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Monday, 30 July 2012


I ended my LPT 2012 seige today by finally sketching my way up The Walking Mussel. I started trying the route in March and made quick progress. It didn't seem like it was going to be too much of an epic - how wrong i was! A combination of the worst summer for a very long time and the fact that the two crux moves were so droppable resulted in my biggest route siege yet (apart from The Brute which still eludes me). Most years you would never have to contend with seepage on the route but this was no normal year. A inch wide section of water right where i had to stand caused me much frustration. Throughout the whole thing i never lost sight that the end would come if i kept going. It's pretty handy being an experienced seiger in these situations. Redpointing at your limit is so hard, after 10 days it's full on mind warfare. 5 weeks ago i was really close but i didn't manage to get back down there. Today i went down with Tommy, the chalk on the crag was glowing white and it was cold and fresh so i knew it would be pretty good. The wet hold wasn't dry but it was better than last time. First redpoint i dropped the move to the undercut when i really should't have. It's so frustrating when it's execution that lets you down, i always think: 'a good climber would have done that move then'. Next go i was determind to do the move. I knew i was strong on the next undercut match so i might have a chance if i got there. Sure enough i got the undercut and stuffed my fingers up it. I matched really strong and sorted my feet out nicely. I was dreading the next tricky move, i'd only got here once before. But this time everything stuck and i was soon at the first reasonable shakout. It's a weird feeling to break onto new ground when you've been stuck in one place for so long. I knew a good climber wouldn't drop the end but i needed to get some strength back. I shook furiously and screamed expletives to get me psyched up. I knew i could top out even if it took everything i had. I quested on up to the undercuts before the crack but didn't feel the need to stay there long. I knew i had enough strength left and didn't want to pump out trying to recover (this is a problem when you've no stamina). The crack went well apart from a almost fatal foot fumble. Soon i was shaking out after the hard bit but i knew i was in- i felt ok. I wacked in the final handjam, grabbed the good finishing holds and stood on top as the sun shined down on my chest. Thank fuck for that! The main emotion was that i was free and i didn't have to go up there again. After investing so many days into it it had became the main priority of the year, work and everything else had to stand in line. Dyer had told Robins he reckoned i'd fall off the crack so i'm glad to prove him wrong. Although it's a number up i don't feel like i've reached the next level as i've done a couple of routes that aren't much easier. It was the biggest epic though and i'm just going to enjoy myself for a bit now. I finished off on Bad Boy and went home for a tuna dinner. I can't believe i've done my hardest boulder and hardest route in the same week! Me and Tommy went down Pigeon's for a look on the way home. It was pretty dry and i'm keen for my project there. At least i don't have to feel guilty when i go to the Diamond in a few weeks now!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Badger Badger Badger

Ally Smith has completed an old project on the Dive Dive Dive sector on the Upper Drive. His route Badger Badger Badger (8a+) is essentially a direct start to the classic 7b, Dive Dive Dive. The route features a hard and reachy boulder problem passing the 2nd bolt, Ally estimated this section to be about font 7b. 6 more long moves then lead to DDD up which the route finishes. Ally reckoned it was comparable in difficulty and style to Energy Vampire (8a+) at Malham. The route is very morpho so it will be interesting to see how shorties get on. Nice one Ally, great to have another hard route above the road. It doesn't look like we're going to break last years record of 13 new grade 8's though. The weather and lack of new lines has seen to that. I counted 4 so far.

Since my big tick on Pill Box i've been back a couple of times to try the Last Rites link. I've got through Drink Driving again both times but the harder finish is a different ball game and it feels some way off. If you can get through DD every now and again on Last Drink it should just be a matter of time. On this link significantly more PE is needed. I've been playing about on Last Rites trying to suss easier beta. I don't think there is a easier method for me and my beta is quick fro the link. I'm not convinced it's 7b though, the first hard move off the shit pinch is a bitch on the link. I'm still adjusting to the fact that i can lap something that has represented my limit for so long - it's a bizarre feeling. I've had moments like this when i've had a freak day or lost weight but i'm experiencing an elevated level at the moment! It seems i've just got stronger! I'd definitely be considering downgrading DD if Ed and Dan hadn't of confirmed the grade. Hopefully if i can keep doing DD i'll make progress on it soon. I always regarded this one as a pipe dream for me, i thought Ed Hamer would be the man for the job. So i'm delighted that it's a realistic proposition.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Last Orders pics

