I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Podcast fun talking to Chris Kalous

Here's a little (well long really) Podcast with Chris Kalous, done in the States. 

It was a lot of fun, talking to a guy who goes climbing, knows what he's talking about for the most part, and is now in Sirunana, hopefully enjoying himself.

Anyway Chris has got a whole load of good interviews on his site, they are more in depth than you normally get in the mags and less narrow in content. So check his stuff out. 
The weather were I am is horrible, it's blowing hard and raining a bit, but in truth it's not the living end, and that interview made me realise I am a bit soft compared with what I was. Having just been sick, and had a throat /chest infection on top of a squashed Patella, I am now gagging to go climbing, so all you people who owe me money, givus  spondooly nowous.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Hans Rudel, Killer par excellence /climber, by Stevie the wimp Haston.

Hans Ulrich Rudel was the most highly decorated fighter in the German forces during the second World War. He was the only service man to be awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak leaves, Swords and Diamonds. If you want to read about him you can in the two books below. He also wrote a book about climbing high volcanoes in the Andes. He is perhaps the most heroic, or certainly one of the most successful predators of many a war, depends on how you look at him. 

I'am not an advocate of war or killing,
 but I am great admirer of courage and skill, and luck. Hans Rudel must have had oodles of luck and exactly how did they get his balls into a Stuka dive bomber is a question I keep asking my self. There's a bit somewhere in one of the books where Mr Rudel waxes lyrical about flying blindly, but in formation through fog, wing tips six inches apart, it's scary.  

  Hans was a teetotal  athlete who was careful about what he ate, he loved walking, swimming, diving, and the mountains, he was also a confirmed Nazi from what I have read. I found these books very interesting. The foreword to Stuka pilot was written by Group Captain Douglas Bader DSO., DFC. a hero/ killer from the other side during the great conflict of tribes, economics, politics and unreason.

This is the battle ship the Marat which Mr Rudel sunk. Hans was credited with destroying 500 tanks, 2,000 ground targets, two cruisers. He was shot down 24 times and lost a leg. There is much to write about him, his complete cavalier attitude toward death and destruction leaves me aghast.  If you are reading this please understand I am not a Nazi, I find this mans bravery in a class of its own and only wish to offer this story as an interesting counterpoint to American Sniper. The fact that Hans loved the mountains and sliding through the snow at Barriloche might have made him easy to talk to I always thought, the fact that he had a signed photo from Hermann Buhl on his wall would perhaps have greatly endeared him to me. There is no Hollywood film about him by Clint Eastwood, and it's a very good job that Hitler didn't have a few other lads as capable as Hans Rudel, a man who only drank fizzy water.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Gozo weird Wied Mielah, by Stevie ordinary Haston.

You must check this link out, I mean it! In Wied Mielah I'ave seen a parrot and a dolphin, naked mermaids and other things. Its one of the great little spots of Gozo and it used to be a sewage out pipe, pumping raw sewage and toilet paper, into the Med. Happily today theres just a few plastic bottles from the tourists. 
Here the unforgettable link to possibly the biggest Mola Mola fish ever seen!


Wied Mielah is a strange beautiful place. It's very old and has a feel to it, Salt has been gathered here from way before the Romans did it as a mini industry. Some of the climbs are really great, they can be easy, but oh so pretty. Recently I ave been giving away posters of myself doing one of the routes there, which has reminded me how beautiful the place really is. Last year when this film was taken I swam around here a lot doing a few little free dives and exploring some very big caves, it was very magical. There are a few bollards carved into the rock in a few places, evidence that there were bad weather mooring here in ancient times. All these routes both above water and below are fun to explore, be my guest.

 Spunky Arete 5+, or 6+ depending on who you talk to is a great route, on a big sea day climbers have been known to get a shocking enema which they never forget.

Possible scene of new adventure.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Piolet Tech Machine de Grivel by Stevie Haston.

Heres a little vid from Desnivel Mag Spain, thanks to  Dario the editor. Funny how I still get on with some editors after all these years. This is a short vid, more tech info on the Tech Machine is around, but I'll say this- the Tech Machine is the easiest to use production axe Iave ever used, bar none!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Mellieha Cave by Stevie caveman Haston.

