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 fiendblog (Read 192237 times)

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#800 Re:  fiendblog
August 25, 2017, 10:36:54 am
That 7c /8a wall looks like something straight out of Red River Gorge photos. Looks good.

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#801 Re:  fiendblog
August 25, 2017, 11:27:34 am
It looked good in the photos and topos in the book, but in real life it's a real beauty!

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Leftovers from Dartmoor and Wye Valley Sport.
28 August 2017, 10:04 pm



All photos ©®™ Mark Davies / Dark Mavis / Pylon Kunt 2016, 2017, ad infinitum



Leprechaun, Irishman's Wall, Dartmoor. Lovely wee spot that we visited as part of a hectic Dartmoor photoshoot weekend (IW, King's Tor, bivvy, Sheep's Tor, Great Links Tor (approx 200 mile walk-in), Myrtle Turtle Quarry), which turned out to be pretty satisfying as PK got some genuinely great photos for the book. This route above was a merry jaunt after battling on Non Metallic Silver to the left. Non Metallic Metals is a toy soldier painting technique which I particularly dislike as it's only good from set angles and it's usage is mostly driven by fashion and trends. I had to do the route regardless but made sure to huff about it.



The Legend Of Pip, Haytor Quarry, Dartmoor. I had to do this route because of my then landlady's whippet, Pip (apparently a bit fat for a whippet, I'm not so sure):

The route itself is a nice little solo, somewhat of a dodgy landing and committing off the deck, but fine quarried granite.

Two Mules For Sister Sara, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. Woodcroft is a cataclysmic hole to rival the worst of Peak Lime quarries but scattered around the dire F6a-choss-infested walls, there are some fine micro-tiers of good rock and techy climbing despite the aesthetics. Rippled And Toned just left of that groove is a great compression arete.

A Blast From The Past, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. More decent Horseshoe-esque gems.

Saudi Air, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. And more.

Don't Lower The Tone, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. Tone already well lowered with shorts/stockings combos. PK described my style as "death metal bassist" which is possibly the nicest compliment I've ever had :). Pity this one didn't make it into the book as I rather like the shameless grindr-profile flexing errr I mean the balance of climbing and ivy and tension in the move (the latter being quite genuinely as it was thin and fierce and bloody satisfying even if I only stayed on with a blind toe-scrape mid-move).

Lounge Lizard Leisure Suit, Ban-y-Gor, Wye Valley. I had far too many photoshoots at Sandbag-y-Gor and got increasingly disillusioned in the place. On the first visit it was okay including this tricky wee fucker which I think I knee-barred on.

So Gross, Ban-y-Gor, Wye Valley. The final visit to this hole and one which put me off South West climbing. This slice of bolted Brown & Whillans grimness was the only silver lining and another version of the grotty cleft furtling ended up as the surprise and subversive cover shot (I've already apologised to PK for any massive drops in sales).

One of these days I need the cantankerous old cunt to take some photos of me on routes I'm really psyched by. But that's not happening imminently, bah. Still fun to be part of the process.



Source:  fiendblog


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#803 Re:  fiendblog
April 18, 2018, 12:41:02 pm
In case anyone gives strictly the smallest of shits:

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/trajectory-of-twat.html
How I fucked my leg (the nice, fun, easy to recover from bit) and inadvertantly got post viral ibs of the upper digestive tract (the utter fucking shit bit).

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/three-of-decentest.html
Some small consolations from a dismally bad-weather autumn in the UK.

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/gymll-fix-it.html
The benefits of gym training. Won't apply to everyone but certainly fucking applies to me.

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/pink-and-purple.html
Health update and distilling down some blogging about indoor wall climbing to annoy my hoary old trad bumbly friends.

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/an-enthralling-experience.html
Distilling down blogging even more about one single boulder problem.

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/peak-fiend.html
The story behind one video and my way of doing things.

https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/pfalz-pfrustrations.html
Learning about dealing with challenges after another trip to Pfalz.

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Fiend

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#805 Re:  fiendblog
May 11, 2018, 10:45:02 pm
https://fiendophobia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/fuck-this-shit.html
State of play with my innards / health, state of mind with my reaction to it. Boring but explanatory.

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#806 Re:  fiendblog
June 21, 2018, 12:00:02 pm
http://fiendophobia.blogspot.com/2018/05/going-off-piste.html
Some waffling about my explorations in Northumberland this winter.

http://fiendophobia.blogspot.com/2018/06/midsummer-madness.html
Latest state of playing about my (improving) innards and mindstate, plus some photos.

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#807 Re:  fiendblog
July 12, 2018, 12:22:48 pm
https://fiendophobia.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-complete-works.html some words about something that people seem to like.

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#808 Re:  fiendblog
July 26, 2018, 02:19:27 pm
Lovely compliment to the film Fiend :)

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#809 fiendblogTaking The Grade.
September 17, 2018, 05:28:37 pm
Taking The Grade.


What a ridiculous concept. If I take the grade, what am I going to do with it? Stamp it on a medal? Tattoo it on my bellend (suitably enlarged if the grade is a BIG NUMBER) and wave it around to pick up hot chicks (or hunky blokes)? Superglue it onto my ego and see if it increases my sense of self-worth? Maybe I could make a little hutch for it, feed it kale and quinoa or steak pie and chips and see if it grows into a bigger grade? Do I need to take it on walkies? What about pet insurance? Worming tablets?

Maybe I could just take it as a fair indication of the level of challenge I just tackled, and that was the challenge I anticipated and prepared for and it was enjoyable and satisfying?? Sounds more like it.

Except it doesn't always work like that. Grades can be an unfair indication. Sometimes innocuously so....a bit soft, a bit hard (or is that just the after-effects of the tattooing?). Sometimes plain horseshit. Usually they get ironed out over time with consensus, but not always. Did you get the right level of challenge?? Definitely not. Do you take that grade (if you like taking grades) if it was clearly wrong?? Errrr.....

(How do I know that a grade is "wrong"?? I use common sense, experience, and the fact that, despite appearances, I'm not a bloody idiot. It's a bit easier with trad grades because they're fairly objective and usually correspond to unarguable facts about the climb: whether there is protection, whether there are rests, whether the rock is good, whether there are things to hit, etc etc. Sport grades are a bit less objective, bouldering grades are subjective toss invariably corresponding to reach and skin conditions rather than any actual difficulty. Sure with trad there are some times where one can say "it's a bit soft" or "a bit hard" and could go a bit either way and you wouldn't argue. But there's enough times where one can say "this is simply not the correct grade based on the facts about the climb and comparison with many other similar climbs all of which would have to be regraded" etc etc).

This all came about at Helsby with Coel Hellier Discoverer Of Planets. Lovely crag. Never had a bad day there, never done a duff route. This day went pretty well: The Umbrella, Calcutta Wall, Brandenburg Wall, Flake Wall.... Flake Wall is one of those unfortunate routes that is really rather good but suffers from a duff grade and hordes of bellends finding it all too easy to set-up a top-rope after Flake Crack, failpoint it, and claim some drivel like "FIRST E5 OMGZOR".

"Are you going to take E5 for that, Fiend", says the Discoverer Of Planets.

"Of course bloody not", says I.

As a bog standard onsight, it's not even hard for E4 (okay Coel thought it was hard for that so maybe we can average out at normal E4), it's not the hardest one I did that day (Calcutta just pipped it), and it's certainly going to be nowhere near The Brush Off (eeek!) or CFK (looks morpho nails). There's little doubt about the Flake Crack runner position, and a good cam in the face is more important anyway. The two crux moves are easy and positive 6a and a fall would give a clatter but not anything too serious. Facts, scientific facts. Thus, E4 6a. Quality is more subjective but I would say 2 stars as the crimps are just so nice and the position above good gear is too. Obviously as a failpoint it would get minus two stars for such a pointless non-experience.

