I'm a woman

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

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Balls to Xmas, climbing is better. by Stevie Haston.

Do you have a love hate relationship with humanity? Maybe? It's that time of year, when for a week people sometimes smile at each other, give gifts, and go yo ho ho. Its all daft cos the rest of the year everybody is not that nice. 

  So here's a truth, it's my gift for Xmas, everybody knows it, but since we are all ego based and crass human beings we ignore it when it suits us. Climbing grades don't make any sense, but sometimes, or often, they are really nonsense, the whole basis on which we judge difficulty is based on make believe, and it is now proved time and time again by people with small fingers. You may well say yes but the little blighters can't reach holds, and this is true, but hey we don't judge them by what they can't do, we just judge them by what the head lines tell us they crush.

So bowling balls know all about difference in size, but climbing magazine editors clearly don't have any balls and never will. Small holds as well as  pockets are easier to pull on if you fit them. Holds below 6mm are really hard for people with fat meaty fingers. 

If you are heavy and have big feet, rubber will rip and tear easier, even if the boots are really well designed.

 This carabiner is a year old! I just took it off one of my routes, its a very good binner by a very good manufacturer, beware.
Anyway none of this matters if you like climbing, today like Xmas day I was climbing with friends and it was great, trying a route that is 50 meter and over hangs about 40 or 45 meters, it's a gift. 
There you go it's my gift to you all, its called Pleasant Pheasant Plucker.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Utah Dreaming by Stevie Haston

The O.R or Out door retail show in SaltLake City Utah might be requiring my skills. If this happens I get to see a great bunch of people and do a bit of work. I,ll keep you posted.

So this is a slight abstract, I like snow, I like rock, and I like sea.
I like Utah, I like Malta, Colorado, about a third of France, most of the Himalayas, and some other assorted bits and bobs. Don't like Lift Lines, motor ways, super markets, phones, bolts that rust.
 Super hard, pull on a finger nail size bit of rock, like in the verdon, or pull on a jug and it explodes in an audible poof of noise and dust.  
 Art is in the eye of the beholder, in this case not so much a painting as peeled paint. It reminded me of Indian art in the desert.
When is it Art, art, or just graffiti.
When is erotica, porn, when are climbing mags titillation. 

Always admired the way a Praying Mantis thanks her Lover. Thankyou Mister thank you very much, I mean munch.

    My majesticness, your majesticness, our majesticness.

Add caption

A night on the tiles.
Take the hidden door,

the path less travelled

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Winkie Wankie bird. By Stevie Haston.

 Trusting this conveniently placed Butt blug belay was always going to have a risk, the risk being that when the coast guard rescue you, it's hard to explain how this rather odd shaped pole catapulted down the cliff and accidentally got stuck up yer bum. But there you go. Plus your never supposed to only trust one piece, are you not?

 It was a bit wet and windy to day and I got cabin fever, so between showers I finished a route and successfully scared my self stupid. This is the finish of a spectacular climb which seems a trifle deranged even for me, it's only 25 meters of roof, but the weird angles and facets that you climb thru, render your spacial awareness systems kaput.

The slightly acoustic slice of hard cheddar like sandstone got me all nostalgic for times past in the dessert of the USA. Eric Bjornstad sadly died recently and I couldn't help thinking about some of the great times I had with his guide books, thanks Eric and see you on the other side. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

No rope, no hope. by Stevie Hopeful Haston.

 There's lots of hope without a rope. Climbing isn't about ropes, its not about mountains, it often starts as a little tree climb, maybe a climb over a wall into some one else's orchard to climb the apple tree to purloin that extra rosy apple. Anyway in the above photo is Heinz Mariacher, I have been wearing boots designed by him for a bloody long time, he's not as old as me, but he goes back to the days when it wasn't that advisable to fall.  On his blog thingy he says Never stop climbing
                                                                                            Never stop being yourself.
It would be hard for me, or him not to. Anyway thanks Heinz I have been wearing two of your new boots lately, and they suit me right good.

Stairway to heaven, local stone, local mason, its still there, theres stuff here from 3500 years before BC. Just found out that theres a more politically correct term than BC, forgive me for not using it, its just I keep forgetting it, not that I don't think its better than using a person who we don't really know much about, or if he could walk on water, turn water to wine etc, its just that I keep forgetting.

