I'm a woman

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

Saturday, 29 October 2022

Adrift in a sea of rock, by Stevie Safe Haston.

 ffffffA friend comes over from London and asks for a refresher on certain techniques, 'advanced, mediocre or just plain nonsense' I ask.

So you can teach abseiling very easily, I just did it infact to a English international footballer, anyway. What kind of test, small cliff, large cliff, loose as Feck cliff , a cliff where if you fail to get down and get back up again you are down there until the fishes consume you kinda cliff?

So the teacher abseils into the sea because its a bit steep at the bottom so even he has to pass the swimming while overloaded with gear sea landing! This was funny, I have sense of humour, perhaps not yours, perhaps I won't get many people asking for testing, but until you abs into the sea while overloaded with gear you dont really appreciate how hard it is, for some the 'failures it will prove impossible!

This is my student arriving with my fins and mask, it was a very select place to swim for an hour! If you look closely he is abseiling with a protection prussic knot, this is good he got points for this. He lost points for the bag being on his back it should have been clipped between his legs to stop him being tipped backwards. I abseiled with out the extra safety, why (?) because I was going to be in the water and might need to get off the rope quick time.

The student is in the middle of the photo, you can see his hello helmet if you look very close.

6 meters below the top, student is all smiles. I had heard a few swear words floating up earlier, I did not mark him down for these.

The sun was going down as the student topped out, I think and he said he had learnt a few things. I should hope so, rope work, safe abseiling, safe Jumaring are critical skills, you may learn the principle on a few meter high rock or tree, but you need to do something a little bit harder and a little bit more punishing of your mistakes. Experience is not gained at the bouldering wall, and I am not knocking climbing walls but you know I speak the truth, the trick is of course surviving your experience, or your apprenticeship. 

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Querganger, the route you do with pride, by Stevie Straight Haston

 Today I went climbing, there was a Gaypride march on the tiny island but I thought I would strut my stuff like the true YMCA guy I am by putting up a new route-Querganger! Querganger means traverse in German by the way, and this is a 45 meter traverse to a hanging belay followed by a 15 pitch to the top.

24 quickdraw, and its incredible rock, its gritstone like or very rough sandstone, it will provide a lovely deep water solo for the young of heart but needed a little cleaning by this old man. Alex hadn't really done a proper horizontal traverse before so she was in full German swearing mode.

There was a big flock of very big Barracudas for a while but sadly they got chased off by a speed boat and there were also fried Egg jellies fish floating around eerily. It was fairly somber down there under big over hangs and we weren't sure how to get off if we messed it up. I guess we would just have untied and jumped off!

The last little pitch is a very nice 6a+, which felt hard today, delicate with sore toes, very little pride as I didn't dance up it but moaned and twitched, overwieght and out of practise on such a fine bit of climbing as Queerganger, did I say 24 clips, good holds except for two sections of little crimps and friction stuff for the feet. It will be in the new guide book, coming soon to Malta and Gozo.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The new Guide book to Maltese climbing, by Stevie Haston.

 So guys I have given up really on doing blogs as most people just can't be bothered to read for 5 mins at a time, but here goes. Simon Alden and Stephen Farrugia from the Maltese climbing Club came over to kick start the drive to get the new guide book going, although of course they have been doing slow progressive work for years. Before I get started and you go to sleep let's have a photo.

This is the top of Bernadino, the route is named after a friends grandfather executed by Franco. Its 5+, 5+, 6c, 6a+.

Now then you obviously know we are in the middle of a heat wave thingy, world war 3 and every body has personal problems and life necessities going on, but guys listen climbing is great, the cliffs are not a Tic Toc nonsense, they are real throbbing fear and pleasure!

This route is the Last White Rhino, it was meant to be a club classic but has yet to see an ascent by the club guys!!!! Why are my club members more relaxed then the Jamaican Bobsled team? The above are just two routes that will go in the new guid book that is the work of club members, climbers from all over Europe and a few very dedicated guys, one of whom cuts the path in Xini valley twice a month and does other stuff apart from introducing kids and grown ups to climbing-his name is Didi! The Last White Rhino is a kinda Gozo/Maltese Via Ferrata, its an abseil, then a great pitch on bronze rock 5+, then a slab under a roof, then some aid up an overhanging wall, 6a A2, then a top pitch at 6a and A1 or 7c+, be my guest do it how you likes much aid as  you like its for fun. Life is for fun.    

This route is in the old guide but there are a lot of new routes on this side of the magic island of Gozo, a few new cliffs which have some crazy new routes.

This is the last pitch of Bernadino, my mate Solly lead this pitch this day and was a very long time in doing so, I followed up with much relief as I knew Alex would be at the top ready to take me home, I needed beer! At the start of the day me and Solly had swum under the cliff which is huge, a May Day but water cold enough to shrink the gonads which are bit necessary on the route, please forgive me if I am not using the approved 2022 word speak, intestinal fortitude perhaps, anyway a cracking  huge pitch. I was trying to get Simon and Stephan to do this route as they are proud of their islands routes, but this one is a bit spicy etc.  Today Simon and I ran around the island taking photos and trying to sort out ideas as to how to describe some routes, as some routes are over protected, some are normal, and some spicy etc, naturally as I come from an age a long time ago when spicy hot was good but today some people get a rash just thinking about getting their feet above a bolt this all required some talking. Feed Back from the Maltese climbing community might be welcome, address your comments to Simon, he is nicer than me!

