Post Summer Scaling Adventures

I've managed to get outside a couple of times in the last 2 weeks just before the turd weather arrived.


Mills & Jack @ Chez Hudssion
A couple of weekends ago, Millso and 8c Jee were over in N Wales, so we got together and hit up Crafnant along with O and Alec.

We were blessed with dry weather and grips, with the lightest of breezes making it bearable and friction-filled-fun!

We started off climbing out of a dank hole, which featured a funky right hand dish and pop to sloper move, then moved over to Grasswind, where Jee and I managed to scramble our way up to the top. The face on go again move is really good.

Some lanky ginge topping out Asswind
After this, it was a short hop, contouring across the sketchy slope to arrive at the main boulder.

Return of The Upton Crimp!
Jee managed a rapid ascent of Wonderwall and I bailed off the top-out after a scream of fearful desperation in failing to turn my right palm as the sun beat down on the slippery top! I slid off into the hands of ace spotter/groper T Mills esq. and survived.

Whilst taking a long rest and waiting for the sun to go behind the hills, Jee did a tour of the boulder ticking off Riley's, Cruella and Special K before departing with Ruby.

O, Alec and Tom all made good progress on Cruella but had to give in with sore skin and dodgy knees/joints. I managed to drag my arse up Wonderwall next go, after a 30 min rest and no rewarm up, which was savage on the fingers and I felt wrecked on the top! We were a right old bunch of semi injured semi veterans.

Maes Newyddion

Louis Start
I was blessed with a dry day off work last Friday and managed to sneak up Maes Newyddion late morning, making the now very familiar treck up the winding road to arrive out of breath as always.

I was determined to crush Grey House into atoms and not have to face that walk again and set about warming up on budha roof until I could feel the blood return to my fingertips from pulling on the sharpness.

To cut a long story short I had lots of shit attempts, then 3 good ones on the house, swinging out and back in only to fall off and finally clung on after about 15 attempts... miraculously without splitting any fingers open (just a hole in my right palm from the top!).

The undercut resting station
I thought it might be 8A after my previous visit but slightly better conditions made it feel more like stout 7C+. I think Buddha Roof in comparison may only be hard 7C but who knows?

I sadly didn't get any footage as I have been a bit lazy in not searching for my dodgy old predator vision camcorder since moving over to Wales. I'll make sure to dust it off and start recording Louis sessions in case I fluke it. I've put some pics up on here so you can see my sneaky weak mans methods!


Spicy Times
With the inclement weather arriving, I've had a go at the Indy and Beacon winter comps. The setting at both has been good and doing this amount of volume (30-40 problems a session) should be good fitness training for when it stops raining and I can get outside. I've got 1 problem left to do at each but don't fancy I'll finish the Blue 8A/+ at the Indy unless the weather stays shit and I'm forced indoors!

Some House View Pics

I've just realised there has been a lack of new house photos on the blog so far. So here are the views from our living room/kitchen/balcony areas :)

The Conwy Estuary and a distant West Shore

Looking out over the river and into the hills

A sunny back garden!

Conwy Castle from the kitchen window :)

Friday, 26 September 2014

A great summer

Little Lamb near Aber Falls
Since I last posted back in April, Laura and myself were fortunate enough to move into the house we were waiting on and have been doing little bits and pieces to it since to try and make it feel like our own home.

The never ending summer of June/July meant lots of time spent in the garden and sneaky sessions down the Orme and occasionally into the hills. A lot of ice cream has been eaten and the only time I had to go indoors was to pop back over to Liverpool for the BOSS comps which went ok considering I'm old and decrepit. I was very grateful to Pete staying in South Africa long enough for me to turn up and look strong in a weakened field! ;)

Tricky hanging Arete at Cae Du
Commuting to Llanberis from Glan Conwy isn't as bad as I expected (due to zero traffic and motorways, it is a nice chilled start to the day), and I got in a few decent after work sessions which culminated in finally clawing my way up Diesel Power. I thought Corridors of power, the most in vogue 8A in N Wales would go down in similar fashion but it merely resulted in split tips and holes in my palms! I'm hoping to finish it off this weekend as the weather has picked up over the last 2 days and the temps are slowly dropping.

