Monday, 29 June 2015
I belayed my mate this morning while he led two new routes. I was on belay duty. Hardly anyone belays me, they forget about their belay duty to me, they have convenient memories! Tomorrow I am going to see the Hypogeum, I am on historical duty, or cultural duty. Possibly the oldest underground temple in the world is on the Malta so I will see if it is still there. It might have been hijacked by someone, or for something. I saw it when I was a kid, and there were no safety rails, or viewer interactive mumbo jumbo, just a fat lazy guardian smoking stinking ciggs.
I am fond of a few people, fond of many more cliffs, and many more routes, and mountains, fond of the sea and colours, animals, flowers. Thank you if you are one of these things.
Curly wirily spinning fire works, a competition of them in fact, fairly pretty, in fact. Not as pretty as the sea, or a well kept vegetable garden, or rocks.
I am fond of this, very fond. 'It my friend' (Italian accent), it's a bit exhausting, but never answers back, what I put in, it pays back. It never cheats me. As alway Mr Crusher from Crusher Boards, ta very much mate. There is a fan in the big room, and a fan in front of it. My board has two big fans, and me. It has a lot-thats a joke, by the by. A few of my projects are holding out. Time to get slowly serious.
Sunday, 28 June 2015
My partner was burnt by the sun yesterday, hard on a shady cliff! My arms are tired, hard to believe on jugs and ledges. Sleep happy, walking the streets of the fiesta village last night. Half a bottle of wine and "basta", enough, sleep. Then I dream I am in a desperate groove, and my flexibility is not up to it, and I collapse through my own legs, like and umbrella in a gale!
These great guys were enjoying the cliff too. They fish for fish, to put in soup, and of course to pass the time. They are from three of the Gozo villages that don't have a bay, or inlet to put boats in. They have developed a few interesting ways to fish including traps on long lines, which are then brought up by pulleys.
Grooves, how I love grooves, technic, technical, tactic, tactile, feel your way up, make bizarre shapes with your body, and finally when your stumped, and have tried everything, udge. Ah the lost art of Udging.
I just bolted a great face climb, in an updraft of turbulence. It looks complex, and a bit jumpy, sloppy and you can imagine lots of indecision. The great climber Stephan Glowacz wanted me to bolt it, but I think he might enjoy it more than me! We will see, tomorrow is another day, never say never, etc, fall till you can't fall anymore, and then get up. Thats right, get up!
Saturday, 27 June 2015
You wake up from the small death of sleep to a paleness, a greyer shade of light. Then it goes pink, quickly the sun, peach coloured, turns into a fierce, bright orange burning ball. So you seek the shade, the north facing cliffs.
Here in the caves, there is a limpid light. A mellow feel to the air, and you don't have to squint, but you are still tempted by the water. Sometimes calm, sometimes storm, there is always some energy.
The team the other day were not fierce warriors but soft folk looking for pleasant climbs, we found them of course. The tougher ones we avoided like the fierce sun.
Oceana (girls name) seconds Airo Rambler, a simply scrumptious 6b+ on rough pockets. Today I equipped two more routes, one will have to wait for the seasonal fluctuations in strength to aline, for verily it is steep. Need to earn some money, pay some bills, train, and have more fun and success.
Thursday, 25 June 2015
Just a few words, to keep me going, and possibly to keep you going. Good routes, and a bit of work. So the routes are good, and I had some good coaching work this week. So obviously you know the routes are good, but why is the coaching good? The coaching is good because these people invest in my knowledge, they buy into it, they believe, they copy, they do. You have to commit, without commitment you don't get anywhere.
When I tell people I only got good at climbing when I moved to France, and watched great French climbers, and climbed with some of them, people don't want to believe me. What about your previous routes, they ask? Well, they would have been easier. Much easier.
I need to train again, I need to learn again, I need to recharge again, yep the Rhino has to charge. Yep gonna jump into the training again, gonna get strong. Gonna do a few great routes.