So, taking the grade. I take the grade that indicates the challenge. If it's a bit uncertain, the guidebook will do (the latest definitive guide, not the Choadfax comics, which incidentally manages to get all 4 grades of those Helsby routes wrong, good effort). If it's a bit wrong, I'll take the right one. If no-one minds. Now I'm going to take it to the vets and buy some biscuits as a treat for it afterwards.




Source: Taking The Grade.

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#810 fiendblogThis time it's personal.
September 17, 2018, 05:28:37 pm
This time it's personal.


I had a pretty good spring in the South West. And by good I guess I mean bloody great. So great I lost my will to waffle on about it, sorry. I went down with a tolerable forecast, a refreshing amount of potential partners and a short but sweet wishlist. 19 routes that required 11 days climbing or something. Somehow (luck? bloody-mindedness? anti-hydral?) I did most of them. Except Uphill Racer escaped because the weather got too hot, Gold escaped because it was too horrifying for me and a ledge had fallen off (not under my weight I might add although while I was standing on a sort of block rigging a sort of lower-off, Stanners could see daylight up behind the block - I think he was belaying halfway to Dublin), Can You Walk Like You Talk escaped because I never got back. Of the others - Extreme Walks to Mean Feat, Life And Times to Andromeda Strain to False Gods - there were common threads: they were mostly fairly challenging, they were all truly enjoyable experiences, and they were all particular and personal desires.

Some of the desired routes corresponded exactly to "essential" coffee-table-book-ticking Rockfax-Top-50 "should" routes, but I wanted to do them *despite* all of that clutter. Some of them corresponded to "obvious local interest" but not so obviously what one would travel for. Some of them corresponded to "handful of known ascents" and in the shadow of nearby classics. But all of them had something that stood out to me in particular. A climbing style, a distinctive rock type, an alluring photo, a guidebook warning, a mysterious aura, and usually a less tangible element of intrigue. Why those routes in particular??

In the words of Mick Fowler:

"The Urge"

In the slightly more profound words of Calvin:

"I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul"

I sometimes don't know exactly why. But this time I always knew the end result - great experiences that lived up to my expectations. Of course this doesn't make me special, we all live climbing for the same reason (apart from those sat under a F8b for two decades maybe). But it makes me happy that I'm on the right lines for pleasure and satisfaction even if there are a lot of up and downs getting there.


Source: This time it's personal.

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#811 fiendblogBad route choices.
September 18, 2018, 01:01:22 am
Bad route choices.


Following my successful southern soujorn, and some life-affirming Lakeland larks, I got my wires crossed and my climbing took an inevitable downturn (waxing and waning, ebbing and flowing). I found while I was doing well, I could do both of two things: Get on some pretty fucking weird and sketchy and dubious routes that were at my limit but which I had desired for and prepared for for a while. And get on some fairly challenging but essentially well known and obvious routes on the spur of the moment with little mental preparation or build-up. So far so good. Psyched out of my warped and twisted mind for some full-on horror, and able to cope with most minorly challenging trade routes. And then I got confused and thought that meant I'd be fine on spur of the moment minorly challenging sketchy horrors - wrong conclusion.

So I ended up on This Is Yesterday at Cam Crag getting pumped trying to work out totally blind moves above a cluster of fiddly micro shit, on Scram 79 at Dunkeld getting pumped on irreversible crimping above a wobbly RP shallow C3 and bendy peg, and Star Wars at Falcon Crag trying to pull over a blind crimpy roof above one good wire in a hollow glued on flake and two tiny offsets in crunch. None of these met with success. I rested, lowered off, escaped, sulked and huffed and complained about the grade and eventually realised what had gone wrong. None of these were desperate, but they were all dodgy and all too much with little psyching up - all of them I could have done with much prior meditating on the matter. Or if they'd been those reliable honeypot ticks I claim to disdain. Subtle differences but it's a fine line near your limit.


Source: Bad route choices.

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#812 Re:  fiendblog
September 18, 2018, 12:50:30 pm
Well done Compiler, you're doing great.................................................... :-\

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#813 fiendblogBerdorf.
September 18, 2018, 01:00:11 pm
Berdorf.


It's personal again! Who the fuck goes to Berdorf? It's not Siurana or Chullila or Kalymnos or  Ceuse or Frankenjura or Lofoten or anywhere. It's one crag, in the woods, in a tranquil and mostly flat area of Luxembourg for God's sake - hardly Catalunya. On the other hand it's bloody lovely. Imagine driving out of one of 3 campsites in the local village (I highly recommend the extra spacious Belle Vue 2000), after a swift half hour cruise from the airport the night before and swanky meal at the local bar (I highly recommend the seared swordfish with caper butter), parking up next to a cornfield, strolling 5 minutes downhill through ancient woodland and a lost world ravine to be greeted by an amphitheatre of fully bolted double-height Bowden+Kyloe buttresses.

Okay so it could be quite humid and gloomy under the trees in the wrong conditions (bring a soft brush to curb chalk build-up), it will be very busy at weekends, the base is annoyingly sandy (bring a rag to keep your starting blocs clean), and the F9a beast might feel rather short-changed with a crag that excels in F6s (although the F8a beastling would have to be particularly miserable to moan about the smaller selection of immaculate F7c-8a+ face climbs that could tempt even me to sit on a bolt). But for what it is - a singular giant bolted Northumberland crag - it is great. One of the nicest places with the nicest rock and routes I've climbed on - possibly even better than Wilton!

The right-hand walk-in, rather nice in itself, leading past some "High Rocks" style corridors. Don't worry the mediocre and climbing-banned choss on the way in is the only similarity with Southern Shitstone.

The other walk-in, even more charmingly, leads you straight to this. Voleur Le Spits F7a+ *** (F7a?). From 0 to 3 stars in an instant, setting the tone for the quality if not the style.

This is unusually steep for the crag, but still great fun despite it's lack of technicality. Quintessential steep yarding and hooking, pretty easy if you can jam and pace yourself, with a brilliant finish.

Luftikus F6b *** - the amount of quality in the F6a-b range here is exceptional, and as such is a great crag for a bumblathon, although you do have to pull hard even on the easies. This one starts with a ramble before a jug-hauling prow and a final balancy arete move - brilliant.

This wall is the second thing you see (partly because it gets a bit more light than the rest of the amphitheatre) and is irresistably inspiring, just a beautiful bit of rock. Willy F6c *** (F6c+?) is possibly THE classic with a better balance than some other routes including a few hard pulls.

Schotte Bob F6b+ ** - a slight eliminate at the top but still good fun on great rock.

The wall to the left is simply world class, a magnificent 25m sheet of perfect impending sandstone. If you climb F7c-8b you will be translating awe into action with much glee.

Petite Trou F6c ** - another semi-eliminate in a "don't use the arete" sort of way (F6a+ with), but it does make sense where the holds lead you. Like many Berdorf routes this is typically cruxy, involving a long crank off small pockets to a good break.

Tempete F6c+ ** (F7a ***?) I missed out on Takla Makan F7a *** by casually muffing the boulder problem starting crux, thus a brief but explosive trainer-throwing tourette-a-thon tantrum. This route was a very worthy consolation prize, less popular, less chalked, better rock, and...

...no less than 5 mono holds / moves. These are monos 4 and 5, the crux was below using a ring-finger mono (#3) near the bolt to match hand and foot in the upper good pocket. Really satisfying and one of my favourite routes (along with Arrete Paulette! later that day which has a steady but sublime finishing crux on the best sandstone you'll touch here).

