I'm a woman

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

Injuries and elections, by Stevie unimpressed Haston.

There are elections going on all over the place, if you don't think this is important, you are very stupid, and that's what the people in charge want. You are not supposed to bring up people's intelligence, or lack of it, but gee whiz, vote, and seriously, just vote for the party that will look after you. All will be good.

doing laps on a 7a, how the mighty have fallen.

There's lots of Germans, and Swiss climbing here, and Americans, very few people from the UK, what does that tell you? It tells me the people from my old country don't have money!

 My fingers are showing a few dings, these are a pair of index fingers, you might understand that picking my nose with the right hand one is a bit harder!

I haven't done a blog for a while, although lots of interesting things have been going on. A girl did La Rambla, which very much impressed me, it's a 9a+, and has broken many men, and boys! Another girl did Ground Zero in Italy 9a, which I tried a lot, and never really got close to doing, she was a dwarf too, and I used to moan about my reach on it!

 My paired thumbs! I think the right hand one is broken , it hurts more than listening to Mrs UNELECTED May speeches .

People are doing 9a's every where, and Onda the best climber in the world has done very well recently, with a few in a week, and 9bs to boot! Very good everybody, I am startled, impressed, and bamboozled! I am not equally impressed with politicians, their lies, false promises, and corruptibility seems to have reached epidemic proportions, with global annihilation on the menu again. Well gee thanks guys.

Trimming the verge, I am not a vicars son, daughter, or illegitimate progeny of any sort. 

Anyway, I am doing what I normally do, I climb, therefore I still am. I also have a blown ear, which means I am deaf in my right ear! This doesn't mean I am deaf to what the Right is doing, unlike a large proportion of the electorate of Europe, and America. Please guys and girls get your shit together, and vote for central parties, peace niks, parties of the left, but not money grubbing, right wing, thieves, war monger's , lunatics, and people whose surnames start with a month in them!  

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter rabbits eggs and religion, by Stevie Haston.

There were the usual Gozo easter traditional religious processions last night, and to be honest I watched a Hollywood bit of trash called the Mist instead, it somehow felt more appropriate, in a world were we just pay lip service to kindness, and concern, and instead blow people into itzy, bitty pieces, for no good reason. 
 A sea window were you can't see the 200 tourists with selfie sticks on the other side dropping litter and making noise!

We skipped climbing on the window today, because there were simply too many tourists around, tripping over themselves, and throwing litter around. We went a bit further, and the noise was snuffed out by the sound of the sea surging around in a cave beneath.

 Belay guard.

The rock in this region is so rich in holds, and colour, its like a hallucination, it's a trip, it's a bit edgy mentally too, there is a slight feeling of commitment, all though the routes are short.

 The Dag guarded the stuff, and the belay, until an almost alien being appeared.

You try to escape from the human world to ultimately have to come back, but sometimes even though you have escaped it's almost like there is a parallel universe just blipping next to you. While we climbed, cars kept on arriving, parking near our belay, crushing the flowers. The sounds of ordinary idiocy floated around, it was so intrusive you would quickly scuttle back down the ropes to climb. Even down at the water line we had four boats come to gawk!

Be careful, things can fall on you from on high, and some rant exploding bombs, they are human!

I don't know what is going to happen in a few years, people just seem to have morphed into dolts with phones. Apparently wanting to climb and travel the less traveled route is regarded as strange. Strange to whom? 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Happy Vaisakhi and just happiness to you all, by Stevie non religious Haston.

I normaly pray to a least ten gods a day, because even though I am an atheist, I like to hedge my bets.

 what I do when I don't climb, or when I am not crying about the stupid state of the world.

I have just struggled through two huge books about Margret the broom riding ex Priminister of the broken UK, wow I am exhausted. Good as the book was, it was a black 10 years, and set us up for the mess we are in now, with the new broom Mrs unelected May. The people of course to thank for this, are the thick misguided public, who either want to increase their wealth to insane proportions, or who would like to.

 local rubbish on one of our scenic walks!

I have noticed huge amounts of rubbish on the North Coast of Gozo, and so have other walkers and climbers. I am a bit tired of cleaning it up, but don't know what to do.

