I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

No rope, no hope. by Stevie Hopeful Haston.

 There's lots of hope without a rope. Climbing isn't about ropes, its not about mountains, it often starts as a little tree climb, maybe a climb over a wall into some one else's orchard to climb the apple tree to purloin that extra rosy apple. Anyway in the above photo is Heinz Mariacher, I have been wearing boots designed by him for a bloody long time, he's not as old as me, but he goes back to the days when it wasn't that advisable to fall.  On his blog thingy he says Never stop climbing
                                                                                            Never stop being yourself.
It would be hard for me, or him not to. Anyway thanks Heinz I have been wearing two of your new boots lately, and they suit me right good.

Stairway to heaven, local stone, local mason, its still there, theres stuff here from 3500 years before BC. Just found out that theres a more politically correct term than BC, forgive me for not using it, its just I keep forgetting it, not that I don't think its better than using a person who we don't really know much about, or if he could walk on water, turn water to wine etc, its just that I keep forgetting.

 The staircase is in the building in the background and this little roof is probably going to be very hard frankenjura style, a bit naffed off with cleaning and working for other peoples enjoyment though, would like some better bolts and some support, bla bla.

The famous little route called Spunky Arete, posing without a rope, fat overweight, if I plonk into the water I will probably just sink, so useless, I'll probably drown, just give up the ghost and slowly sink, glug, glug, glug.  Woe is me, my pathetic life is over, I'll never climb again, old age has finally claimed me, I think I'll stop climbing. Then the voice of Heinz comes skipping over the water from the north of Italy, "no Stevie hang on there is a Weiss beer at the top with your name on it". Well Ok then Heinz, I'll just some how stagger, limp, and drag my enfeebled ancient body up this "Stairway to heaven".  

Underneath in the next photo is me narrowly surviving my collision with oblivion, and discovering two super new routes, probably harder than Spunky which is in the guide book as 6c, but which grandad still maintains is grade 5. Well 5 dolomites 5 that is. Heinz would know what I am talking about!


Friday, 12 December 2014

Of Rabbits, Politics and Rock, by Stevie Haston.

 Went out climbing the other day and got accosted by a rabbit. So I caught said rabbit after a bit of a chase even though he was clearly a domesticated bunny and not that fit. Why catch rabbit you ask, well they shoot them here as they do else where, and the hunting dogs will rip it to pieces, so basically I am now its keeper, I sponsor the rabbit now called Iggy the second. Anyway he stopped me creating another masterpiece, I only half created one.

This is a masterpiece I prepared earlier, its called Kitten, it's a giant Kitten really, its 55 meters of overhanging megaton pre-Raphaelite orgasmic sphincter clenching pitch, haven't led it its truly truly madly steeply, its got nine bits of pro in the pitch so you take huge, huge whippers, its old style balls to the wall, or ovaries to the wall (doesn't sound the same does it) its nay bad. The rock is impeccable, royal, bubbly, and annoyingly slippery, its a little uncuddly.  

This is a bit out of focus but these photos of this trip were a bit troubled I was a bit anxious as we took an 11 year old girl into Cathederal cave, so she could have a swim and appreciate the ambiance, I set up this step ladder before so she wouldn't have to do the free dive to get out, she's a good little free diver but I wasn't prepared to take the responsibility of letting her even try. Its a 6 meter  deep 12 meter long dive but its incredible. Anyway you get this colour from the sun outside shining thru, its cool marine blue, a great little swim and cave.

 A little sunset, many like this oct, nov, dec, its nay bad but this year the weather seems to have changed weirdly, I hope global warming hasn't reached a little tipping point as far as the flowers are concerned, daffodils in early dec are a bit unsettling. 

 Some local politics, this is us lot, mates for the most part trying to organise ourselves to keep the cliffs up to date and safe, its proving very hard to get funds which is nuts cos climbing earns Malta and Gozo money in tourism dinare, geld, $, etc and is a great healthy sport for visitors and locals alike. Help us if you can, donate to the bolt fund and report dangerous in situ gear, loose rock and other stuff. Malta Climbing Association or local clubs.

