I'm a woman

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

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Reversibility in Climbing, By Stevie Irreverent Haston.

 Reversibility in Sport is a very understood phenomenon, but it is no less worrying because it is understood. In fact I found three spellings on my spell check, and so got even more confused. If you want it in one sentence, "it's better to keep doing something otherwise you forget how to do it". Now then I am generally doing a lot even when I am not even climbing 8a, but if I am not doing 8a, how can I do 8a?

Well, and it  is very complicated, but a hard climb is often the same as a an easier climb with smaller holds! It can be that simple, but small holds or sloping holds are not a simple thing of simply pulling up.
Unfortunately  technique plays a huge part, it's the submerged part of the iceberg. Above is a photo of climbing in boots, light Alpine boots, the techniques to placing the foot and pushing are so different to friction on a pair of slippers as to feel like a different sport to many. When I climb in boots like these I always come back to rock climbing way better. But if I stay climbing with these I just get good with these boots, and forget friction smearing, and pushing the rubber into the features.

Lots of things are reversible, some things are not, you could say they are reversible in both directions, but you would have no front and back then. High standard rock climbing although a narrow band of the broader mountaineering has an immense number of parts which constantly need using, otherwise they reverse back to a lower level. People sometimes can only climb on one cliff, because it has crimps or pockets, but not on another cliff. 9a climbing doesn't translate into high end crack climbing. This may all sound obvious but it's amazing how people forget this. 
My message is unless you have a very special task, try and keep hold of your skills, muscle memory and whatever stamina and power you have. Or at least stay in contact with it. 
A good example of all this was when I went on a 40 meter pitch that had loose rock, crumbling (even more disconcerting), biggish run outs, a 7c+ bit on finger jams that hurt, and finished with a nice crack. Wow, by the time I got to the top of that I was a mess. A real mess, bleeding, bruised and battered, the rope had taken a severe work out too. Yep I was out of touch with my skill sets. There you go, but knowing these things doesn't protect me. You have to protect your skills and muscles, and energy systems, otherwise they fly away. 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Mates, climbing partners and friends. by Stevie Sociable Haston.

Didi Scissor hands.

 My mate Didi is East German he lives here on Gozo. If you have climbed in Mgar Ix Xini it's him you have to thank for the path de-bramblinig! So thank him. If your old you might remember we were supposed to fear zee East Germans, and zee Russians come to that, but the truth is  Didi is just a benevolent kinda guy who likes to work in climbing, and help people have a good time.Viva La Vida.

 Thistles, the national plant of Scotland, but in Gozo our's of course are gigantic! Nationalism doesn't play any part in my life how could it, my parents come from different countries, so do my daughters, my grand children will spend time in three different countries including Spain.

 Nationalism came to me today in another guise, because I was reminded about the great Antoine Le Menestrel, who soloed the UK s supposed desperate 8a Revelations back in the day, the mid 80s to be precise. Antoine comes from a climbing family who are pretty tight, dad was an old Fontainebleau hand, and his younger brother Marc pushed standards while still a teenager.  Without this family standards would not have gone where they went. I find the idea that Wolfgang could ave done anything hard at Font ludicrous!

This is rock Gozo rock, its lovely, today it was warm in the shade, it's featured, its great to climb, its Gozo. Gozo means orgasm, or joy in Portuguese.  Come, and have an orgasm of rock. Particularly if you are above the big blue hanging upside down.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Team Fook Wit, by Stevie X Haston.

 Using a rusty file as a peg and a rock as a hammer!

It's been a while since I felt truly useless, so I thought I would visit that splendid kingdom again! You know the feeling, perhaps you don't, perhaps you never forget your boots, harness, or rope. Anyway I been fairly together recently, and haven't had to blame any one for my silly forgetfulness, or crass stupidity. Or perhaps I just like the people I'ave been with recently. Who knows?  So I forgot my peg hammer, and pegs, just to be awkward!

 Oliander in bloom, never a mistake, is it?

Where was I, mistakes, or was it forgetfulness? Can't remember! Who cares, well you would if you had ever climbed on cheese! Climbing on cheese is an old Gozo custom, best forgotten. Trad climbing here is best forgotten too, but people keep asking me about it, I mumble something, and talk about bolts, long bolts too. 

A very long bolt in sand.

 I have done trad, well plenty, but here on Gozo, it is seriously to be forgotten. I have nearly bolted all my trad routes, got a few left which I will bolt as they haven't had second ascents. The biggest one, on the biggest cliff, was only four pitches, and  a measly 150 meters of climbing, and only about 6a+. Well that has never seen a line of suiters, or ever will. People talk trad climbing here, and then  they always find something else, less demanding. I dont blame them!

 Caper flowers, Prickly Pear flowers and a traditional wind break.

Anyway today I got a traditional amount of fear, and will be clipping bolts for a very long while again. I think my time of enjoying a brain turned to mush by fear could be over. So much of climbing is make believe, designed one sometimes might imagine to sell gear. There is a lot of weird stuff sold under the guise of 'Trad', like religion, and odd practises like making women wear the Burka. Me I like climbing cheese once in a while cos it's Rad Trad. I bet your all really keen to try something that makes climbing chalk look like granite!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cyclops Killer qu'es que c'est. By Stevie Haston.