 Easter holidays, and not so many Brits, Brexit is kicking in except for football hooligans we sent to spain to sort out Gibraltar.

Climbing has proved a bit painful recently, a couple of falls bashed me about, and produced stuff that I didn't really notice (well I pretended I guess), a torn bicep, a broken thumb, and lots of throbbing, and stiffness of a rather unsavoury nature. 

 Kayak trip with Paulina, Dustin, and the Captain, the latter is not me, I am a humble mid shipman.

It is amazing what you can do if you don't recognise your not really up to scratch. If you think I am being facetious your correct. Whatever gave Trump, or May the idea that they could win anything other than a game of solitaire, or tiddlywinks. The weather has been great, it rains at night to keep everything green, and god has created many new rock climbs for me to discover-happy.

 a very foreshortened photo of a 30 meter plus Gormengast  Crack, 6a.

The approach to the above route is, or can be down through tunnels, and up and down steps in cliffs and darkness, and through letterboxes through rock, slither wither. 

   Chris pretending to be Edwin Lear.

I have climbed with some great people recently, Chris a tennis coach, Richard a journalist, and his family, Jo a social services worker, and my locals. Special thanks to Simon Alden who has kept my spirits up with the access problems and who caught me on one of my falls. Thanks everybody.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Norton of Everest book review, by Stevie Haston.

Norton of Everest, the biography written by Hugh Norton, with a foreword by Wade Davis, and published by Vertebrate Publishing, is a very good read.
Why is it a good read? Well because it is a life rather than a collection of scurfy climbs, because it is of a time gone by, and now with the benefit of hindsight we can see how monumental it was for this, "not an every day" man, to break almost into the stratosphere, all those years ago.
What are we talking about, these far off times are indeed far off when girls are now around 9a + rock climbing grade, and women have broken Nortons altitude record? Well the world in 1924 was at once a smaller place, and an infinitely more magical place, but possibly its brutality was also much more evident even to the people of the Western world.

 Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge Norton by his altitude record.

Wade Davis does a brilliant foreword on Norton for the book, and clearly I can't compete with his glowing words, what I can do is give a slightly different view. My sideways viewpoint is that, while I always adored this mans mountaineering achievement, I was always put off by his his military status. As a life long pacifist  I wasn't keen to discover his brutish military side, or indeed his value to the Great British Empire. It was as you might guess, a very pleasant surprise to find Norton was one of the most humane of men, showing incredible sympathy, and genuine concerns for people from every walk of life, and every country. His rescue of Porters from the North Col despite probably recking the chances of the expedition, was done naturally without a seconds thought. As Edward Shebbeare said it "may have cost us the mountain".

 The iconic image of Norton heading into the eponymous couloir.

When you have stared into the couloir that is named after Norton, from a distance in time, you can only but admire his fortitude, and strength. That his altitude record lasted until 1978 when Habeler and Messner climber Everest without Oxygen is amazing. Norton was alone, he made his own tracks, he had primitive equipment and he didn't have sherpas, and oxygen cylinders lying around, and by Jove he nearly pulled it off!

Add captionvvv
this map shows the long route through India and the Tibet, its long miles at altitude are one of the reasons Norton got so high.

Norton was an accomplished artist (there are fine illustrations of his in the book) he was a naturalist, a loving family man, but ultimately at his heart, he was a soldier. This last was the crux that I didn't want to explore, having a natural antipathy to the military, and indeed to the Alpine Club, and the whole of society that this epoc is historically about. So what a pleasant surprise to find him, Teddy Norton mentioned in dispatches 3 times, Military Cross, appointed DSO, and given every medal for gallantry, and bravery, except for the Victoria Cross. He survived Everest, the rarefied air that made Messener millions, he was the man who traversed the "Death Zone" before that particular over the top bit of marketing was invented. But for him to survive the Death Zone, he of course had to survive a much worse death zone, the real meat grinder of the first World War. The Marne, Yres, Loos, Arras! Norton finally ended up slowly being edged out of his dream position which would have been active duty in one of the more important conflagrations of the second World War. He was appointed Governor of Hong Kong, where his most important achievement was excavating tunnels, that people say saved many lives during the bombing by the Japanese. In short this tall man of 6 foot four, led a long, large life, it was for me a great life, well lived, and honourably so. When I looked into the Norton Couloir on Everest from a distance, I was hoping to walk in his footsteps. Norton certainly was close to my grandfather who lost a leg in the first World War , and now that I read this book I was assured that he would not have looked down on him.
If you buy this book, and read it, you will not only share in Everest, and some of those people like Mallory, but you will see a side of  history too. The part on his life subsequent to Everest may seem long, but for Norton it was his life, the couloir, and summit of Everest were pleasant interludes in a life well lived.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Character full life, by Stevie simpering Haston.

