I'm a woman

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

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Training Gurus, by Stevie "the train" Haston.

A pull up block, in this case a large one!

 It is hard to be fit, it's easy to be fat! It's not easy to do hard routes, but it is a damn sight harder if you'r fat, and can't do a pull up, or two. I was watching a vid of one of the latest bunch of training gurus telling me how to train this morning on my googely wiggly box, when what ever he was saying faded into gray, and I looked at the bags under his eyes, and his fairly obvious light weight due to not eating! Preety neat I thought, masquerade light weight as training, a bit like the steroid boys and girls telling you how to get big muscles by 3 sets of 12, when they are in fact pharmaceutical experiments. I have often said climbing training isn't rocket science, but for pitysake a quick video of an emaciated climber with huge skill  will not turn you into any thing except disappointed. How about telling people it will take time. Or that they have to try really hard!

 A cheap set of weights!

I make money occasionally by taking people on to improve their climbing, or help them enjoy a bit more success, and I always tell them you gotta get some in, you have to train. You have to be in the right gear, you gotta want it, actually wanting it is a good start, desperate to succeed is better. Fundamentally gagging for the next grade would be my preferred state of mind. Mindlessly following the gurus lovely cuddly words won't hack it. Doing 4X4s won't hack it, you gotta mean it. 

 Some worthless training books, and a good science fiction one.

I read training books not because I will ever find anything out, but because I want to avoid training. If Steve Edwards was alive he would laugh at that one. He was always kind, and liked my training stuff. One of his big things was doing some thing big on his birthday. It was a birthday challenge. He got the idea from Jack Lalanne a fitness guru who was also into health food long befor these things became mainstream. I got the birthday challenge the day I was born, and with each passing year I get lazier. However I resist the urge to book my Zimmer frame, and try, some years I try foooking hard. 

A reasonable result, actually a  very good one, 55 years old, and more than 8b+ -a few years ago.

Eat less, train more, try hard. Possibly, get some skill sets, acquire real knowledge, perspire, aspire, when in doubt hire - as in hire me, I need the money, and I know what I am talking about.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Dead these last few days, by Stevie Haston

 Scott Cosgrove (USA),  Brian Cropper (UK), and Steve Edwards (USA) all died in the last couple of days. If you were lucky enough to have met one of them you are indeed lucky. Or if you climbed with them, or if you did anything with them. Some people who read these inadequate words will have known them all. Our community is very much poorer with their leaving.

Through the miracle, or the curse of the internet I was talking to Scott, only a few hours later to be shocked at his demise.

 A scant few hours later the news of  Brian Cropper, a man as Steve Bancroft said was ridiculously kind to us young whippersnappers in the 1970s.

And this morning Steve Edwards, a man who motivated me to stay in the saddle. If I said the cliffs still hear your feet, and feel your fingers, forgive me for being flowery. If I said the road will remember your wheels Steve, forgive me.  Mr Cropper thanks for buying me drinks, and for buying all the other penniless young lads drinks.  See ya on the other side.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Micro life, micro death, by Stevie Haston.

 Mistra Rocks.

As I was sorting an abseil rope today at the top of the cliff, I broke my hand hold, and started to topple towards the long away floor, all sharp, and dark, dangerous, and hard. I did that revolving arm thing, wind milled around ineffectively, on the brink of having a little catastrophe. In seemed to go for ever, but lasted a micro second, the wind stopped, time stopped my heart stopped. The rock hand hold hit the ground, and then time started again. Phew etc.  

 Future route of stupendous magnificence

These little deaths, these mishaps, how many times will they not actually happen, in that final, catastrophic, hit the deck kinda way?

how can you beat this?

And then the wind whistles its sweet song, the colours do their magic watercolour story across your retina, the rock is generous, and shows you a path up its impregnability, and everything is roses. The pigeons where whipping around in the force 5, going through the gaps much faster. They were playing jet fighters. My heart was all calm as it all ways is here again, just the sea, the cliff, and a distant ship passing. I don't know what I would do without this little corner, it's my little sanctuary of sanity. I have had my life, and most of the good bits were on the cliff, and mountain, but stay safe, hold fast. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Being Pathetic, by Stevie Pathetic Haston

 Local breed of dog, decended from Egyptian hunting dog.

Pull ups did not go well! I thought it was gonna go badly, but it went worse. These little things are sent to try us! Being Pathetic comes easy to some of us. I managed 700 and a few pull ups, I want to get fit for my birthday, which is coming up soon. Age cannot be defeated, but prescribed levals of fitness should be exceeded. Much of what we learnt about health, age, sport, politics, is how can I put, this "a crock of shizzle".

 following a narrow rift passage underground.

