21 December 2008

A Bad Day

A quick blast down to the chalk; one of the last before i leave. Looking back it was a bit of a long shot that i would go straight on Mixed Emotions and lead it but that is what I attempted....... leaving the ground it felt all wrong...... muffed sequences........ aches...... then missing holds. Oh well it will be there for next time. What am I writing? It will be gone in a couple of months!!!!

Stu on Toby's line

Jim and Steve giving me advice "come down Rob you are too weak"

18 December 2008

A good week

Mixed Emotions
The new line I posted about earlier was totally finished and ready to practice..........top rope of course!!! It would be possible to climb ground up but I wasn't ever volunteering for that. The line goes through the widest, longest part of the Pleasure Dome through 25m of chalk and then 5m of even looser chalk, overhanging for the full length but steepest at the bottom.

After a tide affected day drilling holds then a couple of top rope attempts that were stopped by a move I couldn't do it was my last go of the weekend .......... A jump start to begin with then through the big moves on the bottom half of the route. Earlier I had found a way to do the 'impossible' move; mantle the axe, after that I found myself puffing and chopping my way to the grassy mantle through some kind of chalk rubble that I hadn't bothered to practice (my deepest respect to anyone leading through this kind of territory on Warthogs). All in all a good line that might last a month or two.

(ph Richard Handy)

Abbing in to place the top rope on Mixed Emotions (tense moments indeed)

(ph Paul Bezencon)

Me by the last piece of protection

Bez on Mixed Emotions

Toby chalk bouldering at Telscombe


Toby & Richard

Matt getting ready for the Ice

After being sentenced to nightshifts in Warrington I thought my climbing would be put on hold but, thanks to Dave and Sari, I went on some brilliant routes at Liverpool's Awsome wall and The Foundry............maybe I should do some sport climbing sometime............??

As a good end to a surprisingly good week climbing; I found half a packet of custard creams in the bottom of my rucksack just when i was thinking how hungry I was.

Training Hard (of course not!)

Winters coming

Freezing fingers on flying buttress

(ph Sari Nevala)

Early season

(ph Sari Nevala)

A memorable day on the Buchaile

As I have a couple of months of mixed, ice and other axe assisted climbing ahead of me I should be training hard but this plan has not really worked out as I hoped. No problem, as an alternative form of training I will climb the Ben in 70 mph winds. I found out from the experienced among us that when it gets impossible to see through the wind driven snow you take off your climbing helmet, put on the goggles stored inside then carry on (discussing a possible crawl across the plateau) or go down. Down I go.