 The staircase is in the building in the background and this little roof is probably going to be very hard frankenjura style, a bit naffed off with cleaning and working for other peoples enjoyment though, would like some better bolts and some support, bla bla.

The famous little route called Spunky Arete, posing without a rope, fat overweight, if I plonk into the water I will probably just sink, so useless, I'll probably drown, just give up the ghost and slowly sink, glug, glug, glug.  Woe is me, my pathetic life is over, I'll never climb again, old age has finally claimed me, I think I'll stop climbing. Then the voice of Heinz comes skipping over the water from the north of Italy, "no Stevie hang on there is a Weiss beer at the top with your name on it". Well Ok then Heinz, I'll just some how stagger, limp, and drag my enfeebled ancient body up this "Stairway to heaven".  

Underneath in the next photo is me narrowly surviving my collision with oblivion, and discovering two super new routes, probably harder than Spunky which is in the guide book as 6c, but which grandad still maintains is grade 5. Well 5 dolomites 5 that is. Heinz would know what I am talking about!


Friday, 12 December 2014

Of Rabbits, Politics and Rock, by Stevie Haston.

 Went out climbing the other day and got accosted by a rabbit. So I caught said rabbit after a bit of a chase even though he was clearly a domesticated bunny and not that fit. Why catch rabbit you ask, well they shoot them here as they do else where, and the hunting dogs will rip it to pieces, so basically I am now its keeper, I sponsor the rabbit now called Iggy the second. Anyway he stopped me creating another masterpiece, I only half created one.

This is a masterpiece I prepared earlier, its called Kitten, it's a giant Kitten really, its 55 meters of overhanging megaton pre-Raphaelite orgasmic sphincter clenching pitch, haven't led it its truly truly madly steeply, its got nine bits of pro in the pitch so you take huge, huge whippers, its old style balls to the wall, or ovaries to the wall (doesn't sound the same does it) its nay bad. The rock is impeccable, royal, bubbly, and annoyingly slippery, its a little uncuddly.  

This is a bit out of focus but these photos of this trip were a bit troubled I was a bit anxious as we took an 11 year old girl into Cathederal cave, so she could have a swim and appreciate the ambiance, I set up this step ladder before so she wouldn't have to do the free dive to get out, she's a good little free diver but I wasn't prepared to take the responsibility of letting her even try. Its a 6 meter  deep 12 meter long dive but its incredible. Anyway you get this colour from the sun outside shining thru, its cool marine blue, a great little swim and cave.

 A little sunset, many like this oct, nov, dec, its nay bad but this year the weather seems to have changed weirdly, I hope global warming hasn't reached a little tipping point as far as the flowers are concerned, daffodils in early dec are a bit unsettling. 

 Some local politics, this is us lot, mates for the most part trying to organise ourselves to keep the cliffs up to date and safe, its proving very hard to get funds which is nuts cos climbing earns Malta and Gozo money in tourism dinare, geld, $, etc and is a great healthy sport for visitors and locals alike. Help us if you can, donate to the bolt fund and report dangerous in situ gear, loose rock and other stuff. Malta Climbing Association or local clubs.

Iggy the Second, hoping (not hopping) I am not going to put him in a pot, or turn him into a Bio sustainable chalk bag or Beany. He is very safe at the moment, am very seriously trying out being a part time vegan, it's hard here as we are a bit behind the times, not much access to veggie milks and I am not very organised, but I am trying from time to time. Peace and good will to humanoids and little beasties, haven't killed any octopuses, who despite having four times as many hands as politicians don't have one in the till! 

PS. Oh and basically for new year I am not going to say basically or whatever,  and your probably saying whatever, well what ever back.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Some training truths, by Stevie Haston.

Your not born to climbing greatness, you make your self better. Depending on the quality of your work, the quantity and then the rest, you should definitely get better, especially if you are rubbish.

The Rock Climbers Training manual is the latest training book and it does a great job although it has to be said there is alotta fluff in the way of flow charts diagrams and science. I hate the latter, you know science, 'cos basically there is none in climbing. Some of the best performers smoke dope and hang out, that's about all the science. Don't get me wrong this book is great and worth the price, but then so is Dave Mcleods book, they are worth reading and looking at, better would be to take notice of what they say and maybe go climbing and do some training. From what I can understand from the above book it basically recommends finger boarding, as do I, as does Mcleod and as does Eva Lopez. So get finger boarding.