This is Alex waving a beer at Solly, Solly is due for an operation we wish him luck etc.
Simon and Stephan and I visited a few new cliffs today trying to nudge my brain into remembering new routes. We went to Fruit Cake land as there are about 20 new routes to put in, and I couldn't believe how good this area is! The climbs range from 5+ to 8b+ on natural gear, and are on sandstone, it's and area with brilliant routes with a 15 meter approach. Anyway that's it, I am 4 beers to the wind and if you can't be bothered to read or dream about climbing it is not my fault. A new guide book is coming, it will be very good, the world is shrinking into even something that Orwell or Huxley wouldn't recognise but climbing is still there, its the answer, its the way! 

Here you go Solly, this is for you, this is for everybody who has climbed with me, this is for all the kids and old people I have introduced to climbing. I felt a bit proud recently, as its my 10 year taking people climbing here, from magazine people and film people to little kids, hope I have a bit more in the tank.

Monday, 8 February 2021

The ongoing Non Sense. By Stevie Haston.

This is the route Titan, a four pitch route on the sea cliffs here on Gozo. Thats my friend Jesper, he is a resident and expert free diver, he loves climbing, but is busy doing internet diving courses.

This is the topo for Titan, it is a great little route.
In the Alps a while ago, free traveling is a right, or was, what's happened?

Coming out from Hell. Sometimes the rock gets very wet and then nothing works.

My Dwarf chickens on top of my pull up set up! Chickens are much more clever than human beings, these ones escape and shit on my finger board. I feel like being a French Farmer and driving up to Parliament and dumping dung on the stairs. 

So this is the quality of my photo and there is a glitch with most things I do!!! At the moment I cant seem to do anything right, I normally get a few days like this every year but this year the bad days seem to be a year long, a plague of glitches.

These chickens have more brain power than most of the people I come into contact with. These Chickens actively try to escape!

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Make Life Great again , by Stevie Haston.

 A good climb cheers you up, a good climb is like an antidote for what makes you sick. Roll out the great routes for verily I am sick, this sickness isn't a virus, its just a real awful case of disgust. The politicians are clearly disgusting selfish twats, but that isn't new, what's new and to an unbearable and shameful level is the willingness of people to just accept restrictions to their lives to a mind boggling degree. If you had told me that people would happily let themselves be locked up for months, if you had told me that they would let people boss them around not be allowed to visit their sick, or elderly family, I would have previously told you never, only in a dictatorship, only in former East Germany or China, or North Korea.

On the way down to the climb at sea level, you walk and climb down some slabs and are careful on two steeper sections.

Its going to be a year into what some people who I don't trust tell me is the biggest threat to our lives since the Second World War. I will now tell you they are lying and they have been proven liars in the past and I have no evidence that they are telling the truth this time! I have seen no piles of dead in this great year of the Plague, I dont know a single person who has died of Corona in this terrible time. In my street nobody has died, in my village nobody has died, no plague visible, perhaps else where, but certainly not near me. A few doors down, a man I used to say hello to fell under his tractor, we couldn't even go to his funeral! 

A diving friend, his first multi pitch, a big imposing cliff accessed by two traversing pitches, we had to wait for rough seas to subside.

This is the way off the climb, my mate stops to admire his surroundings, he is impressed, he climbed 4 pitches 5, 4, 5+, 6a. Terribly happy he is thinking of stopping his 10 year business, he is terribly happy until he thinks about what the hell to do with his life.

Climb and Dive I say, breath, and take joy in holding your breath underwater, talk to fishes, talk to the sky

Alex looking like a smurf, she walked up the route smiling, dancing on the splendid rock, bemused by the super dimensional freedom.
Caught between the sun and shade, betwixt the devil and the sea.

a 40 meter pitch, a beautiful long delightful gritty slab, with a couple of steep interesting bits.
I like this photo so much I will force you to look at it again.

Looking down the Titan 40 meters wonderful rough rock, behind the climber the wall gently overhangs, it has a 7b, a 7a+, a perfect 7a, and an 8a, hardly any visitors in a normal year, and in this extraordinary year of the plague no one! Forsaken, forgotten, but perhaps even more fantastic than ever because climbing is the antidote.  Climbing for me and most of my buddies is freedom, its the embodiment of your own autonomy, climbing is like breathing and smiling, and yes like making love, you cannot out law it. Some of my friends in France were hunted down by their own friends in the rescue service at great expense to the taxpayer, that's right brother hunting down their own brothers for enjoying a communion with their special place. The Eiger was once a banded climb, now in many countries every climb is banned. Some climbing clubs and governing bodies have told their members and non members not to climb. If you want to defriend me please do, if you want to 'Cancel' me please do. Life is not life if you are locked up watching Netflix Bollox, life isn't that great for me most of the time, but now at the twilight of my life I want to work, yes you heard that right, I want my normal right to work! Fight for your right to party, fight for your right to climb, and breath fresh air instead of your own farts, do not go into that dark night of compliance.  

