After spending a whole week in the office I just have to get out climbing.
Strange. Until a few months ago I was able to climb outdoors nearly every day. The sun always shone and work was something that other people did. Now that all seems like a distant memory.
Not that I'm complaining. Making films and taking photos is a lot more fun than most jobs I can think of. In fact it's more fun than any other job I can think of - which I guess is why I'm now doing it. Shame the pay is so bad, but who needs money?
So at last the chance to go and get some climbing done. Winter climbing conditions in Scotland had arrived early but then disapeared again. Also it's way too wet to rock climb, so back to the regular autumn haunt - the cave at Birnam and some hard training.
'The Tube' - a huge cave at Newtyle Quarry, Birnam. Thomas from France attempting F&F. (photos copyright Hot Aches Images and Oliver Metherell)
Dry tooling is a bit daft, but Birnam is a great venue to build up stamina for mixed climbing and for comps. I bolted a ridiculously hard line here 6 weeks ago. 60 degree overhanging for 35 metres. no rests. It's way out of my league but its good fun to try. Today I made some progress, some long links and the sequence works fine. Just need to get way way fitter and a bit stronger so that the moves aren't so close to my max. Most of the time that I climb aerobic fitness really isn't that important, but on this kind of terrain it really brings it home to you. You need to climb for about 7 minutes without a single rest and still be able to pull really hard on virtually every move.
Dave B on project X at Birnam.
Amongst the group at Birnam were Flo and Fiona, who featured in our All Mixed Up DVD.
Cavewomen - Fi and Flo today, looking very interested in doing some climbing.
Fiona got within a couple of inches of sending Fast and Furious D10+. Spurless and insisting on clipping every draw is a tough stlyle. If only she would skip that last clip it would have been sent weeks ago.
Fiona attempting F&F
Flo, attentive as ever.
Kev Shields was also at the Cave. We've been filming Kev a lot this year, on trad routes, soloing and on mixed routes. Today he made his umpteenth repeat of F&F.
You might notice in the photo that Kev has an unusual attachment to his left axe. Some smart engineering by Strathclyde Uni. Prosthetics dept enable Kev to use an ice axe without having a left hand. There should be a photo of Kev on one of his new E4s in the next edition of Climber Magazine.
Finally a picture of hardcore alpinist Oli Metherell on the North Face of Les Petits Nouveous Tile