I'm a woman

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

Monday, 29 June 2015

Another training day. by Stevie Haston.

Aid climbing on Trad gear, pounds the biceps and back and core.

I belayed my mate this morning while he led two new routes. I was on belay duty. Hardly anyone belays me, they forget about their belay duty to me, they have convenient memories! Tomorrow I am going to see the Hypogeum, I am on historical duty, or cultural duty. Possibly the oldest underground temple in the world is on the Malta so I will see if it is still there. It might have been hijacked by someone, or for something. I saw it when I was a kid, and there were no safety rails, or viewer interactive mumbo jumbo, just a fat lazy guardian smoking stinking ciggs.

 I am fond of a few people, fond of many more cliffs, and many more routes, and mountains, fond of the sea and colours, animals, flowers. Thank you if you are one of these things.

Curly wirily spinning fire works, a competition of them in fact, fairly pretty, in fact. Not as pretty as the sea, or a well kept vegetable garden, or rocks.

I am fond of this, very fond. 'It my friend' (Italian accent), it's a bit exhausting, but never answers back, what I put in, it pays back. It never cheats me. As alway Mr Crusher from Crusher Boards, ta very much mate. There is a fan in the big room, and a fan in front of it. My board has two big fans, and me. It has a lot-thats a joke, by the by. A few of my projects are holding out. Time to get slowly serious.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Rock Solide Pleasure. by Stevie Haston.

 My partner was burnt by the sun yesterday, hard on a shady cliff! My arms are tired, hard to believe on jugs and ledges. Sleep happy, walking the streets of the fiesta village last night. Half a bottle of wine and "basta", enough, sleep. Then I dream I am in a desperate groove, and my flexibility is not up to it, and I collapse through my own legs, like and umbrella in a gale!

 These great guys were enjoying the cliff too. They fish for fish, to put in soup, and of course to pass the time. They are from three of the Gozo villages that don't have a bay, or inlet to put boats in. They have developed a few interesting ways to fish including traps on long lines, which are then brought up by pulleys.

 The middle section of Fruit Cake Land.

Grooves, how I love grooves, technic, technical, tactic, tactile, feel your way up, make bizarre shapes with your body, and finally when your stumped, and have tried everything, udge. Ah the lost art of Udging.

A very nice day.

I just bolted a great face climb, in an updraft of turbulence. It looks complex, and a bit jumpy, sloppy  and you can imagine lots of indecision.   The great climber Stephan Glowacz wanted me to bolt it, but I think he might enjoy it more than me! We will see, tomorrow is another day, never say never, etc, fall till you can't fall anymore, and then get up. Thats right, get up!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Moody Blues, by Stevie Moody Haston.

You wake up from the small death of sleep to a paleness, a greyer shade of light.  Then it goes pink, quickly the sun, peach coloured, turns into a fierce, bright orange burning ball. So you seek the shade, the north facing cliffs.

Here in the caves, there is a limpid light. A mellow feel to the air, and you don't have to squint, but you are still tempted by the water. Sometimes calm, sometimes storm, there is always some energy.

The team the other day were not fierce warriors but soft folk looking for pleasant climbs, we found them of course. The tougher ones we avoided like the fierce sun.

Oceana (girls name) seconds Airo Rambler, a simply scrumptious 6b+ on rough pockets. Today I equipped two more routes, one will have to wait for the seasonal fluctuations in strength to aline, for verily it is steep. Need to earn some money, pay some bills, train, and have more fun and success.  

Thursday, 25 June 2015

More Training and Rhino, by Stevie Haston.

On the Rhino.

 Just a few words, to keep me going, and possibly to keep you going. Good routes, and a bit of work. So the routes are good, and I had some good coaching work this week. So obviously you know the routes are good, but why is the coaching good? The coaching is good because these people invest in my knowledge, they buy into it, they believe, they copy, they do. You have to commit, without commitment you don't get anywhere.  

the bronze slab.

When I tell people I only got good at climbing when I moved to France, and watched great French climbers, and climbed with some of them, people don't want to believe me. What about your previous routes, they ask? Well, they would have been easier. Much easier.

a tough moment, on some ones first aid route.

 I need to train again, I need to learn again, I need to recharge again, yep the Rhino has to charge.  Yep gonna jump into the training again, gonna get strong. Gonna do a few great routes.

bicep training for Alex.

I proscribed some training to a very good climber with high expectations  this week, and will take my own advice. After all I have expectations of my own. Right?

Ps. Rhino top bit goes free at 7c+/8a, verily it is exposed. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Good times, good routes, by Stevie be good Haston.

