Friday, 20 March 2015

The three eights

The Three Eights

Over the past two years my vague goal has been to complete the three eights, that is E8 (any tech grade), French 8a and Font 8a. Just because I think its worth while being an all round climber and each discipline aids the other two, also 8 seems to be a good bench mark of ability. I say vague because I had big doubts for my bouldering and focusing too much on a goal can be a little stressful, and despite mainly being a trad climber I handle stress quite badly...

I managed E8 a good while before the other 8's. Dawes rides a shovel head was my first E8 (blog:
I never planed to do E8 first, to be honest Id rather have done it last so that I knew I had the strength to do the moves, aw well, the route seemed to good to put of, a bit like half a cheesecake that you know wouldn't be the same after a night in the fridge, so you "pig-out" while its fresh.. Moving on

Next up was French 8a, there were a few problems with this, I live in the middle of the lake district now and have access to four sport routes, and I broke the crux hold to the 8a+, needless to say, it was not going well. However, a quick check on UKC revealed good news, there happens to be an 8a link up in thrang quarry. The three eight plan is back on track.. I returned to the quarry/ big damp hole in the side of a hill.
The route is called "kept woman" and climbs brilliantly, probably due to the drilled holds. I did all the moves on lead first go, taking rests at each bolt. After a while of resting it began to rain, the rain forced me to make a hasty attempt at the route, only by pushing through horrible flash pump did I make it through, slight episodes of power scream toward the end, and happily on to the worlds dodgiest looking chains.

Nexxo's warming by the fire at thrang crag,
 nice sticky rubber for the send 
 2 down, one to go.

So, Bouldering. I actually really like bouldering,but I've just found it really quite hard to get any better.. Id been climbing 7b+ for a whole year prior to the past month, despite a fair amount of indoor training. Happily I finally broke the grade by sending Brad pit at Stanage, a well deserved classic 7c, although my experience of it may have been slightly tainted by 3 inches of snow and ice on the top out and jug. In the end it only took a few goes as it really suited me.

Brad pit, at around 12pm 

Bouldering was looking up now, so on to the 8a. Myself and the manic fingerboardist Eli Cartwright decided to aim out efforts at the much sought after "Tourniquet" witch went at 7c+ till a hold broke, now it settles at a hard 8a, The moves are nothing but mad, the problem is more or less centred around one hold, which cripples your wrist into place. To get a feel of how to hold it, try twisting your wrist till you can go no further, then get someone to twist it more, then hang off it with your feet above your head.. and if your loving that, get on down to kentmere! Besides this hold the problem is amazing, and flows well.

We worked out the beta in the first session, which is no simple feat, a bit like sudoku really. By the time we had a good sequence we were burnt out, but still put in good attempts. The second session saw good progress and badly split tips for me and a send for Eli.

Eli, walking the crux of Tourniquet 
After a day of rest and rubbing pure vitamin E into my fingers, I headed back for another go before the rain came. I made the walk in (just) with four pads, but the toe hook was soaking wet due to rain the day before. Not to worry, like a boy scout, Im always prepared. Out came the beer towel and I got down to some serious drying activity, followed by star jumps, partly to warm up, partly for fun..
My first attempt was surprisingly good, I got passed the crux and slapped for the last hold, but fell all the same as before. More similar attempts followed, including an attempt that caused a slight chip in one of the holds (no change to he difficulty though, damn it). I went for a walk around the area to calm down and think a little. Once I got in the zone/a bit bored of walking aimlessly in a small copse of trees, I got back to the problem. More star jumps and drying activity followed before, finally I sent it, feeling stronger than ever.

I finished my two year goal.

Working on Tourniquet, Kentmere 
On to the 9's!... or a few more eights or something    

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