Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Finished Quine (7C) at Rowtor, Peak District

This evening I shot back out to Rowtor to finish Quine (7C), the little blighter of a dyno that had thwarted my efforts the other day and left me with a gaping hole in my palm. I mentioned that gory detail, and even gave you a lovely picture, in my last blog

The evening of the palm shredding, we went to a friend's birthday BBQ and I was regaled with the advice Alex Megos had given to a friend of mine. When looking down at a hand full of split tips, blood dripping from your knuckles, and red, gaping flesh, don't give up; just get back on the wall and ignore the pain.

So, with those words firmly in mind, I went back the next day to finish Quine (this was Sunday). Unfortunately, just as I was getting the measure of the dyno, it started raining. In a mad panic, I had a flurry of six quick attempts, barely resting between them, rain hitting me in the eyeballs, but got progressively worse on each go. I threw my shoe at the wall. I look back at that little episode with a pinch of embarrassment.

However, having come so close, before the weather decided enough was enough on progress, I was determined to get Quine in the bag before we left for Spain on Friday. And this evening, Wednesday, I did it. Not only once, but twice. After warming up and getting the measure of the problem yet again, I managed to dispatch the dyno without too much difficultly. Thankfully, I arrived just AFTER a lovely rainstorm on this occasion. And also, mercifully, it was short enough that the top out wasn't too wet - nothing a dab of the jumper and a little chalk didn't fix. The starting holds are too far under the roof to get touched by water falling from the sky, and only the worst of precipitation would touch the sloping pinches. 

Suitably stoked, I did Yoghurt Hypnotist (7A+) next, for the first time, in only a couple of goes. And then departed a happy boy, a couple more minor holes in my right hand. 

Psyched for a non-climbing trip to Spain now, to repair my aching body. A little dip in the pool, good eating and a wedding in the sunshine. Sounds like a good holiday to me.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Flapper disaster - be warned... gory

Well that was a disaster... not a total disaster, I suppose, as I did make progress, but progress on a dyno is hardly consoling. Grit stone 1 - Sam 0

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Finishing a project at Bowden Doors, Northumberland

We found ourselves in Northumberland over the weekend. I say that like we were lost and all of a sudden, there we were, in Northumberland. No… it was planned. We were there to spend the weekend with my parents, specifically at a special dining experience on the Farne Islands, held in a tiny chapel with only 16 other diners. Unfortunately, the meal was called off due to rough seas, which turned out to be not so rough in the end, as the impending ex-hurricane that was supposed to be buffeting the country didn't materialise until a day later.

Despite having spent many a happy childhood holiday in Seahouses and Bamburgh, racing my brother along the sea front, running up and down sand dunes, exploring amazing castles and fortifications of other varieties, one of the key draws for my continued pilgrimage to this part of the world is the world class bouldering. Fantastic, powerful boulder problems litter the inland section of the county. It is a different style of climbing to gritstone, and so it comes as a welcome change of pace every now and then. I must have been on three or four occasions just for the bouldering now. This latest trip was not entirely for climbing, but we managed to squeeze some in all the same.

Being as time was finite, we chose to visit crags we already knew, and projects we had left behind. For me, this materialised in one particular boulder problem. It's a strange addiction, bouldering, and this problem is a perfect example of this. It is an eliminate. A little squashed in. The moves are rather painful. And I had given up on it several times before, largely because I was not enjoying climbing it. The last time I gave up on it turned out to be the day before I actually, finally, completed it, on Saturday, August 9th.

The problem of which I speak is called Transformer LH, which weighs in at 7C. It follows an obvious, overhanging prow feature, with a perfectly sculpted pinch/undercut jug hold in the middle. Unfortunately, there is a back wall within reach the whole way, but this is eliminated at this grade. If you use the back wall, this is called Transformer Direct Start and gets the grade of 7A. Finally, if you start to the right of these two, on huge jugs, and just do the final two moves following an initial set up, you can claim a stiff 6A+ tick with Transformer. Confused? I'm not surprised. 

