the adventure continues:- up a vertical face and being relaxed is a goal that I have…

What you have to get used to in the UK is that there is a great disparity between the climbing genres. There are the hard core traditional climbers, there are the ice climbers, the mountaineers, the slate climbers, the grit climbers, the boulders and of course the sports climbers, the latter being a relatively new genus here.  There are also sub cultures within these groups who only eat at certain cafes and climb when it is ridiculously cold and windy. Apparently thats what “Grit climbers” do.

Today at Masson Lees on the Monday of the 2016 Bank Holiday, Dave and I met up with our friends Michael,Thu and Elodie again. We were also looking forward to seeing Alexis and Laura. Karine and I meet these two lovely people from Spain in Thailand earlier this year and they were now living near Birmingham….God its all very complex at times.

Anyway, we were all there to climb together and very enthusiastic about each of our goals for the day. Dave wanted tick a long outstanding project called “Hilti Sound system” 7a (23). He hasn’t been on 1 for ages and only tried it once. I wanted to tick “Exo6” 7a (23). These were our goal’s today from a climbing perspective. Mostly it was about hanging out with a great crew and seeing us all do our best and have a truckload of fun.

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I love this photo of Thu stylin’ on “Hilti Sound System”

Once we all at the crag and had done our introductions and caught up it was all hands on the ropes and time to climb. Dave and I did a few quick warm ups and and then headed over to the Overhanging Wall. We agreed that I should put the draws on “Exo6” and then rest and go for the red point send. dave wanted to do “Eye Eye” 6b+ for a little more warmth and then have a shot at on sighting the unknown 6c+ to the left of it.

As we worked through our plan Thu, Elodie and Michael wandered over to the wall and began their work on “Eye Eye” and the 6c a little further across. we talked Elodie into working “Eye Eye” and then try to red point it as her first 6b+. She was convinced and her goal for the day was sorted. Michael and Thu hopped on their choice of pain and off they went.

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Elodie, Thu, Laura, Alexis,juan, Esther Dave and I underneath the start of “Hilti Sound System”.

I had rested for about thirty minutes when Dave had finished his route and eaten a little. I tied in and started to prepare for my ascent. I had tried this route a few times and stuffed up one move regularly. Not happy, but that’s climbing right?!  Dave was ready to catch me and I was feeling ready to get this thing done. I set off through the first four moves and clipped the first two bolts feeling for solid and focused. As I push through the transition to setup of the rest of the route I noticed that it was easier than it had been before.

Four weeks of training has made difference and I had noticed it. Resting at the central point of the route I felt pretty fresh and rested for about two minutes. I then headed in tot he crux pulling through and perfectly executing the one move that had thwarted me on four previous attempts. I clipped the anchors and it was done. Four and a half minutes of well executed, flowing movement. I was so pleased to have been able to experience that in such a wonderful way. It really satisfying to be able to express your current emotional status through simple movement.

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The author’s red-point send of “Exo6″…..a goal achieved.

Dave and I wandered over to his route and set up shop. I rested for about thirty minutes and then set off to put the draws on “Hilti Sound System”. Dave wanted to do the route and I just wanted to work the moves and see how I felt. With the draws in place, Dave tied in and set about his task with a diligence and focus that is to be admired and appreciated.

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The author on “Hilti Sound System”

Making moves up a vertical face and being so relaxed is a goal that I have, but Dave’s 35 years  of climbing experience and his steely approach is incredible. He walked up the route with an ease that made all of us cheer as he reached the anchors. It was his poise and control that made the execution truly beautiful. It was an exceptional dance indeed. There is nothing more that I can say about it.

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Dave on the red-point send of “Hilti Sound System”.

Elodie sent her route, Thu and Michael sent their routes and Alexis and Laura truly enjoyed their time at the special little crag known as Masson Lees. The Peak District has many incredible little offerings but as a repurposed quarry, this one is truly wonderful.

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the adventure continues:- not matter where we go……there is adventure.

It’s the Bank Holiday in Britain this weekend and every man and his dog would be on the road travelling to all of the popular camping spots in the Peak District and up into the Lakes District as well. It had been a tough week this week as a few issues arose that needed very serious attention. Addressing these things was a little stressful and with the weather not being to kind all week, we all needed to stretch out and get back to nature.

With a small window of opportunity available to us, we jumped at the chance to hop in the car after breakfast and head north. We were heading towards the North York Moors National Park to a little place called Stainsdale. We were going bouldering at Bridestones. This is a very special place as it sits at the top of the a ridge line that is scattered with the most amazing sandstone outcrops. It is truly beautiful and at this time of year a genuine delight.

