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2012 wrap up

Posted on January 02, 2013 by Dan Varian

 A busy year:


Thanks to everyone who bought something off beastmaker this year, we hope you're all happy with your purchases and that they are helping you in your various walks of life.

 This year has turned out fantastically in many ways for me, at times its been very stressful and i’ve definitely had my fair share of bad luck too. Its been a good year for changing my mindset and approaching climbing differently. I am seeing it more as an engaging hobby rather than something to spend all my time on, i don’t have the time, money nor conscience at the moment to jetset worldwide month after month. Part of this is getting older and gaining responsibilities but part of it is the clarity that i now see in my motivations, i know what i like in climbing and what i want to do and it doesn’t need my whole life orientated towards it with colossal holidays (im not saying the odd one wouldn’t be nice though), i’ve also found enough challenges in the UK this year to keep me more than busy and i can see 2013 filling up already if the UK was good enough for all our previous greats to push standards it is still that way for me. yes the weather’s been pretty crap but so’s reality sometimes, our weather will get crapper and more extreme the more we pump it full of energy. I reckon i’m happy with dabbling in this droughty/flooded isle, putting up 4 new 8B’S & 13 8A/+s and dozens of high 7’s (90% of which are independent blocs) is an alright tick list for a rainy year (i even had time to do some trad and a days sport). It was a funny year for repeating things. I did all my other 8’s in 1-2hrs or under, except second coming, which is my hardest ever repeat & problem i think and took more time to do than... well grannies have made patchwork quilts a lot faster.


  Its been the first year i’ve not climbed out the UK and it might have been the worst year for a loong time to do so. That said i’ve progressed more this year as a climber than i have since i started i think. Part of that has been the weather putting my back to the wall or at least creating the illusion of pressure. Being back on my board in my garage for most of the year really forced me to focus and follow my own rhythm, which is basically resting when i don’t feel close to 90% of my best but training really hard when i do. Its been a nail biting strategy as i’ve been trusting my guts rather than the formula of train though the pain and keep pushing. Much of this strategy has come from needing to switch my plans round the weather, there’s no point knackering out the pony only to find out its race day tomorrow. Either way everything which i found pretty hard at the start of the year on my board i now do at the end of my warm ups. The reason for this is the gathering of the crimp. in the start of 2011 i was much weaker on crimps than i am now, i needed 9kgs assistance to hang the campus rung on the 2000 half crimped for a set on one arm. That was about the time i did voyager, cypher, BOP, stanton deliver, nth power, primitive notion, the pessimist, dandelion mind and Bewilderness etc etc. I was also heavier then too. I tried second coming that year with Ned, neither of us got anywhere near to pulling on near the start but we figured out an easier way to do the very end, it was so fun and unlikely that it sparked up the idea that i would love to be able to do it one day. I’ve been going to goldsborough since i was 16. I had a great evening there once with Ry, Gangle, Katzy and Dunning. It really is a favourite crag of mine, with mostly immaculate rock, the crag is so barren and timeless from one vista but surprisingly near habitation if you look south east. Second coming always fascinated me, when Steve chatted me through it i could never get my head round smearing in a roof. But thats what you do, to pull on you step up to the right foot smear and tense like Mr Universe, the first holds are un-holdable without the smear, otherwise you’d just campus from them, the RH is a decent cresent crimp the left is simply a two finger half pad crimp which i stack my other fingers near and pinch. I’ve never tried a problem before where its been so hard to pull on (once you pull on its roughly a single move 8A+ into a soft 8A). Even on things like Traci Lords sit or ATHOIA, all the pull ons are quite easy (although on the latter the moves between are horrendous). This is what is brilliant hey? working the pull ons, i only know of a few dedicated boulderers (who’ve already got a good protfolio of ascents) who work the pull ons on projects for long time scales. Maybe its taking the bar too far on, bouldering becoming too niche and unapproachable? i don’t think so, mainly because of the simple fact that by November this year not only was it relatively easy for me to pull on, no more lower leg tapping to get off the floor, but i could work the holds to do what i wanted with them, and i wanted to move in a way that was perpendicular not opposing to them, which needed more power and a different left foot. It really was a fantastic effort in 2001 by Steve and a great find. Shortly after doing second coming i went back on the beastmaker to check how i was doing and i could now hang the littlest outer rung on 1 arm half crimped for 7 seconds no problem and 1 arm it at the same time, with no assistance, which for 12 months work is a ridiculous change, interestingly last year i could hold 1 pad pinky monos for at least 8 seconds and now i cant hold them at all at the moment. My drag strength has dropped from easily doing a full set on the same arm on the rh eye to needing 3kg assistance to. Mind you thats not a bad rate of decline over 12 months of relative neglect.  