There can be only one (1KG egg)
I've had a dabble on Louis a few times but need to get on it when it's colder to stand a chance as I tend to slide around on the undercuts too much at the moment, making the setup not ideal for the crux. Oh to be strong!

Updated with some pics! :)

Giant Egg & Belgian beer, the diet of champions

Dolphins off the coast @ Cae Du

A lovely day out to Bodnant Gardens with Laura

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

North Wales boyo

There has been a fair bit of upheaval since my last post in early January.

I've moved over to North Wales with Laura as we were both offered full time work and thought it would be a good change of scene, being closer to the sea, hills and fresh air!

We are currently living above the veterinary surgery awaiting a completion date on a house we made an offer for way back in early Feb. Sadly, the finishing line still isn't in sight due to the chain of pensioners not being in any hurry to move or respond to their solicitors information requests.

Fingers crossed that it won't be too much longer as there is only so long that you can function with the use of a microwave and takeaways alone!

In other news, my left knee is healing up really well. Thanks to Laura pushing me a bit; A combination of ignoring the tame physio rehab and doing more intensive exercise (more advanced than the pensioners handout I was given) as well as cycling on the turbo trainer has seen it strengthen well and regain a good range of motion.

I've been back on rock several times over the last week in the pass, maes Newyddion, Craig y llyn and of course the hallowed cave.

I was still a bit wary of cranking hard on the left knee during the first few sessions back on rock... but after doing the finish section of Louis last Week, I gave the heel move at the start a go and to my utter relief everything was perfectly fine. If anything, it felt easier than before the injury and I'll hopefully be able to make use of the marginal strength gains from the couple of months deadhanging, pull-ups and campussing.

Aside from the climbing goal for this year being back on track, it has been an amazing season to be a Liverpool fan and I pray that we can finish it off with a long awaited premiership title!

A Liverpool title and a 3rd victory for Woolton wanderers in the UKB fantasy football league would put the icing on the cake after a successful knee rehab and relocation to N Wales :D

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


I'm currently sat on the couch after a gourmet meal at the ivory, enjoying a rather delectable 04 Rioja that Laura's parents got me for Christmas. I was saving bottles such as this for performance related prizes in 2014 but seeing as I currently have no idea whether I will be able to function near to 100% in the next few months, I thought what the hell!

I have spannered my left knee and to cut a long story short, the x-ray was clear and it is still swelled and not functioning 3 weeks later. The MRI I got a referral for today won't be until 25th Feb (the week after fish heads stag do in Font).

I had a look at going private today and got the eye watering quote of 3.2 grand. Not the kind of money I can fritter away on bionic knee operations!

Rather than becoming demotivated I have found being crocked a great motivator for getting down to the wall 4-5 times a week and doing intensive amounts of pull-ups, chin-ups, weighted hangs, 1 arm hangs, pressups..etc and I'm starting to see some gains already: I.e. Getting bigger if not necessarily better at climbing! The new goal by Font is to tip the scales at 73kg+ and not have the appearance of a skinny fingered, malnourished, hollow eyed aspirational crusher!

Watching World's strongest man always gets me more motivated than watching most climbing media and I have had a few sessions back down the gym too, obviously having to steer well clear of the deadlift and squat but getting back into the pressing exercises and the lat pull downs.

Sadly I am never going to be 6"8 and 180kg, so I'll have to stick with the climbing for now.

You can keep Sharma and Ondra and marvel at Brian Shaw crushing a 442.5kg deadlift:

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Testing the waters

With the dreaded feeling of Sunday's Louis session being a big fluke, I returned to the cave via new Bizzle picking up Monsieur psyche and Hatch of Hatchatrocity fame up along the way.

We got there for a casual 2.15pm and warmed up feeling a bit shoddy whilst Hatch went in search of some big game hunting atop of the Orme.

I did the post crux to finish feeling sketchy as anything but it took only a mere 3 attempts to stick the crux again and climb to the finish.

I then set about just going for the redpoints but something would always go a tiny bit wrong, mostly matching the left undercut poorly, which meant a lot of energy sapping adjustments before I could position the feet and make an attempt at the crux slap to the lip.