This is the guide book to sport climbs in Malta and Gozo, and I just want to take this opportunity to remind people not to blindly trust bolts in situ, climbing gear belays, and indeed their own ability. All of these things can fail. In San Vito a belay failed resulting in a very unfortunate ground fall and a very proficient 8a rock climber being severely crushed. He was a guide also, I imagine he had the necessary experience to understand the danger of the situation.  I have had many accidents, pegs breaking nuts pulling through rock, even dare I say it simple pumping out where I shouldnt and then plummeting, please be careful no one is immune. 

 Good boots mean good technique, or can mean good technique, always wear good shoes, and in my opinion slightly tight ones that promote careful precise pressing. The Rock Climbers Manual actually say this and its true. Sloppy shoes can and generally do mean sloppy technique.

This is the most important guide to my climbing as you can see, I am 74 kgs I can climb 8a / 8a + at this ponderous weight! If I lose 10 kg I will possibly lead several grades harder at 64kg I will still be BMI 20, some climbers are below BMI 17! Be careful if and when you loose weight, it can be physically and mentally dangerous.

There is some very helpful stuff in the Rock Climbers Manual about weight loss. In general there is much to recommend this book, but I will have to take exception to the advice about pull ups, having good pull up strength is a definite advantage, just ask Dimitri who places in the top three every time he goes out. There is also no yoga or sport specific stretching for climbing, this is perhaps an oversight. 

Two books you should have are Performance Rock Climbing by Dale Goddard and Udo Neumann, and One Move too Many by Hochholzer and Voolker Schoeffl.  If you put all the books in a bag and did 18 mm finger tip pull ups it would still get you up to 8b+, that and a bit of grass, just ask some of the best boulderers in the world.  

How to be good by Nick Hornby has nothing to do with climbing, but read it anyway. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Destroying trees for Xmass, by Stevie Curmudgeon Haston.

Happy Xmass in whatever religion, style, language, or way you celebrate it, ok.  Or just destroy a tree for some kind of consumer western myth. I don't know, I can't keep track of all the bullshit in my life. Peace on The 25 th of Dec to everybody.

 I did this, copied it from something I saw on the internet, the internet is good for something finally! Made it, thought it was fairly good, took it down, and put the books back. Basta, enough fooking Xmass!  

 This is what I would like for Xmass, its only 8a+, leger surplombant, tecky, camoed foot holds, massive pump, only 25 meters no rest, two shake outs. Thanks to Jeff for coming over and getting his teeth into it. Theres a harder variant going out of it we are saving for New years!

This kinda route is one of my favourite styles, you always have to climb with restraint and control, weight the foot holds correctly, remember everything. Theres a few seeping pockets that are making us work for zee red point, all adding to zee flavour. Theres daffodils in bloom which seems preposterous, and was swimming yesterday, like I said happy Xmass

Friday, 10 October 2014

A dolphin, a parrot, and a homicidal drill, by Stevie Haston.

I found myself under an arch of cream and ochre limestone, maybe khaki with some dappled green, I was a bit sad, but not blue. There was a crack like feature that might turn into a route, it was greys, charcoals, and a trimming of obsidian. The aqua marine of the sandy seas bottom was blue, really truly blue, and calm and translucent. Have you noticed how colour affects your mood? Can you affect colour? Anyway I was musing, being self absorbed, probably in some ways to take the sting out of being under this yellow brick road of an arch, which wasn't really supported very well, and seemed to have been constructed by a drunk, stoned immaculate, giant mason. 
Spinning around, back aiding, cursing, scraping skin, whacking myself with various bit of equipment, I heard a squark that wasn't me, I glanced down and saw a big blue parrot, streaking across a wind ruffled square quilt of aqua marine. Wow, I dumbly mumbled, the parrot heard me, looked up and out at me, fixed me with his big glistening eye, then it did a victory roll, and then flew off into a wider paler blue of the sky.  Cool bananas, or cool blue parrots, or whatever people say nowadays, a blue parrot, no ones going to believe me, 'is the pope a Muslim', 'do bears dedicate in the vatican'.