Earthworm Jim 8A/+ (hope this gets some attention as is near the road and great fun)


I like this game, its tricky to play and like snakes and ladders there’s always the threat of injury to take you back down a few notches but i’ve learned this year that by simply waiting 18 months (and guessing the training well) you can prove how short sighted the minds eye is. which begs the question where is the end of the line? I’d love to try traci lords sit next year if i get the fortune. Plus Gaskins did it in a session which makes me think i can possibly do it. He also flashed the stand, again a phenomenal effort and possibly the UK’s hardest ever flash in terms of doing a single 8a move first go.

So thats what i’ve realized this year. I’ve also realized i’d like to go on holiday somewhere abroad, bouldering next year, Fairhead counts right? I’ve realized Scotland has some incredible boulder projects just 2 hrs from my house in Carlisle. I’ve also realized i can both fart and burp at the same time. I’ve realized that no matter how hard you try some projects will always be a victim to the weather, the only thing i haven’t done this year that i really wanted to is the ultimate in seeping frustration. I’ve realized i’ve said the r word too many times now.


some rubbish uk projects for 2013 if the weather holds out!

So some highlights?

Everything i did in the county is special to me but End Sequence really was great fun and it was a pleasure getting to do Chris’s Launch sequence many times over. The county as a whole is where i feel most at home, even more so now thanks to Katie and her family, whether having a barefoot jog along bamburgh, hanging out in Pilgrims on holy island before heading to bowden for some soloing.


I felt my best performances this year have to be when success and failure were a hairs breadth apart. I did Traci lords in about 30 minutes in July (just after turning 25, Greg is still the youngest ascender!!) and it took everything to break the move down that quickly and hold the swing in control. 


Rhythm was great, the feeling of hitting all the dimples right was great. It’d been shady when we arrived but just as i sat down to try the sit the sun came out and i had to wait, Then as it got lower i started trying it, i messed up the top twice and calmed down a bit then hit the perfect go, body working overdrive stuff. 


Fat Lady was the other ascent that i had to wind up the gears on, its just like a board problem and after finally sticking the long move well i had to finish it off there and then. A great day out with Micky and Katie on a busy month.


The other thing i’ve helped with this year is building Eden Rock. Aside from being 3 months of graft we’ve finally started work on the training room. Which is good as i’m keen to get back on a steep board and pulling beaks. The aim is to make the nicest/ most effective board in the world for 8th grade climbers. After 3 sessions it definitely feels a lot harder than any other board i’ve used. I hope by the time it feels easy and i can use all the holds a few more obvious gaps will appear from the blankness outside.


Where the Wild things are SS-7C+?


A Bigger Berry

Some nice new ones in the county in 2012 (well ones i have nice pics of anyway)

As an aside i have witnesses or unedited video (or both) for all my problems i’ve put up this year (as i’m aware i’ve put up more new blocs this year than si o' connor ever did and he churned them out! which might flag up the bullshit radar) End Sequence is the only exception as the camera was left in Katie's car and she had a meeting in Newcastle. I do however have the footage from the session before with Katie and Ben when i dropped the very last hard move on the out swing and i’d be more than happy to head up there again if it was an issue. Lying makes no sense to me unless you’re weak and have alot to prove. Strong climbers are strong fact. Strong developers cherish undone lines alot more than done ones as they are bloody hard to find.Thankfully bouldering seems to be moving in the direction of it not being taboo to ask for proof. 







