I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Good things happen, by Stevie the optimist Haston.

 Patrick on a Fisherman's route.

My pupil did an 8b standard yesterday, and I am very proud of him, well done Patrick. I have had some success lately at teaching people the finer points of climbing, in many different grades, it is gratifying. However Patrick has pleased me immensely, he came here stronger than before and despite an upsetting decision at a comp has just enjoyed his climbing. Climbing is magic sometimes. 

 Patrick checking out an 8c!

The link between a climber and success, is the contact of his skin on the handholds, and the rubber on the footholds. Between these things is a massively complicated process of confidence, a harmony of understanding, and a precision of timed movement. Does that sound complicated? It is. But it is overcome by having Golden Feet, and a bit of strength!

 Contact temporarily broken between Golden Feet and Golden rock!

And not forgetting flexibility, and relaxation of unnecessary tension….

  My grand sun Leo, he showed me his pull up strength and the we went to see the fishes with his sisters.

An Octopus has 8 brains, he is able to control an incredibly complex amount of succers on complicated 3 dimensional operating limbs, they rant just Golden Feet they also have the ability to change colour at will! They are truly amazing, we must aspire to be like Octopus!

I was fortunate to be able to lure this beauty out for the kids to look at before returning it.

After Patrick walked up one of the most beautiful routes on the island I went swimming to Cathedral Cave with my grandchildren. The sea was a bit choppy for Leo and Harmony and Melody, they are not fully aquatic, they are rock climbing hounds, but the sea is a mystery to them. There oohs and ahhs were a profound joy to me. As was Patricks Golden Feet.  Nice day.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Captain climbing Ahab, by Stevie Haston.

 I have been climbing , wow what a revaluation. Its a bit like saying there is a circus of deceit going on in politics today. I guess the revaluation is that most people have got their heads stuck in an extra large popcorn bucket.

 The mother load is slowly being born.

Temperatures are still very high and the sea even got warmer this week. Its a bit hot for hard routes and although I am climbing, my ability to fight seems submerged. Just pleasant routes with lovely people.


These photos above are for Ken my mate, we exchanged some tales, fisherman's and climbing tales can be bigger, and badder than ordinary life sometimes. So thats the new cliff, possible 9a etc Ken.

 Ken's squid, 20kgs!

We are a bit weird on the is tiny insignificant island sometimes our egos are out of step with being the smallest island in the Eu, but hey at least we are still in the EU! 

Master Ken the Natural.

Ken is working too much, like most of my friends but he took the time to come and drag me out today, thanks Ken! He and his girl friend looked smart using a Mono Fin for the first time, it was great to spread some joy with a new toy. On one dive at about 24 meters just as I was turning I came face to face with the biggest Octopus I have ever seen, arms a meter long, and spread out, to its full size. It was huge, it reared up, looked at me with a veiled threat! At this depth the Mixed Martial Arts fight would have gone the wrong way I feared, so a quick hello, and I swore I saw him say, "I'd have you for breakfast". Nice one Octo.  The wreck further out looked tantalising at depth, Ken was thinking it looked so close, but in reality 35 meters is not close. Not for us anyway. Its just like an 8a sport climb when "you know you can do it", but you can't.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Making routes for Ordinary folk. By Stevie extraordinary Haston.

 this climb is 40 meters or more long, Elbe Sandstone!

I woke up after having a majestic dream! My flunky brought in my tea, my toast and eggs Benedict, and told me of the latest routes he had created for my pleasure. "Well you haven't done very well, only one" I said out of my chewing mouth. "Yes Sire" he sighed. "I have been lazy, please forgive my uselessness". "Is it of suitable magnificence for my majesty", I guffawed. "I reverently hope so, Divine one", he whispered as he silently crept out backwards leaving a trail of rock dust behind him.

 to the left of a good route should be something like this, especially on Mondays.

Routes should be wonderful, some of mine are a bit ordinary, but never mundane, some are fit for the Majestic one. I hate people who complain about my routes. It would be nice to do great routes, with perfect moves, on perfect rock in a perfect setting, dream on, some can be just OK. Some routes are in quarries by the sides of roads!

 a few of these sea shells, once on a sea shore, should shine out on a few routes.

I did a little bit of abseiling yesterday, with 46 kids, only one said thank you. This is the world we live in my friends! If you do one of my routes and it's good, please say thank you, then I might put up another. If on the other hand you do one of my routes and you get scared, because the bolts are six inches out of your reach, please keep this infantile bit of information to your self, or employ a flunky.

the mark of a real route setter.