Anyway, I had done the other two problems on previous trips but had always had difficulty with the hardest of the three. The difficulty revolved around a single "move". You don't actually move anywhere, but turn your hand from a pinch to an undercut on the key hold in the roof. On paper, it sounds easy. In practice, I found it bloody nails. The rest of the problem felt fine. I could set up for the hand switch almost 100% of the time, however after half a dozen goes the core strength starts to wane and the crimps start to cut. More than once have I been left with a deep but small split in my left hand forefinger tip. Every time you go to turn that hand around, you have to excessively weight the crimp and squeeze every muscle in your body to keep you on the wall for that split second longer. It takes .5 of a second to turn your hand, but you'll be on the floor in .3. It was frustrating, to say the least.

After an unsuccessful and brief session on the problem on Friday, I decided to give it a miss and walked over to the cave with Leigh-Anne, where she had her sights set on The Cave RH (6B+). On previous trips, we had noted that a huge jug in the centre of the roof was wobbly - like a biscuit that had been dunked in tea one too many times and was about to crumble. We let the problem be on that occasion, hoping that it would dry and stabilise. However, on our return on the weekend, we saw what we both had predicted, a big, light sandy coloured scar where the jug once was. This was disappointing, to say the least. And what has always been a little stiff at 6B+ had become that much harder. Leigh-Anne was put off, but I wanted to see if it had become loads harder. I repeated it without the aforementioned and now deceased jug, and confirmed it's difficulty is roughly the same, or a little harder. I always thought it stiff at 6B+ anyway. Maybe a 6C upgrade is in order.

Following this, we continued heading left along the crag, until we came to The Crescent Flake, a pleasant looking 6A with a wickedly hard first move. Pull your ass off the floor on thin side pulls and smeary feet and throw for a sloping shelf. If that move was in the middle of a problem, it would get a huge upgrade. My first go resembled someone who was desperately trying to soil themselves, as I grimaced and got no where. I readjusted my feet and did the move second go. Sandbag at 6A, for sure. After a few laughs, Leigh-Anne was keen to see me pull the same expression trying a sloping mantle problem cleverly called The Mantleshelf (7A). After a few stalled attempts, and the loss of some skin on my knees, I finally pulled over onto the top and sighed with relief. 

Next up for me was an appealing wall with scattered sloping crimps up an undulating face. It's name, Scooped Wall (6B). Two goes and I was on the top, having given Leigh-Anne the impetus to follow suit. She dispatched it in two or three tries and we both shared in the conquest of a boulder problem.

Lunch was beckoning so we had a quick stop off in Wooler, at the Terrace Cafe (highly recommend!), where we devoured jacket potatoes with beans and cheese, washed down with coffee. Look up the cafe online and you'll see we're not the only ones who'll speak highly of this lunchtime establishment. Lovely staff, delicious food. What more could you ask for?

We then started our wanderings through Kyloe wood, missing the turn off for the crag, and spending around an hour hiking with pads and bags in 20+ degree heat and humidity that only a living, breathing forest can produce. Finally, arriving at the crag, we dropped and sucked in air, trying to cool off while watching some young guns attempt the classics. It was rather busy at the main crag and we were both wiped out from the walk. It felt a little ridiculous to go back to the car straight away, without climbing a single thing, so we headed right, past the main section and into a "new" area. Not new in the sense that no one has ever set foot there with the intention of climbing, as there are loads of established problems, but new for me and seemingly new compared to the main crag, as the walls were not as scarred as its neighbour, and moss grew in abundance across vast swathes of it.

I glanced at a few of the harder problems but I could not bring my skin or energy back into being. Both had left me somewhere on the track, somewhere in the forest we should not have been. And so a long, technical traverse was what I settled on. It was graded 6A - a grade I seemed to have levitated towards on Friday - but again it proved exceptionally hard for the grade. It had some very thin, razor sharp crimps, and the crux section at the start would weigh in at 6C for me. I probably climbed it hideously - I'm not known for my slab/wall technicality - but even so, it was a sharp experience in pain. I managed it… just.

The following day, rain was falling from the heavens in the early part of the morning, and large puddles awaited us as we left the cozy confines of my parents' caravan. Climbing was off… or so I thought. The meal we had travelled to Northumberland for was in the evening, so we had a day to enjoy the countryside in the only other way I know how… walking. A five mile hike to Craster and back. A lovely walk, encompassing roads, fields, woods and beaches. You couldn't pack much more in. When we got back to the car, it was bright, warm and sunny. The puddles had dwindled in number. Climbing was back on!