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Darker Days

Posted on November 19, 2012 by Dan Varian


Home 8B: Floated up this on a great day out with Dave and Elsie, weightless movement on small grippy holds.

Autumns great hey? There’s something about the trees gilding their leaves that feels like a convivial rustling of a years work well spent. New growth and strength achieved and offerings of those lovely crispy leaves before winter sets in. Watching the wretched bracken die back you cant help but celebrate. I love the first day out when a cold wind barges through the space between you and the rock. I had a good October this year, something clicked, i got fired up on a line i’ve not yet done but a window opened just slightly, not big enough for that yet but it had a knock on effect and 3 other lines fell with relative ease, it felt like all i had to do was show up and pull on and my body would handle the rest. Then something very British happened, i thought oh fuck i cant go on like this, i’ve only got 2 things left which mean a lot to me, if i do them this month then i’ll be lost in a world of pointless shuffling, doing moves just for the sake of them but without being all there in my head. Like a once talented pianist tapping away in a deserted hotel bar. What’s the point really in any bouldering? Dawkins is prattling on about the pointlessness of everything on channel 4 at the minute, He’s right of course (until proven wrong), and there is solace in the miracle of us consciously floating through this brief blip in time when almost everything is possible which we set our faustian minds to, and we have so much free time for minds to wonder. I’m staring at rock nowadays and seeing it eat up life with the flicker of an idea, “i want to climb that” well thats a year gone “and that” another 3 months “and that” well that you may never do, but you probably will because you think you can” 




Nature's Angry 7B+ (stand start in the near the right of the patina shield and head straight up) Pic: by mark Savage (horizon by me not straightening it)

I am a bit lost in it all to be honest, too many projects this year and too many things undone, if it looks like i’ve done a lot, in my mind i haven't (i’m tricky to please) the weathers been great for wild plants but shite for bouldering at many venues. Bowden and St Bees are oozing green lichen that i’ve never seen before and it may well be a sign of crags beginning to be adapted by a changing climate. Also my body has changed so much throughout the year from lots of hard work/ stress/ training that its bizarre, i’ve never been so light and good on little crimps, which is great for some stuff but most climbers i know of this ilk are one trick ponies. Its time to change again, force exertion is what i have ultimate respect for in bouldering and i’ve got a bit worse at the backy side of it in the past few months. Hanging on with strong fingers only gets you so far on projects (watch the difference between Jan Hojer and Dave Graham climbing Sky to see an example of this). sometimes you’ve got to squash the angles to get the holds out of them and that means having the crush to both squeeze and hang on. If i lived in another country with loads of rock in 1 style i’d maybe just wriggle away on little edges but the joy of being here, where i am and will live for a while is that there are almost all the worlds major rock types within 2.5 hours of my house. So i may as well play on them all. But what to do when you begin to run out of things to play on? Crags are more developed now and optimism for new lines is logically waning in a sea of established classics. My mind is a powerful but short sighted thing. Within a week of it massively bumming me out and convincing me the end was nigh then i was back on some great new things. If i want to do everything i set out to then i’ve either got to reign in my expectations or meet them with a bigger window for success. I want to make that window bigger now and not try things so far out of it that it closes up to a size thats hard to deal with day after day. Real gains can be made through proper training, its not just some shallow thing for inflexible gonks to do to look strong, real training creates a base level of pure and mechanical strength for the brain and nerves to fine tune, Climbing is one of those tricky sports in that the hardest things can only be achieved when the mind truly wants them, the processes of doing a hard problem are so complex that not a single thought can interrupt the process, absolute focus propogating though to each limb, if it doesn’t then success hasn’t been hard enough earned for me. I love discovering new challenges, geology and weathering set problems that resin can never achieve. Perhaps i’m taking it all a bit too seriously?  but its hard not to keep trying to better myself with a personality like mine, the conflict is only between my expectations and reality. My climbing summed up on a billboard. Expectations vs Reality. Reality always wins but only for a moment before my expectations whisp me off again into a future that may never exist. Where i’m great and can climb whatever i’d like. There have been two moments this year of this being the case. I’m not the best climber in the world, i’m not the most powerful or the most impressive. But non of that is the reason i try so hard on some climbs. Its so that in those moments i feel what i’m pretty sure is true happiness. Struggling so hard to become better at something which will never happen unless i struggle. Schrodingers cat turning out to be a perfect pet instead of landfill. sisyphus with a happy ending, sisyphus but learning on each roll of the boulder what was going wrong, and finding that perfect spot where the boulder will sit forever, so you can always look back upon the achievement and draw upon it. As pointless as the achievement is, for me it beats anything else i can think to come up with.