Andre travelling home from SA

After getting on the plane to I always wanted to know if I would make it more than half way through. After buying the cheapest Land Rover on the market, it appeared to be a V8 3.9 which is something I will never be driving in my life back home, but in the end I still think the micro (1.0) can go a little faster. The main problem we still have today from the beginning is the paperwork, a carnet de passage is like a car passport that you can go through any boarder without paying extra shit like road tax, third party insurance, entry payment etc. This is all because I am not permitted in South Africa where I brought the car and for the Carnet I need to pay 600% worth of the car unless I ship the car back to South Africa after the trip, what’s wrong with the world, people think money grows on trees.
We drove to the cool surfing town Jeffery’s Bay but the weather was like Wales, then to Port Elizabeth for the highest bungee jump in the world! We headed North to the Cedeberg Mountains where we discovered soloing on the wolfberg arch especially my responsibility for my friends who have never been climbing before, I think I have given him a scar from what happened! In the end we got lost, it got dark, it even started to freeze. We scrambled down the gorge that I doubt anyone has ever been down before. It was so dense and sharp bushes everywhere. After hours we hit the road, but not near the car but the other side of the mountain which was about 30 km away from the car, but today miracles happen as there was a 4wd coming towards us at that time of the night and we were saved.
We headed north to Spingbok and discovered our first brake down, and I hadn’t got a clue about cars. We tried to get police clearance near the boarder to Namibia but nothing which is why we have so many problems at the boarders today worrying whether we will get in or not as we don’t seem to have much but an international driving license.
Namibia was like being in the sauna 24/7 in fact I couldn’t breath properly especially up north. However we went all over Namibia and didn’t enjoy the country as much as we could have as we broke down soooooo many times, practically in each town realizing we had been busted from the fat man who sold the car to us in Cape Town. Everything was wrong especially the engine we once broke down at the red dunes for three days before we were towed through the night into Windhoek and again we were ripped off and mugged there. Just before Etosha National Park we spent 2 weeks on a farm whilst the engine was being repaired. During that time we discovered the true northern culture of Namibia mixing with the naked tribes, we even gave them a lift to another villiage fitting 6 in our car with babies too having there mud (protection from the sun) all over the seats.
We did so much all the way to Zambia Livingstone where I took the risk of swimming 2 meters away from the drop of Victoria falls! One of my friends had a terrible car accident, whilst he was walking down back to the backpackers hostel he went right over the car and his head smashed the windscreen that was terrible.
Emlyn came up with the idea of going to Zimbabwe which we then got stuck there and the British embassy called my mother and seemed to make things worst after we got mugged for the third time (some asshole broke into our car and stole my bag with my camera credit cards passport etc) the man was too fast for me which is why I will start running when I get back to the UK. However he kept everything but handed my passport back where I had to go to the roughest part of Harare to pick it up! Too bad that was after the embassy called home as there was so much information that I didn’t know for the forms for a new passport. The embassy told my mum ‘ by the way the foreign office does strongly advice travelers not to attend to Zimbabwe ‘ my face dropped as I could barely lip read, and of course made things worse! Before that we went to an amazing National Park where I didn’t see one person, I seemed to be brain washed by films knowing elephants where the sweetiest animals ever. Emlyn dropped me off for some photographs of the car in the wild, and suddenly the ground shacked, the baboons disappeared, as I looked up a heard of elephants seemed to be heading faster than a cheater towards me, I ran for my life trying to climb this tree but there was no time but being circled around them until Emlyn flow the car over the nation park as if our rover was the greatest car on earth and I was saved.
In Zimbabwe we couldn’t get any money out as Evil Robert Mugabe has blocked all the foreign accounts and we starved through the weekend. The biggest supermarket in Harare hardly had any food, all the shops were closed (busted), and everything was going upside down in a dark way. We even had to get special permission to get petrol to fled Zimbabwe.
Mozambique was a beautiful country and Malawi was a nightmare to get into as disabled people are not allowed to enter without a supervisor, I threatened the boss would loss his job very soon not knowing how powerful I am, lying can get you far in life sometimes.
The Police in Africa are usually corrupted and it gets hard getting out of police issues especially sometimes when we have no insurance, there was even one point inMalawi where we were sort of arrested.
Lake Malawi was a real beauty, the water was fresh but I was always paranoid about the hippos as they were around somewhere. We even met a dude who told us about a secret place, we drove far into the highlands, trekked through the jungle without paths and in the end a field of cannabis, just like you see in the movies! They were even selling 300 pounds worth for 5 pounds!?!?!?!
Tanzania was full of problems with the car, it must have been our 15th time we broke down, is that normal? Zanzibar was beautiful through.
In Kenya we managed to drive through the worst road in the whole world through Marsabit which is well known for bandits, thank god we didn’t brake down at all!
Since the whole trip started we have to fill the car oil at least 2 liters every 400km, we have to screw up the nuts underneath everyday, check around, yesterday our silencer broke and we managed to fix it with help of course. Since the experience I see myself as I qualified mechanic now which I sometimes do enjoy. We have to full tools to fix most basic stuff, spear wheels, our own home made metal tow bar. My car has one window boarded up with wood, and some cool stuff from all over Africa all around the car and is possibly the coolest looking car in Africa. None of the doors work anymore which sometimes we climb through the windows to get in. I even have a little gym built around the my baby! The best thing about the car is on the smooth roads I sometime climb onto the roof enjoying the breeze after melting from the sun.
I am now in Ethiopia, we have driven over 14,000 km confirmed which is quite a distance. The Ethiopian food (injera) is amazing I seem to prefer goat than beef, the woman here are so beautiful but none seem to give me the wink, I was wondering why this morning until I looked at myself in the mirror looking like some ugly human being from 15,000 B.C. Since Ethiopia we have visited a crocodile Farm and we were the only ones and I ended up inside the cage with the man among three huge ugly crocodiles which was hell of an experience, but of course I had to beg the man to go inside the cage.
Driving can be so hard especially all day and sometimes through the night, please don’t do this at home! The worst of them all is through the night in the rain on the awful roads of Africa, sometimes when another car seems to be coming towards you with the bright lights in the rain you just can’t see a thing and have to hope your going to drive pass it not into it. I seem to be pretty hot at overtaking now but I had to go through some experience to become wise at the decisions.<
I seem to here that many of you are getting as strong as ever, reading your emails about climbing does make me feel so weak as if I have aids or something.
I will be home around Christmas I hope, depends on what happens.
In the end Land Rovers always brake down, TIA huh!

