I'm a woman

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

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Adam Ondra hips, flexibility, stuff, by Stevie stiffer Haston

Adam on a 9a in Sicily, no flexibility just the continuity of a steam train. I really like Adam, he is clever, gives me hope, and has tremendous discipline. Kind of normal for the best climbers of world, it's not talent it is hard work, dedication, discipline, imagination, hope, iron will, and when everything fails, bloody persistence. Here is a piece I wrote on Adam for Gripped magazine, check it out. 

Adam looking happy, another 9a in the bag, he can afford to smile. Here is a link to some really educative video of him doing some 9's, which haven't got major media attention. Lovely bit of film, I actually think that it is better than the Sorcerer's apprentice, which it didn't make its way into, it's a kind of sorcerer's "out takes". There's lots of flexibility, lots of bridging, lots of hips, it's what I've been talking about for the last couple of blogs, plus huge imagination - the crucial ingredient that I haven't got.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Rain, train, rain. Stevie the train Haston.

Motivation can be hard to find. It's raining, the crags are wet, I am fat and very, very heavy. Last time at the cliff, the wet was coming through the big roof.
Anyway better to stay at home and train. There is a slight miraculous improvement in finger strength! It's hard to say where this is from, so I am not going to bother even thinking about it, it might give me an extra grade if I can get down to fighting weight, a whole grade, that's like the holy grail!
The above photo shows me trying to turn onto the shoulder, it's often a sticking point for me, as my chest is a bit square! Anyway, as the core controls, or is the big strong link in nearly every movement, I have been trying to wake it up.
1000 pull ups today, am at 750 and taking a break, cos I am roasted, like a Xmass turkey, did some pulls with 100lbs, which reminded me how strong I used to be. Half the man, clearly, that I used to be.
But because I don't want to be quarter of the man, I'll keep on trying. Hope I get to a 1000, or I will bite my own nose off.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Yoga, Yuji, winning, soft voice. Stevie gruff Haston

Yuji Hirayama is one of the greatest climbers that our sport has produced, He does a bit of Yoga and is now a very successful man in Tokyo. I dont want to use him to promote any of my ideas or anything, so I'll just say he is a climber I have always admired and loved to watch, and he does more than a bit of Yoga.
This video is very well done, simply beautiful,  There's lots of stuff about Yuji out there, so have a little look. Here Yuji video's in Slovenia. 

This link is taken from the original great training book which hasn't really been surpassed, it's old now, but it is still gold. Read this about flexibility and why Yuji beat Jerry Moffat!
One of the things that might make Yuji stand out for you, is that he is so sucessful in different things, but make no mistake, Yuji is very clever and has a highly tuned brain, after all he has done sport from an early age. Yoga wont make you a genius, it just helps you sharpen what you might have. I think Yuji does Ashtanga yoga, I am not certain, it is sometimes called Energy, or Flow yoga, it doesn't matter too much, the important thing is he does some yoga, which is part of his life and helps him. I do believe he did a fighting art before he became a climber and was more of a trad climber than sports to start with. I first saw him stretching at Buoux a very long time ago I understood his stretching but definitely not his climbing. Putting lots of things together is an art, if you want the whole to look and be more than just the sum of these parts, I do believe that Yuji has done this. He is a great artist in the way Hokusai and Hiroshige the painters were, but his canvases are fleeting moments on rock, and are the more precious because they melt in time, like tears in rain.
This link of Yuji shows him climbing in the USA in 2001 and might help you understand hips! Hip control is a must in climbing. The hips basically will dictate your body mechanics and therefore your pulling capability. The hips will be moved from the toes, thru the knees, to the hips turning. People do it well, but do they do it as well as Yuji, or indeed his hyper sucessful climbing partner Legrand. I never really liked watching comps until Yuji and Legrand, these two can always school ya. 
Here's another video of Yuji. This vid is really beau, usual Yuji, flowing up rock, his balance belies his strength, don't make that mistake, he is a strong tiger. An 8c+ roof gets dispatched back to the land of the rising sun salutation.  

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Some Lower body climbing stretches, by Stevie Stiff Haston.