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The North York Moors………stunning.

It was game day for Rosie as she is an avid supporter of her team and the trip was full of football (soccer) related conversations about what might be and how they were the best team in the competition. I smiled and laughed a lot as I once was that enthusiastic about the game and at times did and said very similar things.

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The delightful Dave and Rosie on the approach…….

We parked and loaded up the pads on our backs and grabbed our packs and began the ten minute walk in up the hill to the broad ridge. As we got closer to our destination the landscape turned into a field of beauty. Ferns and heather covered the ground and the colours were truly stunning. The old cobbled sandstone path showed the way. When I looked up ahead I immediately saw why this place was special.

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First glimpse of the First Pinnacle…..

The pinnacles as they are referred to, rose out of the earth all long the path for about a kilometre in total. Varying in shape and size like a child had randomly thrown lumps of clay at the ground. I couldn’t wait to just touch these formations, let alone try some of the problems. As we got nearer I stopped rather rapidly and paid my respects to a little adder that welcomed me to the crag. Beautiful and venomous (not deadly) I stood my ground and simply admired its beauty.

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A juvenile European Adder……beautiful looking creature.

We spent the next few hours trying a range of problems across a range of grades and getting our confidence and courage up. The Pepperpot Boulder was our chosen place of pain and we certainly had fun trying to hurt ourselves a little. This awkward looking pillar of rock was outrageous to climb on and the routes were truly inspiring and well weathered.

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The Famous Pepperpot Boulder
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Rosie showing off her ridiculous reach on “Master Pepperpot” F6b (V4)
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Dave and I chatting “en route”.

Problems like The Descent, Chilli Pepper, Central Groove and Master Pepperpot presented varied excitement and unique opportunity to test ourselves. Rosie and I spent some time working through the moves on a hard start that we finally sorted out and I continued up the obvious line and linked this problem to another one to top out.

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The author about to hit the lower crux move on the first ascent of “Central Pepperpot” F6b (V4).

I had done a first ascent apparently by linking “Professor Pepperpot” (F6c) and “Central Groove” (F6a). I decided to name it “Central Pepperpot” (F6b). I was excited that I apparently had a first ascent in the UK. Yet to be confirmed, so my excitement is minimal, but still there.

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The author flashing “Master Pepperpot” F6b (V4).

It’s very exciting to know that how we experience allows us all to be explorers and adventurers.

the adventure continues:- sun, surf and sandstone. All my needs are simple…..

Writing seems to have taken a little step backwards over the last few weeks as inspiration has been a little lacking. It’s not something unexpected , however I do miss the continued data dump that is in my head. There is a lot going on in this world of travel. Many new and exciting things that continue to breath air into my lungs and beautiful sites that just present themselves on a daily basis.

The weather has played a big part in this halt in “penning” down my experiences. I find it very awkward to get out when it is totally pissing down with rain. When the weather has been good, we have been out climbing and its been great, but sometimes its just the gym and training. Which is paying off I might add.

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Yesterday however it was an incredible day and my lovely friend Nicola (Nick) suggested heading to the seaside for a walk and a semi second breakfast. So off we went heading east to Hornsea. We turned left  about 10 miles out and arrived at a lovely beach known as Fraisthorpe. Parking our beautiful beast in the car park, we wandered down onto the sand. The wind was blowing a little and the sun was shining.

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The East coast in the North is scattered with gun emplacements that are remnants of WW2 and this beach is a great example of what once was a possible landing site for the German war machine. It would have been an intimidating site for those poor young men who were willing to give their lives freely for “King and Country” at the time. Now they are derelict ruins melting into the sea as wind, water and time take their toll.

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Walking this three mile stretch of beach in the sun was a great and necessary thing to do. Watching the water ebb and flow, the kids splashing around and dogs chasing tennis balls in the icy North Sea was extremely relaxing. I have truly missed the sea and I am looking forward to spending time on the beach when we journey back home for the southern spring and summer.

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Walking a long beautiful beach. It’s really one of the truly peaceful things. 🙂

the adventure continues:- Always take the weather with you…..everywhere you go.

I came to the UK to climb on the classic walls of this amazing place. so far it has been a n incredible experience travelling across the country (its not really that big) and checking out some of the coolest little bits of limestone around. The idea of a repurposed quarry was foreign to me until five weeks ago. It is now just simply the crag and the routes are sometimes chossy and loose, but most of the time they are just simply good fun.