 Just finished The Last Rhino, it was as good as expected. It's a fabulous addition to climbing on Malta and Gozo, it will surely become a classic. The photo above shows the belay at the top of the first pitch, 6a, mainly easy chimney, but the initial traverse has a tricky bit on it.

 From this belay at 6a+ you traverse with bolts for protection until you give up the free climbing, and start using the bolts for progress while standing in slings. It all becomes very overhanging, and undercut, it's very exciting and exposed.

 This is the hanging belay.

From the end of this traverse which might go free at mid 8 standard, you hang out and wonder where you can go? A few exposed free moves lead to a four bolt traverse thru a mini slab, which goes thru the last overhang. A final sting in the tail in the shape of a few compulsory free moves (no bolt), lands you on the flat top of the cliff like a stranded fish.

Paul doing the last free moves wondering if I am really belayed or not.

The Last Rhino is very scenic and highly recommended, it doesn't need huge skills but if you mess up it would be hard to extricate yourself. You need a friend 3 /2, and a set of wires. Bolts and threads do the rest, take a 20 clips. I'll do my best to free climb it,  but it still needs a lot of careful cleaning due to brittle and soft sandstone. Expect a few more good routes from these lovely cliffs.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Poachers Politicians and Pratts. by Stevie Haston.

 So I had this idea for a route name, The Last Rhino, then my friend bought me a book called the Last Rhinos. Then this morning a face book  friend linked me to the deaths of two lads protecting Rhinos in the Congo! One of these protectors of Rhinos had 5 children and one had 7! My life seems trivial compared to their work, but I try to tread a reasonable path. My reasonable path will be a great route for them and you. 

 Counting pennies for glue yesterday, this is bolt fund donations thanks folks, thanks very much. So managed to connect the bit from the bottom of our route to the bit I reversed aided from the top. Trashed a rope, frayed my nerves, fried my brain, t'other day and only placed two bits of protection. But today joined it all together. The route is scenic, airy, beau, full of strange textures,  pounding wave sounds booming inside hidden pockets, odd perspective perplexing you, puzzling pleasure pulsing in throbbing throttling fear. It's great.

Paul about to use his teeth in my throbbing toes.

My second Paul was great, supportive and generous, thanks Paul. We both suffered, not least when I hauled two bags at once up Union City Blues, the route felt like a path, the bags felt like being Keel hauled.


Tomorrow we do the Last Rhino. Please do what you can when you can. While we were climbing people were shooting birds illegally, a police car happened by, they took no notice and drove on! It's politicians in the end who have to do the correct thing. I am not brave enough to go after hunters with guns, I am just a soft guy, and seemingly so are the Police. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Last Rhino, by Stevie horny Haston.

 Paul escaping from the clutches .

Back in the groove, back in the swing of things, all excited, ready to boogy. This route is very good, in 3 short pitches it takes you through the whole gamut of excitement. It is of course Mini golf compared to high standard himalayan alpinism, but you know we lack spiky snow encrusted spires in Gozo, so we make do with sand stone sloping roofs!

 A pink Northen redskin extends his arm to his brown cousin.

I like this photo of my royal pinkness. It's funny who we think we are, and what we look like, self image is a weird one for sure. So the route has been there all this time masquerading as a big gloomy cave, when in fact it was a pandoras box of special delights. It's been taunting me for years, but now I understand her angles, some of her defences have fallen, and I look forward to a long lasting relationship where she will be my dominatrix.

Simon on his very own  mellow route.

This cliff is now home, what it lacks in stature, it makes up for in tone and feeling, it is Fruit Cake Land, many layered, many facetted.

1000 routes?

The life force when the sea is choppy is good at Fruit Cake Land. When the sea is raging, so is your life, the bongo drums of your own destiny are loud and clear, and then of course you return to the domestic scene at home, and things become somewhat humdrum, and dumb. So life is flat, the age of Northern red skinned berserkers is over, the age of the domestic humdruminity is apon us. Thank god we have Fruit Cake Land.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Stoned Sacrifice, by Stevie Straight Haston.

cousin Paul on sophomore duty.

 So it was back to the grind stone, the Sisyphus Sacrifice, the pitting of flesh against very rough rock.  The "idea"was to get a route up the back of the Inner Sanctum, which would be accessible to lots of climbers so they could have a good touring experience! More like an opportunity to become incontinent. Well. After an airy abseil down Union City blues you access the first belay.

 the chimney of acousticness.

From the belay you down climb a few moves, and access a pretty straight foreward chimney on bronze sand stone, which has some very interesting gout d'eau, it's marvellous. This leads to a perch, where you can parrot about, gibbering about how awesome it is, or how scared you are, depending on your need. 

Zee chimney of bronze.