When you climb a mountain, and stand on the top, and look around, it is normally recognised that you see more. But in todays weirdly politically correct world, with its  schizophrenic side, you are somehow supposed to be a calm Buddhist  kinda guy, who does red bull stuff  by accident, and still live in Holland, while happily married to a job in insurance. Ofcourse  in reality there isn't much to see from most summits except lovely space, and peace. A mind behind the eyes for interpretation might help with filling in the blanks. The whole romantic poet/ climbing thing was a clever marketing ploy by out of work rich kids a couple of centuries ago!

My macho tendency to ignore injuries isn't paying off today.

My silly ill-considered falls of late, have left me with bruises, and stuff I don't understand. My right bicep  doesn't work well, and the bone underneath hurts. My life up to this point seems a bit the same, things seem to hurt, and arnt functioning very well. I accidentally read an article about myself today in which I don't recognise myself. There seems a complete disconnect between my life up to a few years ago, and now. When gazing in the mirror, a middle aged guy stares back, he still climbs well, but he misses patches of bristles on his face, and doesn't much care.  I can barely remember when I did the North Face of the Eiger,  it's like something I read about once long ago. Likewise my character doesn't seem like anything colourful, I just wake up, and go climbing. Not having a character is part of being a Climboid.
 Alex on a belay she doesn't really want to be on!

Is life a journey towards boredom. Is it something to burn like a candle, to illuminate something, hopefully in your self.

 Amused that anybody would be interested in a man who still likes to be alone on a cliff, and doesn't mind beans on toast by himself of an evening.

 good shoes help you dance, they say that dancing is practising in the vertical for what you hope to do in the horizontal.

Dancing, and climbing are the same, except climbing is not on an everyday boring surface like a floor. I suppose some climbing is ordinary, but even to me, most climbing feels extraordinary. It might surprise people, but climbing still excites me, why wouldn't it. Is it wrong of me to think that people live boring lives, as well as lives of quite desperation? Mostly, not all the time, but mostly this must be true. On my island of 30,000 people there were three people climbing today, a few diving, a few I guess doing some thing else interesting. But what were the rest doing. It's not an arrogant question, I assure you. I see a lot of guys here working in the fields at peace, they look sorted. But of the rest I don't understand.  

 A small price to pay, lucky it was a small price.

When I was at school more than half a century ago, they prepared me for a life of amazing boredom by indoctrinating me, caning me, and casting spells. What do they do in school today? What was the difference, lets ask between my early life, and Mrs Mays? Or Mr "war criminal" Blair, what was there in his antiseptic life that made him cause the deaths of millions? Anyway these musings are just because I didn't recognise myself in the interview. Recognising war criminals is easy, isn't it?

 An ancient belay bollard on the north coast. Or is it a Yoni stone?

Yoga should be taught in school, climbing should be taught in school, growing plants should be taught in school. What else should be taught in school? Perhaps history, real history might help. The pursuit of happiness… should be on the school curriculum. In school sports I was taught to win, its a concept I never really understood. I preferred looking at the river when I ran cross country, or when rowing on the Thames river.

 Chris contemplating mortality, and  balance.

In the future what is going to happen? How will we escape from society, when there won't be anything else except living in a cube with a bed, and some designated work. Your excersise wheel will be there, there might be a corner of the plastic climbing wall called the North face of the Eiger, if your lucky. I remember for a film once, I was in charge of throwing rocks down to simulate rockfall! Highly paid make believe. That's the difference for most people, the only difference is money, it's good when there's more money, bad when theres less! 

