Thursday 17 November 2011

I want to walk around spanish cities at night.

Sitting at my desk, listening to Bon Iver.

Some days are busy, others - like this - are empty, and I just sit here trying to think of something to do.

Yesterday, I solved a rubiks cube in under 30s after a few attempts.
I know how to play 'Where is my mind?' on ukulele.
I played fives with the Brigands.
I did an AS chemistry unit 1 paper.
I solved a crossword.

Maybe I should start learning a language while I am here...

I met Gaz Parry the other day at SSP and had a chat, considering getting him to come to the school to do some setting/coaching.
After that I flashed a few of his new routes; a 6a+ a 6c and up to the last move of his tufa 6b+ problem.

All I really learnt from the experience was that my stamina is thoroughly up the shitter, I was pumped out of my mind after one route! I am heavily missing out on having a multitude of well set circuits at TCA, I might actually go back for a couple of weekends just for that training facility. It is a pretty long trip over, but considering it costs £7.50 for entry to Craggy Island, it probably works out to be only about 10-20 pounds more, and I get to see my friends in the west country again.

I made a video of myself doing some fives training the other evening

Eton Fives trailer from Archie CB on Vimeo.

As it says on the vimeo page - I would like to make a longer video that explains some of the rules, and since there is a large tournament in London at the end of this month - I think that would make a nice centre piece.

Just need to find a partner now.
And sort out my complete and utter inability to return cut.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Another week gone!

So here we are - another week has disappeared into the sands of time.

Since the last post I haven't done a great deal except play a single game of fives on Thursday evening.

I received a callup from Richard Black (whom I had never met) to play for the 'Lancing Fives Club' - Which is a rather grand name for the 4 old men that the team appears to be comprised of. I think someone mentioned to Richard that I was around in the area and keen for a game, and I am glad that they did because the game I played in was excellent. 

After turning up and playing a few points so they could gauge my ability, I was placed placed in first pair to play a best-of-five match against the top charterhouse pairing.
Naturally, as befits any game I have played in recently, the first thing we did was go behind by about 7 points and then struggle our way back into the game. Our opponents were very fast cutting, and made cunning use of the angle, such that I found myself pinned into the buttress a fair few times before finding some form.
Once I did however, we started to play some very good fives, with some long volleying rallies. One even got up to around 20 shots in length, which left me panting up against the wall.

One of the odd things about fives, and fives courts, is that each court seems to be a little bit different. 
Westway has nice even bouncing courts, fairly similar to Eton in size and shape.
Eton has very shiny courts which dont seem to allow for a great deal of spin
Cranleigh has fairly wide courts with grippy plaster on the walls
St John's is just awful.
And Charterhouse has slanty floors.

These slanty floors threw me off for ages during the match, until I worked out where I needed to stand to be in the right position for my favourite shot into the buttress. Unfortunately, because the ball takes a much narrower angle to the floor when it is slanted, it also meant that I was having to hit it much closer to the ground. Which resulted in my 'killer' shot, not only being telegraphed from the back of the court, but also going a great deal slower than usual.

Nevertheless, we pulled ourselves back into the first game and won in good fashion. The second game was equally close, before we finished them off comfortably in the final game.

Fortunately, next week isnt anywhere near as manic on the fives front, and hopefully I will be able to get my heels back to fighting fitness (they get bruised when I play for a long time) Perhaps I need new shoes.

In other news - I went climbing the other day, and since I have been taping my finger during sessions, my pulley has stopped protesting so much - and today it is even feeling good! I'm not sure how long there is till SIBL now, but I might put in a showing at the first round, just because I can. :-D


Wednesday 5 October 2011

Finger Woes

Good day to all,

Another long break since the last post, but no excuses for me except for laziness.

I have been very busy though - Having started my job, and successfully avoided being fired for 5(?) weeks - I can say that I really feel very happy with where I am at the moment.

I work in the chemistry department at Cranleigh school, which is the same place that I went to school. Fortunately for me though, they have built a shiny new centre for sciences and modern languages and this means that I do not have to work in the old, dingy, draughty and dusty department :-)

Added to that, is the fact that the girl I replaced has done a stirling job of setting up the department, such that my only real requirement is to keep things moving in the right direction. I haven't burnt down the department yet, but we have been exploding some hydrogen balloons to great effect.

I am also heavily involved with the sporting side of things - both on my own, and with the students.

A couple of weeks ago I was able to compete with my old fives partner, Phil Roper, in the U25 Fives Nationals. Despite having a 3 year hiatus from playing fives, Phil was still as good as he ever was and we settled into a groove by the end of the tournament that saw us walk out with the 'A plate'.

Phil and Myself with the overall winners trophy (there was no plate available for photos)

Phil, Myself and the Cambridge based Illingworth Brothers

I have to give full credit to the runners up, who were good sports throughout the match. We came very close to losing after we let a close first game slip away, and then proceeded to gift 6 points at the start of the second.
Fortunately after that I found the right state of mind for cut returning and our service games became very competitive. Eventually we came from behind to win another close game and go into the deciding game at 1-1.
My good form with returning continued and we really dominated the final game, running out 12-2 victors at the end.

I have also been playing a lot of fives with the school, as I am in charge of running two sessions on both Tuesday and Thursday with a single session on Wednesday for the new students at the school.
Last night was our first fixture of the season against a roving fives club made up of grey haired, cunning men. Overall, I think that our team looks quite strong at the moment, with potential for some real competition at the school nationals if I can convince them to come down for some training.

Climbing is still taking a bit of a backseat until my finger is where it needs to be for me to pull on it properly. I think this may mean that I will have to miss the first SIBL round to ensure that I can perform properly at the remaining rounds, but so be it.
I did manage to get out to Stone Farm during the recent spell of delightful weather we have been treated too. Unfortunately, the blazing sun also reduced friction horribly and I walked away from a 3 hour session having only achieved a  an obscenely hard '6b+' - difficult to tell given the conditions, but given that both myself and my mate (who has climbed multiple 7b problems) thought that it was nails, it perhaps needs looking at. Video to come.