We only had two hours, however, and it was a half hour drive to and back from the crag. That gave us only one hour of climbing and, despite having written it off, there was only one problem on my mind. Transformer LH, that squashed in eliminate, was calling me. We shot out and went straight to the prow. There was already a dozen or so people out trad climbing, so I assumed all was well and dry. Wind was blowing strong and the rock was sticky like velcro. I repeated the 6A+ variant. Then did the end of the 7C I was there to conquer. I shook my arms and sat down at the start, knowing that I only had a short window in which to find victory. The first go ended as all the others had, with my feet hitting the floor as I tried to turn my hand. I decided to work the move, and a more deft heel placement allowed me to turn my hand and catch the undercut jug for the first time, with my body still on the wall, and I ran through the rest of the problem to the jug before the last two, reachy moves. I knew it was on and tried to keep my calm. 

A short rest precluded that familiar feeling, the one you get when you know you are about to send. It doesn't always present itself and a send, more often than not, seemingly comes out of no where. But on this occasion, I had a good idea that this was the go. The move had felt relatively easy with the slight change in heel placement and I knew I could repeat it, if only I would stick to the crimps as I had done before. Thankfully, it all came together and I reached the jug before the finishing moves with relative ease, wondering what all that fuss was about. For what it's worth, the unedited footage is below.

I said bouldering was a strange addiction before, and I wasn't joking. I had made a one hour round journey to squeeze in 45 seconds worth of climbing. Including warm ups and rests, we were at the crag for no longer than 30 minutes. Was it worth while? Yes it was. Leigh-Anne showed my Mum the footage she took on my phone when we returned to the caravan and her response was "Wouldn't you prefer to read a book or something instead?". I don't know what it is about climbing I find so appealing, but that feeling of completing a problem you battled so hard for is unique. It's exhilarating, in its own way, and I couldn't take the smile off my face for the rest of the evening. If I look in the mirror, I might still be wearing it now.

Monday, 4 August 2014

A potter in the Peak - a few good boulder problems

I caved. On Sunday, I found myself with a free afternoon, nothing immediately pressing to do. It had been a busy morning and, therefore, come 1pm I had barely even glanced outside, let alone breached the cozy confines of my flat. But now, after completing the chores, I stared through the window at clear blue skies. What a stunning day it was.

We racked our brains trying to come up with something to do. I was tired from a good session at The Climbing Works the day before, so I did not want to touch plastic again for at least another 24 hours. A walk? A museum? Cinema? And then I thought, despite my last blog's previous assertions that this time of year is no good for climbing outdoors, a sojourn to the Peak District for a little potter would be the best use of this rare occurrence of a free afternoon. 

Due to tiredness and warm weather, I had no expectations. No pressure to reach the top of anything. I had barely touched real rock in what felt like months, therefore I thought we'd have a potter; I could throw a few moves on the side of a cliff face or boulder. Setting off from Sheffield, I still wasn't sure where in particular I wanted to go.

One of the last full days I had climbing outside was mostly spent at Curbar, repeating, for the Nth time, a number of classics. Following a skin shredding grit session, a friend wanted to show me a small limestone cave near the village of Alport, on the other side of the Chatsworth Estate. When we arrived at this tiny feature, there was one specific line that caught my attention, the full traverse along the lip of the cave. Within the cavity it seemed dirty, white mold growing on the rock, mud and water streaming out of crevasses. However, the line that caught my eye was clean, a little chalk here and there, but it looked great. I had a few half-hearted attempts, but I was too tired from the earlier climbing and pumped out too fast.

On Sunday's warm, sunny afternoon, I thought this would be a good one to go back to. The line in question, if your encyclopedic knowledge of Peak District bouldering hasn't dredged it from the depths of your memory banks, is called Meltdown (7B). When we arrived, it looked as good as before. I touched some of the holds and they all felt positive and relatively large. If it wasn't for the fact that most of the climbing took place in the horizontal plane, it would get a much easier grade - the holds feel like they should belong to a 5+. However, they're practically all razor sharp and moving between them does require a little athletic hocus-pocus because of the steepness.

