Well it seems longer than a month since i last wrote but it has been a really busy month with lots of big dates in it. On top of that the midge clock finally bonged a death for windless bouldering until september and it got hot and humid. All in all i got left feeling like hard bouldering was struggling to get a word in edgeways. Some highlights then. After Waking up from Katie’s brothers stag do, i made my way home and with time getting on i thought it’d be a nice day to check out Swarthbeck Ghyll a new local spot Pete Gunn had found last year. There was a promising boulder there which Kris Hall had just put up a nice bloc on too. 60˚ overhangs tend to be hard no matter what holds turn up on them. Luckily, as it’s often not the case, this one had a decent amount of holds and the ones which broke off left solid ones behind. This session was interesting as it was a day where i expected nothing, i’d been running round like paintball Rambo the day before and had a tea entirely consisting of meat and beer (and the odd cheeky softy). Regardless it was lovely to be out climbing and a nice breeze was keeping thinks good on the blocs. Upon arrival i launched into cleaning and sequence deciphering whilst Katie had a nap. I managed to wake her up by moving some big boulders around right next to her which was my signal that i’d like to put my shoes on soon. It was a perfect session really, i guessed a sequence fast and after one tiny microbeta tweak i huffed and puffed through from the start, winding up through all the gears as the last bits of energy got sucked into the squeezer. I am unfit this year but contently so, i have embraced the boulderers lactic acid melt down pump as a trade off to doing ~60 seconds worth of moves above 80% of max instead of ~30 seconds. After 30 seconds i seem to get the gradual onset of a normal lactic acid pump but can still squeeze holds for a bit until total meltdown. At which point i seem to be totally out of breath and in need of a good sit down. Its a fun game to play as its a bit like the classic sport climbing pump you get but at a much higher intensity level and over a quicker time span. It was an awesome feeling to put up such a fun boulder in such a fashion. A perfect day really, go to a new line, clean it, work it out and only just climb it with one all out attempt. One attempt is all you need though when things go your way. Colonel Hathi is a great boulder. Really fun and its got the only true clock move i’ve ever done outside (rather than just getting muddled hands on something not that hard).
Next up came the news that the matting was going to be ready for the Beastmaker training room at Eden Rock and that meant a few days of hard graft in there getting everything ready. The boards are all tailored in there to be certain difficulties and the 55˚ is the best board i’ve ever trained on. It is incredibly nice of Micky and Katie to let me have free reign on the two boards and where the 45˚ is maybe 6B+/C to get up using the biggest holds and best feet the 55˚ is around 7B+ and it soon gets harder if you stray from those holds, as a result i have found its been the best tool for pushing my board strength ever and i’m looking forward to the coming years of climbing in there. I’ve pretty much trained on boards for most of my life, in garages, bedrooms or walls, they are my only ever coach, team mate and indoor inspiration. The recipe is pretty simple really, go climbing, have fun, rest, fingerboard to get the fingers stronger on basic grips, rest, bring the body in line with the fingers on a steep board, rest, go outside and learn to put the power down again, repeat.
Going outside is the hard part in June. It managed to get unseasonably windy for a few days thanks to a good northerly the other week and i spotted a half chance to get back to scotland even after the midge clock had bonged! I was keen to clear up a tiny bit of unfinished business North of the Wall. It’d have to be a day trip this time due to work but Cal was up for it and we boshed up the road for a grand day out. I managed to get the Cruachan! Arete at Carrick from a sit start, once again winding up through the gears as the boulder pump set in, its about 15 moves of super sustained squeezing. I managed it quite early on so i decided to work the full traverse a bit more before we left, but that is very much a harder prospect in June, one for October. We got lucky as when we called in to Glen Croe on the way out we met a ferocious midge pack in the trees and quickly retreated to the car. Cal’d never been to Dumby and i hadn’t been to Dumby since it was cleaned up. The graffiti removal is so well done its like it was never there. Its definitely moved up the urbanized crag league tables to somewhere near Ilkely's ambience now. We randomly met some other friends there and had an ace session. I felt like i was running on fumes after a long day but after warming back up i managed Fire Starter in about 5 minutes on my 3rd attempt i think. flashes of the classic Slap Happy and The Shield took me and Eddie onto Pongo sit. I almost got that by stealing Cal’s sweets but for a saggy foot pop after the hard bit, it was a lot to ask by that point as it was 9 in the evening and we’d set off at 10 in the morning, the wheels were well and truly off so we hit Dumby M&S and scored the ultimate reduction jackpot, a world of tasty treats was reduced to 50p. £4 later and we were feeling human again after a grand day out.