The list of places I have climbed has been interesting to say the least but, as I did not really investigate and research any of this, it has been a great learning experience. The Wainstone Boulders in the North York Moors, the choss and loose rock at Smalldale Quarry and Stoney Middleton. The long, exciting and terrifying trad lines of High Tor (I am so not a trad climber), but when Dave said we should go and do it. I just simply said Yes!

The dumbbell Flyer sector in Pen Trwyn, Penmaen Head flowstone and the beautiful and testing slate quarries of Llanberis, Wales. Horseshoe Quarry was polished and compelling at times, Masson Lees has an excellent array of routes of varying style and feel.  This has been my favourite place so far. The routes are interesting and the location lovely. I am experiencing some great climbing on this tiny beautiful island.

Dave had the Friday off and we were really looking forward to getting on rock for the first time in about a week. When you’re travelling and climbing this is a long time. We were checking out possible new locations, even heading up to do some trad climbing on the famous git would have been great, but this weekend the weather has set in.

I thought ok it’s going to rain a little. Then they said it’s going to be a bit windy too. Yesterday it blew a gale here all day, winds at 50mph and then on top of that it rained intermittently for hours. I had heard of this British weather but never experienced it. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the most incredible summer here that anyone could ask for.

This did not at all dampen our spirits and we headed to the local gym. Rockcity in Hull saved our day from complete misery. Dave, Rosie and I headed in about 1pm and had a great afternoon of bouldering and we genuinely tried hard the whole time we were there. We were egging each other on and showing off our strengths, laughing and falling off.

Over the years I have heard a lot of complaints about the weather here, but I am truly impressed with the amount of enthusiasm with which the locals just get out and do whatever they want anyways. Adapting to this incredible variable that mother nature throws at them is one of the things that I love about “The Brits”. Stoic to the end, and always very subtle and politely positive about their lot.

If our attitudes and motivations changed based on the weather, I suspect they’d lock us all up.

– Me

 

 

the adventure continues:- mother nature has taken back one of her own.

It was such a great day of climbing with everyone at Masson Lees on Sunday that I thought it deserved another few photographs. The following shots were taken by Michael Brennan…. thanks for your dedication to capturing the experience mate. 🙂

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This wonderful human being is Thu (Too). I love this photo of her, it just captures her very purely. Photo – Michael Brennan

The Peak District is riddled with old quarries, many provide us climbers with our simple requirements of rock and bolts for us to go sports climbing. Masson Lees is an exception to the rule and is an extremely satisfying location. You may think climbing in a quarry and saying it is lovely as being somewhat contradictory, however the quarry has been taken back by mother nature and it is a very pretty place indeed.

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The beauty of Masson Lees.

I cannot say anything other than wonderful to be part of such a great group of people and being able to climb in such a lovely location.

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Miss K warming up her lead head on “Life of Grime” 6a on The Red Wall at Masson Lees. Photo – Michael Brennan
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The author putting the draws on his project “Exo6” 7a on Overhanging Wall, Masson Lees. Photo – Michael Brennan

I hope you all enjoy the photos and as a side note. I would recommend this crag to anyone who is interested in climbing some quality UK sports routes across all grades up to 7b. It is technical and compelling climbing for all skill levels.

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Miss K trying the moves on “Exo6” 7a Overhanging Wall, Masson Lees. Photo – Michael Brennan

There is so much climbing here its amazing for such a small place.

the adventure continues:- moments of awe that change forever how we experience life.

Today was our only chance to get out on rock this past weekend as had special visitors all the way from France. They wanted to go climbing as well so we were hoping the weather would be awesome and we could all head out for a day of sports fun and games. The morning presented us with a wonderful display of sunshine and we all woke early and very enthusiastically prepared for the hour and a half trip to the Peak District from our Beverley residence.

I had said to Dave that I would drive given had taken his car on the last six outings and it was my turn now I had the hire car. I booked a Ford Fiesta online and got upgraded and picked up a ninja black XF Jaguar. Brand new and sporty as hell indeed. Five of us piled in to the car and set off down the M1 headed for Sheffield and via Chesterfield.

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Bloody Luxury I say……when I was a young lad…….

There is nothing that is really thrilling about driving for an hour and a half with the exception of hurtling down a motorway in a super cool sports car having the time of your life with some really fun people, who were all just as excited to be going out climbing as you were. The trip was full of laughs and we talked about many things across a diverse range of subjects. Great chat without a doubt.