Having twirled my arms a couple of times, breathed a little deeper than necessary, and fondled a few more holds, I sat down at the start of the boulder problem. My warm up seemed comically lame, but what the heck, my muscles still felt warm from the previous day's Climbing Works session. Off I set and, before I knew it, I was through the crux, about half way along. I contemplated stepping off, for the sake of extending the warm up, but then I thought better of it. Onwards I continued until, before long, I reached the last jug. My forearms throbbed with the familiar feeling of a flash pump, but I had managed to climb Meltdown on my first try.

Having taken all of 10 minutes out of the afternoon, another destination was required to while away a few more hours. Off to Rowtor we went, a shaded, wooded bouldering area, unfortunately usually doubling as a hide-and-seek playground for the offspring of those frequenting the nearby pub. The squawks and squeals of excited, young goblins regularly break the otherwise tranquil silence.

On arrival, there was one particular line I needed to complete. It had thwarted me in my weaker days, when I found every move a bit desperate. That line is called Blood Falls (7A+). If you can't finger jam (like me) the first move is a little throw to a good three finger pocket, followed by a horizontal crack line, into a nice dynamic throw for a rounded top out. The last move had proved the stopper for me, but following a successful training regime (Hah! "training regime"... that's a laugh) over the past few months, I managed to tick Blood Falls off my list in just two goes.

Despite the warmth, I was doing alright at this climbing lark, so I chose something a little harder next... Quine (7C). This has become a one move wonder - a dyno from a sit start, using two semi-decent but sloping pinches, to a sloping top out. It's a low-ball, that's for sure, but the jump is fun. Unfortunately, I took too many goes; first trying to use the huge undercut (the old fashioned, non-dyno way), then using the wrong foot placements and finally, having figured out what works best for me, hitting the top on several occasions but putting my feet down as I did so. I decided to move on, as the pinches that had once felt easy to hold, were getting a little slippery under skin. 

Being as it was just around the corner, I had a peak at Domes stand start (7A+), and managed to dispatch this sloper hopping line in a handful of tries, after figuring out the start position. The lower start will be one to return for, but I've been told connecting it into the stand is harder than it looks, definitely warranting its 7C grade.

With a few climbs under the metaphorical belt, and the afternoon advancing, it was time to make an exit and find some dinner. I don't regret having not climbed outside much recently, because it has been HOT, but having got out yesterday I realise I definitely missed it. I want more now and, warm weather or not, I'm not sure I'll be able to restrain myself. I'm already aching to get back and finish Quine and this weekend we're off to Northumberland. 


Friday, 18 July 2014

Hottest time of the year - to climb or not to climb, that is the question

It has been almost a month since I last posted a blog and, to be perfectly honest, it's probably been roughly the same amount of time since I climbed on rock. I do miss it. I miss my exhausting weekends, heading out into the Peak District for eight hour days on the grit, stopping off at a pub on the way home for a traditional Sunday lunch and a pint of real ale, before heading home and collapsing on the sofa in front of a great film. This is my idea of an exceptional weekend. 

However, the summer months tend to put a stop to this, for me. Not previously one for avoiding grit stone just because it's a bit warm, I seem to have developed an aversion over recent years. Before you say the word "limestone" - I'm not a huge fan of hanging out with 100 other people at a tiny crag that seems to suck in the sun's heat, reflected from a stream running almost side-by-side. You know where I mean. The thought of pulling on tiny crimps with sweaty, soft skin sends shivers down my spine, and not the cold kind. The same goes for palm shredding grit stone too; those tiny crystals feeling sharp as razor blades stabbing into the body's largest organ like a cactus. It's the sweat. The midges. The closed, humid air. The sunburn. The sliding. The failure on climbs you know should be easy.

And there, in that last sentence, is the allusion to summer climbers' most overused excuse for braving the warm grit stone. Climbing throughout the summer will make everything much easier come the colder temps. Bullshit. It will be easier anyway - there's no need for me to expend a ridiculous amount of skin sliding off an enormous sloper when I can wait two months and hang it with ease. I'd rather wait. Maybe that's me getting a little old; I feel like a grumpy old man writing this blog. Life's too short to do something you don't want to do, just because some magazine editorial tells you not to retreat to the confines of indoor walls during the summer months, but enjoy the countryside in all it's summertime glory. Thankfully, I can do that from the comfort of a picnic blanket, or a beer garden bench, or right over there, next to the boulder, on the path, watching others sliding off that enormous sloper and feeling smug as I walk on by.