Anyways, it is about time for lunch now - so toodleoo.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Seems to have been a while since the last update again. Sorry :-/

I haven't written a post in a while,

And once again I don't really have a good excuse.
However, I have started work at the school which, at the moment, involves getting up far too early and then drinking coffee to keep myself awake. However, I am enjoying the opportunity to dress smartly and then play with chemicals when no one is looking. In fact, I have a rather fun looking experiment to try out at some point:

(Just try to ignore the fact that he sounds like the guy from the Saw movies)

Hopefully I will manage to stay afloat on the wave of chemical organisation that is going to be required in my job. I havent started too badly, but still a bit all over the place in terms of working out what tthe hell I am actually supposed to be doing half the time.

So far it has been pretty quiet, so I have been able to do some extra stuff around the school in the form of climbing, setting and grading routes, choosing sofas, meeting all my old teachers again (some of whom have even attempted to looked pleased about my return), and drawing this pretty picture of the school wall so that  we can now mark up all the problems on the circuits in a simple and effective manner.

School Wall
Personally, I think it looks very pretty and does a great job of displaying the problems in a veriety of grades.

Finally - I have been getting back on the climbing and bit more, but also some of that good old fashioned photography. So on a recent trip to my mate's home training wall it was only natural that my camera should follow.

Here are a few of the resulting shots:




One thing I think I can say for sure is that if I continue to climb here, and get my fingers back up to full grip strength, then I will be in a very pretty place for this series of SIBL competition. I'm very excited for what might go down this winter if I can get my body and act together.

Looks like it is time for beddy byes for the newly inducted worker bee.
Please don't let me become an automaton...

I went to find a picture of Marvin - and instead found this.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have done

Friday 26 August 2011

Phew, Long day (relatively speaking)

Relative to the short wimpy ones I have been doing recently I mean.

I went up to the school today to hit a fives ball around and regain some fitness and finesse. I'm amazed by just how tired I feel after a few minutes of play, I guess is has something to do with using a set of muscles that I am not used to using.

So after about an hour of hitting up on my own I stopped and went home for about 20 minutes before heading out to craggy to climb with Ed till 7. When Ed left, I stayed and climbed with two of my other friends until 10.

I tried to climb easy problems today with my ring finger taped and buddy strapped to my right middle finger. Fortunately my finger didnt hurt too much, and today even feels a little better now that I have finished the session.
However, it still sucks and as such, I have managed to obtain a referral to a hand specialist. So once that is organised I will hopefully have a fit and healthy hand!

Anyways, back to icing and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
(2 more episodes of series one to go, what a programme)

Friday 19 August 2011


Hey up,

Well, after finally overcoming the levy of distractions that have been imposed upon me from such activities as: Climbing, Cycling, Rugby Ball Kicking, Shopping, Redditing, Film Watching, Icing and general procrastinatinging - Here it is!

The long awaited (and much requested) log of our seige of the ventoux.
Before I start; I apologise in advance for the low quality of the pictures in this post. Due the the new plan requiring that I carry all of my gear in a rucksack, the option of taking my DSLR and all of my lenses turned out to be less than attractive. Thus, the only photos I have are from my phone, and hastily taken at that.

With that disclaimer over and done with - Let's start the story!

To give the challenge some context; the well known, and well respected multiple tour de France winning Lance Armstrong referred to the Ventoux as “the hardest climb on the Tour, bar none.” - Unfortunately I only found this out when I had returned back home otherwise I might have put in a few more hours on the pitiful hills of Surrey.

In one of the previous posts I suggested that we were to take a lift down to Grenoble with a blokey from UKC and then cycle about 200 miles to my friends house.

My Main Man Mike's Very Voluminous Van

However, we hit a stumbling block when, two days before we left, I found that the fine steed that I was to ride upon, was not capable of carrying panniers (bags which attach to the bike). Naturally, the prospect of riding 200 miles through hilly terrain with a heavy rucksack was not high on my list of desirable activities. Instead, we altered our plans such that the journey from Grenoble to Dave's would be largely completed by train.
We crossed the Channel to Dunkirk and snatched a scant 4 hours sleep before continuing down to Grenoble with a smile on our lips and a song in our heart. Unfortunately there was not a great deal in our bellies, so when we finally arrived in Orange for the final 20+ mile cycle to Dave's house we were hardly in the fittest of states.

You see that pointy thing?

For much of the cycle we were pedalling into a light headwind under the descending Provençal sun, which poured down its bronzing rays upon us until we eventually arrived amongst the vineyards of Faucon.

This was to be our base of operation for the following week while we recuperated from our short ride and diligently prepared ourselves with hours of backbreaking labour for the ride to come.

Training hard with isotonic sports drink in hand

After a couple of days rest in the beautiful surroundings, eating well and filling the hours with time spent in the pool, on the croquet field and on the boules court.
In the evenings we competed fiercely in such fine and noble passtimes as chess, trivial pursuits and cleudo.
And we ate like kings, with our hosts feeding us: meatballs, fajitas, cheese, sausages, barbecues, pizzas, croissants, apples, nectarines, biscuits, oranges, and all under the ever present eye of the Ventoux.

It may be hard to see, but there is a white patch on the top of the middle hill...That is the peak of the ventoux, and on that peak is a great white tower which overlooks the valleys all around.

Tower on Mont Ventoux   (IMG_0363_Q)

With this view haunting each and every one of our waking hours at Dave's, it was a tempered rest and before long we found ourselves making our plans for the ascent.
We decided to start the day with a 5:30am start, two long-last pain au chocolat for breakfast, and a 30 mile ride as a brief warm up to get to the start of the climb in Bedoin.

How to climb the Ventoux - easy really.

We stopped just outside of the village and I made the rather foolish decision to continue on up the ride without further refueling my body with food. And as I found out later on the ride, I also had no food for the ride, and therefore no energy for the top. On the other hand, the frequent rests I took provided me with some quality time to take in the superb vista that spread out below me.

VistaThere is a larger version of this picture on Flickr if you click through.

It seems that there is a magical aspect to this peak in that no matter how far you pedal towards it, it seems to stay at least the same distance away - and sometimes becomes further.


After about 2.5/3 hours I eventually rolled my way over the top, collapsed, and took a short lived break while I gorged myself on some life giving chocolate and cola. I had been pedalling in the lowest possible gear for 2 hours at about 5mph, and if that wasn't enough to break me mentally then the addition of the freezing 40mph gusts of the mistral, and the rising Provençal sun were more than enough to finish me off. By the time I reached the top there was little I could do besides take a picture and roll back down to Bedoin.