Snapdragons, so sweet to see.

There are flowers every where today, everywhere, and were we were, no one was looking, clearly when they were at school, they obeyed the notice "stay off the grass", "stick to the path", and all the other orders, and rules designed to enslave them, Jedi control tricks were at least interesting. This week I was told to act my age, and be careful, It seemed almost worth considering. But then I realised I'ave been careful all my life. Careful that is, to take a bit of pleasure from the outside world, and so I will try not to fall off again, I'll try to act my age, I'll go back to school, and change my life, Instead of "the Next Horizon", I'll read an Ikea catalogue. It would have been a lot easier if the great film Fight Club, was about climbing instead of fighting. But people have been educated to understand violence, and not love. Climbing is often about love, it's not even about conquering, it's about trying. They even sell climbing as an act of conquest now, or as  part of the drug/adrenaline  culture, we need those mad poets to come back from Xanadu desperately.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Bad day at bad rock, by Stevie Haston.

There's good days, and bad days. Most of my days are admittedly good, but it looks like tiny clouds are gathering on my own private horizon.

 typical top out on the north coast.

I spent the morning talking about access with various people, which can be depressing sometimes, but the Mayor of one village was very interested in climbing, partly because his villagers fish from the high cliffs.

 In passing, I said hello to this cat, and gave it some food.

So good days, bad days, good years, bad years, only one life, and it breaks down into being ok, especially the climbing bit! 
When you talk about climbing with people who don't understand about it, the question of danger is always brought up. Is climbing dangerous? I would personally say it isn't very dangerous, and statistics would probably back me up to some degree. It would largely look like this, "safe climbing, done by some one who is safe, is very largely safe"! An idiot who goes climbing most likely will injure himself getting to the rock climbing area by crashing the car!

a little light abrasion.

I took a fall today, the rope somehow got caught around my leg. The fall was because it was a new route, and had a brittle loose hold. As I flew off, I grabbed the rope, some times this is good. In this case it was both bad, and good. With a rope the wrong side of your leg you will flip over, this is bad. If you hold onto the rope, and your hand then takes the force, normally you tear either your hand, shoulder, or lat muscle. So as I flew through the air I had to make a very quick decision, to hold onto the rope, and not be flipped over violently, and so not run the risk of bashing my noggin really hard. Option two was let go of rope, and save any possible torn joint, muscles etc, but bash the rock in an uncontrolled way. I took option three, grab the rope with the other hand as well, and take the fall on my hands, and back muscles, and get possible rope burn. Well it worked out ok, just the usual rope burn on the thigh, a bruised arse cheek when hitting the slab, and a slight graze. Feeling lucky, I didn't even rest, and finished the route, because I knew the correct thing had been done by the onboard computer! Hopefully my computer will let me get to my birthday without blowing up. Good judgement to you all.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

For ever young, by Stevie old Haston.

If you feel like butter stretched over too much bread, you might be a hobbit. If you feel stretched over a bit of rock you might be a climber. Still when all is said and done I do feel a bit old, nearly 60, some how I should be swinging in a hammock with a pitcher of either gin and tonics near me, or an IV drip in my vein with legal  drugs administered by young scantily glad nurses.  Goodbye Mr Haston, your journey is over, time to put up your climbing shoes ….

 A very blurred photo, probably from fear.

The above photo is in one of the lovely caves that dot the coast. This one is called the Cave of the old man, appropriately enough. There is a bit of magic about this one, I think there's a cave under the water too. Will have to bring the fins and mask and have a look.

 Chris cruising, 10th route of the day!

Yesterday we did 10 routes, none hard, all great. The day started off a bit badly with a farmer refusing to let us through public access! He went ballistic, I was very diplomatic, and he calmed down, tourists both Maltese and foreign had been stealing his crops! Anyway he let us through, but he said he won't allow anybody else through! I have been walking that path for 40 years, and now I might not be allowed, hurumph! 