For those that complain about my routes I have left a little surprise. Ah now I feel better, every cloud has a silver lining, every morning eggs Benidict, every finishing hold a Kinder Surprise!

Friday, 30 September 2016

New AgeTraining 60. By Steve young Haston.

The water is getting cold, and the climbing is getting better, good temperatures and wind has come. Only trouble is I am no where near being fit.

 the cave of internal pleasure….

I finally worked out a couple of things in free diving, but obviously I don't need to work anything out in climbing. Climbing although very skill based still has only fitness limits for me! So it's back to basic exercises, like weighted pull ups.

 bit of a free diving party.

There's a lot of free divers about. Malta and Gozo are probably the most popular places in the world at the moment. Gozo is a safe destination compared with the Middle East I guess.

 older, no wiser, less fit, well temporarily.

Next year I am 60, and I'ave already decided I want to do a few things , The Bacher/ Yerian in the US of A, Madagasca for some big wall granit, and free diving with Whales. To do these things I need to be fit, no where near as fit as Iave ever been, but fit none the less. 

 same as it ever was.

Today I did a little free dive that has been bugging me since I was about 14! My free dive buddy did it, and obviously I was supposed to do it. Now peer pressure means nothing to me, I'ave had mates die from peer pressure, and other peoples expectations. But…. anyway I went down to have a look, and over shot the entrance. Coming back up, I thought I spotted the entrance so stuck my body in to get it located in my brain, and before I knew it I was going through the tight bendy tube! There's no where to turn so it's a one way street, that's what happened to me when I was 14, I panicked and had a very traumatising time reversing out! This time it was so easy, effortless, and I had tonnes of gas left at the end. Preparation is everything. Except I should not have done it.

 the squeeze at the top.

Pull ups, yes pull ups, they are still so sweet a thing. In my 60 year probably on my birthday I will do 1000 pull ups and 1000 press ups, the old Jack LaLanne test of steel. Is there any point in this test, yes a bit, but for me it will mean more than if a young buck does it for sure. I just don't want to let my body go, I just don't.

for your sins my son, you will do a penance, a million pull ups…OK.

Old Jack Lalanne was right up my street, good nutrition, and exercise. He did his little test when he was 45, in a time of 1 hour 22 mins, if I remember correctly, it's been beaten once or twice.But I don't think anybody has done it at 60! I think it will take me 1hr 40 max. Any bets-any takers.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Choosing a sports rope, by Stevie Sporty Haston.

When you climb a great deal, you can use, and abuse your gear. Nowadays I abuse less, I use my Sports ropes more, and I abuse them less. It's a definite function of age, but along with age comes, a lot of knowledge in my case. Many people, even some people who should know better, say a ropes is just a rope. This is fundamentally not true. First think about the ropes intended function, and then pick the rope, price is not the first  consideration! Colour is not the first or second consideration!

The Energy is my chosen rope of the moment. Why?

What is the first consideration? First consideration of a rope should be that it can catch your fall with out imparting so much force that it hurts you. The rope is the cord that binds the climbing protection system together. So it must stretch, to absorb impact.

 Theres lots of info out there, but low impact force, with a good life expectancy, and fit for purpose is what I want.

The diameter of my rope is one of the main things I look for. Why? Well, thin ropes which have their place, are more difficult to use in belay devices, and wear faster. I want a balance, you probably should think about this more than me, because you defiantly want your rope to last.

 diameter and weight are not often what you think, so check.

Thin ropes, are less drag thru gear, and if they are robust because of a good sheath might last a good while.  But really you need to think about diameter, For me anything under 9.4 is a red point super effort job, and needs lots of care. 9. 5 mm is bang in the middle, over 9.5 is getting a bit heavy and a bit slow on the clips and a bit too much friction. At 9. 8 the rope should be able to take a lot of abuse, and at 10 mm will last for a very long time. How we climbed on 11 mm is a wonder and testament to how strong we were in our miss spent youth!

 get a good middle mark if you can!

Please take care of your rope! The more care of your rope the more care it will take of you! Unwind it care fully, not in a rush, get rid of every bend in it from when you first buy it. Seriously the more care you first put in the better. Try to belay especially when lowering without putting a slow twist in the rope, its very easy to do this, so take care. When lowering try binders and chains make sure you are no unwittingly putting twists in the rope.

So Edelweiss 9.5 mm it is at the moment.

