Sunday, 29 January 2012

Great start!

2012 is now officially up and running, with a cracking start at Brean Down. We headed off on Saturday morning, expecting it to be sunny but bitterly cold, so we were well wrapped up for the weather. Arriving at high tide, we had to walk over the top to the crag. Never having had to go that way before, myself and Ramon got slightly lost, so after a little impromptu warm-up on a deep water solo traverse, we arrived at the foot of the crag sweating heavily under our down jackets. Nic and Pino had come down separately in Nic's car, as they had to get back to London quite early, and were already on the warmup routes - and looking rather pleased with themselves in the sheltered little suntrap that is Boulder Cove. I whipped my shirt off to dry out, and as the steam rose from my damp torso, I quickly realised it was going to be hot enough to climb like this... shirt-off climbing in the UK in January, who'd have thought it!

By the time we'd warmed up, the crag was getting pretty full (some had come via Cheddar, which turned out to be too wet for climbing) and free lines were in short supply, so we got onto Clashing Socks - a 7b which Ramon had sent last year, but I hadn't been on before. It was a typical Brean line - some balancy climbing to a good rest, and then a bouldery crux where footwork was crucial. With Ramon's help, I managed to figure out a sequence on my first go, but I hadn't paid enough attention to my feet so fell off the crux on my next two attempts. Fourth go however, I deliberately went a little slower through the crux and it went, feeling relatively easy in the end. At first I was a little annoyed that I hadn't ticked it a bit quicker, but I guess it's to be expected that my footwork will be a little sloppy, after a winter in the gym. So when I stopped to think about it, I've got to be pretty pleased with sending a 7b in one visit, after not touching real rock for four months!

Ramon cruised up Clashing Socks a couple of times, making it look easy despite his winter hanging around on axes, and Nic was looking pretty good working on Chulilla (7b+), so a strong start to the year all round. But more importantly than that, I think for all of us it was a real feel good day in the sunshine, loaded with the promise of good trips to come in 2012.

Shirts off in January!

A busy crag - Nic at the top working Chulilla (7b+)

Sunset at the end of a cracking day's climbing

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Time to get cranking for 2012!

I've felt really off since just before christmas, a nasty cold had me laid up for two weeks, and it 's never *quite* gone away. Every time I've had a couple of good days, where I've felt strong on the bike or down the climbing wall, it's been followed by a couple of days of lethargy where any sort of training just feels so hard. I've picked up some niggling injuries again too, which hasn't helped, but if I'm honest with myself, a big part of it also seems to be motivation.

Last winter I quite enjoyed getting in the gym and trying to get strong, this year I just haven't. I had a great year in 2011, pushing boundaries I'd hoped I would, but didn't really know if I could - and as any junkie will tell you the bigger the high, the bigger the comedown. I haven't been on real rock since September, and I've got a bad case of Plastic Adjustment Disorder.

So, what to do about it? Well, I've no intention of getting clean, and there's no point sitting around London in withdrawal, so it's time to do like any un-reformed junkie would... go get fucking high!

At the weekend I went out and bought myself a nice big diesel estate car, and if there's a dry crag within 10 hours drive next weekend, I'm going to be on it!

My new Craggin' Wagon