And I look so happy about it!

The descent of the mountain was good fun, one might even go as far as to say that it was worth the ascent!

I was a little zealous with the brakes since it was my first real descent, but I still achieved 40mph for long sections and even overtook a car!
But the most pleasant thing about getting down towards the valley was the warmth that finally filled my body after shivering for the majority of my time in the top third of the climb.

We eventually got back to Dave's after retracing our 30 mile approach.
The total for the day was about 109km in about 6 hours of cycling with about 2000m of height gained.
Each of these figures far exceeds anything I have ever come close to before and once I returned to Dave's my legs did their best to point this out to me by groaning in resentment of every move I made. Eventually however, even this subsided and I was able to enjoy the last few days of our stay at chez Dave.

It is now very late, and there is still a great deal to mention.
Unfortunately I have run out of mental juice and I need to sleep.
I hope this has been of some interest to you few readers, or at least that someone should read it and make my time writing this worthwhile.


Saturday 13 August 2011

Another Week!

I am back, fit, healthy and tanned!

I would write a full commentary on the trip, but unfortunately I cant get the pictures off my phone just yet.

Once I do, I will make a fuller report.

I have also had a few thoughts on the next of my amateur media projects to bless my few readers with.

So if you have nothing else to do, you might as well keep looking at this page non-stop until something appears!

I am hoping to go for a climb tomorrow for the first proper rehabby session on a finger that doesnt hurt much any more.

Night all.

Saturday 30 July 2011

I like this video, that is all.

Human-Powered Health from solve on Vimeo.

I lied - there is more

My finger is feeling quite a lot better recently, so I think I will have a short climb tomorrow.
Pretty psyched for it now, been a long time.

Friday 29 July 2011

New Plan

Sooo, given that my hand is still not quite up to full pulling power, I have constructed a new plan for the end of the holiday.

A chap on UKC has offered a lift down to the south of france with our bikes (grenoble area) for about 70 squid.
From there we will cycle to another friends house near to Avignon (possibly via ceuse) and then have a few days off before attempting the Mt. Ventoux challenge.

View Larger Map

The Mt. Ventoux is an Haute Categorie Climb in the Tour De France and somewhat infamous for having 'killed' Tom Simpson in 1967.
Wikipedia describes it thusly:

"He began to wildly weave across the road before he fell down. He was delirious and asked spectators to put him back on the bike, which he rode to within a half mile of the summit before collapsing dead, still clipped into his pedals. Amphetamines were found in his jersey and bloodstream."

Personally, I think this is about the most hardcore deaths I have heard of.
He literally pushed himself to the death just to beat someone else to the top of a mountain.
It is worthy of a greek playwrite's grim imagination!

After we make a good push at the mountain we will descend and try to work our way back to the uk and home in time for the end of the holiday.

Bristol, Cheddar and the Great Wide World

This weekend I went over to Bristol for my final shift in TCA and a leaving bbq.

While there however, I also managed to get out to cheddar a few times and belay Tris on his projects and take some pictures on the wall.

Also went for a cycle yesterday:




Tuesday 19 July 2011


Apologies to anyone that likes this song for what I have done to it...

My finger is feeling a lot better for the icing, I climbed yesterday at SSP and it only twinged a little bit.

I am going back tomorrow to do some setting, more icing tonight should sort me out :-D

Friday 15 July 2011

Rubiks what?

After noticing that I havent done any cubing in a long while, I found my cube in my slackline bag today.

I managed to solve it first time I attempted to do so while standing on the line which was nice, but it was pretty slow.

Just doing some more now to get my times a bit faster - and what do you know?
after a load of mediocre attempts 45ish times, I hit a sub thirty NL solve on about my 10th attempt... somethings up...

Sunday 10 July 2011

Gah, Neglected

...Still no climbing.
...No Rubiks.
...No Ukulele.
...No Fives.

I feel a bit awkward writing this under the subtitle of my blog now...

Sooooo...Long time no see...


Time for some news on my life.
I passed my degree in Chemistry with Management with a fairly dull 2.2, not much to say on the subject really - didn't get on with the course, and only really knuckled down to doing work in the third year. So probably a fair reflection on what I deserved. Never a 2.1 candidate after 3 years, but didnt deserve a 3rd because I am not quite that backward.

Coming out of university in May, I was hoping to go to Glasgow and work in the shiny new climbing centre being built in time for the end of the summer holidays. However, events have conspired to land me with a cushy new job in the South East of the country - and I cant complain one bit.

I climb fairly regularly with my old chemistry teacher whenever I am back home, and this summer was no exception. After having a bit of a chat about degree yadda yadda it transpired that the old Lab Technician at the school is leaving and the position was available.

After about a day the school had a crisp new CV sitting in their pigeon holes, and after a few interviews, I was offered the job!

So to look at the perks:
Climbing wall on Campus
Fives courts on Campus
3 meals a day if I want them
Free gym
Squash courts
I dont have to live in Glasgow
The grounds are beautiful
I am still within chemistry as a field
I have close ties with teaching if I want to take it up
and I get to work with a climbing mate who is (possibly) more keyed in than I am.
School Holidays - yaaadadaaaa!

Looking at the downsides:
I have to wake up at some odd hour in the morning, that up until now I was not aware existed.
I have to do work. For money....oh wait, that is sort of a perk too. Money - Sweet.

In other news - Last week I:
Ran 7.5 miles
Cycled well over 50 miles (getting well into this)
Went to rugby training
Bought waaaay too much new clothing (and now daren't look at my bank account)

I havent photographied much recently though, I am considering making my own slider, and possibly a crane. Though I have to question the wisdom of capturing nice footage if my computer is too slow to actually process it... not sure how to remedy that really.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Peeling in the shower

I am SO attractive!
I literally don't understand why anyone wouldn't want me!

For Ben - (the only american in my potential audience) I am being sarcastic.

I just got back from a 4 day trip to Spain the other night, and needless to say I conformed to the British stereotype on the first day by getting horribly burnt and then hiding inside and emerging only at night for the remainder of the trip.

