Friday, 21 October 2011
So here’s a photo of a young climber being greedy and making a mess! Two people came onto my Blog last night from Iraq, and I was just wondering whom you were. A lot of people come onto my blog and don’t get it, and when they cant find the stupidity they seek, they don’t come again. That’s no loss to me. Some people come to my Blog and actually read, and gain something, which is a bit of plus. There are an estimated 4.5 million orphans in Iraq! The two blips out of the air-waves from Iraq, I guess you are soldiers, who are climbers also, if you are reading this, hello from me, and Laurence, and my three grandchildren. When I saw your blips I was very sad, sad for you, but very sad for Iraq, and horrified at the appalling list of innocent dead and injured. Peace to all.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
I miss being in Italy, but its nice to be at home. Cats, and my climbing partner, a garden; and living without car noise! One of the great things about being home is the climbing, my favorite cliff is here, but it is upside down, and my old warm-ups are 8a. I have been there three times since coming back, and months since I went climbing, so it was a surprise to lead one of them, and so did Laurence. Wow, I can call myself a climber again, my legs were like bursting sausages and I am verry-heavyyyy! Went on a project, cos I felt a bit chuffed, and was brought back to reality, couldn’t do nothing, I mean nothing, Decided I am less than rubbish, will try again when ego has repaired itself. I love climbing, love running, love caving and swimming, but you cant do them all very well at the same time. It's automn here, the leaves are turning, it's blue, blue, blue, and I am happy.
Friday, 14 October 2011
|Young Jamie in Stevie's secret chamber.|
Taking pleasure from other peoples enjoyment is one of the more groovy things in my life. Dave our Electrician and his son did a bit of caving with us and liked it, it was all Laurence’s idea. Over the years we and I separately have helped more than a few kids start caving and climbing. Caving is so easy for them to understand and love and its very evident that older people start to loose the ease of liking caving. The photos you see are in a my little village cave, the first part of which has been vandalized and the second bit is through a gate and is still nearly pristine. One little chamber was discovered by me and it was an odd moment to think that in all those ions of time it had waited patiently for me to stubble across it. Hope you like the photos, you would have to have something severely wrong with you to not like them after all. Some of the formations in the cave are aragonite crystals and flowers, there are cave pearls and a downward spiralling series that looks like Areo-chocolate but makes you feel like you are in the small intestine of a dragon with colon cancer.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Just read that Lizzy Hawker is going to do the Great Himalayan trail, wish I was going it looks Brill! At about 1,700km, its long, had a peek at their web site and I have been in about half of it, looks like a great adventure for Lizzy and wish her luck. Lizzy won the Mont Blanc trail in september, and followed it a month later with a 24hr record of 247km. Cheered me up thinking about her great form and this majestic run that traverses Nepal from one end to the other. I don't have a photo of Lizzy unfortunately so you will have to do with this one of a guy under Lhotse south face, running higher than the Mont Blanc and slower than a snail. Namaste.
Sunday, 9 October 2011
A running pal told me I was getting senile and left out the most important fact about Steve Jones, so I will add it. Steve Jones still holds the British marathon record! 2hrs 7mins is still the fastest time a Brit can do a Greek distance and the most important thing about Steve’s record for the man himself, is that he shouldn’t have it, it should be bettered! Steve Jones was (still is?) 5 feet 10 inches and his weight was (is?) 62kgs, he now lives in Colorado and helps people run swiftly. The whole thing about my blog was really to high light how at a tender age I had some very good athletes to impress me. When I think back to those years and the preceding ones it is even more impressive that people did so well with so little. Today standards have improved, but it is very different, maybe not as romantic. Having said that the marathon is very exciting at the moment, is not it? The continuing question of how fast it can go spins my head. There are 1970s winning times for 10,000 meters in alotta fast marathons. Anyway thanks ‘taffy’ for phoning me up, and correcting my omission.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
Just chatting about running sometimes seems to be running. Anyway ain't done much jogging, slow shuffling, or running but keep thinking about it, which isn’t the same either. I am a bit crook, have a gammy abductor which I have made worse by climbing at my favourite crag. I have in fact worked with my injury, doing building work, run up my hill, gone swimming and diving, caving too, and they all hurt. Cycling is ok which shows you the value of having a pushbike. Anyway was thinking about three of my running heroes this week so I thought I’d talk a bit about them and my injury will magically heal.