 I like the shade Chris likes the sun.

 How will the world end? How are you supposed to solve problems? How do you appease people without loosing. Old as I am I don't know many answers, I just know how to climb 10 climbs, and have a lovely day.

a bowl of tulips.

I see that the BMC just bought Crookside cliff in Yorkshire, well done the British Mountain Council! I would imagine that the Maltese Government should be buying little bits of land to make public recreation a bit more easy for its own inhabitans, and for the tourists to have an argument free day.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Underworld revisited, by Stevie Haston.

There was some rain, but as it never rains in the Underworld we went there! What a treat, its like having your own private Nirvana, made of stone.

Big Chris landing from a post apocalypse Brexit Britain after a 60 meter abseil.

On the way to the cliff I lost the path, how? I have traveled the short path down to abseil a hundred times. Well it was so bedecked with flowers, I didn't want to crush them, so, some how got lost on the rocks! 

The Time Tunnel goes all the way back to your atavistic adenoidal England.

First visitors to the Underworld get taken to the back of the Time Tunnel. The recent Azure Window killing storm had done some damage to rocks inside the tunnel, but nothing horrible. A rope had been stripped off a route, and some clips turned to garbage. 
 a crab sheltering in the shoe

We did Stix and Stoners, which is the excellent so called escape route, and Everlasting, which is a 45 meter route, it was enough with some yoga on the Ledge of the Gods in the sun. It was a bit sad without the arch of the Azure Window, not there in the back ground, but things change, sadly some times! 

Any one for camomile tea, top of the Underworld cliff.

I don't want to live for ever, but I do want to climb forever!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mr Magoo gets drowned, by Stevie sodden Haston.

Sorry guys, but you will have to wait for the review of Norton of Everest. I will take a bit longer to do a better review, it deserves it, and most of all E.F.Norton deserves it. 

 veggie day today, slight detox going on.

Last night I started the horrible task of reading the biography of Margaret Thatcher by John Campbell. It's a prodigious two book gargantuan funeral for the working class of the UK, it's a requiem for much that was good, and I have to read it despite the fact it's depressing as all hell. The reason I am reading it, is because I am trying to make sense of my life, and unfortunately  that horrible woman had a greater affect on me than even my worst lover and/or enemy. The Uk was not great Britain, or even averagely good Britain before her, but after her, and her criminal legacy it was almost unrecognisable. She paved the way for her love child masquerading as a Labour Hercules, Blair the demon of Bosh.  The present re incarnation of "humans without conscious" Mrs May is almost made in her image.

 A lovely snaking groove, third time I have done it, first time for Alex, beau, beau, beau.

6 routes for me today, 3 new, and all good. The 3 new, all have a short section on grit, or rough sandstone, so unexpected on my island, but so sweet. My favourite is one called Mr Magoo, you feel really dumb at the top as you struggle with an overhanging crack, which if you have the courage to climb it correctly, is easy! It is very exposed, and a must do.

 don't you just love palming it, push your palms and pray.

 a tricky finish, extra hard if your short.

The sea was fairly calm, but the cave which we visited, was hard to access, and even harder to escape from. Indeed I was a bit careless with my traverse to explore the right hand side, and a big wave got me, I anchored my self by two prickly jug handles, and was in the dishwasher for a while!

an interesting belay, do you think it is natural?

In the cave there is a good route to be done, maybe three, but they are a bit hard, we will see, without doubt they would be great, but I am feeling a bit like Mr Magoo, and to do these routes you will have to be a  skinny, clever, determined, lucky, brave, gifted… and I feel like Mr Magoo. The route Mr Magoo is 6a+, by the way. Thats all folks. Yabber dabber do time. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Treassure Island, by Stevie Crusoe Haston.

I have lived in may places, and strangely I have met bigoted, stupid, and racist people in all of them. In some places I have met incredibly bigoted, profoundly stupid and racist people, these are the places I normally leave. These little places were there is a whirlpool of hate, jealousy, and lack of logic have been in no particular order London, Yorkshire, both north and south, North Wales, France, America.  Try to remember that they were often just small eddies of hate and stupidity, rather than whirlpools, but at times there was a flood which caused these vortexes of group hate to become worse. 
 On cliffs between the sea and the sky, there is a happy country without hate, and jealousy.

