Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Tricky Part

In summer I find the best way to improve is to go climbing everyday that I can, get on the routes I’ve been putting off and keep on trying the ones I’m falling off. As a general rule this tends to work quite well and the best part is that it’s exactly what I want to do. However it isn’t summer now and ‘just going climbing’ is no longer the answer... it’s time for the tricky part... training. This way if the routes I want to get on ever dry out I might stand a greater chance of getting to the top.

That said for the last three days I ignored my own advice and used the dry days for bimbling on easy routes and the wet days for hanging around at wet crags feeling sorry for myself:

Cheddar Gorge
Sunday: Cheddar
Sunday was dry but colder than my fingers can cope with (this isn’t saying much as my fingers and toes tend to freeze and the merest mention of chilly weather). Of course the sensible thing to do would have been to climb on the north side of the gorge in the sunshine; instead we opted for a freezing ‘warm up’ climb and then wandered up to the start of the spectacular Space Tourist. I can’t help but enjoy multi-pitch sport climbing; it feels like a bit of guilty pleasure to climb without the usual trad-induced fear but it’s great fun nevertheless. We reached the top of Sunset Buttress as the sun set behind us and abbed back down to warm socks and a fish-and-chip-based dinner.

Monday: Daddyhole
Another dry day and I had promised to take my visiting brothers, all three of them, out climbing. I wanted to choose a crag and a route that summed up what’s so great about rock-climbing and Gates of Eden at Daddyhole seemed to tick most of the boxes:
        ·         Adventurous setting
        ·         Abseil descent
        ·         Sea cliff
        ·         Exposed location
        ·         Multi-pitch trad.

It turns out that a four person stacked abseil does work quite well and they all reached the ground laughing and not shaking too much. I showed them the route, explained how it all works (emergency exits are situated here, here and here... if someone shouts “below” don’t look up...) and set off up the first pitch. At the belay I brought two of them up together with one trailing a rope for the third brother, only the stopper 5a/b move seemed to cause any problems. Much faffing with gear, ropes and the belay followed and I set off to the top. They followed using a combination of technique, brute force and desperation borne of an innate distrust in the whole system. A good day was had by all.

Tuesday: Anstey’s
A rainy drizzly day. It had been at least 5 days since I had been to Anstey’s and the desperation to return ate away at my gut like a particularly unpleasant virus. It was also our only hope of dry rock, a hope that was cruelly dashed upon arriving. For once The Cove was almost entirely unclimbable apart from the first few bolts on Tuppence and A Fisherman’s Tale. As these are the routes Alexis and I are working we spent the afternoon, hanging around in the rain, falling off 
Time to get inspired: The Dartmoor Webcam
damp holds and eating malt loaf.

Today, Wednesay: Training
Rain, rain and more rain. Time to engage the winter training plan I think: train on wet days, climb on dry days. I hope the sun doesn’t shine too much during the next four days at work or I feel my work-life balance may undergo some irreversible restructuring! 

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