I'll take my indoor walls, with their whirring fans blasting cool air into my face while I imagine myself as Michael Jackson in Earth Song. You see that big, white rectangular object in reception? It's called a fridge and it dispenses ice cold drinks as and when I want one. Recline on a sofa for ten minutes to cool off between bouts on the wall? Don't mind if I do. And when I do come off the wall, all pumped to hell and struggling to close my fists, I can look down at my veiny forearms and not see a hundred black midges, using me as a giant, walking blood bag, gorging themselves at my expense. I prefer not to look like I've got measles the day after a good climbing session.

Having said all of that, I cannot wait for the cooler temperatures to prevail so I can once again contend with real rock climbs. For all its amenities, indoor climbing can get dull fast, sapping motivation at the same rate as those midges sapping blood supply. I am one of those people that loves training, though, it has to be said. I like the feeling of pushing myself to my limits - especially when it comes to pure power training. Put 20kg on my back and tell me to do five pullups off a half pad crimp and I'm a happy chappy. That's a bit weird, isn't it? Well, sod it. It's true. You know that old adage from the summer climbers, that blather about climbs feeling easier come the cold temps if only you brave the warm, well they'll also feel easier in the cold because I've spent the two warmest months of the year training my ass off. 

I love climbing on grit stone and feeling strong. I don't love it as much when a sheen of sweat on my hands makes everything super hard. Like a wine connoisseur who buys a bottle of Merlot and stores it away until it's ready, I will bide my time. And, when it's time to pop that cork, my motivation and strength will be all the better for it. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Cliffhanger 2014... the festival is back in Millhouses Park

Sheffield's Cliffhanger festival opens its gates in Millhouses park this weekend (June 21st-22nd). Having occupied Graves Park for the past two years (one really hot year and one really wet), it once again returns to the much-loved and skinniest park on Abbeydale Road.

Unfortunately, the premier climbing attraction for the festival, the British Bouldering Championships, will not be taking place in the park itself. However, it is happening at the best indoor bouldering venue this side of Mars, The Climbing Works, which is situated only a stone's throw down the road. 

With the weather looking as glorious as it does for the weekend, I'd highly recommend still visiting Cliffhanger, as you can grab a cold drink and plonk yourself in front of a massive screen being set up to show the competition. However, if you enjoy being as close to the action as possible, so you can taste the sweat dripping from the climbers (gross!), then grab a couple of tickets and head to The Climbing Works. All proceeds are going to Climbers Against Cancer, so the ticketing is simply to ensure 1,000 people don't show up at the Works expecting to be able to get in. Plus it's a good way to raise funds for a superb cause - cancer research. I don't know if there are any tickets still available, but visit the BMC website to find out. Scratch that last bit - a recent email from the BMC's Walls & Comps officer, Rob Adie, tells me that tickets are available on the door.

Of course, it's not only climbing that makes Cliffhanger so special. It's Britain's largest outdoors festival for outdoors people for a reason - there's tons going on! Do you like cycling? Get yourself to Cliffhanger. Oh so Parkour's your thing, huh? Get yourself to Cliffhanger. Running? Cliffhanger. Literally anything outdoors... go to Cliffhanger. Like falling off high stuff? Cliffhanger. It's a pretty simple solution to what to do with your weekend. For more details on that visit the Cliffhanger website.

Have I said the word Cliffhanger enough?

Anyway, if this isn't enough verbiage to get you along, check out my write up of last year's excellent festival.

Hopefully see you there!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sport climbing holiday in Montserrat

Montserrat mountain range
The long, spindly arms of fauna tear at my skin as I push through the tight, naturally overgrown avenue, teetering on the edge of a near vertical plunge into a world of hurt, the only saving force being the rubber on my shoes sticking to the pebble rock surface penetrating the brown and red soil. I battle on, hearing the odd rustle from a lizard escaping my trajectory, the squark of a bright green parakeet trailing his comrades through the deep blue skies, passing sporadic clouds that occasionally hide the sun's rays. After the better part of an hour, we reach a red wall, large, rounded pebbles scattered across it's surface, gaping pockets, ledges and cracks. This is what we came to Montserrat for, the rock climbing, and the walk in is worth every scratch, bruise and blister. This is exactly what I was looking for when I wanted to go on holiday. 

