I'm a woman

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

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Incredible Brightness of Seeing. by Stevie Myopic Haston.

 An Arete in Colorado, stupendous.

It's Autumn again, how many autumns do you have left? Mine was good, but if you had money, and didn't worry about your carbon footprint I guess you could chase Autumn around the globe! Pristine grip on your fingers, and eternal falling leaves!

 Windmills in Germany, they will be exporting energy soon, we will still be exporting death through Trident missiles at a cost of over £100 Billion.

Germany was all neat and tidy, nobody real poor, well they weren't on view anyway. America was "Poor on display", the poor are on the streets! East Germany and Czech were booming! Economies that had been asleep were in the space of three decades changed.

 In the back of peoples minds lie memories of war.

When every body has fought every body 10 times, will we get fed up with it all. Will we stop obeying our pay masters, and put down our swords. Will we plough the fields again, and put our energies to making food, and having fun, instead of making money and war?

 By popular demand: the arete of Aretes.

I'am going back to Dresden, it's too good not to. I had a fantasy the other night, it went like this; In 1985 when I was there in the Eastern block, why didn't I just stay! I could've had a light job, versus no job in UK, a roof over my head, versus living on someones floor, or in a caravan. I could've climbed aretes of incredible beauty. Communism was assasinated, now it's the turn of Socialism, tomorrow it's your freedom, the process has already started, a little bit at a time you will loose every thing. You can not camp, or bivouac where you once did! You can climb this, but not that, stick to the path!

In Czech a bar restaurant thingy.

Climb while you can, see beauty before every beautiful thing has a price tag on it, breath fresh air before it's full of toxins. Wind and Solar energy can be made for the same price as oil energy, for less if you factor in War! Wake up and go climbing. Save Oil for climbing ropes! 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Scarpa Furia climbing shoe. by Stevie Fast and Furious Haston.

 Tip top gear, on sight light  rope, with top end steep rock shoe -the Furia.

The Furia is pretty slick, if you like "steep", like me. It's worth more than a look, it's worth a serious look.
Scarpa make a great deal of good shoes, so what separates this one. Well it's got a lot of rubber every wear, it's almost prehensile. This extra rubber makes the toe box slightly more rigid than say, the Scarpa Stix which is a favourite slipper for me. It makes the toe box a bit firmer, but not clunky. It makes it a bit narrower than the Stix so check your fit carefully. It will point your toe a bit more, maybe better for certain things like down ward sloping pockets. It will loose out a bit on smearing.

 Double velcro strap, lots of rubber at the toe.

The boot is very down curved, for me correctly so, as I like steep. You can pull down with power in this shoe. You should be able to climb, plastic, conglomerate, round holds, and power into knee downs, while still being able to winkle pick your way into pockets.  

 The Heel is real brill.

What is a great shoe with out a great heel? Well no worries with the Furia. The Heel on the Furia is maybe the best on the market for me, it's soft, sticky as hell, and fits my heel.  If you wear a real tight boot, the heel cup will sometimes be too small, so be careful in sizing. I went up a half size to get the right heel fit on the Furia, and lost nothing on toes sharpness because it's tighter round the toes due to more rubber!

It's cool looking, sharp, lots of routes will be assassinated by this shoe.

It's black and lime coloured, it looks good, but it will be hot cos it's black. Keep it out of the sun. Remember temps in cars can be over 50°, don't leave this shoe under sun in the car! My view is this is a great shoe, I tried the prototype, and it was maybe too soft for normal non competition  people, this newer version is brill for steep limestone, particularly where you still use the toe, and outside edge. Give it a look, why don't ya?
  

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A life worth living, by Stevie Haston.

Cousin Paul equiping.

I could've been a Bank clerk, well probably not for long. The temptation might have got the better of me! With so much rock, its hard not to love climbing. Only a few years left, and I want to climb a bit more, and I want to climb hard. I must try harder, less food, less beer, more excersise, more stretching, more mind control, more fun and success. More huge roofs of stone.

Fruit cake Land excellent rock beautifully sculptured.

