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Ron Fawcett tonight!!

27 Feb 2009

Tonight one of the greatest legends of British rock climbing will be speaking at SHAFF and I'm introducing him!!  Ron inspired a generation and pushed standards to new levels with routes like Lord of the Flies (E6 Snowdonia), Stawberries (E6/7 Tremadog) and Zoolook (8a Malham).  Ron's unassuming nature has meant that its taken Matt Heason (organiser of SHAFF) literally a number of years to persuade him to talk.  The moment has nearly come!

If you want to be inspired, come along to the Showroom cinema in Sheffield tonight.  I saw him yesterday at the wall and at the end of the conversation I wasn't sure who was more nervous, me or him!

On Sunday night Nic is taking part in the Great British Grade debate, also at Shaff.  Grades are one of the hot topics at the moment.  It's hard to know which direction the debate will take, but I guess one of them will be how to grade new routes done in headpoint style (working on a top rope first) when you are in effect guessing what it would be for the onsight.  Nic certainly questions whether the world of sponsorship and professional climbers actually affects people's motivations when they are grading too.  Whatever the case, it will be interesting!  Tickets for this have been halved in price, now only £5.

On a completely different note, I now have a newsletter - so if you are interested in keeping up to date with the goings on of lovetoclimb please fill in your details - click on newsletter on the left hand side of the screen. 

Persevering in Font

23 Feb 2009

Bob, Mia, Nic and I settled into our lovely gite and the first night was welcomed with an ecstatic phone call from Rachel and Tom (also in Font) announcing their engagement. Eagerly we arrived at Apremont the next day under clear blue skies to find two very doey eyed people and optimum conditions.

Mia climbing at Rocher Fin

Mia climbing at Rocher Fin.  Top tip; this is one of the quickest drying crags in Font. 

As for my climbing that day, the week started how it was to continue for most of it. I was in abysmal form – my arms wouldn’t bend, I felt weak and useless. Nevertheless some things were more important; under our last boulder problem we toasted Tom and Rachel with some bubbly. On the second day we found that the boulders themselves must have had too much to drink as they were sweating. Yes there had been some drizzle in the night but not much and this sweating phenomenon continued for two days; everything was soaked.

Egoiste 7a Apremont










The classic arete of L'egoiste at Apremont 7a

We found various bits to climb on and when finally the crags came back to life we were keen to get going. I’d managed a funny little 7a the day before but it was so short it wasn’t quite the dramatic line I was looking for. I knew I wasn’t on fighting form so I though some classic 7as would be right up my street. But on Thursday I found myself floundering in the doldrums – apart from the warm ups, I got up nothing. On two classic 7as La Coeur and La figure de Proue at Elephant I simply couldn’t reach the crucial holds. If I'm honest I felt miserable.

Meanwhile Nic and Bob were in blinding form. They steamrolled through the problems and Mia and myself were dragging along in their wake. Finally though on the last day the girls would get their moment. We returned to Apremont. 

Andy Psychose









Andy climbing the very high and committing Psychose (7b+) at Apremont.  Look how small the spotters are!

Within 30 minutes I’d done three 7as including the mega classic L’Egoïste and Mia and I scraped our way up a 7a slab called Mur des Lamentations (not the super famous 7b+ at Isatis, but it does share the same name). Bob, Nic and Andy put in a fabulous team effort to crack the super highball 7b+ of Psychose. But it was on my final climb that my best moment came. Exhausted after a full day I found myself under the famous Hyper Plomb. It’s a committing high 7a with the slopey crux right at the top. I went up a couple of times and realised what was necessary. I needed to lock off a greasy crimp for a sloper and commit to the mantelshelf way up high.

Hyper Plomb 7a Apremont









In the moment, facing the slopey crux on Hyper Plomb 7a at Apremont

Its funny how in one moment you know you’re back on top of your climbing. The ground didn’t exist and I felt good, in my head as much as anything. For me confidence is a thin wedge – when you have it you’re invincible, when you don’t well, let’s not talk about that – it’s a battle. I was buzzing. 

Off to Font!

12 Feb 2009

I think even Rocky would be shaking his head in despair with me right now. Last Sunday I found myself grinding the icy paths around Hebdon Bridge on Molly's mountain bike. Despite £1700 sitting between my legs I was a pitiful sight. Molly and Craig live up on the moors above Hebdon Bridge. So any mountain bike ride there seems to involved the steep trip down into the valley and of course back up, then down and back up it seems. I was determined not to stop but I was left gasping at the top.

This wasn't a great start to my week as I've been useless at climbing ever since. I can honestly say that the last month of training has been the least successful in a few years. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try things don't go your way. Still I'm going to stick with my plan and hopefully I will be on form in the Spring - which is what I'm aiming for.

I am really looking forward to this week in Font, as I haven't been there in years.  It will be great just make contact with some rock.  There's a big team of us going over - let's just hope for some good weather!

Chasseur de prises










Lots of this please!  Chasseur de prises (7a), Rocher Canon

My arms might look a bit pink - I must have overdone it in photoshop!

Rocky for inspiration

04 Feb 2009

Somehow or other Rocky I, II, III, IV, V and VI have landed in our house.  This week Nic and I have watched I and II.  I should be spending more time watching the SHAFF films I'm judging, but I've got a bit sidetracked.  Anyway, its not been a waste of time: I've decided I need to take some inspiration from Rocky.

Motivation and getting on a roll is a big problem.  I want to be training but I'm finding it hard to focus.  Rocky struggled with motivation too, but when he found it he was in.  As he bounds up those steps overlooking Philadelphia, and punches the air like he's already world champion (the best moment of the film - and he does it in every film) - he knows he's made it to full fitness. I rewound that bit a couple of times.  Sheffield doesn't have any interesting landmarks to speak of but you wouldn't see me running up there anyway because I hate running.  I'll have to think up some other training victory, grabbling the last hold on the yellow and pink power endurance circuit at the Works just won't cut it.  If you're looking for some motivation or don't know what I'm on about here's the youtube trailer for Rocky II.  Something to look at if you're bored...

So SHAFF is coming up soon - and I have watched a lot of films recently, a very pleasant way to spend my time.  There are some crackers - "Solo" had me weeping (a full on kayak epic from Tasmania to New Zealand) and "Journey of the Red Fridge" had me smiling (about a porter in Nepal).  I don't really know what the rules are and how much I'm supposed to give away, but I can assure you there are some good ones.

I got the programme today and my draw dropped when I read my name next to a couple of presentations: Chris Sharma, Ron Fawcett and the Awards Ceremony. Oh.  Right, I better get my thinking cap on for what to say.

Got to go, part III's on, I can hear the pounding beat of Eye of Tiger.