You haven’t have heard from me in a while because I’ve had a break from climbing. In fact, I’ve mostly been screwing.
I’ve also done a fair bit of sawing, hammering and drilling. Moving into a new flat has launched me into a world of DIY, and it’s been satisfying to find that a lot of what I lack in skill and equipment can be made up for with raw finger strength.
Hacking through kitchen units and cutting a breakfast bar to fit were more like body power exercises – the latter pretty extreme and requiring the top off. But my crimping skills really came in when I had to counter-sink some screws.
Finding I lacked a thick enough drill bit, I shot over to B&Q and thought I’d picked up a bargain 9mm bit until I got home and found it didn’t fit the drill. Sick of not having a work surface for the kitchen or a table to eat off, I just grabbed the bugger and twisted it into the wood by hand, gouging the holes for the screw heads in no time.
I also found that this worked up a good forearm pump, so I went mad training and drilled holes all over the place. I made that last bit up, but you could, if you had a spare piece of chipboard, design a pretty decent training routine.
I quite enjoyed the DIY – it’s not as good as climbing but then it was winter. However, I didn’t get much kudos from the better half. Mrs Anti-social Climber looked down on me as I sat sweating and in pain, blooded fingertips and arm muscles cramping, and just assumed I was doing it for fun. I tried to explain the difference between the exhausted satisfaction of a well-fitted worktop and the exhausted satisfaction of a vanquished overhanging jam crack, but trailed off half way – perhaps I should learn to love the sensation regardless of how it comes about?
Having got the fitness bug, one more thing I did do with the drill was set up a fingerboard, as endorsed by Dave McLeod – just one strip of wood. I had to use a power drill for this one, as I’m far too weak to crank on a masonry bit, although |I’m sure Dave would have done it by hand.
Anyway, like the great man says, the important thing about a fingerboard is that it gets used, so I’m trying to build a few sessions into my week. Combined with getting out on the crags now the flat is fixed up and the weather is getting better, that seems to have given me a flying start to the season. A couple of weeks ago I was cruising last year’s testpieces at North Berwick, then last week I made a decent start to the trad season with Grasp the Nettle at Linmekilns. I wasn’t too surprised to find it given E2 everywhere except the Lowland Outcrops guide but hopefully it was still a portent of greater things to come.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the woodie beckons.