Sometimes I do moves on projects that even i find ridiculous, but if they work; they work. Believe it or not this is currently the best (least power sapping) solution i’ve found on a project i’ve just managed to do all the moves (and a few decent links) on on my first session but it took all my past history of technical nous and power to combine into a sequence which worked, it can be refined next session anyhow. There’s always the possibility of a next session, whether or not there’ll ever be another one i don’t know.

Here’s a nice quote from Tom Paine, talking about something much more serious ( i was listening to a folk tune on youtube and it cropped up)

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. T’is dearness only that gives everything its value”

short summation of all the above:

Basically if you do it in a session its piss but you’ll never be as happy as if you really try on something. (if its been a few years you might start going mad).


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The Autumnal Crush

Posted on October 23, 2012 by Dan Varian

 

The Autumnal Crush:


My speed of life seems to be going pretty fast lately. Lots to do all the time and in different areas. Both in work and climbing. Lets focus on climbing shall we?


Selset Sunset

I feel like i set the bar pretty high this year with a bunch of projects i found. As you get older the gaps get harder to fill between the old trodden paths. I feel like i’ve entered a world of fog whereby i am now trying to repeat problems that after seeing their first ascents, thought they’d never be caressed again. That and the usual foggy projecting. My climbing feels like its fallen into a binary zone of Do or Fail, no matter how hard i’ve tried this year. Of course this isn’t the case but there are a few problems which have been really shutting me down for most of the year. From June to August i felt the fire die a little as the weather was akin to endless skid marks incessantly smearing across the wet humid ceiling, requiem for the colour blue! Something happened a few weeks ago though, i had a bit of a breakthrough and on Two of my nearest and dearest projects i suddenly felt like i could do them any minute. Rather than flailing at moves hoping to do them once in a session; they were going once every few goes. Well at least i felt like i’d caught up with the bar a bit anyway. 5 split tips and 4 sessions later those 2 aren’t done but one was only due to two of the heavily taped split tips sliding down the finishing hold for an eternity as my middle finger held in there for just long enough for my LH to gush open and waft by the good finishing crimp. Merde.

But the fire was going now, well and truly stoked. I’ve found myself checking the forecast more and the weather has been just about workable. On one lifetime project i’ve really felt the gears wind up. 2 sessions ago i almost did a move that i couldn’t pull onto properly last year when i did things like bewilderness. Admittedly it isn’t hugely “suited” to me, but sod that if you can get all your fingers in a glove then it fits. No point whinging about the finer details all the time. Mentally its been the most interesting project of my life and i hope to wrap it up soon. Too many times this year its nearly broken my internal dialogue stretching it out the length of the drive there into a wispy strand of what ifs and you’re shits. I’ve found myself rolling it all up and just sticking my hackles up instead, Trying my hardest and nothing else matters. Last week i felt on the form of my life only for a horizontal shower to soak the crag and the end of the problem, i got in my pad sandwich and sat the fucker out staring out the English weather with the all the eye contact of walking into a shoulder bump you know is happening. It almost got me, i got cold and had to warm up all over again. When a move is so hard for you that you cant pull on unless everythings right then its proper bouldering in my book. People who wear chalk bags on >8B problems (usually these are >10 moves anyway so not really power climbing) and get splits further down their fingers than 1/4 pad aren’t climbing anywhere near the limits of what they could be doing. people who miss a move then try again! or catch a hold slightly in the wrong place and still do it. Or thinking you always wear climbing shoes in a pair! shoes are tools each does its own specific job. If its at your limit any error, any extra weight should mean failure. We should make an effort to go back to lycra, that space age fabric is light!