A week before, the biggest ever Sun fish was seen in the same place! Now then Sun fish are strange at the best of times, and are very rare, but this one seems to have dwarfed all others. I myself had swum through clouds of weird pop corn like organisms, and huge amounts of jelly fish, I thought I,d counted six kinds, it was all like some flash back from an 80s disco, complete with rippling electricity along some envelope like creatures and a double diaphanous swallow tailed aquatic butterfly.

So back to the future, and I'am equipping again, but this time I kinda suspect something odd or cool is going to happen. At the very least I will finish equipping this extraordinary roof and can start playing on it, so I let my guard down. A big splash out in the green, with the water bulging indicates a big preditor, but its a bit far out so I don't get too excited, its probably a big tuna. Then I see it its a big dappled dolphin, he (I assume it's a he) shoots around chasing something, and remember this is happening underneath me in vivid real time, real colour, he comes up with his eyes out, immediately spots me and kinda wiggles his nose, he shoots, or accelerates into the big cave, and I feel a loss, I feel bereft, he searches the big cave, zooming around, aqua flying and strafing for prey.  Suddenly he's back, head out of the water, looks at me, and cruises off, master of his medium, water his play thing. Suddenly I feel deathly clumsy, inarticulate and sag into my harness like a dead dough like jelly fish. 
Just as I am unwinding from this brief sentence of human uselessness in the face of dolphin supremacy I accidentally turn the drill on. I don't panic, its happened to me before, I'ave even drilled myself, just be ok with it turn it off and lick your wounds. The drill has got other ideas, it doesn't just want blood, its transmorped into vengeful driller killer. it starts catching and whiping equipment, friends, and pegs and the hammer around then it drills into a buckle on my equipping bag, and pulls me towards it self, finally it catches a sling around my neck and reels me in, slowly turning my gas off! I now panic! This mechanical choke its got me in is gonna make me pass out, and then I will sag upside down and then die in my own sweet slow time. As I begin to grow weak the drill starts to buck like its in a sexual frenzy of murder, and the heavy battery whips around as I'am loosing focus and  it clobbers me on the eye brow, the fucker coshes  me. Coup de fucking Grace, I start to bleed, at least it will look like I put up a fight, anyway just as an after thought, as the bloody trickle turns into a sprinkle, I grab the drill and I don't just try to turn it off, I frantically search for reverse, If I press stop I die, if I press reverse I live. After some mighty strangling of the device it goes into reverse and blood flows into my brain. 
A few days later with Jeff we tried the route in a big electric storm, Jeffs bare brown torso would occasionally turn electric blue like a celtic warrior. He gallantly belayed with water channeled onto his head thru the roof cracks, I cackled. We shook in the cold but like Ahab I wanted my Whale, then I thought the water looked like it was fizzing and felt prickly. 
We contrived our escape…..to be continued. 


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Choosing and fitting climbing boots, by Stevie Haston.

Choosing and fitting your boots is one of the most important things you can do as a climber! If you pick a boot that fits badly, and doesn't do it's job, you can ruin your holiday. All your training will come to nothing if your boots dont work, your hopes turn to ashes, and your victory laurel turn to an embarasing crown of thorns if you stupidly buy and take the wrong boot on your mission/quest/thingy.   

So why do people pick boots like they pick football teams? Instead of careful consideration they just go for the most popular or their local team! Or if they are a girl or vain they go for the pretty one! Or Macho choice, or whatever. And the last thing you should consider is price! Price and money might be important in ordinary life, but this is climbing, and you can't just cant put a price on success and the pleasure of doing well.

Top photo is my favourite boot of the moment, it doesn't matter who makes it, what matters is that I have two pairs a size apart, Ok! And that's the minimum I will take anywhere!

Here are three different pairs that all fit me, I might take these away too. Why? Ok, trad shoe on the left, toes are flat(ish) in the shoe for comfort in jamming cracks, I might still prefer a less flat pair with a really narrow toe profile for thin cracks-middle photo. Right hand photo is a different boot, it's more asymmetrical lasted, with a big nose turn down, my favourite for really steep rock.

Here's a photo of the different lasting on the last two, it makes a big difference to me. There is also difference in how they stretch I prefer the bottom one, you might not if your foot is shaped different, the bottom one favours a wider foot with a more prominent big toe-me.