Use a climbing tarp, or rope bag all the time. Minimise drag, or eliminate drag when ever possible. Change ends after falls, or sessions otherwise wear will be concentrated in on e place! And how long is you rope, do you know? You knew when you bought it right, do you still know a year later when on a quick trip and suddenly you are lowering off a route and it seems veeeery long, is it gonna be too long, and the end of the rope is going to zip through the belay device?
I love 80 meter ropes, why, its not because they are heavy (because they are)  its because I know they are long, as in too long for most people to screw up. When choosing a rope, think diameter,  think length, think low impact force, think good middle mark, think good treatment on all parts of the rope,  think price, and colour last. Look after your rope, and don't lend it to anyone, keep your eye on it, treat it right.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Gozo's climbing potential is huge. By Stevie Haston.

I'ave climbed in thousands of places around the world and I can say that one day Gozo will be known just as much for its climbing, as its Scuba Diving. The potential in climbing tourism for the Island is very high, and in the off season, when everything else slumps, climbing comes into its own due to the cooler temperatures.

Yesterday, 2 kilometres of swimming to look at cliffs and caves, a brilliant day.

It's very disturbing to see the sea full of plastic, and to mention it, is a sin in some peoples eyes. Equally the car pollution in summer -or indeed most of the year. Mentioning Birds on the Maltese Islands is a political night mare and I have already been threatened.

 One of the caves on the coast, 40 meter + visibility yesterday, crazy clear.

Along the coast we have potential for thousands of climbing routes, and an Eco Sport excellent for foreigners and locals alike. A sport that promotes health, and enjoyment of the out doors, and will bring us valuable Euros.

 Climbing up after my companion, heavily laden, on a new route that once cleaned up would be fabulous.

 Edelweiss Canyon rope, the new diving rope colour!

The gift fairies brought me two ropes, thanks Edelweiss.

The first rope is a Canyon rope whose colour is so good I begged one off the Edelweiss Boss straight away.
This canyon rope is  at 47 meters, a bit long for a geriatric diver like me-especialy as I am stuck at around 30 meters with equalisation problems. We will see, as it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but Iam willing to learn.

Edelweiss 9.5 Energy rope, best bang for your buck in a sports rope? We will see-my mission is to test it to destruction.

Had a great day out swimming, and climbing, despite seeing people spraying pesticides every where, dumping building rubble, and you can guess what else. But hey I won't talk about that today...

Friday, 16 September 2016

Death of Hope and 3 Honey Buzzards, by Stevie Sad Haston.

We were nearly shot by illegal hunters today, but they did manage to kill three honey buzzards. I will drag this out, but if you don't want to get upset don't read on, or look at the photos.

 we started the day full of hope, going down about 55 meters of cliff.

The plan was to decend a trad route of mine, think about turning it into a more accessible sport route and look at others by a pleasant swim. The sea was limpid, and the viz was the best I have had this year perhaps 40 meters!

 going down the cliff with fragile fins and exploratory gear, bit of a palava, but normally worth it.

So I am rarely happy, its a fault of mine, but this day, this sublime day, I was as happy as I get, fucking Cloud 9 to the Nth power.
After a few dives were I was seriously in trouble because I kept going down, because the viz was champagne, or as cave divers say "Gin clear". No matter what words you used, I was in danger of being intoxicated with pure 22 carrat happiness.

 After swimming under a route called Moushi, we saw some Egrets, white Egrets, nice we thought. Under the water we saw a couple of Groupers and Parrot fish, and swarms of bait fish. Then ….. a very large band of Honey Buzzards flew next to us and we were nearly shot. Two hunters were firing at the Buzzards without care for us. Buzzards are protected, but so theoretically are swimmers!

 Three Buzzards were shot illegally, the hunters kept shooting even though I was shouting, I have a very loud voice easily capable of traveling 55 meters!

 We tried to rescue one which wasn't dead.

I swum hard trying to stay safe but then went for a bird I saw flapping around. I hoped that the jerk above would stop shooting.

 the Honey Buzzard died, sadly.

We climbed the cliff with the bird, which was too complicated in the end and took too long. Anyway the bird died.
She was a little Honey.

And even more sadly the police can't do much.

We made a report to the police, they will try their best. I chased the young man, but he got away on a dirt bike. In retrospect I am glad I didn't catch him. There were maybe 10 hunters shooting birds over the sea on this section of cliff. The two near us who shot without due consideration for us were targeting Honey Buzzards. The others even if shooting legal birds were shooting for fun, and sadism, as you can't collect birds from the bottom of 50 -60 meer cliffs. The best day I have had for years was exploded by Remington multiple illegal shot guns.