George Osbourne has moved me to poetry

Posted in culture, ramblings with tags on March 28, 2012 by bridbeast


Georgie and the Pies,

by Bridbeast


If you want a pasty, roll or pie.

Heated up, the price is high.

But if you should be short of brass

You’ve now joined the cold pie class

So you wanted something warming

Forget it son, George is transforming

Our tax system for the wealthy

And who cares for warm pies in Chelsea?


But seriously.


White man’s burden

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19, 2012 by bridbeast

After the horrific killing of 16 Afghans by an American soldier, I was reading this article on the Russians in Afghanistan. One quote from a Soviet veteran stood out:

“The thirst for blood … is a terrible desire. It is so strong that you cannot resist it. I saw for myself how the battalion opened a hail of fire on a group that was descending towards our column. And they were our soldiers, a detachment from the reconnaissance company who had been guarding us on the flank. They were only 200 metres away and we were 90 per cent sure they were our people. And nevertheless – the thirst for blood, the desire to kill at all costs. Dozens of times I saw with my own eyes how the new recruits would shout and cry with joy after killing their first Afghan, pointing in the direction of the dead man, clapping one another on the back, and firing off a whole magazine into the corpse ‘just to make sure’ … Not everyone can master this feeling, this instinct, and stifle the monster in his soul.”

I was also thinking about the depressing pattern of these events: My Lai, Amritsar, the French in North and West Africa, and on. In his essay “Shooting an Elephant”, Orwell wrote:

“With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism…”

And he was a liberal.

Sweet dreams are made of this.

Posted in Climbing with tags , , on March 4, 2012 by bridbeast

On Saturday I bought a second-hand portaledge. On Sunday I took it out to Bowles Rocks in Sussex for a test.


So what do I do with this then?

Quite easy to put together, on flat ground.

Portaledge, Bowles, UK.

Managing to cope with the exposure.

Portaledgem, Bowles Rock, Sussex.

Lovin' that Nineties shade of purple.

Cosy. Is it supposed to be that bendy?

Conclusions? It’s okay to put up but will need plenty of practice before I can do it in the dark on a hanging belay. I need to suss out how to use the fly properly. I definitely need to spend a night in it this spring. It’s very heavy but surprisingly small. There’s no where to hide on one of those things. Getting on it and imagining living for several days on it reminded me of sitting in the Apollo command module when I was little and we went to Cape Kennedy. That thing was tight!

More to the point, it’s made going to Yosemite and doing a wall feel real rather than just something in my head.

Forbidden places

Posted in culture, ramblings with tags , , , , on February 20, 2012 by bridbeast

Going through a stack of old files yesterday I found a set of CDs with lots of scans of old slides on them. The pictures are a random mish-mash from about 1990 to 2008. I’m going to post a few of them up here over the next few weeks. To start with are a few pics from places which are a bit more off-limits these days than they were then.

Euphrates River, Syria

Farmer girl by Euphrates, Syria

Mahmoud, Painter and Decorater, Pakistan

Mahmoud, Painter and Artist, Pakistan

Woman, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Woman, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Porters descending to Hispar glacier, Pakistan.

Porters descending to Hispar glacier, Pakistan.


Posted in Climbing, culture with tags on January 27, 2012 by bridbeast

Re-reading my last post, it is obvious that I need to Man the Fuck Up. And how better than an inspirational video? I think I have found just the thing (even if us goray are the badies).

However I don’t think I’ll be incorporating the “catch a chicken” exercise into my training plans just yet.


Training is boring.

Posted in Climbing with tags , on January 26, 2012 by bridbeast

Every single public space in London at the moment is full of Olympics adverts featuring sculpted athletes exhorting the populace to run faster, jump higher, train harder. Honestly, it’s like some Communists have decided to decorate the place, only with better graphic designers.

What the posters don’t give away is just how bloody boring athletic training is.

The last few weeks I’ve spent a good proportion of my spare time at the climbing wall, slogging away at improving my fitness, doing loads of laps on routes which is very dull. Afterwards I feel spent and tired, come home and eat, sleep for eight hours and then look forward to doing it the next day. And this is only training for my very modest amateur efforts, not the Olympian heights of 9a+ sports climbs.