This photo shows the degree of downturn, I like downturn, but you might not, it takes some getting used to and some get cramp when they first try them, my tip is get over it. Theres a 0.5 mm difference in the rubber sole which actually means that the top boot will fit certain small pockets seams and cracks, better than the bottom one. The lower boot  edges a little better. You have to choose. You have to know what your looking for and make an educated choice. 
Heres a couple of things to consider, there is not such thing as a woman's boot, or a woman's fit, that's plain stupidity, they either fit, or they don't, you either have wide feet, or thin feet, or what ever TF feet!
Colour only matters in the degree that it sucks up sun heat, and will make you scream with pain. Oh yes we are back to pain. Pain in shoes is very important to many people, if you are cringing in pain, you can't push on your feet. However if your boot is not tight, you can't push either. You might want to compromise, I don't. Turned over toes in tight boots hurt, they can really hurt, and some climbers have bone spurs, and horrible feet due to over tight shoes, modern shoes are better than they used to be, you don't have to go so tight. I go tight, and lots of climbers do, tight might be right! I only wear tight shoes for a hard routes that dont take long, give your feet a chance. Slippers are really good for slipping half off to give your feet a rest, all day comfy shoes are really limited on harder routes, they are my last ever choice.
If you are into steep rock, you need a good heel that doesn't come off, and some toe rubber on top, the perfect shoe hasn't been made, but there are lots of good shoes out there, don't pick the wrong one! Some folk wear different shoes on each foot, it is that crucial at times.
Buying different shoes doesn't mean wasting money, because as you only wear one pair at a time, two pairs will last twice as long as one pair. Last tip, go to a good shop with a big selection of boots, that doesnt mind you taking your time and buy at that shop, dont find your size and buy on the net. Surport that shop, you may think you have the right size, but boots vary, and the edge of the shoe, the business end of the shoe can be badly or wrongly ground and this can make the boot worthless! Hope this helps.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Scarpa Techno X climbing shoe, by Stevie Haston.

So here's a boot which I wouldn't normally look at, or think of reviewing. It's a straight lasted or flat normal climbing shoe it's not turned down! So why have I got them, and what's it to you? Well straight lasted are way more comfortable for most recreational folk, and I was looking for a shoe I could do a bit of crack with. This translates into a all day shoe, but the Techno X doesn't feel floppy, and has a good heel. For all day shoes or Trad shoes most people should consider laces as these primitive string things allow you to tighten or loosen your shoe! 

The shoe has Edge rubber which isn't my favourite, but gives more cross torsion, and protects the foot somewhat in cracks. The upside of Edge rubber is its good on sharp nasty holds particularly at the end of a day when your feet are tired.

This is a good photo showing the rubber on the toe area, this bit is the bit that gets shoved in the crack and gets twisted around, this toe is very good  and works well on most other climbing too, like toe hooks. Make sure you get a good fit though as you can't tighten it right to the end. Remember in climbing shoes fit is every thing. In general this shoe is a good all day shoe that I will be using it on cracks, its comfy and well made, and as I say its not my normal choice shoe. You might consider it if you don't like turned down toes, or tight shoes.  The Techno X is extremely comfy, the tongue is soft and padded, and as its better than a great number of boots I have done hard routes in the past it will defo do for most people up to hard bouldering grades, or climbing, good luck with it.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Scarpa Nitro Gtx by Stevie Haston.

So here's a handy shoe for most purposes, and most seasons if you live in the north or are having a bit of a damp time. Its a  gortex socked shoe, with  a swede upper and very robust, I got it at the moment just for going to the crags as its really damp this year and I got fed up of having wet feet and socks etc. So it works very well in that respect, it's very smart so you can walk around town etc with out looking like you are in the tour de france or an athletic meet like some shoes. I didn't get it as an approach shoe/guides shoe, even though you can use it for this purpose if you wish. 

The sole is very functional in my opinion, the lugs are big enough to handle gravel and scree, and other rough terrain without having hot spots and pressure points like when you have a more spiky tread. Its comfy in town, and the last has a slight roll to it. The sole is sticky at the front and more hard wearing at the back and cleaned easily going through damp soil, its kinnda got a self cleaning lug profile or just stamp them on the ground or kick a tree root and the sticky mud thing should drop off.

