19 May 2014

A World of Contrast

Bouldering is full of contrast in so many ways. It has the Good the Bad and the Ugly. You get a guide out and choose your colour of preference. You like the look of the venue, but will it deliver? You never know until you climb it; that's the way it is. What I'm saying is, some of the neglected venues have a lot to offer; though not so attractive a setting. You've maybe looked it up on the web, seen a picture or video and think it all looks piss easy - how wrong you can be! You decide to give it go, try what you thought was easy. Then you pull on and fall off, try harder - it spits you off once more. You spend hours, days, maybe weeks. This might be some bizarre eliminate or a crack that looked easy, yet can be so fulfilling.

Today we spent nine and a half hours climbing in such a place, a forgotten quarry behind the Odeon cinema in the very centre of Mansfield. We witnessed fly tipping, heard screeches of rubber as doughnuts were being practiced in the car park behind the cinema, mixed with the sound of Jungle Techno Hard House and the rumble of the dolby sound system from the cinema. A bizarre soundtrack with which to climb, but atmospheric all the same.

In contrast to the negatives, it was an oasis in an urban jungle. The pleasant walk-in passed an idyllic stream laden with trout, locals fishing and having picnics, leading to a hidden quarry in a pocket of wilderness.

Some classic lines in a very contrasting environment.
As one youthful 'I was here' fades, The unfortunate addition of ever complex graffiti marks the passing of time. Where are they now?

11 May 2014

Local Rock

It's always tricky planning your weekend fix when the typical weather wheel of fortune has set in over the UK, sun, rain, hail, high winds, the frustration as the first shower hits your head just as you've spent an hour working out the moves, then each drop that falls whittles away at your optimism, wet pad, soggy shoes, your frustrations spiralling into soaking pad on head, muddy shoes, towel drying holds with a drenched jacket covering the top hold.

Time for a KFC break, This was a one of the main benefits of being on local rock in the centre of Mansfield.

For me now, the Esoteric East venues are becoming a priceless resource to dodge the British weather, I cannot believe we have not yet been shut down on any weekend, it's going to be worth the effort getting it into print.

Anyway, this was just round one, the shower past, sun drenched the crag. back for more, walking back in, clothes soaked, wet pads, showers looming, time to embrace the frustration again.
 A drenched Mike gave us the quote of the day "This reminds me of climbing days when I was in my twenties" Success was his, adding a thin 7c+ to the wall.
Failure on a sweet sloping crackling, hit the top twice, never blamed the rain, honest. 

5 May 2014

The Space Between

Some statistics say men think about sex every 7 seconds, others say 34 times a day, a worthy pastime with a satisfying climax.

It makes you wonder how many times a day a climber thinks about a problem/project compared to this?

Being an addict myself, nearly every waking hour and synaptic fibre that still works in my head is dedicated to finding a piece of rock and working a problem hoping to find that perfect moment in the process. I suppose this is a comparative climax. with similar moans and groans before the end result.

How do the two compare?

What are the benefits?
1. Rock will never complain about your poor performance.
2. The rock will never turn you down.
3. Rock will stand waiting for you through rain, sleet or snow.

Not so good
1. The rock will cheat on you, letting anyone on top, even if your there.
2. Rock is very frigid, quiet never uttering a word despite your best efforts.
3. Rock has a heart of stone, never returns any affection and always forgets your birthday.

Anyway best stop thinking and get climbing.
 Projects on the brain
 James living life on the lip
 Squeeze that arete
Chilling out up high on the Moors

20 Apr 2014

Magic Time

The first thing I'll say is that I'm pretty selfish, just one of many faults, but I suppose if you know your faults it can make you a better person? well sometimes.
 Lucky for me Lisa understands this selfish obsession, allowing three days of climbing bliss, getting lost in a big moorland landscape, no guides, solitude, venturing into a rediscovered unknown. 
The first stop was the edge of East Bilsdale, a place I call 'Apple Tree Rocks' you can see them from the road as you drive through the valley, a long awaited fix on some rewarding blocks with a mixed bag of features and angles. Watching the stars with hardly any light pollution on our revolving planet takes some beating.