It seems my moisturising efforts were in vain though, and the inevitable has started to happen, lets just hope that my landlord wont fine me for leaving juicy skin flakes around the house when I leave...

Now that I have finished doing my best to make people feel ill, I proudly present a few photographs from Spain.


I arrived at Valencia Airport with Nat early on the 19th and took a walk around Valencia during the morning and early afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people, of all ages, who were out exercising in the parks while we were there.

I also sampled my first 'Spanish' drink - Horchata
It tasted like nothing I have ever tried before, and I cant say whether I liked it or not. What I do know is that combining Horchata with coffee shots creates the most delicious drink known to mankind!


When we got to the house in Castillon we made a move to the stunning beach on the shore of the Mediterranean, where I took the opportunity to initially get very burnt - and then on repeat trips - take some pictures.


Unfortunately, my A3 tweak hasnt improved and as such I have still not been doing any climbing - this brings the time since I climbed meaningfully to about 2 months.


Since it has been so long - and I havent really been doing any rehab on it (pretty poor show I know) I think some scar tissue may have formed, leading to a feeling of pain when climbing... I have thus been doing some massage on it, and using a squeezy egg which did a fantastic job of healing my flexor tendon injury from earlier in the year.


I am now engaging in more icing of my hand, and I can sort of feel it having an effect. If you would like to see more of my pictures then please follow this link prepare for plenty of B&W.

There are about 3 weeks before I am hoping to go back to europe and climb again, so I hope I can get my finger in a fit state for climbing. I am also incredibly psyched to start learning a little more Spanish so I am not completely at a loss in the country :-D


Thursday 16 June 2011

Few things to draw your attention to.

My right ring finger seems to have some sort of A3 injury - which is nice, because A2 is way too mainstream at the moment. Unfortunately this leads to a lack of meaningful climbing.

On the positive side - my left ring finger seems to be getting back to strength after the flexor tendon strain from late march.



Finally edited together a film of Marijus in font for his sponsors,
Took my dogs for a walk and took some photos,
Been out climbing at Cranleigh school,
Played touch rugby at my old club,
Climbed at Surrey Sports Park,
And kayaked on the river Wey.

The results can be seen below.

My final view of Bath before heading back to the south east

Popeye looking at a flower

The trees at my local park

There are more of these photos available here:
and all the photos are linked to slightly larger versions.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday 7 June 2011


Somewhere down the line in the last month I have become a shocking 3kg over where I would like to be.

My pullup strength is pretty marginal,
I look 3kg heavier which makes me sad,
my stamina is through the floor,
my finger strength has taken a battering.

but despite that, I still managed to claw myself up various 'hard' stuff on the weekend - and I sure as hell dont know why it felt easier now, than it did when I did those routes for the first time while I was fit.

Today I went and had my first game of badminton in ages - no superstars present, just myself and housemate for about an hour or so.
With luck I will find some more people to play with and really run myself into the ground so I can rise again and float on the rock.

Until then I will have to use this extra weight as training balast...
I also need to ice my hand a bit more since it seems to have gotten a little worse.

Sunday 5 June 2011

I feel like dying!

4 mile run...



I needed that.

How to tire yourself out.

I sometimes wonder how I manage to injure myself so often,
but looking back over the past week or so it is pretty easy to see.

I finished my exams on the 25th of May and since then I have only had 1 good nights sleep - and that was last night.

26th - Drove home to take tent back.
27th - Drove back to Bath.
28th - Worked in TCA.
29th - Worked in TCA.
30th - Bought new shoes and went to Avon Gorge.
1st - Bought approach shoes and went to the Peak district (slept badly in tent).
2nd - Attempted to climb in the peak district (failed badly) and bought new camera.
3rd - Early start to do my final viva.
4th - Cheddar with Tombi, then came back and went out to climb in fairy cave quarry.
5th - Today is a rest must be...or maybe I will do cardio.

My right hand finger is a bit tweaked still and I need to start icing it - which I haven't actually done since I got back from font.
Initially I thought it was just a minor tweak, but now I think it is a bit more than that.

Main aim for the next couple of weeks now
-Lose the weight put on in exam period.
-fix my finger.
-get some stamina.

Sunday 22 May 2011


Apologies to those who have read the removed post - it was a bit ragey after a heavy session of being made to feel like a complete idiot.

Suprised I dont feel like that all the time tbh


Fingers are getting there, one more week off - hopefully spent on a beach in spain and I will be fixed and ready to start getting back into shape.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Interesting Insight

I just watched this, and the first few questions are really interesting for me.
Just hearing the thought process that goes along with his improvement to being one of the best climbers in the world during his era of action.

His thought process on ice/mountain climbing is very similar to mine too, but he is having a shocker when he answers the final question.

I absolutely hate climbing badly and thrutching my way through a problem even if I do finish it, climb hard - climb well.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Tuesday 3 May 2011


Fontainebleau Special!

So as I may have mentioned about a month ago I farked my finger (flexor tendon strain) and was very worried about going to font and being unable to climb anything worthy of mention.

I spent a long time icing my hand and doing fairly aggressive rehab compared to the injury I suffered at the end of my last font trip.
I was still quite worried by the time we went out there, and found it very hard to get psyched in the first half of the trip.

Instead I organised a couple of early morning sessions to film Marijus on Karma. Hopefully once revision and exams are over I will be able to find the time to make a nice video for him and his sponsors. Until then I have a couple of pics from the 5/6am starts.

While we were there I also tried pulling on Moutton a cinq pattes but the left hand pinch strained my finger quite a lot so I sacked it off and sat around for the rest of the day.

Somehow I eventually found some psyche and got started.
I cant remember the trail of events that lead to my eventual ticklist but my hand eventually manned up a bit and I got on with it.

Graviton - First attempt of the trip
Lapin ou Canard - Flash
Vin Rouge - 3 Times
Le Flippeur
Holey Moley - YYFY! 3 years coming and it felt so easy when the friction was alright.

Corto Maltese - First attempt of the trip

Duroxmanie - excellent problem
Little Karma
Coquille Stand
Some random roof at isatis - ridiculously easy flash
Composition forces

Angle Serac - (other side of the arete to Angle Bens)

Roof at Bois Rond - cool problem

I reckon I made a first ascent of a slab in font! it was all green but an awesome problem. I worked it for about 30 minutes I reckon. Tricksy one.