Now then from the airy perch of inconsequential chatter, you traverse horizontally left on a band of fossilised nodules, and weird petrified hopes of survival. I have put some bolts in this traverse, which should mean that you will be comfy. I was not comfy, I was a tadge fearful. Insecure hooks and a heavy amount of gear, caused some anxious moments, as rock and moral crumbled.

zee travers of earth bound Godlets.

Anyway it's not quite finished. It will go free at a medium hard grade, but my idea is that you can do it with a grade of 6a+, and pulling on some bolts.  Hopefully it will take it's place as a little adventure in the colourful book of Gozo climbing. Probably two more days of work. Thanks to everybody who has helped with donations to the fund, Steve from London , Crusher from Colorado, Dino, Simon, and the Malta Climbing Club. Thanks to cousin Paul and Alex for the partnership.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Inner sanctum of Hell, by Stevie Haston.

 Calm day, calm mind.

So it's not calm but we go anyway. I need to get in to the Inner Sanctum, I need to get to grips with it's chamfered  singularity. Done a few new routes here at this cliff,  7 and one half done. But the half done one doesn't really tell the tale.

 cousin Paul being offered as sacrifice.

The sea was booming, and some of the spray and plumes were going 80 foot!  We still did 3 routes, I did another two, one with a rucsac full of equipping gear. Still can't believe the quality. I managed to get along, and down a weird narrow ramp that angles thru the last roof. The idea is to make a route that goes thru the maximum amount of roof with a little bit of pulling on bolts, so everybody can get maximum thrill. Plus obviously the route will probably go free at some stage.

 cousin Paul before he lost his hat.

Cousin Paul from New York,  had a good day and was patient when I did some equipping. I should have listened to him when he wanted to call it a day, and I went down to put a rope from the right hand side to a big chimney. "It'll be all right" I said, and the seas got heavy, and I did very little except get soaked, and scared and then had to do Union City Blues with a rucsac. Man was I glad to get up! 


I felt like I had a high powered colonic irrigation at one point. But the routes are so groovy. Got to get some equipped, go working, and come back fit, and do the hard ones. Mojo rising, rising. Might have to get super strong again, oh dear.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Gozo Climbing Goes Atomic. by Stevie Radiating Haston.

Fragile gout d'eau, dangerous to climb.

 Stefan Glowacz, and a big Photo shoot were at the Gozo Fruit Cake Cliff yesterday! It was a surprise to see them I thought they were coming in a couple of days! There they were, Stefan was calmly belaying his fit friend up Fade Away and Radiate -one of my little 5 star routes.

 Slouching  towards a crack Stefan says I should bolt, I am listening.

Stefan is an ex international champ at competions, he's a great all rounder, and someone who is unperturbed in fairly series conditions. I admire him and his climbing. He was Rock Master at the Arco Comps three times!

Big photo team.

 It's good to know that our climbing is what these guys were looking for, interesting rock for adverts and promotion. It was good to see the climbers themselves enjoying our climbs, which in my opinion, are as good if not better than most in the world.

eating dust after equipping another classic, in need of a beer.

I asked about the grades on Gozo 'they are correct' Stefan said, 'if a bit stiff'. "Quality excellent", Stefan is one of the first to onsight 8b years ago in Spain.
Gozo has had Americans, Canadians, Spanish, French, Germans, Italians, Hungarians, well everybody lately. Lots of UK people. Please enjoy our climbing remember to donate to the BOLT FUND.  

Rough Beast, by Stevie gentle Haston.

You go through life with few friends, or indeed enemies who can entertain. Well, perhaps it's just you who do not have the ears to hear. Or eyes to see, or sword to thrust, or head to bash the thick walls of your servitude to dust.
So you do a bit of climbing, don't you?

Betwixt a mans span lies a life wanting to be spent. 

But then one day you enter the Lost Castle of your Desires, and  with open arms and tears,  you come to terms with your authentic desire. You want to ascend to heaven, you want the good fight, you need to vanquish incredible foes, and stand triumphant at the pinacle of all glory.You might pause to take a small bow, and with a sly modest grin, say, "it was nought, anybody could have done this thing".

Pull bonny lad.

This new bit of cliff, is it any good? "Was Helen beautiful, was she heavy maintenance?" As you traverse around the bay clutching huge water warn flutes, your eye is drawn into the Widening gyre. The ceiling is full of Gozitan colours, the sea tones reverberate, almost causing sounds, and your senses broaden and morph to encompass it's majesty.

A sky boat, the gozo ferry, very furry in the pastel clouds.