After a little warm up of gentle jogging on the spot and other assorted bits and bobs work into some stretches  slowly and gently trying not to injure your self. The above stretch is very important for me to do properly and I take bit of time. I go on one hip at a time and exhale for a count of at least 5.

First leg is now bent other leg straight, it really makes a big difference if you do this a few times, it will also tell your spine to relax if you do it slow and smooth. If you do any of these stretches too fast or too hard your body can tighten up, which is not what we want.

Both legs locked straight and pulling a bit to try to bend and stretch a little.

This is to loosen up the hamstring and buttocks, again do both legs. Hamstrings are notoriously easy to tear, go gently! If you are a bit advanced you can try pulling down with your hamstrings and then relaxing.

This is more of a buttock stretch and will obviously help your heel hooking, but it does loosen up the buttocks more and you will find you can step higher.

Pulling to the chest or as near as you can get, is a big combo stretch which will help you raise your foot to the center more than anything else.

This may look the same but I am pushing my leg back by pulling more thus turning rotating the hip more and upwards.

This is helping stretch my back a little and parts of the calf too. Never push out on joints, notice my right hand is helping my posture but not pushing down on the joint, and don't hyper extend at the knee.

This is a bit more on the calf and ankle, stretch the calf, and do little circles with the ankle.

 Pancake stretch is a favorite and an absolute must for opening your hips out. Proper turnout of the hips is very important indeed.

With out a flexible spine you will be fighting yourself and much of your strength will be waisted. This stretch is all about trunk rotation. It will help you reach holds.

And of course you have both sides to do. Don't be alarmed if one side is behind the other, just understand. For side bending and turning you might be 15% less on one side. Remember that a warm up route at the cliff is a very good idea, especially if its not just a flat wall. Grooves and cracks can be hard on your body. Be careful and good luck.
Try to push your hips foreword while pushing back with your arms. 

This is about waking up my toes and foot muscles so they can pull back. There is also a muscle on the front area of the shin that helps toe hooking, in some fighting arts this muscle is very strong, and allows kicking with the shin! 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Why Yoga works for climbing, by Stevie Haston

Yoga works for me but it won't necessarily work for you. Why is this? Because you won't let it!
Yoga isn't competitive streching, neither is it just wearing a turban, likewise it isn't showing an over stretched bit of earth colored organic cotton across your Mulbandha!
Yoga can be a very integrated part of a hugely complex life, if all you want are a few stretches that might help your climbing, well take them out of yoga and use them, yoga wont mind! If what you want is something to help control your stress levels and regulate your breathing and your being, you wont find it so easy to dip into yoga and pick what you want. This is generally what people want nowadays, they want to "pick and mix", but it's more than tricky, and that's why yoga doesn't necessarily work. For the same reason that just climbing, won't help your climbing, yoga won't 'cure' your climbing. For the same reason training on a fingerboard won't cure your climbing, yoga won't cure your climbing. Are you starting to get it? Climbing is very holistic, much more so than we ever thought.

Earlier today I watched a video of possibly the most famous rock climber trying to enter into some yoga stretching and flexibility and coordination, it was yoga, and basically he wasn't very good. Some peoples reaction to this is that he doesn't need it, well my reaction is that he does, but it's also clear that his climbing skills must be very great. On another occasion I suggested to the other greatest climber in the world that perhaps yoga might be helpful to him he demurrred, quite rightly pointing out how flexible and successful he was at climbing, I demurred back, perhaps 'he could get better', and especially at the mind control aspects and stress related parts.
Anyway I found all this very interesting this morning talking about yoga with some one who understands yoga more than I, or my wife. My journey in yoga is just starting, hopefully this journey will be long enough to make it all worth while. Flexible I may be, but my mind can lock up tighter than a brake pad. My lungs are strong but who is it that controls them. Failure in climbing can be brought about by a million things, not just flexibility, yoga isn't just about flexibility.

Anyway if you want to try some and you are in Ariege for the Ax les Thermes Explos Film Festival you could try Laurence's class for climbers. If you aren't as close, you can try something else, but try and remember yoga is a bit like yogurt, there's raspberry with additives  yogurt, and 'organic', and everything in between. Good luck with finding a yoga that fits what you want out of it.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Films souvenirs of the past, By Stevie Haston

This fell that day!