I don’t mind bouldering sessions, in fact I really enjoy them, but then they are mostly resting between problems. However I want the stamina this year, so I have to work for it.

Sunday was the first day out climbing for 2012. We went to Dancing Ledge at Swanage, that superbly reliable winter venue. Typically we were down to t-shirts at one point, which seems to happen on nearly every winter visit I make there. I came very close to flashing a F6c, albeit one I top-roped a year ago, and got it easily second time around, despite feeling tired. So hopefully on track for some of my sports climbing goals and generally feeling reasonably fit for January.

But… I’m at the fourth week of the training regime for the new year and already it’s time for a rest! I’d planned this out, it should have been the fifth week but that didn’t work with the time I’ve got, so three weeks on, one off it is.

It feels like a good thing. My hands were beginning to get really stiff in the mornings and I could feel my tendons straining a little, but that’s disappeared. I think I’ve been a little too lazy – must go for a run tomorrow and do some proper stretching – but overall it’s been good. I’m ready for the next bout.

That means more stamina training and some strength stuff, but hopefully also starting learning some big wall techniques. I’ve bought a “how to” book by John Long and John Middendorf. They’ve plenty of experience and a way with vivid images which cements ideas in your mind. Keep your shoes clipped in at night:

“Drop your only shoes, kiss your feet goodbye. It’s happened, and the survivors walk with a cane to this day.”



Goals for 2012

Posted in Climbing, ramblings with tags , , , , on January 10, 2012 by bridbeast

It’s that time of year again – putting down in writing a few of the things I hope to achieve this year.

I’m planning a year of two halves. For the first six months, it’s time to get as good at cragging as possible. Pretty much like last year, really, and some of the aims remain the same, ie I didn’t tick them last year:

Sort out niggling shoulder problem.

Get my onsight level up to F6c. I’ve done this a couple of times last year, now I want to be able to do this regularly.

Redpoint lots of F7a (say five to ten routes at this level), mainly at Portland or Cheddar. Try a 7a+ or possibly 7b.

I’m going to the Verdon at Easter, target routes include: Riviere d’argent, Debiloff, Durandal and Le Demande. Given the tough grading, spaced bolting, massive scale and overall in-your-face scariness of the Gorge, I’d be very pleased to get any one of these routes ticked.

Continue to improve at British trad climbing. Climb some classic Pembroke E2s such as Deranged or Silver Shadow, if I get really fit then I’d like to get on one of the E3s there, Pleasure Dome or Space Cadet. On the grit I’d like to do the likes of Billy Whiz or Insanity before attempting a solid E3 crack such as Gates of Mordor, Sentinel Crack or Emerald Crack.

That in itself seems quite a lot. Obviously I don’t think I’ll get it all done but that’s the sort of thing I’m aiming for. Then in July/August I want to go on a road trip to the US. The rough plan at the moment is to climb in the high-up areas during the summer: Rocky Mountain National Park, the Needles, Tuolumne, Lake Tahoe and the High Sierras, working on my crack climbing and getting fitter for long routes, before hitting Yosemite Valley.

In the Valley I want to do some long free routes and beginner walls, such as Leaning Tower, culminating in an ascent of El Cap. I’m flexible over which route: the Nose, Salathe, Zodiac or Tangerine Trip are the main ones I’d be interested in.

So, some big ambitions. Lifetime stuff in fact. I’m not sure how much of this is outside my ability or will be done with some hard work and scary moments. In addition, I want to see if it’s possible to mix an athletic life with a writing one. In 2012 I want to read some of the classics I’ve never got around to, Dickens, George Elliot and so on, and to start work on some of my own stories. That’s a bit vague because I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, and unlike my climbing plans, I feel a need to keep my writing ideas to myself for the moment. They’re too fragile for the scrutiny of the wider world right now! In the meantime, here’s a few photos of El Cap.


Headwall of the Salathe

Salathe headwall © Duncan Critchley


Climbing on Tangerine Trip

Tangerine Trip, El Capitan © chrisbevins