Sweating and swearing up Bleausard F6c *** (F6c+?). This was before a diversion to 'bleau itself for a few days, but I doubt it would have made much difference, the slab crux on this route is just plain hard, very tenacious moves with a keyhole slot that mangled my pinky.

Lots of people bring dogs to this crag. Most of them are as peaceful as this fluffy little lady, but a few of them are constantly yappy twats. I love dogs more than people, but seriously, an hour of yapping to not get the message that you shouldn't bring the neurotic fucker along??

More crag wildlife. This wee fella (2 inches long) was a bit dopey. Probably highly confused by the weather. Last time I was in this bit of Europe it was 34'C most days. This time 20-ish and showery on a few days. Most of the rock dries fairly quick although obviously fresh breezy conditions are best.




No tears please, it's a waste of good suffering. Luxembourg makes an easy and palatable rainy day excursion, being a mere 30 minutes to the city limits. The Old Quarter and city battlements are cool, although, in general, fuck culture (I still like cool architecture tho).

The end result of this is, errr, more Nesscliffe and Pfalz psyche. Of course it is. Personal reasons you see.


Source: Berdorf.

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Leftovers from Dartmoor and Wye Valley Sport.


All photos ©®™ Mark Davies / Dark Mavis / Pylon Kunt 2016, 2017, ad infinitum


Leprechaun, Irishman's Wall, Dartmoor. Lovely wee spot that we visited as part of a hectic Dartmoor photoshoot weekend (IW, King's Tor, bivvy, Sheep's Tor, Great Links Tor (approx 200 mile walk-in), Myrtle Turtle Quarry), which turned out to be pretty satisfying as PK got some genuinely great photos for the book. This route above was a merry jaunt after battling on Non Metallic Silver to the left. Non Metallic Metals is a toy soldier painting technique which I particularly dislike as it's only good from set angles and it's usage is mostly driven by fashion and trends. I had to do the route regardless but made sure to huff about it.


The Legend Of Pip, Haytor Quarry, Dartmoor. I had to do this route because of my then landlady's whippet, Pip (apparently a bit fat for a whippet, I'm not so sure):
The route itself is a nice little solo, somewhat of a dodgy landing and committing off the deck, but fine quarried granite.

Two Mules For Sister Sara, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. Woodcroft is a cataclysmic hole to rival the worst of Peak Lime quarries but scattered around the dire F6a-choss-infested walls, there are some fine micro-tiers of good rock and techy climbing despite the aesthetics. Rippled And Toned just left of that groove is a great compression arete.

A Blast From The Past, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. More decent Horseshoe-esque gems.

 Saudi Air, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. And more.

Don't Lower The Tone, Woodcroft Quarry, Wye Valley. Tone already well lowered with shorts/stockings combos. PK described my style as "death metal bassist" which is possibly the nicest compliment I've ever had :). Pity this one didn't make it into the book as I rather like the shameless grindr-profile flexing errr I mean the balance of climbing and ivy and tension in the move (the latter being quite genuinely as it was thin and fierce and bloody satisfying even if I only stayed on with a blind toe-scrape mid-move).


Lounge Lizard Leisure Suit, Ban-y-Gor, Wye Valley. I had far too many photoshoots at Sandbag-y-Gor and got increasingly disillusioned in the place. On the first visit it was okay including this tricky wee fucker which I think I knee-barred on.

So Gross, Ban-y-Gor, Wye Valley. The final visit to this hole and one which put me off South West climbing. This slice of bolted Brown & Whillans grimness was the only silver lining and another version of the grotty cleft furtling ended up as the surprise and subversive cover shot (I've already apologised to PK for any massive drops in sales).

One of these days I need the cantankerous old cunt to take some photos of me on routes I'm really psyched by. But that's not happening imminently, bah. Still fun to be part of the process.


Source: Leftovers from Dartmoor and Wye Valley Sport.

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#815 fiendblogTrajectory Of The Twat
September 19, 2018, 01:01:34 am
Trajectory Of The Twat


Left foot up smearing, right foot up smearing, step left foot onto high edge, bring right hand over above left hand onto the arete... Something - still unknown - gives way, the compressed posture springs me out, arcing me down, the meticulously planned running belay comes tight, slamming me into the overlap like a soft meat wrecking ball. Thigh on the overlap, calf on the shelf below, knee luckily nestled in-between. Lower to the ground I was nowhere near, a couple of minutes unable to think or speak, but through the haze of pain I am weight-bearing so the bones at least are intact. Half an hour sorting kit, a mile hobble on the rough wet track on my own in the dark. Recompress myself into the car seat, test I can do an emergency stop, drive to Macclesfield A&E, x-ray confirms no breaks, but massive swelling, bruising, and a full length compression stocking for the foreseeable future. Hartington Hall hostel. Drive to Glasgow via almost every services to keep leg moving. Prop box and pillow under desk so I can use computer... And here I am, from that position to this one.

...

The grit had been called and I was out of the starting blocs pretty quick. After an abortively mediocre weekend at Crookrise, I'd written the list and summoned the determination - both steps that usually summon the rain gods for several months but maybe they were bored after all their exertions throughout autumn?? In an extravagant convergence of Audi A3 TDIs, Tom had driven from St Austell and I had driven from Glasgow and we met at the crag in glorious weather. I'd spent a few years getting inspired by such grit routes, a few days getting intimidated by this route, and a few hours at the crag analysing, calming down, planning and getting inspired. And then I got on it and then I fell off it and then I was lying on the ground thinking:

 "What the FUCK happened?? I had planned so well, I had climbed well, I had fucking FAITH in the grit and that's the whole point of being able to climb it?? And how the fuck can I try anything challenging if I fell off a 'safe' section and here I am lying on the ground??"

This, in a way, was more upsetting than the fall, than the pain, than the failure, than the prospect of injury and recovery. If I do everything right and it still goes wrong (and this isn't some bullshit like winter climbing where the whole route or climate can fuck you over untoward), how can I trust the rock, how can I trust myself?? Mistakes are easier to learn from than lack of mistakes....

Except they were there, and the dark hobble gave me enough time to think about them: In general, I don't fuck around with maximising the safety system, and I try hard not to fuck around with faffing too much these days (it's a work in progress...). This time:

1. I underestimated the need to faff on that one section of the route. I'd got very focused on the start ("traverse right with care" - implying it was remotely difficult when it wasn't, and is part of a much easier route, which I'd have known if I'd have read the guide more) and the finish (clearly bold). I hadn't got focused on the sequence getting to the finish, because hey it wasn't mentioned and it was right next to the gear, right? When I got there it felt tricky but I still didn't take it that seriously - my mind wasn't in the moment, it was in the future, thinking "I just need to get this done so I can be stood up and work out that bold finish". But of course that section still needed focus and really my trademark faffing would have been much more suitable. Don't underestimate the easy / un-mentioned sections on gritstone.

2. I overestimated the safety system. I'd got so focused on the bold finish and using a running belay to not hit the ground, I hadn't considered other risks in the fall and that the running belay might be unsuitable for other sections (though if I had fallen off the finish, the sort of impact I took would still have been better than a groundfall). DOA - Distance, Objects, Angles. I'd been so fixated on the distance of a fall that I hadn't looked at the objects (the overlap) or the angles. Tom did the running belay plan perfectly, but if I'd actually planned for a softer catch on most of the route, I could have avoided such an impact. Consider all aspects of a fall not just the distance, and consider falls from all possible areas of a route.

If I did this sort of route again.... I'd read the book carefully, I'd know the start should okay (but still pay attention to it). I'd divide my focus up more evenly. I'd plan out the gear and running belay better. I'd look at other aspects of the fall and try to plan for those. I'd anticipate challenge throughout the route. I'd take heed if sections started to feel unduly tricky and treat them with respect. And hopefully I wouldn't fuck it up, or if I did I wouldn't fuck myself up. And understand that, I'm pissed off that I failed but I still have some faith.