Did a bit of training yesterday, some pull ups some hangs, 12 kg weight belt plus my own extra lard!

 Edelweiss 80 meter 9.2 and a pair of  Scarpa Furias.

Mountan Boot company sent me a bit of gear this week. The 9.2 Edelweiss rope is wicked quick and provides a nice soft catch, it's a perfect red pointing rope. For Gozo and Malta, check out Edelweiss ropes, around 9.5 or 9.8 for better resistance on the core and extra wear, good catalogue available on line. 

Thanks to all the people who help me, with out my friends, and supporters nothing can happen. This week  Ian Parnell the Editor of the UKs magazine Climb which I used to write for came over. He was very appreciative of Gozo's great climbing, and was kind enough to interview me. And it is good to put Gozo's climbing into some kind of context, great routes and good climate we have, we have on the other hand few locals who climb. Hopefully we can change this by some local publicity.


 titanium Bolt on the bottom, Polished 316 on top, both expensive.

Please note that the advised bolts for Gozo are Polished 316, and Titanium, with highest grade glue. Due to the extreme corrosion on the island, nothing else will do close to the sea. Away from the sea, good quality 316 polished expansion  bolts is a reasonable choice. 


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Gozo versus Kalymnos, versus Dresden. by Stevie Haston.

 Gozo with winter daffodils

Everything is a contest. Everything is reduced to football. I hate the way Prague has changed and I love the old one, but in reality Prague is the one we now have. I love the old Gozo, the one of my childhood, but the Gozo of today is the one we have now. Yesterday I went climbing with a magazine editor and he loved one of my cliffs, he loved my routes, we chatted at the top of the cliff, starring at the setting sun; talking climbing with swollen fore arms - his especially.


 I was worried my routes didn't stack up, but they stack up very nicely. There are routes of great quality here in an ambience Maltese. It's "Mhux Hazin" as we say here, it's ok, Kalymnos is Ok, and Dresden is Ok, too. Given a choice I would have them all -yes I am greedy. I would have the desert and Veedavoo too, I guess, if I was being a glutton.

 A groove of startling beauty.

Conditions yesterday were primo, dry friction on zee sandstone like velcro. Nice and warm. We saw some Germans climbing at a different cliff. Not many Brits. They are all in Kalymnos! I showed Ian, the editor a huge unclimbed cliff. I need a thousand bolts! And glue and time enough. I would like highest quality stainless or Titanium, please. Certainly this is a necessity.

an Elbe sandstein tree, we have a Carob tree that's a thousand years old on Malta, but that is young compared to Yew in England, or the oldest trees of the USA.

Climbing has gone on for a good stretch of time in Dresden area, first guidebook was in 1908, complete with adverts. I want to put in a claim for Gozo too, we were climbing here in 1650, we had a cable car here for tourists then as well, we were ahead of the Swiss!
  
Elbe sandstein is such great rock some beautiful buildings made of it for sure!

It was good to get back to Gozo, to try the end of one of my projects, to battle the stone, the grindstone, to swim in the sea and stare at the sun. The hard work has to start now though, for as I said to Ian as we battled the steepness of the Underworld, "we have been weighed, we have been measured, and we have been found wanting", yep we are weak and zee stone is strong. We need the spirit of Bernd Arnold.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Goodbye Dresden hello Gozo. by Stevie intergalactic Haston.


Landed in Gozo in the early hours, it was all heat in the dark, Palm trees murmuring, the sea lapping at the boats. Felt almost like home. Home is where ever I lay my hat or in my case my rack!Missing the sandstone already can't sleep. 

 Bernd and me, two old geezers, talking climbing.

Woke up after a couple of hours sleep went climbing. Went to a sea cliff of such utter beuti that I didn't miss Dresden for a few hours. It was a sandstone cliff hanging over the sea in a frozen wave. Lets surf the stone, stone disagreed, it damaged me.

 Frozen in time.

Dreams, songs of rock , my head is full.

 The best arete? 35 meters of pure balance!

I missed out on some dreams on my last day I saw the above route and nearly cried for joy and sorrow. Joy at its beauty and sadness at the lack of time. 

