Wide Boyz Blog

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Filming the Wide and Wonderful - Part 2

Day 4 - Giggling Crack
So after ticking and soloing the 2 hardest offwidths in the country it was time to go up to Brimham for the thrutch fest of ‘Giggling Crack’ (given E6 6c). The plan was to solo the crack. I think Bancroft may have soloed this back in the day when he was drunk, which is funny. Anyway we thought it would be cool to have a go aswell…not drunk, obviously. Tom stepped up first and to say he walked it is an understatement, he absolutely cruised it into next year, I’m not joking he made it look no more then HVS. Amazing! After Tom’s ascent I felt more nervous because of how easy he made it look. In the end it was fine and thankfully I felt solid. Infact we both felt so solid on it we went back for round 2 and put in an extra solo lap for some training mileage and Paul to get a different angle with the camera. That deadbarring seems to be paying off!

Paul with his Camera near the top of Giggling
We decided to get Richie P on it, which was funny. He definitely couldn’t have put more effort in then he did as I’ve never seen The Patterson power scream, however on the top section downward thrutching did seem to out weigh the upward thruthing and unfortunately he didn’t quite make it. Next time Richie.

Below is a video one of my first attempts of Giggling back when i was 16/17ish. I guess this just showed to me how much i have improved on this type of climbing and how much of a complete punter I was, you can see my technique is so unbelievably shocking, (i can guarantee that i won't have been arm barring and whats my left foot doing?!...puntering). Its funny that i can do this route without a rope now and it feels about E3 5c rather then feeling the E6 6c sandbag it did back then.

Day 5 - Our Forte
So today I was really out for the laugh as Tom and Richie had decided to have ago on a new route I did a few months back at Stanton Moor Quarry. The line is a 15m splitter hand and finger crack which I named ‘Our Forte’ and gave E5 6b. it requires 2 sets of cams, some good core (even though it’s a slab) and good hand jamming endurance.

Tom put in a really good effort, getting past the beach section at the start, to the last move of the crux sequence and resorted to using some of the funniest traversing technique I’ve seen for a while. Round 2 is waiting for him.

After watching Tom, Richie decided to second. He also decided not to tape up and came out with the most mauled hands I’ve seen for a while. Anybody next up on the route should be fine as sequence of jams should be perfectly lined with blood.

Richie busting the moves, seconding 'Our Forte'
Day 6 - Slate Action
We Met up with Mark Dicken (Hosey B) today, which was cool. He was psyched to show us around a slate quarry on the other side of Llanberis where he had done some first ascents. Obvioulsy being another wide crack enthusiast his route we went to try was of the 7 inch variety. He called it Liquid Armbar. It was a good route to get on because there were minimal face holds so pure offwidth technique was needed the whole way up. The crack was a little wide for knee locks so a good dose of thigh locking was used which felt like a good bit of practice. Tom and I made the 2nd and 3rd ascent of this short little beauty. A technical classic I reckon.
We also made a rare repeat of a Stevie H offwidth. It wasn’t hard but I just thought it was funny because Tom got his knee stuck from getting overly keen with a knee lock.

Team Wide in the Pass
After the filming I had a real personal mission I had wanted to do for so long. Basically it involved Vivian Quarry and a headtorch and that’s all I can bare to say at the moment…

Man, a lot has happened over the last 9 days, so the next few days, which consists of:

A lot of squeezing on Colbalt Dream, bit of wide pony action and a massive training session
I will post up when I’ve written them.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Filming the Wide and Wonderful - Part 1

The last week and a bit has been an interesting time for me and Pete - both mentally and physically! We've been out with Hotaches filming for our US/UK wide obsession, and also a project code-named "Crack School" and............ also a Wild Country promo. Phew, it's been quite a busy time! Whilst we've learnt lots about presenting to camera (that's a major skill I do NOT have), it's been the journey re-visiting many of the UK classics that's been the real eye opener. So much training has been done and so much has been put on the line, but would all the old classics feel hard any more?

