- Climbing - Dan Varian
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Alot seems to have gone on since i last blogged. There is a lot to talk about both on a work side of things and a bit of climbing. The question is, what is worth putting into pixels?
Well our App is nearly done, it should be getting submitted to the app store this week. I’ll update as soon as that is done. Its only for Apple platforms at the moment (IOS). Thanks to some excellent feedback from Tom Coulthard, Stu Littlefair and Dave Macleod its now more ergonomic and its even easier to use.
I’ve not been on the most consistent form lately due to lots of work. But this shouldn’t be for too long. August was a crazy month where I made over 700 holds for different centers including Mile Ends new board and The Depot Nottinghams training area.
The other main area has been helping out with the massive new wall in Carlisle: Eden Rock (its about 1km from the river Eden). Its very much a climbers wall and i’m on tenterhooks waiting to start setting. Katie (my girlfriend and one of the owners) and I have been making holds for the wall the whole year but they are much different to any other wooden holds i’ve ever made in that they are labours of love rather than labours of wage. There are over 600 of them which have been made for 2 training boards and a about 40 problems on the general circuit. The circuit holds should be unlike anything else ever climbed on indoors. Especially as we’ve got the ability to adapt holds whilst setting or make new ones to fit on aretes or in grooves etc. Which should hopefully mean it’ll be the nicest, skin friendliest hard circuit in the World. Most of the resin holds are coming from CORE too so it will almost be a totally British manufactured hold set, which is nice (and environmentally friendlier). Alot of the wood is local and some of it was even picked up from local crags like fleswick bay (drift wood) or the bowderstone (fallen beech branches).
So, between that and making holds, climbing’s taken a bit of a back seat for a month or two. I’ve been getting out where i can but I’ve found i’ve either been too knackered to climb hard or i’ve been climbing really well but only for an hour or so. Just before leaving for a short road trip to scotland with Caff and Adam i got one crappish problem done on the stone (fat lady) on a really showery day. It climbs really well but its very much in the training for better things/ entertainment on a rainy day camp. That said i got within a gnats chuff of bagging another project just before leaving, peeling off the top jug twice, this was great to do battle with as i could feel it going any attempt it was just a matter of getting focussed and a bit lucky. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it soon and its sitter. The sitter might take a while, who knows.
Scotland was a fantastic holiday. I love exploring round its glens and coasts. I feel really lucky to live within a few hours or so of some of the nicest scenery of its type anywhere. Its stark contrasts in landscape will never bore me. As the tectonic shifts of geology create different moods in different glens you constantly come across reminders of how small and timeless you are whilst buzzing around its rocky blemishes. I’ve now got a good idea of what i’d like to try and get on on a bouldering trip up through the west,, which’d have been worth the trip alone.
Caff’s written a great account of the trip up here: http://www.jamesmchaffie.com/1/post/2012/09/team-no-hope-head-to-hoy.html
Hoy was a fascinating few days for me, I felt a little out my comfort zone in that i was back on a style of climbing i hadn’t been on in 6 years (multipitch trad). Sometimes I think its best to just shut up and see what happens though or i’ll be forever trapped in a world of habits. Watching Caff in one of his natural habitats was brilliant to see anyway and as i’ve delved deeper into my own preferred niche of the sport i could just about comprehend how Caff can operate so well in this land of enduro mega-sand-pump and fearlessness (although he does a bit of everything on all rock types) I was impressed with both his and Adam’s jamming on Two Little Boys. I thought i could jam, and technically i can, just not repetitively and quickly, i found myself resting on little face holds and big pinches rather than cramp up my thumb in yawning sandy chasms.
Its funny being decent at one niche and trying to adapt to others in the space of a few days. I found it fascinating to observe my body trying to cope. It was probably like an American, who thinks he speaks English, hearing Glaswegian for the first time and attempting to converse. It was a great experience when combined with the remoteness and tranquility of Hoy. After abbing down to the ledge at the top of the hard pitch of the longhope i found the limit of my familiarities; i felt like a fish 400m out of water. Suddenly all the gear looked like it was going to break (it wasnt) and all the ropes looked like they were going to sheath themselves (they did but over 2 days rather than the few seconds in my mind) I duly took my leave just as i was getting my head around the exposure and position. A little too far in the deep end for moi at the moment. Watching Caff rinse the pitch the next day was beyond belief as he cannon-balled through natural barriers which would’ve had me walking back to the bothy way earlier, i bet old St John thought he was pretty hard until he met Caff on that september day. The resilience of Dave to go and clean it and work it out is also inspiring to see for myself. Not to mention the original ground up ascent in the 70s which was beyond ballsy in an era of gumption which i dont think we’ll ever get back. Simply cleaning it on a grim day whilst jostling in the breeze is impressive to me. If only for battling the feelings of desolation which must blow in on that face and the sense of purpose you need to carry on. Basically i can now understand the allure of big trad and real adventure climbing. However i got the feeling that i was a few years to late to really get sucked in by it. Whilst on Hoy i found myself yearning for a brief glimpse of perfectstone. I think i’m too far gone, stumbling along the road for tiny compact pieces of rock which can only just be climbed. A few ripples in a blank face are now all it takes to encapsulate my climbing desires, I’m happy with that, although its nice to look outside the box once in a while. Caff pointed out that i’ve put more time into doing one problem before (20+days) than i’d need to do the whole route. A good point about the brilliant madness of climbing if there ever was one.
Contributed by: Dan Varian