Needless to say I am quite chuffed about the final result. I was fully expecting to act as a glorified chauffeur for the troops but instead I think I may have come away with the ticklist of the trip...
Depends what you want from a trip of course, but a solid ticklist is always top of my targets.

Anyways, I need to go do some more work instead of writing this and watching house.

I wish I could write something a bit more in depth or introspective...but my mind is a little skitz right now.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Intense Vanity!

Simon took some video of me climbing the other day and I only got round to watching it today.
And in a completely narcissistic manner, I couldn't help notice the musculature present.

I guess I was just really surprised because I assumed I just looked a bit flat across the back when climbing.

There's been many a time I have looked at good climbers such an Yann Genoux and felt intensely jealous, but also massively inspired by their tone.

Still, here is my vanity for all to see.

Pity I still suck at climbing.

My finger feels suspiciously good today.
3 days to font.
Thursday is the first on the rock.

Friday 15 April 2011

The Air is Fresher Outside of the Box

I was just talking to Pete online and I came up with that saying.

I guess you can take it to mean what you will,
but from my point of view it comes from living slightly outside the social norms.

And I dont mean that in a crazy person living in a cave sort of way,
but moreover in an avoiding peer pressure or conforming sense.
And I think that a lot of this attitude stems from my climbing habit.

The climbing scene has always been outside the box, in the old days the forefathers of the sport must have been slightly deranged to tie a hemp rope round their waist and set off up a rockface with nothing but their hands, a few chunks of metal and hobnail boots to protect them from a potentially life threatening fall.
And although climbing in the modern era prides itself on being a great deal safer than in the past, the truth is we still have nutjobs at the forefront of the sport who are placing their lives at risk on a daily basis to enjoy themselves (although that is a point for another day).

So its seems that the very act of going climbing will put you outside the perceived social norm, even if you only go a couple of times and then give it up. By putting yourself out there as a person who is willing to push the boundaries of what is perhaps sensible for survival (whether or not this is the case) you are taking part in something that many civilians just wont understand.

Back at school, if I wanted to fit in or impress my mates I should have taken up football or rugby - despite the fact that I was never all that good at them. But instead I took up climbing, Eton fives, badminton and kayaking and dedicated myself to them during my free time.
I think there must have been few pupils at the school who actually participated in more sport than myself, but because they were not mainstream activities they lacked the recognition that was given to the pastimes with greater participation.

I'm sure a lot of people know I climb, but I know that most of them have no idea at all how good or bad I am at it. If I come home and speak to them, the best I can do is try to show them what I did and that I have had a great time doing it - and this is all I can really hope for without getting them to take part. I can but hope that through my stories I may convince someone else to step outside the box and get bitten by the same climbing bug that I did, but it seems that only a select few will ever go beyond dabbling.

I think it would be nice if I could carry this same attitude over into other aspects of my life, for example:
I dont understand why I should want to get drunk and go out - beyond satisfying other peoples desires for me to conform.
The negative effects of a night out are stunningly apparent the next morning - tiredness, headache, sickness, lightness of wallet etc. etc.
and I know a few people who feel the same way.
I frequently hear my housemates bemoaning the fact that they have to go out (despite their own feelings) because they have been cajoled into thinking that it is what they should be doing.

In a parallel with climbing; I can understand that many civilians would never understand why I would want to pull so hard on a hold that I tear a flap of skin from my hand, and why in hell's name that should remotely please me. But the difference from my viewpoint is that I don't go out of my way to badger them to do something they have little interest in.
I would also point out that I rarely hear of people who are cajoled onto climbing trips that they don't want to take part in...

And it really goes for everything.
I know I am guilty of several charges.
For example: while I would shun Jack Wills in normal society, I am prepared to pay a small premium within the climbing world to enjoy a similar experience with Prana clothing (though I do restrict this to two pairs of shorts - one of which has a horrible design flaw)

I'm not saying conformity is bad - heck, I have an iPhone along with half the population of the UK!
But conformity that stops you doing what you really want to do is simply awful.

I guess what I am trying to say is that even if you just open the window of the box and dangle your legs outside, you are a lot closer to the fresh air than those who are stuck in the corner.

Thursday 14 April 2011

I feel oppressed!

I feel like Mr Messy fighting against the oppression of self expression that happens almost daily at the climbing academy!

As Mr Richardson rightly points out: here

If '1984' or 'The Trial' had been a children's book, Mr Messy would be it. No literary character has ever been so fully and categorically obliterated by the forces of social control. Hargreaves may well pay homage to Kafka and Orwell in this work, but he also goes beyond them.

We meet Mr Messy - a man whose entire day-to-day existence is the undiluted expression of his individuality. His very untidiness is a metaphor for his blissful and unselfconscious disregard for the Social Order. Yes, there are times when he himself is a victim of this individuality - as when he trips over a brush he has left on his garden path - but he goes through life with a smile on his face.

That is, until a chance meeting with Mr Neat and Mr Tidy - the archetypal men in suits. They set about a merciless programme of social engineering and indoctrination that we are left in no doubt is in flagrant violation of his free will. 'But I like being messy' he protests as they anonymize both his home and his person with their relentless cleaning activity, a symbolism thinly veiled.

This process is so thorough that by the end of it he is unrecognizable - a homogenized pink blob, no longer truly himself (that vibrant Pollock-like scribble of before). He smiles the smile of a brainwashed automaton, blandly accepting what he has been given no agency to question or refuse. It is in this very smile that the sheer horror of what we have seen to occur is at its most acute.

Somewhere behind this blank expression though is a latent anger - a trace of self-knowledge as to what he once was - in the barbed observation he makes to Neat and Tidy that they have even deprived him of his name.

The book ends with a dry reminder from Hargreaves that just as with the secret police in some totalitarian regime, our own small expressions of uniqueness and volition may also result in a visit from these sinister suited agents.

Perhaps it is possible that one day my oppressors will accept my use of shorts and unconventional footwear.

Though I hold little hope.


Sunday 3 April 2011

To make up for the downbeat nature of the last post I hope you enjoy this poor recital of one of my favourite songs.

I think you should put it on repeat.

Yeah...I started learning the harmonica...

Dont hate!