I proscribed some training to a very good climber with high expectations this week, and will take my own advice. After all I have expectations of my own. Right?
Ps. Rhino top bit goes free at 7c+/8a, verily it is exposed.
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Just finished The Last Rhino, it was as good as expected. It's a fabulous addition to climbing on Malta and Gozo, it will surely become a classic. The photo above shows the belay at the top of the first pitch, 6a, mainly easy chimney, but the initial traverse has a tricky bit on it.
From this belay at 6a+ you traverse with bolts for protection until you give up the free climbing, and start using the bolts for progress while standing in slings. It all becomes very overhanging, and undercut, it's very exciting and exposed.
From the end of this traverse which might go free at mid 8 standard, you hang out and wonder where you can go? A few exposed free moves lead to a four bolt traverse thru a mini slab, which goes thru the last overhang. A final sting in the tail in the shape of a few compulsory free moves (no bolt), lands you on the flat top of the cliff like a stranded fish.
The Last Rhino is very scenic and highly recommended, it doesn't need huge skills but if you mess up it would be hard to extricate yourself. You need a friend 3 /2, and a set of wires. Bolts and threads do the rest, take a 20 clips. I'll do my best to free climb it, but it still needs a lot of careful cleaning due to brittle and soft sandstone. Expect a few more good routes from these lovely cliffs.
Monday, 22 June 2015
So I had this idea for a route name, The Last Rhino, then my friend bought me a book called the Last Rhinos. Then this morning a face book friend linked me to the deaths of two lads protecting Rhinos in the Congo! One of these protectors of Rhinos had 5 children and one had 7! My life seems trivial compared to their work, but I try to tread a reasonable path. My reasonable path will be a great route for them and you.
Counting pennies for glue yesterday, this is bolt fund donations thanks folks, thanks very much. So managed to connect the bit from the bottom of our route to the bit I reversed aided from the top. Trashed a rope, frayed my nerves, fried my brain, t'other day and only placed two bits of protection. But today joined it all together. The route is scenic, airy, beau, full of strange textures, pounding wave sounds booming inside hidden pockets, odd perspective perplexing you, puzzling pleasure pulsing in throbbing throttling fear. It's great.
My second Paul was great, supportive and generous, thanks Paul. We both suffered, not least when I hauled two bags at once up Union City Blues, the route felt like a path, the bags felt like being Keel hauled.
Tomorrow we do the Last Rhino. Please do what you can when you can. While we were climbing people were shooting birds illegally, a police car happened by, they took no notice and drove on! It's politicians in the end who have to do the correct thing. I am not brave enough to go after hunters with guns, I am just a soft guy, and seemingly so are the Police.
Saturday, 20 June 2015
Back in the groove, back in the swing of things, all excited, ready to boogy. This route is very good, in 3 short pitches it takes you through the whole gamut of excitement. It is of course Mini golf compared to high standard himalayan alpinism, but you know we lack spiky snow encrusted spires in Gozo, so we make do with sand stone sloping roofs!
I like this photo of my royal pinkness. It's funny who we think we are, and what we look like, self image is a weird one for sure. So the route has been there all this time masquerading as a big gloomy cave, when in fact it was a pandoras box of special delights. It's been taunting me for years, but now I understand her angles, some of her defences have fallen, and I look forward to a long lasting relationship where she will be my dominatrix.
This cliff is now home, what it lacks in stature, it makes up for in tone and feeling, it is Fruit Cake Land, many layered, many facetted.
The life force when the sea is choppy is good at Fruit Cake Land. When the sea is raging, so is your life, the bongo drums of your own destiny are loud and clear, and then of course you return to the domestic scene at home, and things become somewhat humdrum, and dumb. So life is flat, the age of Northern red skinned berserkers is over, the age of the domestic humdruminity is apon us. Thank god we have Fruit Cake Land.