Here's a link to a film of wiffette and yours truly from a long while ago. It's been watched on TV by millions, lots of prizes etc....
Shame all the swearing has been deleted. This climbing was done off the couch, I had been snowboarding for months and the Himalayas. We had to pull it out of the bag, it wasn't helped by all the booze of a main stream film production.
The film is about ice climbing, shame I don't do  it anymore, it is because no one gives me any money, it used to turn me on, and it was a brand new game. Mixed climbing has progressed, but ice climbing hasn't gone anywhere.
Anyway there are still a few people out there who do it, you know who you are,  and keep up the good fight, cheers.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Quasimodos feels his Bell, by Stevie the Bell Haston.

Wifette dragged me out today by my choke chain, I didn't want to go. She had done a yoga class, and the shopping, and some garden. I had sulked in bed, moped around, eat loads of shite food, and generally felt dumb and sick with myself and the rest of the world. 
Some sensible stuff was said to me on the drive to the crag, which I didn't really listen to, I half heard some  advice on the short walk to the cliff, it wafted around a bit before dissipating on the turbulence of my depression. Underneath the warm up 8a, which was more than damp, it was wet, I knew things would either get better or much worse. If wifey got up the warm up 8a, I had two choices, either strap on some courage, or pretend to be more sick than I felt. Wifey dually struggled a bit with the damp, nearly slid off a sloper on the first crux, then pulled out some burly moves when she looked like she was going to give in, and got me on her side before the last mean as a hungry lion last move, she growled louder than any lion then, and threw down a big slap, that looked like it took her past the jug, but she rode out the little backward slide on the arc, and caught the jug, 'piss' she declared.

'Fuck', I declared to myself in a whispered aside, Fuck, feck, fook, I gotta do this now otherwise zee bitch will never let me ever, ever forget it.
Anyway  my harness cut into my fat legs, the waistband didn’t know which bit of blubber to roll behind, and with the comforting last encouraging remark from wifey, 'you look enormous', I bravely set off towards that country I knew so well, Humiliation. My feet slipped a few times before the first crux, one shoe came off one foot on a heel toe, and I couldn't chalk up properly cos I had been in a rush, and hadn't opened my chalk bag fully. Lots of puffing and huffing, I lost loads of skin from unaccustomed places, I threw loads of dynamic moves, felt like throwing up, and vaguely heard some chirpy giggles from my belayer before clipping the chains. Thank god little chain, darling little chain I chortled, I don't have to commit ritual suicide, I took the jump off the chain with more than normal fear, and got lowered towards the welcoming smiles of a few people. Wifette patted me on the head, and said did I want a dead horse to eat, as a snack. A few guffaws later I looked around admiring one of my favourite cliffs, thinking maybe there was hope for my climbing after all, and I was over my sickness. 

On the next route reality struck back with the report of a howitzer, no faking this one, I took a careless swinging whipper, and lifted Laurence off the ground, and swung her into the wall. 'Ouch that must of hurt', 'you are very heavy cherie', she cooed sarcastically. I monkeyed up the rope  badly, took more falls, and arrived, bloody, broken, but unbowed at the chain.
'Nice one', my Esmerelda said to me, 'perhaps you can wake up tomorrow, and do some work around zee 'ouse'.       
Anyway, I had a great time out, I worshiped in the cathedral like roof of a great sanctuary, I felt redeemed, reborn, and a bit reamed out, but mostly unrepentantly happy to be a rock climber again, ring my bell you beautiful roof.  Liberation day like the chiming of a million bells, accompanied me down the walk away from the cliff, and I noticed all the flowers as if for the first time.
Just say yes to turbanization...feeling extremely yogic...

Thanks go to a few people, Phil Girard for putting up the route Old El Paso, which I fell off, a marvellous concoction of toes, heals, swings, and gibbonisms, and the evil Esmeralda, deftly she flicked her whip, and so stung the stubborn mule.    