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

I conspire to climb spires, by Stevie Haston.

By popular demand a little bit of mixed climbing, or dry tooling, or just simple mountain climbing. Call it what you want, but yes it was a conspiracy, we conspired to climb, have fun, drink beers, and be happy-good plan Mr Secret Squirrel.

All photos Oliviero Gobbi. 

This is a class photo showing point Framboise in nice Scottish conditions which are often there after a quick storm, the storm came just as we ordered and was obedient enough to give us a good time. Well done Mr Storm.

Slightly out of order, this photo is going back to the bin, calling the Aosta Skyway a bin , is a bit of a sin, as its sumptuous. 

You can never ever have enough photos of the Noire, simply impossible.
The object of the exercise was to do a bit of filming on Ezio's new routes and for me to test the Grivel Dark Machine -hands down the greatest mixed /ice climbing tool thats ever been seen.
The Geant in the back ground floating around like the hallucination it is, a wonderfully easy climb but staggeringly magic.
Typical mixed ground, these routes vary from easy to very hard, too available from the Maestro Ezio.

 Now then this sculpture, or bass relief was once in plain air, but the Skyway Cable Car has incorporated it into its top restaurants, a brilliant move. The inscription reads something like if we all helped each other by holding hands, and pulling together life would be much easier. As you know I dont believe in a normal God, but believe in multiple gods, or Godettes. However I believe in this wonderful sentiment, and remember putting this photo in an article 20 or so years ago in that excellent magazine On the Edge! 

So that was a few words about a great day, the details are not super important, the sentiment was, the joy de vivre was, the emotion, ambiance and all the rest. Long live climbing, long life or short life to all who climb, nobody can burn as bright as the climber smiling on a sunny ridge heading towards the summit of their dreams.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Climbing in Italy is Magic, by Stevie happy Haston

So was in that Magic place, its my happy place, yes it was Italy , nearly every where in Italy is 'my happy place".  Italy even has cities I have been happy in for a few days! Indeed Italy is great. However the particular happy place was Aosta area! It was a surprise to me to be so emotional on this last visit, a combination of memories and first ascents, pleasurable days running and people who are very alive, real mountain people.


This is the Noire, I took this through the glass of where we were conducting an interview in a moments respite from questions, memories and just real complicated feelings about my climbing life. There will never be a Haston book, its just too complicated, so my boss wanted to get a little bit down on the record concerning my ice climbing and mixed climbing. 

This is a new make of helmet from Grivel, I find it very practical, it's called the Duetto, and weighs 215 grams or 7.6 ounces. Part of my visit to Italy was to catch up on Grivel product as there were some great new things happening. If you know me, you will understand my life is led out doors, but some of it is just work, all be it to do with climbing and the outdoors.

Ezio and me were the subject of interviews and many questions! Ezio and I go back years and did a few great new routes together we were catching up as well as answering questions as our routes together were 24 years before!

This is Luqa , you won't have heard of him, unless you have an interest in steep skiing or skiing in the mountains! Luqa was doing the film stuff and asking a few questions himself as he is apart from being one of the great mountain skiers a local mountain guide! Hidden in the background is Mauro a guy I have worked with on climbing product for 27 years!

The place of the interview was chosen to put me at my ease and create the right mood, I was treated with kid cloves and I must say it all worked. Having refused the interview a couple of times, some pressure and cajoling was put on me and against my better judgement I went. But as I said although not fond of saying, 'I can be wrong", I was wrong, the whole thing was a great idea!

Ezio Malier on his phone, the guy is an olympic grade talker. He was reminding me about a route I vaguely remembered, I got all the details wrong, I was sure one of us was injured-it was me apparently! The route was 7 pitches and had a beautiful waterfall pitch of 6+ which took me 1 and a half hours, we finished in the dark, Ezio called it Classic Haston as a compliment to me! It hasn't formed since.

If this bit of writing is too much 'me' forgive me, in some ways these few days were a celebration of my life and my friends and work mates were being just wonderful to a grumpy old climber. This is a cover in Italy's best climbing mag, it shows me obviously in my element on one of the local cliffs. Love of rock, love of ice, mountains forever! 

Above Ezio and I are a Ibex and Chamois and old wooden skis and an old ice axe. I was saying to Ezio that I always watched where the chamois walked as they had better senses than ordinary humans. He agreed and was nice enough to say so did I. One of the questions I was asked was about risk and death and chance, a very complicated series of questions all together. My answer was possibly stupid as for me to die living "the life", is not a loss, we will see what I said. Many, many times I nearly died, avalanche, rocks etc, I always played my 'joker card" and was lucky enough to have a full pack of jokers, no ace, no king but all jokers! Anyway Ezio and I went climbing one of his new mixed routes, it was actually brilliant, we were filmed a bit etc but that wasn't the best bit for me. The best bit for me was meeting all the guys, the Aosta gang, Ice climbers, skiers, snowboarders, climbing guides, they were nearly all there on the Cable Car. There was fresh
snow on high and the gang were out, wow.