Saturday 2 April 2011


Sometimes I philosophise about life,
In fact, fairly often.
I guess some people might call me lame for not just 'getting on' with it,
but the way I view it is that we only get 1 shot - 1 chance at whatever it is that we should try and do while we are aware of ourselves in a corporeal sense.

If you haven't been put off this post by now, then I guess you might have some interest in reading the rest.

(there is some stuff about my every day life at the bottom)


Coming from my somewhat atheistic standpoint it seems to me that you have to accept that life,
on the whole,
and in the grand scheme of things,
is pretty pointless.

We come from nothing and we return to nothing.
As they say - Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.
We return, in the form of chemical atoms and molecules, to the universe which spawned us.
After that, nothing remains of our bodies, no soul, no ghosts, no nothing.
As such it is a little hard to attach a great deal of meaning to life.

I for one dont particularly have a problem with this,
but it does raise the question about what I should do while I am still capable of walking, talking and even -at times- dancing.

A while ago, I read Richard Dawkins' book - 'The Selfish Gene',
and while it opened my mind to the way we are honed for passing on our genetic information,
it really just made me resent being held hostage to my body.
I want it to work for me - not the other way round.

For animals who dont get to make a decision the actions are ingrained,
but now we have evolved to think outside of, and overrule our base instincts...
Dare I say it...but is reproduction of your own genes actually that important?
is having a lineage something we should to aspire to - or is it something our genes are trying to influence?

Lots of people say that they want to be 'remembered'...and I guess I can understand where they are coming from,
but as with all things, I am wary of spouting the same old rhetoric as everyone else.
A simple question to ask yourself perhaps is:

'What does being remembered really entail?'
-Memories of your actions?
-Memories of what you looked like?
-Memories of how you made people feel?

Are any of these things actually at all important once you are dead?
Maybe through the actions taken in your own lifetime, you could change things in the world so that other people could have a better experience in their own?

For sure, Martin Luther King certainly set an entire race of people on the path to freedom from oppression, and this must have felt pretty good while he was doing it. It may also be worth pointing out - that as a Christian he probably felt (and I dont suggest that this was his main motive) that his actions would lead him to greater satisfaction as a member of heaven than would ever be possible on earth.

But I wonder how he would have felt about his life if he looked back on his life from the gloomy standpoint of my mind.
Would he feel he had gained sufficient satisfaction from his deeds to justify the way he spent his life?
Is it possible that he may have gained even greater satisfaction from going to every brothel in the US and overdosing on hallucinogens while having the time of his life?

Now to be clear, I also feel that this seems like a cheap way out.
Based on what I have said I might as well find myself a huge chunk of heroin and just bail out of life right now...
But I dont think that this is the case at all...
We are lucky enough to be conscious of ourselves, and be living on a planet with so many things to fascinate and keep us entertained.
As such, I feel like I should try my hardest to see, do and experience the maximum amount of things I can and to be the best collection of molecules I can possibly be?
(Obviously these feelings get pushed away when I consider eating an entire box of chocolates or something similar, Infact, even writing this seems to contradict what I am saying...but we are all prone to fail to certain urges. Maybe I feel like by explaining this standpoint I could encourage people to understand me better, or perhaps 'improve' their lives - god forbid such arrogance).

This video from TED got me thinking about things.

If you cant be bothered watching it (it is a bit long - but hugely interesting) - it essentially points out that people from different backgrounds either are or say that they are just as happy as each other, regardless of their position in the world.
Unfortunately, people with the most choices also end up being the grumpiest because they always feel like they are missing out on something.

Now for the past few years I have felt like I fall into this category,
I certainly don't feel like I have a firm grip on the best thing to be doing at any one time.
Should I go on this trip, should I go on that trip? This uni, that uni? This course, that course?
In the end I either dick about and don't do anything, or feel like I have made the wrong choice.
Which is definitely not ideal...

But the problem is I genuinely feel quite blessed.
I really feel like I could go and take on anything I want and become good at it.
But there is always that nagging I doing the right thing?
What if...after 10 years of climbing, I suddenly realise I was wrong all along, and I should have been working in an office so I could live in comfort and raise a family?
Should I have got a steady fulltime job and experienced as much as possible,
or just winged it - scrimping and saving so I could spend all my time on the road?
Should I pick my trips to inspire others to do something similar?

When it comes down to it though, I guess you have to make a call and go with it,
because to do nothing - will lead to the worst outcome of all.

Either way, I have written all this now.
So I hope you don't feel too overly depressed about the whole 'life' thing...


My finger is still a bit busted up, but I set some easy routes today and climbed a little to keep moving.
I have taken to doing right arm fingerboarding since I cant do much of anything else.
I will be alternating core and RAFingerboarding till my finger repairs.

And I wont be getting back on that traverse ever again.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Celtic Goodness for the Soul

Feel the blood boil and race along gilded paths,
as the rhythm of the bodhran forces the clouds away.
The lofty highlands stretch far beyond the eye,
yet the Rock is all I see.

In the misty morning the pipes blow heavy against the thick air,
once again sounding the call to arms.
To the rock, to the rock!
To the rock, again, we must go.

But Oh! Cruel mistress,
we see once again your fickle ways!
What once seemed a noble task from the comfort of our well lit houses,
now appears to be little more than sharp crystals embedded in stone.

Short hours pass in your frigid embrace
till I am forced once again to unwillingly leave,
with tips on fire and body like heaviest lead,
I must depart, but the day is not yet o'er.

My mind is impinged with thoughts of what might have been,
what might have worked...
hold that - like this, or this - like that?
all must wait till the clouds roll out again.

The pipes sound up once more,
and the drum rolls out, the beat now slower.
More thoughtful, more wise.
Tomorrow the contest begins anew.

Or listen to it if you cba to read...

Goodnight all, Ice and rest.

Bad Fookin Times

Fate: Oh Heeeeeeey, how you doing there Archie?

Me: Yeah, not bad thanks, things been going pretty well with me recently, seems like things are starting to look up.

Fate: Oh, wow, good to hear that.
Fate: Listen, me and the other guys were talking earlier and figured that since you've had about 2 months of decent climbing we should really do something to celebrate?

Me: Cool guys, thanks! What were you thinking of doing? A big trip somewhere?

Fate: Hmm, not so much.