Day 1 - Millstone and Curbar

The first day started off with a bit of crack school stuff at Millstone doing some easy cracks, but the real meat of the day revolved around Right Eliminate at Curbar. Katherine Schirrmacher was out with us to either be "set up by Richie Patterson" or "learn some wide technique from Tom."

Katherine got really stuck in the with the task and put in a bloody good fighting effort. She used all the usual techniques to start with (swearing, sliding, thrutching) but soon resorted to some good old armbars, footlocks and chicken wings. It certainly didn't all quite end as plannned though........ but maybe you'll see that in footage....?
To be fair to Katherine, we didn't allow her to use any face holds and she could only employ classic offwidth technique to maintain upward progress. To add to this, the chockstone was missing making the crux much harder - and that's before excluding face holds! Certainly a good effort by her on a much harder route that its supposed E3. She'll probably never want to climb another offwidth again, but I think she's got the aptitude - she likes trying hard, is tough, and knows cracks ain't always fun.

Day 2 - Ramshaw and Baldstones

The second day started with a solo of Ray's Roof - good effort again Pete for doing this as the warm-up. I pitched off from the final knee lock over the roof and landed on Pete on my effort, which rewarded me with a sore ankle and some skin loss. Pete then had a go with a 20kg weight vest on lead....... and nearly did it! Man, that was a fine effort as he weighed nearly the same as John Dunne with that vest on. US "Wad-Beast" Brian Kim had a go, so did Katy Whittaker and also Sheffield's best looking man, Ned Freehaly. You'll have to ask them how they did though!

 Photo: From the original solo day (c) Andi Turner

The day was finished off getting some footage on Melvin Bragg, a V8 offwidth boulder problem that I did a couple of years ago on top of Ramshaw. With retrospect I think I might have overgraded that one, as it seems pretty ok these days. Maybe I'm just getting better though?

Day 3 - Harborough Rocks

Gobbler's Roof, E7 6c was the plan for the third day of climbing and we were lucky enough to have "Rocketman" Rob Smith along with us for the fun. Unfortunately conditions were absolutely terrible (although, that's not saying much in that cave!) and Rob couldn't quite get the third ascent we'd privately hoped for. He made a solid effort though and I think it's just a matter of time now for him. I'm proper psyched for you Rob!

Pete and I went back on the route as well, to get some footage of some upside down madness. Paul Diffley had made an incredible job of lighting up the whole cave, so it's was a really unique opportunity to get on the route without the usual gloom. The training has definitely paid off, as the roof section felt very comfortable and only the lip turn still seemed tricky - and still not one to fall off. As Rob nearly proved on one attempt....

 Photo: Pete Re-Livin' The Dream on Gobbler's.
Rest of the week.....

I'll split this blog post into 2 parts I'm afraid, as I'm nearly falling asleep with 8 days of constant thrutching, but to whet your appetite, there'll be:

Giggling Crack E6 6c, Solo
Me getting totally whooped on one of Pete's FAs
Liquid Armbar E4 6c, 2nd Ascent
Some Crack School stuff on George's Crack in the Ogwen Valley
Another Stevie Hastone Slate Offwidth.....
Cobalt Dream E5 6b, onsight
Pete taking a big whipper......
Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasive cellar training session.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

New Helium Friends!

It's only a week away until we start with the UK part of our film project and Wild Country have very kindly come up with some new goodies - the new Helium friends!

 Photo: trialing the new gear. (c) Ian Parnell

I was lucky enough to get a bit of sneak preview of the new friends at the beginning of the year when I headed over to Wales with Richie Patterson and Ian Parnell. Unfortunately on the day I wasn't able to spend that much time playing around with the gear as it was bloody freezing and Richie was encouraging me to speed up from my usual "snail pace!"