...



Finally the current state of affairs after a week: I can hobble effectively and almost walk normally (slowly!) if I'm warmed up. My leg is still swollen but the bruising is coming along rather nicely. I'm able to go to the gym but only for arm stuff or very light CV using my legs. I'm aiming to do gentle climbing within another week. I have no idea what muscle damage there is or how long it will be to get full strength back, so outside climbing might be several weeks off, but at least I can train reasonably in the meantime. I can probably bash around with RC cars as long as I don't stand in one position too long...


Source: Trajectory Of The Twat

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#816 fiendblogThree of the decentest.
September 19, 2018, 01:00:09 pm
Three of the decentest.


It's been a long time since proper blogging. Sucktember slipped into Cocktober and then into Knobvember and no-one noticed except the days of rain and sunshine and showers grew shorter, as they invariably do, but not drier. The lack of proper blogging might correspond to the lack of proper climbing, my grand dreams of an autumn cranking to match my spectacular spring in the South West were diluted into homeopathic proportions and washed down the drain. I got South of the border a couple of times, one of them was to Armathwaite with a bone dry forecast and the whole thing was damp and I did some shitty greasy boulder problems in the first bay while Katy's lunatic Jadedog dug a WW1 style trench and turned the highballs left of Time And Motion Man back into proper solos and it was a fucking waste of 3.5 hours driving. As was Berryhill where I failed on an HVS (!) and then out of "sunshine and showers" only one of those came true.

Cheviot from Berryhill. Atmospheric and bollox.

BUT.

Amongst all this fucking DROSS, there were moments of enlightenment, and by enlightenment I mean doing cool routes that might be a world away from my mega-inspirations but are also a world away from greasy eliminate bouldering (best left to Peak Limestone fans and other perverts who rank only slightly above winter climbers and vegans in the fucking weirdo stakes). Such as:

Counting Out Time, Newtyle Quarry:



Aka proper climbing at Newtyle which has become infamous as the dank hole in the ground where the aforementioned winter perverts gather to slot their tools into grubby slots. It's also got an impressive sheet of slab which no-one climbs because of it's 2 minute access, loads of mid-grade climbs, quick drying, evening sun, scarcely an hour from the Central Belt etc etc so why would anyone actually climb there instead of queuing for chalk-crusted smeg on Marlena wall or polishing Dumby some more?? Anyway it must be said that the slab itself is a bit bold, the E2 warm-up I did had one good cluster of gear in 25m. But on the other hand this gem has a great line and loads of gear (even at the "bold" overlap), it also has a proper slate smearing crux and overall is quite a treat. I loved it.


Whipper Snapper, Ashie Fort:




Another crag in the "hordes of the unwashed polishing the pebbles at Moy while this more accessible, closer to Inverness, equally sunny and infinitely more scenic crag languishes relatively under-used" ilk. I like Ashie. It's tricky, techy, necky, can look a bit mossy (nothing that more traffic wouldn't help), but it is essentially a grit-scaled conglomerate crag in strictly the mellowest of situations. This day, sandwiched in the middle of the dreichness, started badly struggling up a seeping HVS and finished well styling up this elegant and bold route. A vast amount of gear can be faffed in before the crux scoop, at least one or two bits might hold. Thankfully with a bit of composure and commitment it all went smoothly, another little gem.


Duel Variation, Dunkeld:



No photo for this one so here's a picture of an enormous and rather cool caterpillar instead. Due to the weather I had too many visits to Polney (and Upper Cave but I'm not talking about that), none of which involved doing what I really wanted to do. Something about this really steep impending wall with flakey crimps and a tied down sling for gear before eventually getting a distant peg put me off. As usual enough psyche and I eventually crack, one of the visits I had the usual indepth look, then a sit down and a good talk with myself about committing to the process, and then did it. Did it bloody well too, flicked a skyhook on during the steepness, cranked to the peg, tried a cam to back it up, didn't fit but I didn't faff, just ignored it and rocked over the lip to not glory but the satisfaction of snap decisions erring on the side of actually doing the climbing. And yeah another great wee route.

The moral being, good routes are good routes even if they're not quite the good routes I wanted to be doing....


Source: Three of the decentest.

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#817 fiendblogGym'll fix it.
September 19, 2018, 07:00:20 pm
Gym'll fix it.


The simple raw beauty of an authentic natural experience. This is not the gym.

Looking down from that raw beauty into the septic miasma of Glasgow. Gyms lurk here.

It's raining (I don't even know if it is, but it's a fair assumption), we're training. Circuits, hangs, bloques, plastic, resin, wood.......metal?? All of the above??

Gyms are awful places. Crass, bland, utterly sterile, full of terrible music and desperate girls on the treadmills and inflated meatheads flexing in the mirror. About as far from the raw beauty of a natural experience as it gets....but out in that environment, say, braced and dangling above the sea on the "grossly overhanging" Call To Arms, those very arms and and indeed legs burning, the idea of having some fitness and strength is quite an appealing one and could even make gyms an appealing means to that end. 

Of course, that end is climbing and gym training isn't climbing training, as people (often people who are already very physically fit with fully functional legs that require little additional work AND very climbing fit etc etc) are quick to point out... "Do more climbing training", they say. Bloody great idea if you have rhino skin and steel tendons. On the other hand when I have the following options...

1. Train climbing 5+ times a week, bouldering, routes, boarding.
Likely result: Unable to climb hard after first week due to fucked skin and fingertips. Unable to climb at all after second week due to chronic golfer's elbow and shoulder impingments. 

2. Train climbing 3+ times a week, rest on the other days.
Likely result: Able to cope with the climbing level, get fat and demoralised in between times. Climbing progress slows due to weight and slothfulness.

3. Train climbing 3+ times a week, do awesome outdoor activity 2 days a week.
Likely result: Able to cope with the climbing level, but either drown, get hypothermia, or give up awesome outdoor activity as it's too bloody miserable in Scotland in winter - or even if I survived I'd be too hampered by DVTs to make full use of a glorious hillwalk in horizontal sleet. 

4. Train climbing 3+ times a week, go to gym 2 times a week.
Result: Able to cope with the climbing level, complimentary training at gym improves core and antagonists, along with CV in a drier environment, weight is stable and climbing progresses due to stimulated muscles and improved motivation/energy.

...then hopefully those uberfit uninjured climbing hones can forgive me if I choose the option that actually works for me.

Bear in mind I try to use the gym quite sensibly - I have no intention of becoming an inflated meathead, although I do enjoy lifting heavy metals in short controlled bursts:


Yup actually having FUN doing a physically challenging activity can be a useful motivator.... In terms of weights, I've spent a bit of time looking at bodybuilding videos on Youtube to find what is effective for bulking up and finding common threads e.g.: focusing on the 8-15 rep range, aiming for the maximum time-under-tension, isolating specific muscles, not resting weights on fully extended/contracted limbs, doing specific muscle group sessions, eating a lot to support muscle growth etc AND THEN DOING THE OPPOSITE e.g. focusing on 1RMs and high weights / low reps for pure strength, aiming for maximum effort in very short bursts, working overall movements, resting between reps and long rests between sets, mixing in all different muscles groups in small doses for each one, and trying to eat healthily but not excessively.

