Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Antalya, Turkey - "Smash, Smash!"

I've been home from Turkey for a few days now and had a chance to reflect on what turned out to be a pretty awesome trip. Sure there were a few hiccups, but the quality tufa climbing made up for it.

- My ability to eat even slightly dodgy food is now almost zero. I suspect a 2 day old xmas turkey sandwich probably kicked it off, but i never seemed to rid myself of grumbling guts for the whole trip. Hold your noses readers, as i'll even admit to staining my kecks due tostretching a bit too far with a wide bridging move...
- The weather. We had it all; too hot, too cold and too rainy. The upper cliffs such as Sector Sarkit were scorchio in the sun, and not sheltered enough to climb on during the 5 days of rain we had. The one overcast day we had was perfect for this brilliant crag, but otherwise I choose to mainly climb on the overhanging and north facing Trebenna cliff to avoid the worst of the rain and sun.
- The grades. In general, grey limestone slabs and anything <f7a seemed to have a stern grade, but most of the overhanging tufa routes were seemed softly graded. Indeed, one "6b+" warm-up had me puffing more than the 7b+ I did afterwards!
- Efes - the local beer. Light or Dark are your only options and neither is exactly that flavoursome.

- Great company. I knew 3 separate groups of people staying in Antalya over xmas/new year. The York Uni hangers on I travelled out with with were perfect company for the banter and partying, but didn't fancy the same crags as i did. Team (ex-)scouse were keen for the same crags but their rest/climbing days didn't match up with mine very well. Meeting Andy at JoSiTo was a real godsend as he wanted to go to similar crags on similar days. Big thanks to his amiable girlfriend Ali for letting me steal him away while you weren't psyched and/or getting over lurgy
- TUFA! Kneebars, pinching, sidepulling, undercutting, even jamming inbetween, euro style tufa climbing is just brilliant. On-sighting is easier as even if you don't do a move perfectly, you've still got a good chance of pulling thru, where as British lime tends to spank you for even small mistakes.
- Did i mention the soft grades? Everyone likes a holiday tick!

Climbing highlights included:
- Zin Zhang (7c) on-sight on the first day, battling up damp rock and almost cocking up the final rockover onto the top slab pumped silly.
- Ikarus (8a+) redpoint - my 2nd holiday 8a+ after L'Adracador last Easter. Might have to think about a foreign 8b once i've regained that level on home turf?
- Melting Souls (7b+) on-sight. A brilliant tufa route with no obvious finish, so i tried questing on up the 8a extension. Getting a couple of clips from the top on this and coming super close to flashing Flat Rate (8a) really broke down some psychological barriers and made me start to think that 8a on-sight might be a real possibility in the future.
- Junimond (7c+) on-sight. Starting up the route an hour before the taxi left for the airport meant i had to "go big, or go home". Sitting in the no-hands rest before the top roof gave me a chance to think about all i'd learnt about on-sight tactics; slow and steady and milking the rests on easier ground, pushing on fast and trying to to think too much when the climbing is harder. Even then the dreaded Paz-esque* tactic of reversing to rests when you're not quite certain of the outcome was deployed on the headwall to bring the route within my grasp. An hour later, i was still pumped, but with a Cheshire Cat grin on my face whilst collecting my boarding pass for the journey home.

25 Euro a night for a 3 bed shed
General crag view on one of the rare sunny days
"Sun's out, Guns out" - Simon flexing in Kezban's restaurant...
...and at the crag
Ikarus - probably over done it on the photoshopping, but this is the best i can do with what was basically a dusk ascent

Charming Iranian girl at the saturday night party

The Turkish plumbing couldn't cope with the amount of shit my guts were producing!

George getting inappropriate with the goats

*Paz is/was the slowest climber in the SW. Legends abound; my personal best was a mammoth belay stint on the classic Avon E4, Peryl. After belaying for 3 hours, Paz decided to take a further hour to reverse the 100ft he'd gained "to preserve his on-sight". Despite this herculean display of stamina, a month later he happily let me lead the 1st pitch!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Striving to be an "All-rounder"

The concept of being a good all-rounder in climbing is well established; back in the day Joe Brown was pushing the boundaries in trad, winter climbing and alpinism, even getting the FA of Kanchenjunga to boot. Today's top climbers are getting more specialised, but even top competition on-sight climbers can still knock out a decent boulder grade or sport redpoint.

I guess what i'm saying is that climbing hasn't reached a level of performance yet that to be a top performer you need to specialise in just one discipline. The standards listed below are by no means top-end anymore, but even just 10 years ago any single one of these would be considered a very high performance, but as a personal challenge I think it'll make for some fun times!

The "8" Challenge.
This measure of a true all-round climber has its origins in article about Andy Cave published in Climber magazine many moons ago.

Ideally for symmetry, all of these would be completed in an 8-month period:
Font 8A
French 8a
Mixed/Dry Tool M8/D8
Scottish VIII

8 pints in an evening session (8,000m was in the original list, but working full-time I've subbed in the drinking challenge instead!)

Assessment of current level:

In the last few weeks since getting back from Oz I've done a fair amount of bouldering. Ticking Tetris at the Roaches (7C bloc) and repeating Cave Life in Parisella's cave (7B+/C cave power-endurance style - yes Etchelion, you might be right in calling this 7B+ with the new foothold).

I always thought 8A would be the stumbling block for this challenge, and had hence come up with an alternative version of "9's" = V9, E9, IX, f8a x9, M9/D9.

However, I've started to think the original Andy Cave "8" challenge might be a goer this year, as I've worked out all the moves on the Hatchattrocity start to Cave Life (8A) and made some significant links.

Sport Climbing:
My aspirations for 2013 are to do Melanchollie (hard 8b, LPT) and Unjustified/Overjustified (8b+/c, Malham) so i really hope achieving 8a shouldn't represent much of a challenge. (There, I've said it. It's on the web and undeniable - no shirking the training sessions now, put up or shut up. 8c here we come!)

Trad Climbing:
I didn't have many days on the trad in 2012, but if I've gotten up some 8c strength, head-pointing an E8 couldn't be too much of a struggle should it?

I'm thinking Nesscliffe will probably provide the best bet to doing an E8 in 2013. I've top-roped a few there and just need to get round to leading them. Ed Booth's massive new arete in the main quarry sounds like one most likely to hold onto it's grade and above all it's an absolute corker of a line.

I've no plans for an continental ice trip this year, so dry tooling at White-Goods or on the slate will have to make do. The fact i don't own froot boots might make route choice critical as fig 4'ing in big boots may add unnecessary difficulty...
Rob Pitt on Jaz at White Goods (pilfered from the entertaining White Goods Blog)

Scottish VIII:
I'm hoping Pete H will get me out winter climbing again and drag my sorry arse up something hard. Last years single Scottish winter trip, resulted in a total of 25ft of technical climbing (half a pitch of Fallout Corner before storm force winds made retreat the sensible option) and 5hrs belaying Pete on something hard on the Ben.

I figure Pete owes me a belay and I've got my eye on Travesty on Clogwyn Du; we just need some Welsh winter conditions in the new year.
You can probably see why this route is called "traverse-ty"

Beer Drinking:
Combining getting drinking-fit with the other more physical challenges presented here could be the crux of the whole challenge. 2.5pints of "Double Dark" this Tuesday pretty much ruined my guts the next day so I'm starting from a lowly level. The only way is up!
You know it's not going to do your guts any good when it's "Double Dark"!