Montserrat, an hour north of Barcelona, is a well-known tourist destination, with tens of thousands of site-seers arriving by coach throughout the day. The tourists see maybe 1% of the mountain, going from coach to cable car to tour guide through the small village of Montserrat, nestled into a corner of the mountain - a beautiful corner at that. The village receives around 2.5million visitors a year and it's easy to see why. The views are truly amazing. Of course, we went and saw the jaw-dropping church, ate gelato and wandered the winding paths of the monk trail to the best viewing points, but this is not why we went to Montserrat.

The cable car up to Montserrat village
Montserrat Village
One of the greatest things about rock climbing is it takes you to places the tourists don't see. It takes you to places that you wouldn't otherwise go. Having said that, we still probably only explored another 3% of the mountain and its sport routes, but the sheer amount of climbing here is enormous - more than we could look at in six days. 

We had no intention of sitting below one hard climb day after day, putting in our all to ascend it. Rock climbing in new areas is about exploration and that was exactly the agenda. See a route you like, try to climb it and move on. Onsights and flashes were the name of the game, as me and Leigh-Anne took it in turns to ascend various lines, limited only by the length of our rope and our boulderers' endurance. Each day brought a new area, fighting through different avenues of the forest covering the giant rock towers penetrating the earth and reaching towards the heavens. To many, Montserrat is a religious place, and if I was a religious man I'd want to shake God's hand for having the vision to create such a beautiful rock climbing destination.

Pooped but loving it after another long day's climbing
The rock itself is a conglomerate of pebbles and limestone, I believe (I'm no geologist). Some of the walls look as though they are entirely made of pebbles and what holds them together is beyond my understanding. It's safe to say, climbing on them can be as much of an exploration as getting to the wall in the first place. You reach for what looks a good hold, only to find a sloping, slippery pebble surface with a tiny crimp at the back. You clip from here, wheezing and burning, make another foot movement and notice a big pocket a few measly inches higher, swamped with relief, matched only by fatigue. It was fantastic fun to walk up to a wall thinking it was covered in holds, only to pull on and find everything you thought looked good from the floor is actually rubbish and then having to fumble around trying to find body positions that work.

Success matched with fatigue - where's el vino!
With long, 10-12 hour days of climbing, you need somewhere comfortable to retire when the sun begins to fade, when a glass of local Cupatge is calling your name and carne waiting to be devoured. For this, I cannot recommend highly enough Mas Del Puig in Castellbell i el Villar. Having been in the Puig family since the 17th century, this stunning converted farmhouse is now home to Ramon Puig. While he and his wife occupy the main house, his adult son and his family reside in one of the annexes, and several other areas of the building have been converted into beautiful apartments with magnificent views of the mountain. We took the smallest of the apartments and it was a delight from the moment we walked through the front door. A well equipped little kitchen leads into a very comfortable living room, decked in furniture created by Ramon's enterprising wife (she also sells home-made, hand-made soaps). This is adjoined by a bathroom with all the usual amenities and a large bedroom elevated by a single step, comfortable and spacious. The icing on the cake was a balcony from which you could eat your dinner and stare off into the beautiful mountainous landscape, supping on a beer and relaxing into the reclining, canvas sun lounges. If you've still got a little energy to burn off, there's also a swimming pool in which to submerge and soothe those sore muscles.

The view of the valley from Montserrat mountain
If you want a sport climbing destination no where near as well trodden as somewhere like Siurana, but with routes ranging from 4 through to 8c+ in grade, I would highly recommend Montserrat. To get the most from it, however, get into the Indiana Jones spirit and try to get about. While you could, like on any trip, spend your time walking the same path, to the same route to get that illusive "hardest ever" send, you really should be seeing as much of the mountain as you can. That's where the fun lies. It is not crowded at all and most of the people we came across were locals, all very friendly and willing to point you in the right direction should you take a wrong turn. A guide book is essential and, because we couldn't find an English guide (there are some, apparently), we made do with the Spanish version of Montserrat Carasur for our days there. There are a few different guides, however, depending on your tastes. See more here. The area is renowned for its multi-pitch sport routes, but there are fantastic single pitches all over the place, so do a little research and find what suits you. There's even more scope if you've got a trad rack with you and a daring head.

That's all I'm going to say on that but if, having read this, you're thinking of a trip to Montserrat and have any questions, deposit them below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.