I'm a woman

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

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.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Help from above, by Stevie Haston.

So my thumb is I think the best thumb in the world, mainly because it's attached still to the rest of my body!

 Diego is my little friend he gets very upset when I go down a cliff.

Diego and I go climbing a bit, I would like him to get rubber shoes, and perhaps learn a few things. But he refuses to learn,  he is like a lot of climbers, he is adamant that he knows it all.

 Little Lilly is 10 years old, and is adamant that she knows everything.

I went climbing today, and did four routes, it hurt a bit, but sure who cares! I went out to belay my friend, and offer support, but I had a quick go, which some how turned into four routes. The best route naturally was on mono's -one finger pockets are it seems, thumb friendly.


The local rescue guys appeared out of the blue for a practise, they use the Tower of Poser as a little pinnacle landing thingy.

Three bemused guys hoping the pilot has gone off to get beers.

While we were climbing the rescue guys came, and did some good stuff. Thanks guys you looked great, thank you for all your practising. I was rescued as a young man once, and was extremely grateful. Are these the guys who pick up the poor unfortunates from the sea as well?



Monday, 20 March 2017

Pull ups for therapy and wellness, by Stevie Haston.

Being injured is no fun, being unfit and injured is probably the road to perdition!

this is me last year a bit fit, photos this year would show a tubby guy without the lead weight belt, and a more natural one of fat.

To keep my spirits up, I did a few pull-ups today, as usual I thought I would do a lot, but unusually I didn't. However some pull ups are better than no pull-ups.

the pull up square was small and not very square today!

 I will do a few more pull ups in the afternoon when I am more bored! Pull ups have been known to cure head aches, they are a panacea, the pull up panacea!


Zee thumb throbs, and goes puce coloured.

For all you people out there with puss coming out of your thumbs, think on the bright side, at least your not Mrs Mays lost conscience, that would be really sickening!




Sunday, 19 March 2017

Salutary lesson in pressure, by Stevie Haston.


I fell off today, took a nasty fall with the rope wrapped around my thumb, and a carabiner wedged across it! As I flew downwards I saw a photo in my head of a finger which had been cut off in a similar accident. The fall was long, and the stretch long, as it progressed I twisted my hand, strangely the correct way, the rope jerked off! It hurt like buggery, not that I know what that hurt like, I suspect it might hurt more. Perhaps there will be a few educational replies to my blog!

 Parking problems, and chaos at Mielah Arch!

You have to look at the bright side, I made it back out of that cave. If I had gone in the water with all the gear I would have drowned, and I suspect my thumb is sprained, cut, but will be good to go. The traffic from tourism near my cliff was very bad today, the pressure of tourism at the week end is now stupid. Don't know what will come of this. 

 a mashed thumb! It is still functioning, just a good result I suppose, worse would be worse!

I have been lucky in my life, not least as I may well get to my 60 th birthday soon.

Climbing can be great, modern tourism is how can you put it, a bit crowded in comparison.

There were a few teams climbing today, two of them left to seek some where less crowded!


 New rubbish at the top of one cliff today.

New rubbish has appeared, not the tourists this time, locals. 

new rubbish, rubbish again.

Life is sad, life is short, look on the bright side, I am still standing with a sore thumb taking photos of new rubbish, ah well.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Citadelle of Joy, by Stevie Haston.

The summer is here three days a week, the rest of the time it's fairly windy, with choppy seas. The flowers are going mad, and the migration of birds is happening. A few Kites flew over, and 6 storks,  a Hoopee with its crazy head plume flew underneath me while I was cleaning a route, it all felt grand.

 The Citadelle in Victoria, locals call our little capital Rabat, its old name!

There has not been a cessation during this winter of tourists, they are here in numbers, are we to become like Venice, sinking into a swamp under the burden of making money?

 We are a 12 kilometre long island, that is why you need 1500 cc of motor bike, did I say our longest straight bit of road was a few hundred meters?

Climbing is such a pleasure, meeting other climbers especially when every thing they do in the sport is new, and wonderful, is probably the best bit.

 Marks dreds nearly didn't fit in the helmet, have to design a helmet for dreaded climbers.