Karine and Eliabel had arrived on Friday about 2:15pm, delayed by “an incident” on the line. They had taken the overnight bus form Paris to London and then straight on a train to us. It was a quick trip with only a full three days to hangout. Eliabel had never been climbing and was very excited we were going.

We arrived, parked the car, grabbed our packs and we were off to the crag. Masson Lees was a great place to take the girls and Dave, Rosie and I had some unfinished business there to try and take care of. As we arrived at the repurposed quarry there were people everywhere. Everyone had decided this was the place to be. We wandered in and surveyed the scene and scoped out a place to start our day.

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the Red Wall and early morning crowd at Masson Lees, near Matlock, Peak District UK.
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Eliabel on her first climbing outing, doing super well and trying hard.

We all warmed up on some cruisy routes on The Red Wall. Karine and Eli were enjoying the rock and the routes. We did three routes to warm up and then had a bite to eat and moved to the Overhanging Wall. This is where the work began. I had a date with a route called “Exo6” 7a, Dave and Rosie were already on a 6b+ called “Eye Eye” and Dave was eyeing off a route called “Grand Theft Auto” 7a.

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Karine climbing strong and breaking though barriers.
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The author resting below the crux on “Exo6” 7a.

Rosie red-pointed the 6b+, Dave red-pointed the 7a and I fell off my 7a at the last hold in the crux. But the falls were spectacular and the climbing was so so good. We were having a blast. It was great to see everyone trying hard and enjoying themselves.

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Rosie Red-pointing “Eye Eye” 6b+ on the Overhanging Wall. Masson Lees Quarry
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Dave setting up for the fun stuff on “Grand Theft Auto” 7a at the Overhanging Wall.

Thu and Michael, a couple I met back in Oz a few years back and met again by chance in Kalymnos in April this year turned up to meet us and hang out. It was great to see them and have a good catch up as well…….we organised to catch up and climb next week.

Thank you all for a great day out…….“good humans”. Love long, laugh loud and climb hard. 🙂

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

– John Milton

the adventure continues:- expanding your comfort zone continually is a very demanding place to live.

Its been a few days since I have written about the UK and I am a little undecided as to how I should capture this lovely place. Right now, I am very settled in a little town called Beverley just north of Hull is the beautiful county English of Yorkshire. I am staying with my friends David and Nick. Life is very stable right now and I am quite content with this at the moment.

My days consist of a very simple routine and this makes me feel very comfortable about life. One thing that I have missed at times is a routine. Despite what we all think, it really does give you focus and it is sustainable. Being out of your comfort zone continually is a very demanding place to live.

I can now honestly say that sometimes it gets very tiring galavanting around the world. I know you are all thinking “What a crock of shit!”. I know I live a life less ordinary, however being settled right now is just what I need. Karine has gone back to France for a few weeks to catch up with friends and to have time with family.

One of the many reasons for coming to the UK was to catch up with some people I had met on my travels and spend more time with them. I have been blessed on my trip and the people I have met are really wonderful. Some incredible characters and others just down right “good humans”.

Another reason for being here is my visa. As an Australian citizen I can only stay and enjoy Europe for a total of 3 months every 6 months. I don’t like it but thats the way it is. If I over stay as long as I would like to, I would be deported and banned from returning for at least ten years…..not good!

The big reason is that the UK is without a doubt the smallest, yet most geologically diverse place for rock climbing I have travelled to. Just an hour away north is the North York Moors, an hour and a half south west is the Peak District and three hours north west is the Lakes District.

Although the travel seems a little long, it is not that far when you have the opportunity to experience a plethora of UK climbing history. Quality limestone, both natural and in repurposed quarries, sandstone bouldering, Welsh quarried slate and flowstone, southern chalkstone and some horrendous choss. Oh and of course the famous British gritstone. I am pretty sure there is some granite hidden away somewhere just for good measure too.

On a brighter note, I am super motivated to train again and get my fitness back up to where it was in September last year and better. I am very fortunate to have a great training facility at my disposal and believe me I am taking full advantage of this. I have also had the opportunity to have some coaching from one of the best climbers in the world and the UK’s own Neil Gresham. More on that later.

Adventure should be 80 percent ‘I think this is manageable,’ but it’s good to have that last 20 percent where you’re right outside your comfort zone. Still safe, but outside your comfort zone.

– Bear Grylls