Steve Jones a South Wales likely lad had the world record marathon time for a while and reportedly showed very little mercy in his training. It was a bit of a shock for people at the time as Steve enjoyed a pint or three and seemed to have came out of nowhere. He came of course from being a tough lad who wasn’t scared of getting stuck in. Anyway he brought up the fact (or some one did) that in 1984 there were 25 sub 2hrs 15mins marathons, and in 2009 there was just 1! That’s pretty funny, or sick, or indicative, or something! 1984 Orwell’s year! So another lad I was thinking about was Kenny Stuart, I saw this lad run a record Snowdon race which I think still stands to this day. I had pretensions as an aspirant runner in those days but Kenny payed put to them, I basically gave up. He was astounding, I mean it, his speed going up was murderous, him and another guy but when he turned around it was a hurricane. A few years later he did a 2hr 11mins marathon without of course to days benefits and easy options. He retired shortly after because he got sick one of my Lake District buddies told me. Kenny was from the Lakes like my other inspiration and shows you what little mountains and quite village life can turn out. Anyway what can you say about Billy Bland! The strongest of the Blands, our Billy always springs into my mind on a long run, especially when I am flagging, I see him scrutinising my weakness, and then he kindly says ‘come along now, get a move on’, it never fails. Billy is the course record holder for Britain’s best little round the Bob Grahame and again it was done along time ago. I often wonder what he could do in the Tor de Geants or could’ve done, I should say. Billy had a 2hr 15 marathon I think. Kenny Stuart weighed I think 50 kg for 5 foot five and Billy weighed nothing at all. They weren’t white Russians, they were white Kenyans. There you go Float like butterfly, fly like a swift.
WARNING : Don’t read this if you are not a nerdy climber!
|Mine is bigger than yours!|
I had a couple of Emails late last from America concerning the ethics of Trad-climbing and crack climbing, mainly from older climbers or people with a strong foundation in climbing on gear. Climbing on gear is very special in that it allows you to protect your route without anything being in place and thus ‘clean’, it is in fact termed clean climbing sometimes, and it also allows you at its best to do new routes anywhere in the world with some gear facility. That’s up to a point! And the point of course varies, from climber to climber and climb to climb, or area to area. In the late 1970s the Verdon Gorge was being developed in southern France and some routes where protected by long bolt ladders. In the Dolomites in Italy some routes where long lines of metal pitons and eventually these so-called permanently protected type of routes became more of the norm and a new ethic of climbing was born where you good basically mess around to your hearts content, pulling on gear, practising, as long as in the end you did a free ascent without falls or aid. Anyway this type of climbing in my early years was anathema to most of my friends and the worldwide elite, it was denigrated and termed cheating. Roll on a few years and most of the world doesn’t understand Trad-climbing and its intricacies, some people would say it has limitations. Some of the limitations are its strictness, the on-sight, is king in this game, and indeed when you fail you have the problem of protection left in place, which then precludes a strict clean ascent. Another limitation is the amount of protection you carry, it can be big! Big racks of expensive gear are maybe what the gear junkie wants and craves, but the free climber detests such constraints against his capacities. Another disadvantage is that gear is fiddly to put in, takes time and experience to use properly, so some routes become an exercise and a nightmare of gear placement and management. For this reason most people take the more amenable road of bolt protected climbing, I say amenable but should use another word, even simpler which is a good word might be misconstrued. I often think to myself that bolt climbing allows me more freedom of movement, and I can come much closer to fearless and less encumbered enjoyment. I hope you understand all of this, because most people don’t, and there is no best way, they are just different. Now there arises around the world problems of local ethics or even personal between different climbers. The polemic about Century Crack is interesting on a number of counts, primarily on whether you try to do it by Local (stringent) ethics, or a more modern and quicker way. In conversations I had with Americans over the years about Century Crack it was always very clear what they thought was correct. I have noticed over the years what you think of as correct is a best case scenario or what you would aspire to. I myself have taken great liberties with ethics, morals, and laws, bending, breaking, and simply not noticing over the years. Some of my climbs have been done in impeccable style while others have been a bit sloppy, some times I have been greedy while other times noble. Century crack posed many problems for me over the years, the main problem was ethics with gear. The climb for me, cracks (being very morpho) is hardest where your equipment burden is greatest, and thus it is here I wanted (but never did) bend the rules. Century Crack may well be flashed one day which would be the only real traditional correct way, but until then there will be easier options available to its suitors. I hope this helps people understand a bit more. A good long article explaining the ins and outs of various ethical stands on climbing is long overdue in the mags, from bouldering to the Himalayas, but of course magazine people take the easy way out.
