Happy New Year and catch up...

27th Jan 2013

Grim Stanage It s Winter Awesome Xmas pie Handy cam

Admittedly, this is a belated Happy New Year but better late than never so, Happy New Year to one and all!!

The snow has arrived and as much as I love it, it is making life a tad more challenging in terms of getting about etc!

My welcome home at Sheffield train station after The Outdoor Show, London.

The end of 2012 seemed to get busier and busier, then the start of 2013 has continued in the same vein- hence the lateness of this blog. Hey ho, Christmas is always a bit manic and coupled with the fact we were down Bristol way, had no internet (shock horror) and spent most of the time in wellies up to our ankles in mud- time just seemed to slip away. Over the Xmas break, Tim and I were keen to climb but due to the constant rain, found ourselves exploring esoteric crags around the Bristol/Somerset area to see if they were worth visiting in the long distant future when they may have dried out. We tramped through many a soggy field with Buis-Bear splodging about hoping to find a lone sheep to chew on (fortunately, they were all tucked away somewhere out of her reach) and saw varying crags, unfortunately none of which were awe-inspiring. But that’s the nature of esoterica, you’re not going to find ‘world class’ but with a bit of perseverance, you may find a good route nestled in between the, ahem, choss! Bring on the summer and return visits with climbing gear. I did top rope a very wet E3 at Split Rock, Wells (certainly one of the more quality venues and mainstream compared to some we visited), which was a fun outing, especially the start. I had to stand on Tim’s shoulders, as the first holds were so wet and poor that I couldn’t pull on, so we ended up looking like a very second rate circus act, quite entertaining!

Our plan for New Year had been a route down on Lands End but due to the incessant rain, this was knocked on the head and cocktails and general celebrations in Bristol sufficed instead. We also managed to get a couple of indoor sessions at the two (and counting…) Bristol walls, which were fun, sociable and good for my shoulder.

Towards the end of 2012 Tim and I had a mission to go out every weekend whatever the weather and climb at Stanage (see top image on the left). I’m very bad at climbing in the cold usually but have been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed myself in almost sub-zero temps and minimal visibility. Obviously, the routes haven’t been in the ‘E’s’, my fingers don’t work well in the cold and I don’t want to damage my shoulder. Also, I’ve been doing most of the routes in my Scarpa crux’s (trainers), which are perfect for the job. I did one route in rock boots and got hot aches in my feet and was almost brought to tears- I’m such a wimp! So, we’ve been working through all the classics and I have to say it’s been fab. It’s been a great way to get my head together, spend the day out at the crag and enjoy and revisit some stunning routes. And of course, there have been other climbers at the crag who I would normally have thought were mad for climbing in some of the conditions we’ve encountered but now understand the draw of the experience. But also, there’s been interesting practices to observe and some not so good interpersonal dynamics, that I may blog about in the future.

I’ve also started a roped access job on a church in Leeds. We are pointing a church and at the moment my days are spent hammering out existing mortar, it’s doing a great job of keeping me surprisingly warm I haven’t done an access job for a long while and through the cold and snow, I have to admit I am enjoying it. I think the novelty of it and earning some money is adding to the appeal but also for somebody who has no routine in her life, it is giving me a schedule. Admittedly not a schedule I would choose permanently, in fact it’s reminding me how difficult it must be for most people who work 9-5pm. How do people get anything done? My lunch hour is spent trying to catch up on everything else I need to do and it’s the only time to do it…along with everyone else. In fact, my car has had a slow puncture since before Christmas and it’s still not fixed, it’s a good legwork out pumping it up everyday! I have now taken to driving the van; leg muscles will have to wait!

Technique masterclasses for DMM at The Outdoor Show.

I’ve just come back from working with all the guys at DMM down at The Outdoor Show at Excel in London. Even with all the snow, we had a busy time and it was good fun all round. Libby Peter and I were running technique master classes and we had a great boulder built by Walltopia (see below) to teach on. We also spent quite a bit of time making problems and climbing with the other DMM guys who were there; like Nick Bullock, Ben Bransby, Rob, Alex and Noddy etc. It’s always a great event and DMM have so much going on at their stand that it’s hard to get bored.

I ended up chatting with some climbers from Malta, who were over promoting their company at the show and I am now very keen for a trip out there. In fact, it looks like we will be heading over there in May. What I’m most interested in is trad new-route potential and after discussing the islands with Andrew, Pat and Mike, I am psyched. Hopefully Libby is keen too, so look out for an article on those islands about tradding on sun kissed rock above an azure blue sea- my idea of heaven.

I will draw to a close now with THE most exciting news so far of 2013, in fact the most exciting news of the last decade- new music from the genius of rock- David Bowie. He has released a new single with an album coming out in March and I’m in heaven. As always, Bowie music is a grower and his new single ‘Where are we now?’ has grown on me big style. That might have something to do with the fact I’ve listened to it more than a hundred times; am I obsessed? Hmm quite possibly, yes! A teenage passion, that’s never really left me…


Alex, Nick, Rob and Kev watching 'Wideboy' Tom Randall doing his talk at The Outdoor Show 2013.