A lot of hate, and jealousy, and blame comes from having, or thinking you have little, or that the little you have, is in danger of being taken away, or diluted.

 I get very grumpy when I don't have this place to myself and start talking about bloody foreigners!

The simple fact is that people of different colours, and different religions are attracted by the same things, they like jobs and money, and they don't like to be bombed, shot, beheaded, and generally messed about with. So they flock like migrating birds, to peck at certain tables, and there, while they nibble and peck, they can become targets for certain hunters. News Paper owners are some of these hunters, politicians are some of these hunters, some are only pretending to be hunters, and are dressed in camouflage to get your vote because they just want your money, your labour for less.

 Thank you Will for sharing your time with me.

The little island of Comino used to have one family from my village on it, now in summer the beaches are covered in sun beds, and burning northern flesh. It is not my cup of tea, I go else where. 
We need to spread out money, and jobs, and security, so that the beauty and quite of some places is secured. This is obviously not easy because of the greed of some of us.

 This is Santa Maria deep water soloing, its not very developed, and is also a commercial diving area, it is also used heavily by fishermen.

I had a lovely swim under the the cliffs of Santa Maria all by myself, one hour of heaven away from my troubles. Normally I would have to share. Sharing doesn't come easy sometimes.

Elephant rock is a great place to climb it catches the dawn light.

Ganesh is the Indian god resembling an elephant, which reminds me of something. I have seen racism, and religious hatred explode in seconds out from peace in India. When you think about the peace, and loving that is promulgated in most religions these explosions of violence, and hatred in India  look like unwanted violent storms! Hatred is a very bad vibe, it damages everybody, that's why I spend most of my time away from people, I like good feelings and peace, which is guarantied only it seems when your alone.

I don't know why I'ave written this, I think its because I am worried that the small afternoon storms can become a raging all year round orgy of violence. And this is precisely what immigrants, migrants, and refugees flee from-the terrible storm. These terrible storms are social, and commercial constructs, they are also often just power grabs, they don't have to be there.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Tourist terror summer, by Stevie Haston.

I think a summer of terrible crowds will be here this year, Gozo is just too popular!

 Alex with a stone in her eye! This fantastic 6c is a route of my ex wives Laurence, it's called Cascade d'or, it's very good.

We went for a paddle around Comino with Gozo Adentures today. Our guide Will took us across the short stretch of water to Comino Island, and we had a great time looking into many caves. There is a lot of undocumented deep water soloing on this island, but the free diving, and swimming is also brilliant. I would recommend it except that in summer it is minging with people, it is truly horrendous. You can kayak around it, and stay away from most of the sun bed loving day crowds, but the best time is outta season.

 the tower of Poseurs, where the rescue practise was done yesterday.

I went for a good swim and dive, got knocked about by a swell on the east side of the island, glad I was wearing a wet suit, it took some big scuffs as I was swept into some rocks. Water was 16° Centigrade, ok!

 Jesus is coming at Easter, and he is coming by motorbike!

There could be a lot of climbing on Comino, indeed there is some, but it's nothing like as good as on Gozo.  After a bit of paddling, over an hours swim, and a bit more kayaking my shoulders felt worked. Nice little day.

 On Comino looking at the caves and cliffs. Dustin admiring a double Arch.

The Blue lagoon without crowds is still exceptional, the blueness is indeed special. We picked up a polystyrene box, some bottles, and a sac, but we could have filled a boat with rubbish. Time Gozo took care of this island a bit better, me thinks.

did the pilot 
pick them up or are they still there on the Tower of Poseurs?

Anyway a great day with Gozo Adventures who are my friends, and I would like people to consider them for their climbing Kayaking, Biking or walking needs. They are nice people, Will our guide was great, Irish Scottish, he promised to take me around the North Coast. I normally access some of the north coast by long swims, but I fancy the easier option of a Kayak visit, to see it all in one go. Thanks Will, and thanks Gozo Adventures.