Me: Oh?

Fate: Yeah......They asked me to give you this...*Hands Letter*

Me: Erm, Ok? *Opens Letter*
Me: But...there must be some mistake...this is an order for a finger injury...

Fate: ...

I did a search for 'fate' on google images - and this showed up...

Thursday 24 March 2011


Done quite a lot recently,
many trips outdoors and the like.

1st - Cheddar

I have been outdoors to cheddar many times recently, trying various >7b routes.
I am pleased to announce that I managed to complete my first 7b+ of the year yesterday with a quick ascent of House Burning Down (3*). Top class route.

I tried it a few days ago as a flash attempt and it felt pretty simple until I completely ran out of gas near the top.
Yesterday however the holds all felt a little bit worse than they did before, but after I dogged it once to place the clips I felt psyched enough to go for a proper attempt.
I cruised through the bottom and middle, even running it out a little to make the clips a bit easier. I finally reached the big flat holds near the top, essentially a 5+, maybe 6a boulder problem with increasingly slopey holds to the bolts to finish out. Unfortunately I was obscenely pumped and this felt like the hardest part of the climb by a long, long way. I worked out a nifty rest position and took a few minutes to shake out and chalk up for the final 7/8 moves.
I have never felt that pumped, I made the incredibly bad call to try and pull through the rope and clip from below the top...after pulling through a lot of rope I suddenly realised it wasn't going to happen that way and I would have to work something out, and fast.
I threw out to the previous hold and slapped wildly to the top slopers, hopped my feet up and stood up over the top where my forearms and nerves finally got a rest!

"I've never been so adrenalised"!
I don't think I am ready for another experience like this for at least a few days, just let myself come down from this mental high and then I'll head onto the next project!

House Burning Down

Carly Calmly Crushing

Carla blowing her nose.

2nd - Slacklining

I managed to get out a few times to victoria park in the beautiful weather to dick about on a slackline. I managed to solve my cube twice in a row on it with relative ease and juggled, picked up a dropped ball, turned around loads of times etc. etc.

3rd - Beastmaker

I think I am going to go and buy a beastmaker sometime soon, should give me that pocket training to use in font.

Bought my Beastmaker today and it is newly mounted in my door, let the crushing commence.

Friday 4 March 2011

Talking earlier reminded me.

Of this section of dialogue from southpark:

Randy: But, maybe... I'm just the kind of person who needs to have it all or nothing.
Stan: Naw. All or nothing is easy. But learning to drink a little bit, responsibly, that'sa disciprine. Disciprine... come from within. [Randy looks at Stan for a moment, then walks up to his side and kneels next to him.]
Randy: How did I manage to raise such a smart kid?
Stan: I've had a great teacher.
Randy: Thanks son.
Stan: No not you, my karate teacher. He's really smart.

Discipline is definitely something that I lack. Convincing myself to do something I dont really want to do is just about the hardest thing possible.
My body knows all kinds of tricks to distract myself, the most cunning of which seems to be an unbelievable sensation of tiredness whenever uni work rears its ugly head. I can't fight - I just can't keep my eyes open!

Anyways, the passage above seems to be my way of dealing with it. All or nothing. I learn no discipline but at least the task at hand gets accomplished. Specifically this is about my diet. I cant manage having biscuits or chocolate at hand otherwise the whole things goes. Therefore none must be present in the first place.

I ate two cakes this week! I'm a disgrace, I think I am actually heavier now than when I started my training plan back in January.

2 months to font.
By that time I am going to be stronger, fitter and lighter than ever before!

Thursday 3 March 2011

Recent Thoughts and a fun video or two.

So having written the title of this post yesterday evening I proceeded to do nothing with it.
Fortunately I am now bored enough to start writing. I even have some things to write about!

1! - It was my birthday yesterday and I am now old. I dont think I am young enough to be called a 'young upstart' if I suddenly became good. Unfortunate as this is I shall have to get over it.

2! - I finally found my power cord for my camera which means I can make rubbish videos for people again.

so here is one of them -
Turn up the volume because the talking (the important bit) is quite quiet

3! - Indoors
The mothership has been reset! Now there are loads of nice new tough routes on the front wall and I'm very much up for going back and keeping going on the power. Unfortunately I really shouldn't as I need to continue with the program I set myself at the start and get on with the endurance part. Oddly this part fills me with more dread than the primary section where I had to go running once a week! I guess I dont like the feeling of failure associated with not succeeding at at the level I want to. When I boulder I tend to pull on stuff that there isn't 'shame' in falling off. Definitely need to 9/10 climbers that attitude and suck up those feelings of inadequacy.

4! - Outdoors
Following on from the last point is the 'log' of my trip to Brean yesterday. I went down to 'check the grade' of Tide Rising for Ed who did it second attempt when he was down a short while ago. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the route in one push despite easily doing all the moves. As such the 'power endurance' stage of my training is no doubt essential to succeeding on this route and some similar ones. I am told that the stamina will come quickly if I spend some time training it.

5! - Since it has been my birthday recently I have obviously been eating pretty poorly due to cake requirements and generally treating myself a bit. Unfortunately once the cake is gone I must stop this and get back on the old diet.

6! - Font!
The hotel and ferry have been booked and paid for. 10 days from the 20th to the 30th of april. This gives me just under 2 months to train. Hard. With something to work towards hopefully these 2 months will go fast and be really productive. I need to mount a fingerboard on something and really reap some benefits without having to travel all the way to TCA for a quick session.

7! - Training has started already. I may not be the strongest climber in the provisional group but I sure as hell will be the manliest of the men!

I might make it look like an effort but I assure you this was quite possibly the easiest thing I have ever attempted. I think I could crack an apple at least 3 times this size!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Few things.

I'm suddenly feeling quite apathetic about writing on this blog, which seems a shame but there you go.

I shall continue to post when I can be arsed though.

1st on the agenda!

I guess the peak trip I took this weekend would be high on the list.
Unfortunately I didnt really tick anything much.
I performed a dayflash of deliverance to show Arjan how to do it - (the fact that he ignored my beta doesnt mean anything at all!) Which was pretty neat, last time took 3 attempts so I think I have this problem pretty much on the money.