The stone is good in the sun if there is a breeze, if not it's too hot. Where did spring go?

 Morgan enjoying herself.


 New crowds visiting the cliff we have been climbing on for 40 years with out a complaint or problem, one person called the police and said we were doing bad things. Bad things! Leaving litter is what lots of these people did, bottles, beer cans.

Today I went climbing, it was very good, talked to a few farmers, who were asking about climbing, all pleasant and jolly, if every body was like them it would be easy.

bob giant fennel behind me, I am there to give it scale!

It's going to be hot soon, and the caves, and shady cliffs will be my home, time to get seriously arboreal. Fat as pig Guinea pig, and about as handy at the moment. Hard routes seem far away, a distant promised land, but certainly I will visit them again.



Saturday, 11 March 2017

Kafka and Gozo, by Stevie Haston.

                                            Have you seen the Azure Window?

Looking for routes is fun, finding old routes that the old climbers of Gozo used years ago in ancient times is even better. Above you see me on an old route with even seats cut in the rock by ancient fishermen. Having written the guide book to the islands with the help of Simon Alden and Jeffrey Camilleri, I was often in minor arguments about who did first ascents. I would often say, well it was probably done by a Maltese fishermen a thousand years ago, and who cares who did it.


 The above is a route of 8a and was not done first by a Maltese fisherman. I only did the first free ascent. Who did the first ascent?

The Kafkaesque conversations you can get into sometimes makes my head spin. I like to obey the law, and do so, but I do call the law an ass from time to time. The other day security wouldn't allow me to get off a safe car park on to safe flat ground! I asked on what authority etc, who they were, they refused all to answer, and kept bullying. Today people were not allowed to dive the Azure Window, and Blue Hole. It is now illegal! Why?


 Street scene in the big town Rabat.

On enquiry after you ask police, ministry, department of paper shuffling and even various friends within the government you get conflicting answers. The security people, the uniformed protectors of the Rock Arch that is no longer there, boldly stop you. 

 flower petals

I would imagine these restrictions will become sensible at some stage, but it is all very confusing. It's like things one day are legal, but then its Ok, or in America, state to state things, and laws  are different.

 Obviously you shouldn't mess this fine thing up, but hey its fragile its not a pile of rocks. There were some very nice Gozitan council work men there to stop children and drunks from messing it up.

Climbing on my island was understood by Gozo fishermen, but those men are older than me, there climbing was superseded by car transport. But the peace and quiet of sitting on a ledge is not the same as sitting in polluted traffic. And looking at internet videos is no substitute for diving in the real sea.


My favourite.

Rocks and stones are one of my favourite things, I love touching them. I love the sea, to not be in the sea is some how wrong for me. My heritage is the sea, and the cliffs of Gozo. Please Mr Lawman, Mr Bureaucrat don't make silly laws about access. 

Gozo, make climbing great again. By Stevie medium Haston.

The access to climbing in America, and even little Gozo is of "HUGE" significance, forgive me for the reference to Trump, talking about access without talking about politics is impossible. Sadly, and most worrying for climbers, and other out door people, its politics which we must often enter to protect our right for recreation.

 Fairly normal pounding on the north coast of Gozo, twice, or more a winter these waves are over the top of this cliff, it's 30 meters high! A fence on top of the cliff will not stop a wave, it just stops a person recreation.


As Trump gets rid of the EPA, and the Republicans threaten public lands in Utah, and Obamas last Nationa Park, the outdoor industry mobilises, and hits back! Here on Gozo, Malta, Germany, Italy, Spain, we have a lesser, or greater voice. The Alpine nations have often a greater voice in climbing, skiing, and other outdoor activities because it is part of the culture. Here on my little island, locals have climbed the cliffs for perhaps millennium, but people have forgotten its part of our culture. The island of Gozo is looked at as a cash cow, property trumps all, then day tourism. Climbers have very little voice.



 The Azure Window as it was, before the once in a hundred years storm , 4 years ago.

