Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Taking The Grade.

What a ridiculous concept. If I take the grade, what am I going to do with it? Stamp it on a medal? Tattoo it on my bellend (suitably enlarged if the grade is a BIG NUMBER) and wave it around to pick up hot chicks (or hunky blokes)? Superglue it onto my ego and see if it increases my sense of self-worth? Maybe I could make a little hutch for it, feed it kale and quinoa or steak pie and chips and see if it grows into a bigger grade? Do I need to take it on walkies? What about pet insurance? Worming tablets?

Maybe I could just take it as a fair indication of the level of challenge I just tackled, and that was the challenge I anticipated and prepared for and it was enjoyable and satisfying?? Sounds more like it.

Except it doesn't always work like that. Grades can be an unfair indication. Sometimes innocuously so....a bit soft, a bit hard (or is that just the after-effects of the tattooing?). Sometimes plain horseshit. Usually they get ironed out over time with consensus, but not always. Did you get the right level of challenge?? Definitely not. Do you take that grade (if you like taking grades) if it was clearly wrong?? Errrr.....

(How do I know that a grade is "wrong"?? I use common sense, experience, and the fact that, despite appearances, I'm not a bloody idiot. It's a bit easier with trad grades because they're fairly objective and usually correspond to unarguable facts about the climb: whether there is protection, whether there are rests, whether the rock is good, whether there are things to hit, etc etc. Sport grades are a bit less objective, bouldering grades are subjective toss invariably corresponding to reach and skin conditions rather than any actual difficulty. Sure with trad there are some times where one can say "it's a bit soft" or "a bit hard" and could go a bit either way and you wouldn't argue. But there's enough times where one can say "this is simply not the correct grade based on the facts about the climb and comparison with many other similar climbs all of which would have to be regraded" etc etc).

This all came about at Helsby with Coel Hellier Discoverer Of Planets. Lovely crag. Never had a bad day there, never done a duff route. This day went pretty well: The Umbrella, Calcutta Wall, Brandenburg Wall, Flake Wall.... Flake Wall is one of those unfortunate routes that is really rather good but suffers from a duff grade and hordes of bellends finding it all too easy to set-up a top-rope after Flake Crack, failpoint it, and claim some drivel like "FIRST E5 OMGZOR".

"Are you going to take E5 for that, Fiend", says the Discoverer Of Planets.

"Of course bloody not", says I.

As a bog standard onsight, it's not even hard for E4 (okay Coel thought it was hard for that so maybe we can average out at normal E4), it's not the hardest one I did that day (Calcutta just pipped it), and it's certainly going to be nowhere near The Brush Off (eeek!) or CFK (looks morpho nails). There's little doubt about the Flake Crack runner position, and a good cam in the face is more important anyway. The two crux moves are easy and positive 6a and a fall would give a clatter but not anything too serious. Facts, scientific facts. Thus, E4 6a. Quality is more subjective but I would say 2 stars as the crimps are just so nice and the position above good gear is too. Obviously as a failpoint it would get minus two stars for such a pointless non-experience.

So, taking the grade. I take the grade that indicates the challenge. If it's a bit uncertain, the guidebook will do (the latest definitive guide, not the Choadfax comics, which incidentally manages to get all 4 grades of those Helsby routes wrong, good effort). If it's a bit wrong, I'll take the right one. If no-one minds. Now I'm going to take it to the vets and buy some biscuits as a treat for it afterwards.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Keeping it dry.

Long time no blog, been too busy climbing. Edited highlights: The Maw (FA), Extreme Walks, Mean Feet, Breaking Point, A Far Cry From Squamish, Mirage, Tricky Dicky, Life And Times, Call To Arms, False Gods, Dawn, Grande Plage var, Sunny Corner Lane, Pass The Pigs, Demolition. Most if not all of which helped by good conditions and reasonable skin, all down to that lovely delicious and nutritious anti-hydral cream. A few people have been asking me about it so here's how I use the stuff:

Method for anti-hydral??

Carefully peel the foreskin back (or wrap carefully in clingfilm if circumcised), apply a copious coping, re-cover, and let marinate overnight. Guaranteed like leather after a week of this.
Errrr okay. Right this isn't a scientific post about the composition methodology and risks of anti-hydral. You know it's an extreme skin-drying cream from Germany, you know excessive use could lead to peeling, cracking, flappers etc, and you know how to google to buy a tube. This is about application because googling for how to apply it brings up loads of dodgy methods. Below is my method and the principle is simple:

Apply a small amount to the actual areas you're going to sweat, keep away from already dry / hard skin areas, and build it up over time if you need to. If you take time off climbing after regular anti-hydral usage, watch out for hard skin and sand/moisturise if needed. 

I.e. put it on the middle of the tips because that's what sweats and is most critical for grip, avoid the edges and any creases in the finger joints. I apply a little bit before bed and leave it on overnight. This seems to work well.


Yes - thumb is correct, a small amount in the middle, no excess at edges. If this is not enough then it can be built up over time.

No 1 - nope, too much rubbed away from crucial middle of tip, too much on edges which will give excess hard skin,

No 2 - nope, you're not laying bloody cement down, this will take ages to dry and possibly give a damagingly strong effect.

No 3 - nope, rubbed down into creases which will produce hard skin there which will crack and peel.

No 4 - nope, rubbed too far down whole finger including creases, if you're concerned about a2 tendon area sweating, what sort of monster jugs are you using?? Jeez. May very rarely be useful for horrendous vertical grit slopers.

Yes too all. This is what I do and it has a small but noticeable drying effect for the next day, without building up hard skin in problematic places. If I need to I can add a bit more - including applying to the thumb and softer pads on the palm. If I'm not climbing for a bit, I will sand and moisturise these areas to avoid hard skin build up in the days after the anti-hydral usage.

Hope that helps :)