When somethings hard everything must work at once, all limbs perfectly. I got warmed back up and managed to put my left leg on and weight it through a foothold, something i’d never done before in the past year, it allows a different trajectory to burst out to and you can catch the edge of glory, i almost held it once. Last session i almost held it 5 times. 

best crux crimp

There’s been a similarly low percentage move in the county thats bugged me all year, i’ve called in sporadically expecting to do it everytime. As since the first session i’ve been touching this hold, 5 sessions and 8 months later and it finally feels different. Its time sometimes on moves not sessions, i could have had 5 sessions in february and not done it. It could have been my first session last weekend and i’d have done it. I needed the 8 months to get better at climbing, nothing has changed in my sequence as there are no other holds. You see such bullshit sometimes about people doing something in 2 sessions a year apart! when you try a problem there is a window of success, the window is a certain size when you first try it and you can decide whether to try and get through it there and then or wait for it to expand over time. I knew coming into last weekend that I should be a notch stronger, warming up i didnt feel super sparky but my fingers felt dependably better. The move is ridiculously basic, essentially a rock over round a roof from a 1/4pad back 3 crimp through a 2 finger 1/4pad crimp intermediate and then upto a 1/4pad 4 finger edge which i catch as a drag, the trouble comes with controlling you'r loose leg round the lip of the roof, as at my height it cant stay under, but with it out the holds don't "work" so the move occupies the space between the seconds, punching through the positions quicker than it takes for you to begin to fall off, falling upwards like Johnny but pulling like Moon. I can imagine it being flashed and i can imagine people never doing it. I’d guess it was the hardest single move i’ve done outside going on tries vs success ratio. I’ve called the problem Great Expectations as every time i went i expected to do it. Reality and expectations rarely collide in my bouldering these days, but without expectations we have no path to walk down. Trusting a move will go for long periods of time is currently the hardest bit of bouldering for me. Flipper fitz had it sussed in that respect, as he didn’t bother doing the problems after the moves.

Great expectations: Photos by Katie Mundy

Great Expectations Great Expectations

Pic of the soft 8A+ Trivial Pursuit Deluxe, a project i did when Ned was up walloping loads of hard classics: Photo courtesy of Mark Savage:


The logical start to Great Expectations is under the roof which adds a 7Cish start into a hard one move 8A+ (plus a few finishing moves, so expect shit all change from that grade, i cant do 1 move 8Bs yet) Its an open project as i’ve got plenty else to try for now until the stand move feels piss. Luckily i’ve got a pretty good training resource now, as i’ve just upgraded from a 7.5sqm garage 45 to a ~1000sqm bouldering wall in Carlisle as we’ve started setting at Eden Rock. Last week i had to have 2 rest days after trying to link the wooden beastmaker holds in roof from the back (i ended up putting the foothold on the side wall but it'll go without it). We’re also developing a range of holds on the machine which will be getting prototype tested at Eden Rock.

Photo Courtesy of Nicole MacGregor


Some Test holds for tool paths, the finished versions will be better quality (these aren't even sanded yet) and they'll be functional first and foremost.


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Empty the bones of you.

Posted on March 21, 2012 by Dan Varian

I've been scooped as ever so Marks blog or outcrops fb feed are clearly the places to go for county news! Mark has some nice pics on his blog.

 I've been stuck in a bit of a rut with 5 projects recently, mostly because i've been trying 5 things all at once so my sessions have been spread out to say the least. I felt in the form of my life on the board last week and managed some tricky moves on it (along with a raid upto thorn... nearly collapsed on the walk in, but got up return of the fly for its 2nd ascent after 9 years, and picked my jaw up from the floor after seeing moment of clarity!) With the weather looking perfect in Northumberland this week it was time to head up with Katie and go and test out the purple patch good and proper.


