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Thawing and drying out

19 Feb 2010

We like to complain about our weather a lot. Maybe we shouldn’t. The rest of Europe haven’t got it much better at all. We arrived at Ljubljana airport to about 2 feet of snow, which remained until we miraculously passed through a tunnel, to emerge to no snow but a wintery scene at Osp. Rab, Steve, Dan and I spent 8 days shivering in climbing hero Silvo Karo’s house. Here I am complaining about the weather again, but now, in context I realise we were incredibly lucky.

Misja Pec

Misja Pec in the foreground, Osp in the background

For two days we enjoyed dream conditions of 4 degrees and booming sunshine. For the rest of the time it was the same temp but either snowing or raining. Still, a fire at the crag sorted that out. And somehow we climbed every day that we wanted to. You just need to re-adjust your hardcore settings – or at least I had to. It didn’t seem to hold the others back.

The combination of Osp and Misja Pec is really a world class climbing option. Within 10 minutes walk you have access to some 350 plus routes including some of the world’s hardest routes. And there’s no one there!! I had wondered if I was going on holiday to Malham cove. People moaned of polish and desperate grades, but the reality is not really. Unlike some sport destinations the lines are proper features: prows, corners, grooves, scoops etc and whilst not Buoux or Verdon grading, just good solid benchmarks, which I like. I wasn’t quite up to form for a variety of reasons, the cold and lack of time on rock being biggies but certainly felt inspired for a return. The local climbers, despite being super wads, were as friendly as you can get – sometimes this is missing from high level sports crags.

Rab Misja Pec

Rab climbing in the central part of the wall at Misja Pec

All in all it was a good week and there were some great performances.  Dan flashed his first 8a+ and Steve managed an 8c+/9a – an inspiration to us all as like everyone he had to contend with cold fingers and also a seeping tufa.

I moved on to El Chorro for another indulgent 4 day trip to meet up with Nic hoping to get warm. We were welcomed by torrential rain and an hour into our drive the electrics broke on the car. After being towed back to Malaga to collect a new one, just before dark we sat down to a tasty chicken and chips in the Chorro campsite bar. Thank goodness we weren’t camping though – we had a lovely room up near the Olive Branch. Local news reports showed flooding comparable to what we see on our TV screens – the worst in living memory apparently.

So surprisingly and luckily we did actually get one full day’s climbing in. The rain subsided and with fingers reminiscent of Slovenia we climbed and I was happy with 7b and 7b+ onsights. But that was it… The rain continued but caves are permanently seeping and we didn’t get much luck at the best hope of Poema de Roca.  Nic managed to climb some soaking rock, but I was less inspired.

So I’m really quite happy to be sat back at home tapping on the computer feeling the sun on my face through the window.  Off to the Foundry this afternoon!

London, Northumberland, Rome and beyond…

03 Feb 2010

I’ve been telling my friends how in balance my life is at the moment, but actually things really are as busy as ever.  The weekend following my last post I travelled to London to work on a BMC Academy day at the Westway.  Just under 40 young people joined us for a day of training and climbing.  I ran the core body and flexibility session.  It was a good but busy day and everyone including me was tired!!  I followed this up with a day’s coaching at the Castle and Turkey 09 turned up in force:  Louisa, Kathryn, Bernadette, Andy, Ed, Roslyn, Hannah, Nick, Hazel and Tony.  I wasn’t coaching all of them!  Just 3!  But a good and sociable day – the Castle really is a super friendly wall, despite how big it really is.

That week in retrospect my training seemingly reached it’s peak – unfortunately since then it’s been a steady decline - it was a reasonable peak at least.  No time to worry about that.  Nic and I whisked ourselves off for a weekend to Rome – there and back on the train.  I have to say that possibly the train was the highlight; it genuinely was good fun rolling across Europe.  I’m not sure why we never realised it before, but Nic and I just aren’t sightseeing types – saying that it was freezing and damp in Rome.  Nothing wrong though with a whirl round the Colosseum or the many cafes.

This week I shot up to do a slideshow for the Northumberland Mountaineering Club – great fun, a group of really motivated climbers.  Shame though that they still have too much snow to actually get to the crags…  Which leads me nicely to the Peak.  The Peak has been in much the same shape… until now.  And currently it’s in a shape that may not be repeated for another 30 years!  How often do you hear lots of people saying they’ve done a couple of E6s and E7s in one day.  Never… until now.  The majority of snow has melted apart from key drifts that have flattened out landings or even taken up to 3 metres off climbs.  E7s have become 7a+s (boulder grade), E4s have become E2s…  Unfortunately Nic and I couldn’t take advantage of this phenomenon accompanied by vibrant blue sky until Monday.  After just a couple of warm ups I found myself climbing Comus (normally E46a) at Stanage.  The landing has been flattened out and it’s probably a highball 6b+!!  What fun.

Anyway no more time to wonder what’s happenning with my wavering climbing performance – I’m off to Slovenia tomorrow with Ste, Rab and Dan.  I’ll report back soon…