Ken on Hore Hound 8a.

 Was on a great route today, which reminded  me why I climb. I climb for a variety of reasons like most folk, I'll climb frivolous routes, like the above little 8a, one of my own, and it's just a laugh, twangy on the doights, and a bit of exercise. Climbing is a broad church with lots of room for worshippers. But today I went on Cyclops Killer and it was, how shall I say this, a bit more engaging. Its a 50 meter pitch and must over hang 50 meters! Anyway found my mojo rising, mojo rising.

View from zee window.

 Lots of visitors from Canada and America, notably Marc and Bret, who were tearing up Gozo, nice to see two eager ballsey climbers enjoying my routes. Come again please. Lots of visitors, French, Spanish, some English, need a few more from the UK, oh yes forgot Twid was here from Wales, he reminded me of our shared love of the cliff Gogarth in Wales. 

Em, my left one.

 At Gogarth you needed testicular fortitude, in the Underworld you need testicals like a Ram. If you are a girl don't worry, you have your own devices, you climb better and are not as prone to having  big tires on your car.

Started preparing two mega lines, need arms the size a JCB, and Balls the size of Jupiter, just to equip. Must take this opportunity to thank Stephen Collings and Crusher again, for helping me out with the necessary. Really guys, thanks. Today we were also sea level girdling, and saw a very large Conger Eel, looked scary as hell. Also tried to rescue a Grouper which was trapped in a rock pool, must've been swept in. Couldn't rescue it. Will have to liberate it next time. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Super Mega Crack Line, by Stevie Haston.

You have to say, the closer you look, the more or less interesting a thing can be!  Take things I am not interested in, well the closer you look, I have to say the less interested I can sometimes be. Then again, the less I look the more interested I can be. But of course sometimes you shouldn't look. Simple is, how simple does. It's like the Chinese saying , "be careful what you wish for".

 This is the Super Mega Crack line, I have never been that interested in it, I swear! And recently I have thought of it less, and perversely, I have lusted after it more. I lost some sleep the other night, it was full moon , and I was cursing, and cruising, above wobbly friends in cracked cracks, then I woke up and thought 'bolt it'. 'Your friends will rust, no one will repeat it, no one will even try it, just some sponsored "Hollywood type tradsters" homing around for a reputation. 

 Anyway a bit choppy, the planned swim was curtailed by a slightly perturbed sea, and I finally, went over the edge and took a closer look. Tried a couple of moves, the victory knee bar, and the grin of relief. 

This crack line might only be desperately hard, so it has to be tried, blood has to be lost, skin has to be scraped, expletives will echo. Yep it looks good! There's a good five routes in this cave, and on the side walls,  a busy next month in prospect, yippee.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Birthday training and thanks. by Stevie thankful Haston.

Yesterday was my birthday, did my training! Lots of people wished me happy birthday, and I am thankful to them, they helped me train. The summer is here, and I don't have partners, and anyway I need to train, cos I am weak and fat.  I would like to thank every body who helped me last year,  especially Stephen Collings from London.  My well being depends on many things. Good food, and a pleasant healthy environment is essential, but so is my climbing. Stephen has helped me climb, and helped me continue, so thanks Stephen.

This great cave in France helped me for many years to stay fit and motivated, I miss it very much, please Mr Holland can I have it as my reward for world peace!

This is my computer curmudgeon face, it suits me. I want less puffy jowls however, being 58 is not that great, so yesterday I took steps to combat the sagging skin. 1245 pull ups on a sunny day when I could easily have gone out climbing, how sad! Actually, it was joyous. Mr Haston was surprised he had the necessary minerals to finish. This year will be ok, many, many routes will fall to my calloused hands, new cliffs will be born. 

And "the gift of small things" will be handed on. This year, this cliff will be wrapped up in gay ribbons, and given to you all. There are four routes here at the moment, two big crack/corners, one big adventure going through a hole in the big roof, like an arboreal Alice in wonderland, and Mouchi. Mouchi is special, a 55 meter overhanging monster pump, in one sweeping pitch. As the great Motorcyclist Valentino said, "long live Mouchi".  And Viva la Vide folks, it's the only one we got!

Up Rocks, Up the Revolution. by Stevie up your Kilt Haston.

 Gunter Grass is dead, long live Gunter Grass! Its amazing how many people only stick to their own shabby nations five good writers and never journey abroad for the odd bit of  Saxon, or indeed Yank or  Jap. Gunter Grass was on the wrong side in the war, indeed he hung out with the SS, does this make him unreadable? Not for me, he helped me grow up.  I like his stuff, it does not strut, or goose step, it just calmly convinces. Anyway it's my birthday, and I will read, swim, and do pull ups, yep an odd combo. Oh and I will swim a lot this year.

 The Maltese guide book which I helped bring into the world with Simon Alden and Jeff Camilleri is a success, it works very well I have been pleased to be informed. Thanks everybody who made it possible, and everybody who is trying to contribute to Maltese Climbing. Some 60 new routes have been done, some of these are world class.

