Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cotswold Update

It's been several weeks since our last post. We have been occupied with the logistic side of the trip - e-mailing various contacts, chasing leads and making sure our chariot is in good condition for the expedition. We have also been training (mainly indoors) as usual, making sure we stay in decent shape over the Festive Season...
"Do you really need to eat that - insert food of choice? When you fall off the last move of your project, dropping to your knees, screaming and crying, you will ask yourself...was it worth it?"

The van is going through somewhat of a metamorphosis in preparation for the "expedition". What started out as a lowly ex carpenters panel van has now been transformed into the epitome of mobile living. Well, perhaps not, what it does have is ply lining, carpet, 2 windows a leisure battery and a travel fridge. Hardly a "HYMER" recreational vehicle but should offer the practicality we need. The newest and most recent modification is that of a set of roof bars and a 900 litre roof box. Yes you read that correctly "900" litres, should be ample room for everything the traveling boulderer requires. Other than this we have just had to make sure that the vehicle is mechanically sound and find an insurance broker who offers 12 months European van insurance..... no easy feat I can personally confirm this! After many hours spent trawling through the internet and being shot down time and time again, success rained down upon us. For anyone who is having difficulty with this I would recommend checking out HIC. They are certainly worth looking into.

Anyway, I went to Cotswold on Tuesday and met up with a good friend that I hadn't seen in ages. It was great catching up with him. He then went to see if Ben (the Man himself) was available to see me...he came out however he was not alone...some shiny new gear following suit!
The gear comprised of a new Podsacs bouldering pad and North Face bag. Inside the bag were fleeces, t-shirts, chalk bag and chalk! I was immediately faced with the realization that the trip was most definitely happening and that the time of departure was fast approaching. It only seemed like just a few weeks ago that the idea for the trip was being conceived and here we are now almost ready to head off. The New Year should bring with it new gear and equipment and the vital warm clothing that we so require.

Just a few loose ends now to tie up before we go now...namely a laptop and HD camera. DOES ANYONE HAVE CONTACTS THAT CAN HELP US WITH THIS???

If you can then please e-mail us at . Your generosity wouldn't go unnoticed!!!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Look after your skin!

I went down to Portland, this weekend, to try and see if I could make further progress on the project I started last week...

...Driving down, I knew the conditions would be excellent for climbing (if you could stay warm enough to perform at your peak!) as Dorset was blanketed with light snow and the temperature was baltic!

After a short jog, Martyn and I, joined a group of boulderers (nice to see other people climbing in the field, besides myself, for a change) to warm up on the Cracked Boulder. The friction was incredible but it took a lot of effort to pry the fingers open and attach them to the rock. After repeating all the problems on the Cracked Boulder we decided to move on to the Toll Booth Arete (V7).

I initially struggled to repeat this problem as I could not clamp the right hand pinch hard enough to throw for the left hand crimp. The warmth had left my hands and the cold had settled in and was not going to dissipate without a fight! Martyn thought I could probably do a massive move directly onto the crimp therefore eliminating the need to use the pinch. I gave it a few goes and I managed to land this. This eliminate version probably would probably go at V8.

I then decided to try the project I had started months before. After linking most of the moves together, I decided a direct finish would be wise as the traverse tends to restrict you. This particular move was quite difficult and requires 1 more session to complete then the new line will be realised. This will probably go at V9 which would make it one of the hardest problems in the field. Exciting times!

We finally gave in to the cold and decided to beat a hasty retreat out of the boulderfield. I wanted to have a couple attempts at the difficult project I started the week before. My finger hadn’t completely healed but I thought it would hold up long enough to stick the crux move…bad decision! Within 3 attempts of placing my weight on the razor crimp, blood began to appear. I tried applying finger tape to stop the flow (note to self - should have done this beforehand – not the sharpest knife in drawer) to no avail. I had to call it a day and come back when my finger had healed fully.  Reluctantly I packed my bag and left...

Lesson learned – take more warmth when conditions are freezing, tape finger before pulling on katana-style edges and look after your skin (you tend to need it)!!!


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

New Promotional Video!

Check it out and please feel free to give feedback. We would love to hear from you!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

What a day! Cotswold Outdoor comes through.

So, we decided to head to Portland to get some more bouldering mileage behind us and work some of our projects (Greg - Guy Fawkes, Chris - My Chemical Romance).