This photo gives probably the best impression of one of Malta's top cliffs, Mellieha Cave. I guess you could call it steep.  It's on the big island Malta, not on my island Gozo, but I go over by boat to hang out (or upside-down) with mates. My fellow guidebook writer Jeff found this cliff, though obviously it was around a bit longer than that, like a millennium, or several. Anyway it's an old cave, or sink hole, where some, or all of the roof fell in. It's hard to spot even from 50 feet or so away! 

this is Down in a hole 8a, nasty powerful morpho crux, it is stopping me and a couple of others from adding this scalp to the mantlepiece. A real Rael Classic!

Jeff and a talented visiting spanish climber Rael, put up some hard routes here, with back breaking cleaning and bolting, a big thank you is owed to these  two great climbers Jeff and Rael. There is one project that is probably 8c to me, and a visiting climber might find the 8a's fairly hard with out the weird beta that is some times required to do the upside down knee barring and other shenanigans. Routes range from 6b+ through to 8c and they all seem tough to me, classic thuggery can be found on Crazy Monkey a 7a forearm fest, Cave Man 7c, and the startlingly beautiful Black Magic woman, a route I bolted.

 A fairly naughty bolt, 1 year old. Don't worry this one is getting zapped! Please donate to our bolt fund.

I,ll be doing a bit of writing about bolts soon, so those with an interest, or information, feel free to contact me, the more info I get the better and more informative I can be. And remember folks if you see a dodgy bolt on Malta or Gozo please inform me or anybody in the Malta Climbing Association.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Grivel 2015 Clepsydra Twingate by Stevie Haston.


Heres a cute carabiner from Grivel, it's intended primarily as a belaying biner, it's over strong, it has the Grivel twin gate system, a captured lower gate so orientation is always correct, and it's design makes cross loading a thing of the past.
Belaying with an auto blocking device is really great as this biner keeps the device in the sweet spot, it all makes for really great belaying, at the climbing wall or cliff.
You can use this inner for other purposes but this is my choice for belaying. There you go, its cute, more fun and success.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Sniper versus Selma, by Stevie Haston.

What is written becomes history, what becomes popular film can get written in the psyche of a nation. It has been said or researched-after all I wouldn't just wanna believe it-that when people watch TV series and film they leave some of their cryptical apparatus in their plug socket. Advertisers know this and often introduce some odd nonsense narrative for you to follow.

Climbing is increasingly going mainstream and we are force fed weird, and for me, impossible to believe narratives, my favourite at the Ispo show was that of the dirt bag climber, or should I say immaculately clad, multi coloured rainbow, eco warrior, complete with smiling wife and dog, lactose intolerant, bouldering alpinist.  I almost pissed myself going past a certain stand from California only to actually piss myself when I noticed a German brand usurping this advertising myth in the booth two stands down, complete with surfboard, clue here there aint much surfing in Germany, or tolerance for dirt bags.

One Mule for Sister Eastwood.

So, Clint Eastwood has produced and directed some ok films, but the film Sniper is certainly not one of them. His portrayal of a country that seems precambrian and barbaric is far from the truth. The only bit that seems true is the hunter worship that is prevalent in America, my own country Malta, and indeed Italy where I worked. I have friends in all these countries who hunt and share this atavistic predator instinct for  tracking, pursuing, and killing, they are my friends and will stay my friends. Hunting is more than popular, it is very big business, it is bigger than dirt bag false climbing, it's huge. So was Sniper just an American advertising film for outdoor sport, or was it an advert for plain killing? Or did the USA army, airforce, and ancillary business interests, just need a GPS to find the country, the wrong country incidentally  responsible for 9.11. There wasn't much mention of Mr Sniper searching out the mysterious weapons of mass distraction either.

The film Selma is about the walk made by brave people without guns, and not hiding behind camouflaged nets which gave voting freedom to black people. These events forced President Johnson to enact certain legislation that made it possible for black people to vote in 1965, thats right 1965! President Johnson is portrayed in a sympathetic way which is way to kind, but he ultimately comes good. Perhaps this film could have mentioned that by 1968 America was embroiled in a war that no one wanted except business men- Vietnam and the killing of Brown people.

The Pope has publicly said that we are in the middle of World War III, and it's a wonder that we aren't all in our bunkers hiding from the falling bombs, but guess what, contrary to what you might be hearing, the bombs aint falling on America, or the British, or the French, no we are the people who sell bombs, and we are very good at it. And Hollywood  is Hollywood.  Clint Eastwood was by all accounts a good bloke according to the climbing dirtbags who helped him create the illusion that he could climb, but he has clearly lost the plot, or is  now working for the American Riffle Association.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Training regime, by Stevie Haston.