 Why people hate Russell Brand never ceases to amaze me, and please don't bother me about it on Face book, ok. It's a case of "Killing the messenger" for sure, in this case, let's kill him lots, cos he is vain and rich. Well I got ta tell ya folks, this book is fun, yes it's fun, it's quirky, and makes you think. The book, and Brand occasionally annoy me, so what. What more do you need from a book than being interesting and damning the strange thing thats is affecting Western culture. My own revolution happened when I was young, helped along by Union men like my father, who was beaten up for striking, and black listed. It might have been nicer if I was a pampered, perfumed person. Lectured and brow beaten by Brand, who cares! It's a good read, have a go, open your mind. You can trash it after you read it!But I guess you won't read it.

This last book is about the mysterious temple in Malta, a burial chamber, a place of magic, fat fertile sex goddesses? Who knows? If you'r in Malta read about it, or go. It's expensive to go in, and it's always booked. For my birthday I am going, thanks for the birthday present. I haven't gone since I was a child, when a grumpy, dishevelled guardian  took me around, no one else was interested then. It costs 30 eus per person, which is a disgrace, my heritage, and I have to pay through the nose for it. 
So up the Revolution, and keep the Red Flag Flying, especially on my birthday.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Writing on the Wall, by Stevie Haston.

 A horrible week has passed, they do happen don't they? I don't mean just Cameron, but I won't burden you with my sad, pathetic troubles, instead I'll give you Caper blossoms. I used to run around the big blocks of limestone, and pick capers for the women folk to pickle, they were happy child hood days, ah.

 Ah, to be a child! A little Limestone Lemur, a childe of the wilde! Well on my best free-est days, and when I climb well, I do feel like a child skipping down the lanes, chasing butterflies.

 These horrible swathes of graffiti have been daubed on walls and peoples property outside my village on the way to a swimming site. Theres about 10 of them, they say 'watch out for your head', and are directed at a local woman for reporting illegal shooting. Other graffiti aimed at another women, are on the approach to the best beach on the island, Ramla Bay.  
What can you say about this horrible graffiti, and the bullying person who did it? Lots I suppose, but I won't.

This route photo isn't that good, I apologise, but I hope it shows how good the rock is. The route is 7c in the guide, but might be 7c+. It's called Negress Vert, and it's magic, if a bit of a bully! 
Anyway people, I wish you all the strength to bear up to horribleness this week. Dig deep, and sigh it out, be strong. 

Friday, 8 May 2015

Election of Rock, by Stevie the Rock Haston.

 So if your from the UK, and you have a heart you'r sad, very sad, or possibly terminally depressed. My message is don't give up, the metaphor of climbing is valuable, if you give up you are lost, if you fight, maybe you have a chance. Go climbing, it's great, do something nice, come back refreshed, and start kicking!

 Kick bags are really a great idea. I am going to put a picture of Cameron on mine, and I will daily kick his head in, good style, lots of gusto!

 If you like have a tipple after you have kicked Camerons head in, you deserve it. When you sober up, try and work out why democracy does not work in Briton. There's a couple of reasons, one is we use a stupid voting system in the UK, where by we can't vote for our party and a local representative, if they are different. This divided the country this time, because the Scots quite rightly wanted a say in their own governance. Proportional representation is a system that's used in most countries in Europe, perhaps people should demand a change to this. 

Time is running out for the National Health service, it's approaching the end of it's tether, the Conservatives will now try very hard to sell more of it off. This killing off of the free health service must be resisted, and stopped.
I woke up today very miserable, because this elections' 'victory of money over duty and care', is a terrible blow to the ordinary people of the UK. Anyway I just swum a mile in the sea, it's 18° so it's a bit fresh, and it's sink or swim. So do something, don't sink into the slough of despond. Enjoy and fight! And Kick Cameron's head in.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Let them eat Fruit Cake. by Stevie Fruity Haston.

this is One way, 6a.

 It's hot, nearly too hot, dreading the summer, it's infernal here. However I have a bit of work in the USA and Italy, so may escape for foreign hellish temperatures instead. Meanwhile at a cliff near me, no bolts no drill, no glue, still climbing. A bit old style, a bit dodgy on the fragile sandstone of fruitcake land, still the rock is so exceptional. I have a trad route here unrepeated from 20 years ago, perhaps I should make it more accessible to others I guess, otherwise it won't ever be done. Is it a route if nobody does it? The sound of one hand clapping! The hand of one egoist stroking himself?

 I really don't recommend trad in this rock, and I like bolts to be long! 

This photo shows you the full pitch of Heart of Glass. There's gonna be a lot of folk enjoying this one over the years!

Looking closely at a fossil on Heart of Glass 6a+

This little route will become a great popular route one day, but it won't if I bolt it with bolts four meters apart, will it, or do it with some slings? Anyway it's majestic, a bit pumpy, don't ask me how cos the holds are bigger than my mouth! Did I say it was hot, down by the sea there, the sun was radiating, mesmerising, and stupefying. What a cliff, did 'Fade away and Radiate' twice, I think its 6c, but it's four meters between bolts, not for the faint hearted, it's for the brave hearts!