This week however, me and the gear could get cosy and I managed to have a proper look at the business end. There's a massive list on the Wild Country website of all of the changes that have been made to these devices, but it's really a few things that stand out for me as the end user - trad climber.

1. The stem is way longer - much easier to get out of deep cracks and more play in the stem on flared grit breaks

2. Soooooooooooooooo much lighter! Not really noticable on 1 friend, but take a whole rack and you're talking.

3. New thumb loop. Much that Richie P would have killed me for saying it, I always liked the Black Diamond plasticated thumb loops and I think Wild Country have made a great choice in using this with their new pieces.Comfortable, and practical.

4. I've not seen this quoted anywhere, but in my opinion the cams are a lot better in their "stickiness/adherence" to the rock. It could be something about the way they're coated in anodising, but it's really good.

Anyway, it'll be time to get them seriously dirty in some wide cracks over the coming 2 weeks. Nine days of filming and a lot of wideness to be enjoyed - I think we're climbing practically every hard wide crack in the UK in the space of a week so better eat my Shreddies!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Fuck the pain, one more lap

When Pete and I came up with the plan to take on the dark, painful and wonderful world of offwidth climbing, we knew that we'd have to take things to a new level - a level of offwidth climbing that's perhaps not been achieved before...

Photo: Just another day in the office

I remember being sat down in Kalymnos a couple of years back with mine and Pete's family thinking - What would Dave Binney do? After all, Dave had been a strong influence in both of our climbing approaches; Pete through his younger years in the GB Juniors and mine as a coach for the GB Team. So, what would we do....? The resounding answer was to build a cellar like no other; no crimps, no pinches, no 45 board and no campus board. Instead I strapped to the underside of my house two different sizes of offwidth roof crack, a massive long 35ft hand crack, a 45 degree double fist offwidth and a knee-bar sit up machine.

With this strange DIY task completed, we then set about getting psyched. Very psyched indeed. I've had sessions down there where after dropping from the multiple laps I could no longer walk properly, my legs and stomach were filled with so much lactic acid. I've seen Pete turn into a mushy mess where he's hardly managing to talk any more and his back has turned a colour so red that you'd have thought he would pass out from blood loss to the brain. We've broken ourselves down in that cellar and we've been happy to do it, because if you want to make a difference, it's gonna hurt.

 Photo: The Board of Truth
So where has all this taken us? I think (and I'm starting to believe it now) it's achieved for us that new level that we'd previously hoped for - the Binney Dream of athletic development through focused training. Where previously we'd been happy to do laps on the equivalent of 8a's down the cellar, we can now do them with huge weights vests or with 6c cruxes thrown in every 5 moves to increase the intensity of a 100 move circuit. It's still scary though, to wonder what it'll all be like when we go over to the States and actually do some of this stuff that we've dreamed of for so long.

This weekend we headed out to Harborough Rocks with Rocketman Rob Smith to do some mileage on probably the UK's hardest offwidth, Gobbler's Roof (E7 6c). It's a filthy, dirty and dark offwidth roof crack that's probably about 8a to climb if you had to give it a sport grade and is whole new level above stuff like Ray's and Giggling. Fortunately (given how much effort we've ploughed into the training) the route feels very reasonable now and it was great to feel the gains on some real rock and not just 2 pieces of kitchen sideboard bolted 7 inches apart!

Photo: Pete doing some eliminates on the crux lip turn of Gobbler's Roof

It was also great to see Rocketman on this route as well - in fact it was just good to go out climbing with him as he's so motivated! It's pretty rare that you meet other people out there that are so versatile with their styles of climbing and good at it too. I think when we go back for some filming with the Hotaches crew in a couple of weeks he'll definitely get the 3rd ascent of this filth-fest. Go on Rob!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Pain Threshold Training - FOR YOU!

Right before you read any further…beware this is quite a boring post that consists of very minimal pain, shuffling or pressure wounds on my behalf.