Day two we crossed the valley to another high moorland edge with scattered anomalies, The best fluffer (A selfless spotter or cleaner of problems) in The moors. got to work cleaning some highball projects, some inspiring aretes, with a serious landings, f**k the ground up ethics here, top rope first, blimey routes, not done any for a while, inspired, it's going to happen, cheers Steve.

We made the most of the blocks below, why not, I've dug out the harness, now where are my Daddy pants.
James cranking every angle at Apple Tree Rocks
Finger cracking good
The legend gets to work
Chilling making the most of the blocks
60 minutes of working out some unusual moves,finally breeched the short but very involving roof, the left hand is not on an undercut, horrible move, yet totally satisfying.

13 Apr 2014


So I'm inspired, the reason why we climb is inspired by others.
It was suggested in jest that I should be surfing at my age? 45 years young soon this year. but f**k that. I'm nowhere close to the the climber that introduced me to bouldering many years ago in Kyloe woods. with his baggy shorts traversing across the crag. giving me advice on what I thought would be a ridiculous move.
So no way am I retiring, what a time we live in. a time of gobbling up such a massive resource we have.

History is is makes us what we are, to be inspired by the past without ego and enjoying the self fulfilment within a forgotten landscape.

Climb, Take the piss, have a laugh, eat a local delicacy, go somewhere new

Live to explore.

9 Mar 2014


So I should have had my hair cut this Friday, but the urge to climb and clear my head was too strong.
After a mad rush I raced to Barnbrough Edge just to catch the sunset and get some shots of the walls that have been recorded to date. Normally climbing into the dark or sleeping at the venue never phases me, this time it was a bit weird, possibly because the venue is just off Hanging Stone Road? I was twitchy and on edge, hearing strange sounds like horses and creaking rope, no joking? mind you a runner came past in the dark and jumped out of his skin at the sight of bright lights and a mad wide-eyed boulderer. The vibe changes as darkness falls, be warned.

Day two- Saturday
A no brainer really heading to a roof to what is a bit of a dream find, a roof you just stand underneath staring at gobsmacked, with a zombie like expression, a reason to train hard and hope you can actually make any moves, and dare I say climb out the centre of it, I must say good effort to Mike for digging deep and christening the roof with composed power. The celebratory KFC afterwards was well deserved, even though I'm still upset with them for not replying to my sponsorship proposal.  

After that back to Barnbrough for a wind down that never happened, Jug pulling bliss, tricky sitting starts, causing no end of frustration, got my knickers in a right twist on the last problem of the day due to a footwork malfunction. 

The rapid escape from the urban environment is so surprising, such varied venues with a history you really don't expect, you just need to dig a little into a forgotten landscape with a rare beauty, full of myth and legend, you can experience Neolithic Britain, Castles, Battles, Industrial Revolution that has come and gone, reclaimed by Mother Nature.
Sleepy Hollow
Handy Canoe
Worry Lines
Overhanging Juggy Bliss

15 Dec 2013

Improbable Impossible Possibilites

I love this time of year, the days are short, weather patterns are constantly in flux and it can be a complex lottery deciding what to do?

I use one easy formula
1. Raining = go exploring or find a dry roof
2. Not Raining = Climb or Explore and climb  

One of the biggest bonuses of this time of year is that wooded venues offer a warm welcome if dry projects are in condition and exploring is a lot easier without the foliage hiding any hidden treasures. 

So this weekend was spent testing the formula out again. 
Friday + Wet = Explore + Poor Edges Found + Comfy Chairs = Two off the list
Saturday + Dry = Mike's Project + More attempts + bloody hard = Time to explore 
Exploring + Family text asking to join the Weird Beardy Club + Mike finding wall of blankness on google street view = Good day on tiny holds, with even more harder problems to go back to.

Proving the formula works