My usual gym training consists of some of (in varying proportions):

Climbing relevant training:
Pull-ups
Lat pull downs
Rows
- All pretty damn obvious. I don't mind mixing in some higher reps with these as I figure a little bit of muscle gain from pulling down on stuff is probably offset from being able to, errr, pull down on stuff.
Antagonist weight training:
Benchpress
Shoulder press
- Bog standard antagonist stuff. High weight low reps for these, warm-up on 5s, then down to 3s, then down to 1RM. Total of 15 reps overall with lots of rests. I love the motions of both of these especially bench.
Dips
- Also standard antagonist and probably good for helping with mantles. I usually do these in sets of 10, again banking on relevant muscle gains.
Leg weight training:
Deadlifts
- I love deadlifts. If you don't love deadlifts, check for a pulse. All round great exercise for maximum muscle stimulation. 
Squats
- I have problems with leg fitness, which is particularly noticable on steep uphills. I figure that a bit of leg strength might help. Also good for rock-overs.
- High weight low rep stuff for both of these of course. I don't want fucking cyclist thighs.
Core training:
Leg raises
Machine crunches
Machine rotations
- Bog standard core. Again I don't mind doing longer sets for these as they are so relevant to climbing.
CV training:
Compound lifts
- Very light weight clean and jerk into overhead press, renegade rows etc. Overall body and good heartrate boosters in a short time.
Sledge pushing
- The sledge is a cunt, nuff said. This is THE most relevant exercise I've found for slogging uphill with a rucsac on, not least because I hate it, so it must be right.
Rowing machine
Recumbent cycling
- Both obvious, both specifically good for me with my legs, the former as it uses other muscles too, the latter as the recumbent posture encourages venous return. I do these after the heavy weights as they're meant to be more effective once muscles are stimulated.

Will this get me to "tick 8a" or "first Enumber" or whatever crass fucking bullshit I'm supposed to aim for?? Not directly, no. Will it improve my body and mind overall to be better prepared for climbing training and physically harder climbing subject to a lot of climbing training?? Yes, yes it has.

Gyms are awful places. But they are useful places to push yourself physically and improve yourself physically, and I've kinda grown fond of them in that way.....and all those poncy twats down there, at least they're putting the effort into something physical and active and progressive....

The music still fucking sucks tho.



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#818 fiendblogThe fleet.
September 20, 2018, 01:01:34 am
The fleet.


I quite like radio controlled cars...

Car: HPI Savage XS
Type: 1/12 4WD monster truck
Upgrades: HPI SS-40WP servo, HPI CVD axles, HPI HD drive cups, Proline Big Joe 2.2 wheels, TBone Thrasher bumpers, orange anodised nuts.
Purpose: Everything!! Serious bashing, cruising, crawling, being a RC BEAST.
Speed: 40 mph (2S Lipo)
Finest moments:       


Car: Tamiya Dual Ridge TT02B
Type: 1/10 4WD buggy
Upgrades: Absima CR2S receiver, Savox 9kg servo, Hobbywing Quicrun 13.5T brushless motor, full ball bearings, Tamiya aluminium drive shaft
Purpose: Enjoying the kit build, learning off-road track driving, gentle bashing
Speed: 23 mph (2S Lipo)
Finest moments: 


Car: FTX Colt
Type: 1/18 4WD mini buggy
Upgrades: Absima CR2S receiver, FTX 9g servo, FTX brushless ESC, Hobbywing Ezrun 7800kv brushless motor, FTX aluminium CVD axles, FTX sway bar, custom nylon sheet bumper, blue anodised nuts
Purpose: Melting the ESC and Brushless motor, mini-scale off-road track driving, fast cruising
Speed: 36 mph (2S Lipo)
Finest moments: 


Car: Himoto Mastadon / Maverick Ion XT hybrid
Type: 1/18 4WD mini truggy
Upgrades: Maverick Ion MT wheels, Ion MT front and back bumpers, Ion aluminium shock absorbers, Ion aluminium drive cups, Ion aluminium dog bones, 3S Lipo
Purpose: Bashing, repairing, being too fast for it's own good - will probably sell soon.
Speed: 36 mph (3S lipo)
Finest moments: n/a

Car: Carisma GT24TR
Type: 1/24 4WD micro truggy
Upgrades: Carisma aluminium shock absorbers, Carisma carbon fibre shock towers, Carisma 12000kv brushless motor, pink anodised wheel nuts, custom nylon sheet bumper, custom LED lighting rig
Purpose: Being great value for it's size, bashing, cruising, fixing.
Speed: 31 mph (2S Lipo)
Finest moments: 


Car: Losi Micro Truggy
Type: 1/26 4WD micro truggy
Upgrades: Losi brushless ESC + 2.4ghz receiver upgrade, Losi 2.4ghz transmitter, Losi 10500kv brushless motor, Losi micro SCT front bumper.
Purpose: Being ridiculously fast for it's size, bashing, cruising, good travel RC
Speed: 33 mph (3S lipo)
Finest moments: ....


Car: WLToys P929
Type: 1/28 4WD micro truck
Upgrades: PNRacing 50T brushed 130 motor, custom LED lighting rig
Purpose: Street cruising, night-time cruising - will probably sell soon.
Speed: 23 mph (2S Lipo)
Finest moments: 


Car: Oorlando Hunter
Type: 1/35 4WD micro crawler
Upgrades: 300 RPM motor upgrade, HPI RF45 receiver
Purpose: Fascinating micro-kit build, desktop crawling, annoying cats - will probably sell soon.
Speed: n/a
Finest moments: annoying cats


Possible future aims:
Tamiya Konghead 1/18 6WD monster truck
Traxxas E-Revo VXL TSM 1/16 4WD truggy
Volantex Vector 40cm brushless boat
(RCs follow the n+1 scale, but unlike owning lots of bicycles, it's considerably less geeky and not as certain a guarantee of massive bellendism).


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#819 fiendblogPink and purple.
September 20, 2018, 01:00:09 pm
Pink and purple.


I love a bit of pink and purple action I do.

So it's a strange time at the moment. When I bashed my leg two months ago and I got it x-rayed at Macc A&E, I was a bit lax with hand hygiene and picked up some norovirus or equivalent, which to put it conservatively, was the worst thing in the history of fucking bullshit. So night 1 was hobbling out of The Roaches with the biggest leg impact I've taken, night 2 was turning myself inside out, and days 3-5 were existing on ~600 calories average while trying to heal that leg. Can you guess where my immune system went?? No, me neither.

The leg healed really well. Slow and steady and seemingly strong (more on that later).

My insides?? Not so much. Ever since the virus, I've had bouts of nausea every two weeks, lasting many hours, enough to stop me sleeping, stop me eating, and wipe me out for a couple of days. The origin point seems obvious, but the actual problem is unknown - and still being investigated. My diet is much better and I'm taking various natural supplements to help. This has put a dampener on things from my state of mind to my grander climbing plans. However in-between these bouts, after I recover my strength, I'm discovering that my strength is, well, surprisingly okay.

Take the last couple of weekends. Sunday day time I got out for the first time in 2 months and did this:



Really good fun. Tiny sloping ripples, extended moves, and a precarious feel. Nice day out. Proper mint connies and all that. That evening I feel happy, eat plenty of chicken and a light green salad, and soon started feeling nauseous out of the blue. Neck two anti-nausea tablets, crawl into bed, and finally pass out at 2am (early by bout standards). Couldn't do fuck all for 2-3 days. Rest of the week feel gurgly and bloated having started taking strong pro-biotics (bad timing).

Friday I don one of my highly motivational death metal vests (Cattle Decapitation), go to the gym feeling weak, and bust out a PB of 80kg x 2 benchpress (can usually only manage one). Saturday I swap to another vest (Napalm Death), brave a freezing cold Ratho, do my hardest indoor lead ever and get very close on an equally hard one. Sunday I am keep the ND vest on as I am still awaiting a fresh vest (Behemoth), go to the gym again, 3rd day on and not having done proper deadlifting for nearly 3 months, warm up, equal my 160kg and death-growl my way to a 170kg PB (see, the leg is okay). Hopefully if / when the next bout hits, I will be able to take some heart in this.