 A new buttress recently cleaned and waiting for titanium bolts
 Pull ups on a bar for an injured finger, propping up the bar is not normally recommended in sport!

 natural salt pans, first industry of Gozo!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Lazy Malta days, by Stevie Solid Haston.

 bridging the gap, Monsieur Solide.

Its been anything but lazy here in Gozo, but on a recent trip to Malta, I understood that we are relaxed and layed back. Malta is frenetic, hectic, and has terrible traffic.

 Early morning in the capital, nice and tranquil.

Valetta the capital of Malta is extraordinary, it is a World Heritage site, and is magic. That's very easy to forget when half of Russia is there, and all the rest of the north, on tour! In the morning it is great though, coffee and cakes in a local cafe, not one of those fecking frapacino tourist cafes, catering for pale people on a cultural mission. Oh no me old beauty, a proper fat guy behind the counter, and two fat old mates playing cards.

 Local guy, got an award for his energy and go for it attitude.

I have been cleaning paths, climbs, re doing stuff to tidy it up. All hard work. Cleaned a few big blocks off a new sector today including a dinner table sized block.

 These lovely people where picking up other peoples litter! Wow angels!

San Blas on a stormy day.

I have found another large underground slot, which is interesting and have joined it up into a really nice circuit, it is a kind of parcour I guess, a country parcour. It requires lots of balance, and spatial awareness and it is fine tuning me. Odd to find out theres lots of ways to fine tune your balance and make you climb better-well not really. I haven't done Martial Arts for a while, that was always good for my timing and balance, might give that my yearly bash again. I feel the need to bleed! 
Titanium bolts coming soon!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Gozo Valentino to you. Stevie Bela Lugosi Haston.

 The colours, or colours are good today! It was getting a bit dull, washed out, and insipid, but it brightened up nicely. It's a funny year, it looks like its gonna be bad for the farmers here. The temps are too hot in the sun some days already. 

 South African Soral is an ancient refugee here.

I equipped three routes today, a 6b+, a 6c, and a 6a, all really good, all with titanium gear. Thanks to all the people who made this possible, Rich from Qala, being very kind recently.  Two of the routes are aretes, which offer nice exposed climbing all on the Nadur cliffs.
 Colours here are bright, this is the stern of a Lanteena rigged local boat.

The sea is very clear at the moment, a bit cold for swimming without a bit of a wet suit, but well worth it for the extreme visibility.

A beautiful harmless local snake.

The warm weather has brought out the snakes, we just passed this fellow in the street, and picked him up before he was run over. Hope everybody is getting fit. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Allah Akbar, by Stevie "believe in anything" Haston.

 looking into the Abyss.

There are times when I will believe in anything. I have prayed to stoves to work, indeed I have promised to be a good boy for ever, and ever, if they would just melt some snow.

 Believing that the sofa is indeed the only place to be!

One of the only things I don't believe in is my innate ability to be all victorious, cos I am the greatest. My ability, or non ability resides in some training, or a lot of training.

 A little light 8b-toe intensive-good boots and friction.

This old route's bolts are 304, I put new hangers on as I am waiting for some Titanium. It's not the 304 that made me nervous, but the sudden 30 meter exposure on the first move, funny haha.
the route Allah Akbar is a right bit of 8b, or a bit more.

"If you like your Larger strong", as the advert says, I can't remember the rest, or if you want to "shine on all surfaces", "Whiter than white"(like my face when I span the gap), "Vorsprung durch Technik" or "pull till your eyes bleed", or Allah Akbar. It's funny how not owning a car hoover has not inhibited me over the years, and yes I can tell Pepsi from Coke. And if you ever believed the Volkswagen emissions shisle in the first place you were dumb. Have you noticed how that it's just been swept under the table? Well who do you think buys newspaper advertising space? 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Mistra Rocks Labyrinth, by Stevie Haston.

Didi cleaning the Path.

The Mista Rocks area on Gozo has long fascinated me. I went there first with my grandfather in the 1960s, it hasn't changed much since then. The only people who went there in the old days were the odd subsistence farmer, and fisherman like my grandfather.

One of the big slots, 30 40 meters deep!

In Maltese this area is known as Jebel Gbere, and was thought dangerous, and indeed until recently it was. Today there is a path most of the way for the round the coast pathway, but the trekkers get lost occasionally.  The itinerary portrayed in this photo sequence is a more exciting loop around the cliffs, and inside them.

View towards San Blas bay.

This area has been climbed in by me for 40 years, but the fishermen,  bird trappers, and Caper gatherers have been climbing these rocks for millennium.

Emma 12 avoiding the smaller pit falls before things get big.

Some big walls connect fields of barren stones, or thick brambles.

40 meter cliffs, local arboreal rats, and rabbits abound.

Rock architecture, huge chock stones perched 35 meters above.

