I'm a woman

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

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Teaching, training, trying. by Stevie Haston.

Learning, growing, being.
Teaching -learning.
Ok start now-.

 in the film the Great Escape, Steve McQueen was riding one of these bikes with skill and √©lan.

The Great Escape that we all do nowadays is in escaping from our normal complicated and false world into our natural and prime ordial movement enjoyment mode.

 Rich, having counted the waves makes his escape, I the teacher got tangoed!

I have been very lucky this week, two good students willing and able to learn. Life should be this good and I would like life more. Two visits to the Underworld cliff to pay homage to the ancient stone.

 Rich above the sucking vortex, the very oesophagus of the Underworld.

Teaching, training, trying.

Part of a corroded carabiner.

 The Underworld eats forged metal, it trains minds and forges them stronger. If they escape, that is. There is a very solid bit of truth about getting good.The better you are the better quality routes you have access to. Great routes are unfortunately more numerous in the higher grades. 

Rich going down, down to sector Titan.

This morning I did my hour of stretching. This morning I did my hour of breath control. I will be better prepared…. I will do my preparation befor I go to see my buddy Kyle who will lavish fine food and wine on me, we will wake up when we want, we will be undisciplined boys, we will laugh and giggle, we will still go climbing every day, but I will certainly not do my breathing routines. So tomorrow I will do twice as much to compensate. The Great Escape from the great escape.

Plus a mamoth session of pull-ups.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Feel the Bernd, by Stevie Socialist Haston.

 stripping Bernd by declimbing is a pain and a half.

Why does Gozo have huge roof climbs? You might as well ask why it has brilliant sunsets? 

 last afternoon.

My next project is a bigger roof than Bernd. Bernd was really big, a hundred feet of climbing in a roof, and brutal to boot. The next one on the list is bigger and harder, and some how I don't think it's possible for me. Age, conditions, opportunities will all conspire to do me in, and turn my desire to dust.


The sunsets here are a function of the sea, there's a reverberation, and reflection. At this time of year the sunsets are a bit bland. In the autumn they are very regular in their wondrous nature. The roofs I think are growing, getting bigger, slowly a micro move at a time. The sea is eating the foundations of the island, and just leaving the eaves of the roof. The conditions now will be awful until the end of October so I will start training to get to a higher level of fitness. The final big chunk of climbing on my next project looks to be a horrendous groove, followed by a small horizontal section of hands in an awkward crack, it looks like high degrees of flexibility are needed. So a bit of stretching then.

Bernd is the best route I'ave done, by Stevie Haston.

Jeff Camilleri is in this photo, thanks Jeff.

So thanks are due to several people. I have been very lucky in my climbing career not least because I am still alive, but because I have received much help from some lovely people. Although the climbing industry now resembles more Hollywood, or Bollywood, than the group of small passionate manufacturers I first knew, my thanks go out. Some are not there anymore, dead and gone. The sport is not the same, but some of the sportsmen are, and so are the people who help them.

Big thanks to Grivel, Scarpa, and Edelweiss.

I have worked in the Industry for years and years, I ave been getting help since I was a kid. So thanks all you people, the Londoners, the Welsh, the French the Italians.

Trying to salvage some of the kit, most of this is now trash.

I went through two ropes, finally opting for a 9.2mm to cut down on weight, and drag. Thanks all the people at Edelweiss.

I used Scarpa Furia, but went through a pair of Scarpa Stix, I needed a really good heel in the end which the Furia has, although I love the Stix.

I used lots of Grivel stuff, and there support over 25 years has been instrumental in me doing so much.

Thanks to Alex, and Jeff, and cousin Paul for the belays. 

Thanks to the wind for the good conditions, thanks to all those animals and plants that lost their lives to make that lovely Limestone/sandstone. Thanks to the pounding waves that formed this cave, thanks to the Bee eater birds that flew over me as I finished today. 

And if some of this reads like a grovel, it is! I need the support and the belays and the help.

Thank Bernd Arnold for the climbing in Elbsandstein and showing me that great place full of history and magnificence. Thanks for the name.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Paradise Lost, and Found, by Stevie Haston.


Had a great day with Antonia, I asked her where she wanted to go, "normal sports cliff, or special", we ended up at the Underworld, and Sector Titan, two of my favourite cliffs.

 The 45 meter pitch of Everlasting.

Antonia was a bit scared of height and abseils, so today she got 60 meter abseils, and a very free one on sector Titan.

 learning to trust the system 60 meters up an overhanging cliff.

Sun was cracking today, sea was helpful with the entry to the Underworld, and joy and serenity was reached easily. The climbs were tip top, I had forgotten how good sector Titan was.  Martin Mr Titanium bolts really helped kick that sector off. I showed Antonia where Martins excellent 7a went, she was gobsmacked. We both looked down from the chain, and were nearly sick, it don't look 7a! It is, pure continuity, very French, or Spanish, except in this case, it's got a bit of Gozo thrown in to spice it up.  

 the abb in to sector Titan, I think Antonia crushed my grigy on this abb!

How many days you got left in your life? Better use them, better climb, better make it to a sea cliff, or two, before you take the final ride to boring death.

