Monday 28 November 2011

The Power of Psyche

Well that's it. Job Done. Project sent!

Last week felt intense, with the anticipation of success weighing heavy on our shoulders. But this week was different with a chilled vibe in the cave courtesy of Greg Boswell, James Dunne and their tunes! I don't think I've ever met anyone quite so enthusiastic for everything and everyone, but Greg's psyche is infectious! My moods and confidence are heavily influenced by those around me (that's me in life, not just as a climber) and with bucket-loads of Greg's psyche being thrown around there was to be no failure today!

A quick warm up and then Neil teased us by failing at the crux figure 4 move on his first red-point attempt of the day. A rest, and then he sent it in style! Neil will say he struggled. But to those watching below it appeared effortless. Perfectly choreographed. Faultless. An hour later Neil had another go for the sake of training. But this time it was a different man who tied into the end of the rope. Having already accomplished what he came for, there was no longer any hunger. No psyche. So, having fumbled his way to the sixth clip, it was time for Neil to call it a day. It had been a good day and now it was time to relax, enjoy the banter and drink tea!

My ascent was by no means flawless. Typically tense with red-point anxiety my fingers began to uncurl, again, from my right tool on the figure 4 crux. But with encouraging shouts and tunes below, I managed to relax just enough to complete the move. Dropping my right tool in the process I had no option but to make the l-o-n-g reach to clip the lower-off from the second to last hold. Back on the ground I think I smiled outwardly and shared a polite handshake with the supporters in the cave. But inwardly I felt psyched and, but for the effects of four all out red point attempts and the fading winter afternoon light, I wanted more!

Great things can happen when you're psyched. Time will tell for me. But in the words of Alan Partridge "You're a tiger. Grrrrrr!!!!"


Monday 21 November 2011

Gorilla's in the Mist!

Another week of work draws to an end..... another week of watching the never ending autumn and warm wet weather fronts drift by. And yet, for one more week, all i can think about is climbing the wall of dark, dank, dripping, man-made hole in the ground..... bizarre to the outsider yes, but not to those who know the challenges that the cave provides! And that cave would be the Tube at Birnam Quarry, Scotlands premier tooling venue, and probably most frequented crag this autumn! The target....the Fast and the Furious, D/M10/+/quite hard.

Yesterday was another crack at the Fast and Furious for Neil, Jim and myself, with 1 significant difference from the previous 3 or 4 sessions, this time we knew it was on! No more pussy footing around trying to just make 1 more move, or 1 more clip, today was Team sending day..... or so we thought! Conditions were unusual with mist hugging the trees and in the cave, more drips than usual and strange air to the place...... and not just in that corner of the cave! Gorillas in the mist indeed!

First up, get the clips and rope in. A couple of lasso's later and the rope was in.... small bonus, someone must have been smiling down on me, but then I should have already known it was going to be a good day after seeing the finest ever example of a 'walk of shame(r)' at 8.30am that morning in Aberdeen! Truely amazing! Female, early twenties, short skirt, terrible hair, stumbling across the road looking like an extra from Shawn of the Dead, as I brake to avoid running her over...... although by the look on her face, she might have been happier if I had just put her out of her misery!!!!

Anyway, back to business..... a quick pull up through the first few moves, back to the ground,then 1st RP of the day. Boom! Route done! Amazing what happens when you know the route inside out, your muscles know what to do, you have the confidence to execute the moves in the right sequence and you can just hang on long enough!

Jim Styling his way up!

Neil chilling out at a semi rest.

Now for support team, photography and belaying duties to complete the Team send, which was not to be, with Neil managing a phenomenal effort to deny himself the tick while having the rope and lower off clip in the same hand..... NOOOO.... sooooo close! Another sterling effort of smooth climbing by Jim took him past his previous high point to a clip from the top, although really he loves the place so much that he is willing to forego the tick just so he is motivated to return! ;-)

As with some projects, the relief of completion often outways the enjoyment, and in my case that is definitely true. Knowing that winter was on its way and having lots of other commitments coming up soon, it felt now or never..... maybe I just need that pressure sometimes!

Suppose I should now concentrate on the other big thing on the go at the moment......hmmm oh time!

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Training for Something?

As I write this its early, theres a nip in the air and even frost on the grass outside. The heating is on (but not for long as although I now live in Scotland, I mustn't forget my Yorkshire roots) and maybe, just maybe, winter is finally on its way?

The last month has seen me taking part in all four rounds of the Scottish Tooling Series as well as four sessions on "The Fast and the Furious" at Newtyle Quarry. Whilst this style of climbing is far removed from the Scottish winter scene, it's provided training opportunities and alot of fun along the way. But now the tooling series is over, and the white stuff is yet to arrive, I'm left with a distinct feeling of an anticlimax. What to do now?

I've come to the conclusion that I like training for something definite and tangible. With the tooling comps it's a date in the diary and X number of sessions leading to it. It's the excitement and nervous energy with a day to go... and with "Fast and Furious" its a tool placement closer each session and the eager anticipation of when I'm next going to be able to drive the 2 hours down the road to get my "fix"... hopefully this weekend!!

But with the last two winter seasons (my first living in Scotland) I have been spoilt. This time last year I'd already climbed my first winter routes. Like everyone, I have my goals. My big "ticks" for the season. But, right now, I feel like I'm in limbo. WHEN will the winter finally arrive and WHEN will my targets be in perfect "nick"?

Well I have 2-4 December as a definite date in my diary. I will be the lucky occupier of a bed in the CIC Hut courtesy of Big Tree Campervans and the Scottish Tooling Series. Who knows what, if anything, will be "in". But all I can do is prepare for and train for the next 2 weeks and, with a bit of luck and a prayer to the winter gods, I will achieve something worth training for.


Thursday 10 November 2011

Welcome to the Scottish Climbers Blog!


Through this blog, a few of us plan to record our adventures in the Scottish hills and further afield. None of us is an elite climber but we're all keen, reasonably experienced and motivated for the next big route. We read other climbers' blogs regularly, particularly over the winter to gauge conditions, so we hope this blog is just as useful and entertaining for others as many of our favourite blogs have been for us.

Since we're on the countdown to the start of the winter season, here are a few of our highlights from last winter to get the psyche going:

Andy Inglis eying up the pillar on Square-Cut Chimney on Creagan a'Choire Etchachan

Francis Blunt on the crux of Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears on Beinn Eighe

Jim Higgins on the second pitch of Sioux Wall on Ben Nevis

Andy Inglis on the top pitch of Messiah on Beinn Dorain

Me on the start of the main pitch of Strident Edge

Lets hope we get another winter like that this year!