Inside the cliff, helmets, and a short rope are required.

A tiny bat, bat colonies don't exist anymore compared with the past. Pesticides and loss of habitat have taken there toll.
 On this occasion the dog was bagged on three of the small steps. His eagerness to be independent  had to be controlled.

 Just before one of the scrambles down into the abyss.

 The cliff above contrasts in colour with the trench below.

At the bottom of the biggest trench.

The route finding on the trip is hard, and at one point you go through a boulder chock in the floor to appear in a rift going back through the cliff. The route is counter intuitive, and perplexing at times, but very worth while. I don't recommend it for children, small dogs, or large people, due to, large holes, small holes, big gaps, lack of I Pads, and dog snacks. It is very dangerous due to a constant probability of grumpiness creeping on due to myriad questions like, "where do we go from here", when in fact I had forgotten. If you have the patience of a saint on Qua-lodes, and are interested in seeing something wonderful I might recommend it. I would probably not take the dog next time, he was too interested in the arboreal rats. The dog was the most obedient of the team, and liked it the most. Other general observations include kids need a bit of Carbohydrate every hour. Mantra that I remember, is "watch the drop, don't chase the rats, do as I say, be careful, smile, don't eat all the biscuits, leave some for the dogs and rats".

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Grivel Captive Carabiner, by Stevie Captive Haston.

 A rack of Grivel quick draws.

The Grivel Captive carabiner is the best quick draw I'ave used for sport climbing. It's good for several reasons. Give these reasons some considerations, and make your choice of whether it's good for you.
First reason, the top carabiner is captive, and so it can't turn over, or spin.

 So understand that if the top biner can't spin around it is always orientated, and thus loaded on its major axis, in this case 23 kns. The captive has nice geometry that eliminates cross loading, which is a caribiners weakest orientation.

 the Captive comes with a fat nylon draw, and a bent gate, or wire lower biner as options.

The Captive was designed for sport climbers who wanted a rugged long lasting carabiner, that was easy and safe to use. Sport climbing is supposed to be fun, after all. With this in mind we beefed up the draw itself, so it is easier to grab and hold. We also made it out of nylon, so it's less slippy than the lighter Dyneemer we use on our lightest draws.

The Captive showing the spring that allows the draw to "clip" into place thus ensuring that the carabiner can't revolve and be miss lined.

In all quick draws the top biner can not be fixed tightly otherwise this vastly increases it's chance of unclipping. The bottom biner is now normally fixed in it's orientation to make sure it's aligned for quick clipping. There are various ways for the bottom biner to be fixed, a simple rubber band, or more complex rubber band, or even tape. Some of the most popular fixes at the bottom biner, are rubber fixtures that can be incorrectly fixed as happened in the recent death of a young climber. Our fixture is sold fixed so it is correct, and at the same time open to view so you can verify this. It also sticks out a bit so as to shield the wear on the rubbing point of the lower draw which normally moves around a lot.

Captive draw comes in two lengths. 

In the above photo you can see the biner keeper on and off! Take a good look-you can always see the biner is actually clipped to the nylon sling so it is correct! Also note the lengths, there is a medium, and a long. That's 13cm and 18cm. Lastly these draws are always the right way up on your harness so when your going for that real quick clip the "fast draw" (thats why they are called draws) the quick draw is all ways the right way up, thus eliminating all that fumbling. Anyway there you go, look at the facts and details, see if it suits you. It suits me for Sport climbing, it's rugged and strong. I will be using it.

If you want to watch a video of me looking like Einstein explaining the Captive theory of Relativity check here at the Grivel factory. Or here at Ispo.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Respect. By Stevie Haston.

 Tower of Power.

Without respect for each of us as human beings we become mere numbers, drones, slaves to a state of Matrixdom. So please when you climb, respect first the landowner! The cliff, or rock is often owned, if privately owned, you are there with their permission, and it is beholden on you to behave, and have respect. My island has many new visitors, from the big island a few kilometres away, and visitors from the other side of the world, please respect owners and farmers.

Farmers living in harmony with the little that is left of the country.

At the Tower of Power, Nadur cliffs, the owner does not wish you to camp and make fires. Please, please do not camp, or make fires. Please show your selves to be better than the average user, pick up other peoples rubbish, and leave places cleaner than when you arrived. A lot of hard work has gone on to make climbing possible, and we are going backwards, please help. Keep the noise down as well, no shouting etc, keep everything tidy.  

30 meters down with another 30 meters of cliff on one side above.

Behind the Tower of Power are a labyrinth of cliffs with dark slots and tunnels between sectors, so why does every body hang out at the Tower of Power? Please don't be lazy. Explore, spread out, it is the same with parking, don't take the farmers parking place, walk a bit extra, please be considerate.