After this the wind died and the weather went so muggy and ming that Katie and I resorted to trad! I look like the worlds most enthusiastic tradder compared to Katie, but she is a keen seconder and together we have had a lovely time bumbling about on E2-E4s, the E5 we did was a bit much and i got my ears burned by her. Living in the lakes it must be done as there are some bloody good trad routes. The highlight of that week was an epic ascent of GTX in the rain (the route was dry bar the top slab so only the last 2m were epic and getting across to the AB point) This put us off tradding enough for me to attempt bouldering again.
There are a few lines in my time climbing where upon seeing them i have been left totally open jawed. For me the extremes of these almost Stendhal moments have been Superbloc, The Young and Lanny Bassham. My own developments can’t count as it is a different process. Upon seeing someone else’s climb you know it can be done as it has been, and in the case of the 3 above i knew the history around them and i wanted to climb them more than any others. Of these climbs i’d say The Young is my absolute favourite, but being in the county i’m biased, unfortunately it is not quite a boulder problem it is a solo. It’d been a mini dream of mine since 2009 to do the second ascents of all three (i’d already got superbloc in the bag). I’d abbed The Young before doing it, and originally i wanted to do Lanny ground up like Superbloc as it is ultimately more satisfying and better style. I went up twice when it was freezing and got to the top sloper match ground up but the cold and wind shut the ground up team of Me, Ned, Katzy and Ryan down. As the years have past since and my life has changed i found myself becoming aware that action is required rather than distant hopes of serendipity. The chances of me finding myself up at Rylstone again with the top clean were diminishing (moorland rock is often scrittly) Basically i talked myself out of the ethical stand point in favour of actually climbing it and having fun on a clean boulder. The decision was made in my mind that it was time to take on the meaty, blobby, bassy Bassham again. It is such a fantastic boulder, every move is interesting and relatively hard, there's not a crimp in sight just pockets slopers and clamping. It is also a hard test piece. Ben usually climbs hard boulders most winters in a casual, just out for 30mins with Klem before picking May up, manner, never mind when he’s got a raging psyche on and has lost half of his one stone body weight. It was a brilliant effort putting this line up out the blue in a protracted flash of inspiration when he did. Lanny seems to require a raging psyche to do it i think. It’s an hour’s slog up Barden Moor and it's so high that you normally need loads of pads to be able to be sure of walking out again.
Here comes in my Steck-ian approach to highballing. I took one pad and stuffed a carrier bag with a pair of Instinct VS’s, chalk bag, fleece (not needed) and some food & water, along with an 18m static (courtesy of Caff and Bailes sheathing a 100m static on Hoy last year in 3 places when jugging out the Long Hope on it) gri gri and harness. It was a bit of a gamble but i’m a world leader in decking off things and i’ve got respectable legs rather than snappy boulderers sparrow ones. The other main challenge was that it was June. It looked windy so the midgies would at least be kept at bay and i had a raging psyche and a lot of steep board squeeze to combat the lack of friction.
Anyhow after abbing and cleaning the scrittly top slopers as well as sussing the top (all the other rock is quite bomber) i dropped the top match (the crux for me as being bigger than Ben my ass hangs out on the slopers) The wind was frustratingly missing the boulder and i was sweating, i rarely sweat a lot in my hands but i was asking for it in those conditions. 40minutes of battle against my mind and the newly arrived sunshine lead to crunch time, i was going backwards and had only got back up there once. I implored the Bassham performance subconscious to do its work and somehow i managed to just squeeze up it despite feeling the gop on move 3. Polish Dave once wisely told me he ignores conditions in that it teaches you to try hard, and that some of his best ascents have been on boulders where he’s had to dry holds etc, there is a lot to be said of this ethic when it works (and lots of bad things when it doesn’t) as at the top of Lanny i was ecstatic, what a brilliant coup, i’d got in there whilst it was hibernating. Why try it now and not Autumn or spring? well my projects whiteboard is full of things where i have to have perfect conditions to stand a chance of doing them and this year its looking quite full. So planning ahead i thought Lanny was worth a punt in June. Varian 3, June conditions 2 (i’ve had two horrific and midge aborted attempts to boulder in June this year too)
I also took a camera up to Rylstone too: