Monday, 24 September 2007

First Forays into Font

Our first week in Font has proved very interesting. What a place! It took us 5 days to get our heads around the grading system, find our way around and work out what was where. It is possibly the strangest place I have ever climbed but also the most exciting. I also have to say that our egos have taken something of a knock. We thought we were climbing quite respectable grades but in Font it seems that you can almost halve your best grade, and only expect to be able to climb at that level. It wasnt a nice feeling at all. Still, things improved and I have hopes for Font 7a .... one day!!! Ha Ha.

4c No. 27 red at 91.1

We were surprised to find that after 3 days we still had lots of skin left on our fingers, although we wont deny that they were sore. We started off with the yellow circuit at 95.2 which was dead easy, but lots of fun. We tried some more circuits, but struggled to find many of the problems, spent ages walking between them, and got very frustrated, not knowing how to find our feet with things. By Friday lunchtime we were quite despondent about things. I certainly felt I had achieved nothing (Caroline less so, I think) and was almost ready to go home. Me and my bloody expectations....

The moment we decided to abandon the various coloured circuits was a revelation. We picked a couple of problems that looked entertaining, and just kept trying them. Success!! Having not found the 3bs as easy as we thought we should have done, we cranked through 4c slabs and 5a crimps without too much difficulty. Still only 4c qnd 5a though....

Caroline on an un-graded pockety problem at 91.1

Yesterday, we forgot the guidebook, and found ourselves a long and strenuous traverse at 91.1 (number 29 red for those of you who are interested). We spent an hour or so on it, and sent it just as our strength and energy was starting to fade. We didn't know what grade it was at the time, but it turns out it's 5b! It was hard! What I don't understand is that the 6a+ I did at La Roche aux Sabots was so easy by comparison..... This French world is very...... well, French I guess! I am looking forward to many discussions about the randomness of Font grades, and to the many explanations I might find for the variability and (apparent) inconsistencies. All comments welcome here!
The 5b traverse, which was much easier for tall people...we watched them!

Me on a 4c slab at 95.2

Andy Shanks on Sale Gosse 7c+ at La Roche aux Sabots

Apologies for the awkwardness of this post, and for the un-rotated pictures. I can't get to grips with a French keyboard; it's spoiling the artistic flow of my prose (!!). Nor have I worked out how to get my camera to rotate the pictures before I plug it into this internet cafe pc. You'll have to turn your monitor sideways to see the pictures properly!

PS. 25.12.07 I've rotated the pictures now!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Climbing Shoe Woes

Does anyone else have this problem? As soon as I find a pair of climbing shoes that really work for me, they stop making them. Why is that? Am I alone in suffering this disappointment and inconvenience?

I have had a pair of Evolv Athena shoes for about 9 months. They were small, very positive and a bit sore to start with, and now I can hardly bear to be parted from them, in spite of their filth and stench. They make my footwork feel invincible, although I know fine well it isn't. There are folks in favour of small shoes, and folks who don't believe in sore feet. I don't believe in sore feet either (mostly, and definitely when it comes to "ordinary" shoes), but I am firmly converted to the notion that small climbing shoes means an ability to stand on very small edges.

My fabulous but stinky Athenas

My Athenas are just about to go through at the toes (I blame one session on the newly-painted lead wall at Alien Rock for the accelerated thinning of the rubber) and I want a new pair. I searched every online shop I can find, across the globe, and finding a size 5.5 Athena was impossible. Then the nice people at Gear for Girls told me that Evolv have stopped producing them. WHY?? Why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why?

So I now have a pair of the Evolv Elektra. They're comfortable, and they fit well, but they're very soft. They're not terribly good for standing on small things, or for edging, but I think I will be able to wear them all day every day for a long while.....which is what I am going to be doing. We'll see how they stand up.

Shiny new Elektras
I also have a pair of 5.10 Sirens, which I bought as "comfy-all-day-shoes" but haven't worn very much. The rubber on them is very sticky, but I have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that the shape and fit isn't going to be good with my feet. I hear so many people say that 5.10 are the best shoes ever, that they only wear 5.10 blah blah blah. Absolute nonsense, if you ask me. All shoes are different, and everyone will find a shoe that suits them (if only they buy enough pairs!). I like Evolv shoes (but maybe that has something to do with the asociations with Greek deities!) and I can't wear Red Chilli shoes. It's just a pain when the manufacturers in their great wisdom change or stop making the shoes that are perfect for you!

Sirens, Athenas and Elektras
Does anyone know about the new Evolv Hera shoe? I have heard it's on it's way, and I think it must be the replacement for the Athena, but I can't find anywhere that stocks it in order to work out what size I need.....without shelling out a fortune in postage. And I can only find US sizes. Any ideas?

Friday, 7 September 2007

Statistical Analysis

I have a small confession to make: I have been indoctrinated by statisticians for too long, in both my academic years and again at work. So I am going to indulge the part-time amateur statistician in me by suggesting the following.

The results of the poll are in: 6 Rock Chicks and 17 Real Men.

It looks as though my prediction was right. There are more men reading this blog than women, and if my previously stated assumption stands, this translates to there being more male than female climbers. This of course assumes that it is only climbers who read this blog, that everyone who read this blog in the last week voted in the poll, and that those who did vote were honest with their votes and didn't change them (thanks for pointing that out, Tom!).

So, in the interests of fighting the statistical indoctrination (as part of my 15-years-too-late teenage rebellion), I should also say the following:
  • I know that not everyone who reads this blog is a climber
  • I know that not everyone who read this blog last week voted in the poll
  • I have no way of knowing whether all votes were honest votes, or whether there are some people voting who are in complete denial of their gender.
I think the non-statistician wins this argument, and we should conclude that my poll proves nothing. I hesitate to say it was a waste of time, because clearly it has provided me with some entertainment (!) in thinking and writing about it, and you with some entertainment in reading it....if of course you've read this far. If you were completely disinterested, I doubt you would have reached this paragraph. Maybe it's even made you laugh (although what odd sense of humour you would need in order to find this funny, I have no idea) which would be a bonus, but highly unlikely.

On reflection, I should probably stick to climbing, yoga and making cake, and leave the statistics to the real liars :-)

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Benjamin Disraeli