In the USA the biggest clothing manufactures have pulled out of the annual trade show, which will loose Utah millions, and millions of dollars! What will happen to Gozo, and Malta if climbing is restricted? The island will loose valuable revenue, millions of euros! All the good work done by the local climbers since even before the second world war will become null, and void. Worst for me is there will be less naturally occurring sport to stop the countries young  from being seduced by the delights of over eating, and Diabetes. 

This is a copy of  a great photo of a great route on Gozo, it has brought huge amounts of people to the island and with them their hard earned dollars, and euros.

If you look at the waves here on this island, you realize  that you would be like King Canute trying to stop the tides if you tried to safe guard sea arches! Who normally gets restricted? The small guy gets restricted! The sea will not get restricted and can't be! At the moment we have huge pressures on the environment on Gozo, and Malta,  I will list them in no particular order;
Car and CO2 emissions.
Rubbish dumping on land, and sea.
Property building, and over crowding.
The huge burden of an overwhelming tourist industry in summer which is not spread evenly through the winter.
The destruction, and killing of marine life, through pollution, and destruction of the sea bed due to the bunkering of ships in exchange for money.

Much of the above is obviously a money for something type of exchange, but who benefits, and who suffers? With the restriction of walking, and climbing freedom on the island, it is both the valuable tourists money we won't get, and the local peoples health which will suffer. Thanks,  a big thanks for every body who has helped me personally with climbing, and everybody who has come to Gozo and Malta to enjoy our climbing.





Thursday, 9 March 2017

Climbers need to support Gozo climbing. by Stevie Gozitan Haston.

So fellow climbers I thought I would ask you for some support about access to climbing on Malta, and Gozo.  As you know the famous Azure Window, a stone arch over the sea fell down, this has prompted all sorts of erroneous ideas as to why it fell down. We as a climbing community on the island are worried that our already fragile access to the climbing here is at risk. The scare mongering press wanted the Azure window fenced off, it fell off in a heavy full of energy storm! A few tourists, or climbers, can never excert the force of a huge wave on a static structure in its way! Please help me and Gozo, and Maltese climbing. 

n
We are as a sporting group scared of loosing access to these fantastic places, despite adding to the economy of the country.

Climbing is the fastest growing new attraction, or activity on the island, and provides visits outside the main season so it is very, very valuable to the economy of the little island of Gozo, and its mother island of Malta. If you have climbed here, and enjoyed it, please support us. 



 This route Bernd has made it into international climbing magazines and is one of the best roof cracks in the world, it is on Gozo, Malta.

People who know me understand my passion for climbing, but might also understand this passion means I am not the best negotiator! I am asking for support, and trying to get things together with others, and the wider climbing community to let logic, and climbing prevail over knee jerk reaction, and a feeling of mourning for a lost arch of stone. 


Spread the word please, that climbing is important, and very good for tourism, and is a healthy sport.



Please help Gozo, and Maltese climbing as much as you can. Are there any engineers out there who are willing to explain the absurdity of comparing a climber to the forces of nature? People can email me with ideas, and suggestions about effecting a positive result. 
News of the arch is wide spread, and a few climbing web sites have carried  my opinions already, I repeat please help.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Defenistration of a Maltese tourist icon, by Stevie Azure Haston.

The Azure Window of Gozo has fallen down, it was one, if not thee touristic sight of the Maltese Islands. It regaled travel brochures, and "In flight magazines", and now it is dead!
  
,
 A sea arch is a lovely thing, plans to make more are being looked at by the government. 

For the last few years the Azure window has been loosing its paint, and getting a bit loose as it were. There was ludicrously a fence for a few meters on one side, which some how was to keep the tourists off it. There was a fine of 1500 eus for going on it, a fine I am not sure could be justified in any way. Today the security service (?) was there trying to stop tourists from going on an arch that was not there. The fence by the way is about 20 meters long, and you simply walk around it, no signs on the other side!

 the rock of Gozo is a pleasure to climb-in most cases.

I love the rock of Gozo, perhaps I am its biggest fan, and I know the most about it, after all I have climbed on it through out my life. The Azure Window was purposely left out of the guide book to climbing, even though historically it had been climbed on for 50 years. Indeed, thank god I left it out because for the last few years the papers have been full of shouting, and complaints about people damaging the arch by walking on it! The Azure Window was never going to fall down due to a fat tourist, or five, it fell down in a storm. It was created by storms, and it was killed by storms.