Some pics of Last Orders from the camera of Mr P.
Undercut to pinch first move, Mr P:

Me on the long crux move to the good hold:

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Last Drink

Reality has bitten in the last week. I'm in the middle of a 16 day in a row work stint so climbing has taken a back foot. It's not too bad as the job isn't tiring and i'm only 45 minutes from home but the early starts get to you eventually. I've been getting out a bit since that surprising day on the box with Smitton and Dylan. After that day i started to wonder about the link into Last Orders. It seemed like it might be feasible as long as that day wasn't a one off fluke. It would give Drink Driving a great finish and would undoubtedly be a better problem with more tricky climbing tagged onto the end (without a rest) as opposed to a nothing piss finish. The crux of Last Orders is a long stretch and we all know big moves are hard when you're tired so i knew it would be a bastard on the link. I returned again but failed to do as well. Drink Driving is essentially all about two moves. It's 10 sustained crimpy moves to get there and then the difficulty lies in reversing the crux moves of Millenium Drive when you're tired. I used to be so low percentage on them both when i was first seiging the problem. In my recent sessions i had been quite consistent on the first move - an accurate span to the MD pinch. After a couple more duff sessions i hit the pinch again this week. This time i squeezed it so hard and with every ounce of effort that i could muster i shook my way into the good undercut that marks the end of the hard climbing. However it is still steep and you can't really rest. When i did Drink Driving for the first time i shook my way across this finishing section and was so close to falling. Where Drink Driving drops down to Font 5 territory you grab a undercut with your left and launch straight into Last Orders. This was new territory for me and i knew i needed to fight. Almost dropping every move i got to the big crux on Last Orders but my arm melted on the pinch and that was it. I fell but was chuffed to bits, it was definitely possible. I returned again with Mr Panton but it started raining so things weren't ideal and i only had one go (on a seperate note go do Where's My Hippo - best 7a on Orme?). I knew if i could do Drink Driving every go the link wouldn't take long. This was unrealistic however as although i was a lot better on it, it was still hard! The main thing that was i knew i needed to try as hard as i could when i was crossing under to the pinch.
Today i left work a bit earlier and planned to go down LPT with Pete Harrison. I got a txt when i was sitting at the Cave saying he had some car issues so i resorted to plan B - the box! I didn't really want to be there and wasn't feeling psyched but knew i needed to keep ticking over. I warmed up and messed about, not really taking things seriously. Interestingly i worked another sequence for the start of Drink Driving. It seemed strange to be playing around with it after so many years but the new way involved less crimping and more powerful, bigger holds. Maybe it could give me the edge. I only had 2 pads so i stuck them both under Last Orders as the landing isn't so great. I sat on my jumper (i really hate starting a boulder problem without a pad, it feels uncivilised) and set off wizzing along to the business section. I felt good and hit the pinch, when you get it you need to move fast before the left hand powers out. Like the last time i did the move it was all out getting the undercut but once i had something felt different from the last attempt. I felt stronger and more composed and even managed a few shakes of each arm. I couldn't believe it, i knew i had a chance. As i started up Last Orders the surpise grew as i still had some strength and i realised it was on. I got to the crux and sucked in and stretched and grabbed the good hold. I matched the finishing crimps above and stepped off onto the box screaming. It felt amazing! I knew this new link was a great improvement and one of the hardest things i've done. It could well be harder than Jack the Drunk. Jack the Drunk has a hard start but you're fresh. For this link you need to climb Drink Driving with a bit in the tank and this gave me more satisfaction than anything. Through all the dismay that this year has brought, the abysmal weather and wet crags, the frustration trying one route and the lack of ticks i have managed to keep myself from getting too pissed off. And that is because i know i have improved at this game. I climb better and my base level is so much better. These days i seem to be able to maintain a much higher level rather than the odd flash in the pan of times gone by.
There is one more link to do on the box and i can't help but wonder if it's a goer. The link into Last Rites would be significantly harder again but it's a great challenge and i'll never tire of going to the box. The new link is called Last Drink, i was saving this name for DD/Last Rites but Pete R suggested 'One for the Road' for that and i think it fits. Back to work for me, hopefully i won't have to wait as long for another such moment.

