34 is the smallest number to be surrounded by numbers with the same number of divisors as it has.

The last few days have been spent driving to crags, putting on climbing shoes, and then watching as the heavens open and rain drenches the perfect sandstone blocs. There isn’t much you can do with wet sandstone boulders so a step back is required, and I’ve been doing a couple of fingerboard sessions to try and make sure all this outdoor malarky isn’t going to cause me to get burned off by Dobbin upon returning to the school.

Yesterday evening I was really feeling like I should be climbing as the conditions were excellent and Lorenzo was trying Sale Gosse, 7C, which I really want to do. Luckily I’d pre-empted myself and left my boots at home on purpose! I felt rather torn because I felt like I was wasting good conditions but at the same time I was determined to let my skin recover to a decent state. Lorenzo made good progress on Sale Gosse, reaching the last move after a few goes. Unfortunately the last move provided the crux, and he was stuck between an all out jump for the top or a tricky balancy move to the hold just below the top (as used by Catherine Miquel). Next time…

Today I woke up nervous about the weather, because I was missing climbing, but my first view of the world through bleary eyes revealed that things were allright. The magic piece of wood in the garden was dry (a sure sign that there is dry rock out there!) and the skies weren’t full of grey clouds. I was psyched, rushed to get dressed, eat breakfast, drink tea, and then went out to get Lorenzo. The guy was asleep, probably dreaming about climbing. 20 minutes later he was in the car and we were off to Cuvier Rempart whilst listening to Breakthrough by Queen. BOOM! The rocks were dry, the sky was clouding over, but things were looking alright. I walked straight up to the big four area and remembered just how great they are, also thinking how Graham crushed them on his first day in font back in 2001. I harbour a deep desire to climb Big Golden and Atresie, two great benchmarks, and two serious challenges for me. I warmed up by doing some very easy things, then a Nameless 7B, then went over to try and flash Noir Desir, 7C. I hadn’t tried it on purpose because I knew I could flash it, but was sick of waiting to try it. I just walked over, plopped the pad down, and sorted out a sequence. Whilst figuring it out I had my hand on the first hold and was reaching up with my other hand when all of a sudden my hand ripped, I lost my footing, came crashing down, missed the pad, and my left arse cheek landed on the corner of a sharp rock. I’m sat here 12 hours later having to sit on a cushion cause of the bruise on my left cheek. I could barely walk down from Rempart due the pain. But anyway, after this setback I was determined to flash it so I set off, only to grease off on the hold after the undercut. Damn it! I was a bit disappointed but I knew I could do it. Next go I fell on the move to the jug, DAMN IT! The last holds before the jug felt so greasy and as soon as I looked at my tips they were devoid of any trace of chalk. Oh well. I had one more go and my hands just slipped off so I gave up. The move up from the undercut went static, so I did feel strong, but strength isn’t everything (am I serious?). I chalked up one last time and climbed it from the undercut to the top to make sure the move was easy and it was, when you aren’t greasing off from lack of chalk. Anyway, It’s a great problem and I’ll include on the warm up circuit next time I’m up at Rempart.

Now that I was warmed up attention turned to Atresie, 8A. I thought I had a good chance of doing it as the previous session I felt really strong. Today was a different story altogether. I didn’t once manage to get the kneescum in correctly, leaving my flailing and pulling way too hard on the undercut. One go this resulted in me ripping off the undercut, the first point of contact with the ground (not the pad!) was my ass which only added insult to injury. From this point on my ass was seriously debilitating. A few more goes and I was ready to quit. Conditions felt bad, I felt bad, and sometimes that just the way the cookie crumbles. I accepted my fate for the day and packed up. Lorenzo wanted to try Ouzo, 8A, so I walked down there with him to give him a spot (or rather, to watch, since it’s quite low). Once down there I was sucked in to giving it a go. I’m too weak to say no sometimes, especially when I have the opportunity to try a problem with somebody rather than alone. It didn’t take too long to figure out a sequence. I had seen pictures of Adam Wood (check the link) on it, but I ended up freestyling and using a rather different (read; simple but powerful) sequence. I managed it without heelhooks and without matching if that gives you any sort of clue. Sometimes I think I take school rules a bit too far (like outside the schoolroom). I had a number of goes getting closer and closer. Then a bit of tea and a piece of chocolate gave me the required psyche to latch the crux hold and I was on my way to the top. Success! I was a bit surprised to have done it, because it felt kind of hard, but also because I had stopped climbing for the day due to feeling like I was a sack of spuds. I was pleased anyway, and also pleased to have got it on film. Too often I forget to switch the camera on or never get it out because I’m unsure if I can do something. Doing Ouzo saved my day in a way. It turned a failure (not in a particularly bad sense) into a success. It’s a fine line in climbing, between success and failure, but one so clearly marked that it’s something painfully obvious. Truly, success is a personal battle and not entirely dependant on reaching the top of a piece of rock.

With a now very, very painful ass I hobbled back down to the car park. It was 6pm and I hadn’t eaten since 9:30am apart from a Pain au chocolat. I got home bruised and starving, starving to the point where I did eat something but immediately felt sick, as if I was about to throw up. It took me a lot longer than usual to eat something due to this sick feeling. That pain eventually passed, but my ass is still killing me. I’m sat on a pile of cushions and it still hurts. It’s never hurt this much before… Tomorrow is Lorenzo’s last day so fingers crossed for good weather, pain free ass, and much crushing.