Like I said its not for running although it's got a duel layered EVA sole, you could get away with a gog, or a warm up, or kick a ball around with the kids. The toes are protected by a nice sticky rubber box which should last well. The swede should protect the gortex part as its 1.5 thick, it looks good but unless you have a bit of a layer here your goretex sock will effectively punter very quickly, this is worth thinking about when you bush which through thorns as the effectiveness of any waterproof membrane generally doesn't like thorns! So there you go, I thought it was very good, with a wide fitting, and it should last a fair while.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Anorexia , drugs, and no rational control. By Stevie Haston.

Christian Bale, 8b version on the left, 9c on right!

Charlotte Durif the great french comp and cliff climber has written an amazingly critical open letter to Grimper mag in France. In it she discusses the widespread anorexia that she sees in competition climbing and compares it to doping. She also criticises the competion organisation and format. Here is a link to the original in French and a google translation. Her points have been made before and many people agree with her, so what will be done, the answer is nothing! If you have a child or a friend who is anorexic whether they are a climber or not make no mistake it's very serious. Whether it's as serious as Honnold soloing a big wall or an alpinist soloing a north face is also a matter for scrutiny. There has to be some kind of free will in life or our lives aren't ours. In some sports like Body building people take drugs and become very very thin, it's the only way to win or compete. Is every sport like body building, well no, there are a few who don't take drugs, let me try and think of one that doesnt-shit for a second I thought of one, but championship knitting isn't a sport.
What does this all mean to you, you might ask. Well if you have a child in sport not just climbing but say mountain bike riding, you have to consider the risk they will be partaking in and how responsible you want to be! There is not just the risk of tumbling off a bike, or cliff, but the risk of being sick in some way due to drugs or a very odd diet. Now then there are lots of magazine people who read my blog and they are fairly guilty in not talking about any of this, if they do talk they just do a shallow piece and earn their money. Climbing is a very weird sport, it's susceptibility to a small amount of drugs and light weight taking the laurels is really really high. In fact the lighter you are the more change you can have by small amounts of drugs, so children who take drugs and anorexics who take drugs will have the highest success, so in future our sport will be dominated by anorexic or very light weight people who are either sexualy immature or both, if that hasn't happened already. 
And by the way I was commissioned to write about the Charlotte Durif controversy when a commercial web site started a hatchet job on Charlote Durif  for supposedly fibbing, I was reluctant to do this job even though I was short of cash as I knew ultimately that the truth would be illusive and it was just about entertaining the masses. One of the key elements of this so called controversy was a route called PPP, a huge 9a that people said Durif couldn't do. Well strangely that 9a wasn't 9a anyway so it brought it down to more than very possible that Miss Durif could have styled it.
Years ago the best french sport climber and competition guy said that he wouldn't be able to compete any longer without some medical help, as he was feeling big pressure from former eastern bloc climbers, he retired and became plump.
An interesting aside is that this anorexia thing will never go away, it's there at the very heart of climbing, but at least you can see it. You can't see the drugs. I have no right to preach, and every body takes drugs, but the playing field is not level, and, and, and..... 
Another interesting aside perhaps is that Laurence was working with a Tri Athlete recently, who commented that nearly everybody in a famous local race was drugged to the max, its a famous race but winning it won't pay your drug bill for a year. The same week my grand kids who are really into sport and are really into winning were over for a holiday, they really want to be good at hill running, and when they were enthusing I was nearly crying, because fell running is just pharmaceuticals. Still I smiled and marched them up that hill!

If you want some good advice about losing weight in a sensible way, check out Steve Edwards blog  this guy is a climber as well as a sportsman. Good luck Steve. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Designer fitness. By Stevie smart Haston.