It was too windy for project No1 so 3 and 5 took priority. I'd cleverly stashed my harness and micro gear safely behind my sofa at home away from prying eyes so i was free of my harness and gear for the day (i'm a shit trad partner!) So my trad project was going to have to be a boulder problem if i wanted to try it. That said it is a boulder problem as you can only try it with pads, due to the crux being at 7m with no gear. It is not a normal crux either like on most highballs. It is a proper boulder problem crux that would be tricky on the ground. Luckily Ben was out too and had borrowed some pads off Matt so we had 7pads!  I felt rather good warming up and despite it being in the sun it seemed like a good time to have a bash at the biggy. I hadn't tried it since January so a quick brush on abseil and check of the top was needed for reassurance seeing as though i'd be soloing up there now. On my first go i felt a lot better than in january and. Next go i'd stuck the crux launch to the pocket off the tiny 3 finger crimp and it was time to man up, after a brief pause to turn my brain off i promptly got up the rest of the problem/solo forthwith. The crux on this is lower than the last droppable move on Darkside but is a trifle more momentum stopping so font 8A+ (H) is likely its best expression. Its the only grade i can stomach giving it anyway, it felt nice to be free of the rope too and in my natural environment of deckout failure, although i was a little apprehensive on getting the top slopers.  . We still had a while to go so Ben got on County Ethics. He ground upped it in 3 goes on the day and looked in well his comfort zone on high ground, great to watch.

 It still wasn't home time so i got on a lovely little project coming right out the bitch, its rather innocuous but is a nice reality check in relation to the big stuff on north wall. Normal bouldering, workable moves. The moves are really cool on it. It basically does the first hard move of the bitch to the jug and then you gross to a crap pinch (footer on the bitch) and work your way rightwards using a tricky heel which destroyed 3 of my shoes. With the threat of another anasazi heel getting ruined thus pushing the stats to >50% of this years freebies getting wrecked i thought today would be good to see it off! I'd got super close the day i did four mats wall. the problem has a really hard cut loose to get your right heel up and the LH pinch is so crap that it just fires of. Pretty frustrating! and the odd expletive leaked out. As it got later on i got tireder but conditions actually came good. Meaning the LH pinch got grippy enough to be usable from the start. As the day was drawing in friction and tiredness finally met in the middle and i scraped up it. Not the best line in the county but a really nice problem which is workable and just good fun (like all the problems on those boulders)

As ever the grades on these are a guess. They are vaguely accurate in relation to the other things at the crag but not in relation to things as a whole. Empty the bones of you is kind of like doing two pump up the powers on top of one another into a necky finish, except its not polished or bolted.  I'll be whinging about  hard grades as well as having a bash about where i think the future of highballing might end up going in the UK during the premiere of Life on Hold in sheffield at the weekend.



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Two Sides of a Coin

Posted on February 17, 2012 by Daniel Varian


Its Monday and i’ve been Skiing for a week before now. A nice relaxing week without a rock shoe in sight. Incidentally i used to think these were painful until i put my feet in Ski boots for a week, their design seemingly being inspired by the makers of the thumbscrew and iron maiden. Anyway its Monday and i was too knackered to climb yesterday and i’m beginning to get tetchy that i haven’t climbed for a week (bit of an addict you see) I’m also aware that i’ve been through an Airport yesterday; airports love to fly different diseases about the place and sit them next to each other and defenceless individuals for hours on end with recirculated airflow. I could definitely feel a cold coming on. 

Luckily my body was playing ball, it’d realised it wasn’t facing downhill and squatting. I set about trying my project of the moment. I’d had a productive session on it before going away and got half a sequence worked. Trying this sequence i did the foot move i hadn’t done last time but it felt hard. After about an hour of getting close to the cross move crux i started to try a different sequence, this quickly came together in about 30mins and I realised the problem was no longer a 4-5session goal, it was potentially a 4-5minute goal. I had about 20 minutes of daylight left and a flash flood of motivation and pressure washed in. I had about 2 hours of climbing behind me and it was on the same moves so tiredness wasn’t far away either. I still had an efficient start sequence to decide on as i had 2 methods. 3 goes gone and i had that sussed. Big rest, quick brew and the light really was fading now. This was my chance, i pulled on and felt good, floaty good, i sailed through the beginning of the crux, got my foot up, didn’t have the pinch perfect but i squeezed hard and it understood. Foot didn’t quite go on right. sod it just give it a go it might stick, touch the hold at the end of the crux, hit it nicely but left foot has made its last purchase of the day and is heavily overdrawn, it bolts and i go with it. My next go is technically better but my foot pops and the humidity has come with the darkness. Denied.