We warmed up on our usual traverse, which covers most of the New Cuttings area and spotted some high ball (6m) problems which ignited our curiosity. They were not bolted and with the crux moves nearing the top this made for some fluttery and nerve-racking moments. We then decided to move onto our projects.

Greg was suffering from the last effects of "man-flu" and was slightly hampered by this. Nonetheless he "manned" up and made some good progress on the first difficult moves of Guy Fawkes. By the end of the session he was established on the undercut and moving with control onto the first heinous crimp on the vertical face. After working Guy Fawkes and attempting the top moves on MCR, he made the astute observation that it would be wiser to work a V9 problem before entering the realms of V11!

My intention was to try and work the last move on MCR and then possibly complete the problem today however the step ladder I brought (the latest in bouldering technology!) was too short to reach the penultimate move. My reluctance to put on a harness and top-rope the move had led me to use this unconventional method. I decided to begin work on a new project in the vicinity of the area which I'm very excited about however the razor sharp crimp has chewed a hole in my left forefinger.

We decided to call it a day and upon returning home we noticed the view counter on our blog had increased significantly! I jokingly said to Greg that maybe Ben @ Cotswold Outdoor Southampton( had placed a link from their website to our blog which may have increased the views...we checked and low and behold this was indeed the case!!!

After falling out of our chairs through disbelief, the reality began to set in...we had a sponsor! Not only did we have a sponsor but we had a very reputable outdoor company backing us every step of the way...speechless.
We feel very honoured to be backed by Cotswold Outdoor and most of the concerns we had surrounding our trip have been dispelled.

Cotswold Outdoor you've done us a solid and we can't thank you enough.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Request for assistance

The time of departure is fast approaching now and we are realizing how ill-prepared we are for spending 1 year living out of what essentially is a metal box. Warm clothing and sleeping bags is going to be an absolute must in order for us to be fully recharged after each days "crushing". Neither of us have the luxury of being backed by a climbing/outdoor brand (at the moment) so it made perfect sense to start putting the feelers out and see how willing they (the outdoor companies) are .

Today we went to 5 outdoor specialist retailers and "pitched" our proposal to staff and management. With violins playing in the background, and armed with only our winning personalities, we tried to fully explain our venture and hoped that they would be sympathetic to our cause. Surprisingly we were not immediately showed the door and they were interested to hear us through. We have been given some good advice and the e-mail addresses of people to speak to about furthering this request.

Although it is still early days, we are both hopeful that we will get some good feedback and possibly receive help with crash mats, down jackets, camping equipment etc. Even if the best we do is a free bag of chalk, it's better than nothing and we can't kick ourselves later for not trying. To quote that well known saying.... "if you don't ask, you don't get".

Now time to start getting some e-mails sent to those numerous outdoor magazines that we have spent a small fortune being part of the readership over the years. I think I would happily read about the adventures of 2 boulderers on a year expedition through Europe chronicling the trials, tribulations and (hopefully) sizeable gains in strength and ability found along the way.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Coming full circle

So this is my first post and it is somewhat fitting that I'm coming to the end of  a very difficult cycle in my climbing life but have finally reached, what I feel, is the next level.

I created 3 indoor bouldering projects, at Fort Purbrook Portsmouth, well over a year ago...Fort Purbrook has a natural features room and this is where the problems were conjured.
Each project was about 6 moves long but each move was so intense for me (at the time) that they took weeks just to hold the holds then several more weeks to link one move into the next.
Time was passing and I felt that I needed to physically get stronger to allow my body to deal with the huge forces being applied to it which took a very long time to accumulate.

To cut a long story short I have finally completed 2 out of the 3 in the past 2 months (hard double digit boulder problems) which is a huge relief as these projects had turned into nightmares with each failure chipping away at my confidence...I have now started to siege the last project and manage to pull off the ground from the sit start and stick the first hard move which is very satisfying! I really hope this one doesn't take weeks to complete.

It never ceases to amaze me how you can be so obsessed with completing something...something that has been in the forefront of your mind for months...and when it finally gets destroyed all the pent up frustration and negativity disappears like a thief in the night. It no longer matters and you move swiftly on to the next one with out batting an eyelid.

This is the beauty of climbing and is existing on all levels from beginner to professional...a never ending love-hate relationship that keeps you coming back for more no matter how one sided the feelings may be. This drive is driven by the never ending fuel for progression that all climbers seek and struggle towards.