Back to Saturday and purple routes. I was chatting to Big Bob as usual and he pointed out a new Purple 7b on the Justice Wall. "Saved it for weeks, but blew it"...."Totally sustained"..."Fighting all the way in the middle"...."No rests at all"...."Will be a good top-roping training route". Robert and I are sort of vaguely equal in our climbing. What he lacks in strength, bravery, and strong vests, he makes up for in height, tallness, reach, and, errr, ummm, okay stamina, too much stamina. Generally if it's too pumpy for him then it's waaaaay too pumpy for me, but that's okay, having done all of my "onsightable" routes at the Mighty R (the other Mighty R, huh), I'm just after pulling a bit harder on things I won't get up, but will have a good fight however far I get.

Initially, this goes to plan. My first proper route is another Purple 7b, but this time on the New Comp Wall, a pure power-to-weight section that is my anti-style - particularly when it's a 7b ladder of incuts and pinches and no jugs in sight. However instead of getting shut down halfway up, I somehow end up one bolt from the chain and have to jump off as I can do the moves but not the clips. Not bad.

Sticking with the theme, it's on to Justice Wall Purple. I do like doing the earlier sections of harder routes here as they give a good cranky fight compared to easier full length stamina plods - good to mix in both. My aim is to get to the 2/3 height main lip, as I reckon I will be fine on the fingery lower section, while the steep middle section has decent enough holds to keep going but will burn me out totally, and it will all be good training / fun. Initially it all seems to work: The start is cranky and crimpy enough to offer little respite. Going into the middle section, Robert's warning comes true - all the decent holds are tucked around or beneath volumes ensuring they rapidly disappear as footholds, leaving volume smears and sketchy moves. I'm nearly off on some reachy moves part way but sporadic falling practise gives me the confidence to just go for it, and I stay attached - even at the lip. Aren't I supposed to be dangling on the rope, nursing my forearms already?? Apparently not - even when another tricky crossover to a sloping rail nearly spits me off again, but the frictional condition is a silver lining to the freezing cold and my paws drape along it. Another on/off move sees me, increasingly surprised, at a good edge shakeout, far further up than I should be, I can barely hear Lauren's distant encouragement below. I've been fighting for a while now so keep doing it, vigorous arm flicks and hyperventilating lead into another I-should-have-dropped-this reach to micro-jugs and then somehow the finish. My lungs are still hurting on the drive back.

In the grand scheme of things, while I feel occasionally fucking rotten, and indoor climbing is irrelevant toss, this does show some potential...

Oh and the pink part of the equation?? I've done quite a few pinks down at TCA. They are great problems with plenty of techniness and always make training fun. Possibly a bit too much fun as the weirdo knacky slopey ones always tend to lure me away from the pure power training a lard-arse like me should be doing. Including the squeezy egyptian volume sloper tickle problem on the new comp wall. One weak and queasy Sunday it felt entirely unfeasible, a few days later I unlocked it (and several others) fairly determinedly, mostly helped by Fultonious shouting "SAUSAGE" at me as I snatched for the shapely finishing hold  (more like a croissant shape to be honest but if Ally has got pink sausage on the mind who am I to argue).


Source: Pink and purple.

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#820 fiendblogAn Enthralling Experience.
September 20, 2018, 07:00:10 pm
An Enthralling Experience.




Possible progressions:
Despite mild but persistent illness, despite a winter mostly off due to that and my leg, I'm tentatively confident with my climbing at the moment. I've been training quite regularly and feeling quite adequate on indoor bloques and routes. Due to the bleak misery of Scotland I've had winters before that are solely dedicated to training but have led into springs solely dedicated to doing pretty well outdoors. However I still have half a mind (okay, most of my mind, it's a bit obsessed) on what I could do to progress. At the moment, by far the biggest improvements to my climbing would be to fix my digestive issues (in progress - seen consultant, due for ultrasound, more bloods, stool test, possible endoscopy) and move somewhere near an actual decent amount of crags (not nearly as in progress as it should be). In terms of what I might actually train for, apart from the usual bollox (stronger, lighter, fitter, lighter, more flexible, lighter, etc), one thing I am focusing on is.....focus. Specifically trying to maintain focus and composure when the situation becomes physically and mentally stressful, which obviously happens a lot climbing trad at your limit, and is harder just to climb through than other disciplines. I'm calling this....

Calm amongst the chaos:
The idea being to keep putting myself in mildly stressful situations while training, and keeping aware enough to accept the chaos, acknowledge how it makes me feel, and try hard to keep calm - and all that entails, e.g. maintaining efficiency, precision, relaxation, etc. Obviously a lot easier said than done but the idea and the awareness is a start. At Kyloe In the other day, there was chaos on two scales: The chaos of the weather, very cool, very windy. Sitting with my back against The Nadser, watching the wind tunnel of tree clearance stretching beneath the grossly underused High T wall, pines weaving and waving at me, there was feeling of calm in my little oasis of light breeze. And the chaos of my initial method of trying the start of the problem: left hand on a ripple combining a 1/4 first joint razor for the lower two fingers and a micro sloper for the forefinger, right hand on a decent 1/3 joint slimper, left foot in micro-navel pocket, pull desperately with left hoping there's not the 1mm creep of skin that is insta-fail, then right toe on a sloping nubbin.....placing the toe and trusting it is the stress, all points of contact tentative and ready to fail. I focus on focus, holding it and springing for the sloping v-notch, occasionally tickling it. Despite feeling a long way from the problem, I enjoy putting my principle into action and viewing it as training, until I find...

A surprising solution:
During rest periods (mostly to let my skin cool down, despite 4'c air temps and -2'c overall temps from 20-30mph westerlies), I alternate between drinking camomile tea, providing moral heckling to The Fox who is mostly eschewing Kyloe power bouldering in favour of easy soloing into moss top-outs, good on him I say as the routes here are bloody marvellous and deserve a lot more traffic, and idly fondling the other non-holds on the Nadser. Bored of diminishing returns on my low-percentage start, I try pulling on on with inimical left hand ripple, right hand on a gratton adjacent to the decent slimper, right toe in a lower central micro-navel, left foot crossed behind me for balance but ready to spring into the original left pocket. This all makes sense but also makes most use of the steepness of the "slab" start, surely I shouldn't be able to compress that hard between two tiny holds, but with cool fresh skin, they feel like...

Bleeding bivvy ledges:
Which is one of the highlights of this problem and indeed winter bouldering in general. The gratton in particular is an unexpected delight, I wish I'd measured it or at least videoed it for my own satisfaction, maybe 3-4mm, perfectly incut as such things are, maybe 1/6th first joint. Yet it works, I squeeze hard enough, flick my left foot on, and catch the v-notch comfortably. I forget how I fell off, maybe surprise that this method is so much more feasible. I do what I always do with a breakthrough, shoes off, go for a stroll, keep both skin and mind calm and dry. Stepping back on, The Fox is loitering to provide ME with moral heckling, and I already have a planned sequence for the top. One go I'm stretching for penultimate slopers but I'm not sure where I'm going and have a hunch it won't work. A quick trot around and a thorough clean and chalk, another go and I tickle the now-obvious holds but too dynamically. Accepting that the full fingertip mantle of the left-hand pico-ramp - pinky springing off to get maximum pressdown - is both unfeasible and essential, I teeter further and do it. A problem that I thought would take many visits is suddenly done in 2 hours (and 4 goes with my new starting beta), surely that can only be...