 Antonia on the last route of the day.

Sector Titan still only has five routes, but they are all great, I'll have to wait a bit to do more, as I gotta take some time to get strong.

The fossil that just makes the last pitch even better.

Nice day, thanks Antonia.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The European Mystic Pizza, by Stevie Haston.

 some Londoners I met today.

Just had a couple of nice days climbing with Antonia from Bulgaria. I been helping her climb etc, I do like giving my limited knowledge of the gigantic sport of climbing to people. Its only when I see things through younger and less experienced eyes that I realise I have something good and valuable.

 Antonia understanding that abseiling is really not bad and indeed its great when you do it well and safely.

Anyway Europe and the disunited states there of, what a wonderful place it is when you think about it. Ease of travel, one currency and a group mentality that is indeed European and very rich in different cultures. I have friends from every where and the last few years have lessened those last vestiges of xenophobia that lurk darkly within ones soul like a virus.

 Hanging belay, all cool.

Today we worked on Abseling, a bit of rope work and trying to be relaxed in places where perhaps one might have been anxious before.

 sorry about the horizone I was talking to Antonia at the time.

We were climbing in the wonderful area of Weird Mielah and doing routes on the rock arch and then we walked to Fruit Cake Land to do Walking on Sunshine and a classic unknown route that I have rediscovered that is a fisherman's route. All beautiful, a bit hot, we checked out the swimming, the jelly fish are all ready out so we didn't jump in.

Antonia is from Bulgaria, Alex is from Germany, the dog is an Italian Greyhound that we found in a dustbin.

As I was belaying Antonia I saw a group of people carrying a cross so naturally I waved and they waved back. I didn't think much of it, but when I told the girls it was clear that they thought I had too much sun. Anyway an hour later we caught up with them, so my credibility with the girls was restored. The group had been very kind and said a prayer for me as I was climbing. Thet were over praying for my island. We had a nice natter, I thanked them for their prayers and went and had a Wiess Beer. Perfect Mystic Gozo day!  

Friday, 15 April 2016

Progressive progress, by Stevie systematic Haston.

 I heard that there was more than enough money raised for a few Marine fish reserves but the government didn't start for fear of loosing the fishermen's vote, most things revolve around votes.

A little progress was seen today, because my training was a bit more systematic and planned out. You would think that I can sort it all out, but ….it's complicated. I am gunning for a very hard route, and it's all about squeezing a few percent here and there, and it totalling up to a  big chunk. The route is hard, and I need  every little bit. I got two jokers - I'am still fat, and I still drink a bit, possibly three jokers if you include power, my power is down. 

 The last move is a knee bar thank god, because by this time the rope drag can be bad.

This roof is enormous, and is certainly one of the best crack climbs in the world. There is a big problem now that the humidity is too high. If I am unlucky I,ll have to wait for autumn. This is a real shit, as I dropped the route on the last move, twice! 

Old leather knock, Leatherback Turtle has a bit of an allergic reaction to the crack.

Great route very excited but I am scared the temps are way too high now, 29° today! I did think my flexibility was off, but the leg lifts and overhead movements don't work, because I am maxing out on my leg abducters in the chimney sections, and some of my core is also giving out cos its Trad! I think there's a little fear thrown in there for good measure. All in all it adds up to not having what it takes. Damn and blast, balls, scrotums etc. On top of this is this weird reaction I get after I try the crack, two weeks ago I had a fever, and the skin was burning real bad. Todays wasn't so bad. Need to get this crack done.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Natalia Molchanova by Stevie Haston.

 the breath of life.

Natalia Molchanova is one of those people who are hardly known, and whose presence on this planet added to it rather than took something away. She died last summer diving at about 40 meters depth, which for her being a multiple champion in the sport of free diving was really a fairly ordinary event. She was 53, and she added poetry to my life, and increased enormously to the blue, to the azure that is within me.

 Little morning swim, the breath of life.

I was in America and some how missed her sad demise, and only became aware of it this morning. It made me very sad. Her history as a free diver is not normal, she was an ex swimmer and got into free diving late in life as something to help with her divorce. She progressed so well that in a comp in Slovenia her winning Static (breath holding time) was better than the mens best. Her static was over 9 minuets.
 I am an amateur diver, it gives me peace and beauty.

Natalia wrote poetry, here is one. If you have ever had your head underwater it is very much more poignant.

I have perceived non existence
The silence of eternal dark,
and the infinity.
I went beyond the time,
time poured into me
and we became
I lost my body in the waves
Perceiving vacuum
and quiet,
Becoming like its blue abyss
And touching the oceanic secret
Iam going inwards
What I am
I am made of light
I peer intensly
The depths reveal a breath
I merge with it
And into the world emerge.

the light sublime that forever shines within us.

Natalia used to help me, and I guess hundreds of others. Just by watching her grace with a mono fin, the suppleness of her strong lithe body gave us all more strength. She was the first woman to free dive over 100 meters depth among many things. For a number of years I used to do my apnee exercises  while watching her. I watched Natalia a thousand times swimming under the Blue Arch of Dahab. Thank you Natalia.