Magic, so is Gozo.

Friday, 23 October 2015

You don't know what your missing, by Stevie Cheshire Cat Haston.


 Gone with the wind was a line from a poem, wasn't one of the other lines something like "dying of an old passion" , am three big steins of brown Hefe wizen to the wind and can't remember. Man I could've died of an old passion today! This place rocks.  Did Talweg today one of the best routes on the planet, greats like Hot Henry Barber might agree, he did say it years ago, I remember. Done in 1955, you thread little holes in the sandstone for protection and tie them one handed, I think I used 12. Wouldn't of hung my coat on a couple! And the route felt like a mini Right Wall.
 
 Little memento mori at the belay of Talweg.

Sad to leave, will come back only got to grade 9, no ones in it for the numbers right, well took off I am , yes sometimes I am. Even the cracks I found hard, didn't get on any of the tough ones and found them bloody hard, what a place.
Am doing this blog cos Iam in the mood, Elbesandstein is one of the great places to visit, there's the Verdon, Chamonix, Elbesand stein, Dolomites, thats it in Europe, if you haven't visited them, you aint lived Bud.

 Talwag above. 45 meters of joy.

When you hang around on round pockets on 7b or 5.12b as the yanks would call it, thread a tiny clock or hour glass hole and tie an overhand knot one handed it don't feel like a walk in the park. It feels like a flesh eating zombies in the Dark.

gear rack.

Don't want to leave, aint got no money. Got to go back to my projects on Gozo, and it will be ok, I decided to do a few trad style, in honour of Bernd, and old East Germany sandstone, and Czeck sandstone.  Don't forget the Czeck republic man, they were at it too. Auf Wiedersehen sweethearts.

Towering Towers, Knotty problems. by Stevie Gordian Knot Haston


 The ethics of the Saxon Swiss have always been strict. And where you have strict ethics, you will always have infringers. If I'd been brought up with these ethics, although I find them terribly admirable and too use an old fashioned word "Manly", I would have bent the rules. I am only Mildly Macho after all-Mildly Macho was an old E6 of mine some where in a forgotten slate quarry, the crux protected by RP Os- the smallest nuts made. These brass nuts were nearly as small as my own physical nuts above Dresden bolts recently.

 Old routes, old fashion balls, although Saxon Estrogen seems more courageous than Maltese testosterone!

Not being able to read German is a bit of a handicap, every night Bernd gives me a few books to read and I try to absorb something. In one book  I noticed a hysterical bolt chopping saga, on a magnificent bit of rock, it must be said, but the length of the controversy seemed outrageous. So I took a deep breath and asked Bernd, he said he was embarrassed about the whole incident and sadly it was not isolated! Obviously we have these things all over the world and looking back they can seem very very trivial and childish. There was one in Yorkshire UK  recently where bolts were threatened to be chopped, and by someone who doesn't climb anymore and who has placed many more contentious bolts. Hypocrites are everywhere. Including me.

 Violet groove , 1967 desperate!

The Saxon Swiss rules need relaxing to allow for the newer generation of climbers, this is the opinion of Bernd Arnold, the last of the old bergfuehrers. It is my opinion too, for me it is blatantly obvious! The old guard sit in their committee while climbing dies. Climbing here is the most magnificent celebration of life, exuberance, and joy, please don't let it die Herr Committee. 
 At the belay, no warm up, bug eyed on the crux.

The Violet groove with Bernd was handsome- homespun, courage on my part. Cold fingers, no warm up, knots for pro, hands and feet all about face. I just couldn't fall off despite what my body wanted to do. Bernd patted me on the back. "Did you see the Hell Hound?", he asked. "I had", I replied, we laughed, for the name of the cliff is the Hell Hound.

Bernd, 68 years old, he did this route in 1967 on leave from national service.

I love this place. The Hell Hound has yellow eyes, sharp teeth, and smelly breath if you want to know. I haven't seen those eyes for a while, but they used to haunt me in my younger days. The Hell Hound will get me, no doubt, but I'ave given him a good run, gotta keep Rover fit, don't we?