Friday, 19 April 2013

Mistake, Golden crayon award, by Stevie Haston

This was truly "epic it was snowing and -30° and planes crashing"...(c) Inigo Taylor
It is with great pleasure that I report Magnus the magician onsight/flash of a route. Routes of this grade  have only been claimed to be onsighted by a few, anyway well done. I was frantically searching for a decent report yesterday, but only succeeded in reading anything good on the Magnus Blog itself, along with some great photos. Anyway the ascent was described as epic in some places, which is a stupid use of this fairly precise word. Being a man who grew up under the influence of more than coug syrup, and having hung around with some dodgy characters who took fun in butchering the English language, I hesitate in being pedantic, but epic this ascent   probably was not. It seems very straight forward for a young man fit beyond most mortals dreams. In fact some of these 'epic', ascents are very boring to watch, its more the internal struggle and  experienced viewers knowledge of the accumulating pump that make them gruesome to watch. The best  silliness was in UkC,  were Magnus was reported to have heroically swum in -10degree water, a feat that  may be a first, a feat that has never been done before, and up till this 'epic ascent and swim' was infact thought to be impossible. I am no physics expert but water I thought freezes at O degrees, but grades are like water in the incorrectly reported world of climbing, and you can just do with them what you will.
Anyway Magnus, nice skills as usual. And obviously shame on you Mr reporter or should that be Distorter, I really don't know anymore. A very big Gold Crayon is winging its way to  UKC from me, hope you enjoy it, please don't sit on it, although not chocolate it might melt.
I have been told that the symbol for the minus might mean around 10°, but I don't believe it. Just like I don't believe that a big American Jet liner can disappear into a 15 foot wide hole in the Pentagon. Alice in Wonderland is alive and well, in both main stream reporting/distorting and climbing scribble.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Piolet d'or is bankrupt, by Stevie in the black Haston.

The Golden chicken award for being chicken!

The Piolet D'or reached an unprecedented low, just to surprise you. An award that is supposed to recognize ability and adventure in the mountains was given to all six candidate teams, despite the fact that there were very clear differences. Gold is a heavy metal heavier than lead but this years axe will sink in my memory hopefully never to surface. 
What exactly is this award about? Its not about money, the award is fairly worthless in itself, its clearly not about the hardest route as every year there are ascents in it that complete amateur novices are capable of. So what is it about, is it just the sham, the shizzle, the Oscars for the climbing sponsors, or the make news we now have in an industry and a sport bereft of excellence.
Piolet and Poulet are similar words, one is an axe, one is a chicken.

This year there were some at least interesting ascents which due to their diversity might have made judging a bit problematic, problematic but not impossible surely. The diversity could be simply summed up by me, as to judge between a somewhat technical modern ascent by the Russians, and a fairly stout plod up a very long ridge. If I seem patronising I am not, I just want to keep it simple. And I think it is actually that simple.    The Russians should have won, and the long plod up Nanga Parbats long ridge should have come second,  and very neatly you would have been rewarding the diversity of climbing. If one were really to have been a bit more honest the outstanding ascent of the year was the free ascent of Cerro Torre by young Lama, an ascent that is in the modern idiom. This ascent of the Iconic Tower was merely mentioned, fairy odd, but then this award is odd, full stop. You might say giving these awards is difficult, well of course it is, but either give them to the best ascents, or give them away for smiling white teeth,  and being bloody blonde. I might as well take it one step further and just say for the last few years a certain Swiss alpinist is fairly clearly king of the mountain. Will he ever do the great climb, the golden climb, that his abilities merit? Probably not as it not a Piolet d'or he is fishing for, but a bucket of money. Which Swiss am I talking about? Do you know? The Piolet d'or seems morally as well as monetarily bankrupt to me, but perhaps it is simply meaningly moronic in a sport that no longer recognizes excellence and simply fills pages with so called news, or fills halls with punters who know very little about climbing with a Piolet. Just lately a young German boy caused ripples when he flashed an 8C+/ 9a, when it should have been a Tsunami that he might have been able to financially surf to new heights. Instead it gets swamped in also ran kinda news, our sport is pathetic, but not some of its participants, they are and always will be golden. 
Kurt Diemberger got the life time  achievement award as he should, something  he was over qualified for by his first ascent of two of the 8000 meter peaks. Imagine two first ascents on two of the big 14, clearly outstanding! A very easy award that one, but things aren’t always easy, no sir, but you don't just give up like these judge did, do you, otherwise you wouldn't have become climbers in the first place. Shame on you judges, and shame on you Piolet d'or. 
Two people resigned from the Piolet d'Or, and no wonder!
There is the Piolet d'OR award and there is the Golden Piton award, and word on the street, is that  there is a new award in the offing. It's called the Butt plug of Gold, and it is to be awarded for the most tight assed sport in the world, a sport where most of its best performers are below the poverty line.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Closer to the Edge, by Stevie on Edge Haston.

