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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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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