Friday, 7 October 2011
|(c) Lorenzo Belfrond|
To take a year out between school and Uni was a smart thing to do among those who could afford it. Indeed I suppose for those who could go to Uni it must have been great, I didn’t go to Uni, I went to work! I am not grumbling, I didn’t learn much at school and would’ve probably learnt nothing at Uni. Still the idea has always appealed to me, a time to pause before adulthood, a time to enjoy, a time to mature, a time to gird ones loins or grind ones loins etc. So at the tender age of mid fifties I took over a year out! I did 2 months work, total time away from home and wife and Ariege was 14 months, it could have been longer, but it seemed right at about that length. Why did I do it? I needed it! I needed to get away from climbing which has turned into a shit sport run by internet jockeys. Climbing is so good, that to have thus tainted seems like graffiti in the Sistine chapel. So I ran in autumn, snowboarded in the winter, and ran in the spring and summer. I climbed to 8b but my heart wasn’t into it, and I stopped 3 months ago to try to concentrate on running. Did anything happen, anything profound? Maybe yes, maybe maybe! I have become adroit at staring at stuff and drifting, thinking, I can ignore a few things, and I can run, a certain amount of peace is accessible by being alone.
I lost my temper only once in 14 months! All these things cost a lot. I was poor, and often lonely, I didn’t accomplish much, but re-realised that most stuff is Lego building, or sand castles. I arrived at a place I was 20 years ago, running in the hills and doing a bit of climbing. More interesting was my wife’s time, she has become a yoga teacher and did very well with out me, which was part of the plan and point, but also one of the dangers. As a 50 year old in a world that seems to glorify teenagers I needed to re-acess my future (which could be another 50 years –my god!) I needed to find my path for a while. This may sound hippie or weird but its gotta do with how I see the quality of my time and not wasting it. Entertaining a climbing public while earning other people money isn’t that good, it corrupts my joy. And talking to many sportsmen, they seem think the same. Anyway it’s nice to have met some like minded runners who think like me, shame that they are runners perhaps and not climbers. And to finish there is one lie I must put to rest, age is not a burden, it is a gift. I am old and can run for 36hrs, I can do a good days work, and I can climb what I want. The tiring thing is the chaff, the parasites in climbing, the politicos, and the rabid profiteers, in short, the stuff that needs sorting. The young are learning to be users, it’s the way of the world they see around them Ikead to the ying yang, pre programmed robots.....make a break take that traditional year out. Go surf the Himalaya or run in Kenya.
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Telling people what to wear in running shoes is a bit off; in my opinion, but then again people do need a bit of help deciding. I work for Sportive but this doesn’t affect my choice of shoe, so please think about what I say. There is a lotta talk about bare foot running and minimalist shoes, and most, if not all is written by people who sit down for a living, and run about 30 miles of pavement a week. If you run on rocks you need to protect your feet, if you run on prickly shrubs you need to protect your feet, if you run down hill you need to protect your feet, if you are a clumsy runner or a heavy one. If you run on slippery surfaces, snow, mud or grass you should seriously think of traction and there is nothing like studs. Most peoples trail running normally combines a bit of everything so a shoe which can handle all these things is a good idea. You can have several different pairs if you like and it wont cost you extra money in the end, just at the beginning? I just did a long run and used a few different pairs, some times I changed because they were wet, and other times the terrain dictated a change. Also my speed for the last 10 hours was different, it all needed a bit of thought. Other runners were thinking too, some used light pavement type marathon shoes, and some used the biggest fluffiest cushion they could buy. I settled for studs with a small cushion or it might be termed a medium cushion, and was happy most of the time. I weigh at the moment 70kg and needed the padding especially going downhill, and on the bits of tarmac. I have a fairly economic and light style but after just a few hours it gets clunky and some of the lighter boys were the same. If you are my size and weigh 50kgs (Kenyan or just lucky) still think about giving yourself a bit of relief with a cushion. When you are tired it’s often the fear of pain that will slow your pace, not your inability physically to run. If you run short, say under 1 to 3 hours, or are really a racer, lighter shoes with a low profile will help you power and lessen twisted ankles. If you ran the same run in more forgiving shoes you might find you are slower but recover faster. Recovery is really the key to training, its not about killing yourself but about enjoying your run and making a little progress. In the build up to my ultra I ran some Hundred miles weeks in the mountains and shoes were key! My enjoyment in running is also key and shoes and my body weight are the answer. Its not a zen thing its just plain old common sense. And if you are kidding yourself that you run trails or run mountains but in fact run tarmac and concrete around pleasant parkland, maybe don’t take the stud’s dood, take a pair of road shoes.