Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Since the last blog I've been getting out bouldering a fair bit and going well with ascents including
Black Crow and Black Hoe (7C+ and 8A)
Fine Reservation 7C+
Strict Blueband Reverse 8A
and my glorious addition to Raven Tor link ups : Contraband. This is basically Staminaband in reverse, with the same rules as for the normal version. Surprisingly enough, nobody knows of it having been done before. I guess most people must have better things to do with their time. Anyway, irrespective of the absurdity of this sort of stuff, I was pleased to nearly do it on my first session on it this year, having tried the various parts last autumn. The next week it went down, and it's nice to feel the progress from the last 9 months. James Noble was trying it a bit last year and thought it might be 8A+, but I'm a bit unsure so I've given it 8A for now - we both thought it was probably a bit harder than staminaband. I think the moves are better too, so get to it and let me know what you think!
Here's a video featuring me blowing the last few moves like a idiot. Repeatedly.. 

Tor it up from Guy Van Greuning on Vimeo.

Last weekend it was time to get back in the van and back on a rope with a couple of days in Wales at Dyserth Waterfall, a new crag developed by Mr Orme, Chris Doyle. The main section of the crag is a cool roof above a shallow river, making for a picturesque little spot. Unfortunately, we chose one of the worse warm ups, and after a quick play on the rather condensed bottom of the 8b I was ready to sack it and go home. Luckily that wasn't really an option, so instead I got on a steep 7a+ crack. Some damp holds at the bottom produced and an inordinate amount of whining (something I'm really good at), but a brilliant sequence of undercutting and kneebars later and I was reversing for the gear (the alternative is lowering into the river) in a significantly better mood. The main objective for the day was The Madness Reigns, an 8a traversing an obvious line of holds under the roof before a crux sequence turning the lip. My flash attempt was pretty pathetic, and I couldn't do the crux moves how Mark was doing them, with a bunched up toehook, however I quickly spotted that I could throw my foot out left and hey presto, a kneebar emerged. I struggled to get it to work without a pad, and dangling above the river there wasn't much of an option for getting one thrown up so I wasn't sure how it'd work. 2nd go up and armed with a rubber pad, I worked through the first section of the crux, walked my feet out, slotted the knee in hopefully.... boom. Perfect. For anyone in the market, 5.10 pads are definitely a notch up from the CaVa ones when it comes to friction. Unfortunately I didn't really know what I was then going to do, and although I eventually sorted myself out, a rather ugly cut lose resulted from releasing the knee and I ended up pumping out 1 move from the end of the crux sequence. Next time, knowing what to do, it went down without too much of an issue. After finding a spot with a view to park up the van, and recharging with an omlette containing about 1000kals of goats cheese, we returned the next day and I got stuck into Pete Robbins' direct start to the route, Meaty Madness. Unfortunately this section of rock lost a block shortly before Pete did the link and the scar is pretty wet and muddy, but by stuffing a t-shirt into the worst affected hold, and taping it out of the way of my footholds, the worst of it could almost be avoided. This version of the route is less pumpy but a notch more bouldery, featuring a cut-loose jump move off a toe-hook before you scrabble into the safety of the kneebar I used on TMR. Robins said 8a/+ for this version which seems about right. I logged it as soft 8a+ of course. I'm keen to go back for the 8b, since a play at the end of the day revealed that the easiest sequence was likely to involve inverting to a foot lock round the lip of the roof, in a Randall/P-Widdy style.

Although it was actually a reasonably successful weekend, and I really enjoyed being away and climbing routes again, I was disappointed not to feel stronger after my recent bouldering form. Hopefully this is a question of needing to do a bit of route climbing to get the gains to come through with a rope on. I've certainly noticed before that new bouldering strength doesn't always convert onto routes straight away, and sometimes it takes a bit of time for it to trickle through. The alternative is that I've upped my expectations out of line with my ability, as I do all too often, and I'll have to batter my ego back into line with my finger strength.

Early next week I'm off to France, firstly for a quick onsight hit at the stunning looking crag of La Balme near Chambery, and then onto Gorges du Loup to get stuck into some steep tufa redpointing. I can't wait. Stamina routes, tufas and cakes.... it should be good!

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