Was staying in a swank hotel, which even seemed to care about my veggie food requirements, and bumbled into the Gym. It was a very good Gym, I have to say, no people in it except a very buff young man, he instantly accosted me as to my needs. Anyway after he explained everything, he told me I looked ok for a man of my age, then he kindda arched one eyebrow and asked me some questions and he put int into his machine and gave me a little routine. The routine was ok, I said thanks and went over to the Lat bar, I maxed it out and did a couple of pulls and Mr Buff was on me,  He explained I was doing it wrong! Anyway Mr Buff was a nice guy, and the hotel was nice and all, but the cleaning guy has got more usable strength than Mr Buff.
The boulder problem called Jade has been repeated by a girl-a strong girl- but a girl. I seem to remember this route being touted as a very burly prob by the dudes etc Dave Graham and crew failed etc! Next up, forget the boulders and get on Action Direct, I am dying for this to be done by a girl. Oh and instead of all the Mr Buff training programs in the mags can you please down load what the girl does as I might like to try her program as it seems to work. Thats what its about right, results!
My own personal climbing journey is starting again, so I am up for receiving ideas. I have 8 months before I go to the States, is 8 months enough to get me up the two routes I want to do? Planning my Wellness gentle regime today, penciling lots of Kale smoothies, absolutely no power pulls.
Congrats to Alex Puccio for doing Jade.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pierre Allain, genial genius. by Stevie Haston.

Ask an American who invented bouldering, and they will normally say John Gill if they don't say Sharma. Anyway perhaps Pierre Allain one of the fathers of bouldering at Font deserves a little credit for doing a few things before the star spangled banner. I have one of his carabiners in my hand in the above photo and this biner the first alloy biner, and the PA rock boot were undoubtedly responsible for many of the improvements in the big game of climbing.
I have been playing with this biner lately, it's real beautiful,  especially compared to older less light biners made of steel, which also used to cut your finger on the gate. Sadly I don't have a pair of PA's, or their decedent and better, the EB which were the initials of Pierre Allains business partner. The EB was the boot which did all the work in the development of our sport, all the improvements from grade 6 to 8, and it was a boot that took a lot of time to improve on!
Anyway I asked a good friend of mine who PA was and they didn't know, how sad I thought. Routes like the North Face of the Dru, the Meije face, and a bunch of obscure little sandy boulders in a forest somewhere, thank you Pierre.
PA was born in 1904 and so was lucky to be the right age to miss the Great War, he died at 97, playing with puzzles and games. I wished I'd met him, but at least I'ave done some of his routes. The North Face of the Dru was done in 1935, three years before the Eiger and the Walker spur. Anyway there you go, PA.  

Monday, 28 July 2014

Kids in the mountains. By Stevie 'big kid' Haston.

This photo has nothing to do with the mountains but everything to do with the wonderful way kids see, they see so bright and quick, full of surprise, and full of emotion, And I guess the point is that we help them see. My grandfather, a man of very few words and hardly any education, taught me to see, he could really see, and his eye sight was very poor.  

So we all saw lots of things, clearly little Leo is Seeeing cake mainly. We are doing a faster than guide book time on this mountain walk which I have to say is a very odd thing and must mean that most people in the world today deserve to live in cities and travel underground like worms.

This is a bilberry field, I have never picked bilberries so easily and with so much pleasure, the dog caught on quick too and was begging, we were covered in bilberry stains, mouths like vampires or old drunken dames who had crookedly applied a bad shade of lipstick.

The kids trying to use sticks. We picked up a few bits of litter from townie tourists but in the last few years even hill walkers and climbers are getting bad. There was a good article in an american magazine about this a while ago, and how the new generation need help and teaching. There were even mentoring classes for people coming out of the gyms and taking their first steps in the hills or on the crags. 

We shared the mountain with a few hill walkers, thousands of sheep, a few sheep herders who stay up there for months, some mules some donkeys and some horses. The animals  didn't leave litter the hill walkers did! There was lots of toilet paper around which attracted the kids attention to piles of human bongo, not nice, not nice at all smeagol.

These are the kids in a little shelter on the mountain where we spent the night, the floor was soft sheep droppings, there were mushrooms growing in the corners, edible ones. Leo is 7 and got to the summit first with me, he was proud of himself.

We had mist and got down next day before torrential rain and thunder. The kids saw some big drops but were more scared of the big horses and mules. In the bivouac we had two donkeys coming in.
We had a chat with one of our village friends who spends three months up there taking care of sheep, he might be  one of the last to do this. He is a man very much like my grandfather, few words, but sees everything. He saw the dog on the lead near the sheep and said a quick thank you and told us how we were the first walkers he had seen with the dog on a lead. He told of the dogs being scared way round the mountain and sheep with broken legs. 
Anyway seeing is a gift.