I had 5 tries always hitting the lip but not having the beans to keep my right foot on. A brief rest and then the litmus test of seeing if the crux still felt possible with some fatigue. To my relief, I managed to catch it 2nd go and get to the finish yet again.

I went for a final attempt to see if I could go one better than last time, but I had ran out of steam and had to concede defeat for the day. It felt hard on the back and arms and I clearly could have done with more than 1 day of rest since my last session on it.

Mike managed to look really weak on hatchatrocity and ferrino, then with a bit of goading, he joined me on Louis and absolutely rinsed the start getting a French blow in on the 2nd move before getting confused with the crux, which he realised would involve some dynamic effort on his part.

We left just as the light faded and went back to the Hangar to join Matty D, Youngy and Laura in trying the black comp set from Friday. I was completely spent after managing 28.5 of them.

Looking forwards...

I had a brief chat with Dan and he agreed it would be a good tactic to try and link matching in to the undercuts, through the crux and to the finish, rather going for the redpoint every time, as I can do it fine in separate halves but have yet to stick the crux from the start.

Regardless of if I succeed or not this year, I am feeling a massive surge of motivation just at the right time and I know for sure, that I am capable of climbing something difficult at long last. Time to knuckle down and put the effort in and not accept underachievement... aka climbing for joy! In the words of a wise man, "success is temporary, failure is forever".

Monday, 16 December 2013

Lack of structure can lead to surprising results

No signs of improvement...

Since my last semi depressed blog entry there has been no real structure to my climbing or training and I have mainly just pottered at the hangar for the last few months after getting a years pass. There have been a few days out in Wales with little achieved bar a good session at tremeirchion with Alec getting 36 chambers and 22 chambers done. It took a return visit to the GOP to finish off a mere 7B+ called Smoke a bloke and I figured it was best to write off this year early having ticked a meagre 2 new 8th grade problems (both in the cave and long, so they don't really count for much).

A chilled end to 2013

I took last week off from climbing and had a lovely trip to Shropshire to visit Laura's parents and go to the German night market in Birmingham which featured great food, ale and live music. Me and Laura then went on to Carden park Spa in Cheshire for a decadent overnight stay of spa treatments, sauna, jacuzzi, fine dining, luxurious accommodation and a nice walk in the woods near to Beeston and bulkley.

We popped to Cheshire oaks to make inroads into the Christmas shopping when I received a somber text from Ian that the shop had been broken into and lots of gear had been taken. Gaz cleared the rest out back to beris and I popped over the next day to help take a new stock take and get some web based work for the meantime.

So after 7 rest days I arrived at Fatnecks ysgo bash. It was treacherous reaching the boulders and surprisingly dry for the first 2 hours or so before the squall came and engulfed us. We beat a retreat and went the pub. Day 2 was a write off with regular blasts of rain coming from sea mist/wind/the heavens.

Parisellas saves the day

Determined to climb on some dry rock, Mark and myself shunned the beacon and headed to Parisellas to find it in mint condition! After a brief warmup I thought it would be fun to see how much harder Louis Armstrong felt after basically no effort to get stronger in the last 9 months.

It took only 3 attempts on the crux move to stick on to it and breeze to the finish. I was rather surprised and decided the start will feel brutal still surely...

First go on the start and I got into the crux and hit the lip. I had another go on the start and got to the crux again only to mess around with the left undercut and tire myself out so holding the lip felt hard again.

I thought it would be good to see if the crux was still super low percentage, so pulled on again... And crushed the move, carrying on to the finish again.

It makes little sense to me, that I have my best ever session on Louis after no real training effort or progression in my outdoor climbing for what seems like a long time. Maybe there was something magical in that performance enhancing pre massage salt & oil scrub at Carden Park, or it could have been my body reacting to a punishing few sets of bicep busting preacher curls in the gym last week with some kind of super hypertrophy as the undercut moves felt piss compared to last time in the cave.

To see if it was some strange fluke, I'll be popping back down tomorrow to do battle once again and see if I can force this gangly, weak carcass into achieving what I was beginning to feel way beyond it.