Thursday, 20 March 2008
Saturday was rain free but really misty. The tem split into three to try to complete various projects and arranged to meet up later. I headed to Banyan Tree to look at an 8b+ (5.14a) by Steve McClure and John Dunne as well as the classic 8b (5.13d) Nine Deep, One Shallow. Conditions were pretty awful and the crag was extremely greasy, wet in places. I decided to leave Nine Deep for a future trip with better conditions as it looks like a good candidate for an on-sight attempt and set to work on the Steve’s route. It was a fairly short route and really crimpy. Conditions were far from ideal for this type of climbing but after a reasonable on-sight attempt, and working the remaining moves I took my first red-point, greasing off on the last hard move. After cleaning the route and drying the holds as best as I could I rested for my next attempt. Reaching the same point as before, I pulled hard with my left hand which subsequently fired off the greasy side-pull with such force I punched myself in the face. Safe to say I didn’t red-point on that attempt and I took it as a sign to call it a day.
After meeting up with the rest of the group at Lei pi Shan, I tied on at the base of a very wet Single Life and using my newly found crimp, managed to climb to the top. I felt tired clipping the chains but pushed on anyway for a shot at the extension. I had briefly felt the holds a few days before at the end of a session and remembered them feeling pretty small bad. I hoped they would feel better than I remembered but I was out of luck, falling with about four hard moves still to go. Maybe next time…
On Friday, just like
Stripping the draws left me with mixed feelings. It’s always difficult to accept that you cant to something and walk away, even if factors out of your control (wet streak) are to blame. Yet at the same time I felt like I had done what I came to do – to leave something behind for other people to enjoy. Even thought I didn’t free the route, the bolts, hangers and anchors will be there for years to come for anyone to use. Thinking a little deeper, the fact I didn’t free the route means the prize of the first ascent, of what could potentially be the hardest route in
After pulling my draws, I tried to flash an 8a+ (5.13c) called Single Life. Like my project a few of the holds were wet but I made it to the last hard move before running out of steam. I tried twice more, falling on the same move before pulling on the rope to look at the holds finding I had missed a good crimp, just left of what I had been trying to use. Emily then dropped the clutch and got in sending mode, smoothly dispatching the 8b+ (5.14a) extension to Single Life. Tired and hungry, we all headed back to base.
Friday, 14 March 2008
Well, crossing my fingers didn’t work. We have had almost torrential rain all day combined with a thick damp mist. Out of desperation we took a taxi to
If the rain has continued to fall, I think the plan is for a bit of wet-aineering up some of the multi-pitch towers around town. Sure its not sun-kissed, overhanging, tufa covered sport climbing, but a little bit of adventure never hurts ;)
It’s amazing just how wrong you can be. After spending 2 days bolting and cleaning the route, I figured I had a good Idea of how hard it would be as most of the holds seemed good and it didn’t seem so steep. 8a/+ (5.13b/c) was the armchair guess but when the time came to finally give it a go, I just about managed to haul my self to the anchors going bolt to bolt.
It felt really tough and there were two sections I couldn’t climb (one due to wet holds, the other was just damn hard). I think I could climb the bottom section (to the good rest) with a little work, but the top section, with its unclimbed crux, into a massive four point off dyno, into the unclimbed wet section, to some pumpy jugs and final boulder problem seems a little beyond me at this moment in time. Reaching the anchors, I felt defeated and couldn’t see myself climbing the route with my limited time left. I decided to strip the draws but was convinced by my friends to leave them in and try another day.
I hope that I was just tired from bolting etc and that it will seem much more amenable when I next get back on it. I just need to hope for some good weather to dry out the wet streaks, fingers crossed…
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Thanks to the wonders of modern medication, my journey seemed to pass fairly quickly and I found myself in Yangshuo without too much hassle. After finding my hotel, I met up with the rest of the team and had a relaxed evening, eating great food and sharing travel stories.
The next day found us at Odin’s Den which is a large, steep cave that used to pose as a kind of fortress during the Japanese invasion. The crag was a tough introduction back into sport climbing and most of my time was spent hanging off bolts, wondering why easy moves were making me so tired. I soon felt completely fatigued and after a slog to the top of the mountain to see the beautiful Moon Hill it was time to call it a day and return to base.
Ordering food in a foreign language is always tricky but in
I began to get the jet lag jitters and decided a rest day was in order. My forearms ached from the previous day and so I joined the rest of the team for a full body massage. The masseuse was really skilled and strong and even though it often hurt like hell I found it hard not to drift off into a relaxed sleep. I wandered around town for a little while, exploring the various shops that line the narrow streets and practicing my bartering skills. I feel like they are coming along quite nicely but in reality, the final price, which is normally around 20% of what was first asked, is probably still 10 x what it is worth. C’est la vie!
Dinner was fantastic, a feast of Pizza and spring rolls really hit the spot but for some unknown reason, I woke the next morning feeling pretty ill.
After eating breakfast and forcing down a load of coffee and water in the hope that either might make me feel less woozy we packed into a mini bus and headed to
Later on I surprised my self by managing to flash a route that Nick had climbed on his last day at the crag. It was a long battle but thanks to Nick’s ever present beta I managed to clip the chains. Emily tried the route after me and also flashed it. Being quite a bit shorter than me she had to make a few wild slaps in the middle section but stuck them with no problems and cruised to the top, inspiring.
There are a few lines on the cliff that really inspire me and I would love to be able to think I have the stamina to do them. It is still early in the trip and all I can do is work hard, let time do its thing and hope for the best. Ill keep you posted…
Sunday dawned dry and cold so I wasted no time packing my days kit and headed um the M62 towards Ilkley. On arriving at the crag, the wind was furious and it was a real struggle to warm up. My skin was a little sore from the day before, especially the large hole in my middle finger, and I felt quite heavy.
After nearly getting blown off the top of the crag, I abed down into position and started to try the moves. Diff (from HotAches) was hanging motionless beside me doing his very best to keep the camera steady in the howling gale. I didn’t envy him; at least I was climbing which kept me a little warm. I managed all the moves and a few links but it was just too cold to keep my body warm and retreated after roughly 45 minutes to the relative warmth of my car.
The rest of the week was a hectic blur of emails and phone conversations between myself, sponsors, editors and photographers. By the time Friday came, I was ready for a break and headed off to
On returning from
After a week at work, trying desperately to gain some fitness by hanging off the fireplace in the front room, I headed down to Hell on Earth (