Crusher Matrix board, a very good wooden finger board.

Training is just a protocol for getting better, you stress the body parts you need and they get stronger. Training is not a Fru Fru Nouvel Cuisine thing that looks great and doesn't feed your belly.  I just watched loads of nutty vids, but my favourite is of a 9b climber being put through some useless excersies with a Thereaband that looks like a weak bit of panty elastic. Climbing does involve lots of complex movements and skill but the real important muscles are the ones that control the fingers- if you can't hang on you can't use skill! The fingers need care, and prolonged work, they are as much soft connecting tissue as muscle, be careful, and stick to a finger board plan.

The seven days that changed France for ever, well not really! Paris was exactly the same when I went thru the other day, they were eating cheese and being extremely French. Politics, Training, Mind control, it seems they are all the same. Just stick to basic common sense, get strong slowly, don't listen to the hype and the exaggeration.

A funny winter of discontent, not a great deal of ice, not a great deal of snow. This photo was heading south to climb ice, but really I wished to go further south, some friends were in Indian Creek crack climbing the same day.  

Carnival time again, 30,000 visitors in a  my tiny village, wow, that sure makes the limestone cliffs look like paradise. After a month away working and no real time or opportunity to train I tested my fingers and they seem very good, no real loss in strength. So what did I do, well it boiled down to about four sessions of pull ups on door edges or a board, pretty basic, eh? The skill part will be very rusty of course, and I'll have to do some rehab for my knee. So the re- hab for the knee will be done with a bit of slack knicker elastic, yea of course it won't.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Traveling man Ispo/Gozo by Stevie Haston

 This poster will clearly not do as well as the next one! Here we have a very able athlete winning a major comp and the climbing world doesn't care. Maxim Thomilov is a great strong motivated guy and so are his mates who he competes with, there was a lot of forearm meat on display when I met the team in Aosta Italy the other day. Why no one cares about this comp is some kind of blight on climbing magazines and their inability to do the most basic reporting or understand comps-unless of course there are scantily clad girls  parading around and offering american sound bites. 

 These dear lovelies are snowboards, believe it or not. I wouldn't personally want to scratch them, although I might want to ride them into destruction. There you go, sex sells. This is in answer to the editor of Planet Mountain Web site.

Taken from the car, this is typical Tyrol, going from Germany back into sunny Italy. The Ispo show was great, lots of good gear every where, and by lots of folks too. 15 deaths on the snow due to a very unstable layer and possibly a lot of stupidity also, gear doesn't save your life as much as common sense! Be warned it's still dangerous.

 Back at the factory in Italy. Buy these, keep me in a job.

So back in my island in the sun, Gozo welcomed me with open arms. My leg is a bit better and my projects are waiting patiently to kick my ass, gonna train away all those Weiss beers. Hope your not in the frost, cos I aint.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Gear Safety, Climber Safety, by Stevie Safe Haston.

Using  thin ropes is a bit of a skill and safety issue, most reviews of them tell you they are light and don't wear well, which of course is true.  What you fundamentally must understand is that they need a certain level of skill to use them safely. There are two issues, first is that you can ruin one of these extra thin ropes in an instant with a bad rub point, a notched caribiner, or just treating this thin rope like it was a much more robust rope. The second issue is you really have to think about the belay device you use! These thin, skinny, slick, great ropes don't work very well with nearly all of the normal belay devices! Am I therefore saying they are not safe, no I am not, but you must take real care to be safe, so take care, and be safe. Edelweiss and a few other rope manufactures make some very good skinny ropes, there advantages are clear low weight, low friction and more red point success. 

 I love this door nob, I use it to crack walnuts! Theres no warning on it, no instruction pamphlet its just a door knocker, use it to knock, don't use it to some how mash your fingers.  Climbing is full of little dangers and some big ones too, so be careful. I am very careful and still have accidents, I work in the climbing gear manufacturing business and realise more than most  that its easy to use gear wrongly or just have an accident.

 Be safe, play the devils advocate if you want, but try and understand some of the avoidable stuff. Like  rope stretch sometimes means you will hit the ground if the ground is within reach!

Slight Prang today, smashed Patella, got a few days to think about this while working at ISPO trade show, come and offer your condolences, or have a laugh at my expense.