Iggy the Second, hoping (not hopping) I am not going to put him in a pot, or turn him into a Bio sustainable chalk bag or Beany. He is very safe at the moment, am very seriously trying out being a part time vegan, it's hard here as we are a bit behind the times, not much access to veggie milks and I am not very organised, but I am trying from time to time. Peace and good will to humanoids and little beasties, haven't killed any octopuses, who despite having four times as many hands as politicians don't have one in the till! 

PS. Oh and basically for new year I am not going to say basically or whatever,  and your probably saying whatever, well what ever back.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Some training truths, by Stevie Haston.

Your not born to climbing greatness, you make your self better. Depending on the quality of your work, the quantity and then the rest, you should definitely get better, especially if you are rubbish.

The Rock Climbers Training manual is the latest training book and it does a great job although it has to be said there is alotta fluff in the way of flow charts diagrams and science. I hate the latter, you know science, 'cos basically there is none in climbing. Some of the best performers smoke dope and hang out, that's about all the science. Don't get me wrong this book is great and worth the price, but then so is Dave Mcleods book, they are worth reading and looking at, better would be to take notice of what they say and maybe go climbing and do some training. From what I can understand from the above book it basically recommends finger boarding, as do I, as does Mcleod and as does Eva Lopez. So get finger boarding.

This is the guide book to sport climbs in Malta and Gozo, and I just want to take this opportunity to remind people not to blindly trust bolts in situ, climbing gear belays, and indeed their own ability. All of these things can fail. In San Vito a belay failed resulting in a very unfortunate ground fall and a very proficient 8a rock climber being severely crushed. He was a guide also, I imagine he had the necessary experience to understand the danger of the situation.  I have had many accidents, pegs breaking nuts pulling through rock, even dare I say it simple pumping out where I shouldnt and then plummeting, please be careful no one is immune. 

 Good boots mean good technique, or can mean good technique, always wear good shoes, and in my opinion slightly tight ones that promote careful precise pressing. The Rock Climbers Manual actually say this and its true. Sloppy shoes can and generally do mean sloppy technique.

This is the most important guide to my climbing as you can see, I am 74 kgs I can climb 8a / 8a + at this ponderous weight! If I lose 10 kg I will possibly lead several grades harder at 64kg I will still be BMI 20, some climbers are below BMI 17! Be careful if and when you loose weight, it can be physically and mentally dangerous.

There is some very helpful stuff in the Rock Climbers Manual about weight loss. In general there is much to recommend this book, but I will have to take exception to the advice about pull ups, having good pull up strength is a definite advantage, just ask Dimitri who places in the top three every time he goes out. There is also no yoga or sport specific stretching for climbing, this is perhaps an oversight. 

Two books you should have are Performance Rock Climbing by Dale Goddard and Udo Neumann, and One Move too Many by Hochholzer and Voolker Schoeffl.  If you put all the books in a bag and did 18 mm finger tip pull ups it would still get you up to 8b+, that and a bit of grass, just ask some of the best boulderers in the world.  

How to be good by Nick Hornby has nothing to do with climbing, but read it anyway. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Destroying trees for Xmass, by Stevie Curmudgeon Haston.

Happy Xmass in whatever religion, style, language, or way you celebrate it, ok.  Or just destroy a tree for some kind of consumer western myth. I don't know, I can't keep track of all the bullshit in my life. Peace on The 25 th of Dec to everybody.

 I did this, copied it from something I saw on the internet, the internet is good for something finally! Made it, thought it was fairly good, took it down, and put the books back. Basta, enough fooking Xmass!  

 This is what I would like for Xmass, its only 8a+, leger surplombant, tecky, camoed foot holds, massive pump, only 25 meters no rest, two shake outs. Thanks to Jeff for coming over and getting his teeth into it. Theres a harder variant going out of it we are saving for New years!

This kinda route is one of my favourite styles, you always have to climb with restraint and control, weight the foot holds correctly, remember everything. Theres a few seeping pockets that are making us work for zee red point, all adding to zee flavour. Theres daffodils in bloom which seems preposterous, and was swimming yesterday, like I said happy Xmass

Friday, 21 November 2014

Eyeless and Wingless in Malta, by Stevie Gazza Haston.