I also whaled around on Captain Hook (which is a cool roofy, slopery thing near green traverse) while having a chat with Lorenzo from UKB, who seems like a fine gentleman but he kept calling me Rich till I corrected him :-P
Michele Caminati was also there and I even had the pleasure of spotting him on his onsight attempt of Ulysses Bow - which he backed down from...not that I blame him, it looks pretty sketchy.

I am somewhat vegetarian right now, not for any particular reason, I just thought I would see what happens if I dont eat any meat for a while... Apparently the answer is nothing.
Plenty of protein from pulses and frequent smoothies and loads of genuinely tasty meals - I figure it is easy enough to cut meat from your diet without actually affecting your life at all. If anything I probably spend a little less in wasted food now.
However I'm not about to become some sort of moral campaigner for the rights of animals not to die, and unless I am on a specific challenge not to eat meat (like last week) I wont be too miffed if the world conspires to deliver it into my diet.

I do find these people that inherently decide that vegetarian food is rubbish to be very close minded. I would perhaps have thrown myself into that circle a few years back but I must throw out a very big thanks to my good vegan friends in london who have certainly proved over the course of several trips that food without meat can be delicious.

I very much enjoyed making my own hummus the other day - that is, until it exploded all over the kitchen after I accidentally pushed the wooden spoon into the turning blades of the blender...a mere error of judgement there.....certainly not the act of a simpleton.

I am feeling stronger again!


I think that all the time spent doing various core exercise in the down time while I couldnt climb has helped a lot with my general ability.
This should really be my last week of power training and I should move onto power endurance next, which is a shame because I am really enjoying the hard bouldering at the moment.
I feel really psyched for just about everything, unfortunately my skin is too thin so climb for long so I am taking the next few days off to let it come back so I can put in a hard session at TCA or in the great outdoors.


I took some pictures at the academy the other night and here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Joe cutting loose on the dyno of my newly set problem.

Hamish Potokar bearing down on a microcrimp.

Dave Pickford pulling through on the circuit board.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Tweaked my back!

Arrgh, trust me to pull a muscle doing pullups after a proper warm up.


Ice and whatnot should help get me fit for friday.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

This week

Since my hand seems mostly alright (still careful about pulling too hard on the old crimper grip though) I have been down to TCA today and had a pretty decent level climb.

Finger feels alright whis evening despite the thin skin.

However, I guess the important news is that I may be going to font on thursday evening! Very psyched to be going with so many incredibly talented climbers. I wont be able to touch anything they are attempting but I can dream!

Thursday 3 February 2011

Inter Semester Break Funtimes.

So now that the exams are over I have finally had time to get some stuff done. Certainly been a long time since the last post but hopefully this one will be worth it.

After my final exam I headed off to Derby with Mungo and Anthony, met Aaron and did a final shop for the next few days of gritty pebble wrestling.

On Saturday we went out to the Plantation to try a few problems that I had read about and tried before.
After running up the hill we warmed up by traversing on the Deliverance boulder and then moved over to problem number one - Green Traverse.

Aaron on the first few moves.

I let Anthony and Aaron work out some beta and then sent it second attempt which was neat, I guess it was just my type of problem with a few decent feet and some strong moves on holds with good friction.

Anthony crimping hard.

While we were working GT I spotted the Potokars who came over and completely destroyed it before heading off to have a play on Brad Pit

You can see the ascent at the end of this video...très impressive.

Once they came back over we wandered round the corner to deliverance and sent I managed to remember the moves well enough to do it in 3/4 attempts using the POWER OF GRAYSKULL!


Aaron and Mungo then disappeared off to do some trad and myself and Anthony had a play on The Storm which felt pretty tough but possibly doable at some point, just an incredibly long rock over to a sloper.
After we realised that this was not about to happen I went back to Not to be Taken away and took a chunk out of both my finger and my ankle in the pursuit of the ascent.


Shortly afterwards we found ourselves in a nice pub eating some dinner before shivering ourselves to sleep in Mungo's house in Derby.

Saturday was spent at Froggatt.
I had my first proper tradding experiences on Three Pebble Slab and Strapiombante which both left me feeling very cold and unimpressed by the prospect of doing any more.

Traddy Bullshit

Fortunately a uni group was also there and they stuck a top rope up on Downhill Racer which I was able to hop on. I had previously seen Johnny Dawes do this one handed at his lecture the week before which was impressive in itself, however, once I got on the route you can tell just how incredible that achievement was. I flashed the route and can definitely recommend people to get on it if they get the chance. I would like to try it a few more times before I would even think about doing it solo.

On the last day we went to Black rocks and stood in awe of Gaia, Meshuga and Angel's share before overcoming this stunned awe and doing a couple of 7a problems and having a look at an E3 6a called Golden Days.

Checking the gear

I abbed down and checked out the right gear placements and then made a flash/onsight (no idea what to call it since I didnt try any moves...) attempt and succeeded after dicking about at the top for a fair while.
Aaron got some footage of the ascent so I'm sure that once he puts together a video I will stick it on here.
Either way E3 tick is (to my knowledge) the hardest done by any current BUMC member so that leaves me happier. I do make the concession that I still dont have a freaking clue what to do with any gear... although I am marginally better than I was.

While Mungo and Aaron disappeared off to trad it again we had a play and found a chockstone which prompted this lovely picture.

Aron Ralston eat your heart out.

Finally we went home and the very next day I had a lead climbing comp in UCR.
I may write a better post on it at some point but right now I am bored of writing. Suffice it to say that I won and got some shiny new BD quickdraws for my troubles.

Finally - My favourite picture from the trip, at the end of the third day on the rock.


Cheerios all.

Ticklist for the weekend

Climb name Grade
Golden Days E3 6a Flash
Harold V6 (6b) First attempt after it was actually clean
Hat Trick font 7a Took quite a while
Trackside font 7a Flash
Strapiombante E1 5b Lame climb, too easy with a semi dangerous finish. What is the point?
Three Pebble Slab E1 5a Same problem at Strapiombante
Downhill Racer E4 6a Flash on toprope - Awesome route.
Strawberries font 6b First session on it, nice climb.
Deliverance font 7b+ Repeat in a few attempts
The Green Traverse font 7a Second attempt.
Not to be Taken Away font 6c One vaguely hard move followed by jugs...not sure I see the attraction...