Thursday, July 7, 2011

British Rock.

I've been in England since getting back from AK 3 weeks ago. Obviously super eager to get some strength back after life at 4500 metres and a winter of legs and lungs training, i've been getting out as much as i can between bits and bobs of work.
    I find it really interesting how rock-strength works. I feel like my rock level has pretty much plateaued since i left school and discovered the alps. However, i still manage to exceed my previous summer's level without being any stronger every year. Why this is i really don't know. But i guess ultimately it shows just how big an affect cognotive and generally psychological workings have on rock climbing. That is until you're operating in the higher levels of sport climbing, when every gram, and micro-newton of strength each muscle fibre in your forearm has makes a huge difference.
      The best example i can think of this, is when last year, after returning from Alaska and not rock climbing for possibly as long as 5 or 6 months, i cruised an E5 which for years i'd been putting off as the route had scared me silly. I remember standing at the top fresh, but confused as to what had just happened.
       However, in contrast to last years experience, a week after returning from AK this year i got on the classic 7a+ of St.Bees, which at times i've been able to lap. I slumped on to the rope not even through the crux, with forearms feeling like they'd been injected with led . So i guess i'll just have to accept that going on two expeditions a year, and training for single-push alpinism is just not conducive to climbing 9a (or even 7a+....).

So here's some climbing over the last couple of weeks:

Nia pulling at the boulder paradise that is St Bees.
I had  a couple of dampish days on Raven Langdale with Chris, and Kern Knotts with Pete. We climbed "R n S Special" and "Mussel Crack" at Raven. And a bunch of E1's in the wet at Kern Knotts.
       I then went to Scotland with three friends for one of the best tradding weekends ever; 5 four star routes, all around 7 pitches or more, and all brilliant.

Looking down the wet Crux of "Shibboleth" E25c.

Myself seconding pitch three.

Great exposure on pitch 6.

Two friends on pitch 7 after we'd topped out. We then went and climbed a combo of "Bludger's Revelations" and "Bloody Crack".

It was really interesting for me to climb on the Buchaille for the first time. Like with many people, this mountain and Glen Coe, had a huge amount to do with me starting climbing. Driving through on the way north for family holidays as a kid, i'd have my face pressed against the car window, and willing my parents to drive as slowly as they could so i could watch the huge walls towering above. I remember once when i must have been about six or seven getting really upset and stamping around in tears in one of the laybys, as i wanted to go up the Buchaille. My mum and dad put their "foot" down, as it was lashing with rain and gusts were shaking the car. I just really really wanted to stand on the top.

Glen Etive, a really nice place.

"The Long Reach" E2 5b, without a doubt the best slab climb i've ever done in the UK by a million trillion miles. Reminds me a bit of "Motorhead" in Switzerland. We then Climbed "The Pause" which was also brilliant.

There's lots of interesting stuff to be found at the base of Zero gully in Summer.

Starting up the 10 pitch "Minus One Direct", the Walker Spur of the Ben!

Tim seconding half way up.

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