Cheating conditions:
It's a concept I've had for many years and have sometimes applied well: Try hard with most optimum conditions imaginable, fool the holds into actually being holds, fool myself into actually climbing things that on paper I shouldn't be able to. The essence of learning to boulder on gritstone, I expect. Pretty sure I did that on Brad's Arete pre-ban, definitely did it on Spinal Slab burning 8A Lord Loggington off in attempts required, and always had it planned for Soft On The G in sub-zero temps. And here too, it's essential. The idea of trying to pull on these tinies in anything less than perfect weather is as incomprehensible and bewildering to me as Turkish poetry, thinking in 4 dimensions, or choosing veganism, while moulding my firm skin onto them this day is a genuine pleasure, almost as much as the penultimate move. Given my usual inhibitive sweatiness, I'll happily take this, although I won't take the given grade since: 1. It blatantly isn't and 2. Bouldering grades are horseshit anyway. I will definitely take the thrill of the experience, though :)


Source: An Enthralling Experience.

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#821 fiendblogPeak Fiend??
September 21, 2018, 01:00:52 am
Peak Fiend??


I did some bouldering recently and it looked - and sounded - a bit like this:



According to old skool legend and mild-mannered intellectual Andy Popp:
We have reached peak Fiend - good work sir.
Which made my day :). What is Peak Fiend? Ridiculous clothing, ridiculous music, ridiculous enthusiasm for climbing despite both of those? But more than that, it's all just genuine. It's just me. Sure some of it might be a bit silly for some people, sure I might ham up certain aspects to entertain/amuse/provoke others....but those aspects are all part of me. Not that I have to justify this and it's all a bit navel gazing (I need an angled mirror to see past the gut), but it amuses me to explain the process:

6...

A few years ago when I was bouldering around in The County, I saw some cool roof problems that it would be nice to do when it got a bit warmer: Bechstein at Back Bowden, Roof LH at Kyloe Out and Neb Roof at Shaftoe. All properly horizontal, all looked great, all 6C. Hmmm, 6C6C6C....666, this triggered off some nostalgia for my teenage dabblings in LaVey-ian Satanism (before I transitioned into even more ludicrous and unjustifiable militant aestheism before settling on a more realistic agnosticism) and my more mature appreciation for music linked to the dark side in general, and thus provided a theme for the climbing. There had to be 3, they had to be 6C, I had to do them all - not 2, not 4, not a 7A sneaking in there. My aspergers demanded it.

Vague further plans included trying to flash them, trying to do them all in a day, trying to flash them all in a day. Hah! Peak Fiend might be many things but it's not climbing that bloody good. As it turns out Roof LH was abandoned due to being more like 7A+, I did the other two in an hour or so each and after two hours on RLH there were several moves I couldn't do in isolation, B4 Traverse at Back Bowden was subbed in off the benches (Goat Traverse and Extreme Rock were considered but neither made the cut), it might not be a true roof but it is suitably horizontal and suitably great fun. Also abandoned was the idea of doing these in warmer times as would befit such burl, I got psyched and got on with it. This of course required the optimum clothing balance to keep most of my body warm but my skin cool enough for all the slopers. Hence beanie, vest and tracksuit bottoms, a matter of pure practicality and any colour-matching a matter of pure coincidence.

...6...

Bechstein went down fairly quickly, the trio of warm-ups to the right and breezy cave situation setting me up well. The sequence went exactly how I envisaged except for a missing foot sequence going for the lip - and was as cool as I envisaged with the crazy press into a vertical gaston in a roof and flicking into a fingertip undercling, all made feasible by an initially scary (until it popped out annoyingly easily) heel-toe. Neb Roof had always looked the hardest to me, massive holds but only for the upper limbs and since my lower ones weigh quite a bit from DVT distortion / deadlifting beef, I had to do something with them. The notorious toe-hooks first had me raging about them being too morpho for my stumpy frame, but then morphed into a feasible sequence of several feet first movements - all very satisfying. B4 Traverse I'd tried before and was happy to have the baltic breeze on this one, a very precise heel and very precarious slopers saw me scraping along it on a last-ditch attempt of the day.

....6

After this day I drove back feeling exhausted and nauseous, the idea of trying to get a video edited was considerably less appealing than passing out in the Harthill Services carpark for 12 hours. But I guessed correctly my state was cold/hunger induced so at least opened Movie Maker over dinner as my innards slowly settled. Of course the soundtrack was a key issue and I already had plans: Drokz - I Accept The Word Of Satan was essential, which I have on this compilation - yes I still genuinely love gabber, and was listening to some on the way down to Back Bowden the second time. But could I do more?? I've never been a Slipknot fan but have always liked their Heretic Anthem for the catchy chorus "If you're 555 then I'm 666, what's it like to be a heretic?" . Could I mix that in?? Hmmm well...

An hour after getting back feeling like a zombie, I'm downloading Mixxx. Half an hour after that I'm bouncing in my seat as my crude first ever mix actually works: Dropping the first beat of IATWOS as a post-chorus HA breakdown starts, the kickdrum pauses and returns with a bass bounce just as a shouted "Heretic" finishes, then a quick pause in the gabber allows me to flick the speed back up to it's 220 bpm. I am actually more excited than doing any of the problems, as ace as they were. For extra satanic flavour, I manage to drop the main start of Gorgoroth's Untamed Forces (which I have on their album - yes I still genuinely love extreme metal and was listening to this on the way back from Shaftoe) after a drum roll on IATWOS, not a proper mix but the speedcore drumming on UF works well. 3 problems, 3 tracks, one unholy theme, I am unduly giddy.

Peak Fiend is real Fiend...



Source: Peak Fiend??

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#822 fiendblogPfalz Pfrustrations.
September 21, 2018, 01:00:27 pm
Pfalz Pfrustrations.


Trip 3....days 16-24....crags 26-34... After one trip in a sweltering summer and one trip in a claggy autumn, surely a fresh spring trip would be the time to really push myself on the ever-intriguing Pfalz sandstone?? 3rd time lucky or maybe not...

There were tantrums, swearing, gear-throwing, sulking (and subsequent apologies to the team), and then plenty of realisations, learnings, and semi-calm acceptance that the ever-intriguing Pfalz sandstone is bloody difficult and I might have to adjust my aims. I focused on trying hard instead of climbing hard, ticking crags instead of ticking routes, and had a great trip overall (which was probably inevitable given the area). I also learnt a fair bit so I'm writing this partly to share the knowledge and partly to remind myself for the similarly inevitable "next trip".

Pfalz Challenges:

1. Friction and conditions are absolutely crucial, breeze especially (rare *).
2. Routes require a mixture of gritstone technicality / friction AND limestone power.
3. Routes are often incredibly cruxy with easily droppable cruxes.
4. Some "sport" routes can be pretty bold / committing.
5. Specific common hard moves are: precise deadpoints to small pockets, massive reaches / full dynos (sometimes to non-jugs), hard pulls / rockovers on razor rugosities, slopey mantles / lip turns, figuring out best sequences from a sea of pockets **.

Pfalz Grades:

1. They are VERY variable and random. Expect a full grade variance on up to 50% of routes.
2. They have no correspondence to the standard grade tables, being at least a grade harder.
3. A few grade comparisons from similar sandstone:
Helsby:
Flake Wall E4 6a - Pf  7/7+
Calcutta Wall E4 6a - Pf  7+
Brandenburg Wall E3 5c - Pf  7-
Armathwaite:
Viennese Oyster E3 5c - Pf 7-
 Diamond Lil E3 5c - Pf 7-
Berdorf:
Arete Paulette 7a+ - Pf  8-
Voleur De Spits 7a+ - Pf  7+/8-
Yellow Submarine 7a - Pf  7+
Mike 7a - Pf  7+/8-
Nesscliffe:
Marlene E4 6a - Pf 7/7+
Straight Talk E3 6a - Pf 7+
Red Square E1 5b - Pf 6/6+
4. Since the routes are so cruxy, a comparison with grit routes might be more accurate, e.g. E3 6a rather than 6c/+ for 7/+, E4 6b rather than 7a for 8-. Remember to factor in the variable grades AND how variable very bouldery cruxes will feel***.