So all other climbs seem 'mere anarchy', this climb is the great dictator! And you are at once reminded of your mortality, your weakness, your pathetic ordinary lack of conviction.  Surely Shirly, this route is the Second Coming, the dawn of the new Jihad, The Eternal War, never ending, the route that overhangs forever. 
 And if you pick up this heavy gauntlet, this terminator arm of such dreadful heaviness, what kind of beast will you become? A steroid stuffed Lemur with hands covered in scars, or something stronger?   

 If "twenty centuries of stoney sleep" suffice for the design of a new body and structured mind  to "Slouch" up this route, a new birth, a rebirth, to emerge in the "pitiless sun".
You will be the "Rough beast", and you will be full of "Passionate intensity". If you haven't twigged, this is a little appreciation of W.B.Yeats who wrote the poem Second Coming, I have plundered it for words, and lines. 
I thank him for breathing poetry into my soul, and possibly saving my life.
He also wrote the song "A DJ saved my life", but not many people know that.   

Friday, 12 June 2015

Trad versus Bolt? by Stevie Haston.

 Will Trad climbing survive? Is it what people want? Is it any good? I have asked myself these questions for years. I'ave looked at the other side of the coin too. Is bolt climbing any good? Will it survive. Well bolts, apart from a problem of corrosion are the preferred mode of transport over rock. More importantly  for me (and I say me, you are not me and are allowed an opinion) bolts provide less faff, and more pleasure. Without the huge quantity of trad gear, you climb more, and spend less time messing, around, placing gear, dropping gear (expensive), or just mashing your fingers in gear!

 So we went Trad climbing today, it just used to be called climbing, notice we are already in opposing camps. Why Trad, well because it was an exploration, to have a look, prospecting for golden routes. And yes Trad was the way, cos it was quick. It was the method that worked. But will some one bolt what I climbed on trad? Maybe yes, and Maybe no!

 Looking up this beau groove, it's magic. Protection was two huge Sky Hooks, two pegs, one of which pulled out in the second persons hand, and a couple of other crap pieces. But what a gothic, groovy groove. It would be much better if it was bolted! People come to my island, famous climbers, and they come here to enjoy themselves. But if they are very famous, they come here to promote themselves, their companies, and to make Dosh, money Denari, they don't necessarily care about the wonderful thing that is peoples special joy of moving over special stone.

This belay high above the sea, in a hole, is on slings over soft sandstone, and a peg that will rust behind an acoustic flake, the next two bits of climbing will require three set of friends, which will rot, and seise up in the salt laden atmosphere. Yes it could be Trad, and maybe it should be as it follows solid cracks, but it is also impractical, the only people who will venture onto it will be pro climbers making money! If I turn it into a superb sport climbing, safe journey, other people than prima donnas will enjoy it. What to do? I am a bit stuck because I love modern climbing, you don't have to carry loads of rotting metal around the world and you do lots of good stuff safer. But, and it is a big but, climbing on Trad gear is a skill that should be kept alive. To be honest, climbing with a small set of friends, a peg hammer, pegs, a set of wires, hooks, felt awful. I got badly cut, hooked myself in the ass, bumped my head cos I was in a panic all the time. Fun? Not really, Adventure? Certainly! Will I emasculate it, and make it more enjoyable, quite possibly.    

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Gray Matter, doest matter. by Stevie Haston.

 50 shades of Grey, or should that be Gray. I opened a route the other day that climbs to an eyelet, and thought it might be easy, and then of course it was not. We are not talking 9a here, we are talking like 7a, or something lowly like that. Anyway I couldn't work out whether it was me in my new seal skin clothes for the terribly fridgid waters of Malta, or whether it was actually hard. it gently overhangs, and starts off greyish, which is good -strong rock. Then it deepens into a lighter gray-which is bad, as it becomes more like weak pumice stone. Then it goes into a sponge like yellow, and how can I put this, it's as weak as a frozen sponge at this point. Em. The route is called Gay Matter, and is brilliant, beware however as it's malevolent nature seems to be controlled by the climbers' equanimity, or lack there of.

 Colours are not restricted to gray. The sea is 20°, and is ok if you have a little neoprene layer like me. Climbing is good, but it's a bit clammy when the wind is from Africa.

I am going slowly black, or is it a reddish brown. I am not sure of these racist colour groupings we use. I am only sure of the colour of rock, and the colour of the sea. And possibly the colour of happiness, is not the chalk like gray of my last few new routes, which are like Goethe badly translated into Chinese, you know "hard to read", or as they might say with London accent "hard to leed". A very nice Canadian boy was climbing on the cliff recently, Marc asked me what kinnda rock it was, "Chalk and rice cake", I said. He gave me a polite quizzical look. He should be in Chamonix now, caressing that lovely golden, very solid, caressed by the dying embers, of a rose tinted sunset, granit.
Oh yes the colour of happiness is …...