Mellow viewing through the looking glass.

Magic place, I will be back.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

At the Masters Feet, by Stevie the Acolyte Haston.

 disappearing in the immensity

The mist was misty, the sandstone sandy, the ferocious fear, well-not too bad actually! The cliff was called Schmilka, and its 90 meters high by a circuitous, and complicated border running in and out of valleys and big gullies, let's just say there is more possible climbing on this one cliff than all of the Peak District!

 sandy pockets requiring a bit of concentration.

The Master forgot his shoes and as his feet are bigger than mine, he had to resort to bare foot climbing, something he is not averse to, or unfamiliar with. He was anxious though as a recent back operation has left him with a bit of a hic up in his lower nerves. 

 Bernd's large Hobbit like feet, the hair has been worn off!

Bernd walked up the crack, that although I had done also, I had been afeared, due to the protection being on jammed knots! I watched his feet placements with concentration and marvel. It's an art, a great forgotten Art! I was barefoot in Gozo a week and a half ago on fresh spiky rock with blood streaming into the sea. Bare foot on grit I have done, Vector at Tremadroc in nude feet, also I have done, but a Sandstone grade 10, here I will never do.

Bottle tops in a Czeck pub, russian ice axe on the wall five revolvers above the counter, grand dad nodding off in the corner, hopefully my destiny is such.

At the feet of the Master, is a nice warm place. I feel a bit like a puppy dog curled up on his bit of carpet that he places for me to gear up on. Hopefully I,ll come back and lead a X, something Bernd has done many times, as other great sandstone Masters have done. There's an overhanging groove, and several aretes that I will be dreaming about, one is called the Dragons Back. But even if I do, I will not be barefoot, Eyless in Gazza, but not Barefoot in Dresden. The Dragon is Back!  

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Action Direct, Punters version. Stevie punter Haston.


 Action Direct head butting me.

As I am on a pilgrimage to the roots of the routes of climbing, I thought I'd tourist my way up Action Direct, Wolfies little 9a. Well as I dislike the Franken Jura, it was a long time in coming, long after I can climb at this standard, but what I discovered was perhaps interesting to a few. This climb is first worth going to the Frankenjura for, despite it being the Jura. The character of the route, and the finese of it's moves might well make up for the herbivorous damp setting.

 The angle tells a story but not all.

The other thing that's odd about the route, is that it isn't as powerful as it's made out, especially with todays standard of musculature on boys and girls. Indeed the moves to me seem dependent on extreme finger strength, timing and being clever. So, no, its not about simply pulling and jumping.

The light was special, a frilly sparkle.

Sadly as I am fat nothing really happened on Action. Perhaps it's been put in context for me, it's a 9a in my style, could hardly ask for better in fact, sad that I will never now do it. And to finish, I could stir the pot up and say there is nothing on this route that would stop a very fit Grand dad with the pre requisite finger strength, there is nothing miraculous about this route. I can see certain 40 year olds doing it, not easily but reasonably quickly. If Action were near me it would be tried regularly by me, and help me keep lassitude at bay. A strong girl could also do it, she would have to be around 1m70cm, a girls fingers would make the pockets much, much better, and the famous pinch would be good for four fingers, and not three! Anyway there you go, if your strong, and not too dumb, you should get it. As to the controversy about the route and it's various ascenders, well, thats show business. Personally I would like to know about the cement on it, the resin on it, and the obvious "dicking" around the holds have had. It would help sometimes when there was so much editorial chit chat about routes, if editors actually found out about them, yes that's right, tried them, or had a look, or maybe interviewed Adler the second ascenionist who did a smashing ascent of it, and was every bit as good as Wolfie, obviously because he was Eastern block the ascent was doubted especially by the Frogs.  Editors should reference, but increasingly they have neither time, or money! After all you can not have a reference, without a reference. I cannot add to the chit chat about Action versus Hubble, but I can tell you that Action is harder than Hugh in France. I suspect Action is 9a about the middle of the grade, but slab pansies should abstain. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sandstone, rain, and fear. by Stevie Haston.

 on the Elbe river.