These Moths are very rarely  seen, once common, now rare. Pesticides, degradation of the countryside, damaging farming practises and just lets face it horrible humans screwing everything up.  Humans are not my favourite this week. The country side is full of guys in camo killing or catching birds, I complained to the police and was basically told to 'Fox trot Oscar'. If your a nice person, and I have no reason to doubt that, I'll explain that Fox trot Oscar means go away, or F…. Off! The police are on the side of the guys in camo! In fact they are sometimes the guys in camo,  one was caught a few years ago poaching.

Like Dante I am having a little down time in the woods, I can't see the wood for the trees, the birds of course don't exist, neither do the fish, the other day I swam into a mist net with mesh so small it could have caught plankton. I have seen very few fish this year all small. The pressure on a small tourist island is very high. 

The cliffs and the tiny amount of public land are the only places to have a bit of peace and recreation in the natural world. In France where I used to climb they are trying to open a quarry which will destroy the peace and serenity of a few hundred rock climbs and two big public walks, disturb endangered Eagle owls and golden eagles who live in harmony with the walkers and climbers, all that noise, dust and destruction of habitat and peaceful recreation for three permanent jobs!  

Friday, 10 October 2014

A dolphin, a parrot, and a homicidal drill, by Stevie Haston.

I found myself under an arch of cream and ochre limestone, maybe khaki with some dappled green, I was a bit sad, but not blue. There was a crack like feature that might turn into a route, it was greys, charcoals, and a trimming of obsidian. The aqua marine of the sandy seas bottom was blue, really truly blue, and calm and translucent. Have you noticed how colour affects your mood? Can you affect colour? Anyway I was musing, being self absorbed, probably in some ways to take the sting out of being under this yellow brick road of an arch, which wasn't really supported very well, and seemed to have been constructed by a drunk, stoned immaculate, giant mason. 
Spinning around, back aiding, cursing, scraping skin, whacking myself with various bit of equipment, I heard a squark that wasn't me, I glanced down and saw a big blue parrot, streaking across a wind ruffled square quilt of aqua marine. Wow, I dumbly mumbled, the parrot heard me, looked up and out at me, fixed me with his big glistening eye, then it did a victory roll, and then flew off into a wider paler blue of the sky.  Cool bananas, or cool blue parrots, or whatever people say nowadays, a blue parrot, no ones going to believe me, 'is the pope a Muslim', 'do bears dedicate in the vatican'.

A week before, the biggest ever Sun fish was seen in the same place! Now then Sun fish are strange at the best of times, and are very rare, but this one seems to have dwarfed all others. I myself had swum through clouds of weird pop corn like organisms, and huge amounts of jelly fish, I thought I,d counted six kinds, it was all like some flash back from an 80s disco, complete with rippling electricity along some envelope like creatures and a double diaphanous swallow tailed aquatic butterfly.

So back to the future, and I'am equipping again, but this time I kinda suspect something odd or cool is going to happen. At the very least I will finish equipping this extraordinary roof and can start playing on it, so I let my guard down. A big splash out in the green, with the water bulging indicates a big preditor, but its a bit far out so I don't get too excited, its probably a big tuna. Then I see it its a big dappled dolphin, he (I assume it's a he) shoots around chasing something, and remember this is happening underneath me in vivid real time, real colour, he comes up with his eyes out, immediately spots me and kinda wiggles his nose, he shoots, or accelerates into the big cave, and I feel a loss, I feel bereft, he searches the big cave, zooming around, aqua flying and strafing for prey.  Suddenly he's back, head out of the water, looks at me, and cruises off, master of his medium, water his play thing. Suddenly I feel deathly clumsy, inarticulate and sag into my harness like a dead dough like jelly fish. 
Just as I am unwinding from this brief sentence of human uselessness in the face of dolphin supremacy I accidentally turn the drill on. I don't panic, its happened to me before, I'ave even drilled myself, just be ok with it turn it off and lick your wounds. The drill has got other ideas, it doesn't just want blood, its transmorped into vengeful driller killer. it starts catching and whiping equipment, friends, and pegs and the hammer around then it drills into a buckle on my equipping bag, and pulls me towards it self, finally it catches a sling around my neck and reels me in, slowly turning my gas off! I now panic! This mechanical choke its got me in is gonna make me pass out, and then I will sag upside down and then die in my own sweet slow time. As I begin to grow weak the drill starts to buck like its in a sexual frenzy of murder, and the heavy battery whips around as I'am loosing focus and  it clobbers me on the eye brow, the fucker coshes  me. Coup de fucking Grace, I start to bleed, at least it will look like I put up a fight, anyway just as an after thought, as the bloody trickle turns into a sprinkle, I grab the drill and I don't just try to turn it off, I frantically search for reverse, If I press stop I die, if I press reverse I live. After some mighty strangling of the device it goes into reverse and blood flows into my brain. 
A few days later with Jeff we tried the route in a big electric storm, Jeffs bare brown torso would occasionally turn electric blue like a celtic warrior. He gallantly belayed with water channeled onto his head thru the roof cracks, I cackled. We shook in the cold but like Ahab I wanted my Whale, then I thought the water looked like it was fizzing and felt prickly. 
We contrived our escape…..to be continued. 


