Category: Climbing

January 26, 2016

Jerry Moffatt spends his 21st Birthday climbing Chimpanzodrome 7c+

A book that I’m presently reading is Revelations, it’s the biography of one of the top outdoor rock climbers in the 80’s, namely Jerry Moffatt. There are many interesting stories in the book but the one that I quite liked was the way he spent his 21st birthday climbing a 7C+ with Ben Moon at a well know roadside crag called Le Saussois in France.

Here’s an excerpt of the story: -

Sunday dawned. 18 March 1984

‘Happy birthday, Jerry. ’

It was my twenty-first. Most people, on their twenty-first birthday, think about having a big party, or getting presents. I was on a dusty crag in a deserted corner of France, drinking water with just one friend. But I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. I had decided to flash Chimpanzodrome on my birthday and was beside myself with excitement. If I could pull this off, it would be the ultimate birthday imaginable. At the same time, failure would be horrific. The pressure was on. We got up early, walked the hour for bread and back, and on our return, were stunned to see the crag heaving with climbers.

Revelations - A Book about rock climber Jerry MoffattSunday climbers had arrived from Paris and the normally deserted crag looked like a different place. The French were immaculate, with beautiful matching tops and bottoms, hair coiffured, perfect suntans and towelling headbands. Their karabiners all matched. They were also clean. We mingled with the Parisians like two dogs. Ben, with his pasty white skin, looked about fifteen. His long, black hair was starting to mat into dreadlocks. His clothes were filthy. I too had scruffr clothes, holes in my trousers, my hair dyed into black and red patches, punk style. We looked more like refugees than climbers.

We went over to our cave and got our gear on, and I warmed up by doing a 7b overhang, first go, which attracted some attention from the French. They watched us go over to Chimpanzodrome. At the time, I always climbed in my lucky swami-belt, a simple ribbon of webbing with no leg-loops, to keep myself light. I tied on to a single rope, 9mm in diameter, and fired the pitch off, first try. I ripped it to bits. Straight after, Ben too went up it once more, like a rat up a drainpipe. From there we went to L’Ange, a three pitch 7b+. I on-sighted that too. We came down. The French were stunned. We wandered to the sleeping cave, and as we had done everything that we wanted to do, packed our bags. We might as well head south. Au revoir.

As usual, hitching wasn’t easy. We made our way to the péage kiosk at the start of the Autoroute du Soleil. No one gave us a lift. The evening passed. It started getting cold and dark, and then, very quickly, a dense freezing fog descended. Within moments we were shivering, and with little chance of getting a lift, we unrolled our mats and sleeping bags and crawled in under the shelter of the péage. That was my twenty-first. In bed, sober at seven o’clock at night, with cars buzzing by at high speed fifty feet away, shivering in a freezing fog.

I was just so happy. It felt like the best climbing day I ever had, and, looking back on my career, if I were to pick one day that stood out above all others, then it would be this one.

I managed to find a YouTube clip of this particular climb which I found quite interesting since it seems the climber is wearing the same shoes that I am presently enjoying wearing, namely the Scarpa Instinct VS

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January 21, 2016

Rhapsody E11 - Dave Macleod’s ascent captured by Hot Aches Productions

Recently I watched a movie entitled E11 which features one of the top climbers in Britain, Dave Macleod, establishing and climbing a route called Rhapsody at Dumbarton Rock in Glasgow. The movie can be purchased at the online adventure company SteepEdge and was produced by Hot Aches Productions in 2006 . Here’s a short description of the film:-

One of the best all-round climbers in the world seeks to take traditional rock climbing to the next level of difficulty and inevitably danger. The steep and intimidating rock face protecting the seaward flanks of the historic Dumbarton Castle in Scotland is the scene of Dave MacLeod’s very personal battle.

E11 is a movie about Dave Macleod climbing RhapsodyFrom award winning filmmaker Paul Diffley, E11 reveals the dedication, frustrations and shear physical and mental effort that goes into MacLeod’s climbing. We see him take a series of terrifying, massive, gut wrenching falls. Relationships become strained as he struggles to cope with the difficulty and seriousness of the endeavour. Doggedly, even obsessively, he keeps returning to his ‘ultimate’ project.

For those not familiar with the grading system used for climbs in Britain, E11 is the equivalent to French 8c+ or US 5.14d (note there are no bolts and 22-metre/70-foot fall potential)

E11 was shortlisted for best film at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival. It was also a finalist in the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival (November 2006).

The clip below gives you an idea of the height of the rock and shows some of the falls taken during the climb

Towards the end of the movie there’s also some additional footage of Dave working on a boulder problem called Pressure – graded font 8b or V13.

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January 20, 2016

Jules Lines solo climbs a building to get that girl

I just finished reading a book called Tears of the Dawn by Jules Lines. It’s an exquisitely written book about the adventures of Jules Lines, a well known British solo climber. One of the more interesting stories in the book is one in which he solo climbs a five story building to deliver a bunch of roses to a girl. Here’s a short excerpt:

Jules Lines British Solo ClimberThe nightclub was all push and shove, choked with people - chaos ensued as waves of people rippled to and from the bar. I don’t like nightclubs, and I never really understood why I frequently ended up in them until the early hours, explicable perhaps in part by the fact that I had a flat by the Somerset tube station, essentially party-central. This time was no different, but I was out on the town with Don Cattanach. Don was a couple of years younger than me, and a party animal. He loved it, and once he started he just didn’t stop. We arrived at ten. I was buzzing at the thought of all the Singaporean girls in petite dresses. I had fallen ‘in love’ with one such girl once. I hadn’t known her long, and it was the eve of Valentine’s Day. During the middle of the night, I had climbed five stories up her tower block with a bunch of roses in my teeth and left them on her windowsill. The conversation that followed didn’t go to plan. First of all, she was concerned that I had climbed the building; it was directly opposite the police station. If I had been caught by the police, then I would have been given a prison sentence and the cane - law and order was tough in Singapore. Moreover, she was upset at the gift of roses, and said that if I really loved her then a Louis Vuitton handbag would have been more appropriate. I always seemed to attract my polar opposites - story of my life. That was the last conversation I ever had with her.

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