I used to have a monthly column in a mag called on the Edge. I used to think my writing was Ok, and the mag was Okish, today mags are mostly horse manure, written by donkeys, or monkeys on smack. Does any body read?
Closer to the Edge TT is a film I just watched twice, but you will still have to listen, which lets most of you of, as you don't know what ears are for, they are for ventilation, right! And what’s your brain for, erm, "to keep your ears apart".
Closer to the Edge, is just what it says, its what’s written on the can man, but it aint about climbing its about racing big bikes in that incredible road race on the isle of man. You may not like big bikes,  I love them, you may not like loud thunder coming down the road towards you at 170 mph or over 250 km, but you got to love these boys and girls, cos they got cajones the size of Jupiter, not Uranus, cos your sphincter is gonna be well and truly slammed shut. 

When I was young, long time ago right, lots of folks rode two wheeled stallions, Don Whillans famously road one back from Pakistan years ago, Phil Davidson used to have holes in his exhaust from banking over, and I remember two lads on big Italian jobs being to fast for the speed cameras. My Mate AKA Mel the Mole, used to ride big trial bikes up to some of the cliffs (politically incorrect), and used to scare the bejesus outta me for scaring him on cliffs. On one notable occasion riding down loads of stairs and evading the federals, this story is not true, and is fiction, so don't bother grassing me up. I think the Mole came of his bigger bike, a Kawa, at slightly over double the speed limit.
Anyway, now a boy with a bit of spunk in him will probably die very quickly if he starts holding the horns of a big bike or even a small bike, so its better to keep it off the roads, or on closed roads. The Isle of Mann TT is on normal but closed roads, actually its not normal roads, there’s dry stone walls, adverse cambers, weird bends etc, it aint motor racing and it aint Formula One. Please don't even mention Formula One near me, I will have a fit of boredom, and end up a vegetable like all the rest of the world. I have Formula Fly in my house, when I have had too much strong beer I watch the flies buzzing around my light fixing, terribly exciting you know.
A few cold facts; the Isle of Mann TT has killed more people than the Eiger or Everest. Coming off your bike at speeds of 100 plus is not like taking a fall on a sports climb.  I am not dissing other sports, well I am, but mainly dissing some climbers attitude towards others. Certain climbers are bold, but equally anybody in the TT s pretty much around the top of the scale. Alpine soloers used to be up there, but most of those good old boys are dead. I personally like avalanche riders but cant see it making into the Olympics. 
Anyway I am now at 56 supposedly passed the danger age of committing suicide, (I have the odd difficult day when I read some of the climbing journalists tripe! I am now luckily too poor to buy a big bike, and nobody would lend me one, for sure. But I now  feel soooo lucky to have watched TT Closer to the Edge, I also feel younger, and bolder, vicarious pleasures for sure, I waxed a long snow board this morning, the one, the very one I came off years ago, the one that flicked me off like a callous girlfriend. I dreamt of speed and snow disappearing in huge plumes behind me, and I relived tumbling through the air with bits of me being torn. 
I really think this film should be banned, its way too good. Don’t watch it if you have don’t know where the Edge is, please stay in your cocooned nether never land of denial. Live for ever you feckers.
This is for Hughie Banner, who lost a leg sliding under a lorry at a very advanced age indeed. He was a climber, a climber gear manufacturer, and of course a bike freak.