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Choosing and fitting climbing boots, by Stevie Haston.

Choosing and fitting your boots is one of the most important things you can do as a climber! If you pick a boot that fits badly, and doesn't do it's job, you can ruin your holiday. All your training will come to nothing if your boots dont work, your hopes turn to ashes, and your victory laurel turn to an embarasing crown of thorns if you stupidly buy and take the wrong boot on your mission/quest/thingy.   

So why do people pick boots like they pick football teams? Instead of careful consideration they just go for the most popular or their local team! Or if they are a girl or vain they go for the pretty one! Or Macho choice, or whatever. And the last thing you should consider is price! Price and money might be important in ordinary life, but this is climbing, and you can't just cant put a price on success and the pleasure of doing well.

Top photo is my favourite boot of the moment, it doesn't matter who makes it, what matters is that I have two pairs a size apart, Ok! And that's the minimum I will take anywhere!

Here are three different pairs that all fit me, I might take these away too. Why? Ok, trad shoe on the left, toes are flat(ish) in the shoe for comfort in jamming cracks, I might still prefer a less flat pair with a really narrow toe profile for thin cracks-middle photo. Right hand photo is a different boot, it's more asymmetrical lasted, with a big nose turn down, my favourite for really steep rock.

Here's a photo of the different lasting on the last two, it makes a big difference to me. There is also difference in how they stretch I prefer the bottom one, you might not if your foot is shaped different, the bottom one favours a wider foot with a more prominent big toe-me.

This photo shows the degree of downturn, I like downturn, but you might not, it takes some getting used to and some get cramp when they first try them, my tip is get over it. Theres a 0.5 mm difference in the rubber sole which actually means that the top boot will fit certain small pockets seams and cracks, better than the bottom one. The lower boot  edges a little better. You have to choose. You have to know what your looking for and make an educated choice. 
Heres a couple of things to consider, there is not such thing as a woman's boot, or a woman's fit, that's plain stupidity, they either fit, or they don't, you either have wide feet, or thin feet, or what ever TF feet!
Colour only matters in the degree that it sucks up sun heat, and will make you scream with pain. Oh yes we are back to pain. Pain in shoes is very important to many people, if you are cringing in pain, you can't push on your feet. However if your boot is not tight, you can't push either. You might want to compromise, I don't. Turned over toes in tight boots hurt, they can really hurt, and some climbers have bone spurs, and horrible feet due to over tight shoes, modern shoes are better than they used to be, you don't have to go so tight. I go tight, and lots of climbers do, tight might be right! I only wear tight shoes for a hard routes that dont take long, give your feet a chance. Slippers are really good for slipping half off to give your feet a rest, all day comfy shoes are really limited on harder routes, they are my last ever choice.
If you are into steep rock, you need a good heel that doesn't come off, and some toe rubber on top, the perfect shoe hasn't been made, but there are lots of good shoes out there, don't pick the wrong one! Some folk wear different shoes on each foot, it is that crucial at times.
Buying different shoes doesn't mean wasting money, because as you only wear one pair at a time, two pairs will last twice as long as one pair. Last tip, go to a good shop with a big selection of boots, that doesnt mind you taking your time and buy at that shop, dont find your size and buy on the net. Surport that shop, you may think you have the right size, but boots vary, and the edge of the shoe, the business end of the shoe can be badly or wrongly ground and this can make the boot worthless! Hope this helps.