Friday, 13 July 2012


We had two sunny days in a row in Wales which is unprecedented for this year. It's raining again now obviously. Yesterday the Orme had recovered in a big way. The Cave looked very dry and LPT was good too. Pete Robins managed a mega new 8a+ link downstairs. Paratrooper does all the hard climbing on Parasite to the rest at the flat break before moving up and right into Battle of the Little Big Orme up which it finishes. It's pretty cool because you end up climbing Battle with the original left hand sequence which no one ever does now. Battle was 8a+ when first done by Chris Plant in 1990.

There was only one 8a+ in the 97 Rockfax but there will be no less than 7 in the new guide:
Pas De Deux - Direct finish to Bad Boy, hard 8a+.
Melancopout - Training link. Melanchollie to the undercuts then step right and finish up Bad Boy. Likely done years ago.
Bad Melons - Another training link starting up Bad Boy and finishing up Melanchollie. Also likely done years ago.
Melon Beach - Great link climbing the first hard section of Melanchollie, then up Bad Boy and finishing up Mussel Beach (or even better up Parasite).
Moonwalk - Neglected FA by Tommy taking a direct line into Over the Moon Direct. Get on it people.
Paratrooper - See above
Wild Understatement - An upgrade from the last guide. First climbed by George Smith in 89 but ridiculous for 8a (makes Statement look piss).

I was back on Walking Mussel after a enforced 10 day lay off and god it was a battle. I felt bored and had no zest which basically made it impossible to try hard (which is essential). I'm going to have to dig deep if i'm going to climb this route, it's well passed the 'fun' stage and i've had enough. I linked the crux on my 3rd day, it's essentially a boulder problem route and yet here i am still falling. I'm pretty sure i know what the answer is, i need to get down to my fighting weight and just blow it out the water. This is problematic as i'm enjoying grub right now and my missus will definitely kick off if i get any skinnier. I just keep thinking about the battle on Hole Truth last year and then how easy it was when i lost weight. One things for sure, i need a conclusion to this epic!

Shauna was back in the Cave and climbing more very hard things with minimal effort. This time In Hell, a solid 8a+ coming from the back wall into Rockatrocity. She said she's only got 2 weeks left in the country this year. It's alright for some, watch out hard blocs of the world!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


After the big news coming from the slate quarries this week i thought i needed to show Caff who's boss and overshadow his poxy slab. As i stepped outside today it was fresh, dry and windy which felt quite surreal. I've been playing around on a little project at Llanddulas recently. I'd noticed the potential for starting up Mudjekeewis and finishing up Wirral Whip a few times over the years but didn't really think that it worked/was worth it. I was up high on Wirral Whip a few weeks ago taking pictures of Mawson on Mudjekeewis and the holds on the connecting section looked really cool and i got keen to try it. I returned with Lee Proctor and stuck one bolt in the new section and started trying it. It was very cool and seemed about 7c. I was on redpoint when the decent hold on the route exploded off when i was clipping. At first i was gutted but then is started trying it without the hold and it seemed like it would go so i decided to stick with it without the hold. It was quite a bit harder and i got excited. The holds were slippy and slopey and the footholds were hard to use and tensiony. I sorted the moves and left it for another day. On my return i found an easier sequence for the end but kept falling on a hard deadpoint to a slopey pinch. The route does the first hard move on Mudjekeewis and then 5 new, independent moves to gain the jug tufa on Wirral Whip which it finishes up. Certainly one of the better pieces of climbing on the wall despite not being an entirely new line. Today i returned with the Cattells- Danny and Mule. The conditions were good and i felt stronger and soon hit the slopey pod which was the hardest move. I kept falling afterwards though and tickled the tufa on Wirral. This move is amazing, you can really launch at the hold and it's really satisfying when you catch it. With time running out i despatched and topped out. I've spent so much time falling off this year with my attempts on Walking Mussel that the few times i've got up something it's been a shock. Mudjekeewis is a spirit from African mythology and the eldest brother to Nanabozho (which is what i've called the route). It was quite easy to grade as it's a grade harder than Wirral Whip and so 8a. It certainly felt pretty tough and took much longer than the other 8's i've done this year.

