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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Car troubles, Portland and a bit of grit!


a brief video which shows what all the text below is about :)

Looking across the Western face of Portland in the evening sun
So, the first week of my first Easter break as a teacher has come to pass and what an eventful time it's been!

1: had an incident with my car. Due to insurance issues, I won't comment any more here, but lets just finish with the final announcement that my wonderful little Gti has gone to that great scrapheap in the sky. So long!

2. Because of said transport issues, I had to spend a few unexpected days hanging around Sheffield. Not that it was a bad thing, but with the mixed weather we would have much preferred to have been hanging out near the south coast. Wasn't to be though, so I got a re-acquaintance with Raven Tor on a freezing cold day. It turns out my course is completely wiping me out, I had no energy so unsurprisingly had my ass handed to me by the easiest route on the cliff. Day one of climbing complete!

3. Two days of trad climbing on gritstone ensued and reminded me of the fun and enjoyable side of trad. Nice and easy routes, nothing too stressful, made for two great days with some friends.

4. gave up on insurance company and grabbed a rental car, bailing for Portland's coast. We ended up staying in what can only be described a B&B/hotel from the 70's (o.k. maybe the 80's) with a price from 2015! That only lasted a night and instead stayed at possibly the best campsite I've ever stayed at: underfloor heating in the shower/toilet block - made it so nice to go and clean up even on the cold evenings.  Here's their site if anyone is visiting Pembroke - only 6.50 pounds a night per person too! Myself and Naomi got two and a half days on the Portland cliffs. For my first experience it was really nice! Amusingly, it's got a highly dodgy housing estate and a prison on the headland which gave us a few laughs but the climbing and location is exceptional above the sea - think a crag like Fair Head in Ireland, only bolted and limestone. I've still got a gammy finger and couldn't crimp so it was an interesting experience on the vertical technical rock that is there - it does turn out you can open-hand anything though! nothing above 7a+ but to be honest, I'm not sure I would have tried anything harder as the lines up to this grade were so good, there was no reason to want to try the more difficult ones. It's a compliment to the place that you don't have to get on the harder lines to really get the best quality - every line I did (6a - 7a+) was fantastic.
Naomi's camera has all the good photos so will see if I can post any of them tomorrow....

local gritstone hero after an onsight/flash ascent of Master's Edge, E7. Note the only gear, half way up the route!


5. after a brief detour over to Cheddar Gorge on the way home to say hi to Al, currently based in Bristol, we bailed home. I got one more day on gritstone, again probably my best day ever on it as it was Millstone where the routes are so much longer (which is my main love). A fun day getting a tour from the long-term ex-pat, Smacks, on some fantastic HVS's, E1's and E2's. Awesome!

6. since then, it's been supposedly keeping the head down and doing uni work. It's happening but only barely :) perhaps I'll have to sell my soul to the fingerboard tomorrow, the lack of exercise has lost it's novelty!

Positives from the week? The finger is well on it's way to getting back to 100%. I learnt that I can pull on pretty much anything open-handed too - going to have to put that to good use this summer on Euro-limestone where it'll really count for something. And I will take the silver lining of my car being written off, and use it to buy an estate which will be way more useful for road-trips :)

psyche!!!!! hope all's well!