 A photo which appeared in a magazine.

International news, is the "disappearance of a window", but it never made it into the press when the Mielah window (the one in the photo above) was draped in toilet paper, and sewage. Out of the sewage came this arch, the fear is that now, instead of a great tourist attraction to climb on, the circus of burger vans, and tea shacks, and diesel generators will come!

This is the iconic,window that is no more!


It's a sad thing, a Window into peoples sensibilities has been shut. It takes millennium for the arts, and crafts of the ocean to make a window, and now it is so drab without it, its weird because it is still so pretty, but not like it was. It's almost like the removal of a beautiful painting from a wall, and now you just see the out line on the wall, in dust and dirt!  

Monday, 6 March 2017

Back to the Future, by Stevie Haston.

The new cliff gets better, and better. 3 routes bolted so far, but 12 done, need bolts! I want this cliff done, or  a good 20 routes done for the new guide, as I am sure it will give people lots of pleasure.

 Withnail and I, 7a.

The route we did yesterday was very nice, a bit hard for a porky old bloke like me. Intricate, delicate, and finger moves up very sumptuous rock all proving hard to read. Climbing seems like a foreign language when the lard coat is on.

 Lunch, a packet of glue and some nuts please.

After we did our little route, we had a bit of time, so explored a bit. We thought there was a big cave some where near from our big swims, but we didn't know for sure, as it's hard to know where you are. Anyway we found another set of fishermen's cut steps down a different part of the cliff, and chose to accept the challenge. So down the steps we went, the 39 Steps to Heaven, they soon turned out to be.
  

 between swearing at me in german, Alex was happy with the stone.

The rock goes through three layers or strata, with a lovely bit of sandstone for a few meters, that uncharacteristically for the islands, produces a bit of friction like moves, and a change of emotion..

 Lunar like landscape, don't know why I said that (wrote that) haven't got a clue what the moon looks like!

As I said, it's hard to know where you are, large parts of the top are similar, or without noticeable markers. There are fishermen's threads, where the fishermen used to, and sometimes still do attach traps. But without knowing the cliff it's a problem orientating one self. The guide book will require a bit of thought.


Behind is a cave of special magnificence!

Notice in the above photo, a bollard cut in the rock by fishermen! These bollards are a great historical reminder of the local "hanging" fishermen of Gozo. I have seen reference to them from at least 160 years ago! The steps we followed down were very impressive, and ended with a view of a great cave, which I remember had a couple of brill, but time consuming lines. Ah the future looks busy. We were too scared to look at them, yesterday
.




Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pirates, Pilates, and politicians, by Stevie Polite Haston.

The island is very green, and pleasant, temperatures are perfect, so why am I on a cold cliff these last few days. The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, "it's because the stone, is stoned immaculate".

 Friction slab, unusual for limestone!

Two new routes yesterday, I need bolts. Donate some money if you can, or have climbed on my island.  One was 6a, easy 6a at that, the name Mega Stone came to mind. The next one we did was better! Couldn't think of a name, but it was petrified joy, it was a neat little layback up a corner where my fat fingers made it tricky. 

 how green is my island, very green it is, going soon to be brown.

The flowers are very nice this year, the South African Sorel is rampant. This week the Magreb dwarf iris is out, I lost all the photos I took yesterday so can't show you, sad how things blink off computers, isn't it?


A faithful pair of shoes!

Finally gave a pair of climbing shoes a viking burial, well not really, put them in the bin, very sad to see these friends go the way of the Dodo. I need Bolts, I need Glue, I have some time to do some routes, and feel keen. Titanium does not grow on trees. Ah just thought of a name for the second route we did, the "Titanium Tree". The route we failed to bolt was a diagonal route with a slab move on friction, and then the final few moves went over a little overhanging wave of sandstone by hidden generous holds, but either due to being fat, missing the correct footholds, or the steepness, a nice slap was necessary. A perfect route sadly not bolted.