Hello Brooklyn! I’ve had an absolutely wonderful time in the U.K. the past few weeks. I learned a boat-load of stuff at school, made some fantastic friends, and had some great fun. I’m going to miss this place.
I was insanely busy most of the time with my course, but I managed to squeeze in a few random training nights at the Westway Climbing Center. In addition to that, there’s nothing like exploring a city’s architecture with your bare hands i.e. buildering.
But now that my summer course is done, it was time to hit the rocks. One of my sponsors, Wild Country, invited me to come up to Sheffield and join them in helping film some material for an upcoming film. Even though I thought I was managing to stay in good shape during school, I was rudely slapped in the face by reality the past few days. Knowing that I haven’t plugged any gear in rock the past month, I expected to be a little off my game, but not way off.
Most of the filming was being done in rather obscure locations around the Peak District, but I was able to sample a few area classics (and get shutdown). In honest, I was fairly unimpressed with the gritstone rock at first glance. They are all mostly short climbs and look like they should all be done with crashpads. But then once your on the rock, the walls seemingly stretch above you and getting to the lip of any climb always becomes a much bigger challenge than anticipated. One climb in particular that gave me a good spanking is the ultra-uber-classic Ray’s Roof E6 at the Baldstones. It’san offwidth roof crack that climbs like a boulder problem. Two legendary brit crack-fiends (Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall) soloed the line [casually] so I tried to dispatch it sans rope as well; let’s just say that I ended up flailing with a rope on shortly after trying to boulder it.
The grit is really unique and fun once you realise how it works. I don’t think I made it quite to the point where I really enjoyed it myself, but I think I would after having some success on some more routes. What made my first grit experience the most unpleasant was the awful midges and sporadic weather, but hey, it is middle of summer and the temperatures were actually nice (60s) so I shouldn’t be complaining.
My friend Kevin from Connecticut has just joined me in London and will travel with me for a majority of my travels. Kevin is basically my right-hand man. There’s few people I really trust when it comes to belaying me (something I take very seriously), and he’s kept me off the deck numerous times in dicey situations. We have self-proclaimed ourselves as the two laziest climber’s at the Gunks, but I think we manage to feed off each other’s motivation when push comes to shove. Either way, it’s always good climbing with him.
Although I’m not satisfied at all with my current climbing performance, it’s serving as a strong reminder that I can’t slack off. Right now I’m on the train back to London for a few more days of enjoying the city before I head-off towards Frankenjura, Germany. I have some big aspirations and I’m still keeping them, but I think I have now reassessed my fitness level and will have to focus on training a bit more before trying to crank out the hard grade climbs I want to do. We’ll see how it goes in the coming days, but it’s going to get serious from here on (well after I leave London).
My absolute deepest sympathies and condolences go to Norway and all of those affected.