Thursday, 29 May 2008

Stay or Go?

Edinburgh, Scotland.
Hot Aches Offices.
7 hours before Sonnie and Cory are due to leave Scotland.

Frantic phonecalls to USA and Canada.

Flights and schedules. Obligations.

A perfect forecast for Dumbarton.

Decisions ?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Ned Rescue at Dumbarton

Question: How many emergency service personnel does it take to rescue a youth from the top of one of Dumbarton's boulders?

Before I tell you the answer, more about the term 'ned'. In the UK, each region seems to have it's own terminology for it's 'colourfull local youth'. In some areas they are 'Scallies', 'asbo's' seems to have caught on too. But in Scotland they are known as NEDs, short for 'Non-Educated Delinquents'.

Dumbarton Rock has it's fair share of youngsters who use the venue to refine their graffiti-ing and bottle smashing skills as well as getting in some early practice at Scotland's national sport - binge drinking. Occasionally they will venture onto the rock. A tide mark of graffitti marks the high point at which the generations have reached.

On Friday three of them ventured to the top of one of the boulders. Two got down. The third was not so brave, and after an hour of being marooned he telephoned for rescue.

5 Police

6 Fire Fighters

The Coast Guard and an RAF helicopter

There was a lot of discussion between the assembled professionals, until finally Sonnie Trotter, Cory Richards and Peter Roy scrambled up, put a harness on the lad and coaxed him down.

And finally, working hard:

Film making is hard work. Straight off the plane from Canada where she was filming a travel doc for BBC, Lynwen Griffiths gets a couple of hours sleep before our filming starts at Dumbarton.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Kev on TV

Kev Sheilds on The Benny Hill Show at The Quadrocks

A Hot Aches film about climber, Kev Shields will be broadcast on Current TV this Monday night at 9pm. You may recognise Kev as one of the featured climbers in Committed Vol 1.

The film follows Kev climbing in Scotland and Northern Ireland and examines his motivations for hard trad climbing.

Current TV can be found here: SKY 193, Virgin 155

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Air Time at Dumbarton

Air Time at Dumbarton

Sonnie Trotter attempting Rhapsody E11. Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Copyright Hot Aches Images

One of the best things about having made climbing films for some years now is that we get to work with people again and again in different places around the world. I was looking forward to the current shoot with Sonnie Trotter and Cory Richards because because working with them is just plain simple good fun.

Sonnie and Cory. Caption competition?

Truth is that I wasn’t really expecting Sonnie to be back in Scotland trying Rhapsody this spring. We had planned it long ago, but Sonnie is too modest a man to mention on his blog the setbacks that he had this spring. Malaria, then a back injury and then work, all conspired to keep him off the rock for a prolonged period. At last, very late, he got back to climbing and found some form. So another visit to Dumbarton Rock was on.

Sonnie Trotter attempting Rhapsody E11. Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Copyright Hot Aches Images

Cory Richards’ preparation was even worse. ‘8 months on the couch’, and now he is here to climb a route way harder than anything he has ever climbed before (on bolts, or trad). Cory is a photographer, and trips are always photography first and climbing second. But this time is different, and so for both guys the visit to Dumbarton is really about refinding their climbing mojo and regaining fitness. I think I’m actually a bit jealous. This year has all been filming first, and climbing last. To take three weeks off to focus on a superb route; now that would just be heaven.

Sonnie Trotter attempting Rhapsody E11. Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Copyright Hot Aches Images

It is hard for high profile climbers to go about their task anonymously. The internet has been buzzing with reports of the guys’ progress. Each day at the crag a friendly and enthusiastic crowd gathers. Sonnie has also been giving his perspective on his climbing and all things Scottish on his blog.

Sonnie Trotter attempting Rhapsody E11. Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Copyright Hot Aches Images

The weather has been exceptional this year. Every day has been dry. Normally we will get a good week in May, but not a whole month. But the truth is that climbing conditions have been quite poor. It has been hot and everyday the wind has been from the east, meaning that the headwall has been sheltered by the castle. Then at last, late on Thursday really good conditions did finally arrive. Unfortunately Sonnie had already blown it. And he was mad. Really mad. And yes, quite rightly so. He had warmed up on the route while it was still hot and lost too much skin.

Sonnie Trotter attempting Rhapsody E11. Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Copyright Hot Aches Images

Now conditions were perfect. Up on the headwall I filmed as he powered his way higher, looking composed and comfortable. Then as he traversed towards me into the crux I saw that he had his finger tips taped up. The fall was almost inevitable. But Sonnie’s rationale was good. A small chance of success, but more likely he will take that big fall. Becoming comfortable with the fall is essential for success. And so, to emphasis the point, he pulled up, and climbed through once more, falling from even higher.

Sonnie Trotter attempting Rhapsody E11. Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Copyright Hot Aches Images

The progress of Cory on Requiem is pretty inspiring. Each day achieves a piece of progress, a sequence refined, a longer link, a gain in stamina.

Cory Richards, new dental arrangement after an encounter with Requiem, E8 6c. Copyright Sonnie Trotter

So now there are just a few days left. I have no doubt that Sonnie can climb the route. Whether he will, in the time he has left, is far from certain. But that is good. If outcomes were certain, then they just wouldn’t be interesting. The climbing ability is there. Success is down to tactics, timing, strategy, conditions and of course luck.

Comparisons with Dave MacLeod are perhaps inevitable. When Dave climbed it, the route was very much at his limit, harder than he had climbed before on trad or sport. Sonnie has come from a higher base, and so the climbing appears to be well within his limits. (Dave’s climbing has of course progressed in the intervening two years, and his progress in all climbing disciplines is the subject of one of our other new films.)

Interestingly Sonnie has found two additional lines up the Rhapsody headwall. Some may think this is a big deal, a more direct finish rather than the left then right of Rhapsody. But the Rhapsody sequence is superb and Sonnie is following Dave’s sequence hold for hold. So maybe the headwall will also get a new direct finish as well. We shall see. The forecast remains good. Hopefully skin will last out the week.

Dumbarton Rock. Sonnie Trotter high on the headwall. Copyright Hot Aches Images

Hot Aches are working with Sonnie Trotter on a number of routes for what will be one of 4 new films destined for DVD release this autumn.