Sunday, 27 November 2011

Winter Training Continues

With still no sign of winter approaching Mike and me returned to Saltdean fore more bolted chalk. We met Steve Melvin and fellow LMC member Rob Marson at the cliffs. It may be warm in Scotland but at least the weather were perfect for chalk.

My confidence was improving with the medium. I onsighted a route with no name (C5) between Back in Time and Day Dreaming. I followed this up with Back to the Future (C6), and The Strangeness and the Charm of the Quark (C5). Having dogged Fulmar (C7) on my last attempt I was happy to second the route behind Mike, who looked pretty gripped on lead. Another productive day.

Steve climbing Back On Back Off (C5)
Back to the Future (C6), left & Strangeness and Charm of the Quark (C5), right
Rob climbing Strangeness and Charm of the Quark (C5),
Rob climbing Fulmar (C6/7)
On a negative note, we watched a group break pretty much every rule in the bolted chalk book today. It's mandatory when climbing the bolted routes at Saltdean to use existing axe placements. Adding new placements will reduce the grade and undermine the original sequence of moves intended by the first ascensionist. It's also important not to swing axes too aggressively. The chalk at Saltdean is hard, by chalk standards, which makes it ideal for bolts (relatively speaking) however aggressively swinging will lead to fractures. The one exception is when a large horizontal surface is encountered. Rain will soften these horizontal breaks leading creating a softer gooey consistency which requires a little force in order for the axes to safely bite. Needless to say it is also not advisable to hook both axes over the lower-off rope and heave hard as this pair did.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Winter Training Begins

With the winter season fast approaching but with no sign of its imminent arrival it was time to forget about rock climbing and focus on bolted chalk in order to get strong. Mike and me headed to Saltdean. I put a message out to climbing partners and my London Mountaineering Club forum. To my surprise I managed to muster up enough interest for a total of nine climbers to park up at the Badgers Rest. To put this into purspective this is more people that I have persuaded to go climbing anywhere.

I warmed up on Day Dreaming (C5) again in order to get comfortable with the chalk medium. With confidence growing in both the protection and my climbing technique, I proceeded to lead Back Off Back On, Back in Time, and Back Up (all C5). Rick, another climbing pal of mine, further heightened my confidence in the protection my taking a decent whipper on a route further left called Back to the Future (C6). The route climbs through a short roof to gain a steep 10m wall. Rick was above the difficulties by the time he popped off but then often the transition from steep chalk to sloping chalk requires care as the latter is never as solid.

I was happy with my efforts today however Back to the Future looked a bit too steep for me and still lacked confidence in my grip strength. Mike had no such fears and made efficient work of the route. By 5pm we were ready for the mandatory drink at the Badger's Rest.

Noah (left) climbing Strangeness and Charm of the Quark (C5) with Mike (right) climbing Back Off Back On (C5)
Laurence climbing St Jerome (III), Saltdean
Mike climbing steep hooks on Back to the Future (C6) 
Mike climbing steep hooks on Back to the Future (C6)