Pfalz Tactics:

1. Heed conditions as key - adapt challenges to suit.
2. Toughen skin constantly with anti-hydral
3. Take a spare rope bag for the sand, clipstick for miles high first bolts, pointy shoes for pockets (dragons for me), brush for clipstick for bouldery starts.
4. Accept Pfalz is hard, get focused right away, e.g. deadpoint precision as early as possible in trip.
5. Always plan for various move options, always look around for holds and possibilities (despite chalked white-herrings).
6. Heed the likely challenges** and train those as much as general climbing prior to trip.

N.B.

* -  The crucial breeze is still a difficult factor to predict from the weather, as due to the endless valleys, hillocks, forests and sandstone ridges, the wind can wander around and appear/disappear of it's own fickle will.
** - The likely challenges were what I learnt specifically from the harder routes I failed on and the harder routes I succeeded on - there were distinctly common types of crux moves.
*** - The variety / morphology of crux difficulties is very similar to grit and cannot be underestimate.

Finally...

If all else fails, just do some awesome sandstone bimbling on funky towers and ridges :)


If you've read this far, feel free to be rewarded with some entirely useless non-climbing photos:













Source: Pfalz Pfrustrations.

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#823 fiendblogPfalz Pfotos.
September 21, 2018, 07:00:49 pm
Pfalz Pfotos.


Okay okay some proper climbing ones to share the psyche (I'm still waiting for some others from the team, I'll update this when they get sent over...):

Warning images might feature sandstone, trees, power vests, compression stockings, etc.

Update: Added some photos that Kirsty took with her fancy DSLR:

Neueste Kreation 7, Hochstein - day 1, route 3. Quite a steady start to proceedings.

Sudostkante 7, Frohndellpfeiler - really cool route this. Started up a gnarly little "HVS 5b" crack on the right side of the arete, swung into a cool heel-toe rest in space, and then yarding up the crest on perfect flat jugs. This was shortly before failing on the brilliant Spidermove because I was too casual deadpointing from a slopey crimp to a two finger pocket. Cue the mother of all tantrums and a bit of tree-climbing to recover my quickdraws from where they ended up.

Langer Amenweg 7+, Spirkelbacher Rauhbergpfeiler - very cool route with probably only grade 7 climbing, but 7+ commitment and excitement including a handless knee mantle onto a constricted ledge, pinchy bridging up a blank hanging groove and then an obligatory exposed run-out. Can I get an amen?!


Planet der Affen 7 @ Buttelfels - typically aesthetic and scenic little wall, albeit without the usual towering tower above. This route had a tricky start to get to the bolt an a fun finish on good holds. This was shortly before failing on an excellent 7+ wall because I got fooled by white herrings and didn't look around to find the un-chalked easy sequence, there might have been some rage.


Eroika 7- @ Spirkelbacher Rauhfels - grand old wall of masses of honeycomb pockets and spaced bolts / threads. Easy and unrefined but a nice adventure. This was shortly after failing on a great bouldery 8- with a hard deadpoint to a 2 finger pocket - I was very focused and determined but half a cm too shallow, gutted.


Intensivstation 8- @ Dahner Kuckuckfels - something hard I didn't actually fail on. The crux involved a merciless rockover via a razor crimp, in the first shot. My sort of move but even so part way through I nearly ground to a halt and really hard to dig deeper and crank harder. The most satisfying move of the trip.


Klink Flink 7- @ Weiherwande - easy but very aesthetic wee scoop thing. A nice warm-up.


Lange Westwand 7- @ Ringsberg Westpfeiler - very nice wall this. I did a sketchy 7- on the right slab below the arch, an easy 7+ on the right slab above the arch, a cool 7/7+ up the right side of the main wall, and this really nice easy 7- up the middle-left side (where my rope is in the 2nd shot). Pfalz wall bimbling at it's best.


 Zu Fruh Gelacht 8- @ Luger Geiersteine -  a very aesthetic wall on impeccable rock. It involved a jump from a slopey pocket to a decent rail then a grovelly slopey lip-turn over the bulge above (2nd shot). Good cool conditions for this. This was my day of "trying hard not climbing hard" and around this I failed on a big 7+ with a desperate precarious crux and then a burly slopey lip-turn that I fell off, an 8 just left of this route with a big dyno to an unexpectedly slopey break that I fell off, and another 8 with more desperate precarious climbing eventually leading to a brutally hard slopey lip turn that I fell off. How the fuck I managed to fail on all that lot and not lie down in the middle of the road waiting for an HGV to take me out, god only knows.


Direkte Talwand RH 7+ @ Dingentalturm -  bit of an odd line as I think the original direct is suppose to go left of the upper bolt and a new sport route seems to join it and finish up right, but what we did was the logical direct line and really good, with positive moves on positive but diminishing honeycomb leading to an easier "resistance" finish. All with a fine towering backdrop of course.



Source: Pfalz Pfotos.

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#824 fiendblogFuck This Shit.
September 22, 2018, 01:01:09 am
Fuck This Shit.


I've been ill for six months now. The best estimate of what I've got is some damage to the small intestine and surrounds (maybe gut lining, sub-clinical inflammation, gut flora balance, SIBO or something), under the broader banner of post-viral / post-infectious IBS of the upper digestive tract (as tentatively diagnosed by a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist - the latter also suggesting low stomach acid and low digestive enzymes exacerbating the issue). This was caused when I contracted norovirus or similar at exactly the same time I'd just had a big leg impact my body was trying to heal, thus not healing the intestinal trauma from the virus - see first paragraphs here. This manifests in fortnightly bouts of nausea with sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, low energy, low mood, as well as general mild queasiness, indigestion, and occasional soreness.

This was bad before Christmas, had started to ease off a couple of months ago, and then came back almost as bad a month ago. This aptly summed up my general status a few weeks back:


Obviously there should be a reciprocal link from low mood > back to > PVIBSUDT, I know full well that mood and stress affect digestion, and I am taking steps to improve my mood, but it's a natural reaction to the issues in the first place.

More recently, you could take that whole diagram, factor in on one side the singularity of focus I've had on getting this issue fixed, and on the other side the frustration of recommended dietary changes to allow my gut to heal (adding in acid and enzymes, taking out dairy in addition to the wheat / sugar I'd already cut out, so I've removed about half the food variety from my diet, but three quarters of the enjoyment, as well as half again added to the cost), and all that has added up to my climbing going completely off the boil, my whole sense of self diminishing, and a distinct feeling of mild but "proper" depression (which I am familiar enough with to distinguish it from the previous low mood). On the plus side, probably due to the diet, I haven't had a bad nausea bout for a few weeks (but still lots of mild queasiness), but psychologically I definitely do not feel myself.

Yes, I am moaning about this. It's not major, lots of people have lots of worse situations, but, it's affecting me, I want to get it out, maybe it will clear my head a bit.

Yes, I am trying to improve this. It's pissing me off a lot, especially at the start of the summer climbing season with reasonable weather. I have the usual dreams and aspirations and don't want to get even further distant from them. I'm trying to train, I'm trying to get some easy mileage in, I'm trying to keep active full stop, I'm trying to weather it out, and I'm getting some help. Hopefully my gut will heal, hopefully my focus will clear up, hopefully I'll keep some fitness up....and get on with proper climbing at some point...



Source: Fuck This Shit.