The continuing journey to sample Czech beer and Sandstone, is a bit damp at the moment. On a tip, we went to see a place where you can actually use chalk, and promptly forgot our chalk bags. The bolts were also reportedly closer together, they were, by about 6 cms on the meter!

 a little ferry to a series of cliffs!

Anyway it was brill. Czech place names are very hard to get your tongue around, so getting places, especially when you don't know where they are, can be hard. It was a filler in kindda day, and in truth you could easily spend two weeks in this gorge. Routes from reasonable to 9a (french grade), some with normal run outs, not Teutonic, or Bohemian in nature.

 a delicate wall, slightly overhanging, mini holds.

There was hope that the mist and drizzle was going to stop and clear, but it didn't. The warm up nearly killed me, I had to use ninja footwork, and try really hard. There were aretes that would be famous else where, and overhanging walls to die of a pump for.


 long view, a tower is there in the mist!

Dolni Zleb is the cliffs name, just past Decin, and just short of the border with East Germany, and Elbstandstein. The cliffs are climbed under a more relaxed book of rules than the Elbsandstein, so routes can be foud which fit the more normal profile of not taking 50 foot falls. More on rules and styles and history, when I go back to see Bernd Arnold. Hopefully there will be a couple of pages in the  Uks best climbing magazine, hint, hint. 

mushrooms, hobbits, trolls.

There where in the forest, boulders bigger than gritstone cliffs, of such extraordinary beauty that I simply can't describe them-a Boulderers dream. Why arnt you there lads? At times I was taken back years to moorland escapades in the peak district, but I know some of you will hate me for saying it, but this place is just bigger. There you go, it's not about bashing Grit, it's the plain awkward truth, don't kill the messenger. Come drink some Pivo (Czech for beer), and do excellent routes. The only thing that is a bit of an "if", is the northern weather. Gozo I love you and your reliable sunshine, and will never take your name in vain again. Please Czech sun come out, and smile.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Culture, rock and transfiguration. By Stevievie Haston.

 too many beers does not make me forget this!

In Prague, or is it Praha, me too pisted to understand spelling now. Had too much culture, or what passes for culture nowadays. Praha was great yesterday in the pissing rain, cos all the Korean, and Brits on dirty week ends, and assorted others were sheltering from the water falling from the sky harmlessly. Today Prague was shite, wading thru Tour "Conger lines" of dilapidating culturally stuffed ignorant people, made me long for the Praha I visited in 1985. 
In 1985 I went ball room dancing in Praha when the pubs shut at 1 or 2, and still managed to cop off, we didn't need cheap red bull vodka shit and sleazy discos lights.

 Falkenstein, bridging on knots in freezing temps, smiling.

Was it Goebbels who said "I reach for my gun when I hear the word culture"? Today I got lost in a European myopic quagmire of Tesco mania,  has Tesco taking over the Czeck!  It's raining, give me a break God, or god, or deity that I can bribe, I want to go climbing.

 cultural Prague at its best, pronounce it eeee at the end for most pretention.

The Thai massage parlours in several of the streets were probably the last straw, the swans were still there, as was the Jewish quarter, but where was Praha? 

 Nice rotund frumpy bin lady dragging this around.

Admittedly I shouldn't have had those six beers, but I did miss that old thing, you know thinking you were in a foreign country thing, you know, thinking like, well you were travelling to somewhere other than seedy old be-draggled London.

 The world is changing, this building is the same I guess, but do Brits know the clothes brand Boss designed Nazi uniforms and have now taken over high streets all over europe.

Charles bridge has more swans now.

When I went over Charles bridge  once apon a time a long time ago, there was a guy unconscious in a flat bottomed boat, by the first pier. He had a big empty bottle of ¨Slivovitz¨, and a damp book as companions. So other pet peeves, you cannot park with out paying in Saxon Swiss, no bivouac. How do you expect brave girls and boys, young and geriatric, to brave those run outs? Other pet peeves, just read Jerry Moffat's book (finally) and was he the best? In 1982 and 1983 Jerry was really good, but was he the best? Was he fook!