Danny would have got the FA on camera but he didn't press record so here is my best effort falling on the last move slapping the tufa. Danny is a muppet:

Monday, 9 July 2012

Rolling Back the Years

I've lost my buzz, the weather has finally beat it out of me. I've hardly thought about Walking Mussel in the last week. I planned to go down to LPT Thursday evening but after looking over the wall it was apparent that it was actually fucked. Seepage from above and dark greasy rock below. Usually the climbing struggle is in your own hands (well kind of) but at the moment it's in the hands of the elements and i'm starting to think i'll do nothing this year. The problem is by the time it improves i'll be hanging by a noose with my limp penis getting pecked at by grateful seagulls. Anyway every cloud has a silver lining and i went back to Pill Box (which incidentally is one of the most reliable crags round here conditions wise). I've repeated a lot of stuff on Pill Box recently but there are two more new links for me to aim for. Drink Driving into Last Orders and/or Last Rites would be very cool and very sustained. The Last Rites link is probably beyond me but i'm keen to have the Last Orders one as a goal and if nothing else it's a reason to go there. Last Orders is a 7a up line just by the edge of the Box.
I first visited the box in 2002 armed with the Northern Soul: Coastal Crags pamphlet. It's funny to see how far Mr P's topo making abilities have come on in ten years. It is the topo making equivalent of jumping from 7a to 9a!

There were 9 problems with the hardest being Kristian Klemmow's, Millenium Drive at V10. I got keen for the place and managed the 2nd ascent of Millenium Drive (Mule downgraded it on the 3rd ascent). My first new problems were Jack Daniels Connection and Chris' Link, both 7b+. I kept going back to my favourite crag and after 40 days managed Drink Driving in 2007. I gave it 8a+ as it had taken 4 times longer than the 8a's i'd done. I managed the harder start in 2009 (Jack the Drunk).
On Thusday i felt mutant warming up, i instantly recognised it was one of those rare days and i was cursing the fact i wasn't trying to climb Walking Mussel. Smitton and Dylan were there racing up E5's. Smit on More Genius:
There was only one thing for it, i sat down in that very familiar position and crabbed leftwards like i had so many times before. It felt like i was shaking hands with an old friend. I got to the two hard redpoint moves and crimped hard. I got the first pinch, a move i must have fallen off 100s of times and almost managed the cross under which marks the end of the hard climbing. It was a real buzz to almost repeat it, i felt like a better climber and the acres of extra flab weren't stopping me. Maybe the finishing links would be possible after all. I went back on Saturday and fell off the same move although i wasn't as strong. Pete Robins has never really got stuck into the box but he's started to get tick his way through the easier problems armed with a printed out ticklist. I'm sure he'll have everything ticked off in another few days. He's unrelenting that boy!
Pete attempting The Malteser, 7c:

It seems like Last Rites could be 7b now as easier beta has emerged. I'll be a bit gutted if the 8a link from Malteser comes down. The new crimp that people have started using on Jack Daniels has basically made it pointless as it's so close to Original Problem so i'm going to have to declare it a historical eliminate i.e, the crimp is out. An eliminate it may be but the original 7b+ seqeuence and the 7b sequence are brilliant so it's still worthwhile. I don't care about Jack the Drunk losing significance as i know it was a hard thing that i did.
Old footage from Bamboo Productions:

Jack The Drunk - Chris Doyle from Bamboo Chicken Productions on Vimeo.

Pete Harrison is doing some re-equipping on Upper Empire. Last year Norman bolted Wild Blue Yonder at 6b. He soloed the first ascent of this, he's fucking nuts. It's filthy and loose. Pete bolted and led Man in Motion which is a bit more trad than sport. Can't see me going back but good effort Pete anyway.

Thursday, 5 July 2012


You can almost hear the collective sigh of UK rock climbers as each weeks forecast is mirrored time after time. I suppose i'm lucky in that i get opportunities to try my project even if it's far from ideal. I got through the crux twice at the weekend which was great but i fell before the rest. On my best go my wet foot popped off the smear. I have to give it a wipe mid crux now to try and stop it popping off above. It was good conditions on the dry stone and some 8's were getting dispatched. Mawson did Melon Beach and Parasite and Ben West knocked off a few 8a's in a day. I finished off on Libertango which criminally i'd never done. It was brilliant and sustained but very easy for a Orme 7b+, i think its getting 7b in the new guide. It's pretty cool there's routes this good i haven't done. I've never seen routes like Statement wet in summer before. Inspector checking out Infanticide 8c:

Shauna returned to the Cave and her continued progression is evident. She managed Pit of Hell (8a) and knocked out Halfway House which she took 8a for (most blokes take 8a+ without kneebars). She is a genuine beast that girl!