Maybe it might inflict more pain on you having to read it. I guess by reading it, it could be considered good training for offwidths then?!
It’s painful but has no bruising or cuts as side effects.

Don't worry no side affects like this will occur.

Can’t lose really!! A free bit of training without having to break sweat or move anything but your eyes across the computer screen.
So if you fancy a bit of pain threshold training read on and it might just get you up your next project. Whether you’ve got full body pump in some horrendous squeeze chimney, forearms so painful and full of lactate they feel they might explode, or the rawest tips known to man, by reading on the next time you come to one of these painful situations your mind will take you back to this painfully boring blog post and what you had to put up with when reading it and you will be able to push on easily.
(btw if your still reading this, good effort).

Right, we’ll push on……

So I got a new camping mat the other day, (oh dear, that’s it, you’ve stood up haven’t you? Your shutting the computer down now, right now your leaving the room ……sorry, I told you it was going to be boring).

For those that have managed to get through that first sentence, we’ll carry on. So, yes…I got a new camping mat the other day. It is for my America trip in September. It is a right beast of a thing, it has some fare girth to it being proper thick and wide, and its still quite light. I reckon this should give me a good nights sleep whilst I’m out there snoozing away. It should help me wake up fresh and ready to go and get munched in some sharp, Vedauwoo, flared chimney!

However I think the best thing about this mat and why I decided to write this pointless post is that it’s called a ‘WIDE BOY,’ how cool is that?! I was well psyched when I found that out. It’s like it was made for me! I can feel this mat will bring me good wide fortune in the US. Hopefully it will give me that extra bit of good sleep and help me win against the wideness. (we’ll just have to see whether that happens or not).

Right I can’t believe you actually just read all that! haha. If you did manage to digest any of it all…well…I solute you sir!! Your pain threshold training is over, well done. You are now ready to go and devour that really painful project. Go on…get to it.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Ondra, Wide Cracks and the Next Generation

Yesterday I had a dream. A very strange dream….

Three people came together that must never come together – if they do it could be the end of everything as we know it. Somehow my mind created the potential lethal combination of a sport uber-wad, internet media mogul and wide crack punter. All fighting over one project. 

Phone rings…..

[Me] “Hello?”

[Mick Ryan] “Tom, glad to have got through to you. I’ve got something very special for you boys. You and Pete are going to love this.”

[Me] “Oh yeah? This sounds good….”

[Mick Ryan] “I’ve got this project to hand over to you. Apparently Adam Ondra has found this wide crack project in the Czech Republic and he’s been utterly shut down by it. It’s supposed to be 7 inches of limestone beauty and Adam hasn’t got a clue how to Tickle a Trout or Greek Stack”

[Me] What?! No…. you’re kidding….. this can’t be true Mick. How can this happen? Ok…. Hang on a second. I’ll ring Pete, get some flights booked and we’re on it.”

“Tom……… Tom…………. TOM!!”

Oh dear. It’s all a dream and my wife has just woken me from an afternoon nap. No Ondra, no Mick Ryan from UKC and no limestone project. I think about this for a second and then start to chuckle to myself. How on earth did my mind come up with this scenario? Ondra on wide cracks? Not a chance!!

Clearly though, as I’m an old codger (well, relative to Ondra) there needs to be a new entrant into the wide crack scene. Most of us offwidth aficionados are over 30 (Pete makes a significant break from the trend on this), male and think knee patches are the practical option and not a fashion statement. Fortunately there could be a new kid in town….

My wife and I were lucky enough to be bundled a little sack of joy, tears and soggy nappies last month. We’ve named her Hannah Sofia (I wasn’t allowed the Pamela/Handstack/Offwidthina/Lucille options on names) and she’s already proved to be quite feisty! I’m not sure that she ever will partake in the obsession that bothers her Dad so much, but if she ever does want to sneak down to the cellar to learn some butterfly jams I’ll be the first to point her in the opposite direction. Tennis is much more sensible!