Sari Nevala in Nepal

Here are a couple of photos from Sari's trip to Nepal and India, you'll get the full story on her blog (maybe) (sometime!!) ....... http://sarinevala.blogspot.com/

All photos courtesy of Sari Nevala

12 November 2008

30m long 15m OH

A new Chalk climbing line in the Pleasuredome at Telsecombe. I hope this route will eventually make it all the way to the top of the cliff. So far the rebar pegs have been placed to full height and axe holds have been drilled half way up. There is some poorer rock to cross next....after that? hopefully the line will last long enough for me to climb it!

Top rope and tensioned rope for the safety conscious!!

Toby on his new line

Thanks for the photos Ramon

11 November 2008

27 October 2008

Axes in the uk

The Pleasure Dome:
Currently a blank canvas (apart from a couple of new pegs) .......

Matt on White Goods (aka Doorstep Challange)

Ramon on Jaz

Taking care not to blow the top section of Jaz

Dave getting back in to the swing of things

uncharted territory

6 October 2008

The Balloon Bed

Back at the best drytooling venue this side of Edinburgh (or possibly the Channel?)

Ramon reaching one of the all natural holds; a deep pocket that requires a fig4 move to reach the next hold (unless you know otherwise??)

Ollie in training for the OMM!!

Me in training to become a clown. That thing that I'm holding (not the Radon filled balloon) is a rather good lightweight bed!!! When it was first described to me; 2 layers of silk with pockets for modelling ballons, I was thinking it sounded a bit mad, and it is. But if you want a superlighweight bed for use away from sharp things!........

The start of a great sequence of moves. thanks for the photo Andy.

24 September 2008

An Alpine start

Piz Badile. Our target route (the Cassin) went up the NE face (left of ridge in photo) but as it is meant to be a rock route in summer so this amount of snow put us off a bit.

A short drive south to Mello in Italy got us within reach of some fantastic cappuchino's and some interesting slabs. The grades used seem to blur the division between French and English. (E4 fr.6a anyone??)

These wolves in sheep clothing hunt round the campsite (and the bottom of the slabs looking for injured climbers). Luckily the only prey they caught was the German's food basket; did you know a donky will happily eat tea bags and butter straight out of the tub!!?

7 May 2008

Cleaning another new line at The Goods

It looked like there was a good stein pull below this block!!!!!!

28 April 2008

20 April 2008

A Great Escape

There I was trying to put a team together to make a visit to White Goods and I contacted Martin Poznanski, who has been known to crank out some chalk routes, only to find that he and his girlfriend are taking a 6 month trip biking round Asia.

NEW.......Follow their adventures HERE
And be sure to follow the Picasa link on their blog to see their photos

Wrong choice if you ask me; drytooling in Wales or this .....

"We're planning to leave on May 1 and return some time in October. Starting point will be Poland and from there we're planning to go to: Slovakia - Hungaria - Romania - Ukraine - Russia - Kazachstan - Uzbekistan - Tadjikistan - Kyrgyzstan - Kazachstan - Russia - Mongolia - Russia - Estonia - Latvia - Lithunia - Poland - Germany. Looks like a nice little round trip on the world map - about 25.000km :)

From what I have heard so far the roads in Kazachstan, the other Stans and Mongolia are rather dirt tracks than roads. So it'll be an interesting experiment with Martin not having ridden a motorbike for the last ten years and me having no offroad experience."

I have seen a tiny bit of Azerbaijan (Baku) and wouldn't drive there in anything smaller than a tank!! So I think all of that axe climbing will be good training for hanging on to those handlebars. Have fun.

search my blog for Martin or Baku if you want.

18 April 2008

distant memories

A huge thanks to Jo Dotremont for these photos, check his BLOG to see his adventures.

Later on in the Musashi effort I was working moves along a crack that could have done with a bit of ice in it.

This was about were i got to on my best effort. If only the ice was long enough to get a foot hold......


2 April 2008

Kristoffer Szilas does it again

Here are a few photos of Kristoffer Szilas's latest expedition.

Check out his site HERE.

31 March 2008

watch this space

more good things should be on the way from White Goods (Pwll Glas)......here is a taster.......

Dave G on the new route; Ready Steady Hook

Simon also on Ready Steady Hook