Its Wednesday and i’ve been pretty ill for the last 12 days i’ve attempted to get back to my project but have felt like a welterweight been shoved into a heavyweights fight to make up the numbers, there is no crush only skin and tendons working. I’m walking upto flasby fell with Katie on a flying visit to meet my folks who are staying near for the week. I’ve been wanting to try Rhythm for years ever since i heard Steve raving about it at Kilnsey when he found it. It’s only had one repeat since by Clifford and the tiny vid of him doing it has been on my pc for 6 years, knowing it might come in handy. (there is also a vid of Dunning doing it but its private) The walk in is Sommelike in muddiness from the snow melt until we get up on the fell. desiccated cracks of crepuscular rays are punching through the clouds and I have a discerning sense that i may not be back here for some time, if life has its way of offering up the usual distractions. Its a long walk too. Arriving at the Rhythm boulder it looks about 3feet high. I begin to question whether i am infact in yorkshire or wales. 10m later my question is answered. 


One of the most stunning pieces of rock architecture reveals itself as the ground drops away, it looks better in the flesh than in photos. The clearing of the trees and view give it a Bouldertopian feel. I pull on the warm ups on the block with a trepidation i haven’t felt since trying to climb on antibiotics in font in 2009 after catching Strep throat from something in a Sheffield night club. Am i in the clear or was all this just a nice walk? new shoes don’t help, i feel light and ungainly in my feet, brilliant i’m going to climb like Keith bradbury, Woods or Traversi for the day. Front wheel drive here we come. Safe to say i’m not ill anymore anyway. I rocket about on young Dave’s nose until the top out comes (great problem) The time comes, i jump on rhythm and fresh skin is a blessing on the holds, having climbed on sandstone all winter it feels strange but i quickly remember what to do, hook skin on holds then pull.

I look at the holds from the top of the boulder which appears to be a climbers Rorscach test, interpret it how you like but there are only really 2 proper holds there and you need about 4. Cliffords way looks like it’ll mince skin if you rip off the crimp. I’ve heard dunning went more out right to a vague dish/pocket/crimp (its barely anything so is bizarrely all of these) This looks nice and getting up from below it feels very usable, i end up using this and a bizarre arrangement for my LH that involves pretty much just pushing my skin into lots of tiny dimples and a pebble. It works and i nail the last move first try. Skin 1 rock 0. Getting into it from the stand it takes a while to suss the body position and i rip off the crap holds a few times until i suss the body position out. The stand comes together quite fast and i’m happy, i haven’t even tried the sit and it looks both easy and hard, big hands no feet. It completes the line like a visual exclamation rather than being only a full stop without that little extra fleck of ink !.

The ramp is easy, about 7a so i know i have a good chance, just as that realisation comes,

the sun comes out for 20minutes and i stop trying it, i pass the time swearing at the sun and do my best Canute impression. It gets the message and my next go ends with me dropping off the last holds with numb fingers. Another Brew and another crunch time. 30 minutes of light left, not much skin left maybe enough for 2 more goes but 1 really if i want to keep it intact for county projects. The coin lands on its other side today. It feels grippy and i float up it hitting the holds perfectly. I’m at the last move, calm, i punch up and get the hold, nothing rips like it so easily could of and i top out like Keith Bradbury, all arms and no legs.

The last 2 weeks have taught me about biding my time more and that you can’t win them all in the closing moments of the game. Of course the joy of it all is that i can go back to my county project too. boulder problems not boulder moments. But every boulder has its moment. Its perfect time to complete it. and like the sweet spot on a bat it feels bloody good when you hit it. Rhythm was one of those for me, and its made up for the week before.

Katie took this picture just after i did it and i think it captures the mood perfectly.


Rhythm is such a beautiful line. Great effort Steve. 

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